Thursday, November 29, 2012

Halloween Party

It's been almost a month since Jenna's birthday party! I haven't posted on it till now for several reasons. One, the weather was of the miserable Indoor Party variety, meaning no outdoor photos and only jaundiced-looking indoor shots. Two, I was too much of a coward to sort through all those jaundiced photos to edit, crop and pick the final ones. Three, looking at the photos reminded me of how challenging it was to have thirteen children in our house, with nowhere to go. Four, I forgot. Until Jenna asked me last week if she could look at the photos of her birthday party on my blog.

Er..... what photos?

So here they are. As claustrophobic as it felt at moments, we had loads of fun and Jenna most of all, which is what really matters. Happy sixth birthday, sweet one!

Cleverly persuading her away from her original Swimming Party birthday theme, we did a Halloween party (her second choice) and everyone was invited to come in costume. Which was convenient because it was four days after trick-or-treating night and everyone still had their costumes (which their parents were only too happy to get more mileage out of). This, incidentally, was the only outdoor shot.

We followed the sequence of events that has become the standard procedure at our parties. Outdoor parties allow more room for movement and set-up so that most of the preparation could be done before the guests even arrived. With an indoor party like this, our limited space for humans and furniture meant that the same table was used for food, games and crafts, with manic clearing-away-and-setting-up between acts while some other non-table activity was simultaneously going on elsewhere.

We opened the happy event with lunch

followed by store-bought, non-Halloween-themed cake (but requested by Jenna)

and cookies.

Then everyone adjourned to the very-nearby Chair of Honor for the opening of gifts.

(The lunch table, having been temporarily moved a whopping two feet away, was being cleared and prepped for games.)

The kids were then sent down to the basement to hunt for glow bracelets

which were much more visible with the lights off. We made it really easy, since there were little kids involved.

When they came back upstairs, they were handed their candy corn backpacks (tagged with their names)

into which to deposit the first of their loot.

Then it was time for games. Recognize that orange table? It had lunch on it just minutes earlier. This first game was (store-bought) Halloween bingo 

with candy corn rice krispy treats as prizes. We wrapped ours in clingfilm so the kids could choose to take theirs home if they didn't feel like eating it just minutes after a huge lunch.

Then we got out the pumpkin pie pinata,

the one filled with fleece pumpkin goodie bags

and everyone pulled it apart.

And Kate, who didn't get the white pumpkin, cried. Poor thing. No photos of that. I think I should just do away with pinatas at our parties forever.

When everyone was calm again, we made luminous wands -

the kids picked their wand stems and a glow bracelet from their earlier hunt, and assembled their wands,

after which they decorated them. No photos, but it was on the same orange table as lunch and bingo, so it shouldn't take too much effort to imagine the scene.

Finally, we sent the kids back down to the basement to fill little takeout boxes (decorated by Jenna) at the candy bar. 

All that candy, incidentally, wasn't leftover from trick-or-treating. We actually bought different candy for the party - so insane, I know. As if there weren't already enough candy in people's homes by then.

And that was part I of Jenna's birthday festivities! 

This is Part II - the part where she celebrates with family :

Remember Jenna's first choice for a party theme? 
We found a way to let her have her cake and eat it, too :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Am Thankful For

these three little ones, and their dad, who took this photo earlier this summer. I am also thankful that I am not the only one behind the lens. Do you know how rare it is for all three to be looking at the camera? It never happens when I'm the photographer.

Ah, yes, Thanksgiving..... season of too much food and shopping. I'm thankful that's over. I can barely walk now, I ate so much. Also, not to sound ungrateful or anything, but why can't it be summer all year round?

P.S. In case you were wondering, only one of them is wearing handmade. The other two are wearing store-bought. Am thankful for that, too.

