When we think of Cinco de Mayo, we dream of endless margaritas and a bottomless bowl of guacamole and crisp tortilla chips. Beyond the menu, though, there’s more to a Mexican fiesta than just the fare. What about activities?
A piñata is a must-have at any traditional children’s party in Mexico, though its origins are rooted in both Chinese and European culture. In Italy, the idea of hitting a container filled with treats dates back to the 14th century — hence the Italian word pignatta. From there, the custom has spread throughout the world and has been adapted mostly by Latin American countries.
In honor of the festive holiday, we’re embracing the game and making it our own — and giving you the lowdown on how to create your own piñata at home.
Here’s what you’ll need:
• recycled cardboard
• tissue paper
• masking tape
• glue stick
• thick twine (pipe cleaners will also work)
Create the Shape
You’ll start by cutting the cardboard into the shape of your piñata. If you’re going for something curved, you can bend the cardboard, but remember that you’ll need identical pieces for both sides. Use plenty of tape to make sure your shape holds. Cut a flap on the top of your piñata and use the twine or pipe cleaners to secure it (this will be where you add the candy).
Cut the tissue paper into strips and fold it. Then cut fringe about halfway up the strips. When you unfold them, the fringe will extend the length of each strip. Glue these to your cardboard shape, being careful to overlap the strips so only the fringe is showing (glue the uncut tops).
You can also add sequins, glitter, crystals, ribbon, and feathers to give your piñata more character.
If you want to create round shapes without struggling with cardboard, you can try papier-mâché. Use a balloon as your mold and cover it with strips of newspaper soaked in papier-mâché paste, being careful to leave a hole at the bottom large enough for candy.
This article was originally published on April 30, 2013.