My 5-year-old is turning 6 this next week, and one of his requests was for a birthday piñata. I have never been a huge fan of whacking apart animal-shaped things; even as I child, I found this extremely disturbing. So, we decided to make a piñata of our own.
The process is actually rather simple, though it does take an investment of time. We started by tearing a stack of newspaper into strips. This is very easy to do if you make sure that you’re tearing along the grain of the paper. If you’re not able to tear fairly straight strips, try rotating the paper 90-degrees and tearing along the other axis.
After we had a box full of paper strips, we blew up a punch balloon so we’d have a big, round shape. We then mixed up paste (approximately one part white wheat flour to two parts water), and used this paste to attach the paper strips to the balloon. When you’re putting strips onto the balloon, you’ll want to make sure that each strip of paper is thoroughly wet. It helps to dip the first few strips so that they’re really wet. Once you have a base layer, you can lay your paper strips on top of those, and then paint the paste over the top. We did all of this with our fingers (I find that far easier than working with a brush, but it’s definitely messy).
We ended up putting about 6 layers of strips on every part of the balloon. This should make it thick enough to hold our goodies and give some challenge, without making it so thick that it will be too difficult to break open.
We worked in several sessions over the period of a few days in order to get out balloon fully-covered. This also allowed each side of the piñata to dry before we turned it upside down to work on the other side. This kept it from sticking to the box.
After the piñata was completely dry (we left it to dry for about 48 hours), we popped the balloon. My boys got a kick out of hearing the snipped balloon slowly pull itself away from the inside edge of the piñata. Once the balloon was separate from the paper mache, we cut a hole in the top of the piñata for filling it, and made small holes to use as places to attach the hanging cord.
Then, my 5-year old spent a couple of days painting and decorating the piñata. He painted one side, let it dry, and then painted the other side. After the paint was dry, he decorated it with glitter glue.
Next we threaded hanging strings through our four holes. Finally, I filled the piñata and taped a small piece of tissue paper over the opening.
Now, it’s all ready and waiting for our birthday festivities.