Turn an empty cardboard box into an impressive DIY piñata using items you already have around the house. It’s an inexpensive way to add some excitement to your child’s next birthday party.Without fail, the one thing I always know Little Man will ask to have at his birthday party is a piñata. I don’t know what it is about kids and piñatas…well…maybe I do. You get to smack something as hard as you can without getting in trouble, and the reward for all your hard work is a bunch of candy. I suppose I can see why that appeals to a five-year-old boy.
I’m happy to comply with Little Man’s requests for piñata adventures at his parties, but it just about kills me to think of spending twenty bucks on something that is going to be destroyed in ten minutes or less. Ugh. I hate wasting money…so I have learned how to make piñatas myself. It takes a bit of time, but it’s practically free and the results are better than anything you can buy.
Last year, for Little Man’s dinosaur party, I made the traditional paper mache piñata. We made a fun polka-dotted dinosaur egg that the kids got to crack open, and it was a hit!
This year, with our Paw Patrol themed party, I didn’t think paper mache over a balloon would really give the look I was going for…so I branched out in the piñata world…to cardboard boxes! I pretty much just made up the whole thing as I went, but it turned out so well that I thought I’d share the process with you in case you also value twenty dollars too much to spend it on a store-bought piñata. I spent less than three dollars on supplies (for crepe paper, and I had tons leftover). I already had everything else I needed, and you probably do, too!
Disclaimer: making a piñata is easy, but not particularly quick. I spread it out over the course of a few days, so the time commitment wasn’t too much for me, but I did wonder a few times if maybe it would have been worth just buying the dang thing at the store. Still, I got it done without any trouble, and I’m glad to have that twenty dollars still in my pocket. It’s totally doable, especially if you find a good Netflix show to watch after the kids go to bed. Just don’t try to make it a quick last minute project the night before the party.
Ready to make a piñata? Read on!
DIY Piñata Tutorial
- cardboard box (I used an old diaper box, but any box would probably work)
- utility knife/xacto knife
- packing tape
- paper/crepe paper
- glue sticks (you’ll probably go through several)
Step 1: Decide on a design & make a plan/template.
For Little Man’s Paw Patrol Party, I decided to make a replica of the Paw Patrol badge. I found an image online that I liked, but printing it on a piece of paper yielded a pretty small (i.e. – sad-looking) piñata, so I decided to make the cardboard box badge bigger–kinda like a frame for the picture. You can make your design as simple (just use the box as is!) or as complicated as you want. Just realize that the more complex the shape, the more pieces you’ll have to cut and the more taping you’ll have to do.
Step 2: Draw and cut out the pieces.
To make my piñata, I printed out a black and white version of the shape I wanted, cut it out and used a ruler to measure out a few inches from each of the major sides/angles. Then I free-handed the shape I wanted using a marker. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked pretty well. Once I had the shape drawn, I cut it out along the lines with a utility knife. I traced my cut “badge” onto another piece of cardboard and cut that out, too. Now I had a front and a back. I just needed sides. I cut off the flaps of the box, and they ended up being just the right depth for the size of the piñata. Hooray!
Step 3: Tape it all together.
I used packing tape to tape the side strips to the front piece of the piñata. Once I had gone all the way around the badge shape, I taped the back on. At this point, I realized I needed a hole to put the candy in (OOPS!), so I cut a flap in the top. Hint: I cut my flap right in the center, but that ended up making it tricky to hang the piñata. I recommend putting the candy flap off-center in the future.
Step 4: Cover it with paper
This step is really optional, but I didn’t want to have to worry about diaper box images showing under my crepe paper decorations, so I covered the whole piñata with some butcher paper I had left over from Little Man’s Halloween costume. Construction paper would also probably work well.
Step 5: Decorate!
Alright, this is the step where you really need to find yourself a good show on Netflix. I’ve been watching and loving The Great British Baking Show. (Side note: If you have any good non-scandalous Netflix recommendations, I’m always looking for a good new show).
Decorating the piñata isn’t hard, but it takes some time and patience. I used a glue stick (or three, actually) to glue crepe paper in rows all around the piñata. I found that starting at the bottom and working my way up was most efficient. You want to glue down a row, and then overlap the next row of crepe paper about half-way over the strip below it. This will give you nice color coverage, even after you’ve trimmed the fringe.
Once you glue down all the crepe paper, go back and cut each strip into fringe. The last thing I did was to print out my Paw Patrol badges on cardstock and glue them onto the middle of the piñata.
Oh, and then I gave it to my husband and asked him to figure out a way to string the thing up so we could actually use it (sometimes I forget about important details like that). Good thing he’s an effective problem-solver.
Ta-da!The piñata was officially ready for the party! As expected, the kids LOVED it. It was actually really sturdy, and the kids had a hard time breaking it open. Maybe I shouldn’t have taped it quite that much. In the end, one of the bigger kids just knocked it off the rope and my husband dumped all the candy out. The kids were totally content with that.
What do you think? Would you make your own DIY piñata, or would you rather just spend the money to buy one?
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This is an excellent idea. Thank you will definitly be giving this a shot for the boys birthdays this summer.
Glad you like it, Carrie!
Thank you so much! I could have used this for the last party we threw! I’m going to keep it for the next one for sure!
I hope you find a use for this idea in the future, Ashley. There are always more parties to plan, right? Or, how cool would it be to have a random pinata on a Saturday, just for fun!
Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries
So fun! My daughter’s never seen a pinata. She would love this!
Be careful! One she experiences the joy of the pinata, she’ll never turn back! 🙂
Wow! This turned out amazing, I love how you show the step by step pictured so we could see it come to life.
Thanks! I’m glad the step-by-step photos were helpful. I always like when tutorials I’m following do that.
I could totally see making one of these for one of my kiddos future parties! We are always lacking in games for the kids to play, and a pinata would be fantastic! Thanks for the tutorial!
Piñatas don’t take a long time to do, but they are always a hit!
I have been thinking of making this same piñata for my son’s birthday party!! Thank you so much for sharing.
I used card stock, and it is turning out great, fun to make and very affordable, thanks for the idea!
My son is four years old. I am wondering if cardboard from a diaper box would be hard to destroy for him and his friends. Does it end up opening at the seams?
The diaper box cardboard IS really strong. You could use standard cardboard instead. Also, you could use masking tape instead of packing tape/duct tape to make it easier to break.
i love the pinate wheel my son bday is in july and he said that he wanted to have a hotwheel bday i am strugling with the making of it. and any idea how to make a small party pack one for his school.
Hi Christina! Can you give me a little more information about what you’re trying to create? I’d be happy to troubleshoot with you.
Gracias por la idea de la piñata de rueda, muy fácil de elaborar.