Christmas Gift Tradition: American Girl Dolls

Over the years that I’ve participated in the Virtual Advent, I’ve talked about lots of things: books, the tree, music… but never toys. I’m changing that this year. 

When I was younger, my mother gave to me a couple porcelain dolls that she’d had when she was a child. I loved those dolls, played with them, and cherished them. (Granted, this is all in retrospect; maybe I didn’t.) They, somehow, managed to survive me as a child, and I saved them to pass down to my daughter.

And then I had four girls.

There was no way I could pass down two dolls to four girls (well, there was only three at the time I made the initial decision), and I wanted them to have the same sort of experience with dolls that I had as a child. The Christmas M was in second grade, we were searching for gift ideas for her, and I hit upon the perfect solution: American Girl Dolls.

I feel a need to justify this a bit: they are expensive, somewhat extravagant, and definitely over-commercialized. There is a part of me that dreads getting the catalog whenever it shows up, because there’s always more in there that the girls want then we can get.


The dolls are well-made, the clothes are well-made, they’re not Barbies (a big plus in my book!), and they are made to be played with and yet will last to be handed down. And there’s enough stuff to last through birthdays and Christmas presents for a few years.

Additionally, the historical ones — which are the ones that I require they choose from — are fascinating in their detail (which is hopefully accurate), and they make history accessible and fun to the girls. But best of all, they come with books. Possibly not the best-written books, but ones that a second-grader can read on her own, ones that help make the doll that much more interesting.

Thankfully, M (who picked the now-retired Samantha) and C (who picked Kit), and now A (who has picked Molly) were able to find dolls that fit their personality, whose stories they were interested in, and ones they loved to pieces. M no longer plays with her doll, having put it in storage for the time when she (hopefully) has a daughter she can pass the doll and books down to.  C still keeps hers around, playing with her on occasion, but mostly keeping her because she likes to have her things around her. A is over the moon with anticipation of getting her doll this Christmas. And K has already spent hours with the catalog, looking at the dolls, trying to decide which one she will like in a couple of years.

It may be extravagant, but it’s a tradition I’m glad to have started with the girls.

I’m not the only one posting today. Check out these other posts:

Martina Kunz @ Book Drunkard

21 thoughts on “Christmas Gift Tradition: American Girl Dolls

  1. Aww. That's so cute 🙂 And a great idea!!

    I *cough* actually watched the Kit Kitterage (however you spell that) movie with Abigail Breslin… it was pretty good, actually.


  2. I think this is a lovely tradition! My sister and I would probably have fought over who got which doll!

    Thanks again for participating in the tour this year! We really appreciate your ongoing support.


  3. What a beautiful tradition…we were given some things from an aunt as children and they survive to this day. Whether they will last to the next generation remains to be seen.


  4. Laina: we actually own that movie. And you know, it was pretty good.

    Marj: that's another reason we do the American Girl dolls, to avoid the fighting. There are enough that they can choose from, and no one feels like they are getting slighted. (Though there has been some discussion as to whether Molly looks too much like Samantha…)

    Fiona: I hope they do. And Anglers Rest: thank you!


  5. We bought the Marisol doll the year it was doll of the year for my daughter's first birthday. You see, her name is Marisol too, and I knew there wouldn't be lots of things to find with her name on them in stores. We put it away until she was 5, but I find that she is just really starting to play with it now that she is in 2nd grade, so I think your timing is awesome. I just wish the furniture was less expensive!


  6. This year I am giving Eliza my old Samantha American Girl Doll. It is still in great condition, I think you are right they are awesom quality. I loved mine so much when I was young. However, since Eliza can't “choose” which one she gets, I haven't shown her the catalog, I have just read her lots of Samantha books this month and we watched the movie, so hopefully she will be happy with it!


  7. I gave my niece her first American Girl doll for her birthday this year and she loves it! It has also spawned an unending number of gift ideas – we went for lunch at the store over the summer (complete with the doll seated in her own highchair) and I have to admit even I was awed by all the outfits and accessories available for the dolls!

    It is nice that your daughters will have those dresses to hand down.


  8. These are beautiful dolls and so lovely to be able to carry them through over the years to hand down. Like you say, well worth the investment financially and emotionally.


  9. I like your tradition that you did start with your daughters and the American Girl dolls! it is something they will carry with them into adulthood and like you said hopefully when they have daughters of their own. I'm sure many memories you have of Christmases in the past with your girls enjoying their dolls and continuing to enjoy them (until sadly they grow out of that phase of their life).

    Thanks for sharing about them!



  10. My girls have a similar tradition except it's my parents that get the American Girl dolls for them. My mom really wants them to have the entire collection of historical dolls to pass on. Currently they have Samantha, Kaya, Kirsten, and Felicity. This year they picked the new one, Cecilia. Hopefully they don't fight over splitting them up later. My oldest also has a Just Like Me doll that there other grandfather bought them. I'm thinking my youngest is going to get her own this year.


  11. One of my granddaughters is getting her first American Girl Doll this Christmas. Truth be told I think my daughter in law is actually buying it for herself. I'm sewing a matching mother, daughter and doll apron. What fun. Thanks for your post.


  12. Don't apologize at all for this extravagance for your girls. They are wonderful, keepsake dolls that will stand up to generations. I fell in love with them – and the fun way they teach history – when our daughter was small, but alas, she only wanted “babies” no older girl dolls – so we got her the Bitty Baby which she carried with her everywhere for many years. She (the doll, not the daughter) now resides in our basement for our niece (and hopefully future granddaughters) to play with when they visit. Beautiful traditon.


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