Fast & Easy DIY Pull-String Pinata Tutorial

When searching for a pinata for Oscar's batman party, we couldn't find anything we liked (we weren't crazy about the idea of smashing batman's head open for some dubble bubble).  We looked around the party supply store and Jeremy asked if maybe I could make something out of one of these lanterns - challenge accepted!

Pinata supplies:

  • Paper Lantern - I used round, but I'm guessing any shape would work.
  • Tissue paper in desired colors
  • Coordinating ribbons
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Uh.. yeah.. that's it.  This is really easy.

Cut the ribbons into pieces to use as pull strings. I believe these were about 4ft.  Length depends on how high you are hanging the pinata and how short your kids are. If you aren't sure you can make them longer than you think you will need and then trim them to where you like them once the pinata is up.

This particular lantern is made with a spiral of wire covered in paper. I'm guessing some might be made of separate circles of different sizes, in which case you can skip this step.  In fact, if you're not worried about some kid pulling down the vent cover that you tie your pinatas to, you might be fine without this step. Cutting the wire will make the bottom just pop off if it's pulled hard enough. If your lantern is just one long piece of wire, count a few spirals down to where you want the bottom of the pinata to open up.

Using a pair of wire cutters which are hopefully a bit daintier than these (my teeny wire cutters were missing, so Jeremy's came to the rescue), snip the wire.

If you're using gigantic wire cutters like mine, you'll have something that looks like this. No worries.

Now, on the opposite side of the lantern, closer to the bottom of the pinata, cut two slits in the paper parallel with the wire, just big enough to slip a ribbon through. The cut wire is by my thumb and the cut paper slits are by my middle finger.

Slits in the paper, wire intact. 

Put the ribbon through the paper and tie it around the wire.  This will be the winning ribbon.

Winning ribbon is tied on.  Pulling this ribbon will rip the bottom off of the pinata.

Now that the ribbon is tied on, you can glue a couple layers of tissue paper on the bottom to close off the hole.  It's best not to do this until the ribbon is tied, otherwise it makes it a lot harder to tie it.

Now you glue on the rest of the ribbons.  Since they are just glued on they will pop off when pulled.

Use some decorative fringed tissue around the top of the ribbons to hide the winning ribbon from view.

If you want you can continue decorating from here.  You could make this into all sorts of fun things depending on the shape of the lantern and the tissue you decorate it with.  Since this was a project I hadn't even planned on doing (remember how I was looking to buy a pinata..), I just added some bat symbols for Oscar's batman party and called it a day.

And here is the finished product. I went ahead and made all three lanterns into pinatas, cuz the more the merrier, right?  And what else would I do with 2 yellow paper lanterns?  Well that worked about perfect (yay!) since we only had 3 kids at the party (boo!). They each had their own pinata!

First pinata down! It worked perfectly.

And here is pinata #2 spewing forth goodness.  These were the perfect solution for us.  The ONLY problem I found with them was that anything pointy (sucker sticks) can poke through the lantern walls if you're not careful.  If you've built up more tissue layers by decorating the entire pinata, this most likely won't be a problem.  And it really wasn't that big of a problem to begin with.

I'd love to hear suggestions in the comments on other themes these would work well for.  I know they would be great for sports themes (baseball, basketball, soccer, golf and such). I also thought maybe you could add a brown paper cone and turn it into an ice cream cone. Or add some cotton batting and make a group of them into clouds for a rainbow party.  Leaves some ideas below!


  1. very clever, as usual!

  2. Expat in Israel8/14/13, 12:39 PM

    Totally saved the day! And so much easier than some paper mache' craziness!!! We're doing a panda party and I have two cream colored lanterns that were never used. I can't wait to set these up!

  3. looking for ideas for my "bird or bee" gender reveal. totally going to try this! glad i found it before trying my hand with paper mache ����

  4. I've been searching high and low for an ocean themed pinata that wasn't too cartoonish for my son's birthday party. These will make PERFECT jellyfish pinatas! Thank you so much!