crush the piñata before it crushes you
September 18, 2011 2:55 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend wants a piñata full of condoms, nips (airline-sized bottles of alcohol), and fireworks for his birthday. How do I make a piñata shaped like a T-Rex holding a can of PBR? Where do I find (plastic!) nips in Chicago? How do I go about obtaining fireworks when they're illegal in Illinois?

I'm aware of how commercial piñatas are fabricated-but a bunch of staple gun staples stabbing into the contents sounds like a bad idea when the contents include condoms. I have duct tape, cardboard, a wire hanger to make the hook, and a bunch of construction paper, glue, and tissue paper. Plus an empty beer can. I'm not interested in the ballon/paper mâché method. Any tips?

I know most slummy liquor stores sell nips, but what liquor stores do you, personally, know for a fact carry them? I live in Chicago. I work downtown in the loop near The Board of Trade and live in Logan Square, so anywhere I can get to on my bike from/between those two locations is preferred, but I'll take any suggestions. 

How do I even go about finding fireworks? Craigslist? I'm sure some people have them left over from the 4th, but I don't drive and I'm not about to ride my bike to Indiana to buy some roman candles. 

Any other suggestions for contents that will fit the theme?
posted by Juliet Banana to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You can get both the nips and the fireworks juuusssttt over the border in Indiana. Which doesn't help you tons, but someone with a car might be able to help.

How soon do you need everything for it?
posted by bibliogrrl at 3:02 PM on September 18, 2011

You can't get airline-size bottles of alcohol in the city limits--they're not illegal in the county, just the city, so you can cross into Evanston for them.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:06 PM on September 18, 2011

You can get some small plastic bottles at Vas Foremost, Milwaukee/California. The stuff you want is behind the left-hand cashier as you're facing to check out.
posted by nickd at 3:11 PM on September 18, 2011

The deadline is Friday, September 30th. So, a little less than two weeks.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:12 PM on September 18, 2011

For actually making it, perhaps it would be easier to get a pre-made Dinosaur pinata and just re-decorate it / attach the beer can yourself? That would save you quite a bit of hassle and let you focus on the important task of finding what to put in it.
posted by true at 3:13 PM on September 18, 2011 [7 favorites]

For the dinosaur body: I would suggest tracing two large side-profile T-rex type shapes the same size, then using cardboard tubes from paper towels standing up between them, stuck there with the duct tape. Once this is pretty solid, you can use construction paper to paper-mache the sides and use lots of layers to make it sturdy. Do all around the sides except for the top, then fill it with candy and finish the top to seal it in. You could just glue a real PBD beer can to his arm.

I made a unicycle pinata using this method. Good luck!
posted by shortyJBot at 3:14 PM on September 18, 2011

Get those liquor-filled chocolate bottles. Pretty sure they sell them at Cost Plus World Market. And I think you can get "snaps" from Chinatown, if you can't get real fireworks.
posted by hooray at 3:22 PM on September 18, 2011

As for making the pinata, I think the easiest way to accomplish it would be to make a 2D picture 3D, so like this instead of rounded out like this. Make two t-rex shapes out of construction paper (several taped together...or poster board), then attach them together with flat panels of construction paper. Then paint all over the outside of the t-rex structure with several coats of papier mache mixture (flour and water or glue and water) to reinforce it and ensure you get that nice popping sound.

(On preview, I see that this is roughly the method shortyJBot describes.)

You can use papier mache with bits of tissue paper to flesh out the details and coloring after the armature has hardened.

(And this may sound obvious, but don't forget to leave a hole for your goodies! It's a major d'oh! when you finally finish the thing, only to find out that you've got to gut him again to fill him up.)
posted by phunniemee at 3:22 PM on September 18, 2011

Is it.... wise to put fireworks in a piñata? Is there any chance the thumping would make them go boom?
posted by Andrhia at 3:31 PM on September 18, 2011 [9 favorites]

There are great piñata instructions at Oh Happy Day. This one's an alligator, but you could easily adapt to a dinosaur with a T-Rex silhouette to trace a pattern, I think
posted by t0astie at 3:33 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can buy a T-Rex pinata ready for filling via or and probably elsewhere. Then affix an empty can of PBR to his hand with glue.
posted by carmicha at 3:39 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Fireworks can also be purchased in Wisconsin. If any party guests are coming from WI or IN perhaps they can bring some to the festivities.
posted by carmicha at 3:40 PM on September 18, 2011

Um, another vote for "please don't do something that results in people smashing black powder". Perhaps the fireworks get... raffled. But yeah, maybe not in the pinata itself?
posted by disillusioned at 3:46 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

If firecrackers turn out to be too dangerous to put in there, you could substitute some sort of "standing in place for a dangerous item" toy like squirt guns.
posted by phunniemee at 4:00 PM on September 18, 2011

If you do end up making the pinata yourself, I'd suggest keeping the duct tape to a minimum: you don't want to make it so sturdy it can't break open!
posted by easily confused at 4:00 PM on September 18, 2011

I've filled a pinata with various little bottles of booze, and most of them, including the plastic ones, cracked when they hit the ground. If I had to do it again, I would wrap them in bubble wrap. YMMV.
posted by corey flood at 4:12 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Plussing the advice against unwrapped nips in piñata. The first hard blow will break the bottles inside.
posted by knz at 4:25 PM on September 18, 2011

I'm going to get on the bandwagon against the bottles of booze in there. It seems like a great idea, but they will almost all burst and get everything else coated in crappy booze.
posted by sacrifix at 5:13 PM on September 18, 2011

Just popping in to say please don't bang on fireworks!
posted by Ellemeno at 5:24 PM on September 18, 2011

Whoops! Sounds like I'm making a presentation-only piñata we'll just open up. We can always fill it with candy and bust the shit out of it later.

So, presuming the idea is just a tissue paper t-rex full of these items that will not get whacked about, how would one go about obtaining them?

I'm working on some cardboard steeze at the moment. The 2D silhouettes connected together were where I was thinking about going with it as well.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:11 PM on September 18, 2011

Bolivian style piñatas are re-usable, what they have is a paper circle with a ribbon glued/taped to the middle, in the bottom of the piñata. Then you gather all the participants, give the piñata a swing, and yank the ribbon so the circle comes out, spewing guts everywhere.

I guess it's like a lid, only on the bottom, or a trap door. And yay, you get to use your piñata again!

Over a mattress you could still do the traditional piñata scrabble (without the piñata wacking) without risking explosions or cracked bottles, perhaps?
posted by titanium_geek at 6:26 PM on September 18, 2011

You can take a commuter train to get to Indiana or Wisconson. For example, the South Shore starts at Millennium Station and ends in South Bend, IN (although you probably don't need to go all the way there just to get fireworks).
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 7:51 PM on September 18, 2011

Do you have BevMo in Chicago? My local BevMo (in California) has a huge carousel near the registers that is hundreds of tiny liquor bottles. Other than that, not sure. I spent a few days in Chicago in June and was shocked by how hard it was to buy liquor.
posted by bendy at 11:01 PM on September 18, 2011

I've filled a pinata with various little bottles of booze, and most of them, including the plastic ones, cracked when they hit the ground. If I had to do it again, I would wrap them in bubble wrap. YMMV.

This has not been my experience. To be safe, hang the pinata from a tree over grass and not from a lamp post over the sidewalk. There is something wonderful in watching the faces of jaded adult people light up when they realize that the pinata is filled with booze and not candy. And oh, the mad scramble for the bottles. You won't get that with a presentation pinata. Your instincts to use plastic bottles are correct. I once included a couple of glass bottles of a particular favorite, one of which hit someone in the head.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:58 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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