Archived Q&A and Reviews


Pros & Cons of Pinatas

July 1999

I am fairly set against pinatas for little kids - more often than not they lead to tears and squabbles. They never break, you have to keep little heads out of the way of the bat, and little kids sometimes get upset (bashing snow white's head off), and then there's the fight for the candy. If you really feel devoted to pinatas, consider: pre-ripping them so they might actually break, and: rather than having each little kid fight the other one for their scrap of candy, have them all scoop up the candy into one big basket. Then you can give them their own little bags into which you scoop a handful from the basket. The kids enjoy cooperating in filling the basket, and there's less squabbling over who got more than whom.

I was just reading one of the suggestions about 4 year old parties and noted the negative comments about pinatas. I have always agreed until a recent party for a 4 year old girl. The parents had bought a pinata with ribbons attached. Instead of banging away with a stick, each child pulled a ribbon until eventually the bottom was pulled out and the candy fell. The kids loved it!!

Where to get a Pinata

Feb 2000

Would anyone have suggestions on where there is a good selection of pinatas for boys and ideas for birthday party games for 3 year olds? thank you for your time and help.

I have seen a good selection of Pinatas (not sure about ones specifically for boys) at the Toys R Us (in Emeryville) and at the Michaels (in San Leandro). Dawn

Pinatas of all shapes and sizes can be found in various stores on East 14th (international blvd) near Fruitvale in Oakland, though I am not sure what makes a boy pinata as opposed to a girl pinata. . I also found nice pinatas (much more expensive) at Cost Plus and . We had a quite fabulous Alien pinata last year!

Paper Plus, formerly Papyrus Seconds, 1643 San Pablo in Berkeley, tends to have pretty good, cheap pinatas, although whether their pinatas are for boys I do not know. (What does a three-year-old boy's pinata look like, anyway? As I recall, at that age anything will do as long as it's full of candy.) The other PPs, on Center in downtown Berkeley, and on College in the Elmwood, might have pinatas as well.

I've looked at pinatas for my son's parties at Mr. Mopp's, the party store on Solano between Fresno and The Alameda, and a place on
Center between Shattuck and Oxford (Discount Paper Plus, or something like that). They all have the same prices, but the largest selection is at the place on Center. Fran

I found a pull string pinatas for my son's 1st birthday (2/25) at the Party Warehouse on Oak St in Oakland. It looks just like the typical pinata. This type of pinata is great for the smaller kids because instead of hitting it with a stick the children take turns pulling one of about 15 strings hanging from beneath the pinata and only one string opens the trap door to release the candy inside. I tied small toys and lollipops to the end of each string to make it easier for them to grasp. My son's birthday is Saturday and he's already tried to pull the strings out. With this one, he can participate without getting hurt by a flying stick! FYI, I had to go back twice because the salesperson sold me the wrong kind when I asked for the pullstring type. Make sure you get the one with multiple ribbons attached in rows below NOT just decorative crepe paper which will obviously tear when pulled. MWishbone

I have bought all of my son's pinatas from the Party Warehouse near Jack London square,221 Oak Street, phone (893-1951). If you call them for directions, I'm sure they would be happy to give them to you. Happy Hunting! God Bless! Anita

Pinata Filler Ideas

August 2001

My daughter wants a pinata for her birthday. I like the pull string kind, but still have qualms about all that candy. Or the junky plastic toys that get chucked the next day. Does anyone have any suggestions for healthy snacks or other groovy ideas for filling the pinata? thanks. Hilary

I'd go with the plastic toys, but then I think everything gets thrown out the next day whether it's any good or not. But here's another idea for the pinata. As each child comes in to the party, give them a sticker for their clothes or whatever. Then, fill small plastic bags with the favors and put a sticker on each, then put those in the pinata. This way, kids search for their match (you could also write names on the bags instead) without as much of a mad rush and conflict over what's fallen on the ground. Wendy

I've read about people combining a dose of candy with fun toiletries such as travel toothpaste and little toothbrushes with the Rugrats and whatnot on them. Maybe at Costco it wouldn't be so expensive? Bottles of bubbles might not be bad, although they are heavy and you'd have to be sure nobody got clocked. A friend turned us on to Fruit Leathers, a dried fruit strip you can get at Andronicos. Maybe some loud noisemakers, such as those traditional birthday horns.... Perhaps fun pens, pencils or tiny tablets. Mood rings are fun, or Mardi Gras sorts of bead necklaces. lynn

I was at a party for a five or six year-old. It was a spaceship theme party and the pinata was a spaceship filled with little aliens. One alien for each kid, so no fighting over who go what. The toys were nice stuffed bean bag type things that were very cute and without plastic! The kids did not seem disappointed to not get candy. lynn

We once went to a party where the mom had made really nice little party bags - one for each child attending and those were in the pinata. This also stopped the rudeness, madness and grabbing for candy or toys that usually happens with a pinata - the part where someone gets hurt feelings and it seems as though some kids get more and others less. By doing these bags, each child gets a nice little bag and it's all fair. As to what you put in the bag - that's the challenge! The children's ages and interests, and the party theme are a good guide. Tiny lego sets, colorful gel pens, one sweet treat, and whatever else you can think of that has a longer shelf life than some of the usual junk... good luck and happy birthday! Nuckypuff

Try fruit roll-ups (the organic kind From El Cerrito Natural), small bags of nuts, little boxes of raisins or little treasures like those found at The Ark at the old Hearthsong site on 4th Street. I saw some beautiful stones, marbles and other trinkets there. It will cost more, but be appreciated much more, too -- especially by the parents! carol

something we tried last year was putting various types of prizes into plastic easter eggs and filling the pinata with them ... the biggest hit was coins (not sure if that's groovy per se -- but even eleven year olds still get pretty excited about quarters and the golden dollars had them positively ecstatic) ... but you could as easily fill them with dried fruit or glitter or confetti or stickers. ilen

Attractive (e.g., mylar, glitter, bright colors) pencils Attractive erasers Sticks of modeling clay or other modest craft supplies Little boxes of crayons Small notebooks Stickers Packets of flower/herb seeds Little packets of nuts/raisins/trail mixish stuff (check beforehand to make sure none of the kids are allergic to nuts) Balloons Those little tin pins shaped like butterflies and other insects put them in small plastic bags, so no one gets punctured) Votive or novelty candles Small toys Temporary tattoos
Don't know where you live, but the Paper Outlet stores in Berkeley on San Pablo, Center, and College have inexpensive stationary and party supplies such as pencils, erasers, balloons, candles, and stickers. So do the Grocery Outlet (aka Canned Foods) stores on Fifth in Berkeley and on Broadway in Oakland. Mr. Mopps on MLK Jr. Way Berkeley) also stocks bags of cheap small toys, some of them decent quality: little rubber animals and that sort of thing. melanie

Here's what we do. Before a birthday party we go around and collect all the junky party favors, figurines, and burger king toys the kids are no longer interested in. We make party bags using plain paper bags, divide up the goods (sometimes we supplement with notepads, rubber balls, pencils, and even a piece of leftover halloween candy or two...) roll them up, and stuff the pinata with them. When the pinata breaks each kid gets one bag so the big kids aren't shoving the little kids out of the way for more loot. Neither the kids nor the parents seem to mind the recycled goods. The kids are already getting cake and ice cream, so no need for even more sugar, IMHO. ---Sophie