Mini Pinata Advent Calendar - Christmas in July

Only a little over four months left until December 1st  - so what better way to celebrate "Christmas In July" than to get started making your Advent Calendars!

July? Christmas?  Absolutely!  "Christmas in July" celebrations have been a much loved tradition in our family since Diane was about 5 years old.  On July 25th we would take a trip to a local Christmas shop so my children could pick out a special ornament to save and then put on the tree in December.

From observing all the advent calendar posts whirling around in blog-land last year, I think is is safe to assume that they are becoming a popular addition to winter holiday celebrations!  And since making them is usually not a "one evening project", it is my mission to get you to start earlier this year so you aren't up until the wee hours on November 30th!

My friend Heidi and I have almost finished ours!  Heidi is the creative one on our little crafty team.  Not only did she come up with the idea of mini pinatas in the first place, but after making several round pinatas, she couldn't stand it any longer and made this cool little Santa head mini pinata.

The mini pinatas, which by the way are only 2 1/2" to 3" in diameter,  are easy to make - it's making 24 that takes the time!  But how much fun will it be to have a pinata  full of candy to devour every morning in December!  And even better - your mini pinata advent calendar can be used again and again.

If you are not up to making 24 but love the idea - make a few and use them as special tree ornaments for each member of your family and make eating the contents part of your celebration on Christmas eve, or Advent, or Feast of Guadalupe or Feast of St. Nicholas! 

Or - make some to give as gifts!  Who wouldn't love a refillable mini pinata to add to their ornament collection?

Or make a mini "count down calendar" for the period beginning December 16th and ending on Christmas Eve known in many South American and Mexican families as Las Posados.

A few notes before we get started with the tutorial.

First - there a lot of pictures!  The pinatas are EASY to make however, and most of you will be able to make them just by quickly scrolling through the pictures.  But for those of you who are new to this process, I tried to be thorough so you would know just what to do to make them.

Traditionally pinatas are constructed from papier mache and there great tutorials here and here.

But you may as well know the truth - I don't like playing with papier mache.
So I chose to make pinatas using an instant cellulose molding material called Sculptamold instead of papier mache. It is available at most craft supply stores. (If you are using papier mache, use the little balloons as your form and once dry, proceed with the tutorial.)

I love that when using the Sculptamold it is possible to mold all 24 little balls in one afternoon.  Really love that part!  And as a bonus, once they are dry - they are nearly indestructible!

Another possibility!  Use small dried gourds.  Don't laugh!  They make brilliant pinatas.  Learn how it is done here!


You will need:

24 small round balloons

1 3 lb. package Sculptamold and water as directed on package

something sharp to pop balloons

rimmed cookie sheet

wax paper and wooden skewers

Mod Podge

tissue paper in you favorite colors

self healing cutting board, rotary cutter and plastic straight edge

flexible, green garden wire or 24 gauge wire


key tags or number beads

electric drill (optional)

Begin by making the form

1. Just slightly blow-up 24 balloons so they are about 2" to 2 1/2" in diameter. Tie a knot to hold in the air.

2. Make the cellulose molding material as directed on the package.  Hint:  This stuff sets up hard so use a bowl that won't mind some vigorous scrubbing!

3. Stir immediately and use right away.  It starts setting-up very soon after mixing, so what we did was make only a couple cups at a time.  By the way - it looks almost exactly like biscuit dough!  Just so you are prepared!

4. This is messy!  Form the molding material around the balloon.  Keep the walls thin so your pinata doesn't become too heavy.  The surface will be lumpy.  NOT a problem.

5. Completely cover the surface of the balloon except for leaving a hole at the tied end of the balloon.  These holes are NOT big enough!  Don't make the same mistake we did!  Leave an opening about 1" in diameter around the knot.

6.  Place your little balls on a rimmed cookie tray to dry.  And then clean your hands and mixing utensils right away!

7.  Once the balls have been drying a couple days, prick the balloons with something sharp to pop them.  Be sure to hold on to the balloon when you do!