I Have Nothing To Say


  1. I want to make wooden lollipops.
  2. I have the beginning of a cold. This is my annual cold. I only get one a year, and always around Thanksgiving, in the aftermath of Halloween costume-sewing and birthday-partying. It's my body's way of saying, "Stop sewing and get the laundry folded already."
  3. I am building an army. A small army. But powerful.

Stay tuned. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Orders Closed

Quick post tonight to say that I'm closing orders for wooden blanks. Not sure if I will be accepting any more in the future but for now, I need to work with just what I currently have in order to get them mailed out before Thanksgiving. Thank you all for waiting so patiently while I sorted out my stock and waited for replenishment from the supplier. My big box of wooden supplies arrived last night and I spent the entire afternoon today drilling. Outside!!!! In November!!! Hurrah for unusually nice weather!

Those of you who have sent in your orders for blanks should look out for email and convo messages from me tomorrow (or Saturday, by the latest) with your final price and shipping cost. I'll be processing the orders in the order in which I received them. Once you've okayed the price etc., I will set up your reserved listing in my etsy shop and send you a second email/convo message with the link so you can go see it and pay for it. Hopefully, we can get it all packed and shipped by early next week so you can start painting for Christmas!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wooden Treat Blanks Update

Hello again!

I'm back with a wooden blanks update! That sounds very enigmatic and exciting, but it's actually just a report on how I've failed to replenish my stock, plus with some cows thrown in.

Now that your curiosity has been sufficiently piqued, let's begin!

First, thank you to everyone who emailed and convo-ed me about the wooden treat blanks. I am happy to say that I immediately panicked because I realized I had nowhere close to the stock required to fulfill your requests and thus spent a leisurely evening last week putting in a huge new order with my usual supplier.

Now for the bad news: those cupcake blanks are completely unavailable. We're not talking about out-of-stock; we're talking Forever Discontinued. Of course I freaked out. I mean, it's one thing to not be able to supply you wonderful crafting enthusiasts with cupcake blanks but it's quite another thing to deprive my children of future cupcake-painting parties. So on Friday morning, I called everyone on the planet whose website appeared in my google search. I traced my supplier's supplier and they were Forever Discontinued. Then they checked their supplier and they were also Forever Discontinued. Then I ebay-ed and etsy-ed for a good hour before giving up.

But do you want to know what really nailed the coffin, so to speak? Of course you don't, but I'll tell you anyway: it was the cows. See, while on the phone with my supplier's supplier, I was put on hold and treated to the sound of cows mooing in the background. In addition to the cows, I could also hear a man's voice, yelling at the cows. I thought, "Man, this is a farm. They make these wooden craft parts on a farm and ship it to warehouses or someplace. It's the real deal, not some urban steel-and-concrete factory in the middle of Manhattan! And if a good farm can't supply wooden cupcake blanks, then I'm really dead."

But, wait - the story's not done! So later, I call up my regular supplier again to add a few things to the original order and - you'll never guess - they put me on hold and I heard the cows again. AND the same man shouting at them. I thought, "What the.....?" I used to teach Science, remember, and anything mysterious and/or suspicious intrigues me. So while waiting for the person to return to the phone, I amused myself by brainstorming possible explanations:
  1. My supplier and THEIR supplier, in spite of having completely different websites and phone numbers, are actually the same people. It is a conspiracy. They probably operate out of the same ramshackle barn and (based on the various voices I'd heard) the womenfolk pack wooden craft accessories and answer phones while the menfolk tend the livestock. A simple check of their websites revealed that both locations were in the same state in the US. Aha!
  2. My supplier and THEIR supplier are actually different organizations BUT are both on farms, and all cows sound alike BUT the same hollering man works on both farms. Or maybe it's actually the vet (like James Herriot) who coincidentally visited both farms while I was on the phone. Or maybe all men on farms sound alike when they are yelling at cows.  I wouldn't know, because I've never lived on a farm, yelled at a cow or heard anyone yell at a cow before that morning. I learned something new that morning.
  3. Irrespective of whether or not my supplier and their supplier are the same people, there exists something called a Farm Sounds On-Hold Phone Machine, no doubt available on I remember, as a little girl, it being fashionable to place the phone cradle on some device that played Swan Lake or some other tinkling tune while one stepped away to summon someone or use the facilities. Maybe classical music over the phone is out of date and Farm Sounds is now the ditty dujour (which means we can expect Wildlife Safari Calls in hotel elevators next). But really, how else could I explain that I heard exactly the same cow and exactly the same man shouting in exactly the same tone in both phone calls? Slightly spooky, in an X-Files sort of way, if you ask me.
  4. I was hallucinating. I talk to myself on a regular basis, anyway and I've been called insane by countless people - it requires absolutely no extra effort to add "Hears Things" to my looniness resume. 
Told the husband my deductions. He said, "You should've just asked them." 
What? And ruin the fun of a good mystery? I don't think so. 

