My name is Heather, and my goal is to make a fabulous home for my family. Sometimes I actually pull it off! So here I am, ready to share what works, and if it's funny, what doesn't! If nothing else, maybe you can laugh (cry!) with me!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Clara’s Nutcracker Dream Party


5 years ago, Allen and I named our newborn baby girl Clara. Since then, I have thought how fun it would be to throw her a Nutcracker themed birthday party. How perfect, then, when she came to love Christmas as much as I do! So for her 5th birthday celebration, we did just that.


I have tons and tons to say about this party, and lots of lessons learned I'd like to share. I'll do all that in future posts, but today I'll just show off a few (OK, maybe more than a few) pictures.

The Invitations

In my mind, I had pictured exactly what I wanted for the invites. Sadly, when I went to the craft store to locate the cardstock of my dreams, I came up short. So, I did what any enterprising girl would do – I called up my cousin Rhonda for help! I told her I was going for pink, sparkly, girly and beautiful. Approximately ten minutes later she was sending me scanned images of gorgeous pink cardstock she had embossed with snowflakes and bling, bling, bling!

I took that cardstock, added some vellum I printed with pretty pink party details and put it all together using simple brads (hidden by Rhonda's fabulous snowflakes). Gorgeous! I was thrilled with the results!

The D├ęcor

From the moment guests walked up, I wanted the theme to shine through. So, risking a trip to divorce court, I skipped Allen's favorite decorating season (Fall) and went straight to Christmas. I also took the ballerina hairbow holder concept from a couple of years ago and made a couple ballerinas. One to hang on the front door and one behind the Sweets table.



Every year I do a Candyland tree in the dining area, so I moved that concept into the main party area and blinged the tree up with some tulle and a big tulle pom pom.

Graham Cracker Gingerbread houses served as place settings and tulle ball wands (favors) worked well as centerpieces. Each girl also got to drink out of a sweet little plastic goblet.

See those letters spelling Clara? Yeah, bought those 3 years ago to put in her room and they have been sitting in the craft area since! I spray painted them with glitter and they were perfect in the party room!

It also just happens that my favorite portrait of Clara is one from her 3rd birthday photo shoot. So gorgeous and perfectly fitting to include!

The tulle ball garland was a snap to make and so pretty!

I know this picture doesn't look like much, but I wanted to show the tulle pom poms I hung over both the Food and Sweets table. We also cut out some large snowflakes with our handy Cricut (My sweet Husband did this. Honestly, after two years I haven't quite figured out my Cricut yet).

I see this question a lot on the web - How do you hang pom poms from the ceiling? I use the tiny 3M Command strips and they work great. Other options are tape (if you don't care about the paint job) or thumb tacks (if you don't care about holes).

So, we've all seen the tutu table skirt on Pinterest and thought "Oh, how cute!". Folks, that's a lot of tulle! I tied tulle until I thought my hands would cramp up (did I mention I also did 12 tutus as favors?). Heavens, that table skirt took a lot longer than I ever imagined! And it breaks my heart a little to see the tulle not hanging just perfect in the photo! Before the party I was on hands and knees under the table making it "just so".

The Activities

The smartest thing I did in the entire party? I hired two of the teenage instructor helpers from Clara's dance studio! They showed up in beautiful pink ballerina costumes and basically, did all the work! It was a dream! Props to you, Rebecca and Nikki! You are life savers!!

When the little girls first showed up, they made their way through the Land of Sweets into Clara's room, where Rebecca and Nikki made them up with glitter, eye shadow and lip gloss. They also got to put on the No Sew Tutus I had made for each of them as a party favor. Sadly, my "photographer" (Allen) got busy during this entire period and we didn't get one photo!

Here is Clara's room after the fact:



Once the girls were made even more gorgeous than when they walked in (as if that is even possible), we all gathered round and I read from Clara's favorite Nutcracker storybook, a pop up one. You will have to forgive the comical picture of me here. This is the only picture Allen snapped during story time!

Next up, Gingerbread house decorating! I gave each girl an icing bag full of royal icing and a cup full of candies and let them have at it. They had a GREAT time with this! (Note in the case you ever get the bright idea to do this - it is not a small undertaking to construct 14 gingerbread houses. You cannot do this in 30 minutes. Don't ask how I know this; just know that I thank the Good Lord I had the sense to construct them several days in advance!)

The Food

Since this party was held in the "Land of Sweets", I didn't put too terribly much effort into the main course.

On the Menu:
Princess Crown shaped PB & Js
Ham Rolls
Cheese Cubes
Veggies and Ranch Dip
Pickles
Snack Mix (Annie's Bunnies, Pirate's Booty, Cheerios and Pretzels). (Served in little cups made from embossed cardstock that matched the invitations.)
Princess Punch
Strawberry Water

The Dessert Table, on the other hand, had a little something for every sweet lover.

I created the Christmas Forest using the ever-popular frosting on ice cream cones technique:

Cake Pops, of course:

Ballerina and Snowflake Sugar Cookies and Miniature Strawberry Cupcakes:

The Chocolate Fountain (white chocolate for this party, of course), with Rice Krispie Treats, Marshmallows, Strawberries, Pretzels, Shortbread Cookies and Brownies for dipping:

The birthday cake – my attempt at the online Ruffle Cake craze (updated info on cake):

And finally, so easy but such a hit, the Mouse King and his army:

Sugar Coma, anyone?

The Party Favors

I've mentioned some of these above, so just briefly, here's a run-down of the favors.

Each girl got a no-sew tutu (Which sadly I didn't get pictures of! Trust me, my sore little fingers made a dozen of them!)

They also got to take home a tulle ball wand. My sweet Mama agreed to make these when it became clear the table skirt was going to take a hundred years. Here's a picture of Clara with her wand.

Two years ago I bought these favor boxes for my Cookie Exchange and didn't end up using them. They worked perfectly for this party! This is another one of those "after the fact" pictures, but I had tons of candy and lollipops for the girls to choose from.

Thanks for taking the time to glance at Clara's Nutcracker Party! Here's the most precious five year old in the Land of Sweets, seeing her guests off!

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