Inspired by Cinco de Mayo

Last year I talked to my friend Nadia Aguilar Cates about Cinco de Mayo and some of her plans to celebrate it. She explained that “Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the battle of Puebla. It’s not Mexico’s Independence Day but a common celebration in the United States.” –Nadia Aguilar Cates, @Casa_Palomi

Two little boys dressed in Mariachi outfits holding cardboard instruments stand in front of a giant pink papel picado decoration

Last year Nadia and I worked together to make a COVID-safe drive-by Cinco de Mayo party, complete with cardboard mariachi instruments for kids and a giant papel picado backdrop. If you missed it last year, it’s not too late to get ready for this year’s festivities!

We also interviewed Nadia last Fall, and everything she does to preserve and celebrate her Mexican heritage is so inspiring. Check out her interview here, and definitely keep an eye on Ella Rises, the organization Nadia created to empower Latina youth.

Nadia Aguilar Cates stands in front of a giant pink papel picado decoration

History of Cinco de Mayo

As Nadia said, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an important Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862 in the city of Puebla. The battle, in which the Mexican army defeated French troops, marked a turning tide in the fight for Mexican sovereignty. It also signaled Mexico’s strength to the rest of the world, which tended to underestimate their power.

Because The House that Lars Built is located in the United States, where anti-Mexican racism is still a pervasive problem, we’re using Cinco de Mayo to reflect on the importance of listening to and celebrating Indigenous and Mexican stories. In true Lars fashion, this means that I’m highlighting some of my favorite Mexican artists and designers!

Lars Loves Mexican Artists

Frida Kahlo

Photograph of Frida Kahlo holding a small carved idol. She's wearing a black and orange woven top and has flowers and ribbons braided into her hair, and she's standing against a turquoise wall. Where would we be without our Queen, Frida Kahlo? She’s probably one of the best-known Mexican artists, and for good reason! Her work explores her Mexican Indigenous heritage in bright colors and with psychologically rich symbolism.

 

Painting by Frida Kahlo.
Self-Portrait on the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States, 1932

If you’re looking for more Frida in your life, check out our Great Artists course for kids, which will teach your little one (and you) more about Frida’s work. You can also look at these DIY projects inspired by Frida and this roundup of Frida Kahlo-inspired decor.

Luis Barragán

A woman holds a black horse's bridal in front of a tomato-colored wall at Luis Barragán's Cuadra San Cristóbal stables. There's also a flat blue pool and pink and purple structures in the background.
Photograph by Rene Burri

Luis Barragán was an incredible Mexican architect and designer, whose geometric buildings are breathtakingly colorful. Visiting his iconic San Cristobal Stables was one of the most memorable parts of my trip to Mexico City a few years ago. Brittany walks under a bright pink structure at Luis Barragán's San Cristobal stables in Mexico City

Michelle Franzoni Thorley

A black and white portrait of Michelle, who looks at the camera. She's wearing a white top and a chunky necklace, and she's standing in front of some plants

Michelle Franzoni Thorley is a local-to-me painter and family historian whose work explores her Mexican heritage and the power of knowing about our ancestors. She also is an anti-racism educator and all-around powerful human being, so make sure you follow her on Instagram @florafamiliar.

A painting of women in mountains, a desert, and a cemetery holding onto a red ribbon that connects them.
Ancestresses by Michelle Franzoni Thorley

Cinco de Mayo in the Archives

Along with last year’s drive by party that Nadia worked on with me, I wanted to share more Cinco de Mayo inspiration from years gone by. One of my earliest Cinco de Mayo projects was this collection of DIY honeycomb ornaments shaped like fruits.

paper fruits in the shape of grapes, an orange, a grapefruit, and a strawberry hang in front of a window

I was also inspired by vibrant Mexican design when I made this Cinco de Mayo paper wedding bouquet! You don’t have to be a bride to make this, though! Putting together this bouquet would be such a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo while simultaneously gearing up for Summer blooms.

