Making a birthday pinata has become our new April tradition. We made a frog prince pinata last year for Boo’s birthday and then a leopard pinata in June for Kooks’s birthday. This year we are having a combined Gruffalo party for both girls and so of course we needed a Gruffalo birthday pinata. I was a little intimidated by this until I found some great free printables at the Gruffalo website. Once we downloaded them it was a very simple project. This post contains affiliate links.
We are having the party at the same tea estate cottage that we rented last year and this year two sets of grandparents (one from America and one from Botswana) will be in attendance. One of the guests to last year’s party posted a photo of his son swinging at the pinata with the comment, “There’s an American baseball swing at a Mexican tradition in Malawi on a British owned estate where they grow a Chinese drink which will most likely be drunk in India.” When you put it that way the world seems rather small.
Materials we used:
- thin cardboard (cereal boxes work great)
- a printer and paper
- the ability to enlarge an image on a printer or photocopier
- glue (contact adhesive works best for pasting the body parts to the Gruffalo body)
- brown paint
- oil pastels (you could also use markers, crayons or paint to color in the head and limbs)
- purple paper
- a green pom-pom (optional)
- purple glitter glue (optional)
We started with our basic paper mache paste (one part flour / two parts water) and lots of torn newspaper strips. We dipped our newspaper in the paste, ran it through our fingers to take off the excess paste and then stuck it on our ballon. I was amazed at how much more Boo was able to contribute to the pinata this year at soon to be four years old. She did the whole first layer almost entirely by herself. You only need one balloon for a Gruffalo pinata – we were ambitious and thought we’d make two but one didn’t get very far.
We applied four layers over four days and let each layer dry completely before applying the next. When the layers were complete and thoroughly dry, I cut the top off which popped the balloon and brought a lot of giggles.
We were then ready to paint our Gruffalo’s body.
I made the head and limbs using the free printables at the Gruffalo website. The head is the Gruffalo mask and the limbs are from the Gruffalo’s Child “Jumping Jack.” The Mask was the perfect size for the balloon body but the limbs had to be enlarged 200 percent to get the right size. I pasted these onto cereal boxes, cut them out, painted the backs brown and then colored them in using oil pastels.
I then pasted a strip of cardboard (bent accordion style) to the back of the head so that it would pop out a little bit from the body and we glued a green pom-pom poisonous wart onto the Gruffalo’s nose.
I cut some small holes and we added the wire to hang the pinata by – we always use a piece of cardboard as a washer just inside the hole to help distribute the weight. Then we glued on all the body parts. The head didn’t stick out from the body as well as I had hoped so I glued a small piece of cardboard in between the accordion fold of the neck which worked much better. I was then reminded that we had forgotten the knobbly knees and the purple prickles! The knobbly knees were easy – I just added some black smudgy knees with the oil pastels. I wish I had some purple card for the prickles but I only had construction paper which isn’t that vibrant. I cut the prickles out of that and then we added purple glitter glue to enhance the color.
We are very happy with the results and are now just waiting to fill our Gruffalo with candy and beat him with a stick! I love making pinatas with the kids leading up to a party. They have fun with the crafting side of it, the fact that it takes a good number of days to make helps build up the anticipation and then the finished pinata sits in the house as a reminder that there will soon be a party.
If you haven’t read The Gruffalo yet, I highly recommend it. Julia Donaldson was introduced to us by some British friends and every single one of her books that we have is well loved but The Gruffalo is the very favorite (followed closely by Stick Man who you can see clenched in our Gruffalo pinata’s fist).