northstory + co

The making of a DIY Rainbow Pinata

I’m a grown woman.

You’d think that putting some flour and water on a balloon to dry into a mould to make a Pinata for my daughters birthday party would be easy considering there are about a 1000 DIY blog tutorials on this subject.

However, if there’s a pattern you may have noticed on my blog it’s this.

A) The first attempt at any DIY project / baking / craft I do will usually be a candidate for CraftFail.

B) I’ll tell you about it while figuring out how to do it again successfully and make you feel like “Oh Thank God it’s not just me.” I know you’re out there. I feel your pain.

So first – The story of Pinata # 1.

I used the following:

– flour mixed with water

– newspaper strips

– punch balloon (aka a bigger balloon)

According to the popular myths out there in DIY Pinata-ing, you’re supposed to do the following.

Mix your flour and water into a thin paste. Dip your newspaper strips into it and layer over your blown up balloon. Do approx 1 layer. Let dry for 1-2 days (people say it dries faster – they lie). Do next layer. Repeat for approx 5 – 6 layers.

So that’s what we did. I even got the future birthday girl to help.


Hung it up. Looked like the Death Star in my dungeon of a basement. Let dry for 1-2 days.

Then I went to do layer # 2 and even after 2 days layer #1 was still taking an eternity to fully dry.

Then the balloon popped.

And then it imploded while layer # 2 was being layered. I threw it into the basement.

The end of Pinata # 1.

It occurred to me at that point in time that every single time I’d have to do another layer, I’d have to drag out the flour + water + Pampers Box, make a giant volcanic eruption of a mess in my kitchen, clean up the giant mess, then hope to God it dried before the balloon popped and caused the paper mache part to implode again – should it be deceivingly improperly dry while I was trying to yet another layer. That could take up to 5 days if not a week of layering.

I’m sorry, what?

Seriously I love crafts, but I’m willing to bet every Elementary School teacher out there has approx 1 hour (if not 45 minutes) to get their students to do this type of paper mache project in Art class until the following week. They’re not going to drag out water + flour and Mr. Clean every single week for 5 weeks. They know there is a better way for this. My Grade 3 self was looking at me rolling her eyes right now.

Surely there had to be an easier way.

There was.

I came across an tutorial from Elisa Kleven. It basically suggested doing all your layers at once and then letting it dry for a week.

My kind of Pinata making.

In which case, learn from my mistakes.

Here’s what I did differently with Pinata # 2.

– I added school glue (approx 1 tbs) into the flour and water mix (which I made into a thinner consistency).

– I applied the flour and water mix directly onto the blown up balloon and subsequent newspaper layers.

– I did all 5 layers at once in different patterns, criss cross, vertical, horizontal. You get the idea.

**You do not have to wait for one layer to dry before you add the next. Do all your layers at once** (this was 5-6 layers)

– I did not hang it to dry to avoid straining the balloon and potentially causing it to pop earlier than it should. I sat it on a bowl in the box and I rotated it after a day to avoid it getting the bowl dent mark.

– And I got a thicker better punch balloon.

PS – Give yourself at LEAST 2 weeks before your party to do this. I’m serious. Depending on where you live (i.e. a humid climate vs the frozen arctic) your drying time may be vastly different from another persons that you read about online. This way you can ensure that it is completely dry. The actual decorating part doesn’t take long. Or find a fan and stick it in front of it to speed up your dry time.

Then I put it in the basement and I walked away for a week.

Yes a week.

I let it dry, dry, dry.

It dried.

It also had a massive hole in the bottom from the balloon tip, so I duct taped it shut.

Then I chose the side of the Pinata mould that I wanted to be the top part and cut open with a bread knife the opening for the candy. I pulled out the balloon.

Yes now it looks like Jabba the Hut.

This is the part where I am supposed to show you the healthy treats and sugar free organic candy that I put into the Pinata for the kids.

*crickets chirping*

So after I filled it with candy, I got my twine to create the hanging part and punctured 2 holes on opposites sides of the opening.

Sorry for the weird shot but it may help you get a better idea of how to twist it through. I doubled up the twine.

Once that’s done and all your treats are inside, duct tape the hole shut.

Because this is a Rainbow Pinata I needed to mark out my spaces for each colour. I was using 9 colours because apparently my 6 colour rainbow wasn’t enough once I saw Azure Blue tissue paper.

So I took a measuring tape and marked across the Pinata, 9 divided by the height of the Pinata (23″) and marked each colors as such every 2.5″ (R – red, B – blue, P – purple, etc.)

Got of all my tissue paper, one sheet in every colour that I needed and piled them on top each other.

Folded them over. Then cut them into strips. I found this way easier than doing each colour on its own because you can get all your strips cut up quicker.

I rounded the ends of my strips to look like petals as I liked the look of Pinatas with the round ends.

Using a glue stick (I went through 3 glue sticks doing this) I applied the glue directly onto the Pinata and started at the bottom with my lowest rainbow order colour. If you apply the glue to the tissue paper instead, you risk tearing it.

The top and bottom portions will only required “petals” from the strips vs whole strips to go around.

I found a spot to hang the Pinata because it made decorating WAY easier, as I could spin it and see it from all directions to ensure that the tissue paper strips were applied evenly all around.

Doing strips is also much faster than applying individual petals all over it. This is especially helpful if your Pinata is huge.

I moved onto my first strip level.

I apologize for some of these photos. My flash was not cooperating and of course the sun disappeared by the time I got to this point.