brightly colored paper bouquet

If you’re looking for full-on Cinco de Mayo party inspiration, look no further than the fiesta I threw a few years ago! You can find great decor, lots of delicious recipes, and links to tableware that will make your party a true fiesta! a festive Cinco de Mayo table set with Mexican food and decorated with colorful papel picado banners

Maybe I’m getting carried away, but I also want to share my travel guide from Mexico City. In 2018 I went to Mexico City and it was absolutely dreamy. In my Mexico City guide you can find my favorite places to go and things to see, as well as (perhaps most importantly?) where to eat. I can’t wait until I can go back and experience even more of Mexico City, because it’s truly a magical (and huge!) place, with so much to do and see.

a colorful papier mache man floats in a white museum space

I came home from Mexico City feeling so inspired by the color and design that I put together a roundup of fashion and design that reminded me of my trip! I’m itching to go back, but looking through these travel-inspired objects is satisfying a bit of my wanderlust…for now!

Viva México!

DIY Ox for Chinese New Year

The Chinese zodiac is a repeating 12-year cycle of animal signs based on the lunar calendar. In order, the zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. 2021 is the year of the Ox, and the Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, marks the transition from one zodiac animal to the next.

Much like the zodiac signs we know as horoscopes, each Chinese zodiac animal represents personality traits, romantic compatibility, and what fortune the year will bring. In Chinese culture, the ox is a valued animal because of its role in agriculture and its positive attributes. People born in the year of the Ox distinguish themselves as honest and hard-working. Because of their honest and earnest character traits, they are reliable and trustworthy. They tend to be low-key and never look for praise, but their hard work often leads to recognition. These are only some of the traits associated with people born in the year of the Ox. Find more here.

Make Your Own Year of the Ox Party Decor

Supplies:

Pencil or marker, cardboard, craft knife, paper or packing tape, hot glue gun (with LOTS of glue sticks for all that fringe), acrylic or tempera craft paint and a paintbrush, brown tissue paper (multiple shades make a nice look, but only one is necessary), scissors, red, white, and tan cardstock, and red, yellow, and green crepe paper. 

Instructions:

  1. Draw a basic ox body shape onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out (you can add the horns and ears later!)
  2. Using the first cutout ox, trace and cut out another. Now you have both sides of your piñata.
  3. Cut long strips of corrugated cardboard 3 inches wide. You want the corrugation running perpendicular to the length of the strip so that it can bend easily to your ox’s contours.
  4. Using paper or packing tape and starting with one side at a time, attach the cardboard strips to the perimeter of the ox. Add more cardboard strips as needed to wrap around the entire circumference of the ox body. 
  5. Affix the other side of your ox with your tape. The ox should become 3D at this point.
  6. Wrap the hooves in tissue paper (about 11×11 inch squares worked well for us) and secure with glue.
  7. Cut long strips of tissue paper fringe (we used a mix of browns to get a pretty variegated look). The strips should be about three inches tall with fringe slits cut up about two inches.
  8. Working from bottom to top and wrapping around your ox’s body, glue down the fringe. You can alternate colors as desired, but it looks nice to have a base color you come back to. 
  9. Accessorize! Cut eyes, ears, and rosy cheeks out of cardstock and glue them to your ox. Cut two horns from cardboard and paint them, then glue them to your ox’s head. We made a tail by gluing some extra tissue paper fringe to a ribbon and attaching it to the ox’s rump.
  10. Make red paper peonies. Cut out a small rectangle (¾ by 2 inches or so) of yellow crepe paper and cut fringe into it, then roll it up to form the center of the flower. Secure with hot glue. Cut out red crepe paper petals and shape them by slightly stretching the middle to get a cup shape. Ruffle the tops of the petals by stretching small sections along the petals’ tops. Glue the petals to the yellow center. Cut out a few green crepe paper leaves and attach them to your ox along with your peonies.

This year, we wanted to lift our dreary winter moods in February by looking to world festivities. The Lunar New Year, aka Spring Festival, seemed like a fun celebration to set the tone for the coming spring. Display our DIY Ox as a lucky centerpiece to welcome the new year and all that it has in store for us.

