Colorful DIY piñatas are a great way to brighten up any child’s birthday party – they are a fantastic decoration and game all in one, not to mention packed with treats! The only thing more fun than breaking a piñata is making one – read on to learn how!
What is a piñata?
Piñatas are an integral part of parties all over the world. You’ll find a colorful piñata at almost every birthday party – and many other kinds of celebrations – in Mexico or Central America, and they’re becoming increasingly popular in the US and worldwide.
A piñata is usually made of papier-mâché and filled with candy designed to be broken open to distribute the contents. Piñatas can be virtually any shape, from donkeys to famous cartoon characters, but are almost always bright and cheerful.
As well as papier-mâché, piñatas can also be made from pottery or cloth. However, papier-mâché is fun and easy to make, and highly versatile as you can mold it into a variety of different shapes.
The highlight of any child’s birthday party is having the kids take turns with a baseball bat to break the piñata until a shower of candy rains down on the excited guests.
Where does the piñata come from?
The modern piñata has a few possible origins. It seems likely that the name “piñata” comes from the Italian word pignatta.
The Italians started a tradition of breaking a treat-filled container in the 14th century, and from there it spread throughout Europe, including to Spain. The Spanish missionaries are credited with bringing the tradition to Mexico, where they used them as a religious tool.
However, the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica also had similar traditions. For example, the Aztecs had a ceremony to honor the birthday of the god Huitzilopochtli where they placed a clay pot full of goodies and decorated it with brightly colored feathers on top of a pole.
So it is likely that the modern piñata is a combination of these European and Mesoamerican traditions.
Some people even trace the origins of the piñata back to China, where New Year was traditionally celebrated with a cox or ox-shaped object that was filled with seeds and broken with a stick.
There is also a traditional Filipino version called a Pukpok palayok, or a Pabitin.
Given that European explorers first visited Asia in the 14th century, it is possible that they first discovered the idea there!
Best DIY piñata tutorials
DIY piñatas are fun and easy to make, and great projects to do with the whole family. These video tutorials use various techniques and concepts to make colorful piñatas, from cardboard box structures to papier-mâché.
Whatever your preferred method, you’ll find the perfect tutorial for you below!
1. Mini Kawaii Piñatas
We love these adorable mini piñatas! They are Kawaii Japanese-themed, in the shape of delicious treats such as watermelon, doughnut, and ice cream with cute smiley faces.
These small piñatas are a fun way to brighten up any room, or could be used as individual party favors. The structure is made from cardboard – you can use old cereal boxes or similar and then decorate with tissue paper.
In Kawaiisweetworld’s video tutorial you’ll learn how to make a Kawaii hamburger mini piñata- complete with a smiley face, of course! It’s packed with fun techniques and easy tricks to make it look cute but realistic.
2. Easy ice cream cone piñata
This super easy ice cream cone piñata is a large piñata that all your little guests will love to break open. You can make it with just a few basic ingredients: card, tissue paper, glue, string, and adhesive tape, as well as candy to fill your piñata.
This video tutorial from CBBC walks you through the process, demonstrating easy layering techniques for creating shapes and textures out of the tissue paper.
3. Super easy cardboard box piñata
This beginner-friendly project is perfect for first-timers. You start with a cardboard box, grab some crepe streamers, ribbon, and you’ll have a colorful piñata in no time.
The piñata is nothing fancy – it’s just a square box shape, but it works! The tutorial by DIY with Tina shows you how to cut and shape your cupboard box and how to troubleshoot issues.
We like DIY with Tina’s easy technique for cutting the streamers into fringe.
We also love the idea of filling not only with delicious treats but also party masks and party blowers.
4. Classic DIY piñata
This project uses the classic DIY piñata technique of forming a round papier-mâché shape around a blown-up balloon. You can do this with sheets of paper and a simple glue mixture homemade with flour and water.
Once the papier-mâché globe is complete, you simply attach a string so you can hang up your piñata, then decorate with fringed tissue paper and finish with party cones. We like the fine fringing in this video which has an authentic Mexican look.
