What's the difference between a "pull-string" pinata and the classic "smash-it" pinata, and what's better to use at a child's birthday party?
Most people are familiar with the classic smash-it pinata. It's a type of papier-mache pinata filled with lots of goodies inside. Children take turns being blindfolded and use a bat, broom, PVC pipe, or other type of durable object to try and bust the pinata open.
This sort of pinata is usually used at outdoor parties (unless, of course, you want a bunch of rapturous kids swinging bats inside your house.) The second type of pinata is the pull-string pinata. This is the "gentler" version that doesn't require the kids to try to smash up their favorite characters. It has a bunch of strings hanging from it - while only one string releases a trap door that makes all the treats fall out. This sort of pinata is a bit safer for younger kids and can be safely used indoors.
As for what's better to use at a child's birthday party, I personally don't find anything exceedingly violent with having the kids smash up a pinata. I'm sure there are those who beg to differ. I remember it as being a very fun activity when I was a child. For younger kids I'd opt for the pull-string pinata. Another thing is that a pull-string pinata can be used as a smash-it pinata, if you so desire. Just have the kids smash it up.
On the other hand, you'll need to follow a few steps in order to transform a smash-it pinata into a pull-string pinata. In order to do so, the pinata needs to have a flat bottom. You'll need to cut a "trap-door" flap on the bottom of the pinata as close to the center as you can. Make a hole at the edge of the trap door and pass a string through it, securing it with a knot. Next, close the trap door flap but don't tape it. Attach more strings to the bottom of the pinata and have them all (including the one connected to the trap door) the same length. Spread a layer of glue over the bottom of the pinata and cover with tissue paper, making sure that all the upper ends of the strings (connected to the base) are completely covered.