Caroline’s Nutcracker Birthday Party
Welcome to Caroline’s Nutcracker Birthday Party! As always, this will be super long and picture heavy.
This is Caroline’s 5th birthday, which means it’s her last big everyone is invited party before we switch to family/special day/maybe a couple friends/sleepover parties. I can’t say she’s quite accepted that fact, since she told me today she wants an ice skating party next year, but I’m pretty happy I only have one kid to plan huge parties for (at least for the foreseeable future). I really do love throwing these huge birthday events but fall is my busy season for photography so doing a birthday on top of that is a tiny bit overwhelming.
With a December birthday and a daughter who has been in ballet for several years already, I’ve been dreaming of a Nutcracker Birthday party for a while. For those who haven’t been reading my blog for 5+ years, her previous themes were: Winter Sparkle Snowflake, Woodland Fairy, Princess and Mermaid. They were all really fun, but this year was the best.
I’m going to put in a page break after a couple of pictures because I just looked and I have 177 edited photos from the party and I’m going to have a hard time cutting that down to an acceptable number. I’ll round up sources at the end and link recipes in the food section, although a lot of the recipes are stuff I’ve linked for every party since her first (because I cannot have a party without thumbprint cookies).
Despite the fact that it is December in Connecticut, the weather was in the mid-60’s for her party. I would have done a lot more outside decorating if I had known the kids were going to spend ALL DAY in the yard or on the porch, but at least I got lights on the house and a couple of Nutcrackers for the planter boxes. I found those at Lowe’s. The sled and wreath are just my standard Christmas decor. It’s really nice that the first act of The Nutcracker is just a Christmas party, so all my decorations were already on theme.
I made the wreath using Jill’s tulle wreath tutorial. Super easy and super cute, although glitter tulle is the fabric of the devil.
PINK five balloon from Party City.
Candy cane garland from Oriental Trading, who was kind enough to give me a party budget and send me some of my decor for free because they’re awesome and I am a very, very loyal customer.
Little house from Ikea, circa 2012
Christmas card holder made by my very talented husband. You can see a bunch of Caroline’s invites I used to fill it in until it gets full of holiday cards from friends. Those invites were done by the AMAZING Becca of Jumping Jax Designs. I cannot recommend her more highly – she is creative, talented and so fun. She turned my very vague ideas (“I’m doing sort of all the colors, but girly? And a little vintage? But not too cartoony, still classy. But good for a 5 year old?”) into the CUTEST invitations. The ballerina in the middle has red hair and glasses. I mean.
I ordered this canvas from Easy Canvas Prints, because I didn’t need heirloom quality, just something big. It’s not perfection but it is definitely adequate and Caroline was SO excited to see it.
I have quite a collection of nutcrackers now.
This picture is to show you the glass bead curtain I hung up to divide the island, not to show off the hot chocolate bar. I’m never taking it down.
The main table. The adorable garlands are part of the Meri Meri Nutcracker party suite, which I first saw a couple years ago and have loved ever since. When I was ordering party supplies their website was broken (???) but it appears to be working again (?????). I ended up getting all of it from Shop Sweet Lulu.
You can see one sad snowflake ballerina in the middle of that photo that doesn’t seem to make sense – I made half a dozen but forgot to put them all up! That backdrop is left over from Linc’s first birthday. The garland is from Meri Meri, the crowns on the ribbon are from Joann’s, the gold crowns and soldier hats (on the right) are from Meri Meri. And the tutus were all made by me, because I love torturing myself.
Seriously, the cutest decorations.
I might not have been completely true to the dances/themes/original score of the Nutcracker, but that is only partially my fault. The internet and my copy of the score can’t see to agree on which countries were represented in the original ballet, so I played a little fast a loose with some of my food. I’ve been baking for weeks and the only stuff on the table that wasn’t hand-made was the gingerbread for the house, but it was assembled and decorated by my mother and children. Oh, and the fortune cookies, because I couldn’t figure those out.
Mouse King Cheese Plate
Danish Cake (made by my mother)
Chinese Fortune Cookies (with a custom fortune! Ordered from My Lucky Fortune)
Hot Cocoa Cookies (I made up the recipe based on the sugar sparkle cookie recipe) and Sparkle Cookies
Christmas Tree Meringues (definitely not as pretty as Pinterest, but delicious)
Candy Forrest (glued to the tree shape with royal icing, so it’s all edible)
Mother Ginger’s House (a $6 kit from Aldi!) and behind the house are Lemon Tea Cookies I totally forgot to take a picture of and almost no one ate because they never saw them. Oops. I really love them though!
Cucumber tea sandwiches, because if I didn’t serve these my guests would leave. Cucumber and Alouette cheese on crustless white bread.
