Halloween How-To – Ghost Pinata

My first tutorial for the 2010 Halloween season – I’m pretty excited!!

We’re planning a Monster Mash Bash toward the end of October, and since it’s on a night when there will be no Trick-or-Treating, I thought I’d be a good idea to have an activity for the kiddies…and a way for them to get lots of candy! What better way than a pinata?!

This is a VERY down-and-dirty pinata tutorial – I am sure there are MUCH better, more polished ways to do this, but as one who has a hard time following through with projects some times, I wanted to be sure I actually finished this by the date of the party! And not only is this a quick way to make a pinata, it’s CHEAP!! All supplies came from the Dollar Store (or Tree…I can’t remember which) – so nothing was over $1.00!

Ok, let’s get started…

First, gather your supplies:

Supplies Needed: flour, water, balloons, newspaper strips...

Supplies Needed: flour, water, balloons, newspaper strips...

  • regular flour
  • plain old tap water
  • old newspapers
  • balloons (in this tutorial I use the large punch balloons – a pkg of 3 for $1)
  • 1 white rectangle plastic table covering, $1
  • rope, wire, twine, shoelace, etc – something to hang the pinata with ($1-$2, or on hand; I used a handle from a Victoria Secret shopping bag)
  • CANDY!!! (if you trust it, you can find candy at the Dollar Store…I get a little squeamish buying food there sometimes!)
  • masking tape

Cover your workspace with newspaper or a trash bag. It will get messy!

Cut the newspaper into strips about an inch wide, and 3-4 inches long. They don’t have to be perfect.

Newspapers, cut into 1 strips, about 3-4 long

Newspapers, cut into 1" strips, about 3"-4" long

Inflate your balloon…again, I used the larger punch ball balloons for my pinata as I’ll have a lot of kidlets to entertain. These are great because they’re a bit stronger than regular balloons, I think.

Punch Ball Balloons make a great base - $1 for a package of 3!

Punch Ball Balloons make a great base - $1 for a package of 3!

Mix equal parts flour and water. You want a paste – nothing super thick, but nothing soupy either. Remember, the thicker the paste is, the longer it will take to dry; however the thinner the paste is, the weaker the walls of the pinata will be. I know, I know…such a fickle beast!

Now, take one strip of newspaper at a time, and dip it into the flour-water paste, then “squeegee” the excess with your fingers (I told you’d it’d get messy!) You don’t want a lot dripping off your paper, but at the same time the strips need to be pretty coated. Once you’ve got it covered in paste, apply it to the balloon…follow a pattern if you’ve OCD like me, or just lay them on willy-nilly. If you start vertically the first layer, you’ll do the next layer horizontally and vice-versa. Leave the tied end of the balloon uncovered (you’ll need the hole later!) Once you’ve got the whole balloon covered, leave it to dry. I was able to hang mine from the dining room chandelier by the tied bit and it dried nicely overnight. Toss your left over paste as it won’t last till the next application.

Once it’s dried, cover it in another layer of newsprint & paste. You’ll want about 3 layers…4 if your paste was thin. I stopped with 3 as I got a little liberal with the amount of paste I used, and I don’t want it impossible for the kids to break open.

Pinata is taking shape!

Pinata is taking shape!

Right…now that you’ve got all your layers on and they’re all dried…you can deflate the balloon. Carefully, pop it and remove it from the pinata. If all goes as planned, you should have a sturdy newspaper shell!

Carefully pop the balloon and remove from pinata.

Carefully pop the balloon and remove from pinata.

Use the hole where the balloon was removed as the top of your pinata, as you’ll need a place to insert the hanger. Mark the spots where you’ll cut your holes…you can see how precise I am 🙂 I actually eyeballed it at about 1″ away from the main hole. Carefully cut the holes – I just used a small paring knife.

Mark the holes for the hanger...

Mark the holes for the hanger...

Get the material you plan to use as the hanger…being that I hadn’t thought that far ahead, I just used a rope handle from a Victoria Secret shopping bag. I melted the ends to be sure they didn’t fray as I inserted them into the pinata. Thread it however you see fit – I just laced it from the outside of one hole through the inside of the other…

Thread the hanger through the pinata.

Thread the hanger through the pinata.

Now, get that $1 table covering…

Plastic table cover for $1!

Plastic table cover for $1!

…remove it from the package, and cut it in half width-wise…you want two shorter, stubby halves and not two long halves. Take one half, roughly find the center of it, and place it over the top of your pinata; mark the spots where your hangers are, then carefully cut slits in the plastic. It doesn’t have to be perfectly even…

Cut slits into the table cover...

Cut slits into the table cover...

Pull the hangers through the cover

Pull the hangers through the cover

…repeat with the 2nd half…now your pinata is covered. Like I said, it’s a down-and-dirty, quick way to do it. If you want to go a bit further, you can easily cover it in crepe paper or tissue paper. I will admit that you can see the newsprint a bit through the double layer of plastic, so you may want to spray paint the pinata white before finishing it off, which I think I’m going to do.

Right…moving along! Lift up the layers of plastic and find a spot to cut a hole. Nice thing about this set up, you don’t have to worry much about what it looks like since it is covered with the plastic! Be careful when cutting!!! The walls can be a bit thin, so be gentle when cutting. I just made a half-moon shape…the paper is a bit brittle, so when you fold it back to open it up, it may crack a bit. We’ll fix this up later.

Cut the candy opening - be careful!!

Cut the candy opening - be careful!!

Start filling with candy!! Since it’s still a ways off, I haven’t bought all my candy yet…and bear in mind, this thing will get HEAVY once full – something to keep in mind when choosing your hanger material!

Fill er up!!

Fill 'er up!!

Now, fold the flap back in place, carefully. Use the masking tape to tape this back into place, and even reinforce the bits that cracked. (I haven’t added the tape yet to mine, as I’m not done filling it with candy.)

Carefully close the candy flap, and tape closed with masking tape.

Carefully close the candy flap, and tape closed with masking tape.

Put your plastic covering into place, then complete the look by adding your ghosty’s face! I mistakenly grabbed a purple marker instead of the black one, but you get the idea! You can either free-hand it like this, or use other materials to create the face – felt, paper, craft foam, etc.

Et voila!

Et voila!

There you go folks – your very easy, very cheap ghosty pinata. If you’re inspired to make one, please send me a picture of it and I’ll post them here for all to see!

I hope to have more Halloween How-To’s for you in the coming weeks…other things I have planned: costumes, Victorian-era mourning wreaths, specimen jars (using the label I posted earlier this weekend)…and who knows what else!

Happy Hauntings, boos and ghouls! 🙂

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