Thursday, March 12, 2009

Simple, Handmade Party Piñata for Kids

Yikes! Sorry this blog has been a little neglected. So much going on - I'm drowning over here! Latin Baby is sucking the life outta me and the LBBC has so much going on right now. Not to mention family trips, house projects and my daughter's birthday.

La niña had the best time the last few weeks preparing for her cumpleaños. She fell in love with the Jungle Book story a few months ago and decided that she wanted a JB party. The last few weeks have been busy transforming our living and dining rooms into a jungle. We used up my entire stash of green construction paper to make leaves for vines and trees. It took so many leaves to transform our house that we started going cross-eyed and by the end, my daughter's colorful rainbow colored leaves had turned into mami's no-nonsense ones that were lucky to get a green vein drawn down the middle.

Since she is the daughter of one former zookeeper and one current bird curator, she has plenty of stuffed animals to decorate the house. Toucans were perched on our mantels and entertainment center; the previously mentioned vines had monkeys hanging from them; snakes, rabbits, frogs and lizards peeped out from around the couch, tables and chairs.

But the best moments of the party were definitely those of the piñata. Absolutely no child's birthday party is complete without one. We had the best (and worst) time making them last week. I was all "Oh, ja! No problema! Easy-peasy!"


Chihuahua, I had the hardest time making the paper maché balls! Turns out, I don't think I put enough layers on mine and even though we made three, I made the mistake of putting them outside in our greenhouse to dry (away from little deditos, you know?) and it was too cold, so they didn't dry very well. Then, I had the brilliant idea to bring them in and put them on top of the floor vent to let the central heat blow them dry. "POP!" goes the first balloon and the paper maché with it. So I just put the next two close to the vent but not on top. They sorta dried, but not completely before my daughter’s piñata making girl friend arrived. While the kids got busy cutting tissue paper to decorate, I struggled to attach the star points. Long story, short (too late!) we finally reverted to the cardboard box method. There are advantages to having shipping boxes coming out of your ears. The girls had a blast gluing tissue all over the boxes and they went over wonderfully at the party! They may not have been the most beautiful piñatas ever made – but they were to my kids and their friends.

So I’ll share with you a few tips. If you’re ever in the need for a quick birthday piñata, all you need is a cardboard box, tissue paper in assorted colors, Elmer’s glue, a plastic lid (optional) and some tape.

- First, set your kids to work cutting little squares out of the tissue paper. They don’t have to be perfect, but each one should be roughly 2 inches square.
- While they’re doing that cut the tape holding the bottom of the box closed (if there is any.)
- Then squirt a dollop of glue onto a little plastic plate or plastic lid (for little kids it’s easier.) Take your square of tissue and wrap it around your index finger and dip it into the glue so that only a small dollop in the middle gets glue on it. Then put it on the box.
- Cover the entire surface of the box. You can do the bottom, but unless you have a place to hang it from until swinging time starts, any tissue on the bottom will probably get squished. You can add streamers from the bottom of the box, but they will be the first to go (as you can see in the picture!)
- We did two piñatas. For the first one, just use three or four pieces of Scotch tape to hold the bottom flaps closed. Add some newspaper to the bottom and add candy and/or small toys. This first piñata will give quicker and really get the little kids worked up for the second one.
- For the second one, hold the bottom flaps together with ONE piece of packing tape. You’ll be amazed how well this holds and it gives the kids plenty of whacking time.
- To hang it, an adult should use a pair of scissors to poke a little hole in the middle of each top flap, just a couple of inches down from the edge. Cut a short piece of rope about 12 inches long. Fold in, the other two flaps first, then partially close your hole-y flaps and run each end of your rope through the holes and make a knot to make like a purse strap. Now your piñata can easily be attached or removed from your main swing rope line that has been tossed over a high branch in your yard.
- After the kids have had several turns, let the parents in on the action. I’ve never seen so many gringos having such a good time!
- Keep all kids well clear of the area. Even if the box opens and spews its contents, that dangerous, obsessive, little kid with the stick will still whack away. Trust me. Even the kindest, sweetest children turn into swinging monsters once that stick gets in their hands!
- REMEMBER TO KEEP REMINDING THE SWINGER NOT TO LET GO OF THE BAT! M’ija did and it bounced off the head of one of her guests (fortunately she was pretty tough and didn’t so much as sniffle.)
- And lastly, after it’s all over, if you’ve got a giant paper mess in the yard, have a contest to see who can pick up the most paper (girls vs boys works nicely.) You’ll be amazed how a little friendly competition speeds up clean-up time.
For older kids, you can get a little more creative with your tissue paper and make strips of fringed tissue paper that you can carefully wrap around your piñata box in layers, possible alternating colors.

Now, I hope you have all found this giant post helpful!


Tati said...

Wow! How amazing is this! Thanks for sharing your tip! I will have to check back at your blog!

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