American Girl Doll

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on April 8, 2009

This year Princess is getting an American Girl Doll for her birthday.

Lest you think I have lost my everliving frugal mind, I hasten to assure you that this is a grandmother gift. . . My mom promised Princess almost 2 years ago that when she turned 8 she would be taken in to New York City to the American Girl Store and get the whole doll/teaparty treatment. I pulled her aside when she said this.

“Mom, you do KNOW how much those dolls cost, right?”

For the uninitiated, American Girl Dolls cost about $83. Buck naked. The clothes cost about $30 an outfit. . . they have more possible accessories than most adults I know.

This is not something I ever would have purchased for Princess myself-just on principle. $83. For a naked doll.

But grandparents have certain perogatives, so I am willing to let my mom purchase it.

Now there are some ways to approach this whole American Doll phase in a more frugal manner.

Skip the Package: If you are near a city with an American Girl Doll Store and are going to do the whole special day thing, consider ditching the “package” deal. The lowest price “package” is for one kid and one adult and costs over $200. That includes a meal, an appointment with the doll hairdresser, a special photo and $130 spending money in the store. Instead my mom booked us a meal at the restaurant ($26 each for 3 ppl-and they will set a special place for the doll at the table w/a special chair and all). We will go in a few hours before our reservation and pick out her doll, wander around the store etc. There should be plenty of opportunities to do our own snapshots-no special photo shoot needed.

Buy an off brand: If your child really wants an American Girl Doll, but you have heart palipitations at the mere thought of the price, keep your eye out for knockoffs. I know that near us AC Moore has a similar style 18″ doll that costs a mere $20. Likewise, the outfits are much more reasonably priced. I have also seen 18″ dolls at our local Christian bookstore and at Target (although I think they might be seasonal there)

Knit or Crochet: If you have any skills along the knitting or crocheting lines you could make clothes for the doll at a fraction of the price. I found several free knitting patterns for 18″ doll pullovers, cardigans, hats, a poncho and even a cute muff. Likewise there are many crochet patterns.

Sew some clothes: I was not able to find any free sewing patterns for them, but considering the cost of a single outfit, spending $14 for two patterns (that can make over 9 different outfits) seemed worth while to me. For less than $50 I bought enough fabric and notions to make Princess and the doll 4 matching shorts/halter top sets and a cute matching dress. That’s a big thing you know-dressing the same as your doll. . . I’ll be posting pictures soon!

Search online: If you are not the DIY or crafty type, try doing a google search-you may be able to find items for sale at other shops, or on ebay for much less than they sell for in the stores. You can also try keeping your eyes out for clothes at thrift shops, garage sales and even craft shows.

So there you have it, a few ideas on how to have an “American Girl” experience for less.

Photos by Katherine of Chicago and VinnieFM

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