Nutcracker Ballet Boutique Why & How: 17 Tips for a Memorable and Successful Nutcracker Ballet Fundraiser This Year

My favorite moment is when those first boys and girls show up at my boutique table at the beginning of the intermission. Eyes wide as saucers, pointing to this and that nutcracker saying "Mom, look! It's the Nutcracker from the show!" or "Wow, it's the Mouse King!" or "Clara is so pretty in her pink dress with her Nutcracker."

Their eyes scan across the table... Sequins and Glitter and gold! Crowns and scepters, teeny tiny, and bigger then them. It truly is magical. Then of course chaos commences as the scramble for shopping in a short 15 minute period can be quite intense. All of a sudden, you've allowed that child and just as much the adults, to create a connection, first with all the time and hard work of the performance itself, but allowing them to take a part of that emotional connection home with them. A memory of The Nutcracker and the promise of happy endings.

Here is a step by step guide to help you get your Nutcracker Ballet boutique started or make yours even better and more successful this year.

We use examples from the real live Nutcracker Ballet Boutique I set up and run each year, with the help of several wonderful volunteers, at the Asheville Ballet.

Here's the final product, all set up:

Nutcracker Ballet Boutique All Set Up

Here we go! Please share these tips with friends, because you never know who might want to set up and benefit from a Nutcracker Ballet boutique fundraiser this year.   

1. Why should you have a Nutcracker boutique? One word: leverage.

You are putting on a show, a holiday classic, one that fills little boys and girls as well as adults with wonderment, a sense that all will be well with the world this holiday season.

The children watch the show to see Nutcrakers come to life and dance and battle the Mouse King. And to see snowflakes flit across the stage and dolls pirrouette to the music. The amazement is contagious. 

This tradition of a ballet boutique at your Nutcracker performance can create many repeat customers and a powerful community ritual. Year after year I see the same customers coming to my table, excited for what new items we have to add to their collections.

You have already faced and won the challenge of putting together this show. Many hours volunteered to the cause, much money spent to provide the performers with the chance of sharing in this wonderful tradition, many times with only that as your real pay!

With all that said, with all that work put in, doesn't it make sense to leverage all those people coming to your show? Have them leave with a memory?

Nutcrackers Boutique Provides Leverage for Your Ballet

And they're here tonight! 

Yes, it can be daunting, what do I buy, what if I buy too much (check the next tip for the answer!).... The first time you have a boutique, the truth is that it might start off at a slow start. You've only just now started a tradition of making sure that people know they can leave with a keepsake. Of course, social media and other types of advertising can help you get off to a quick start! You are even giving them an opportunity to begin their own tradition.

2. Nutcrackers on Demand: Find which Nutcracker Ballet Souvenirs your audience loves the most, and help them pre-order. 

 if you think that a lot of the buyers will be your kids/parents/relatives especially if it's a first time boutique, you can kick start it with a pre-sale.

Have certain items picked out and put together a sheet with the info and a due date. If people are interested in whatever products, they can sign up, and pre-pay you before you actually place your order. This is especially good for apparel/mug sales.

You can download our handy Pre-order sheets, for all categories, here.

[opt-in form] 

3. Raffle Off a Gigantic Nutcracker


Nothing gets people hanging around like something out of the ordinary--especially if that something is big and valuable, and can be won in a raffle!

That's exactly what we do with our 42 inch nutcracker each year at the Asheville Ballet Nutcracker Boutique! 

Now, we do this boutique as a fundraiser for the Asheville Ballet. So we don't keep the profit ourselves; it goes to support the ballet. 

But imagine three hundred raffle tickets are purchased for a nutcracker that cost you under $200.

Still see that as losing money? Or as a possible easy windfall?

And what if you have students do a raffle ticket presale?


4. The Most Powerful Nutcracker Ballet Boutique Tip: Delegate

If you are the school / company EVERYTHING person, then you definitely need someone to help you out! The simplest of tasks can become overwhelming, and everyone needs you to be on point with all other tasks.

Only you know and understand your organization.

Who are your best DOERS?

Who is willing to commit the time, whilst doing all their life stuff as well.

Who is the most creative.

Who is a team-player

Who has experience in merchandizing/retail/event planning

Who can you TRUST with Money? Yes, I've heard plenty of horror stories concerning theft.... Possibly have some sort of written contract with your voluteers... but do delegate. You are giving someone else a chance to hold the torch in a  ballet lineage steeped  in tradition. Selling nutcrackers with you will be a bright spot in a youngster's holidy season. 