DIY Valentine Fruit Piñatas

DIY Valentine Pinata from The House That Lars Built

DIY Valentine Piñatas in Fun Fruit Shapes

I’m thinking that these guys would be great to leave at a door for a friend or even send in the mail. And then match up the fruit with candies of the same flavor–can you imagine?! So cute! You can choose from an orange (orange you glad we’re friends?), peach “you’re a peach!”, a strawberry “you’re berry special”, a pear “you’re pearfect”, and a honeydew melon “HoneyDEW you want me to be your Valentine?”.

+ Printable Fruit Sticker Valentines

Complete your DIY Valentine Fruit Piñatas with these printable fruit stickers! Just download the file here and print them out on sticker paper. It’s just the touch your special someone will love.

DIY Valentine Pinata from The House That Lars Built

How to Make Your Own DIY Valentine Fruit Piñatas

Supplies:

DIY Fruit Pinata from The House That Lars Built

Instructions:

  1. Use our templates to trace the shape of the fruit onto cardboard. You’ll need two shapes per cardboard.
  2. Cut 1.5″ strips going against the grain of the cardboard for the sides of the fruit shapes. Glue or tape them onto the fruit shape.
  3. Cut 3/4″ fringe of crepe paper or tissue paper.
  4. Apply the fringe to the bottom of the fruit and then work your way up to the top of the fruit.
  5. STEM: Add on a stem by rolling a piece of tissue or paper around in a circle. Glue in place.
  6. LEAF: Cut a leaf out of paper or crepe paper and glue in place.
  7. Top it all off with one of our adorable fruit stickers (you can find them here).

DIY Valentine Pinata from The House That Lars Built

Other DIY Valentines

A Valentine with a handmade touch is the best way to show your crush, your gal pals, or your loved ones you really care. Check out our Valentine’s Day archives for more DIY ideas for the crafty Secret Admirer, or click any of the photos below.

 

DIY Peppermint Pig Piñata

The tradition of the Peppermint Pig

The peppermint pig tradition started in the late 1800s in Saratoga Springs, NY. Did you know that pigs used to represent wealth and prosperity? After dinner, people would place a pink peppermint pig inside a cloth, break it into pieces, and share it for luck. You can find some here.

Today we’re sharing a Lars twist on this tradition with a peppermint pig piñata. You can start a new Christmas ritual with your family! We love that it’s a little quirky and reminds us of an era gone by.

Peppermint Pig Piñata DIY

Materials

  1. cardboard
  2. butcher paper
  3. pig template
  4. tape
  5. glue gun
  6. pink tissue paper
  7. scissors
  8. black paper
  9. light pink paper
  10. optional: green paper for leaves, real fir, berries, red bow

Instructions

  1. Download the template and scale it to the size you’d like your pig to be. We did 4x the size of the template.
  2. Trace it onto butcher paper and the transfer the design onto your cardboard. You’ll need two sizes for the sides of the pig.
  3. Create the sides of the pig out of cardboard about 4-5″ wide with the grain of the cardboard going the width way so you can easily shape the curved parts.
  4. Tape or glue the pieces together.
  5. Cut fringe from tissue paper and glue layer by layer starting from the bottom of the pig. Each piece will be 3″ tall to the widest width of the tissue paper. We cut fringe about every 1/4″ wide leaving a space of at least 1/2″ at the top.
  6. Finish the pig details with some black paper at the bottom for hoofs, circles for eyes, and larger circles in pink paper for cheeks. If you’re feeling particularly festive, add in greenery around the neck.
  7. To add a hook onto the pig to hang, cut two holes at the top and insert a ribbon or piece of wire.

Would love to see your own versions! Tag us with #HolidaysWithLars or #LarsMakes so we can see them!

If you liked this, you’ll love:

Valentine’s Day Pinata Box
Cookie Box Printable

For tons more Christmas ideas, check out our holiday tag here.

