The piñatas were a big hit. Pardon the pun. They are always the kids favorite part of the party (go figure, give kids a stick and let them beat on something and they’re happy), which is why I’ll be stuck making them for the rest of my life. I shouldn’t complain, they really aren’t that hard to make, just messy, and they have to be made over the course of a few days due to drying of the paper mache and then drying of the paint. And the kids can do most of it themselves now…with a little adult supervision so the whole kitchen doesn’t end up paper mached. This year even baby chipped in. If you’d like to make one yourself I’ll list out the steps we do.
- Get some good pictures of your creations…..before they get destroyed!!
Blow up balloon, easy enough. Tear strips of newspaper about one half inch wide by 10 inches long, don’t get picky, it doesn’t matter.Just in case you needed a visual on what torn up newspaper looks like. These are the strips.
Make mache ‘glue’. 3 cups hot water and 1 cup flour, add more flour to get a thick glue type consistency. (you can do this with cold water and more flour, but it won’t get as smooth.) The messy part. Flour and Water make the glue. Place the balloon in a heavy bowl, to keep it from rolling away while you’re working on it. Dip strips one at a time in mache, get excess off and smooth onto balloon.
Paper Mache’ing’ the Balloon:
Cover the balloon once. You can cut an opening for the piñata later or leave one now.
For the second coat of paper mache we use colored comics or in this case grocery store ads that are regular paper (not the smooth shiny ads), it’s our little trick so that we know we haven’t missed a spot with our second coat.
You can leave an opening or you can cut one out later. Using colored paper like the sunday comics will help you see that you have covered the whole thing with a second coat.
If you want to add additional shape features to your balloon you do that now. This year we kept it simple and I didn’t add any, but in the past we’ve added ears and a snout shape for a pony, or a tail for a fish.
Fish (easy balloon shape) and Frog (not easy) the legs and eyeballs are added on with crumbled up paper and extra paper mache.
We use paper towels balled up into the necessary shape and then wrap it in aluminum foil to hold its shape, then we paper mache it on with two or three coats. It is time consuming and sometimes difficult which is why this year we went with basic balloon shapes. I could’ve done the other point to the football, but took the easy way out and made it sitting in the grass made of tissue paper.
The third and final coat of paper mache is white paper towels so that when we go to paint it we have a more even colored base.
Our quality inspector at work....the final paper towel layer looks good.
Now you wait.
The balloons take about two days to dry.
Once dry, you can paint your balloon. We did brown for a football, and 3 shades of blue for the sky background for butterflies this year.
When you’re done with painting, cut three sides of an opening about 4 by 5 inches to fill the piñata.
Next remember to put your string to hang your piñata, yes, I have forgotten to do this…that’s not good.
Over the years we have learned that this is a crucial step, or your piñata string will tear and your piñata will fall. With this in mind we tried several ways to do the hanger and have found the following system works best.
We get a 30 inch piece of heavy duty string and put either end through a small hole (the holes are about 4 inches apart) we’ve punched in the piñata. We then tie a big knot on both ends that will be in the piñata and not fit through the small hole we strung it through.(Do not be tempted to just loop it thru the piñata, this causes the string end to pull towards each other and ‘cut’ through the piñata when it is being hit.) We put duct tape on the knots to make them very large, and then duct tape the knot inside with 2 pieces of tape to keep the holes from ripping open. Sounds a little complicated, but it’s not, and it really does keep your piñata hanging for the hardest of hits.
For filler we don’t believe in much candy and we try to stay inexpensive, and the stuff can’t weigh much or your piñata will be too heavy.
Some items we’ve used have been packs of Kool Aid, hair ties, little bouncy balls, individual licorice packs, smarties candies, lots of stickers (see post from oct. 13 for free sticker ideas), colored pencils or markers (taken out of their packs), and a folded sheet of bright paper with a star or grand prize written on it, and that person gets a special prize.
We put some crumbled up paper in the piñata and then throw in the candy and try to distribute it throughout so it’s not all in one place.
Next, we close up the opening and seal it with clear packaging tape, or duct tape if you choose to glue some colored tissue paper over it. This year we used duct tape and left it exposed….that was the back of the piñatas. The kids didn’t mind and the piñata police weren’t coming so I thought it was ok.
Next find a good tree or laundry post and hang up your piñata and start hitting.
Our only rules are that the birthday kid goes first followed by youngest to oldest. Three hits each, unless you see it’s coming apart too fast and then give them just two hits each.