Rocketship Piñata - DIY

I was telling my husband last night that growing up we didn't have many birthday parties. In fact, I really only remember one of mine vividly. I was twelve, I had 3 guests, and I got an American Girl doll. Her name was Molly and it was an awesome party. Nothing fancy, it was at our house with my friends. We probably got pizza and had some ice cream. I remember my oldest sister had a sweet 16 birthday party and my older brother had some crazy birthday party sleepover when he was a teenager. But other than those, I don't recall many birthday parties. Don't get me wrong, our parents spoiled us. One year, after we had moved to California, my mom made Philly Cheesesteaks and brought them to school for me to share with my class. That was awesome.

But having five kids and a tight budget, birthday parties were never at the top of the list. Needless to say, I never had a piñata ... but I always wanted one. As a child with an anger management problem it was a dream come true. You get to angrily beat the crap out of something that then explodes in rainstorm of candy and goodies? Umm, YES PLEASE!

As an adult (whose anger is very much under control) I can understand why my parents didn't want to drop $20+ on something that was just going to get demolished in a matter of minutes. So I came to the conclusion I just needed to make my own, on the cheap. In total I believe this ended up costing me under $5. I had to buy the colored crepe paper because I only had blue and pink. Everything else was found around the house.

If you want to give it a whirl, here's what you're going to need: 

1-2 Boxes (I was able to use one, but you need to have enough room for your design and sides) 

Masking tape

Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks (I probably used somewhere between 15 and 20 of the mini glue sticks)

1 Newspaper

Crepe Paper in white, red, orange, and yellow

Flour and Water - OR - Elmer's Glue and Water (both use a 1:1 ratio)

3 Plastic Cups, spray painted black or grey


Serated Knife or Scissors (I recommend the knife)

Zip tie - OR - Thick String - OR - Thin Rope

Candy and Goodies Galore! 

*Note: This took me two nights to finish. You have to let two layers of paper mache dry so be sure to give yourself enough time! 

1. First trace your rocketship shape. I free handed this but you could find a shape you like online and print it out to use as a template.  Cut out your first shape using the serated knife. 

2. Have a pesky and adorable cat who truly believes the floor is lava (Kitty's cat Q who I am currently fostering) sit in your cut out space while you outline the second shape piece.  Cut out second shape piece.

3. Next, outline cardboard into 3-inch strips. I used a large TV box so I didn't need more than two. If you are using a regular moving box, I would anticipate that you would probably need 4.


4. After cutting out your strips, roll a tennis ball firmly up and down the strips a few times. This will give the strips move flexibility and allow you to form it to the shape without any square edges. 

5. I promise, I really did try to take some of these pictures without the feline helper but she jumps at the chance to sit on anything that's not the floor. Anyway, you should now have two shape pieces that look like rocketships and 2-4 strips that are long enough to wrap around the rocketship shapes. 

6. Get your masking tape ready (you will use a lot here). I pulled many 3 inch (approximately) pieces off the roll and stuck them to my coffee table for easy access. 

7. Sandwich your strip in between your shape pieces and securely tape from both sides. 

8. Continue taping down the first side of your rocketship. When you get to the wings, use a butter knife or ruler (any solid straight edge will do) to make a crease in the cardboard strip where the wing meets the body. Securely tape up to the corners to help the wing keep shape. I tried to get a picture of this but I had to use both hands, sorry! 

9. Continue taping and creasing as you come up the other side. You will want to use extra tape on the bottom to keep the goodies from falling out too soon. Stop taping about 3 inches from the top leaving a flap. This is how you will fill it up later. 

10. Unfold your newspaper like you're about to read it. Then fold it in half and in half again top to bottom. Cut the paper into 2 inch strips. 

11. Once you have all the strips cut, set them on the floor and 'fluff' them by picking them up and dropping them several times. This will make it easier for you to grab individual strips while your hands are covered in goop. 

12. You want to set up your piñata on top of a bucket or stool with plenty of coverage for your floor underneath. It's about to get real messy - which means it's a great part for the kids to help with! The stool will allow you to be able to work on both sides.

