How to Make a Piñata

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Total Time afternoon or evening Ages all-ages

This hot-air balloon piñata is great for first time makers -- and it makes for a nice big target for little piñateros.

What you'll need

  • 14-inch balloon, inflated
  • 10-inch bowl
  • One batch papier-mâché paste
  • 1 two-page spread each of regular newspaper and the comic pages
  • 32-oz. plastic yogurt container, cut in half horizontally
  • String
  • Hole punch
  • Glue stick
  • 5 sheets of tissue paper in bright colors, cut
  • into 3 1/2-inch squares
  • 4 lbs. of individually wrapped candies

How to make it

  1. How to Make a Pinata

    For stability while working, place the balloon in a 10-inch bowl. Fold the spread of newspaper in half and then in half again. Tear (don't cut) 1 1/2-inch-wide strips so they have a slightly rough edge (tearing along a straight edge works well). The rough edges help make a smooth overall surface. Drag a strip of newspaper through the papier-mâché paste, wipe off any excess with your fingers, and place it at an angle on the balloon. Place the second strip so that it slightly overlaps the first. Continue until the balloon has been covered with one layer of paper strips--except for a 2-inch square at the top, through which the candy will go. Give the papier-mâché; up to 24 hours to dry. Cover your leftover paste with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out (if it does, add warm water).

  2. How to Make a Pinata

    For the piñata's hanger, wrap the midpoint of a length of string (doubled up, if necessary) around the bottom of the balloon, pulling the ends up to the top; tape it to the balloon in a few places. Knot together the ends of the string 6 inches above the top. Tape the top half of the yogurt container to the bottom of the balloon. This will become the neck of the hot air balloon.

  3. How to Make a Pinata

    Cover the balloon (including the string), the neck and the bottom half of the yogurt container (which will become the hot air balloon basket) with a layer of strips of comics, placing them at a different angle from the first layer. (Using different colored strips lets you distinguish one layer from the next, ensuring a uniform overall thickness.) Allow the second layer to dry.

  4. How to Make a Pinata

    Cover the balloon, neck and basket with strips of plain newsprint going in a third direction. Smooth over any rough edges as you work. Allow the balloon to dry thoroughly.

  5. How to Make a Pinata

    Punch four holes into the neck of the hot air balloon and four into the basket. Attach string to the neck about 3 1/2 inches from the base of the balloon to later suspend the basket.

  6. How to Make a Pinata

    Dot the corners of a tissue square with a glue stick and place it just to the side of the 2-inch square on the top of the balloon. Follow with other squares in the same color, working your way diagonally down around the balloon. When you get to the bottom, start at the top again in another color, fitting the squares into a houndstooth pattern. If you want to add streamers, cut 2- by 30-inch lengths of tissue paper and glue them onto matching colored squares about halfway down.

  7. Cover the basket with squares of tissue in different colors. Attach the basket to the balloon. Puncture the uncovered part of the balloon at the top of the piñata and remove all of the balloon fragments. Make sure the inside of the piñata is completely dry before you fill it, so the candy won't stick to the sides. Fill it about halfway with the candy. Cover the opening with some tissue squares, and your piñata is ready to hang.

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