But back to the issue at hand - the now-extinct cupcakes blanks. Here is my solution: an alternative blank. 

A different shape 

but it still works with all the accessories

and looks pretty cute (in a Sanrio sort of way) painted up. Jenna, our resident cupcake aficionado, approved wholeheartedly.

And here's a happy accident: an unplanned invention of a new petit four over the weekend - the teacake! The children squealed when they saw it, so I guess it's a keeper.

So, friends, I apologize that I wasn't able to give you the original cupcake blanks. And those of you who own the original cupcakes should dance for joy because their value has skyrocketed on account of their extinctness. And that brings us, finally, to the point of this post - two things:

1     I am happy to fulfill the existing orders with the new cupcake blanks substituted in for the old ones but if you'd rather not, just email or convo me again to say so. I won't be offended. If I don't hear from you, it means you don't mind getting the new cupcake blanks, okay? All the other treats (donuts, cookies, jam tarts, sprinkle jars etc) are good - I have the supplies for them. 

2     If any of you are interested in the teacake blanks, yes, you can request them - just email or convo me. This is what will come in the set for $7:
  • 3 teacake blanks (the three-layer stack)
  • 3 cherries

I don't have enough supplies to include the candles but if you've already ordered the cupcakes, their candles, toppers and cherries fit the teacakes.

The new supplies are arriving midweek, so I should be able to get the reserved listings up in the shop by the weekend. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wooden Treat Blanks


I have awakened from hibernation. Actually, it was just two days but it felt longer. And I finally stayed awake enough to watch Revolutionary Road. Um.... bleak. Startlingly wonderful acting, but very bleak. So bleak that I couldn't even emotionally connect with the wonderful acting and just sort of concentrated on the somewhat glamorous 1950s dresses Kate Winslet was wearing. And then found myself wondering if everyone in the 1950s wore suits that were a size too big. Certainly Leonardo diCaprio's character was swimming in his. Maybe it was the fashion then, but what do I know? This weekend I need something slightly less bleak to watch.... maybe Prometheus. It will seem like a comedy in comparison.

I have, on my sewing table, a tower of ill-fitting store-bought clothes in need of alteration. I do not enjoy altering clothes. See this post to read all about it. But I do enjoy wearing clothes that have been altered. And I even more enjoy seeing my family in clothes that have been altered. So in the name of love, I will work on that tower of garments this week.

Craftwise, I am happily uninspired to do anything! What a glorious feeling.

I have, however, gotten my act together to sort out my wooden blanks for you! In case you were wondering, I'm not trying to "get rid of" excess stock or anything like that. In fact, based on how much my kids want to keep painting (and requesting that I paint) cupcakes and whatnot, I might actually have to buy more blanks to replenish what we have. So while I'm at it, I thought I'd share the goodies with you. 

