In Mexico, a child’s birthday party is not complete unless there is a pinata, preferably two or three. You can purchase ready-made pinatas at most party stores, but making your own adds messy fun to party preparations. The other advantage of making your own pinata is that you and your child determine the design and color scheme.
Cover a table as a work surface. Newspaper works fine but, if you worry about excess water or paint spills, a vinyl tablecloth serves well. You can also choose to work outside and not have to worry as much about messes and cleanup.
Prepare your materials. Cut or tear newspapers into strips. They need not be uniform in size, but they should be short enough to manipulate easily for dipping into paste. Make papier-mache paste by mixing 1 part flour to 2 parts water. Mix well and finish by adding 1 tbsp. salt to prevent mold growth.
Blow up a large balloon. More complex pinata designs may require 2 balloons. Paint a thin layer of vegetable oil on the balloon’s surface to keep the newspaper from sticking to the balloon when you pop it.
Dip newspaper strips into the paste, letting excess fluid run off before applying it the balloon. Overlap the strips of newspaper to leave no space, but leave a gap where you tied the balloon so that you can pop it later. Set aside the covered balloon to dry for a full day and night. Add a second layer with paper strips going in different directions than the first layer. Allow this to dry. Finish with a layer of strips of white paper towels.
Pop the balloon and pull it out of the pinata. Your white pinata should be completely dry before you paint it. Paint it some bright background colors and let it dry. Add painted details, or use construction paper to create three-dimensional elements such as a hat, mask, mustache, ears or arms and legs.
Add finishing touches. Glue crepe paper streamers to hang from the bottom of the pinata for added color and decoration. Fill the pinata with the treats of your choice. Punch holes in the top and string yarn through them to hang the pinata.
- Avoid stuffing pinatas with toys or candy that break upon impact.