Top 5 reasons you can’t miss the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker (plus tips for prepping your kids)

Boston Ballet Nutcracker photo

Top 5 reasons to see Boston Ballet's Nutcracker and tips for prepping your kids

This past weekend Hubs and I took the girls to see the Nutcracker, and oh what an experience it was! My girls have seen a local production before, but I was still a little nervous that the full-length ballet might be too much for them. So I took some time to prepare them before, and that little bit of prep helped a million times over. I’ll get to my tips in a minute – but first, here are my top five reasons you really need to see this year’s Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet:

Why do you need to see Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker?

5. You have to see the costumes for yourself. 182 costumes appear on stage in a single performance, over 2,000 yards of net and tulle were used for the costumes, and over 200,000 jewels were used in the costumes. That’s a whole lot of bling, and yes, it’s gorgeous. Plus, who can forget the amazing dancing bear? He’s a joy to watch.

Nutcracker Boston dancing bear

4. The scenery is unmatched. The party scene, the snow scene, the Nutcracker Prince’s kingdom … it’s all gorgeous. When the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeier makes the Christmas tree grow, it grows to over four stories tall. It magically envelops the stage and is simply unbelievable.

3. The skill of the company dancers is breathtaking. The dancers at the Boston Ballet are some of the best in the world. Literally. My favorite part of the ballet has always been the snow scene, and the Snow Queen and the Snowflakes were breathtaking. I know the soloists are the stars of the show – and they were all incredible – but the Snowflakes were my favorite. Seeing them all dance in perfect unison during that long sequence was just amazing.

Crowd favorites of the day were the bear and the doll in the party scene, and the mice in the battle scene in the first act, and the Arabian dancers and the three male Russian dancers in the second act. Seriously, everyone was absolutely spectacular – technically and artistically.

Nutcracker snow scene image

2. Watching your kids take it all in is magical. I watched my kindergartener’s face much of the time, and she was enthralled. She clapped along with the dancing bear, stared open-mouthed at the enormous tree, oohed and ahhhed over the Snowflakes, and giggled at Mother Ginger. She LOVED it all. My third-grader also adored it, and left determined to dance in a Nutcracker production in the next few years. Both my girls are dancers, but your kids certainly don’t have to be to love this show.

1. It’s more affordable than you may think. Tickets start at $29, a fact that surprised me. I went to a local ballet studio’s Nutcracker production a couple weeks ago, and those tickets weren’t that much less expensive! If you’re going to go, why not pay a little more for the real thing? Even the seats waaaay up top in the Boston Opera House have a great view of the whole stage – and my kids liked being up there!

Here’s a little preview of the spectacular performance that you can expect to see…

How to prepare your kids for seeing The Nutcracker

My eight-year-old had been to ballet productions before, but my kindergartener was a little confused about what we were going to see. So I prepped her so she knew what to expect. Here’s what you can do to get your kids ready:

Explain that the people on stage don’t talk. They dance, and they tell the story through the movements of their bodies and the expressions on their faces. Tell your child the dancers are pretty far away from where you are sitting, but you can see everything they are doing.

Tell them the story of the Nutcracker. My kiddo didn’t understand it completely, but she knew enough to know what was what when we were watching the show.

Get them excited about getting dressed up! Going to the theatre is a big deal and a reason to wear your best. My girls were thrilled to wear pretty party dresses!

Take them to a Boston Ballet Nutcracker story hour. Your kids can learn about the story, characters, and music of The Nutcracker during a festive and interactive story time. We went to one at the Boston Ballet’s studios right before the performance, and it was super fun for my girls. One of my fellow Boston bloggers, Casey Carey-Brown, wrote about it on her blog and you can see lots of pictures there. And here. And here. And here! (Some bloggers are giving away tickets, so check those links!)  And check out the remaining story hours and see if there is one happening near you.

Prepare them to sit quietly for a while. I recommend for your first time, you go to a matinee and sit in less-expensive seats. We were surrounded by kids and no one cared if someone made a little noise. But in general, everyone was quiet, and it’s important to prep your kids for this.

Explain that The Nutcracker isn’t just for girls. The title character is a guy, after all! The party scene is for everyone, the battle scene is thrilling, and many of the male dancers in the second act are crowd favorites.

Bonus tips: Get there early, ask for booster seats, bring snacks and tiny water bottles, and be sure to use the bathroom right before the performance. There is a lot to see in the Boston Opera House, so it’s good to get there early and look around before settling in your seats. The theatre provides booster seats for little ones, if you need them. Bring your own kid-friendly snacks and water for intermission. And a potty break before the show starts is a must. Bathroom lines during intermission are very long!

We had a wonderful time at The Nutcracker, and I’m sure you will too!

Information on the Boston Ballet’s 2014 Nutcracker production

The ballet runs through December 31. Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased online at www.bostonballet.org or over the phone at 617.695.6955. Show times: Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 5:30pm, and all matinees are at 1:00pm.

Tickets were provided to me by the Boston Ballet, but all opinions are honest and my own. Because I am Honest Mom, after all.

Boston Ballet Nutcracker photo

How to increase your curb appeal on a budget – and win $100 to do it!

Before curb appeal picture

Wayfair giveaway PinterestYou’ve heard of curb appeal, right? It’s all about making the exterior of your home attractive and inviting.

There are tons of websites and tv shows that can help you increase your curb appeal. But the majority of their suggested projects require big budgets and big time commitments that most of us can’t do.

But guess what? You can up your curb appeal inexpensively. And I’m going to give you a chance to do it with a $100 gift card to Wayfair, an amazing online home goods store!

How to easily increase your curb appeal? COLOR!

