The Nutcracker Family Zone

Image of ballet dancers preforming on stage

Join SAAM online for a Nutcracker-themed family celebration! We are delighted to have partnered with The Washington Ballet to bring you festive activities that you can enjoy at home. Get in the holiday spirit with crafts, puzzle activities, and coloring pages inspired by the magical tale of The Nutcracker and artworks from SAAM’s collection. Show us your creativity! Please share a picture of your completed creations by using #SAAMFamilyZone on social media.

The Washington Ballet’s Story of The Nutcracker

Enjoy a charming iteration on this beloved holiday classic with a new all-American twist that was designed especially for Washington, DC.

It’s Christmas Eve in 1882 in a Georgetown mansion. Clara and her family prepare for a holiday celebration. As the guests arrive, Clara’s mysterious godfather, Mr. Drosselmeyer, enters with his handsome young nephew, who greets Clara with a kiss on her hand. Drosselmeyer entertains the guests with a puppet show and dancing dolls and presents Clara with a special gift—a nutcracker.

Jealous of his sister’s present, Fritz seizes the nutcracker and breaks it. As the party ends, Clara sadly places the nutcracker under the Christmas tree. Later that night, after everyone has gone to bed, Clara tiptoes downstairs to retrieve her nutcracker. Suddenly, the room fills with scurrying mice. Eventually, Clara falls asleep and begins to dream. When the clock strikes midnight, Drosselmeyer’s magic begins. The Christmas tree grows and a battle ensues between a brigade of toy soldiers led by a life-sized nutcracker against the Rat King and his menacing rats. As the Rat King nears victory, Clara distracts him, enabling the nutcracker to kill him. Suddenly, the nutcracker is turned into a handsome prince. He leads Clara through the enchanted winter to a glorious springtime.

Clara and her Nutcracker Prince travel to Springtime, where the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. They are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy, her Cavalier and her attendants: butterflies, mushrooms and other woodland creatures. When the Prince tells them how Clara saved his life, the Sugar Plum Fairy summons her subjects to entertain them with wonderful dances—Spanish and Chinese dances, a duet for an Anacostian brave and maiden. Brilliant red cardinals frolic with a Tom Cat; an American frontiersman dances with frontier girls; Mother Barnum dances with her circus clowns; and the waltz of the Cherry Blossoms is led by the Dew Drop Fairy. The celebration comes to a spectacular climax when the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a grand pas de deux. Just before the curtain falls, we see Clara asleep with her nutcracker, marking an end to her magical journey.

This synopsis is courtesy of The Washington Ballet.


Nutcracker Ornament

image of nutcracker craft made of popsicle sticks

Supplies Needed: 

  • 6 regular craft sticks 
  • 1 mini craft stick 
  • Black, red, blue, yellow, and white paint 
  • Glue 
  • Scissors 
  • Paper 
  • String 


- Line 5 regular craft sticks up side-by-side. 

- Glue the mini craft stick across the middle, connecting all 5 craft sticks. 

- After the glue has dried, paint the top half of the sticks and the mini craft stick to create the hat. 

- Paint the nutcracker’s face, sketching first with a pencil if you need to. 

- Cut the tip off the remaining craft stick to create the nose, then glue it to the face. 

- Cut a beard out of paper and glue it below the mouth. You could also use paper to make hair. 

- Secure string to the back of the ornament. 

Pipe Cleaner Ballerina

Image of dancer craft

Supplies Needed: 

  • 1 Coffee Filter 
  • 3 Pipe Cleaners 
  • Water 
  • Washable Markers 
  • Scissors 


- Using washable markers, color the coffee filter however you like. 

- Using your hands (or a spoon), drop water over the coffee filter to create a water color effect. 

- Let the filter dry 

- While the filter is drying, bend 1 pipe cleaner in half, making sure not to pinch the fold. This will be the ballerina’s head. 

- Place the other pipe cleaner where you want the neck to be.  

- Twist both ends of the second pipe cleaner around the first pipe cleaner.  

- Continue winding the pipe cleaner up and down the middle pipe cleaner to create the body until 2-3 inches remain on each side to create arms. 

- Bend the bottom pipe cleaners to create feet. 

- Once the coffee filter is dry, fold it in half and keep folding it until it is a small triangle. 

- Cut the tip to form a small hole. 

- Unfold the coffee filter until it is only folded in half.  

- Cut a small slit on either side of the middle hole. 

- Put the ballerina’s arms through the slits and head through the hole. 

- Cut a small segment of the third pipe cleaner off and use it to fasten the coffee filter around the ballerina’s waist. 

- Fluff up the skirt and enjoy! 

Mouse King

Image of mouse king craft

Supplies Needed: 

  • 2 toilet paper rolls 
  • Yellow and Pink Paint 
  • Markers 
  • Scissors 
  • Stapler 
  • Glue 


- Flatten one of the toilet paper rolls and cut two circular mouse ears, keeping it folded so you can cut out both ears at once. 

- Unfold the roll and cut a small crown out of it. 

- Paint the ears and crown and wait for them to dry. 

- Push the top of the second toilet paper roll in, creating a triangular shape, and flatten it. 

- Once the ears are dry, position one ear on each side of the triangle shape and staple to secure. 

- Using a marker, draw the mouse’s face. 

- Glue the crown in the space between the ears. 

- Decorate the mouse’s body however you like, paint buttons like the example, make a jacket out of construction paper, or create your own design!

Winter Card

An image of a homemade holiday card.

Supplies Needed:


- Print out our winter card template

- Cut out card, snowman, and glove outlines from the template

- Color in your snowman or gloves

- Glue your cutouts to your card and add a festive seasonal message if you like

Paper dancer

A paper ballerina dancing

Supplies Needed:


- Print out of our template and cut out the ballet dancers.

- Now for a snowflake tutu. Fold a piece of printing paper in half vertically and then cut along the fold.

- Starting from one end of the strip you cut, fold triangles until you have a cone shape.

- Cut off the top of the cone in a zig-zag pattern.

- Cut off a small bit of the bottom of the cone. Be sure to arch your cut.

- Cut shapes into your cone. Triangles, squares, whatever you like. When done, open the cone.

- Wrap your new snowflake around a ballet dancer to create a tutu. Or, cut the snowflake into smaller pieces to decorate a ballet dancer’s leotard instead. Have fun with it!

Toy Soldier

An image of a arts and craft project to make a toy soldier.

Supplies Needed:

  • 1 toilet paper roll
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers


- Cut 3 strips of construction paper: 1 for your toy soldier’s face, 1 for their hat and 1 for their uniform. Make sure that each strip is long enough to fully wrap around the toilet paper roll. Feel free to use whatever colors you like for these—be creative!

- Carefully glue the strips one by one around the toilet paper roll.

- Draw a face on your toy soldier in the center panel of the paper.

- Decorate the hat and uniform however you would like. You could cut buttons out of construction paper, add a belt, or doodle unique patterns.

Coloring Pages

Enjoy coloring pages featuring seasonal artworks from SAAM’s collection.