Here is what I have supplies for:
  • Cupcakes
  • Small cookies
  • Jam Tarts
  • Small doughnuts
  • Large doughnuts
  • Sprinkle jars
Here is what I do NOT have:
  • Dessert stands
  • The ice cream sets or any parts thereof
  • Anything made of fabric i.e. any of the bags in the bakeshop set

I am going to list what I have here, in small individual sets, with their approximate shipping costs. You are welcome to request multiple sets but depending on the demand for a particular item vs the amount I have in stock (or how much more I can buy in time to ship to you), I may need to limit some to one per household. Email or convo me in the shop to say what you want and I'll make reserved listings, with the exact shipping costs, for each of you and let you know when your listing is available for payment. These should all be ready to ship by Thanksgiving (i.e. end of Nov), so it will be in plenty of time for the holidays. In case you are unfamiliar with painting wooden things, I also plan to include with your order, a short handout with tips on how to prep and paint  your blanks, what sort of paint and varnish to use, how to dry them, whether they need wood filler to shape them and so on. 

So here they are - all prices are in USD. The pieces that have had prep work done on them (drilling, gluing, nailing, etc) are priced higher than the ones without.

Jam Tarts (1.5")- set of 4 for $5.00; shipping is $2 to the US and $4 overseas.

Small Doughnuts (1.5"); set of 6 for $4.00; shipping is $2 to the US and $5 overseas.

Large Doughnuts (2"); set of 6 for $5.50; shipping is $2.50 to the US and $6.50 overseas.

Small Cookies (1.75"); set of 4 for $2.50; shipping is $2.00 to the US and $4.00 overseas.

Sprinkle Jar- $0.75 each; shipping is $2.00 to the US and $4.00 overseas.

Cupcakes (1.5"); set of 3 with 3 candles (yellow and/or orange flame), 3 toppers and 3 cherries for $11.00; shipping is $2.50 to the US and $6.00 overseas. At the moment, the bumblebee, butterfly and ladybug are what I have; I no longer have the flowers or the stars that were featured in the painted bakeshop sets I sold in the shop last month. 

These are the new cupcake blanks, replacing the old ones which are discontinued at the supplier. Here is what they look like painted up. 

At the request of some readers, I am also listing my peg doll stock, as individual items, so you can customize your desired "family":

Please note the dimensions and prices of each (from left to right):
  • Oversize Father (3.5") $1.50
  • Oversize Mother (3.5") $1.50
  • Father/Large Boy (2 3/8") $1.00
  • Girl (2") $0.75
  • Girl with Shorter Dress (2") $0.75
  • Boy (1 3/4") $0.75
  • Baby (1 1/4") $0.50
The approximate shipping cost for this entire family of 7 is $2.50 within the US and $6.50 overseas. Again, email me and let me know which ones you want.

Just four more points:
  1. I plan to pack and ship sets out to you until my stock runs out. When that happens, I might buy more blanks to prep for you if there still is interest before the holidays and if I still have the time to prep them. 
  2. If you are ordering multiple sets, I will combine the shipping, which will be less than the individual shipping costs added up.
  3. There will not be ready-to-purchase blank sets in the shop - only the custom-request reserved listings. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I've Crashed

Hello friends!

Thought I'd pop in today to share what it's like when a person steamrolling on pure adrenaline crashes. It's hilarious!

So, I've been on hyperdrive since the school term started in September, right? After a glorious summer filled with nothing but sunshine and swimming, we were thrust back into real life with the first day of school. Suddenly, I realized the kids needed clothes (what did they wear all summer?) because, somehow, they had grown since their last school year. So I went shopping, which was only about 35% successful because not everything fit and every single fall coat had puff sleeves. Just like last year. Really, this fashion mistake has to end; puff sleeves should not dominate nice sleeves - a humane ratio should be one pea coat with puff sleeves for every ninety-nine without.