I have pretty gardens around my house. I love color and texture and all things naturally beautiful. But if you took a look at my front porch a week ago, you’d never know it.

I put all this effort into the gardens along the walkway, but then once you walked up to my front door? Blah. It’s like the gardens beckoned you in and then the front door said – Um, I don’t think so. Go away.

 Before curb appeal picture

Total lack of curb appeal.

So I decided to add a pop of color – but I had to do it on a budget. Happily, Wayfair provided me with a gift card (I’m a part of their Homemakers program) and I went to work.

First off: Get rid of the blah, brown, uninviting doormat. I wanted something bright and happy. These were my top three contenders:

Wayfair doormats

1. Humming Birds Doormat  |  2. Margo Coir Doormat  |  3. Sweet Home Poppies Doormat

Next: Some gorgeous containers to hold some bright, happy flowers. After browsing all the possibilities, I decided to go with the CobraCo “Canterbury” collection:

Wayfair CobraCo Canterbury Collection

4. Round Scroll Top Plant Stand  |  5. Round Hanging Basket  |  6. Round Floor Planter 

Everything arrived in a few days and I couldn’t wait to get going. I bought some flowers and also found a pretty, inexpensive hummingbird feeder. Grabbed my bag of soil and gardening tools, and it was time to get to work!

I had my sweet little helper assisting me.  🙂

Planting

In about half an hour my boring, blah porch was transformed into a welcoming, happy space without spending a ton of money. What an improvement – and now I actually want to sit on that bench!

After curb appeal picture - a pop of color

Want to give your home some curb appeal, or perhaps add some color somewhere else in your house?

Enter to win a $100 Wayfair gift card!

To enter, just leave a comment below with a link to an item on Wayfair that you would use for a pop of color in your home! Sadly, if you live in Florida, New York, or Rhode Island, laws in your state prevent you from entering this contest. But all of you in other 47 states? You’re golden.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Wayfair for providing a gift card for me and another to give away. I always give my honest opinion in my sponsored posts – my name is Honest Mom, after all. See my disclosure policy here.

A Fun and Easy Alphabet Photo Craft for Preschoolers

spon postSometimes, I can be a little creative. I used to be an arts-and-crafts camp counselor, so boondoggles, tye-dyes, and rock painting are in my blood.

I may not be the kind of mom who likes to “play pretend” and be the Big Bad Witch to my girls’ Pretty Pretty Princesses, but I can whip up a pretty kickin’ craft and keep the girlies happy for a while.

Since Grace is going into her last year of preschool, she is all about learning letters and trying to “read.” So I had an idea to do a fun little alphabet photo project with her – but I haven’t been able to because my home printer was a piece of crap.

It kept running out of ink practically instantaneously. And in the photos it printed, we all looked like we belonged in Twilight’s Cullen vampire clan. Blech.

Happily, I received a new HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One Printer, courtesy of Staples, and this week I finally I got to work on our little scavenger hunt photo project!

Fun and simple preschool alphabet photo craft

Grace and I only created her first name so far, but we are going to make the entire alphabet this way because she loved this activity so much. She has a 4 x 6 photo book that has pictures of her family and friends in it, and we’re going to put all the alphabet pics in it, too.

I tried to make this activity a nature craft, but we couldn’t find anything outside that began with “C” or “E.” Oh well. The idea is you find an item that begins with the same letter as your kid’s name. So we made the letter “G” out of grass, the letter “R” out of rocks, and so on.

Grace had a ball running around the yard and trying to find stuff that began with the letter we were working on. This craft reinforced alphabet sounds (“What do you see that begins with the letter “G”?) and letter formation – and gave Grace and I some nice bonding time.

After we found the items and formed the letters on construction paper, Grace and I took pictures of the letters, uploaded them to my computer, and printed them out on my brand spankin’ new printer.

The printer was wicked easy to set up. I just plugged it in and followed the touch screen instructions right on the printer. Loaded the software onto my computer and voila – done.

I printed a grocery list in black and white (yes, I keep a grocery list template on the computer – easy for Hubs to check off the little boxes for what we need and YES I’M A GEEK) to test the printer, and holy quickness – that list popped out easy peasy and ready to go.

And the picture quality – wow! The grass in the letter “G” is so crisp and clear, I can see the little grass seed heads. Ahem. Apparently we need to mow the lawn.

While we were outside doing this activity, I snapped some pictures of my gardens and printed them out and the colors came out beautifully! The greens, blues, and yellows in the woodland garden are well-defined and the bright colors in the flowers pop.

woodland and perennial gardens

My only complaint? The printer makes a good deal of noise. Lots of whirring that startled me at first. But that’s okay – gorgeous pictures are mine once again!

Now that we once again have printing capabilities, Gracie and I can continue to run around outside and through the house, collecting items for the rest of the alphabet. “N” – (pine tree) needles. “O” – Oreos. “P” – paperclips. “Q” – um … hmmmm … “Q”?

I’ll get back to you on that one.

*****

There is a lot to love about the HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One Printer, and it really is fabulous for home printing. What do I particularly love?

              • I can keep both photo paper and 8.5 x 11 paper in the printer, and the printer knows which one to select (I hated having to constantly swap out different-sized papers in my old printer)
              • The printer is great looking (see it here)
              • It prints wirelessly and you can print from your phone or iPad, too
              • You can print and copy on both sides of a single page
              • The scanner function allows you to scan work to your computer or email – I scan for work a lot, and find this super handy

This HP Photosmart 6520 is officially Honest Mom approved and recommended.

Thank you to Staples for providing me with this printer to review and keep. I always give my honest opinion on my reviews – my name is Honest Mom, after all. See my disclosure policy here.