Sunday, August 19

DIY Pinata - Our Birthday Tradition

If you read our post last week about how we do birthdays, you know that we love a good pinata in this house. And by that I mean a free, amazing, whatever they come up with pinata. So today I just wanted to give you a basic idea of how we make them, so you can go forth and make whatever your kids dream up.

Did you guys do paper mache growing up? Because that's all this is! All you need are balloons (or thin cardboard from a cereal box if you need square shapes), newspaper, flour, and water. Plus any paints and decorations you want.

Start by making your pinata form with balloons or cereal boxes. Don't use anything thicker than that or you won't be able to break the pinata when you are finished! Just do your best to make the basic shape of your item. Here are some examples:
  • Death Star - one large punching balloon (easy!)
  • Ninja - two regular balloons taped together with one blown up slightly less for the head (construction paper arms and legs added at the end)
  • Long Neck Dino - two regular balloons taped side by side for a long body, a small balloon for the head, and a paper towel roll for the neck (we added construction paper legs when it was done)
Tape a loop of string to the form that you can use for hanging it when you are done. If you can loop it all the way around to the bottom that will give you the best hold.

Then make the paper mache paste. Mix together:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
to make a paste similar to runny pancake batter. I always start with these measurements but sometimes add an extra splash of water if it seems too thick.

Tear the newspaper into strips. Short strips around 12" long and about 1-2" wide are easiest to work with.

Dip the strips into the paste, wipe the extra off with your fingers, and stick it on your pinata. Keep going until the whole thing is wrapped in paper.

Let it dry. This can take a while, but a fan really helps! Even with a fan it usually takes at least a day for the first layer to dry. Once it's dry we add a second coat of paper mache.This is more of a spot fix because I feel around the pinata for any weak points that give under pressure and give them another layer. I skip over any areas that don't need it.  It's a balance you have to feel out as you go, but here's what I can tell you:

too many coats = unbreakable pinata rock
only one layer = breaks too fast so not everyone gets a turn and then they are sad

Death Star!

Good luck, peeps.

Let it dry again, then start painting! Or better yet, let your kids start painting. This was a 6-year-old's death star, complete with X-wings flying all around it:

The other half is black because it's the dark side of the Death Star. And I'm over here like "HOW DO YOU EVEN COME UP WITH ALL THIS?" Kids are amazing.

Here is our ninja body drying:

And painted:

Once the paint dries you can add any other details you want! We used construction paper to make arms, legs, and weapons for the ninja.

When you're ready to fill the pinata, just use a sharp knife to carefully cut a flap on the back of the  pinata. Fill it with whatever you want and tape it up! We do just a little bit of candy (like one pack of Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups) and then add other fun non-candy goodies. Lego minifigs and Safari Ltd. Animal Toobs are always a hit!

Unrelated question: what is the point of rain boots if they are always full of water?

What kind of pinata would you make? Let me know if you give it a try!

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