Magic Fruit Tree, with extra fruit
My favorite Thumbprint Cookies
Nutcracker Mixed Nuts
Yule Log (my mother’s idea and execution)
Olive Wreath on dill & rosemary
Ballerina Cupcakes (toppers from Bake it Pretty)
Caroline’s very own smash cake, because she insisted it was her birthday so she deserved a whole cake
Stirring Spoons, idea from here
There was way too much food, but I think everyone liked what was offered.
How cute are those plates??? It’s a Nutcracker. The napkins were even cuter, but I’m not sure I got a photo.
There was also champagne. And meatballs, which I labeled as “Christmas Ornaments”. But mostly champagne, because it’s a party.
Did I mention it was 65 degrees? The fake snow I bought for the bounce house at least made it a LITTLE Christmasy. Although the kids said it was slippery and it made the bounce house floor super, super dirty. A lot of pairs of tights were thrown away after this party.
We also had Christmas crackers (also called poppers? Apparently some people have never heard of crackers) I got from Christmas Tree Shops, a bowl of nuts in their shells for the kids to crack (surprisingly entertaining!), the party dress up, and a Paint Your Own Nutcracker craft.
Tiny wood Nutcrackers from Oriental Trading Co (they appear to be out of stock but I bet they come back for next Christmas)
The two oldest girls at the party TOTALLY took charge of this craft and did an amazing job helping the younger kids and keeping them from making a huge mess and cleaning up as they went. It was a testament to some amazing parenting and patience. It ended up being the perfect craft for Caroline’s party.
Making labels was one of my all-time best party ideas.
Fake snow in his hair from the bounce house
Giant balloons left over from a photo shoot, the kids thought they were hilarious
The crackers had paper crowns, tiny ornaments, and confetti in them.
Alllllllll the confetti.
The Mouse Kind ensemble was supposed to be the scary rubber mouse head with this crown and cape. Evan chose the masks I made instead.
But a few friends liked the mouse head. Most of the grown-ups thought it was TERRIFYING.
Sugar Plum Fairy dress up – I made that tutu too!
Tiny Nutcracker hats were adorable
Oh look, more pictures. Just what you were hoping for!
The only real picture of Linc from the party, since he was too busy running around to pose for photos and then went down for a nap at noon.
Caroline already had a costume change planned for the party – a white “Clara dress” (which didn’t even last long enough for a picture) into the Sugar Plum Fairy – but I thought she might like a special Nutcracker dress to wear all season. My friend Sarah helped me turn a Target t-shirt and a yard of fabric from Spoonflower into this gorgeous dress.
Drinking water from a champagne flute to freak out people (i.e. ME) who didn’t know it was water.
Eating her “whole” cake. She took about 10 bites.
Presents! I don’t usually love doing presents at the party, and I tried to discourage presents in general, but some friends were very excited for Caroline to see what they brought so we did it anyway.
Caroline had LOTS of help opening.
One of her gifts was a beautifully illustrated fashion flip book, where the outfits are divided into 4 sections and you can mix and match them. The whole party paused so they could all look at it.
I had a hard time convincing Caroline to wear anything besides her leotard. She said it was hard to ride her bike in a skirt (totally understandable).
It was a fantastic party and Caroline felt very loved, which is the most important part.
As always, if you’re looking for anything I haven’t listed just let me know. I can probably remember where I got it.
Oriental Trading – Pink Jordan almonds, all the paper snowflakes and paper fans, candy cane garland, wooden nutcrackers, foam swords
Bake it Pretty – Ballerina cupcake toppers, various fancy sprinkles, cupcake wrappers
Shop Sweet Lulu – Meri Meri plates/napkins/tooth picks/banners/garland/hats, colored utensil sets
Joann Fabric – All the tulle, several Nutcrackers, tablecloth, crowns, craft paint and brushes, Mouse King cape
Amazon – Creepy Mouse King head and crown, fake snow
A HUGE thank you to my in-laws and my parents, who all helped with both party prep and cleaning and watching the kids so I could freak out about how there was no way I would get everything done in time. Thanks to them everything did get done AND I managed to take pictures of nearly everything before anyone touched the food. I also want to thank my husband again for making me a huge dining room table, which was ALMOST big enough for all my party food.
Aaaaaaand that’s it?? I think that’s the most photos I’ve ever posted for a birthday, but I actually remembered to take photos of all the party stuff AND kids having a good time. I even scheduled the party for 11 am so I had enough like for half-decent pictures. Thank you so much for looking!
Tags: 5th birthday, bounce house, Caroline, caroline turns 5, december birthday party, evan, family, food, friends, fun, girl birthday, lincoln, nutcracker, nutcracker birthday party, nutcracker party, nutcracker party food, nutcracker party supplies, party, winter birthday party