Watching The Nutcracker Ballet is one of my all time favorite holiday traditions. Even if you’re new to ballet, The Nutcracker for kids is a perfect introduction to the artistry, athleticism, and magic of a live performance.

When I was young, my Grandma would sew beautiful dresses for me and my sisters and take us to the Nutcracker Ballet each year.

This is me, ready to watch the Nutcracker Ballet in one of my Grandma’s special, handmade holiday dresses!

I have such wonderful feelings, emotions, and sensations wrapped up in the memories of magical Nutcracker performances. The whimsical story, talented dancers, elaborate sets, dazzling costumes. Even the feel of the velour seats and the taste of hot chocolate at intermission.

But most of all, I treasure that time spent with people I love. 

As an adult, I’ve gained an even deeper appreciation of the magic of the ballet. And, I have kept the Nutcracker Ballet tradition alive most years by seeing the show with my mom, sisters, or by dragging my husband along (luckily he appreciates and enjoys theatre so it’s not too challenging to convince him).

Last year, I took my son to his very first Nutcracker performance. He really enjoyed it (until the end when he’d had enough sitting and wanted to run around and dance himself). It was very special to share something that I love dearly with him.

The Nutcracker for Kids in 2020

This year, I was sad to not be able to take both my kids to see a live Nutcracker Ballet performance. So I decided to have a home screening party.

There are so many wonderful Nutcracker versions, but I rented George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker by the New YorkCity Ballet. This version is very similar to the Nutcracker performances I remember growing up.

Photo from Vanity Fair

It also has Mother Ginger and her little polichinelles (clown children). Mother Ginger was my Grandma’s favorite part so I thought it was important to keep that character alive in our family tradition.

Photo from Vanity Fair

Even though it wasn’t live theatre, the Nutcracker Ballet home screening was still magical!

The Setup

To make it feel really special, we invited my mom and sisters to join us for a pre-show tea and cookie Zoom party call.

Everyone had tea and treats and we got to catch up for a few minutes (and everyone got to see the kids’ sugar-filled holiday excitement).

If you want specifics about allergy friendly cookies and treats, be sure and check out this blog post!

When the party call ended, we all watched a version of the ballet.

It was a huge success! The kids had so much fun watching and they loved being able to dance along with the music (a really a wonderful perk to watching from home).

In fact, they loved it so much, we watched the ballet again the next evening!

Ballet Options

I highly recommend the New York City Ballet version of the Nutcracker, but there are so many wonderful options when it comes to streaming performances!

Photo from New York City Ballet website

I have also personally watched the 2016 Royal BalletNutcracker (free with a 14-day trail of Marquee TV) and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Nutcracker short film (free on their website). They were both lovely!

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker on Netflix is also a really fun and inspiring documentary. It’s not the traditional Nutcracker and isn’t a full performance, but is still full of holiday Nutcracker fun!

You can also watch the 1993 New York City Nutcracker Ballet for free on Youtube.

If you really want to go down the ballet rabbit hole and explore all of the online options for The Nutcracker, here’s an article with a huge list of ballet companies offering digital streams.

Book Recommendation

Another great way to introduce the Nutcracker for kids is through books that tell the story!

The Story Orchestra, The Nutcracker is one of our all time favorite books! The pictures are stunningly beautiful and it introduces kids to the music from the Nutcracker.

There’s nothing cuter than a toddler humming the Nutcracker Suite. And then when you watch the ballet, they know the different characters and the music that goes with it!

I try to buy books through Bookshop as it helps support local bookstores. But The Story Orchestra, The Nutcracker is also available on Amazon!

Happy Dancing

Our family loved this special way to continue our Nutcracker for kids tradition and dance along in the process. We hope you find moments of joy and a reason to dance this holiday season too!

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