How to Make a Piñata

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Nowadays, we associate the colorful, hollow paper shapes known as piñatas with Mexico, but legend has it that piñatas actually came from China and were introduced to the West by Marco Polo. This guide will explain how you can create your own piñata and decorate it however you'd like. Note: Interestingly there was a religious reason for the introduction of the pinata in Mexico by the priests. The 7 cones surrounding the pinata represented the capital sins and the kids represented the good side of the world defeating the bad side when their strikes broke the pinata.

Steps

  1. Inflate a rubber 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, made with cardboard or newspaper shapes. Tape shapes on with masking tape.
  2. Protect your work area. Lay down newspapers.
  3. Make your paste. In a cooking pot mix 1 part flour to 2 parts water. Whisk the ingredients together and heat on the stove at medium heat for approximately 3-5 minutes. The paste should just begin to thicken. If you cook it too long the paste will be too thick. Remove contents from the pot and store in a container."
  4. Tear some newspaper into strips, 1 inch or 1 1/2 inches wide. 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 the layer dry until most of it is consistently hard, but the "cooked" paste lets you add at least 2 more layers right away. I use newspaper for the first layer and then for the second layer colored flyers. The third layer is newspaper again. By differentiating the layers I can tell where I have applied three solid layers. Wrap and tie a string around the balloon form in between layers 2 and 3. I use little bits of masking tape to keep the string in place while I lay the next layer of mache. Let the pinata dry until it is stiff and no longer wet or sticky when you touch.
  5. Decide on what you are going to make your piñata into. Ideas include making an animal, a character, a shape etc. (see "Tips" below for suggestions).
  6. Paint your piñata a single color to smooth out the paper and to create an even surface. It doesn't need to be especially well-painted, just enough to cover the paper. However, you might choose a color 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.
  7. Glue colorful crepe paper onto the outside of the piñata to decorate it. If you want your piñata to look more traditional, cut out long, wide strips of crepe paper, glue them onto the piñata along one long edge, and cut fringe along the opposite edge. You could also add googly eyes or painted eyes, a nose, a mouth, etc. See "Tips" for more suggestions.
  8. Using a serrated knife, cut a rectangular flap in one side of the balloon. Fill the piñata with candy, confetti, and/or small toys, and then tape the flap shut.

Video

Tips

  • You can tape a string to the top of the piñata in order to hang it, but this is not very secure; if you want the piñata to stay up longer, punch two holes in the piñata and pass the string through the holes. For extra reinforcement, pass the string through a plastic lid from a coffee can or use a cardboard tube from an aluminum foil roll.
  • Don't limit your decorations to crepe paper! Feathers, glitter, and fake flowers all make festive decorations for a piñata.
  • Fill the piñata with individually wrapped pieces of candy. Bulk candy may be cheaper, but 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. Buy cellophane and individually wrap bulk sweets if you choose this option.
  • Some suggestions for a theme piñata:
    • decorate a fish with shiny scales cut out of Mylar or tin foil;
    • create a flower with petals made out of large pieces of crepe paper;
    • make a fat bunny or Easter egg for Easter and fill it with chocolate eggs;
    • make a big pink pig; or green turtle
    • other animals or character figures that you like.
  • Create an apple-shaped piñata and fill it with boxes of raisins for a healthy treat.
  • Instead of cutting a flap open, you can leave a hole at the top of the balloon (i.e., don't cover it with papier-mâché) and fill the piñata through this hole.
  • You can also use wallpaper paste for a stronger piñata.

Warnings

  • Traditional piñatas are made with a clay pot reinforced with glued paper (nowadays old newspapers). 7 cones made of cardboard are added representing the 7 capital sins of Christian faith. This gives the piñata its traditional "satyr" look. This is decorated with stripes of colorful paper (you make cuts in the bottom half of each stripe to make it "fluffy" which gives a nice effect). A piñata prepared this way will break more easily. Yes, there is some danger of being hit or cut by the pieces of pottery once the piñata is broken, but frankly it is tiring and eventually boring for the children to break a paper or cardboard-only piñata. Children can be taught to be careful when breaking one of these traditionally made piñatas.

Things You'll Need

  • Round balloon
  • Newspaper (lots of it)
  • Water & flour (to make the glue)
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Crepe paper
  • String (to hang the piñata)
  • Candy (for filling)

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

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