How to: Make a rose piñata

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.

After a go with the blind fold, let them swing at it with both eyes open!
Trust me. The little kids don’t need the blind fold.
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And the goodies begin to fall!

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.

A rose piñata

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
Scissors
Sticky tape
Glue
Wool or string

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Old boxes work perfectly for this!

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.

Make a couple of holes and thread through your wool. Before you start covering it...
Make a couple of holes and thread through your wool. Before you start covering it…

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.

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Even though small children love to wave the piñata stick around, they rarely 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, but not so much they can’t break it apart.

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.

Leave some overhang eitherside of the opening.
Leave some overhang eitherside of the opening.
Tuck the flaps up once the pinata is filled with goodies.
Tuck the flaps up once the pinata is filled with goodies.

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.

Unfold the cut crepe paper strips into a delicate fringe.
Unfold the cut crepe paper strips into a delicate fringe.
Glue the strips on so the fringe covers the solid half of the one underneath.
Glue the strips on so the fringe covers the solid half of the one underneath.

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.

Wrap the fringe over the sides.
Wrap the fringe over the sides.
Cover the back and sides with the fringe strips.
Cover the back and sides with the fringe strips.

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.

Layer the petals.
Layer the petals.

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.

Glue the petals together like an upside down plane.
Glue the petals together like an upside down plane.
Glue the petals in position between the yellow petals, making sure the pointed ends meet in the centre.
Fill it up!
Fill it up!

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!

Ready to party!
Ready to party!
Hit big Bubby!
Hit big Bubby!
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Quasi Day, Making New Traditions

Growing up, Dave and I both had friends of our parents that were just that little bit extra special to us. Letting us hang out at their place talking, feeding and looking after us as though we were one of their own. They were simple relationships, but ones that even now as adults, we look to  with love, trust and respect. As parents, we’ve chosen to foster similar relationships between a few close friends of ours and our girls, so that they too may have the opportunity to grow up with strong and varied role models in their lives outside our immediate family.

Quasi Cake
Quasi Cake

We started it off with Bubby, and that was when the term ‘Quasi-parent’ was coined by one the friends we’d asked to be one of these special people, and we loved it. It was fun and light-hearted, but with the right amount of sentiment towards the relationship. Others might call it a ‘god-parent’ situation, but as our family and  friends are a diverse bunch, this fits us and the relationship it represents perfectly. We celebrated these friends and officially welcomed Bubby into the family with a day at the amazing property at Armytage House, including a warming lunch of wood-fired quail and pizzas in the middle of a freezing cold and drizzly Hobart winter.

So a couple of weekends ago it was Boo’s Quasi Day. This time around our family has grown and seeing as we now have a lounge room bigger than a shoebox and not to mention the awesome new deck in our backyard, we decided to host her special day at home. We try to keep these intimate so invited our usual family members (grandparents, siblings, partners and kids), some friends and the 2 couples of Quasi Parents-to-be (one couple all the way from London) and their children.  So just a small, intimate luncheon for 20 odd.

Quasi-Matt and Boo entertain the guests
Quasi-Matt and Boo entertain the guests
Mama takes a quick selfie with the party girl!
Mama takes a quick selfie with the party girl!

I’d had my hopes up after days of glorious Hobart winter sun, but unfortunately when the day came, the weather decided to be particularly cold and wet so we were forced indoors for the most part. It didn’t stop us from enjoying a delicious lunch of Felicity Cloak’s Perfectly Pulled Pork recipe, Martha Stewart’s Tofu Scramble with Cotija Cheese, barbecued garlic prawns on skewers and corn on the cob served with a red cabbage coleslaw, fresh baps and mayo.

Perfectly pulled pork and calendula flowers
Perfectly pulled pork and Calendula flowers

To finish up, Dave gave a little speech to introduce and thank our newly appointed Quasi-Parents Matt and Paulette, and Craig and Jon and we welcomed Boo into the family with a rather larger-than-expected layered ombre Pandan cake with palm sugar icing, accompanied by Elsie’s delicious chocolate slice with coconut and brandied kumquat. Yummo.

And that’s how we celebrate Quasi Day, or as Bubby and Little G seemed to think,  there was a whole day to just for their favourite Ocotnaut “Kwazi’…

Papa gives a speech
Papa gives a speech
Bubby enjoying the many layers of ombre pandan cake
Bubby enjoying the many layers of ombre pandan cake
Glenn kindly let me steal some of his succulants for the cake decorations
Glenn kindly let me steal some of his succulents for the cake decorations
Succulants from the other house pretty up the cake
succulents from the other house pretty up the cake
Bubby sneaks in a story from Quasi-Craig
Bubby sneaks in a story from Quasi-Craig
Farewelling London Quasi-parents Craig and Jon
Farewelling London Quasi-parents Craig and Jon

Think before you pink

Bubby, Little G and I were off getting an ice-cream after a morning’s play in the local park. Little G who was experienced in ice-cream selection quickly chose the flavour ‘Rainbow’ for himself and then announced that Bubby, who was not yet experienced in ice-cream selection would like the ‘Pink’ one. “Because she’s a girl”, he added. Ever looking up to her older cousin Bubby quickly parroted Little G’s choice of ice-cream for her as her own and they happily devoured their treats on the bench outside until they were covered in a lovely sticky mess.