DIY Valentine’s Rainbow Box and competition

Directions:

  1. Using a pencil draw a rainbow shape of the cardboard, once you have a shape that you like cut it out mine is out 17″ long from one base to the other and 7″ wide and 14″ tall.
  2. Trace the shape of the rainbow arch cut out in step one on another piece of cardboard and cut it out.
  3. Once you have the two arches cut out cut strips of the cardboard that will be used to connect the pieces together, you will need enough to connect the top of the rainbow and the bottom of the rainbow. I cut my trips to be 7″ wide and cut them as long as i could get them out of each piece of cardboard I had.
  4. With the newly cut long strips you will want to bend them so that they can create the arched pieces easily. To do this you can run it down the side of a table applying pressure as you go to break down the board, you will see that the cardboard starts to hold an arch.
  5. once you have these pieces cut bent will begin to assemble them together.
  6. Using a hot glue gun apply and generous amount of hot glue to the edge of the rainbow and place the arched long cardboard pieces to create an edge along the rainbow arch piece. If the 7″ wide piece does not make it all the way across you can add in another piece to get it all the way to the bottom.
  7. Once the piece is attached take your second rainbow arch and use hot glue to in the same manner to attach that piece.
  8. Once the top of the piece is done you will add the underbelly of the arch by repeating step 6.
  9. You can trim with scissors or a craft cutting blade and excess of the 7″ strip of cardboard.
  10. Trace the bottoms of the rainbow onto cardboard where it is still open and cut the pieces out and attach them with hot glue.
  11. Cut a slit at the top for all of your hards to be placed into and your form is done!
  12. Cut strips of news paper about 1.5″ wide by 7″-13″ long
  13. Make paper máche for your rainbow form.
  14. Apply a light layer of paper máche covered news paper to your form and allow sufficient enough time to dry, I left mine overnight.
  15. Once dry you can paint onto it!
  16. I measured mine out a little so I had a good idea of how much of each color I could fit onto the rainbow.
  17. Once your box is painted and dry you can can cut flaps into the bottom of the rainbows to retrieve all of your love letters!

Let the Valentine’s games begin! We are taking this very seriously! Ha!

Sunshine Piñata to Make you Smile!

Ever since having Jasper, my eyes have been opened to the magical world of children’s clothing. Everything is cuter when it’s pint-sized! I’m sure many of you with kids are familiar with Gymboree, so you’ll be thrilled to know they are giving their brand a revamp! The clothing styles are modern and fresh while still maintaining the comfort and sensibility kids need. The clothing is so sweet and is sure to make you and your littles smile! We were so inspired by the colorful, fun pieces that we designed a party scene around the new line, complete with an Alexander Girard-inspired Sunshine Piñata!

Take a peek at the collection and download the templates to make your own sunshine piñata!

Gender reveal stork pinata

Stork pinata gender reveal

Ashley is a very good friend to everyone around her. She volunteered to help a friend announce the gender of their baby with their friends and came up with a stork piñata to do so. Such a clever idea! Inside the stork they filled candy and decorations in pink to announce the girl they were having. I loved the idea so much I asked if they could document the process.

Zodiac pinatas

Zodiac pinata aries

I’m absolutely tickled to introduce you to today’s guest contributors, Eunice and Sabrina Moyle of one of my all-time favorite stationery companies, Hello Lucky! These two are creative masterminds who have inspired me in so many ways. Eunice’s wedding as featured here, was a huge inspiration for my own wedding. They take the simplest of projects and turn it into something extraordinary and clever. Welcome, ladies! 

We were appointed hosts of a sex reveal party for an expecting couple and wanted to plan something unexpected! We landed on a piñata, because what’s not to love about piñatas? The astrological inspiration allowed us to personalize it based off the babies birth month. We filled it with candy (nuts/ no nuts) and let the parents have at it!

Astrological piñatas are great for birthday parties too! They make an entertaining and special addition to any party theme. Added bonus- They’re super fun to make (even more so to destroy).

-Eunice and Sabrina Moyle | Hello!Lucky

3 Valentine’s Day piñata boxes

 

It’s been a while since my school days when everyone brings in a homemade box to store their valentines from classmates, but after our hair product pinatas for Rubi’s workshop, we wanted to piñata everything! Thus, Valentine boxes were in order. We made some red lips, a Love Bug with a trunk that opens, and a hot air balloon. Each one I’m trying to figure out how I can display on a permanent basis. They are too cute!
Hot air balloon pinataLove bug valentine box

Find the full tutorials below! 