8. Pull the balloon out of the cavity.  Let the balls dry completely.  Complete drying will take a couple more days if you are air drying. Oven drying will only take a few hours.

In case you do make your holes too small -  once dry, they can be drilled out.  These little guys are rock hard when dry so you won't be able to simply cut a hole as easily as you would with a papier mache ball.

9. Drill (or punch for papier mache) two tiny holes about 1/2" apart and about 1/2" above the edge of the large hole.  This will be the top of your pinata.  Bend a 5" long piece of wire in half and insert the ends into the holes.  Reach into the ball through the large opening and twist the two wire ends together until you have about a half inch of tightly twisted wire. This will hold the wire loop in place while hanging!

Now we are ready to cover the pinata with tissue!

1. Get out your self-healing cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler.  You don't have to be precise, but using them can sure speed things up!

Note: Cutting out and fringing your tissue paper strips will be probably the most time consuming part of this project. The good news is that you can do it while watching TV!  Heidi and I cut out all the the little strips and then folded and fringed while watching the tube!  By the time the forms were dry, we were ready to decorate!

2. Cut your strips to measure 1" x 2". Fold in half and make 5 cuts along the side opposite the fold so that you have 6 little fringe strips.

We did not count how many we made!  But I can tell you that one standard size sheet of tissue will make more than enough fringe strips for a ball.  We were making multi-colored pinatas, so we cut and folded and fringed one of each of 12 sheets.

3.  Cut a circle about 1 1/2" diameter out of tissue. Use the same color you have chosen for the bottom few rows.  Dab a bit of Mod Podge over the bottom (opposite the wire) of the pinata and place the tissue circle over it  pressing gently.

4. Now brush a band of Mod Podge about 1/2" wide along the edge of the circle.  Place a row of fringe strips right at the edge of the tissue circle.  Place a second row just above it positioning the strips so that the center of the fringe strips on the second row is above the joint between fringe strips in the first row.

Continue brushing bands of Mod Podge and attaching fringe strips working your way toward the top.  Each row of fringe should be about 1/4" above the last.  Stop adding fringe rows when you are about 1" from the top.

5. Cut another circle 1 1/2" diameter from tissue the same color as that you are using at the top of your pinata.  Make two cuts about 1/2" as shown.

6. "Glue" in place placing the cuts around the wires.

7.  Now continue adding fringe all the way to the very top. 

Hint:  You will find that cutting fringe strips in half will make it easier to work around the tighter circle.

Now we are going to create a little flap to hide the "candy hole"! 

8.  Cut a small circle about 1 1/4" diameter out of a tissue color used in the area of the opening.  Place a dab of Mod Podge at the top of the opening and place one end of the circle over it and press to secure.  (Sometimes the tissue circle placed on the top of the pinata covers part of the hole.  If this happens, simply put the Mod Podge on the tissue and attach the "candy hole flap" to it instead.)

9.  Place a skewer or thin dowel under the "flap" as shown and then brush a generous layer of Mod Podge over the top surface of the "flap".

10. Cut several fringe strips in half and place them on the "flap" beginning at the bottom and working your way to the top. 

11.  As you move from the bottom of the flap to the top, change tissue colors to blend with the color bands already in place.

12.  Replace the skewer with a piece of wax paper so that there is separation between the pinata and the flap. To do this, gently lift the flap with the skewer, slip a piece of wax paper in between the flap and the body of the pinata and then carefully remove the skewer. 

Almost done!

13. Glob mod podge on the very top of the pinata between the wires. Cut a 12" x 1" long strip and fringe along one edge. 

14. Wind the fringe strip around a pencil or pen and slip off, holding the bottom edge tightly with your fingers. Give the bottom edge a slight twist.

15. Place the twisted edge of the fringe into the wet glob of mod podge and hold for a half minute or so.

You are done!  Hang your mini pinata by the wire until it is completely dry.  Remove the wax paper when the Mod Podge is completely dry.  I let mine sit overnight.

If you choose to make a mini pinata advent calendar, you will most likely want to create a date tag for each one.

