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A Christmas Party of Piñatas Inspired by "The Nutcracker"

  • By Alexandra Churchill
  • Photos by Mary Costa Photography

Enter a Land of Sweets where the guests indulge in candy and cakes, say "cheers!" with peppermint cocktails, and share gifts under a trimmed tree that looks good enough to eat.

Meet the Hostesses

While the world dreams of a white Christmas, Royale Ziegler of But First, Party! and Rachel Huntington of Bonjour Fete are dreaming up a technicolor holiday of their own making: pastel pink, bright cherry red, and glimmering gold. "We love sneaking pink into any and every celebration," Ziegler gushes, "but we also wanted to make sure our fete felt Christmas-y enough, hence the pops of red and gold throughout. "

A Merry Message

As a sneak peek to the color palette of the party, Alyx House designed a stationery suite in pretty pink hues with whimsical illustrations, nutcracker gift-tags, and a note introducing the theme, "Sugar Plum Fairy invites you to The Land of Sweets for a Nutcracker celebration." 

The Door to Delights

At the entrance of Bonjour Fête, the place of the party, a life-size nutcracker soldier stood at attention to greet guests as they arrived. Modern meets tradition in the decorative details—hand-dyed bottlebrush trees, retro-style putz houses—of this mid-century modern bar cart.

The Sweetest Sip

Let the merrymaking begin! For a first taste of the sweetness that awaits within, enter Martha's candy cane cocktail: strawberry vodka, cranberry juice, a few dashes of white creme de menthe, and a sugar-coated rim courtesy of Fancy Sprinkles. On the day of the party, bright red batch of the signature drink was shaken and shared with a helping hand from the bartenders at This Girl Walks Into a Bar.

A World Within

In "The Nutcracker," young Clara embarks on a magical journey alongside the Nutcracker prince fending off mischevious mice, whirling with snowflakes, and, lastly, being whisked away to the Land of Sweets. Hostesses Ziegler and Huntington wanted to evoke that same dreamy feeling for guests entering the party. To the right: The bar cart displaying Earthbaby Flower's vibrant bouquet of ilex berries, ranunculus, anthurium, amaryllis, and flocked branches. To the left: A Christmas tree bedecked in ornaments. Above: A set of themed piñatas from Whack Piñatas.

Snap! Crack! Pop!

A set of handmade piñatas gently whirl and twirl from the ceiling. Take a closer look and guests will recognize them as charismatic characters from "The Nutcracker": the Mouse King, a grinning Nutcracker prince, and his drum, a pink boxed present, and a ballerina's slipper. What could be more pretty or "en pointe"?

A Table of Treats

Spools of ribbon in candy-land colors down the length of the table. For each guest, a place setting is set with custom holiday partyware, a Christmas cracker replicating the characters from "The Nutcracker," and a gift-tag napkin printed in their name. As a free-flowing table runner, this soft pink velvet linen from La Tavola was sprinkled with faux snow for a frosted look. "And since you can never have too much velvet," Ziegler adds, "we chose hot pink and red velvet chairs for our table."

Beautiful Bites

Sugarplums aren't the only treat on this menu. Holidays are for feasting en-masse, hence a charcuterie board by Olive and Thyme piled with berries, juicy pomegranates, slices of prosciutto, nuts, and a mischevious mouse's favorite a la "Nutcracker": cheese.

A Tree Worth Treasuring

A 7-foot-tall tree was fully flocked and dressed with spools of striped ribbon. "We used thick wired ribbon and wove it in and out of the tree to add some visual interest," Ziegler explains. "We also created several triple loop bows and placed them at the top of each cascading ribbon." And only fitting, the tree's finishing touch was the papier-mâché cherry topper.

Take a closer look and you'll see the charming collection of 70-plus ornaments hanging from the boughs: a pretty-in-pink tuft of cotton candy, a popsicle, a prima ballerina, and a gentle reminder that's perfect for this time of year: "treat yourself."

Double the Delight

This Christmas party boasted not one, but two cakes! "The smaller cake was a vanilla cake with cranberry buttercream filling with Josephine Los Angeles' signature painted design topped with berry rocher cookies and meringue kisses," Ziegler says. Cut a slice into the second, and there were more surprises to behold: "The red three-tiered cake included a gingerbread top tier, orange essence middle tier, and chocolate bottom tier cake with a cinnamon vanilla bean buttercream frosting."

Dreamy Desserts

Even more delectable surprises were for the taking. To the left: The cupcakes were made of a vanilla bean cake with cranberry buttercream and berry meringue kisses, each adorned with a nutcracker cupcake topper. To the right: meringue candy pops are crafted to look like miniature Christmas trees. The same mini meringue kisses in vanilla and berry flavors seen here were paired with Fancy Sprinkles candy, then packaged into acrylic gift boxes for guests tied in Midori velvet ribbon.

A Pretty Parting Gift

In the seasonal spirit of giving, it was only fitting to offer small tokens of thanks to the guests. Huntington prepared a stack of gifts, including these piñata-style boxes in fringed crepe-paper trim and tied off with a big bow.

How to Make Piñata Party Boxes

  • 1

    Cut crepe paper into thick strips, fringing the edges with scissors, as shown.

    diy pinata box step 1 materials
  • 2

    Glue sections of fringed crepe paper around the box, starting at the bottom and layering upward.

    diy pinata box step 2 paper over box
  • 3

    With a length of ribbon, tie a bow around the box.

    diy pinata box step 3 gold ribbon
  • 4

    Trim excess ribbon with scissors.

    diy pinata box step 4 clipping gold ribbon
  • 5
    Step 5

    Add a decorative gift-topper—like red pom-poms "cherries"—for extra festive flair.

    Step 5


Design & Planning: Royale Ziegler of But First, Party! | @butfirstparty
Styling & Venue: Rachel Huntington of Bonjour Fête | @bonjourfete
Partyware: Oui Party x Daydream Society | @daydream.society
Photography: Mary Costa | @marycostaphoto
Sweets: Josephine Los Angeles | @josephinelosangeles
Florals: Earthbaby Flowers | @earthbabyflowers
Pinatas: Whack Pinatas | @whackpinatas
Graze Board: Olive and Thyme | @oliveandthyme
Cocktails: This Girl Walks Into a Bar | @girlwalksin2bar
Stationery and Window Art: Alyx House | @alyxhouse
Linens: La Tavola | @latavolalinen
Chairs: Milla Event Rentals | @millapartyrentals
Sprinkles: Fancy Sprinkles | @fancysprinkles
Velvet ribbon: Midori | @midori_ribbon