A piñata makes every occasion a little more festive! Piñatas are great as a personalized birthday gift; a fun activity at a wedding shower or bachelorette party; or fun way to give gifts to all the kids at the family Christmas party! Building a piñata is an easy project. It will take a day or two to dry in-between layers, but if you can plan ahead, it’s cheap and super simple. :-)
A lot of DIY tutorials for piñatas have you building a box-shaped structure out of cardboard, like the traditional donkey design. I quickly decided that was way too difficult/challenging/work. :-) I prefer using the balloon method and making designs that are rounder.
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Gather your supplies:
- A balloon
- School Glue
- Scrap Paper
- Tissue Paper (for decorating)
The traditional paper mache is usually made with flour, salt and water. I tried that, but it made a huge mess, was super clumpy, and there are concerns about mold – ick! I ended up using ordinary school glue mixed with water (about 50/50.) It is cheap, easy to use, and it comes out smooth and white.
Cut your paper into strips, I like having lots of different sizes. You can use any old paper, even newspaper! I used computer paper here, which is nice if you plan on making a white piñata. Otherwise, you’ll have to paint over the whole piñata after it dries. Keep in mind, you don’t have to be terribly precise. Eventually you’re just going to smash it. :-)
Lay down a trash bag, an old shower curtain, or some other mess-proof layer. Mix up your glue and water and sit down with your paper strips. You might want a few paper towels nearby, too. Blow up your balloon and get to work!
You can work with it in your hands if you’re willing to wait for it to dry before you turn it over. Otherwise, tie some string around the top and hang it above your work space.
Grab a strip of paper, dip the end into the glue mixture, and squeeze off the excess while spreading the glue across the whole strip. Lay the paper across the balloon and smooth down the edges. Overlap a little bit, so that they stick together, but not too much. Just get one layer down for now!
After the first layer is complete, let it dry for a few hours. Then wrap the balloon with string and start on the second layer, securing the string as you go.
Once the final layer has dried, stab the piñata, popping the balloon, and cut out a hole to fill the piñata with candy.
Don’t worry about any dents, you can use a long wooden spoon to smack them out!
Now that you have a piñata base, it’s time to decorate! If you’re making an animal with ears, fins, or other extremities, you’ll need to cut those out and secure them to the piñata first. Cut out the shape on two pieces of paper and use double-sided tape to stick them on!
Now start applying the tissue paper. For scales or feathers, use round pieces. You can get some fun textures from your tissue paper, so get creative! Apply a bit of glue (the paper mache is too wet,) and add tissue paper pieces from bottom to top.
Here, I painted the face, fins and tail before adding the tissue paper. I also added some googly eyes – they really bring the fish to life. ;-)
If you’re making a piñata with a tall shape, you can cut your candy hole in the top and poke holes for the string to go through. This is a little easier, but not quite as sturdy.
I love these tropical piñatas, and think the fish came out really cute!
Here are some more ideas for decorating your own piñata:
Instead of tissue paper, cover the piñata in Christmas tinsel garland. It will look like a Christmas ornament! Studio DIY
Decorate with long, horizontal strips to create a beehive and add some cute little bees! The Chickabug Blog
Make an ice cream cone with some kraft paper. I love the sprinkles! Oh Happy Day
What kind of piñata will you make?