Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

by Kate Wallace

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo – which means the 5th of May – is not Mexico’s Independence Day.

It’s the date that celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a time to celebrate Mexican pride and heritage.
To honor this date on the calendar, we’ve come up with a simple recipe for making a piñata, which promises fun for all ages. Crafting piñatas at home is a great way to make memories and get messy with your kids. Breaking the piñatas is a festive activity that brings the kid out in everyone, especially when it comes time to race for the scattered treats. Ready-made piñatas come in dozens of styles, but making them as a family can be a big part of the fun. If you don’t make a piñata for Cinco de Mayo, they’re always great for birthday parties and other festive events.

You’ll need:
Round balloon (inflated, at least 12 inches in diameter)
Strips of paper or newspaper (torn, about 1-1½ inches wide)
String
Glue mixture (two parts water, one part flour)
Utility knife
Individually wrapped candies and small toys
Decorations like crepe or construction paper, paint and embellishments

Directions:
Place balloon in a large bowl to hold it steady.
Drag strips of newspaper through the glue mixture. Wipe off excess glue mixture with your fingers.
Place wet strip at an angle on the balloon. Continue overlapping strips on the balloon until the entire balloon is covered, except for the knot.
Tie an anchor of string around the balloon (this can be used for hanging when completed) and wrap around the balloon a few times to secure.
Add another layer of papier-mâché. Allow to dry 24 hours.
When dry, pull the knot and cut slowly so balloon loses its air. Hold the knot until balloon has deflated and then pull out.
Cut a small trap door at the top of the piñata and insert candies and toys. Cover the cut with masking tape.
Decorated with paint, crepe paper and other embellishments.


Tips:

  • In Georgia, add less water to the paste because of the humidity. Adding a few tablespoons of salt to the glue mixture reduces mold. 
  • Use white computer paper as your final layer to make painting easier.
  • Keep your piñata to four layers or less or you won’t be able to break through it!

Playing the Piñata Game

Hang the piñata from the ceiling or a tree branch. Each child takes a turn trying to break the piñata. Blindfold them in turn, then hand the child a stick or bat. Make sure all the other children stand far back from the child swinging. Spin the child around in a circle two or three times to add to the confusion and point him or her toward the piñata. The child gets two to three swings. When someone breaks the piñata, all the children gather to get the goodies.
To ensure safety, use ropes on the ground to create a small circle inside a large circle. The stick can only be used inside the small circle while the other guests have to wait their turn outside the large circle. Many families break from tradition by using a piñata with pull strings or choosing not blindfold the younger swingers.
Sources: dltk-kids.com and hgtv.com