Come December, kids all over the country can be found leaping around their living rooms, precariously pointing their toes or pretending to fight off armies of angry mice.
For more than a century, family outings to see "The Nutcracker" have prompted kids' dreams of becoming graceful ballet dancers or brave heroes leading troops of toys. If your children get swept up in the ballet, encourage their interest by filling their stockings with Nutcracker-themed toys.
What to include? Take inspiration from the plot. Think back to your own childhood, and you may remember how it goes: The original version of the story, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in the early 1800s, was a far darker tale, filled with loneliness, menace, and sorrow. The ballet, first performed 75 years later, was based on a newer and happier -- if more illogical -- version. Tchaikovsky's music added a fanciful dreaminess. The scene is set on Christmas Eve. Family and friends have gathered in the parlor to deck the halls from head to toe tree in preparation for the party. As the guests arrive at the door and adults mingle, the children gather under the towering tree. They stand in awe of the flickering candles and twinkling decorations. Presents are bestowed to the children. Among them, is a stately uniformed nutcracker doll. This is saved for Clara, the heroine of the play. This little girl has a peculiar godfather who gives her the nutcracker soldier. When the party unwinds and the guests retreat, she falls asleep and a thrilling fight ensues between her nutcracker and some ill-tempered rodents. The Nutcracker Prince has come to life! With the Rat King vanquished, she is escorted through a dancing fairyland of sweets. She watches a Spanish Hot Chocolate dance and a Chinese Tea dance, applauds marzipan shepherdesses, and sees a bevy of children emerge from beneath the skirts of Mother Ginger. It is a fantastical confectionary wonderland so real that when she awakens, she (and the audience) can't help but wonder if it was really all a dream.
The slightly strange disconnect between the plot and the dance sequences is perhaps part of the reason why "The Nutcracker" is so popular: Children have to use their imaginations to fill in the gaps. When they receive these stockings brimming with gifts relating to the ballet, kids will have a chance to create their own stories of Sugar Plum Fairies and Dancing Tea Cups.
Have your little sugar plum fairies (aka the kids) create their own Nutcracker-inspired stockings. Make a ballerina's stocking, a toy soldier's boot, or a drum. Download our template and trace it onto felt in any color you choose (we used blue and taupe).
Or get your child excited for the holiday season with a set of Nutcracker-themed stocking stuffers. Take your inspiration from the plot. We curated small presents like Tchaikovsky's music to dolls to fruit-flavored candies. We have gifts for girls and gifts for boys, but of course, feel free to mix and match them as your child would like.