Little Man, as previously mentioned, is obsessed with LEGOs. It helps that his daddy (my favorite Irish hubby!) loves them, too. Those boys play LEGOs for hours! So, when Little Man decided on a LEGO themed birthday party, I was all in. I love getting a birthday theme together and going all out, but in simple, affordable ways.
A piñata is obviously a party must for young kidlets, so I knew I would have to attempt one. I hadn't seen much LEGO anything in the party stores, with the exception of LEGO Star Wars (which was our theme last year--Star Wars). So, I knew I'd have to make the LEGO piñata.
I haven't made papier-mâché since 4th grade and was a little nervous to tackle this project, for fear of it not being perfect (I have issues. There. I said it.). I actually didn't even tell Little Man about it until I knew it was cute enough. (Again with the issues!)! Luckily, this project was super easy, ridiculously quick and the price was right (practically free!)! Three things I love in a project!
To start out, you'll need to make your papier-mâché "goo." I scoured the net and landed at Family Fun (which, btw, is a FAVORITE magazine of mine...such cute projects and ideas for kids and families). They listed their favorite recipe here and it worked perfectly. Make the papier-mâché:
Papier-Mâché (courtesy of Family Fun)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups cold water, divided
3 TB sugar
Bring 2 cups of the water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and reserved 2 cups cold water in a bowl. Add the flour mixture to the boiling water and bring up to a boil, whisking as needed to combine. Once it has come to a steady boil, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. It will thicken as it cools, then it is ready to use. Store in the fridge after use; it will take about 2-3 days of separate coats of papier-mâché to build your piñata.
-2 cereal boxes of the same size (Little Miss Pink loves Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
-fruit and nut cups, or dixie cups with the top lip of the cup cut off could work, too
-lots of newspaper
-rope to hang your creation from at the end
Lay your cereal boxes on their backs and stack on top of each other. On the long sides of the boxes (where the nutritional information that I ignore is listed...!), cut a rectangle (I used an envelope to trace the shape) out of the cardboard with sharp knife.
Repeat on both long, skinny sides of the boxes. Then, cut a larger rectangle out of one wide sides of the boxes. You will leave one wide side, and both box tops and bottoms intact.
See, the goal is to create a frame for your Papier-Mâché to go around. If you left the boxes fully intact and then did the Papier-Mâché over the top, the piñata would be practically unbreakable!
Now, tape the box tops closed and then tape the boxes together at the top and corners where the rectangle holes aren't. Does that make sense? We want to tape our frame together. I used painter's tape, but masking or box sealing tape should work just as well.
Next, cut a hole in the top that you'll use to insert your candy later (I did end up papier-mâché-ing over it, but it was easy to re-open at the end). Also, get your rope ready and put that in place, too. I put the rope at the top, as well as the candy slit. I taped the rope into place so it wouldn't wobble around.
Now, for the "LEGO" part. I consulted the household LEGO expert (aka my husband) and he said that, for a rectangle LEGO of this size, I should have 8 little knobby parts (who knows what those are called!?!) on top. I used Fruit and Nut cups from Michael's. See?
They were the perfect size and proportion for the LEGO I was building. I taped them on using Scotch tape. It was looking more like a LEGO already!
Then, I cut lots and lots of strips of newspaper in various widths, from 1" up to about 3". Lots and lots of them.
By now, your "glue" or Papier-Mâché should be cool. Mine wasn't quite cool, but I'm tough as nails and wore latex gloves (which I HIGHLY recommend...this stuff is messy. I also wore an apron!) and couldn't feel the heat of the not-quite-cooled Papier-Mâché. Must be the Norwegian in me.
This is the fun part! Run a strip of newspaper through the Papier-Mâché, squeegee it off with your fingers and apply it to the box frame.
I did all sides in one sitting, then hung it up to dry overnight. Notice the gloves, apron and plastic cover on the table...I recommend all of these! It is messy, but fun.
Cover the Papier-Mâché tightly and refrigerate overnight until you apply the next layer.
I ended up applying 3 coats, but the LEGO was really tough for the kids to break. I think 2 layers would've been perfect.
Repeat the layering again. I did it this time in front of the TV! So easy! The second and third layers went on in less than 5 minutes.
Once the layers have dried, it's time for paint. Alternately, you could apply colored tissue paper to the top, but I thought paint would yield the truest color result I was looking for in a LEGO. And it was free, since I already had the acrylic craft paint. Tempera would work, too.
It took about three coats of paint, which dried very quickly between coats.
I re-cut the opening for the candy and stabilized the rope with blue painter's tape and painted over the top again.
I let it dry overnight and it was ready to join Little Man's Sixth Birthday Extravaganza! First, it was on the table as a centerpiece...who doesn't love a gigantic LEGO?
Then, once the kids had arrived, we headed outside for the piñata fun!
All in all it was an easy project, the kids loved it, and it was practically free! A hit all around. My only complaint was that it took too long to break (which is especially problematic in Minnesota when it's cold and getting dark at 5:00pm...less of a problem in the summer, I'm sure!). But other than that, this project was great! I hope you'll try it!
I will post some more details of the LEGO party. I've already shared the invitations here and here, and a sneak peak at the party in pictures, too.