Monday, February 28, 2011

Birthday Party Series- Pinata on the Cheap

With three boys in the house, we try to celebrate their birthdays with a lot of panache and hoopla. However, being on a budget can easily put a kink in my plans. I love to make the boys feel special and we celebrate their days to the best of our abilities.

I tend to go "old school" on the parties. We don't host the entire class or rent out Chuck E. Cheese's. We tend to invite all the boys in the class or stick to just the neighbor kids. I try to host it in our house or the backyard. I might let the kids swim in the pool, have water fights, camp in the yard, sleepover, go fishing, etc. BUT it doesn't cost me anything except some sanity.

I think the kids enjoy having their friends over and I try to schedule games, cake and ice cream, and plenty of free play. I stick with games that don't require specialty items. I have found that two or three games are ideal and then I let the boys play on their own. They seem to prefer that over another round of "pin the tail on the donkey". I hate the sticker shock of store bought pinatas and all the party favors.

I have learned how to make a mean "gringo" pinata. If the kids ask for one, I make our own. I use a large balloon, strips from the Sunday paper, and a lot of flour mixed with water. I dip the strips into the goo and wrap them around a hanging balloon. Then we let it hang dry. I tend to put several layers of paper around it and for the older boys I wrap some duck tape just to make it interesting.

When it is dry, you pop the balloon with a knife and cut a small door near the top. I fill it with dollar store goodies like pixie sticks, gum, army men, tootsie rolls, pennies, etc. I have even reused parade and Easter candy if I have it sitting around. After it's filled, I tie strings around the middle to make a hanger. I prefer to have 6 strings tied together to use at the top, but it doesn't matter. I like to make the pinata a bit more difficult for the older boys and I don't want them batting it across the room and breaking a window.

After it's filled and hung, I take crepe paper streamers and cut slits 3/4 the way up the strip to make it fringed. I take a little school glue and start at the bottom and glue it around and around. Soon it looks pretty cool. I do use different colors that fit our themes and I attach a few loose hanging ones on the bottom. Then I let it dry.

There is a lot of drying time, so it takes about a week before you will have a complete pinata. I tend to make several at a time so I don't have to freak out two days before a birthday. One year I made all the daycare kids pinatas for their birthdays and they loved them. It doesn't matter what you put in them or make them look like, because the best part is hitting something with a stick and not getting into trouble.

I know this is a plain jane pinata, nothing fancy, but it is a lot cheaper than a $30 Optimus Prime pinata who is already fated for a pile of rubble. It's not a traditional pinata that you would see at Cinco De Mayo celebration, but you can get fancy and add shapes to the pinata by using paper cones and toilet paper tubes, but I don't bother. It's fun to make with your children and they feel special, because Mom or Dad made it just for them. In the end, a homemade pinata is a lot more valuable than the mass produced one from Wally World.