How to do a Pinata Party

What is a Pinata?
A Pinata is a hollow paper mache' decoration, sometimes shaped like an animal, sometimes shaped like a cone or a ball with colorful crepe paper streamers hanging off of it. Pinatas are a fun tradition at many Mexican and New Mexican birthday parties.

How do I Get a Pinata?
While you can make one with a balloon, newspaper, and paper mache, for the purposes of this article, I recommend that you look for one at your local grocery store, party supply store like Party City, Toys R Us, or even Wal-Mart. They may be more difficult to find, depending on your geographical location.

How do I Set Up a Pinata?
Once you have found your pinata, you need to fill it. First, you need to purchase enough wrapped candy and small toys (like rubber balls, plastic rings, etc) to fill the inside.

Next, you need to take a sharp knife and cut a hole about four inches across and four inches wide to pour the candy in. You do not need to cut the hole completely out, you can cut it on three sides like a flap, and then it will be easier to replace once you have filled the pinata with the treats.

Where you place the hole is also important. You do not want it close to where the pinata will be hanging by the string, or it will weaken it too much and the pinata won't hang. You also don't want the hole on the very bottom, because it might spill open, dumping out the candy before the pinata has even been hit. Once you've placed the hole, cut it, and filled the candy, tape the hole shut with some strong, clear packing tape.

Hanging the Pinata:
You will need a long rope, probably twenty feet long, and somewhere to "hang" the pinata. An 8 to 10 foot high tree branch is usually the best hanging place for a pinata. Once you've attached the rope to the pinata, throw the rope over the tree branch. The branch will act as a type of "pulley" so that when someone pulls down on the extra rope hanging over the branch, the pinata will go up, and when they release the extra rope, the pinata will go down.

Hitting the Pinata:
First, designate someone to be the rope puller. It is this person's job to raise and lower the pinata to make it difficult for the hitter to make contact with the pinata. Second, you will need a large stick or a base ball bat. Third, you will need a blindfold.

Once you have located all these things, it is the birthday boy or girl's turn to hit. Each person gets three swings to try and break open the pinata, and then it is the next person's turn. Blindfold the birthday boy or girl and have them hold the baseball bat. Then you spin them around three times and face them toward the pinata. Have them reach out the bat so that it touches the pinata and they know where to swing. The rope puller then moves the pinata up and down as the batter swings the bat, so that it is difficult to hit.

Everyone should gather the candy as it falls out of the pinata. Keep taking turns until the pinata is broken completely open and the candy and treats have landed everywhere. Have fun!

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