Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rapunzel: Pull-Apart Pinata

This is our Rapunzel pinata.

It is a cardboard tower that's open at the top and closed at the bottom. It is not a smash-up pinata like the
previous pinatas we made for summer outdoor parties. We made this one a pull-open pinata because ours was an indoor party and our guests were a little too young to be inflicting blunt force trauma on things, even inanimate objects.

Some of you expressed interest in pull-apart pinatas, so I'll show you how we made ours. The initial plan was to make the tower as is, and cut as many windows as there were guests, stick tissue paper over the windows, bundle up treats, tie long ribbons to them, put them in the tower with the ribbons hanging out through tiny holes in the tissue paper. Each guest would then pull one of the ribbons and a little candy bundle would come tumbling out. Easy, non-violent, equitable, and unmessy. But not much fun, and zero suspense.

So we changed it to this more popular kind: lots of ribbons dangling from the bottom of the pinata - all of them duds save the one that, when pulled, would open a trapdoor and spill out the loot. Lots of suspense, and even easier to make. Here's how:

First, make the base of the pinata. We made ours out of corrugated cardboard. Our pinata was a cylindrical(ish) tower, so the base was a circle. Cut a large trapdoor out, hinged on one of the four edges:

Next, get lots of those curling ribbons:

Cut a length of ribbon, and securely glue it to the wrong side (inside) of the trapdoor, so that it hangs over the edge opposite the hinge. I used my hot glue gun because it was there, heating up for assembling the pinata anyway.

Here's another view:

Then attach the base to the pinata body. I hot-glued mine on.

Cut lengths of ribbon - at least one or two per guest, and lay about 6" of their ends within the trapdoor opening. Close the trapdoor - it will pinch the ribbons in place.

The hinge edge will not have any ribbons so you'll need to disguise it by cutting small slits close to the hinge and inserting ribbons through them.

Decorate your pinata - use crepe paper in frilly layers like the store-bought pinatas, if you like. We left ours plain because I like natural cardboard, and I didn't think Rapunzel's tower had ruffles.

When you are ready to use it, fill it with candy and hang it up.

The guests take turns to pull one ribbon each. At some point, someone will tug on the ribbon that opens the trapdoor

and out will come the goodies.

Much easier than the papier-mache bash-up kind, and actually more nerve-wrackingly suspenseful. Only don't let the kids see you make it if you're using multicolored ribbons, or they'll remember which one opens the trapdoor. Sneaky.


  1. so loving this birthday theme! and love the pinata! i recently made a papier mache pinata which the kids couldnt break... bummer... yours is great!!!!

  2. Clever! Love. Am doing your cardboard cookie decorating for craft at playgroup tomorrow...have cut out 50 cardboard circles!

  3. I love this idea. You have the most fun ideas. Such a creative lady.

  4. Wow! You are always amazing me. I just caught up with your posts (because I am always behind). What phenomenal work! Seriously. Love this pinata and the fishing game and everything about the rapunzel party. And your princesses! Adorable. Way more detailed than my version. Eleanor lo-oves Belle by the way. That's always who she is when we play princess. And in case you're wondering I'm always Cinderella and her father is Sleeping Beauty. But she knows better than to try and make her brother play princess.

    Oh - and the cardboard cookies!! I really need to stop recycling my cardboard.

  5. Fantastic! This is such a clever idea.

  6. Our family tradition is to have a pinata at Christmas time. I'm excited to try this and let my kids help me out this year. Thanks!

  7. Brilliant! Hopefully I'll manage something like this for Johnny's birthday...

  8. Adorable! I love your drawings of the characters on all these games etc too.

    I'm with you on the tower pinata not needing paper ruffles, but a sheet of tissue across the bottom does wonders to disguise the magic ribbon. Also, positioning the pinata at eye level, instead of overhead as you normally do with a whacking type, helps a lot. Sometimes I make kids older than about 5 or 6 close their eyes while they choose a ribbon, too. Or is it just MY kids (and their friends) who want to STUDY the ribbons and try to discern the special one before they grab one to pull? :)

  9. Very very clever! Great idea for the younger ones who may not be up for blunt force trauma as you put it!

  10. Thanks for all the comments, people! Actually I'm not clever - this idea is nothing new. I found it by googling pull+pinata or something like that. There actually even exist kits for converting the Bashup Pinatas into PullApart Pinatas. Now that's clever.

  11. I think I could do this. And my daughter adores pinatas. Thanks for the detailed instructions and funny commentary, as usual.

  12. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I happened to read this last week and it totally saved me yesterday morning when I found out my paper mache pinata had become a giant raisin overnight. It worked really well- at least until someone looked up under the box and cheated to pull the trap door ribbon!

  13. I found this looking for ideas for my daughter's 4th birthday .. Tangled theme :) .. I just finished making the tower now. I painted it grey and drew stones and then some vines going up with flowers. I can't wait to test this out next weekend!

  14. Made the whole pinata and the weight of the candy is pushing the trap door open. Not much candy in there either. What should I do?!!

  15. @Anonymous
    Uh-oh. Can't have the candy falling out before the kids do the work, can we?

    I'm guessing, since I haven't seen the trapdoor on your piƱata, but the door is too small for the opening OR your cardboard is too thin so there is not enough friction between the edges of the door and the opening to keep it in place. The solution is to make the door a little bigger so it fits more snugly. Try sticking layers of strips of tape on the edge of the door just to increase its dimensions and wedge it into the opening better.

  16. I saw your pinata in FamilyFun and I'm making it for my son's birthday party. How did you get the cardboard to form such a perfect circle???

    1. Aviva, I cut the circle out with a craft knife. And for how to make the wall of the tower curve nicely around the circular base, see this tutorial:



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