Making a Pinata From a Balloon
Making a Pinata at Home
Making a great quality (read: HARD) piñata is easy, and much less expensive than buying one in a store. You can also customize it any way you like.
The easiest type of piñata, is the balloon model.
To start, blow up a balloon, knot it, then tie a string to the knot.
To make the balloon into a piñata, you will need some kind of paper mache. You can use commercially available paper mache, or easily make your own.
I prefer a cooked paper mache. You make that by whisking 1 part white flour, to 5 parts hot water. To cover a standard balloon, start with ¼ cup flour and 1-1/4 cup water. Cook this on medium heat until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Let it cool enough to handle, but don’t let it get cold.
For your first few layers, cut up lots and lots of strips of newspapers. Place these somewhere easy to reach on your workspace.
Before you start working on your piñata, make sure your workspace is well covered in layers of newspaper, or old fabric; piñata making can be very messy.
You also may want to tie your balloon down, because if it is has static, it might try to follow your hands around the work surface while you are trying to stick the newspaper strips on.
Now you are ready to start.
Dip a strip of newspaper into the paper mache. Use your free hand to remove the excess, then smoothly stick the strip to the balloon. Work your way around the entire balloon, overlapping the strips slightly until it is mostly covered (leave a bit of space at the top near the knot of the balloon, this is where you will put the candy in later!).
Add a couple more layers of newspaper.
Hang the piñata up and let it dry completely. This usually takes about 12 hours, depending on how thick you covered it.
Subsequent Layers and Candy
At any point in time after the first layer dries, you can pop, and remove the balloon. It might even pop on its own.
To add very solid strings, use sturdy twine cut into several long pieces. Apply some paper mache to the piñata, then lay the strings across the bottom of it. Paper mache over them and allow to dry. Now you will have a solid piñata with the strings securely fashioned. There is nothing worse than having the strings come out while you are trying to break the piñata.
When your second last layer is dry, add the candy through the hole in the top. Pick something that will withstand a lot of movement. Remember, you are going to whack this thing with a stick. Hard candies are a bad idea because they will usually shatter. Same goes for really soft stuff that will probably be reduced to mush. Dense, foil wrapped chocolate, like the traditional mini chocolate eggs that are often available at Easter are a good option, as are jelly beans. It’s up to you whether you choose a wrapped candy, or just put a bunch of unwrapped candy into a strong freezer bag and drop that into the piñata.
When you get down to your last layer, you may want to switch from newspaper to something a little more neutral. White computer paper, plain newsprint, strong paper towels, or even sturdy tissue paper, or wrapping paper will make your piñata much easier to paint. In the case of tissue paper or wrapping paper, you might not even need to paint it.
Once your piñata is entirely dry, you can paint it if you desire. Pretty much any type of paint will work.
When I made the one in the photos, I didn’t allow enough time to paint it, so I put brown paper over the piñata as my final layer, then stuck on cardstock ovals in pastel colors. I do not recommend using cardstock. Even though mine was lightweight, it didn’t absorb the paper mache very well and stayed very wrinkled.
Now, all you have to do is find a group of kids, a suitable place to hang the piñata, and something to whack it with. A broomstick, baseball bat, or even a strong stick from a dead tree will work.
Playing the Game
Plan the rules ahead. Are you going to start with the youngest first? How many hits does each person get for their turn? Etc.
To make it more challenging, blindfold the participants and spin them around a few times before letting them hit the piñata. Be aware that if you make them too dizzy or disoriented, you may cause them to hit something that is not the piñata. Be sure other participants aren’t in the way.
To make the game funnier for the bystanders, tie the piñata to a long rope, and hang the rope over a tree limb. Have an adult hold the end of the rope and tug the piñata upwards just as the participant starts to hit it. Be aware this might be too frustrating for younger children or kids with special needs.
Another quick note to mention, is that a paper mache piñata of several layers will be really, really hard. You might have to get the dad’s at the party to help finish it off!