Piñata Party

Cracking open a piñata filled with candy is exciting for kids. Making their own piñata can be even more fun!

By Kathy Oberman

 It's a fun, messy job to make a piñata! But who cares about the mess when the kids have so much fun?

Homemade piñatas are smaller and easier to open than most storebought ones - plus you and the kids can design your own fanciful animals and creations.

Making your own requires patience The papier-mâché needs two 24-hour-long drying periods! Set aside a weekend to complete a piñata - and, while you're at it, plan to make two at once.

This is a good project, for a family, for a club or scout troop, or kids at a day camp.

Get Ready!
Cover a work area with newspaper or, better yet, large plastic bags that are taped to the surface. Assemble the following items:

  • papier-mâché glue or wallpaper glue
  • Newspaper torn into strips, each about 3 inches wide and a foot long.
  • A large balloon that expands to about 12 inches (plus extras in case of breakage).
  • String.
  • Craft paints and paintbrush.
  • Colored tissue paper and craft glue.
  • Cardboard or cardboard rolls from toilet paper and paper towels.
  • Individually wrapped candies, lollipops and miniature toys.
  • Craft paint and paint brushes.
  • A wooden bat or stick for the game.
Get Going!
Blow up the balloon and tie it off in a tight knot. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix up the papier-mâché glue or add some water to the wallpaper glue to a make a paste. Dip a strip of newspaper into the glue and run your fingers down the strip to remove excess glue. Lay the wet strip of newspaper over the balloon.

Repeat this process until you have completely wrapped the balloon in one layer of newspaper. Leave an opening in the papier-mâché over the balloon's knot where you will later add the candy to the piñata. Make sure it's large enough to add candy easily.

Set the balloon aside and allow the glue to dry for a few hours. Repeat the process twice more. The papier mached balloon should be allowed to dry overnight or for 24 hours.

When you're not using the glue, keep it in a tightly lidded plastic container. This way it won't harden.

Almost There!
After the balloon has dried for 24 hours, cut two 3-foot lengths of string and drape them at right angles on top of the balloon, to criss-cross it.

Cover the string with another three layers of newspaper and allow it to dry again completely. Make sure the ends of the string are exposed because you will use them to hang the piñata.

Once the piñata is dry, pop the balloon with a pin and gently remove it from the papier-mâché shell.

Use the cardboard rolls to make legs for animal shapes and fashion pliable cardboard sheets into shapes for heads, ears, and tails. Attach these to the body with glue.

Fill the piñata with the candies and small, lightweight toys and then cover the entire surface of the piñata - legs, heads, snouts, etc. -- with two more layers of glue-soaked newspaper. Set it aside again to dry for another 24 hours.

You're Done!
Paint the piñata with colorful craft paint, but handle it carefully. The kids should be cautioned that the creature could break if they are not gentle. Make faces and other decorations by gluing on small strips of tissue paper.

Once the piñata is completely decorated and the paint and glue have dried, hang it. Now's the time to whack it open until all the candy falls out!