The lone decoration* at our monthly potluck on Saturday. A handmade pinata to go with our taco bar theme. For my it’s-my-birthday-but-this-isn’t-a-birthday-party party. Just a regular old potluck that happens to have a whale dangling over the table.
DIY instructions for making your own pinata?
1. Put down the paper mache.
2. Step away from the newspaper.
3. DON’T DO IT.
If you value your time, don’t spend hours of days over the course of more than a week making something that will only be smashed to smithereens. Because of this, our whale friend survived the party in tact, and is still hanging in our dining room because I don’t know what else to do with it, but we sure as heck weren’t beating on it mere hours after I finished it. FINALLY.
The poms were much more satisfying, cleaner, and could be done while watching 500 Days of Summer from Netflix. I think when I turn 26 I’ll just make 26 poms and hang them around the room. Whale friend will probably still be there, just a little sun bleached. It did turn out pretty cute (I think, even though I forgot fins until the last minute) and everyone was impressed. Still probably wouldn’t do it again.
My poor future children will have to have generic donkey pinatas because Mama learned her lesson.
Ok, ok, here’s how to make a pinata:
1. Use a balloon for the main form. Do one layer of paper mache (I mixed flour, warm water, and Elmer’s glue in a goopy mixture and used plain old 1 inch strips of newspaper. Let dry completely on all sides, takes about 12-24 hours cause it needs to rotate.
2. Form appendages, etc (in this case, a tail, and had I been thinking properly, fins) using newspaper or plastic bags (lighter) and masking tape. Attach to balloon form with masking tape. Cover entire thing in another layer of paper mache. Let dry for another day.
3. Technically for a sturdy pinata you should do another layer here. I skipped this because I was getting tired of scraping dried glue off our table. Use drop cloths and messy clothes. Even if you are a neat person, this is not a neat project!
4. You have two options: paint the pinata white or the basic color that your tissue will be, or do a final paper mache layer using plain white paper. The newsprint will bleed through the tissue so you have to cover it.
5. Cut a small flap into the hollow balloon part of the pinata and remove the popped balloon if possible. Fill with candy and small toys (or dollar bills, that’s fun). Tape the flap shut.
6.Cover with tissue, which will take you roughly twice the amount of time you think it will. Cut 1 inch strips of colored tissue, snip into fringe, and glue strategically, starting with one end and working your way to the other. It helps to draw out the different color sections on the body of the pinata before gluing so you can follow the pattern you made. I probably spent 8 hours on this step alone.
7. Admire your handiwork, hear the oohs and ahhs, then hand someone a blindfold and a bat and listen to the thwaps. Now you’ll know what I’m talking about.
*I lied, we also had peonies for decoration. So pretty.
Have you made a pinata? Could you bring yourself to hit it? What is the craziest shape pinata you’ve seen? I’m getting to be pretty fond of Whale. We’ve spent a lot of late nights together, after all.
Photos by Maggie Morgan.