DIY – Pull String Pinata

Birthdays are my most favorite time of year.  If I’m being honest with you fellow momma friends, in my opinion birthdays should be called birthmonths because that’s how long I like to celebrate!  My daughter recently turned two and I knew that I wanted to have a special celebration for her and her “school” friends.  I booked the venue, picked the theme (Sesame Street) and then got stumped on activities.  I scoured Pinterest and found tons and tons of fun games and activities for children…but that was the problem, children not toddlers!  I was about to give up when I came across “pull-string pinatas.”  Of course, being from the RGV I was familiar with pinatas but had never heard of a pull string…I was intrigued.

So what is a pull string pinata?  

It’s basically a pinata that has many strings that hang from the bottom of it.  Those strings can be pulled at a specific time to break open the pinata allowing all the goodies to come spilling out.  That’s right, all the benefits of a pinata without the hazards of having two year olds attempt to swing a stick.  It’s quite simple and is very similar to making a traditional pinata using paper mache, however there are a few modifications that must be done.  There are plenty of tutorials online however I wanted to share what I did and what I would have done different (if I had to do it again).  Let me warn, this is not a quick project.  It is time consuming and tad bit tedious at times, but it is totally worth it!  So let’s get started!

Materials Needed:

  • Ball or Balloon
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Newspaper Strips
  • Tape
  • Single Hole Puncher
  • Curling String
  • Crepe Paper
  • Construction Paper

Since my theme was Sesame Street, I chose to make an “Elmo” head as my pinata.  I opted to use a big bouncy ball as my starting point to make sure it was round, but you can use a large balloon as well.  I set the ball in a bowl so that it wouldn’t be rolling around making a huge mess (did I mention, this is a messy project?) I taped a piece of cloth ribbon creating a loop shape so that I could hang the pinata once it was ready for the party.  I made my paper mache mixture using one part flour and one part water.  In my research, I read that you could add glue to the mixture but in my opinion, for it to be easily “breakable” for small children, using just water and flour should be sufficient.  The texture reminded me of a runny pancake batter, but feel free to add flour or water to whatever you feel will work best.  To paper mache, simply cut newspaper into strips.  Dip the strip into the flour/water mixture, wipe off the excess paste and then stick the wet paper onto the ball.  It doesn’t have to be in a precise order and overlapping in encouraged.  Make sure any gaps are covered.  Now the boring part…you wait for it to dry.  Being the impatient person I am, I blasted the blower dryer on it…but it didn’t do much good.  I set it outside on a hot day and let it “bake” naturally.  (Since I had it in the bowl, I had to flip it to allow the bottom side to “bake” halfway through the drying process.)

DIY Pull String Pinata :: RGV Moms BlogOnce it was dried, I kept the bottom facing up and drew the three sided “opening” and proceeded to cut it open.  This was quite terrifying for me!  Remember the intact ball is under the newspaper and I was very scared of the explosion that would occur if I stuck a knife to it. (I realized my fear of balloons popping while doing this)  Full disclosure:  I’m a total chicken and I had someone else do the initial stab!  Surprisingly, the air slowly let out and there was really nothing to be worried about.

To make sure the hatch was sturdy enough to hold all the goodies, I added a layer of duct tape.  Since I had invited 13 kids to the party, I added a few extra hole punches in case of additional guests.  The duct tape made it difficult hard to pierce through!  I found that the hole puncher gave the initial stencil of the circle and then I had to use the knife point to puncture through the duct tape.  I threaded one really long piece of curling ribbon per two holes (both ends of the ribbon were on the outside of the pinata and I secured the middle of each ribbon with…you guessed it, more duct tape!)

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To ensure that the bottom didn’t bust open due to the weight of the goodies, I added cardboard latches to each side of the hatch.  (Sorry, somehow I lost those pictures!)  Basically, I cut out cardboard rectangles that I duct taped to the perimeter of the hatch.  This allowed the hatch to sort of lock in to place.  So now the bottom is complete, let’s move on to the top!  It’s basically the same concept…add duct tape for reinforcement and add a few holes so that it can be strung to be hung.

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Once all the reinforcing and stringing have been done, it should look something like this:

DIY Pull String Pinata :: RGV Moms Blog

Isn’t it a beauty?  (Those random pieces of duct tape were placed on any little cracks I may have caused)  We’re halfway through…don’t quit yet!  Next is the decorating.  Since Elmo is slightly furry, I didn’t need it to be precise.  I added a strip of glue to the pinata and placed a small strip of crepe paper.  I overlapped and was crooked on some parts…but I like to think I was giving my pal Elmo some character (yes, I said pal…I warned you it was a lengthy process).  If I was doing it over, I would have spray painted the entire pinata ball red before adding any paper decorations.  This would have helped to hide any of the ugly newspaper clippings that peeked through.

DIY Pull String Pinata :: RGV Moms Blog

And finally…Just add the face.  I used a combination of poster board, felt and a foam sheet but construction paper will work just fine.  Get creative and have fun!

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