The Nutcracker Puppet Theater

Ok. I am officially giddy over this post.

We’ve been up to a little something here in the studio…me and the elves  kids have been feverishly creating a little Nutcracker world, and we’re all a bunch of giddy little sugar plums over it.

I’ve been wanting to make these for a while, and I just couldn’t wait any longer. This weekend we were decorating gingerbread houses and watching the Maurice Sendak version of the Nutcracker with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. And the kids were glued. We’ve been acting it out ever since!

So we made this Puppet Theater set. I say “we” because it was really a joint effort. The kids would play, and I’d draw it out, and we’d imagine together what all the characters looked like.

Here’s a little video of us putting these together. It’s taken with my iphone (note to self…always hold the phone horizontal, not vertical when making movies!)


I’m getting a little obsessed with imovie. I used it for the first time last night making this…and um….I can see a lot more of these in my future. So super easy and fun!

So. This is what we’ve done. we’ve made the these PDF downloads (like the Peter and the Wolf Puppet Theater kit that has been so, so popular) and I’m including the story and music clips below so that you can act out the story right here! There are 13 characters…enough for literally hours of play.


1) Not all characters were created. I had to stop somewhere!

2) These should be cut out by an adult. They do have tiny parts, and so give yourself some time to carefully cut

3) This is a DOWNLOAD only. Instructions are included in the download for printing, brads, etc.


You can purchase the PDF download here.


So…are you ready? Get out your dolls….and play along!





(Simply play the music below each image while you are dancing to the scene with your paper puppet dolls)



The Overture

Clara’s family is having a Christmas party.  She and her little brother Fritz dance and decorate the tree.  Soon Clara’s mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives and gives her a special toy nutcracker.  Fritz pretending to be a soldier, breaks the Nutcrackers jaw and the doll is broken.  As Clara cries, kind Drosselmeyer ties his scarf around the Nutcracker and fixes him.



Clara and the Nutcracker

Clara Dances with her Nutcracker.  Relieved her new toy is fixed, Clara dances with the Nutcracker and pretends he is really a hansom prince.



The Battle

Clara falls asleep and shrinks to the size of the toys.  The Mouse King appears and the Nutcracker comes alive to defend Clara.  The Nutcracker fights bravely, but after a long battle the Mouse King knocks the Nutcracker to the ground.  Clara throws her shoe at the Mouse King and distracts him long enough for the Nutcracker to kill him.          



Pas de Deux

The Nutcracker becomes a hansom prince and dances with Clara.



Waltz of the Snowflakes

The Nutcracker Prince and Clara travel through a snowy forest on the way to his Kingdom.  Snow fairies and the Snow Queen dance all around them.




Clara and the Nutcracker Prince arrive in the Land of Sweets.  Sweets from around the world come to dance in turn for Clara, and thank her for defeating the Mouse King.



Arabian Dance




Chinese Dance



Russian Dance


Waltz of the Flowers



Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy



Drosselmeyer joins Clara and the Prince as everyone dances together.  Clara and the Prince are crowned rulers of the Land of Sweets.  (In some early versions Clara stays in the Land of Sweets and the ballet ends.  In others the prince takes her home, or she wakes up in bed with the doll in her arms realizing it was all a dream.  Pick the ending you like best.  I’ve never seen two identical productions. )





Wasn’t that fun? I am feeling like I’m 7 again…all tingly and magical. Gosh, I love this music!

I had so much fun making this….I might even add more characters next year, but this, I think, is plenty! And look! They even can double as Christmas Ornaments when you are done. Or for practicing your ballet positions in your spare time!





Really. Paper Toys are so under rated. These kept my 5 year old boy busy all weekend. Gotta love paper dolls.

Merry Christmas!


sarah jane






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  • Ashley

    Oh hooray hooray hooray!!!! I had sent you an email about this idea a few months ago and when you said you thought it was a good one I’ve been looking forward to it ever since! My daughter loves the Nutcracker and has requested a nutcracker birthday party even though her birthday is in January…but we’re going to do it! Guess what will be the centerpiece! Ordering right now…

  • Farmgirl Susan

    You never cease to amaze, Sarah Jane. Just when I think you can’t create anything more wonderful, of course you go and do it. I’m 43, and I want a set – and some pjs made from your fabric. ;)

    Thank you for the tears of joy you give me every single time I visit your blog. Thank you for all that you do! xoxo

  • Kristin

    Love it! Is this going to still be in your shop in January? I have the coupon code from ordering. :)

  • Sarah Elizabeth

    I love this! I went and purchased it immediately. I was thinking it would be fun to have a nativity like this too, maybe a future project?