So sewed for the kids - fall hoodies, sweaters, altered pants..... And then remembered the Bella Bag pattern I'd been procrastinating royally with, so did that. And did a crazy Bella Bag auction/sale thing.
Then Emily had a birthday party. That was fun.
Then finished up the wooden bakesets and got them shop-ready.
And I was at the post office almost every other day, mailing stuff out - quivers, wooden toys, bags.
Then the stores started decorating in orange-and-black and I was rudely reminded: Halloween! Costumes! Scream!
There followed fabric shopping. Measuring. Drafting. More sewing. Fitting. Finishing.
And sprinkled in the mix were teacher conferences, classroom volunteering, medical appointments, guest posts, judging a cardboard competition, swimming lessons. And an odd, mysterious obligation to cook robust meals like curry, roasts and meat pastries. Suddenly, I missed the menu of summer - piecemeal buffets of crudites, buns, chips and whatever parts of animals one could find in the fridge to slap on the grill.

And then it was two months later and we'd arrived at Jenna's birthday party. Our last party of the year. One heckuva joyride.

You guys in the US don't have the kinds of exams we have in Singapore (and in the UK and other commonwealth countries). At the end of sixth grade, tenth grade and twelfth grade (translation: Primary Six, Secondary Four and JC2), we have these mammoth standardized exams that span several weeks and cover about two years' worth of curriculum. If you've watched the Harry Potter movies, you'll know what I'm talking about. We have papers every day (sometimes two a day) for two to three weeks. There are lab exams (Science) and studio exams (Art and Music) and theory papers. Everyone in the country in those three grade levels swots for them for months. We do nothing but study - notes, textbooks, study guides, sample papers. We have dry-runs, called The Preliminary Exams, in our individual schools to prepare for the real exams. After the Prelims, the teachers get together and swop exam papers so every other school gets even more exam papers for their students to practise on. 

By the time the real exams come (complete with proctors from other schools and rows upon rows of desks), the students are veritable machines - they've eaten, drunk, slept and dreamt nothing but exam topics. People discover caffeine for the first time who've never needed it before. Parents cook special tonics for their kids who've never cooked tonics before. Educators throughout the country get together to strategize study tips and predict the sorts of topics that will be featured in that year's examination. Everyone's sleep cycle turns nocturnal. The entire country is buzzing with adrenaline. The newspapers run stories on the performance of the students and entire schools after each paper. People laugh and weep and mourn and rejoice as if in the midst of national crisis. For many of us, it means a place among the somewhat-limited spots in the local Universities, or else the opening of a door that takes us overseas and away from home for the first time in our lives. For some, it means scholarships and promises of prestigious careers that translate to financial relief and pride for their families. For others, it simply marks the end of formal education and the freedom to do full-time work in their parents' food business or an apprenticeship for their future vocation.

It's a manic coming-of-age but it makes even more significant the national collective sigh of relief when it's all over. Those first few days after the last exam paper are about the best in any kid's life - some of us ceremoniously toss our textbooks and notes down the trash chutes; some of us camp out all night in town, drifting from cinema theater to eatery and back to cinema theater; some of us just sleep and sleep and sleep. It is exhilarating and feels almost as if one has been liberated from captivity. I lived through it both as a student and a teacher. It is not fun on so many levels. But it is not for cowards, either. I remember doing quite a few things for my graduating students just to keep them going - little notes, small funny gifts, meeting them at a coffee shop to go over an exam question, explaining electromagnetic theory over the phone. 

When I first moved to the US, I couldn't wrap my mind around this thing called High School Graduation. Why do people throw parties and invite all and sundry, I asked my (100% American) husband? Was there a major exam the kids did particularly well in? Oh, you mean every kid celebrates it? Did they get places in colleges of their choice, then? What -they haven't even applied for colleges? Whoa! They collected credits? That's it? They didn't swot for papers? Sleep at 3 am four straight weeks? No study-group sleepovers on a diet of McVities Digestives and coffee? And there's a prom? Like dancing, you mean? I'm sooooooooooo letting my kids grow up in this country. No stress!

Yesterday, after Jenna's party, it felt like I'd just finished an exam. Not the captivity part - I mean, obviously sewing, partying, costuming and woodworking are fun in ways studying never was. But just the sense of no longer having deadlines, or to check things off multiple lists - now, those felt familiar. Also, I was famished. I ate an entire dinner and immediately felt like I needed a whole second meal. I checked out Revolutionary Road from the library so I could watch myself into a depressed, languishing stupor. I hung up the Halloween costumes, feeling completely detached as I wondered, "Where did you come from? You look handmade. Who made you? Did I?" I cleaned the entire house so that, apart from the streamers and balloons, one couldn't tell that we'd just had thirteen kids here eating, crafting and playing dress-up all afternoon.

Then in the evening, we set the clocks back and I asked the husband to watch the movie with me. And both fell asleep on the sofa within minutes, never even making it to the TV room. Somehow transported myself to bed and slept for 12 hours straight, which is three times as much sleep per night as I usually get in September and October. It felt completely wrong.

I wouldn't encourage you to try this at home. I think that only certain personality types can handle this. For one, you'd have to be naturally manic. And for another, you'd have to be Singaporean and accustomed to exam stress. Finally, you'd need to be incurably sentimental, so you can tell yourself there's an expiration date on the number of years you can do this for your children before they grow up and choose other toys and other costumes and other ways to celebrate their birthdays.

Today is a good day. I did nothing. I ordered Chinese take-out. Tomorrow I'm going back to the pool. Then the girls and I are going to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. A whole week to do one task! Unbelievable! Who takes that much time to do anything?

And after that, there are any number of things to be done. I look forward to all of them. But for now, I'm off to watch Kate & Leo. I leave you with a few things:

1    Remember those wooden toys I made earlier this month?

I don't have the time to make new sets in time for Christmas (or the near future) but would anyone be interested in just the blanks? I was thinking that I could make sets of wooden blanks - the sprinkle jars, the jam tarts, the cookies, the donuts, and even the cupcakes - holes drilled, candles nailed etc) and you buy them and paint them yourself. Or give them to your kids as art kits (add your own acrylic paints and brushes and varnish). I also have peg dolls blanks of all sizes, so you could custom-order your family configuration and paint them yourself. Email me if you're interested. I don't know the prices yet - so your emailing me is merely to indicate your interest and not necessarily your commitment to buy them, okay? It will help me decide if it's worth doing and if I have enough supplies.

2   I'm planning to write a few more process posts in the coming weeks. Some topics: blogging, drawing, the difference in drape between an Aline bias-cut skirt and a semi-circular skirt, that sort of thing. And next year I might be brave and try a commercial pattern for the first time in my life and journal my (barf) frightening experience. Any other process topics you'd like me to write about? And I don't mean tutorials on specific items e.g. "I want a tutorial for your cardboard mailbox." I will happily ignore you.    

3 One photo from Jenna's party: 140 glo-bracelets for an in-the-dark treasure hunt. These were little kids, so we made it really easy to find them!

I'll post about the actual party later. It was all indoors, which was horrible for photos, so don't expect many. Next year we're doing her party in July, at the swimming pool (Mother's idea, obviously). The lifeguards will be running the thing and I'll be doing laps, stopping only to light the candles on the cake. Whoo!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Party: Pie Pinata

So now that Halloween is safely behind us, we return to the exciting preparations for Jenna's birthday party! Er.... which, by virtue of its theme, means that we're sliding effortlessly from one manic Halloween festival to the next, as if trapped in time by avalanche of sticky candy. 

Today's post is all about our pinata. 

I've made many pinatas in my career as a mother, and I've noticed this bewildering trend: each pinata gets milder and less thrilling than the one before.
One might think it would be the reverse, particularly as one's children mature and demand (supposedly) subsequently higher levels of suspense and excitement. Not so. Jenna and Kate are consistently dismayed at how Pinata Time inadvertently turns out to be a survival of the fittest -or greediest - sort of race. They've stood on the sidelines, aghast at the barbaric behavior of the other kids rooting about on the ground for sweets. There have even been times when there were actual tears of frustration and terror. Maybe it's a personality thing, in which gentler souls completely miss the point of friendly competitions to snag the most/best stuff. Or maybe there's a sort of cut-off age after which kids suddenly shed their inhibitions and heartily embrace the fray. I don't know.

