We recently celebrated my son’s second birthday which happens to be on Earth Day. Being an “Earth Birthday Boy” we naturally celebrate in an earth friendly fashion.
One of the many traditions in my family is to break open a pinata at a child’s birthday party. Pinatas are a hit (pun intended) with children because they usually contain treats. What kid doesn’t want a chance at breaking open a pinata! As kids we loved being blindfolded, spun in circles and pushed towards the swinging pinata for a strike.
I knew the tradition could carry on but not without a green twist, of course. The idea of this eco-friendly mission is to forgo the plastic and create a healthy and environmentally sound party which includes a pinata. Growing up we never thought about how much waste a pinata created. We just knew that when the pinata was punctured we’d get loads of candy and maybe a few plastic toys.
For my son’s first birthday we made a paper bag pinata (pictured above) and it was a success. This year my husband didn’t want to go with the paper bag method. Instead, he offered to make the balloon and paper mache method. Since we made a paper bag version last year I thought it would be a great idea to try out something different. This way, we could determine which method works better.
For the balloon method you’ll need:
A balloon (we just asked the Trader Joe’s clerk for one- they’re biodegradable):
2-3 pipe cleaners
Glue: water and flour mixture- the consistency should not be too thick or too drippy;
(We added blue food coloring to the glue for color)
Newspaper- cut into 3 inch wide strips, approx 50 strips
Blow air into the balloon and tie the end. Take pipe cleaner and bend in half twist top so that you create a loop. Then lay flat on balloon and tape down. Dip strips of newspaper into the glue mixture and slather across balloon until covered. Repeat process so that you have about 2-3 solid layers of newspaper. Once you have 2 layers you can take tissue paper (if you want) and make it a colored balloon. If you’re like me, you save every gift bag and all the tissue paper you receive from a gift, to have plenty on hand.
We took some blue tissue paper and cut it into 4 squares and smeared it onto the balloon using the glue. Make sure you make the pinata at least 2 days before the party. It needs plenty of time to dry out. Once it’s dry, you can decorate it with Modge Podge glue using magazine cut outs or whatever other decorative items you may have that will work and remain along the lines of being eco-friendly. Again, allow time to dry!
Once it’s completely dry, cut a v-shaped slice at the top rear of the balloon just big enough to get hand and candy in. Glue pipe cleaner inside balloon so that it will hold rope. Once this is done fill pinata with goodies and close back. Pinata is ready to be hung from a tree.
Unfortunately, we did not allow for dry time since we did this the night before on a whim! Then it happened to crack open trying to get it to dry. We tried to save it but it was too late. It honestly would’ve been fine had we not of waited till the 11th hour for dry time. * Moral of this story * Give yourself plenty of time to create it and for the glue mixture to dry!
Pinatas are another added expense and definitely one of those birthday “supplies” that you can do without. Especially, since the usual suspects inside a pinata contain refined sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup and have artificial flavors.
Rest assured, there are ways to celebrate a birthday using an eco pinata that contains green goodies for the little ones.
Pinata’s make the parties enjoyable for the kids and it’s just another way to keep them active. In part two, learn how to make a paper bag pinata and what you can do to make the candy into green goodies!
[This post was written by Leslie Quigley.]