Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with this kid-friendly mini piñata craft! The tradition of making piñatas goes back centuries in Mexico and remains a colorful feature of parties there to this day.
This pequeño piñata is fun to make and a blast to use again and again. Since no one could bear to break apart this adorable D.I.Y. donkey, he’s made with a secret opening. Just pull the string to release the treats!
What you’ll need:
- Cardboard (the sides of a large cereal box work well)
- Single serve cereal box (or similar size box)
- At least 2 colors of sticky notes
- Glue or tape
- Paper and pencil
- Paint (optional)
- Candy treats!
The big picture
The traditional papier-mâché method of making a piñata can become a messy, time-consuming project. Our version takes just a fraction of the time, creates no mess, and uses supplies you already have around the house.
At the heart of this piñata is a small cereal box that will hold the treats. It will be sandwiched between two burro-shaped pieces of cardboard.
Let’s get started
First, create a burro template on a piece of white paper. This is easy to do if you place your small box roughly in the center, then simply focus on sketching out 2 legs below the box, then sketch the head above, and finish by drawing a line for the back. There’s no need to be perfect! Pro-tip: You could give your burro a more traditional boxy shape, which can be even easier to draw.
Cut open your large cereal box and trace around the template, then repeat on the other large panel of the cereal box. Note that you can use your template to make as many piñatas as you’d like.
Cut out your two burro-shaped side pieces. They will perfectly cover your small treat box.
Next, send your kids on a scavenger hunt to all the drawers in your house to find as many colorful sticky notes as they can. These will become the bands of “fringe” that give a piñata its unique texture and signature colorful appearance.
Your kids can get lots of excellent practice with their scissor skills as they cut the sticky notes into fringe. Cut parallel slits towards the sticky end, leaving about an inch at the top uncut. Small kids can make just a few widely spaced cuts. Bigger kids can cut narrower fringe. Pro-tip: Cut through 3 to 4 sticky notes at a time to make fast work of this step.
This is the step where your burro really starts to come to life! Simply press the sticky note fringe pieces onto the cardboard shape. We used 3 overlapping layers of each color for each band.
We threw a quick coat of acrylic paint on the cardboard shape, thinking the kids might get bored with the fringing process. This way, we could space out the fringe more, even leaving some bands of just yellow paint. In the end, the kids stayed entertained making and placing the fringe, so this step wasn’t strictly necessary, but could be helpful if your kids are small.
Un burro mas bonito
Make your burro more beautiful by mussing up the fringe a bit. You can gently press the ends of the fringe up; or curl the ends around your finger like you would with real hair. This gives the fringe more dimension and texture. If your burro has rounded edges, like ours, you’ll want to trim the sticky notes along those edges. Square burros will need little to no trimming.
Secret candy compartment
This part of the craft is best done by an adult or older child. Completely cut away a small panel in the box, as shown in the photo. Be sure to leave roughly ½” of cardboard on the two long sides to create a lip or ledge. Next cut a piece of ordinary paper the same size as the side of the box. Poke 4 holes in the paper and weave a string or ribbon back and forth into it, leaving 2 long pull-strings. Put the paper in the box so that it rests on that ½” half inch ledge you created, with the pull-strings hanging down. Fill with candy from the back of the box. You can close the back with a small piece of tape.
You can add an optional coat of acrylic paint to the inside panels of your burro cut-outs, and to the small cereal box, to give your piñata a finished look. Then tape the two side panels onto the cereal box.
Uno, dos, tres—treats!
Your mini piñata can be the guest of honor at your dinner table on Cinco de Mayo, Taco Tuesday, or any night. He’ll stand on his own 4 feet as a centerpiece until you’re ready to let one of the kids pull his string and release his tasty treats! You could also pass him around the table as your kids each say a number in Spanish. The one who can count the highest gets to pull the string. Or turn on some Mexican music and play a game of hot potato with him. Winner gets to unleash the candy. And since he’s reuseable, your kids can say “una más vez” and try it one more time!