Sylvia's birthday party. I wont tell you it was easy. For a while I thought it was. Papier mache was not so hard but working out the lollies and doing the fringing too some time. But it is not that difficult and it is heaps of fun.
Of course if I had known that we would have had all the upheaval of a death overseas I might never have started it but I am glad I did it and Sylvia just loved it at her party. So it was worth every night spent saying up late gluing on fringes in front of old re-runs of Sex and the City.
Here is my step by step lowdown for anyone who feels brave enough to attempt making a pinata and wants my two cents. I did quite a bit of online research but the main sites I used were WikiHow for the basics and then Raising Whasians and Le Coin de Mel who made Minion pinatas.
I followed Le Coin de Mel and tied two balloons together and wrapped some paper (a paper bag) around them to make a long round shape. I found this quite challenging. It need quite a bit of sticky tape. It was easier if the balloons were the same size. It was hard to get the paper nice and smooth. Even at the end the pinata was not quite smooth around the middle but it wasn't so obvious with the fringe.
WikiHow showed how to pop the balloon and take it out once the papier mache was started. It was a bit more challenging with the two balloons. I think I poked a skewer in to pop the second balloon and then I used the long long handled tongs to pull out the two balloons which of course slid to the very bottom of the balloon. (This was when I put the lollies in.)
Like Mel I made my own papier machez paste. I mixed 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 cups water and about 2 tbsp salt. I used this for the first one and perhaps made another batch but I did leave it covered in the kitchen between layers of papier mache over a few days and it was fine. The salt stops it souring too much and preserves it. It is quite different from the glue I remember using as a kid and is quite thick.
The sites said to either dip strips of newspaper in or to run your two fingers down either side of the paper strip to squeeze off excess paste. I started this way but found if paste was on both sides it was really messy to do papier mache and if I tried to squeeze it off the paste it broke the paper. So I found I just used my hands to slather on just enough paste. Perhaps a brush would help but when you are that messy hands will do. It was quite relaxing doing it and a nice task to do with a friend (thahks Kerin).
I did 4 layers of papier mache over a few days. They need to dry completely between layers. I started by hanging it from the clothes line which I think helped it dry quickly but later I found much easier to dry on a wire rack that I use for cooling cakes out of the oven. A dish rack might also do the trick
After two layers of papier mache I was convinced to put the lollies in. (If you are American I mean candy and if you are British I mean sweeties.) I used a sharp knife to cut a hole big enough to put some lollies in. The was the moment I took the balloons out of the shape.
I had found some minion chocolate coins and then bought yellow lollies. Bananas, sherbets, pineapple liquorice and crunchies. First dilemma was that I then found they should be wrapped. Luckily Kerin was about and helped me wrap the bananas and liquorice in clingfilm. She had a great production line going that I wish I could explain.
Next dilemma was finding the balance between a generous shower of lollies from the pinata and not loading up the kids with too many lollies. Once the lollies were in and we had papered over the hole was that it seemed really heavy. And that meant too many lollies for the kids, even if it didn't fall off the clothes line before being poked with a stick. While Sylvia slept I cut another hole and tipped out some lollies. In the end there were about 700g of lollies for 6 kids. On the day there was some collateral damage from pounding the pinata so that seemed about right.
Once my lolly worries were over, I worried about having the pinata strung up so it held securely. It might have been easier to weave some string inside it when I was doing the lollies in but I missed the moment. Instead I had a big plastic needle I could use to poke string in a little hole made with a skewer. Getting the plastic needle to come out again was challenging. I ended up sticky taping the needle to the skewer and finally getting it through. Next time I think I will make holes when I add lollies. I made three places the string came out so it was hang properly.
The part that took me the longest was sticking the fringe on. It was far more fiddly and time consuming than the papier mache. At times even tedious and best done in front of the tv. Fortunately I had a head start because I asked my nieces to help cut the fringes when they were at an earlier birthday lunch.
I regret I have lost the link to the person who advised on gluing the fringe. One good piece of advice is the add a dribble of water to white gloopy glue so it brushes on easier and goes further. It also kept wet if I left it overnight. To cut the fringes, we folded over pieces of tissue paper, cut into strips (about 5-7cm wide) and then cut fringing on each strip.
Once ready to glue, it was a matter of brushing a line where the top of the strip (without the fringes) would go. I found that it was easier to do one side, let it dry and turn over the do the other side. This way, the pinata would not press down the fringes into the glue while drying. The top and the bottom were hardest but I liked the crazy minion hair (a mullet!) at the top and trying to neaten up fringes was scissors was just asking for trouble!
I used the same Minion printables as Mel. It did not have a long enough black eye strip so I made my own out of black paper. We also coloured in a mouth. Sylvia was very pleased she drew and coloured in the mouth. And for the blue bottom I printed a Gru 'G'. Party hat is optional!
At the party, we hung the minion pinata on the clothes line and had the kids line up with a small stick that was a wardrobe rail we had hanging about. It seemed to take ages to break it and then the poor minion lay on the ground and got whacked a bit before we just tipped the lollies out. The kids loved it.
I kept the sweet food to a minimum and only put a few toys in the party bags. We did the pinata last and gave each kid their party bag to fill up with lollies from the pinata and take home. It was fun to see them sitting on the floor before they left with their lollies spread out comparing what they got. I was pleased there was a bit of sharing and swapping among the kids to make sure everyone got a reasonable amount.
More about the minion party.
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