The word “piñata” comes from the Spanish word for pine cone. According to Wikipedia, Piñatas are actually Chinese, not Mexican. Traditional piñatas are shaped like a 7 point star, each point symbolizing one of the 7 deadly sins. Whenever there’s a Mexican celebration, you are likely to find a piñata. But they have been adopted by Americans for years and were big in New Jersey in the early 80’s.
Apparently piñatas are all the rage with the 4-year-old Parisian set. And I did see a Winnie the Pooh shaped one at my local hypermarché, but there’s nothing like making your own piñata. It is an easy and satisfying craft project even for someone as craft-challenged as myself.
Piñatas are actually very simple to make. They do not require any sophisticated materials. The main thing to take into account is time. They are time consuming because you need to leave enough time for them to dry between layers. I needed 4 days to complete one.
- 2 cups flour
- 3 cups water
- 1 balloon
- Poster paints (like gouache in French)
1. Blow up a large balloon and tie the end.
2. Place the balloon in a bowl – this will keep it in place while you work on it.
3. Mix the flour and water together until it makes a smooth paste (2 : 3 flour to water ratio).
4. Cut the newspaper into long 1-inch thick strips and dip into the flour/water mixture.
5. Run each strip between your fingers to take off any extra paste.
6. Carefully place the strips on the balloon until it is covered, leaving a hole large enough to put your hand in at the top.
7. Set aside and let the balloon dry.
8. Place another layer of newspaper dipped in the mixture over the balloon and let dry.
9. If not hard enough, repeat with a third layer, making sure you leave the hole at the top.
10. Paint the piñata. It does not have to be very pretty at this point since you are going to cover it with crepe paper.
11. Cut long, wide strips (2-3 inches) of crepe paper. Glue one long edge of each strip to the piñata using school glue (colle écolier). Cut fringes along the unglued edge.
12. When dry, pop and remove the balloon.
13. Fill with individually-wrapped candy and balled up newspaper. The newspaper will keep the candy in place so it won’t all fall out at the same time.
14. Make a small hole on either side of the opening at the top and thread a string through it, tying the string in a loop. It may be a good idea to reinforce the holes with some extra tape.
15. String the finished piñata up using strong twine or string.
To break the piñata, you can blindfold the kids’ eyes and have an adult hold each end of the string which allows you to move the piñata as the kids swing at it. This makes it harder. Otherwise, you can string it up and let the kids swing away!
Here’s is picture of the fun….and of the aftermath: