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)!


  1. That's quite a pie! And the most creative way I ever saw of getting rid of excess Halloween treats! Heehee. Which I'm sure you aren't doing. Or maybe are. ;)

    1. If only I'd thought of that earlier! No, we actually bought double the amount of candy this year - half for the trick-or-treaters and half (completely different kinds) for the party. We're also having a candy bar (kids' idea)! If we're going to have a sugar high, we might as well do it in style!

    2. Oh, no... I meant the stuff your kids received when they went trick-or-treating! Hahahaha....

  2. I don't recall ever getting to hit a regular pinata, but I loved suspense as a kid. I know a bunch of kids who would prefer this version though... as equal and calm as a pinata can be. And still fun. =)

  3. I love the idea of these pacifist pinatas and find them hysterical. In my family our Thanksgiving pinata tradition was basically an opportunity to prove to the pack of cousins that were there, that you were tough enough to hang'. There was definitely no shying away from the pinata stick.
    I just learned of an interesting here in Japan where kids are spun around and use a stick(while blindfolded) to whack a watermelon. When the watermelon gets cracked open, they cut it up and share. A little feistier than the pinata pie, but at least there's no candy scramble at the end....

  4. Brilliant! It's kinda like Christmas crackers.
    I always hated the way pinatas worked, with all the kids lining up by age/strength. Yeah sure, mostly everyone got to hit it, but it just got rougher and scarier as it came round to the teenagers. Then of course, the bigger kids were closer to the feeding frenzy and basically slaughtered the smaller ones.

  5. This is my kind of pinata! Wonder if I could pull off a Batman-ish one for Johnny's birthday party that is happening later this month... Batman and non-violent seems a bit odd to me, but it all makes sense to my 4yo - and I'm glad he doesn't like fighting!

  6. I don't see any point of the rough and tumble pinatas actually, but that may be because those - and return gifts - were not known to us when we were children. Birthdays were celebrations, duly weighed in favour of the birthday girl, and there was nothing, no game, no event which would take the attention away from her. Groveling on the ground, jostling, getting hurt, for a few petty candies? Unheard of! And that is why I just love this pinata!


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