Heidi and I simply glued round circles cut from tissue onto the centers of key tags.  We used a sharpie to write on the number once the glue was dry. 

Heidi also suggested that number beads would work well.

Don't forget the candy!

You will be amazed at how tough and flexible that little "candy hole flap" becomes once dry!  Got to love that Mod Podge!  And once the wax paper is removed, the flap completely hides the hole.  I always have to look for mine!

Use candies that will fit easily through the opening. In fact, if you have a particular candy in mind to use, you may want to take that into consideration when making the opening so it will fit!

Be sure to use only wrapped candy. Do not put unwrapped candy into the pinata cavity.

Happy Christmas in July!

And don't forget that how-to for using gourds to make pinatas that I mentioned above!  Much easier and works great!

Other countdown calendars you might enjoy:

Norwegian cookie countdown calendar

Printable magnetic countdown calendar

Scandinavian wood tree and Danish Woven hearts countdown!



Do these actually get broken

Do these actually get broken or are they saved over the years? Are they broken by dropping them on the ground? I love them and want to do them with my small class!

Cheryl, I save mine from year

Cheryl, I save mine from year to year and just replace the candy as the idea was to make them a permanent ornamemt!  I doubt very much that pinata ornaments made with this material will ever break even if dropped on cement!  They are hard as rock. And heavy.

If I were making these with children, I would definitely use papier mache. Especially if they are to be party favors to be broken into!



I like to teach the craft to

I like to teach the craft to my students

Another beauty. I'd like to

Another beauty. I'd like to feature this one as well! You can see it on December 19.

I just love this. I can't

I just love this. I can't wait to show the kiddos when they get home from school b/c I think they will love this project idea for the holidays!
Thanks so much for sharing with such fab photos!

I *love* this Pam!! They are

I *love* this Pam!! They are adorable and I appreciate the tip about Sculptamold - I'll have to look for that the next time I'm in the craft store.

I think these are so

I think these are so adorable. I haven't been keeping up with my blog reading online, and wish I had!!! My girls just had birthday parties and were crazy to have a pinata. I should have made one! These would even have made great party favors, too.

This is ridiculous cute. I

This is ridiculous cute. I *love* it! Heather from CroqZIne emailed me about it this morning and I gasped out loud. Love, love, love. I'll be linking.

I love these!! What a great

I love these!! What a great idea. I definitely want to make some! I also want to link to this project on Dollar Store Crafts!


Okay, these are too cute. I

Okay, these are too cute. I actually may do this! It's so festive and different, and I love that you shared this so early!

I'm just concerned about when I've got to smack one on a specific day to get the candy out.. my aim is not really very good.

Can I put the date on the ball after it's smashed open? Then I'll be sure to get it on the right one.

What an incredible project. I

What an incredible project. I know the time involved, WOW! They look so beautiful and I'm sure the two of you must have had great fun putting it all together. Simply gorgeous :)

You just never cease to amaze

You just never cease to amaze me with your creativity! And always such great instructions!!
You certainly do love Christmas and all the 'trimmings'.

Mini pinatas, how neat is

Mini pinatas, how neat is that?! I am thinking that these would be great to make as birthday party favors. Wouldn't kids love to have their very own pinata to take home?

Those are adorable. Thanks

Those are adorable. Thanks for showing how to make them. I also enjoyed seeing your photos of the Washington coast...a part of the world I have not seen (yet!). Just beautiful!


Neat! This makes me think of

Neat! This makes me think of a cool "mini-birthday party" idea, with a tiny cupcake, a mini pinata with a tiny stick, and maybe some itty-bitty presents!

Whoa! That is an intense

Whoa! That is an intense project! You did a lovely job - your pinatas are so cute. You know, I've yet to make my own advent calendar, and I've always wanted one. You're right, now would be the perfect time to start working on one. Hmm...

Oh and P.S. Thanks for all of the Christmas in July linkage!!!

Happy Christmas in Juy

Happy Christmas in Juy :-)
Great Pinatas.

How cute are those! I love

How cute are those! I love them. I'm going to have to file this one away...