What is a party without a piñata! I’ve been asked many times do I know where to buy a piñata in HK and I have also tried very hard to source an affordable recycled or fair trade one. But I haven’t come up with anything as yet so the next best thing I could do was tell you how to make your own - with or without the kid’s help.
Things You’ll Need
- Biodegradable latex balloon
- Newspaper (lots of it)
- Water & flour or starch (to make the glue)
- Water based paint
- Crepe paper
- String or raffia to hang and/or release the piñata
- Sweets or other treats (for filling)
- Wooden baton about 18 inches (to hit with)
Decide what shape your piñata will be.
Ideas include making an animal, a character, a shape etc.
- create a flower with petals made out of large pieces of cardboard & crepe paper
- decorate a fish with shiny scales cut out of aluminium foil
- make a bunny or Easter egg for Easter and fill it with chocolate eggs;
- a simple shape decorated with the birthday age or a photograph of the birthday child
- green turtle for a party at the beach
- Dinosaur filled with dinosaur figurines
- Butterfly filled with sparkly paper
- An apple or other piece of fruit and fill it with boxes of raisins for a healthy treat
Inflate your balloon. This will form the body of your piñata, so inflate it to the size you would like your piñata to be. A round balloon is best. Add additional shapes, legs, tails, snouts, hats, petals, rays of sunshine, wings or leaves made from cardboard or construction paper. Tape shapes on with masking tape.
Protect your work area. Especially if there are kids helping as it will get messy.
Make your paste. In a cooking pot mix 1 part flour/starch to 2 parts water. The paste should just begin to thicken. Remove contents from the pot and store in a container. Ensure this is kept in a sealable container as it may be used over a couple of days (stored in the fridge).
Tear some newspaper into strips, 1 inch or 1 1/2 inches wide. The torn edges make for a smoother piñata than cut paper. Smear these strips with the flour glue to make papier-mâché. Lay down strips all over the balloon until it is completely covered in a thick layer of papier-mâché. Usually you have to let each layer dry until most of it is consistently hard. The balloon will need 3 solid layers (each laid on a slightly different angle for a smoother effect). If you alternate layers of newspaper and coloured flyers/paper then you can tell which areas of the balloon have had paper applied. Try and use plain paper for the final layer as it will be easier to paint. Wrap and tie a string around the balloon form in between layers 2 and 3. Use some masking tape to hold it in place whilst you layer the next paper. This string will be used to hang the piñata so leave about 6 inches above the piñata.
Let the piñata dry until it is stiff and no longer wet or sticky when you touch it.
Paint your piñata a single colour. It doesn’t need to be especially well-painted, just enough to cover the paper. However, you might choose a colour that matches the crepe paper you’ll be adding on or to match the animal or character that you’re turning your piñata into, as it’ll probably show through.
Glue colourful crepe paper onto the outside of the piñata to decorate it. To make the edges of the tissue paper flutter in the breeze, cut it into squares, place a little glue in the centre only of the square and affix it to the piñata. But don’t just limit your decorations to crepe/tissue paper only; feathers, glitter, streamers, ribbons and fake flowers all make festive decorations for a piñata.
To put your treats, goodies & candy in your piñata cut a 2″ square opening at the top (or larger one at the bottom if you are making a pull string piñata), but only cut it on three sides so it will create a flap, which will be closed off later. At this time, you will also be popping your balloon and removing it from the opening at the top. To ensure your piñata is completely dry inside, blow some warm air inside using a blow dryer.
To secure the flap afterwards, glue down some crepe paper on top of the cut edges. For the pull string piñata ensure that the flap is not too secure otherwise it might not be opened easily.
Fill the piñata with sweets or small toys. Keep in mind that the contents of the piñata will spill all over the floor and kids will eat them no matter where they have fallen. If you are using unwrapped candy make sure there is a picnic rug or sheet underneath the piñata to catch the sweets.
Filling suggestions …
- Boxes of organic raisins
- Sweets or chocolates
- Individual Lego people (I know these are made of plastic but they are small toys that are treasured so they will be kept a lifetime and don’t break easily. I still have all of mine from 30 years ago!)
- Cut out shapes like paper butterflies (shaped cutters can be bought from stationery or scrapbooking stores)
- Jokes on paper
- Origami animals
- Small sparkly paper squares (used wrapping paper)
- Flower petals
- Hair ribbons or clips
- Matchbox cars
- Trading or collectible cards
- Homemade play doh
PLAYING THE PINATA GAME
Tie your piñata securely to a tree branch. Spread a blanket or sheet under it. Each child will have an opportunity to break the piñata. A bat or broomstick works great. Blindfold the first player, spin them around 2-3 times, point them in the direction of the piñata, and let them try to hit it 2-3 times.
Safety Reminder: Remember to keep everyone far enough away from the player swinging the bat. Also, when the piñata breaks be sure the kids don’t run in to gather up the candies, as the blindfolded child may still be swinging.
To ensure everyone gets their fair share of the booty, it may be a good idea to have some spare candy or treats set aside that you can hand out to kids who may not have got to the spoils soon enough.
For younger kids you can have a pull string piñata. Have enough pieces of string or raffia secured to the piñata with one piece attached to the closed flap that was used to fill it and let them all have a turn at finding and pulling the one string that opens the flap.