Birthdays were always really, really special occasions for us growing up. From the moment we woke up, Mum would have made sure our day was filled with fun birthday celebrations – an awesome cake, delicious food (of course), games, decorations and sparkle, and always with lots of friends and family.
Now that I have my own children, I realise how much effort that must have taken her every year coming up with new party ideas for the three of us, let alone pulling off everything that goes with a party. But these fond memories encourage me to think creatively about creating the same wondrous experiences for our girls.
Being a designer, concocting up decorations and pretty food isn’t so hard, but suitable party games for 1-10 year olds has had me stumped. Thankfully after a couple of unsuccessful pass the parcel attempts at Bubby’s first and second birthdays (big tears), I’ve cottoned onto the piñata craze. It’s awesome. The kids get to bash something and everybody gets some goodies. Last year I bought one, but there are only limited designs readily available here and after something to fit in with a yellow rose theme for Boo’s first birthday, I decided to create my own.
Even though small children love to wave the piñata stick around, they don’t really have enough force to make more than a dent. So the trick with this piñata is to use just enough tape and glue to keep everything in place (with a little extra on the bottom to hold the weight of the fillings), but not so much they can’t break it apart.
You will need:
Thick cardboard with a corrugated centre
Yellow crepe paper
Yellow tissue paper
White tissue paper
Wool or string
Draw 2 large circles approximately 50cm diameter and a 12cm x 45cm rectangle on your cardboard and cut out neatly. Poke 2 holes through one circle near the top and thread through your wool or string leaving enough to hang it up securely on the party day.
Roll the rectangular strip into a tight roll to give it some curl. Starting from just above the underside of the circle (but not the very bottom), tape the strip along the edge of 1 cardboard circle, forming the strip to the curve as you go. Remember to use only just enough tape to keep it in place, with extra to the bottom half to help carry the weight of the goodies that will go inside the piñata when its finished. There will be a gap between the ends of the strip – this so you can fill the piñata after is decorated. Tape the second circle the top side of the strip to form a shallow cylinder.
Cut a 12cm wide x 65cm strip of crepe paper and glue over the piñata sides leaving 5cm flaps either end to cover the opening. When complete you can tuck these in and cover up where you’ve snuck the treats in.
While still folded up, cut the remaining crepe paper into 5cm strips. Make 3cm deep by just under a cm wide cuts in each of bundle – these will unravel to form the fringe. Unwrap the first bundle part way and glue the top half of the fringe in a strip across the bottom of the back circle. Let it over hang the circle, you’ll trim this later. Glue next strip so that the fringe of the top covers the solid section of the one underneath and so on.
When the strips get to where the top of the opening is on the side, glue the start of the next strip to the front circle, and wrap over the sides, then glue to the back circle, wrap over the other side and glue the other end to the front circle. Keep covering sides and back face with fringe until the whole back face is covered. Trim the bottom fringes to the shape of the circle.
Cut out a petal shape in the white tissue paper that is large enough to overhang the circle. You’ll need 24 white petals. Starting from the top, lightly glue 8 petals down leaving a gap between each. Glue the remaining 16 over each petal so you have a layer of 3 petals. The aim is to stick the petals on, but letting the tissue paper petals look like they’re layered and not flat.
Cut out a similar petal shape in the yellow tissue paper, again large enough to overhang the circle. You’ll need 16 petals. Glue 8 of these in a similar fashion spacing them between the white ones. Lightly glue the rest over the top.
Cut out a smaller petal shape in the yellow tissue paper, with one pointed end. You’ll need 16 petals. Fold these in half lengthways to form a crease. Fold a petal in half and apply glue to one side, then press a second folded petal on top. Unfold the petals to form an upside down paper aeroplane shape. Repeat until you have 8 of these. Glue these in position between the yellow petals, making sure the pointed ends meet in the centre.
Fill the piñata with awesome goodies – this year I stuck with a couple of types of chocolate in yellow wrappers and yellow sherbet, but you can mix it up a bith with small trinkets like stamps and rubbers. Tuck the flaps back up to hide the opening. Hang the piñata securely off a strong tree branch, or as we do off our pinned down swing set. Handing over a big stick or bit of timber dowel, blind fold the big kids and be prepared to have a round where you just let the little ones have a swing at it with both eyes open. Trust me. The little kids don’t need the blind fold.
And the best bit for me, was after finding out I’d made the piñata , the sweetest little guest whispered to me that she thought it was a bought – because it had tassels and all!