Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to make a pull-string pinata from scratch

For my daughter's 4th birthday she insisted on a Hello Kitty theme.

Mommy was happy to go along with the theme, but not so happy with the prices she found at the party stores for the theme pinatas. Add in a horror story from a friend who claimed a store-bought pinata was found to include a used pizza box....

What else to do but make one of our own!

It is not as difficult as you would think!

Step 1:

Get a good sturdy old shipping box (a clean one!) and tape it shut securely.

Step 2:

Using a knife, cut a large flap in what will be the bottom of the pinata.

Step 3:

Use the knife to cut two slits 1/2 inch to an inch apart in the center of what will be the top of the pinata. Feed a length of ribbon through both slits and tie the ends together on the inside of the box. This creates the loop from which the pinata will hang.

Step 4:

Return to the bottom flap and use the knife to cut evenly spaced slits through the flap- as many as you need/want (I did about 25). Keep the slits small- just large enough for your ribbons to lay flat through... and make sure they are slits- not holes. You want them to hold the ribbons on their own- but the ribbons to slide through when pulled.

Step 5:

Cut lengths of ribbon to serve as the pull strings.

Choose where you will have the "winning" string(s) and feed those through first. Supposedly you can just have one string and knot it on the other side to catch rather than pull though... I was worried that a good yank would pull it through the slit though- so I decided to have 2 "winning" strings. I tied them together on what will be the inside of the flap and additionally put some packing tape over the knot to ensure it doesn't go anywhere.

Then feed the other "non-winning" strings through the remaining slits.

Step 6:

Pull all the "non-winning" strings evenly on the inside of the flap so that all have a good 2-3" that will be inside the box. You only want them to come out when pulled- not from just random motion or brushing against something

Step 7:

Put the toys/candy/etc. in the box!!

Step 8:

Close the flap of the box- tucking all the inside ends of the non-winning strings inside (so they aren't caught in the flap). It will probably stay on its own (mine did)- but again- I was paranoid... so I tacked it closed with a couple pieces of packing tape- placed just far enough on the flap to help keep it closed, but not make it too secure to come apart when the winning string was pulled.

So now you have a functional pull-string pinata... but it's not pretty.... yet....

Step 9:

Time to whip out the Elmer's Glue Stick. Yup- seriously! Don't bother with any other type of glue. A glue stick with tissue paper- fabulous. I used the kind that starts off purple and dries clear... it was helpful to see where I had glue (especially since I let my daughter help me with the next part...)

Cut strips of tissue paper about 3" wide and fringe one long edge.

Using the glue stick, attach the tissue paper to the box working your way from the bottom to the top of the box, rotating as you go to cover the entire box and partially overlapping the previous layer...

Step 10:

When you reach the top of the box, continue working your way to the center of the top by making corners as you see here... (glue stick, glue stick, glue stick!)

Step 11:

When you reach the very center of the top of the box and need a final piece to make that part around the string look pretty... Cut a square of tissue paper with a hole in the center and fringe the entire border. Slip it over the loop and you are now DONE covering the box!

Step 12:

Personalization... My daughter was having a Hello Kitty themed party- so I snagged some free clipart from the web, enlarged it as large as would fit on an 8.5X11 piece of paper... then printed it off on my printer onto some white cardstock. I then cut around the border of the cartoon character to really make it pop

Use the gluestick one more time to spread glue all over the back of the cardstock and attach to the pinata.

Ta-da!!! One custom pull-string pinata!!!


jwhit8791 said...

This is awesome and just what I was looking for. Thanks so much!

Although ours will be a dinosaur themed pinata. The kids will have a blast.

Nicole Crosby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scott hosburgh said...

Thank you so much! Absolutely brilliant! We're doing cookie monster theme and I don't like the cookie monster pinata they sell in stores (it's ugly), so I will make my own :)

Cindy Haughton said...


Momzillaaaaa said...


I can't find the part that shows what and how much to stuff it with.

If one/two 'winning' ribbons can pull this "pinata" open then really what in the world could you put in there that wouldn't fall thru??

Candy is sort of heavy, but I guess party favors arent, or stickers...

Well, there you have it.

I have answered my own question!!

Note: I have used party plates in lieu of printing something up like your Hello Kitty but I wouldn't just stick the whole plate on for deco rather I cut out the theme picture from a party plate (if used and avail).

Laura G.

Amanda Housewright said...

Love this! Thank you for the detailed description!

Channing said...

Thank you for this tutorial! My husband made the box and pull-string part and then I put the paper on it. He wrapped the hanging ribbon to a short, pre-cut dowel rod inside the box to ensure that the string wouldn't pull through the box. And we also used a large plastic button on the winning string to ensure that the flap would open when pulled. Other than that, we followed your instructions to a "T" and it worked beautifully! It was the highlight of the party! So much "cheap" fun!

Criseida R. Z. de Lima said...


Unknown said...

Very helpful. Thanks a lot!

Unknown said...

This is going to be awesome for my grandsons birthday I can't wait