Pink (aka strawberry) ice cream is a must.
Pink (aka strawberry) ice cream is a must.

Bubby had never expressed a preference for pink before this. She was quite happy with all colours equally, however from then on, pink was the go-to choice when given one. For her birthday I asked her what kind of cake she would like. “A pink one” she replied. She then told her Papa she was to have a pink birthday party. I needn’t tell her answer to what type of present she thought she might like… That’s right, a pink one.

And a pink cake it is!
And a pink cake it is! Photo credit Kat Barrington Photography

I’ve previously written about my position on pigeon holing girls into ‘girl’ colours and have ensured a range of boy, girl and unisex toys has been at her disposal since birth.  Bubby used to love to wear anything that been part of Little G’s wardrobe despite the ‘boy’ colours, but now she is irresistibly drawn to pink and anything that resembles a tutu (but that’s another tale to tell).  I realised that even through a simple ice-cream suggestion of ‘pink’ instead of ‘strawberry’ my daughter’s belief that girls should like pink had begun. Not just that they might like it, but that it was the colour for girls.

This desire for pink did not come from either of our houses – nor had Little G’s opinion about girls wanting pink ice-cream. So where had it come from? Maybe she does really genuinely like the colour now, or is she in autopilot thinking she’s supposed to like what all the other little girls at care were wearing? Was I concerned because I wanted my girls to explore outside the box? Or did it really only irk me because this monochrome loving mama would like her daughter to have more appreciation for the rarely-pink-but-still-ever-so-stylish clothing and play-things that I’ve carefully selected for her, rather than the garish and glittery mass-produced pink plastic stuff she is drawn to?

Pink. Pink. Pink.
Pink. Pink. Pink.

But no, it’s not just me trying to be a trendy, new-age mum (at which I fail repeatedly). There is some serious campaigning going on around this topic. One such campaign Let Toys be Toys, has recognised how the gender stereotyping for girls and boys has regressed over the years. Instead of liberating our children to be who they want to be, this relatively recent marketing for toys and clothing by colour-coding them into extreme ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ colours is hindering their choices by stereotyping the available selections.

Toys and play are essential to our kids learning development. By marketing toys with gender colours it limits the appeal to not just either sex, but the many parents and relatives whom are reluctant to by buy a gendered toy for the opporsite sex. Melissa Hine, a Professor of Psychology at Cambridge University, outlines in her article ‘There’s no good reason to push pink toys on girls’, that by limiting their choices, we’re impacting the development of social, verbal, writing and spacial skills  for both girls and boys. Hine firmly agrees that “Parents are right to be worried about the obsession with pink for girls”. So the next time I have my internal struggle about which colours to buy, I’ll know its not just about my own personal taste (ha) as I reach for the trendy, unconventional option and Bubby can just thank me later.

For the record, Little G’s favourite colour is Black.

If you're going to go plastic..
If you’re going to go plastic..

More on Pink at the Two Houses…

Pink is for girls

The cool change in weather has meant its time to rug up and our littlest resident of  the Two Houses was in need of some itty bitty under garments that had disappeared into the abyss known as ‘storage’. Unable to locate them, off we went shopping to find Baby Boo some singlets. Although they came in white and pink, the size I needed was only available in blue. Blue. It was the nice pale blue that many baby designs comes in and yet my instinct was to not buy them for my baby girl. But why? Now I’m a strong and vocal advocate for providing girls with a variety of colours, stories, toys and experiences. I’m the mother continually explaining that my baby ‘boy’ was indeed a girl in unisex coloured clothing (for the second time round). And still, here I was standing in front of a row of miniature singlets contemplating if blue was acceptable or to keep searching for white or pink.

After standing there for far too long and a few stern words with myself, I bought the blue ones.

But this is not the first time I have felt this inner conflict recently. On another shopping trip to source winter pyjamas for Bubby, my eldest daughter, I found myself surrounded by a sea of various shades of pink and purple in garish designs. Now it’s not that I object to pink and purple as ‘girl’ colours,  I object to only these ‘girl’ colours being readily available. I recalled a graphic quote that I had come across by www.GRRRLcamp.org

pink

I felt this was a fairly simple and important task to providing my daughters with the opportunity to explore and make their own choices, yet there I was holding several pairs of pajamas in colours and designs I simply didn’t want to choose from. And so I headed to the boys section and there I found some awesome patterns. Not a splash of garish pink or purple in sight.

That day I left feeling strong and confident that I would be a positive influence through the choice of my daughters pyjamas. And although Bubby was very happy with her two new pairs of warm flannelette pyjamas in pink with white polka dots (I liked the style of these ones) and a pair with blue, green and grey cars. I think despite the angst I went through in their selection, she still prefers the pink ones. Sigh.

Afterthought…

Since writing this blog we’ve added a pair of pyjamas with dragons, castles and knights. These are now currently her favourites.