For now at least, it is my lot to design low-intensity, unsuspenseful pinatas in which every bit of loot is the same as every other bit. Interestingly, the same children who eschew racing for the prize are also the biggest champions of equity. I mean, there we were, standing in the store, picking out tiaras to toss in the pinata and Jenna says, "Everyone should get pink, so it's fair because that way no one needs to get silver" (not verbatim- I merely summarized her argument). Interesting. I decided that I could respond in two ways - I could scoff, "Silly! But variety is the spice of life!" Or I could appreciate their version of empathy and remember to look through the eyes of a child. After all, I reasoned, if I were six years old and given some frilly ruffled pink thing at a party while everyone else got, oh, action figures or an art kit, my lower lip would probably be trembling, too.

So this, dear friends, is the Fair and Equitable, Low-Intensity But Still A Bit Suspenseful Although Only Accidentally Pinata aka The Pumpkin Pie. The original idea came from an old, old craft book but I magnified it tenfold and made my own version of it.

Exactly how magnified? See for yourself:

The pie plate is a cardboard structure.

The loot is individual lumps of stuff

wrapped in a big fleece circle. You can use anything to wrap your loot, obviously - paper, cellophane, an orange plastic tablecloth cut up - but I had an excess of orange fleece from sewing those candy corn bags. And there is nothing worse than a fleece stash - they're puffy and fat and steal space from all the other fabrics in your sewing closet. Plus, they scream "craft fabric!" i.e. you can't bring yourself to sew any garment from them that isn't costumey, childish or a bad reminder of winter. 

How I digress.
So, back to the loot bags - I tied ours with curling ribbon, leaving one end very, very long. 

I made faces on them

and promptly ran out of orange fleece. 

I am planning to make a fabulous excuse for that white pumpkin and assign it some Special Status And Prestige. Haven't thought of it yet - maybe something like, "Whoever picks it gets the first slice of cake/gets to be the first to get her gift opened."

But now you know why this is a Pumpkin Pie Pinata:

We padded it with polyfill stuffing so the loot bags wouldn't roll around and get all tangled up.

Which is likely to happen with all those long trailing ribbons.

Then we covered the pie with tissue paper, and pulled each ribbon out through a tiny slit.

Purely for decorative effect, more tissue paper was twisted around rim for the edge of the crust.

All done! Emily put a dollop of (synthetic fiber) whipped cream on top. 

How does this work, though? And how is it unscary and low-suspense?

See, each guest takes hold of a ribbon and pulls. Out comes their own personal loot bag, containing (and you can make a grand announcement beforehand to reassure everyone) exactly the same items as every other loot bag, with slight variation in color. If people are especially unhappy with their their assigned color, they might be invited to do a friendly exchange with a sympathetic (or equally traumatized) fellow guest.
For an even lower suspense level, have everyone pull a ribbon at the same time, so the pie pops open in a huge (but equitable) explosion and all four-and-twenty blackbirds simultaneously sing, to to speak. That way no one has to endure the nerve-wracking butterflies-in-their-tummies while waiting for anyone else.

I hope this allays all pinata-related fears this weekend because, honestly, I can't think of a pinata that's more placid than this for next year's parties. And yes, I've heard of individual pinatas made of grocery bags with individual hitting sticks, so that each guest can decimate theirs at their leisure. Hm. Thanks for sharing but you don't know my children - they would sooner hug and cuddle theirs than liberate their sweet treasures. 

And now, onward to the weekend- 
We have treats to make 
and treats to bake 
(and thank the stars 
for store-bought cake)!