How to Make Pinatas

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Pinatas have been made from clay pots as well as papier-mache.
Pinatas have been made from clay pots as well as papier-mache. (Image: vectorarts/iStock/Getty Images)

Pinatas are a party favorite, but they’re not always easy to find. With a little time and patience, creating a basic pinata is not difficult. Shaped pinatas, such as animals or toys, take a bit more effort but use the same papier-mache technique. Be sure to cover your work area and leave plenty of time for the pinata to dry before filling it with treats.

Supply List

You'll need these materials to make your pinata:

  • Balloon
  • Lightweight cardboard (optional)
  • Masking tape
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Heavy string or cord
  • Newspaper
  • Tissue or crepe paper
  • Paint (optional)
  • Craft knife
  • Candy or small toys

Getting Started

Cut newspaper into 2-inch strips. Prepare the paste by mixing 2 cups of water with 2 cups of flour in a bowl. Blow up a balloon. Cover your work area completely with newspaper or a disposable tablecloth. Creating a pinata is a messy process.

Making the Center

Dip the newspaper in the paste one strip at a time, wiping the extra paste off with your fingers. Lay the strips flat on the balloon, overlapping the strips. Add three layers of the papier-mache to the balloon, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next layer.

Adding Shape

For a shaped pinata, use cardboard to create cones, animal legs and a head or other shapes, and tape them together. The shapes don’t have to be perfect replicas, just general forms. Tape these to the covered balloon, keeping the balloon in the center to hold candy. Apply strips of paper to the shape forms using the same technique you used for the balloon center. Try to cover the forms with one layer of paper. Do not apply more than three layers, especially over the balloon. If the papier-mache layers are too thick, breaking the pinata will be difficult.

Decorating

Allow the pinata to dry completely, at least overnight, before decorating. If you see any damp or gummy newspaper on the inside, the candy will stick to it. Cover the pinata with colorful tissue or crepe paper, using the papier-mache paste, or you can paint it. Apply stickers if desired. Allow it to dry completely, preferably overnight.

Open and Fill

Use a craft knife to make two 3-inch long slits, 3 inches apart, on the top of the pinata. Join these two slits with a slit on one side. Lift up the flap and use this opening to fill the pinata with candy or small toys. Tape the flap back in place once the pinata is filled.

String It Up

Use the craft knife to make two small holes at the top of the pinata. Pull the cut ends of the string or cord through the holes, and knot them firmly. The string can also be taped to the form and held in place with the papier-mache.

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