  • sarahjanestudios

    So glad you are having fun with it already…we still are!
    Ashley: this would make an great centerpiece! I’d love to see pics! And what a GREAT birthday party idea!
    Susan: There is no shame in playing with these yourself…I have!
    Kristin: These will stay year round!
    Sarah: Yes! There will be something like this for the Nativity for my book, but not for sale…more simple and easy.

  • Gina f.

    I love your Nutcracker embroideries but have zero stitching time but I had to get this; I can find some paper doll play time and all my kids love the Nutcracker ballet, one daughter especially. Now to get these cut out before the kids get home from school! Thank you!!

  • karin

    Oh Sarah… so sweet! Do your kids realize how lucky they are to have you as their mom? Creating and playing all evening long… LOVE it!

  • Shannon @ A Mom’s Year

    Sarah, this is absolutely wonderful. Your talent amazes me, and it’s obvious that you put so much thought and love into this project. I just purchased the download for a dear friend’s little daughter. I’m going to assemble everything to make it easier for Mama and pop it all in the mail with a Nutcracker Suite CD. Thank you–it’s just the present I was hoping to find!

  • Pingback: A Mom's Year » Gift Idea: The Nutcracker Suite Puppet Theater()

  • Jennifer

    I just bought this for my 1o yrd old daughter who LOVES the nutcracker! However, I can’t seem to find/hear the music on your blog. Any help??? thanks so much!

  • Lindsay

    I discovered you through Lil Blue Boo and was so excited to see this! I have loved the Nutcracker since I was young and am excited to be able to share it with my children. I’m actually taking my daughter to see it tomorrow night for the second year (she is 4) and hope that I can get this ready to give her as a special gift for our special night at the ballet. :)

    I am also excited to see that you are from Provo. I live in Springville. I think I am going to also get your Nativity set for my daughter’s ballet teacher who just staged a beautiful children’s Nativity ballet (she lives in Provo, too!). Such a small world. I love your illustrations.

    Do you sell colored prints of the 3 Little Birds embroidery pattern? That song is one of our family favorites and I would love to have your lovely inspired artwork, but am not sure I would have time to embroider it properly.

    So glad to have found you!

  • Shannon @ A Mom’s Year

    We loved the Nutcracker Theater so much it got us thinking about our other Christmas favorite…A Christmas Carol! What do you think? :-)

  • ceen

    hi sarah! Thank you so much! I purchased the dolls and am really excited to use them :0) I the music section might be having a problem… The music clips say 00:00 and at the end as well 00:00. (Usually it would indicate a time?) And they are not playing. If it is an easy fix, I’d really appreciate it. We are so looking forward to using these adorable dolls and appreciate the love and talent with which they are made. Merry christmas.

  • MaurLo Parker

    We are taking our four kids (five and under) to Russia next month and I have been cramming in everything Russian I can find (in hopes they remember something about this trip!)…and your Peter and the Wolf puppet show and this Nutcracker puppet show are so much fun. We have been using them as we talk about their Russian composers, and my 5 and 4 year olds can’t put them down. I actually made the nutcracker puppets a day ago, but am just seeing your story and music compilation and just wanted to say thanks double. Amazing talent…thanks for sharing it with all of us. PS-I have one of those incredibly cheap laminators from Costco…and I shoot your puppets through there for an extra sturdy end product. Just an idea if anyone wants to use them long term!

  • moushka

    Please tell me what the straight, skinny sticks are. Coffee sticks? They look too short and thin for chop sticks. Your Nutcrackers is fantastic. Thank you.

    • Sarah Jane

      These are long skinny dowls from the craft store. Bamboo skewers work well too, as long as you can beware of the pointy side. Hope that helps!

  • Holli

    I’m making this right now for my daughters second grade class who get to see the ballet this month! It’s so beautiful and our family loves each little person. Thanks!