Long associated with Mexico, pinatas actually originated in Italy, where clay pots were filled with treats and slung high above the ground to be broken with sticks. Adopted by the Spanish, the custom arrived in Mexico with the explorers, who had since begun to add color and decoration. When tissue paper became widely available during the 20th century, the pinata evolved again, incorporating more colors and designs than ever before.
Papier-mache is a popular craft technique that involves covering a form -- like a balloon or a bowl -- with strips of newspaper drenched in a simple, often homemade, paste; the paper and paste bond as they dry, forming a hard shell around the form. Try using wheat-paste powder, available at hardware and art-supply stores, instead of ordinary flour -- the resulting paste will be less prone to cracking.