DIY hair pinatas

Throw a hair party with some festive pinatas!

On Tuesday evening we were pleased as punch to host the release of Rubi Jones‘ book, The Art of Hair, with a braiding workshop and book signing here at the studio. We knew we needed something punchy and celebratory for the event so we decided to go all out with a brigade of hair-inspired piñatas. Along for the ride are a metallic comb, hair brush, blow dryer, shears (I was corrected that they are not scissors), and hairspray. “But, Brittany, what do I need a brigade of hair-inspired pinatas for?” Friends, the possibilities are endless (and I’m sure you can add to it):

  • braiding party (a la the intro of Full House)
  • treat yo’ self night
  • your salon, your friend’s salon, your wanna be salon (a la, your living room)
  • girl’s night out
  • weekend retreat
  • your bathroom/party room
  • surprise at a friend’s door for a birthday
  • and last but not least, Galentine’s Day party as shown by Kelly Of Studio DIY

You catch the drift.

Well, I’ve combined with Kelly of Studio DIY to complete the hair product brigade with an adorable hair spray complete with an air pouf along with a detailed step by step tutorial. Scroll down to see how hers completes the puzzle or check the full post here.Throw a hair party with some festive pinatas!Throw a hair party with some festive pinatas!

See the full troop and instructions below! 

How to Make a Post-It Heart Piñata

I’ve been wanting to play with post-its FOREVER and finally got the opportunity last week to make this post-it heart piñata.

DIY post-it heart piñata

Confession, they aren’t really post-its. I wanted a wider color palette, so I had to make them myself.

Materials:

  • Post-its (or paper of your choice in post-it size. I used one to measure)
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • String
  • Glue gun
  • Pencil

Instructions:

  1. Draw a heart onto your cardboard (mine was 20″ down the middle and 30″ across the widest point)
  2. Cut out two hearts for the front and back of your piñata
  3. Cut strips of cardboard 5″ wide to go around the perimeter of the heart
  4. Curl the strips with a pencil so they are more pliable
  5. Glue the strips to the heart
  6. Fill your heart with fun favors or candies
  7. Glue the other side of the heart to the strips
  8. Apply the post-its or paper with the glue gun starting at the bottom and working your way up to get the layered effect. (I started with light colors on the bottom and worked up to darker colors).
  9. Punch two holes on either side of the arch of the heart
  10. Bring a string through and tie on top

Done! Now you’ve got a post-it heart piñata for your celebration!

For more pictures of the process, go to Brooklyn Bride.

A HUGE thank you to Amanda Thomsen for taking time out of her day to come take the final shots with our super models, JJ and Cecilie.

I have another project coming with post-its. Are you stoked?!

More DIY piñata ideas

Who doesn’t love piñatas? We always have fun making our own, plus you can create it in whatever shapes or colors you’d like! If you’re really into piñatas, check out the wedding cake. Another DIY piñata tutorial is this sunshine piñata that’s sure to put a smile on your face! For Christmas, check out this peppermint pig tradition that we turned into a piñata! For more DIY piñata ideas (for any occasion!), take a look through the archives here.

Let us know how your piñata creations turn out with the hashtag #larsmakes on Instagram

 

How to make an ombre wedding cake pinata

I have to say that this is one of my favorite shoots I’ve done. And there’s a lot more where these come from. ooOOOoo! I did this one for the Etsy wedding blog and talked about creating an interactive wedding favor, hence the fortune cookies inside with little love fortunes. I also thought a wedding cake would be a nice alternative to the couple who doesn’t really do wedding cakes or sugar. But let’s face, the real reason to have a pinata at a wedding is…who doesn’t want to hit stuff? I’m sure it would release a lot of tension for the couple as well as the wedding planners.

Get the full instructions here.

Thank you Amanda Thomsen for taking these beautiful photos!