This process does take a bit longer than other projects on this list, as you’ll need to allow several days for each stage to dry.
This video from Aurora Public Library District of Illinois explains the process, showing you how to layer the paper and flour and water mixture together to create a nice sturdy piñata. It also shows you how to tie the string from four different angles and reinforce it, so it’s super sturdy.
5. Birthday number piñata
If you’re making a homemade piñata for a birthday party, what’s better than a piñata in the shape of the age of the birthday girl or boy? This one also makes a fun decoration for an older DIY-er’s birthday party.
We love the combination of two-toned and metallic fringe made from crêpe paper streamers. If you can’t find crêpe paper streamers in the perfect tone, you can cut strips from tissue paper and then create the fringe.
The project is easy to make, but quite time consuming, like most DIY piñatas.
TheSorryGirls’ video explains how to draw out your number while keeping it in proportion, as well as how to do rounded edges from a smooth and even finish.
Also covered in the tutorial is how to work around folds in the cardboard to keep the whole structure sturdy, as well as how thick to make the stripes and how to vary thickness for some variety.
6. Easy Play Button piñata
This piñata features a YouTube play button logo design, but you can easily adapt this to any style or design you like. You can change it up with any simple shape on the front of the piñata in a contrasting color.
What we like about this piñata is that it’s deliberately a bit fragile so that it’s easy to break open. After all, you don’t want your little guests to get frustrated because the piñata won’t break open!
All you need to do is cut up the box into sections and then stick the sections back together with strips of masking tape, incorporating a trap door for the candy, and then decorate with strips of tissue paper.
SuzelleDIY’s fun video walks you through making this easy piñata.
7. Unicorn piñata
We simply love this super cute unicorn piñata design made from corrugated cardboard, tissue paper, and metallic craft paper for the horn. Apart from these supplies, you’ll need a few staples and a bit of glue to put it together.
DIY Labs’ tutorial shows you how to make fringing from tissue paper and construct your piñata. It also features cool hacks to hang the piñata and to create the hatch let the candy out.
8. Metallic pyramid piñata
This luxe piñata is very affordable to create as all materials are cheap to buy. The double-pyramid shape and metallic finish look super chic and rather complicated, but it’s actually super easy to make.
The shape is simply eight triangles stuck together with tape, then decorated with metallic fringe, tassels, and circle dot garlands. You will need to cut out a corner with a craft knife to attach the rope to hang the piñata, which is the only slightly tricky part of the project.
The video tutorial by ClaCali goes through the project in detail, showing you how to measure out and make the 3-D diamond base, how to decorate, and how much fringe to use.
9. Papier-mâché piñata
Here’s another super easy papier-mâché piñata! You can make the papier-mâché form from paper, flour and water by layering paper strips onto a balloon.
Rather than fringe, you decorate this one with paint and tissue paper florets. The safe materials mean you can get your little ones involved, with the ingredients list being printer paper, washable kids’ paint, tissue paper, kid-safe glue, flour, and masking tape.
They’ll love getting their hands dirty with the papier-mâché and getting creative by painting the outside. Colette Kati’s video tutorial shows you how to do this step by step, including mixing the water and flour, creating the papier-mâché, decorating the piñata, removing the balloon, and filling it with candy.
10. Ice cream bricolaje piñata
This piñata uses a bricolage technique, with a cardboard box frame and a neat and elegant finish. It has a sturdy structure reinforced inside with thick cardboard.
This tutorial uses a hot glue gun, which makes the piñata super strong. However, it also means you’ll need this equipment which is a bit tricky to work with, and you’ll need to supervise young crafters very closely!
LourDestiny DIY walks you through the process in their video tutorial.
The best DIY piñatas are easy to make, with just a few basic materials and tools. If you go for a papier-mâché project, it can get a little messy – but that’s half the fun!
Many of the projects on this list are kid-friendly, so that you can keep your little ones entertained with an enjoyable, crafty afternoon. The only thing to keep in mind is that DIY piñatas can be time-consuming to make, so be sure to allow plenty of time ahead of your party.
Before you rush off to make your piñata, don’t forget to share this article on social media!