Trick or Treat

Create your own Halloween pinata

Who says pinatas are just for birthdays or Cinco de Mayo celebrations? Pinatas make fun additions to many gatherings, including Halloween parties. Halloween-themed pinatas filled with trick-or-treat candies can provide a safer alternative to trick-or-treating around busy neighborhoods, and kids won't mind because they can still get their candy fix when the pinata is inevitably broken open.

Many people prefer to purchase a ready-made pinata from a party store. But with a few ingredients they may already have on hand, parents can customize their own Halloween-themed pinatas.

Start by gathering your materials:

* A large balloon, roughly 14 inches in diameter

* Two large bowls

* Flour and water

* Newspaper and comics, torn into strips of various widths

* String

* Scissors

* Pin

* Colored tissue paper, crepe paper or cupcake liners

* Paints, crayons and other decorating materials, as desired

1. Blow up the balloon and knot the end. Rest the balloon in a bowl so it won't roll away.

2. Mix up a batch of papier-mache. Mix 2 cups of flour with 2 cups of water and add a tablespoon of salt to create the mixture. With a spoon, blend to a batter-like texture.

3. Use strips of newspaper and dip into the mixture, then wipe off the excess. Place the newspaper strips in an overlapping pattern to cover the entire balloon. Wrap yarn or another type of string around the balloon to help hang the pinata later on. Let the balloon dry for 24 hours.

4. Hold the balloon knot, and use a pin to pop the balloon and remove it.

5. Repeat the process with comics so that you can tell the first layer from the previous layer. Allow to dry.

6. Repeat the process again with a third layer, alternating with newspaper again. Allow the layer to dry completely.

7. Use your decorating supplies to decorate the pinata with vivid colors.

8. Cut a small hatch into the top of the pinata. Ensure that the inside of the pinata is completely dry before filling it with candy.

9. Hang the pinata, and give everyone an opportunity to break it open and reveal the treasure inside.

As an alternative to traditional papier-mache, you can try dipping the newspaper strips into liquid starch. This will help prolong the life of the pinata, making it less susceptible to mold.