Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sugarplum Snowflakes

Clockwise, from left:  Each girl took home a pair of gingerbread cookie toe shoes; Sour candy sticks were one of many sweet treats on the menu; The birthday girl and her cousin helped make the cut paper snowflake ballerinas suspended from the ceiling (see directions and downloadable patterns here); The buffet is covered in "snow" created from inexpensive polyester quilt batting, and draped with a no-sew blue tulle "tutu" table skirt (see directions to make the tableskirt here). 
Clockwise, from top left:  A Nutcracker-themed party wouldn't be complete without a nod to the Mouse King and his minions - these little mice have chocolate-covered Bing cherry bodies, Hershey Kiss heads, and sliced almond ears (see directions to make these simple treats here);  The candy buffet is accented with custom labels and a glass nutcracker that looks like a miniature ice sculpture; Gingerbread is a good choice for cut-out cookies because it holds it shape well when baked, and edible irredescent powder applied with a paint brush adds magic shimmer to the finished product (find the cookie cutter here).
Clockwise, from top left:  We used snowflake-shaped cookie cutters to make tea sandwiches (PB&J, chicken salad, and turkey); Little ballerinas cannot live on sugar alone; A mix of glittery and textured papers make each paper ballerina snowflake unique; Cotton candy and candy necklaces were crowd-pleasers.
Clockwise, from left:  The paper ballerinas twirl beneath yards of white tulle and fairy lights suspended from a ceiling fan; A glass cloche covering the castle cake gives the appearance of a snow globe.
Clockwise, from top left:  A pair of her ballet shoes affixed to the back of a chair with blue tulle and silver snowflakes marks a seat of honor for the birthday girl; Beyond the Snow Kingdom tablescape lies the scene of "Act II," complete with 7 foot tall nutcrackers; Inexpensive fresh flowers are elevated in silver julep cups with ballerina cake toppers secured in the center; Small snowflake picture frames featuring downloadable clip art are repurposed as napkin rings, and vintage teacups await hot cocoa; Meringue cookie turret tops and powdered sugar snow around the base of the easy to make caramel castle cake complete the design (you can find the castle bundt pan here).
Clockwise, from top:  The cut paper ballerinas and snowflakes add inexpensive, hand-crafted whimsy with big impact; A special birthday necklace featuring pewter nutcracker and ballerina charms looks perfect against the birthday girl's tartan holiday dress; The "photo booth" was a big hit and a simple way to incorporate Gracie's nutcracker collection into the party decor.
 "GRACIE I LOVE YOUR BIRTHDAY, THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!"  I'm pretty sure I won't forget this joyous (if exaggerated and sugar-rush induced) exclamation from a diminutive guest at the Nutcracker Ballet-themed party I designed for the 9 year old daughter of a dear friend.  Little girls may be prone to hyperbole, but the raw honesty behind their unsolicited proclamations is undeniable.  For that reason alone, I love conversations with kids.  There is no higher praise than the compliment of a young child, and even their honest criticism presents an opportunity for reflection and growth without the defensive reaction that similar words from a peer might evoke.  It probably goes without saying, but I do not subscribe to the old maxim that children should be seen and not heard, and planning a party that resulted in peals of laughter and animated chatter over cotton candy and hot cocoa was a delight! 

Gracie is a little ballerina, and going to The Nutcracker is an annual tradition she enjoys with her mom, so a party based on the iconic ballet was a natural choice for her December birthday.  Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy has long been a favorite piece of music, but I had never seen a live production of The Nutcracker until earlier this month (see my prior Nutcracker post here).  The ice blue costumes and winter wonderland set of The Kingdom of Snow at the end of Act I inspired the party's primary color scheme and decor, while the Sugarplum Fairy's Kingdom of Sweets in Act II inspired the candy buffet, tiny "flower fairy" cupcakes, chocolate cherry mice, caramel castle cake, and toe shoe-shaped gingerbread cookies.  

We also wanted to incorporate Gracie's large nutcracker collection into the party decor, as well as the family's Christmas tree, so I designed the party in two "Acts." After feasting on tea sandwiches, sweets, and cocoa in the kitchen come Snow Kingdom, the girls retired to the family room decked out in traditional red and green for manicures and gift opening.  The family room channeled the holiday party scene from Act I of the ballet, and featured a "photo booth" highlighting an army of nutcrackers flanked on either side by seven foot cardboard nutcracker sentries.  The birthday girl fully embraced the transition, changing mid-party from her silver grey Snow Kingdom dress to a traditional holiday tartan party dress!  I hope it's a party that Gracie and her friends will always remember fondly.  I know I will!

You can see more photos and details of the party design here.
Putting finishing touches on the party decor shortly before guests arrive.  My vintage-inspired dress with its storybook print was well-suited the "Snow Kingdom" party decor.  See my prior post for dress details.
The face of cotton-candy joy!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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