5. Hang Pretty Things Up: Go "3D" and Multiply the Wow Factor!

Nutcracker Ornaments Ballet Boutique

From here, it might be tough to see, but that tinsel tree at the end of the table is doing a lot for this Nutcracker ballet boutique. 

Any time you can show the product in action, and give people a sense for what it might be like for them to own it, you are helping them make the transition from prospect to customer.

Sure, we could have laid some ornaments down on the table and said "That's good enough."

But because we want to make the most of the leverage we were talking about in tip 1, it's time to go 3D.

Imagine being a young person, three or four feet tall and looking up at these characters dangling from a silver hoiday tree:

For a breakdown of what's on the tree, check out the next tip.

Nutcracker Ballet Boutique Tip #6: Use A Stunning Variety of Ornaments 

Nutcracker resin ornamentClara Nutcracker OrnamentNutcracker Drosselmeyer Resin Ornament

 Resin Ornaments at our Nutcracker Ballet boutique

When you are setting up an ornament display, consider getting a small tree like the one at the end of our table above.

Nutcracker Mouse King Resin OrnamentBallerina Ornament - Resin Ballet Ornament

The resin ornaments pictured here are popular. ORN-BAL on the right is especially, but handle her with care! Resin ornaments are notoriously delicate, let alone with ORN-BAL's slender stature. 

Nutcracker Ballet dancer ornamentmouse king nutcracker pull puppet

These pull puppet dancers represent traditions from all over the world.

By having all different characters from the Nutcracker ballet, you give collectors a change to rock their passion.

Nutcdracker Spanish Dancer Pull PuppetChinese Nutcracker Pull Puppet

And by having them in the form of a relatively inexpensive ornament (the pull puppet), you can work with a flexible price point, as a wholesaler

Last but not least, along with resin ornaments and character pull puppets, you can include Nutcracker ornaments in the mix:

 nutcracker ornaments

We have many more Nutcracker and Nutcracker ballet ornaments - explore on the site! But for now, that gives us any idea of the many possibilities for beautiful ornaments you can hang from a display tree at your Nutcrakcer Ballet boutique. 

Now, let's get down to the numbers.

Ballet Boutique Tip 7: Budget Like a Pro

Several elements can be used to calculate what your budget should be

  • # of performances
  • average attendance/show
  • Does the venue charge a percentage of the sales?
  • Is this your first boutique, and if so:

    • Will you be letting people know ahead of time that you are holding a boutique? Ie: social media, advertising at the studio or when you have rehearsals?
    • Will you be doing a pre-sale?
  • Socio economic demographic. What kind of community? This will primarily determine the pricing of the goods you purchased.
  • Pricing too low in an affluent community = lost dollars.
  • Too high in lower socioeconomic demographic = less sales and less overall connection you are making with your community.

I calculated anywhere between $1.65-$2.60 per attendant. credit card processing fees. Yours might be different depending on your credit card compang. Being able to take Credit Cards makes for a big increase in sales Just get one of those slide-through Point of Sale units that attches to a smart phone..

8. Merchandising: How to arrange the Nutcrackers and Ballet Gifts for more sales

When you lay out your products, one thing that can help you do so effectively (to increase sales) is to imagine the experience of customers - especially little ones who are making the buying decisions

To "merchandise" your Nutcracker Ballet boutique:

1. Place tall displays, like the tree from Tip #5, on the corners of tables.

2. . Put fun ballet gifts, like our Ballet Fury Pens, ornaments, and mini snow globes, in mugs, and wrap them up with wribben for enticing, attractive combo gifts.

nutcracker ballet boutique merchandizing

The Ballet Jewelryis there, down by the tree at the end of the table. Check out tip #14 for Nutcracker Jewelry ideas!

3, Have an area for each different category of gift (see photo), and display as appropriate, including putting items on top of pretty display boxes. It leaves people in awe and wanting to take something home with them. In this boutique, our snow globes and gift wrapped mugs were on top of the display boxes. 

9. Let Your Table Cloths Hang Low

Notice in the above photo that there is about a foot between the table cloths and the ground, all around. 

That's a good thing, because table cloths are prettier than the metal parts of folding tables. And having your customers look at something pretty, and possibly buy it, on this magical evening, is the name of the game.

Nutcrackers Boutique Set Up

Mixing up your table cloths can provide a nice stimulating spread of different designs.

And low table cloths allow the clever boutiquer to put boxes of merchandise under tables without causing an eyesore. 

