Pinatas are a lot of fun to make and can be prepared quite a while ahead of the party (though at times between cakes, invitations, decorations and the zillion other things you'll need to do, it's ok to break down and buy one from your local party store*grin*.
Dora the Explorer -- round pinata (punch ball from the dollar store) with black crepe paper hair and painted on features -- check out the Rock Crusher Pinata for specifics on how to make a round pinata
Spider Pinata -- great for Halloween or Spiderman party
Super Simple Pinata -- this is the easiest (and least messy) version of a pinata I know. It's great for groups of kids.
Gigi offered this suggestion for those making a Pinata...
"If you are making a Pinata the night before you can help dry it quickly by using
a dehumidifier. It will be dry in no time!"
When we have a birthday party pinata, here's what we do with our guests to make the stick to whack it with!
As we're opening gifts, we let each child who brought something add some of their wrapping material to the stick.
We use a cardboard tube from gift wrap as the base:
Hang the pinata up from the ceiling. Each child gets a turn trying to break the pinata. Blindfold the child and give them a stick (a broom handle works well) -- make sure all the other children stand WELL back from the swinging! Turn the child around in a circle 2 or 3 times and point him or her in the direction of the pinata. The child gets to swing the stick 2 or 3 times.
Then another child gets a turn. When someone breaks the pinata, all the children get to gather the goodies. You might want to prewrap the goodies in bags so they don't get paper mache on them and so that each child gets and equal share -- this is especially useful when the children are of various ages.