Our DIY Gruffalo Birthday Pinata

DIY Gruffalo Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

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:

  • flour
  • water
  • newspaper
  • balloon
  • 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.

Applying Paper Mache - Birthday Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Ready to Paint - Gruffalo Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

We were then ready to paint our Gruffalo’s body.

Painting Gruffalo Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Head and Limbs - Gruffalo Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Head of Gruffalo Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Attaching Details - Gruffalo Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

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.

Gruffalo Pinata - Mud Hut Mama

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).

About Jody Tilbury

19 Responses to “Our DIY Gruffalo Birthday Pinata”

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  1. Addison says:

    So cute! You guys are so crafty!

  2. Heather says:

    I love that story! Enjoy the party with the grandparents 🙂

    By the way, my blog is in transition due to hacking attacks. I have now changed the domain and am in the process of changing over to hostgator. Watch this space!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      I love the new look and I hope the change helps with the hacking – how frustrating!

  3. Penny says:

    Oh my goodness, that is the cutest thing ever, and look at it’s bum he he he! The girls did so well! I am yet to do paper mache with the girls but I really need to add that to the top of my list!

    I hope you’ll post more of the party soon!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Penny! We are busy preparing so there will be a few more Gruffalo posts coming.

  4. Your pinata is incredible! I’ll be pinning this to my kids party ideas board!

    We LOVE The Gruffalo!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you MaryAnne! I also think it’s pretty cute that he is holding Stick Man although it’s also a bit of a giveaway that we used the Gruffalo’s Child’s limbs!

  5. Also, I think it is pretty awesome that he is holding Stick Man 🙂

  6. Jen Fischer says:

    This is so cute. I, too, love the integration of Stick Man. I have personally never been able to get pinata balloons to work, but you did it so well!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thank you Jen. We made them every year growing up so I’ve had a lot of practice but I still occasionally get a dud. In fact this year (since we made it in advance and it’s still damp here) I added salt to our mixture to prevent any chance of mold and it just never hardened properly. One of these days I will get my post on how to have fun with a failed pinata up.

  7. Wow, I am so impressed! I have never attempted making a pinata before, but you have encouraged me! I think my son would really like doing paper mache, although maybe I should wait until he is closer to four 🙂 It sounds like they are going to have such a fun party! I loved your friend’s comment – small world, indeed!

    Just requested The Gruffalo from the library. Looks like a great book! We have been enjoying “The Runaway Dinner” book you recommended.

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      I’m so glad you liked “The Runaway Dinner” and I can’t wait to hear what your son thinks of “The Gruffalo.” I think he is about the age my oldest was when we received it and it was an immediate favorite.

  8. I wish I had the energy (initiation) to actually follow through with all the crafty ideas I have. Kudos to you for being so proactive!
    I can’t wait to see pictures from the party!

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thanks Kristen – we are getting excited and I promise there will be plenty of pictures.

  9. Becky says:

    I love it!!!! “An American bat swung at a Mexican piñata, in Malawi…” My husband (from Mexico) said he is proud that the tradition has spread:). I love making up fun traditions that are unique to your own family- this is what memories are made of. I bet your girls will continue the tradition with their own kids!

  10. Frances says:

    We haven’t read the Gruffalo yet, though it looks like something my little one will enjoy.

    Girl, I must say that I’m impressed with your piñata…though I consider myself crafty that is one project I have yet to conquer. 🙂 Maybe, I’ll tackle it with your instructions. LOL I’ll be looking forward to your post on having fun with failed piñatas. LOL

    As usual, I enjoy reading your posts!


  1. […] lives in Malawi on a wildlife reserve (you would love her blog Mud Hut Mama!). She shares her own unique family Spring tradition of making their own piñatas. My favorite quote of the article: “There’s an American baseball swing at a Mexican […]

  2. […] Mud Hut Mama shows you how to make a fun Gruffalo pinata which would be perfect for a birthday party. You could also go on a Gruffalo hunt with toddler approved which would be fun for kids to run off some energy! I love Mama Pea Pod’s Gruffalo Puppet Theatre which looks so much fun. Some of my other favourite Gruffalo crafts are a Gruffalo mask from motherhood on a dime, Gruffalo toilet roll craft from here come the girls, Gruffalo tracks from toddler approved, Gruffalo puppets from coffee cups and crayons and Gruffalo Window Clings from Mama Pea Pod. […]