10. Socialize!

Nutcracker boutique socializing

 The Nutcracker Ballet is a beacon of human connection for the holiday season. Communities come together to put on their Nutcracker. So it should go without saying: Have fun and enjoy everyone's company!

Sure, there's stress running around getting everything ready (casting alone can be quite an "adventure") . . . and yet, taking time to stop and smell the roses with your fellows on the journey, is (partly) what it's all about.

Basics of socializing (useful for training your boutique volunteers!):

1. Stand up straight, be comfortable.

2. Smile! It is a wonderful event.

3. Ask other people how they are, what's new, basic pleasantries. 

4. Give people compliments.

5. Be willing to accomodate customers / come down a little on the price if you feel a person would sincerely appreciate something. Like if a child says, "Oh, I only have four bucks" and ornaments are six. If you'll still make money and create a special memory for someone, that's a win-win!

11. Mix up the Selection of Nutcrackers: All differents kinds for different minds

Some people like their Nutcracker traditional: red jacket, blue, black or white pants - straight and to the point.

traditional nutcracker

Others prefer a funky Nutcracker. 

funky nutcrackers

or something a little bit avant garde.

nutcrackers avant garde cake nutcracker 

Character Nutcrackers are always a hit.

Nutcracker Character Drosselmeyer

And some like to paint their own with a Kit!

Paint your own nutcracker, do it yourself nutcracker

No matter what their tastes, you can have a Nutcracker for practically each unique person.

12. Carry different sized snow globes for each budget 

Variety is key to "Awe-ing" a balletgoer. In our boutique, we have three main types of snowglobes:

1. Standing Character Snow Globes: Standing Mouse King and Standing Nutcracker both available! 

2. 45 mm (millimeter) "mini" globes: Arabian Dancers, Spanish, Chinese, Nutcracker, and Ballerina (including ethnic ballerina!).

3. Larger 100mm musical snowglobes. All kinds in stock, from Fight Scene to Land of Sweets!


 Whatever's your customers' pleasure, you can carry the globe. To get our snazzy, optimized Ballet Boutique Pre-Order sheets (and the EXCLUSIVE report on top three categories for which using a Pre-order will boost your sales), just enter your email below, 

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13. Seek Inspiration and Examples In All DIfferent Places

As you are planning your ballet boutique, a variety of sources as examples or inspiration can come in handy. 


1. You can find a nice guide to organizing a Nutcracker Ballet boutique at The ideas in our article here, plus the nuts & bolts tips at Ballet Gift Shop, can be a powerful 1-2 punch for your ballet gift shop or boutique success. Kudos to them for some nice hand made products too!

2. If your ballet company has a website (or even on a Facebook page) you can let volunteers know about potential opportunities, as the Colorado Ballet does here. Whether in wardrobe, boutique, ticketing, or education & outreach, there is an opportunity for everyone to contribute their unique strenghts and talents. And isn't that a big part of what the Nutcracker is all about?

3. Here is another example of a Volunteer form, from Eastern Connecticut Ballet. 

4. Ballet San Jose, always a beacon of excellence, has a fun "Team Happy Holidays" sign up for decorators on their volunteer forms, as well as specific time slots and task selections.  

5. If you know anyone personally who has had ballet boutique experience, ask them! Or contact us withany questions or concerns. We are here and happy to help!

14. Organize your jewelry into fabulous sets

When you have your hewelry organized, it gives your shoppers ideas for how to coordinate their purchases. 

Here are a few possible combos from our current (2015) inventory: 


Nutcracker In Ballet Slipper EarringsNutcracker In Ballet Slipper PinNutcracker Necklace

The "109 series": ER109, JP109, NK109, and CH109 (not shown), feature a Nutcracker in pink ballet slipper. 

 Nutcrackers necklaceCustom nutcracker mugnutcrackers earrings

ER-105 and NK105 feature Nutcrackers on earrings and necklaces. Customize an MG105 mug or get a dozen and rake in the funds raised! 

And there are many other ballet gifts and jewelry you can choose from, to make sets of slippers, charms, and the works

Pro Boutique Tip: At the boutique, if somone gets an earring, recommend the matching necklace or charm to go with. It's the "Would you like ___ with that?" effect and it works!    

15. How to Make the Perfect Gift Bundle - In a Mug!

16. Wear Your Wearables 

17. Accounting Afterward - How to Make It Painless and Productive

After you are done and the crowds have departed, first of all pat yourself on the back for a job, done. If you have done it well, all the better! One way to be sure, is the "bottom line" of your expenses vs. income, to see which wins, and by how much.

To make your Nutcracker boutique accounting a painless, useful experience, you can try the following method.