I did 3 layers of each strip within the marked “blocks” for each colour.

If you do this, try to scatter your layers so that 2 petals aren’t on top of each other, but rather create a fish scale pattern.

And when it was done, it looked like this:


Yeah after the first one didn’t survive, I can’t believe I made this either.

I had a near miss with it in the following weeks, when the rolling racks in the basement where I hung it off of after it was done (to avoid squishing the tissue paper), fell over.

I saw it on the floor and went “Oh hell no”.

It survived.

Now I am thinking “Ok maybe 4 layers would have been enough”. (*cough* adult will have to break it first *cough*)

So my Grade 3 art class self can now look at it and be proud. She is however looking at me wondering because it only took 2 weeks and 2 kitchen cleanups of a mini volcano eruption to make, if I am going to cry when it gets smashed into pieces because it looks all happy and cheerful now.


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  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 11:26 am

    omg. i don’t think i would EVER have the patience for something like this. reading your blog made me nervous enough! but i LOVE that you did it so we could all appreciate the outcome. it looks fabulous. i love the rainbow colors. yours looks better than most store bought pinatas for sure! well done. and if i ever even attempt something like this, i’ll remember the glue 😉

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      August 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Let me tell you after the first one I nearly went Ok forget this. Had it failed the 2nd time I’d be finding bristol board and duct tape.

  • Reply
    The Slow Foods Mama
    August 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

    This is absolutely beautiful, well done! Pinatas are way harder than they look, and that one looks pretty hard!

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      August 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

      They are totally harder than they look! Every time I read “It’s so easy a kid could do it” I think, yes a child probably could do this better than an adult. Well at least me.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    How will you feel when the bust that sucker open!!! After all that hard work? HA HA HA! I might have to cry and than have some skittles to settle me down. WOW… you are one dedicated “rainbow birthday” mama! Talk about determination and patience. I’m so impressed and it turned out really pretty, Alex.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    photos are beautiful – looks fantastic!!

  • Reply
    Growing Up in the Garden
    August 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I love your sense of humor! Love the pinata too! I will never have that kind of patience.

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      August 22, 2012 at 9:52 am

      I don’t have that kind of patience.I honestly think that IF I do this again, I am using an old cereal box.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 1:47 am

    It looks so great! I bet your daughter was thrilled, and the final result is awesome!

  • Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 1:48 am

    It’s SO pretty even if it sounds like it was quite the adventure. Way to go mom!! I’m pinning it! 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      August 22, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Pinterest. Good idea. I forgot I had an account. I have no time to blog this week. I have cakes to bake and rainbow ice cubes to freeze and way too much rainbow ribbon on my kitchen table.

      • Reply
        August 23, 2012 at 1:06 am

        Already pinned and already got a repin… yay!! It really came out so lovely! Hang in there… I know the feeling. I’m still recovering from last week. 🙂

  • Reply
    Victoria Elizabeth
    August 22, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Wow. This is going to sound like a hokey comment I put no thought into, but it’s actually true: That piñata is awesome. Seriously. I don’t even have kids and I kind of want to make that. The ruffles are a great idea.

    You COULD have filled it with organic baby carrots… but I’m sure your daughter will thank you for the skittles. One Halloween I was one of those people who gives out pretzel packs and organic trail mix snackpacks. And? The looks of loathing and implied idiocy were pretty scathing.

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      August 22, 2012 at 9:59 am

      L.O. L. I figure I’ll deal with a parents scorn vs an angry 5 year old who would look at me and go “Is this is a birthday party or a farmer’s market?” Your comments crack me up!!
      I also look at it this way – just like with loot bags, it doesn’t matter what you do, somebody’s parent is going to get mad or not like what you give to their kids. The thing is, when you agree to a Rainbow party, you’re pretty much giving into Food Colouring City so if your kid is hyper after the red dye you either decline the invite or bring your own food. I am vastly more terrified of her friend who has a peanut allergy and am hot washing everything I use and even making her a separate batch of cupcakes with nut free dye.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 9:52 am

    incredibly impressive. i am impressed. full marks for the rainbow theme! and the diy / eco approach.

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      August 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

      That was my secret plan all along!! I’m kidding/ I swear it’s b/c I couldn’t find a rainbow pinata anywhere in stores around me.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Beautiful, honest, hilarious. May the Force be with you in all your DIY projects! 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex @ northofseven
      August 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      LMFAO! Did I mention that Halloween is my favourite holiday? 😉

  • Reply
    August 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    It looks so pretty!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Brave New Home
    February 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Well, the end product turned out well! I’ve made lots of pinatas over the years. One I made out of brown paper bags and mache and it turned out really well!

  • Reply
    April 7, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Well my 5 year old wants a piñata for her birthday at the end of the month, thank you for the detailed instructions. Guess, I better get started if it takes that long to do. Love the final outcome with the coloured tissue paper, it is beautiful!

    Since I am in Canada and it is bloody cold I hope it dries fast. Wish me luck!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 8:37 am

    google search of rainbow pinata brought me to this post. And after giggling to myself at how much your experience sounds like something I would totally go through myself, I’m going to attempt to make a similar pinata. To heck with the $30 rainbow pinata at the party store– let’s do this! Thanks for the step by step. Off to check out the rest of your blog now 🙂

  • Reply
    October 8, 2016 at 9:45 am

    This is an amazing tutorial! Thank you!!

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