12.5. Mix equal parts of water and elmer's glue OR  flour. I used the elmer's glue mixture for the first time with this project and I think I prefer the water and flour mixture. Mix it in a bowl (I keep plastic tubs from yogurt, sour cream, or cottage cheese so I can use them and not feel bad if I want to just toss them afterwards). Next, take a strip of the newspaper and dunk it in the mix. Pull the strip out between two fingers to remove any excess goop. You don't want the goop to be heavy on the paper. Lay the piece of paper on the piñata and smooth down. You will want to dunk, squeeze, and place the paper quickly or it will start to fall apart. Repeat until both sides of piñata are covered. 

13. Allow first layer to dry, then repeat steps 12 and 12.5 to add a second layer of paper mache. 

14. You can add a layer of color over the paper mache with some spray paint. After I painted mine, I realized this step was silly so I wouldn't recommend it. You're going to be covering it with crepe paper anyway. 

15. Wrap the body of the rocketship mummy-style using the white crepe paper (see why 14 was silly?). I did this by putting down a thin strip of hot glue, then quickly placing a row of crepe paper on top of it. Repeat until the entire rocketship is covered. 


16. Cut several 4 inch strips of white crepe paper. Heat up glue gun. 

17. Fold a strip in half without creasing it.  

18. Using scissors, snip fringe into the folded edge being careful to leave about 1/4" for glueing. Unfold and fold back the opposite way. My mother-in-law told me this is how they get the fringe to be so puffy. Starting at the bottom, near the wing, place a thin line of hot glue across the side and about 1/4" onto the front and back of the piñata.

19. Repeat up both sides of the piñata. Carefully fluff out with your fingers.

You CAN use this technique to cover the rest of the piñata but the strips get longer and will be trickier to handle. I used two other techniques. I also like using a couple different methods to make the piñata pop.

20. Next, cut strips of the white crepe paper into the width of your rocketship. Starting from the bottom and using hot glue, glue each strip 1/2 strip on top of one another. You want them to be stacked so that when you cut the fringe into the upper piece, you will see the uncut part of the upper part of the lower piece (I know that sounds confusing but I hope it makes sense. If not, leave a comment and I will help clear things up). Once all the intact strips are all glued into place, trim the side edges so they conform to the shape of the rocketship. Moving from the bottom up, use scissors to cut fringe into the overhung crepe paper pieces. Repeat on the back side. 

21. Cut strips from the crepe paper about 6 - 8" long. Crinkle the paper up then stretch it back out. Place a line of hot glue about 1/2" from the edge of the wing, following the curve of the wing, about 3 - 4" long. Place one end of the crepe paper strip on one end of the hot glue line. Using the end of a pencil, twist the crepe paper up the hot glue line to create a ruffled look (see diagram below).  Repeat to cover as much of the wings and top of rocketship as possible. This part doesn't have to be perfect, you will fill in holes later. And remember, it doesn't need to be perfect because it will take the kids less than 3 minutes to demolish it.

22. Cut squares of red crepe paper. Crinkle and open back up. Put a square on the eraser end of the pencil. Find any holes in between the ruffles, place a dot of hot glue, and press the square of crepe paper into the glue. Twist a little, carefully lift the pencil up, and spread out the square to fill in the space. Repeat until there are no visible spaces in between the ruffles.

23. Puncture a hole in the bottom of all three plastic cups. Cut three even length strips of yellow, orange, and red crepe paper. Take a piece of each color and carefully thread about 1/2" to 1" through the hole in the bottom of the cup. Secure the 1" end with a small piece of masking tape. Using hot glue, adhere the cups to the bottom of the rocketship.

24. (Not Pictured) Glue white paper circle on top of grey paper circle and glue both onto the rocketship. 

You are ready to fill your piñata! I would recommend not using anything that might melt, or anything that's overly heavy.

Fill all candy and goodies into the piñata using the unsecured flap. Using a hole punch or drill, make holes in the corresponding spots on the flap and the other side of the piñata. Secure closed with a zip tie or some strong string/thin rope. This is what you will use to hang your piñata. 

Hang the piñata from a tree branch, give the kids a sturdy stick, step back and enjoy! 

I took this to a family reunion and it was sturdy enough that all the kids got in a good two whacks to it before it was busted wide open. You can use the steps with minor adjusts to make any shape piñata you want!