When I was growing up, just receiving the American Girl catalog was a big deal. Though I never owned one of the beautiful dolls, I loved transposing myself into the time periods of the books. History came alive to me through these stories. I was Kirsten Larson coming to America and working hard on the frontier; I was Samantha Parkington supporting progress and equality for women and helping friends less fortunate than myself; I was Molly McIntire worrying about whose brother or son or father wouldn’t return home from war.
Having three precious daughters, I am probably more obsessed with American Girl now than I was then.
Our oldest daughters got their first dolls from their Gigi for their sixth and fourth birthdays. We took a special girls’ trip to the AG Store in Atlanta and enjoyed a birthday party in the café. We also did the American Girl-themed hotel package at the very nearby Marriott. The girls’ bedroom was decorated in pink and their dolls got their own beds (which came home with us), plus many other cool surprises. They both love their dolls (our oldest picked Grace, that year’s Girl of the Year, and our middle got Kit Kittredge, who is her TWIN!), but they love the memories of getting their dolls more.
So what is it about these dolls that makes them worth paying almost quadruple what you would pay for a regular doll?
Here are a few reasons why we LOVE American Girl:
There is a short window of time when girls want to play with dolls, and American Girl dolls actually portray girls in that age range.
Unlike some of the other popular dolls for GIRLS, American Girl dolls look like young girls. In a world where girls are being sexualized at radically young ages, I like our girls playing with dolls that look like, dress like and have the interests and hobbies of young girls.
It is not just a doll; it’s a story.
I love that our daughters can incorporate the history and/or positive messages from their dolls’ books (and movies, if available) into their playtime. The books and movies are educational and inspirational. After we watched “An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas” on Amazon Prime, our middle daughter was moved to tears and wanted to do something to cheer up kids in the hospital just like Maryellen did. She decided to use a Target gift card she received for her birthday to buy tons of blind bags (Lego, Shopkins, My Little Pony, etc.).
We contacted the Child Life Department at Erlanger Children’s Hospital, and we delivered the toys so they could add them to the “Smile Cart.” The Smile Cart has the typical configuration a rolling medical cart but has a very different connotation to the kids who are hospitalized. Instead of worrying about another procedure, shot or dose of medicine when this cart rolls into the room, the kids get to pick something from the cart that will make them smile. We will be forever grateful that we were able to nurture the compassion and generosity of our sweet girl through this experience, and we love the American Girl company for telling great stories of girls doing amazing things for others.
My girls and I enjoy making things for their dolls.
I have found this to be a great way for us to bond and to teach my daughters new skills like sewing. The American Girl accessories are shockingly expensive, but a simple visit to Pinterest will have your head spinning with fun and creative crafts. WARNING: Steady. All lot of these pins will be time-consuming, money-sucking fails. But a few (like this cute chair and this rolling suitcase) are simple and inexpensive ways to create a doll dreamworld.
You have birthday and Christmas gift ideas for years!
After they got their first dolls two birthdays ago from my mom, mommy and daddy gave them new dolls for their birthdays this past year. Our soon-to-be-two-year-old will probably get a Bitty Baby or Wellie Wisher at some point. I honestly think having two dolls each is enough. I think what makes American Girl so fun is not collecting all the dolls, but truly playing with and enjoying one or two dolls that you really love. So we always give the grandparents, aunts and uncles ideas for doll accessories when it comes time for gift buying. We, of course, let them know where to find good deals like buying from Target’s Our Generation line instead of AG. I know the price of American Girl dolls is a huge hindrance, but I have found a few ways to really save. If you shop at Costco, you can occasionally find $100 American Girl gift cards for $80. I stock up on these! Then, when American Girl has a 20% off sale, I grab those gift cards and shop that sale hard!