My youngest had a birthday party recently. His favorite thing for every birthday is having a Piñata that he can break open with his friends. Actually, since two of his close friends had birthdays within a day of him, their moms and I decided to throw a big collective birthday party. The boys share almost all friends, with an exception of a few. As you can imagine the turnout for the party was enormous. There were close to 50 children.
Among other things I was responsible for a giant Piñata that would hold enough prizes for that many children, and also one that would withstand that many kids hitting it, making sure that each and single one of them got a turn, and no one was left upset. After looking online for a large, strong Piñata, and seeing the prices for some of the ones I liked, I decided that I could make one. It turned out to be better and way cheaper than buying one. While it did take some time for me to make it, I feel like it was worth it! The Piñata I made came out strong (it held up through all the kids and even some parents), beautiful, and definitely big enough for everyone to enjoy!
At first I was going to make a very simple one: just take a large square box, strengthen it with papier-mâché, then wrap it all pretty like a present and let them whack it with a bat. However, my kids had a different idea in mind: they wanted a car shaped piñata. Go figure. So, with the help of my kids, here is how I made my beautiful car shaped piñata.
What you will need:
You will need a large piece of strong, good cardboard. I happened to have one from a shipment of something or other in my garage. It has to be big enough to cut out two sides of the piñata, and the center for it. You will also need a roll of packing tape, some recycled brown paper bags from a store, newspaper or recycled paper for papier-mâché, tissue paper, some recycled wrapping paper and a few construction paper sheets (I used 12×18 inch construction paper: 2 black, 2 blue, 1 red, 1 orange), also some flour and water to make the glue.
Lets Get Started:
To begin take your giant piece of cardboard and draw the shape of the piñata you would like, in my case it was a car, but the less curves, dips and bends you have the easier it will be to make.
Cut the shape out. I started cutting it out with scissors, but that was too tough, so I used a small sharp knife instead, box cutter would probably be better, but since I don’t have one, knife did the job.
Once you have one side cut out, put it on top of the remaining cardboard, trace it and cut it out again.
You should have two sides that are the same.
Next, you need to figure out how wide your piñata is going to be. I figured about 2/3 of a foot would be plenty.
I used the remaining cardboard to cut a long 2/3 foot strip. Then I cut that strips width-wise into smaller pieces. So eventually I had a bunch of pieces that were about 8 by 3 inches.
These pieces will be taped to the sides of the piñata to connect the two car shapes together creating a sort of skeleton for papier-mâché to be built upon.
Using packing tape, I taped the small strips to the sides of the piñata, creating the skeleton. Just look to the picture below to see what I mean.
It is a lot easier if someone is holding the two sides up for you while you do the taping.
In the end you should see your piñata starting to take shape.
At this point you should be done with the cardboard and moving on to the brown paper bags.
Open the paper bags up by cutting them down the middle, if there are any handles cut them off. Now using tape, attach the paper bags to the piñata covering all the spaces in between the cardboard strips. All the spaces but one, that one will be the hole to put the prizes in. All the cardboard strips will wind up covered as well because when you tape the brown bags on them you want to use the strips to tape to, and overlap the brown bag strips over each other. At this point your piñata will look like the two photos on the bottom.
Now open up a large paper bag, lay it over the side of the piñata and tape the edge of the bag to the piñata like in the photo below.
Cut away the excess of the brown bag to match the shape of the piñata.
Use the tape to attach the top portion of the bag to the edge. If necessary cut the tape into smaller pieces to attach the bag paper along the edge nice and neat.
So the same with another bag, but this time covering the bottom of the car. First open the bag, tape down the middle. Cut away the excess paper to match the shape of the bottom of the piñata.
Now use the tape to carefully tape the paper bag along the edge of the bottom of the piñata.
Do the same thing on the other side of the piñata.
Once you are done, this is what your piñata should look like from both sides.
Using a thinner piece of cardboard (think recycled cereal box) make a flap that will close over the hole for the prizes. Just use the tape to attach it on one side. Make sure to put the tape on both the inside and the outside of the flap.
Make a simple homemade glue. It is inexpensive, easy to make, non toxic and will hold your project together for quite some time. There are several recipes, but I like the simplest one: just water and flower and heat, keep adding either water or flower until the right consistency. Of course, if you prefer there are actual recipes that are easy to find online. Here is a site with a few: GLUE RECIPES. Just choose the one you are comfortable with.
Allow the glue to cool before using!
Using a decent sized soft brush, apply the glue in a thin layer to the recycled paper from your home, or newspaper strips. Start to papier-mâché the piñata. The thinner the glue layer, the faster it will dry. Plus, you don’t want the cardboard to get too soaked.
I started with the center and moved on to the sides. I am fairly impatient at times and therefore used rather large strips of paper. As long as they are not too big, and fit with the shape of the car.
Below is my piñata all covered with the paper:
Using the brush, apply another thin layer of the glue directly to the piñata and papier-mâché it again using strips of colorful tissue paper.
While you are applying the papier-mâché to the piñata, don’t forget to include the prize flap, and cover it with both recycled paper, and the tissue paper.
It is time to put on the tissue paper fringe. I bought multicolor paper, when I took it out of the bag I made sure to not separate the sheets. I cut it into strips about 4 inches wide, and 14 long, just estimate based on the size of the tissue paper and the piñata width. The strips should be a bit longer then the piñata width. Then I cut them across, like in a picture above, to create the fringe. Make sure to not cut all the way, but to leave about an inch for easy gluing.
Now it’s time to glue the fringe on. I started at the opening for the prizes. Putting one strip at a time. If you look at the picture above you will see the blue strip. To glue the next one, just apply some of the homemade glue with the brush right above the blue strip (right on that green space above it), and glue on the next color strip.
Don’t worry about the tissue paper bending, or ripping a bit, it only makes it look more awesome!
Set your piñata aside to dry for a bit. Get out that recycled wrapping paper. Unroll it, and using the cardboard that you cut your initial car shapes, trace the shapes on the wrapping paper.
You should have two shapes for both sides of the piñata. Cut them out!
Then give them some fringe along the edges by cutting 1/2 inch strips with your scissors, like in the photo on the bottom.
Now carefully, with the brush, apply a thin layer of the glue to the wrapping paper cut out, and position it carefully over the side of the piñata. Make sure you don’t press down until you are sure that it is positioned properly. After you are satisfied with how it’s placed, rub your hands over it, pressing it down onto the piñata.
Do the same with the second side.
Also, at this point it is a good time to attach a string by which it will hang. You can make a hole on the top of one side, and then make another hole on the other side in the same spot. I used tiny scissors to make the hole, just poked it through. Stick your hand into the opening for the prizes, with your other hand put the string through the hole and pull it out on the inside. Now, using the hand that’s in the piñata put the string into the second hole and pull it to the outside. Tie the ends in a good knot together, and it is ready to hang!
For the next few steps you will need construction paper. Cut out four black circles for the tires, fold the papers in two and cut them all out together. Glue them on both sides.
Cut out four smaller circles for the inside of the wheels, glue them on in the center of the black ones.
Cut out the windows in the shape you prefer. I just folded the blue paper in two and did them all together again. Glue them on to the both sides of the car. Look below for the photo.
As the final step, use the red paper and cut out four small ovals for lights. Glue them all on both sides.
Now your super big awesome piñata is all finished! Let it dry for a few days and go play!
Another note: the total cost for making this was under $7.00, compared to almost $50.00 for a store bought piñata of this size!
The kids had such a great time hitting it, and it was so much fun for the parents to see them enjoy it, I didn’t feel even a little bad that my beautiful piñata is getting broken with a baseball bat.