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December 10, 2012


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We have somehow gotten on an American Girl catalog list. I do my level best to get rid of that thing when it shows up before my 4 year old can see it, because I know as soon as she does, it'll be "I want! I want! I want!" all the time. Yes, they're cool dolls, and your daughter will love it. My hurricane of a child would just unhinge her jaw and swallow the thing whole.

Would she know the difference? Good question. My gut says if she's asking for American Girl specifically, then she knows what she wants and therefore would know. But then again, that Target doll looks so similar to me that I might not be able to tell myself (especially if you get rid of the packaging. So basically, I'm no help. But that's one lucky little girl Christmas morning, either way.

Merry Holidays to you and yours.


I think you are better off with the real deal. My 35 year old law partner (who grew-up in poverty) was just telling me a story about how her mother bought a kit to make her a cabbage patch doll and spent countless hours making the doll, on Christmas morning she could not hide her disappointment and everybody was crushed. She says unequivocally that they all would have been better off without a doll at all. All these years later what sticks with her is not her disappointment but how terrible her mother must have felt.


Hmmm this is tough. Is there any way you might be able to show her the one at Target (in Target of corse, not like, bringing it home) and see if she even knows the difference? I say that it might matter only for the reason Rebecca posted above, not because it might upset her but maybe you if she is disappointed. Maybe my suggestion of bringing a kid in a toy aisle right before Christmas is totally stupid, the more I think about it it totally is! I would probably buy the cheaper one then get her a real one when she's old enough to take care of it and recognizes the difference. The things I destroyed as a kid literally gives me the chills to think about now, my poor parents!


Is the price bothering you b/c you think it will be $ down the drain when she doesn't take care of it? or is it bothering you b/c that is a lot to spend on a gift for a 5 year old?

If its the former, then I think you have to be OK with her doing WHATEVER she wants with the doll b/c lets not forget, it's a gift for her. When we give gifts to adults, we realize they may never use it, re-gift it, or break it... and we are OK with it. We should treat our kids the same.

If its the later, then I think you might want to consider returning the American Doll and have a heart to heart with her about money, budgets, etc. or you could keep it, but explain to her that since she is asking for such an expensive gift, then she won't be receiving too much else. She how she reacts to that, b/c that will help you gauge if she is mature enough for this gift.

Just my 2 cents...

Tara C.

Good points. Rebecca, that story makes my heart hurt. Jen, I suppose I don't like the idea of money spent on something that won't be fully appreciated, but you are right--if it's a gift it will be my daughter's doll to do with as she pleases.


Is it weird to say to get both? My thought is, if the Target one is only $24, and you already bought the American Girl for $100+, just get both and let the dolls duke it out.

As an example -- I can remember having both regular and "generic" Barbies, and I liked the variety. I loved the brand Barbies, but sometimes the generics were not constrained by brand characteristics - they had different possibilities for hair or so forth than regular Barbies did.

Plus having two dolls is awesome because then the dolls can interact, and if she plays with a friend the friend can use one of the dolls.

In the name of science :) -- I think you should get the Target doll too and report back as to which doll your daughter seems to prefer!

Jen P

We have both kinds of dolls at our house. I got the Target versions first- and when I saw how much my girls played with them, we did get the real ones. I do have to say that the hair on the Target dolls is much more tangly. I had to perform a hair cut eventually because one got so bad. The AG doll hair is alot better quality. The curly hair is alot harder to take care of though so I would recommend one with straight hair.


I grew up poor and it mattered to me. I remember feeling AWFUL about it, but you know, that stuff could be so wrapped up in all the OTHER things about being poor. I never had brand-name stuff and I just WANTED it. Not a lot of it, but for something like a doll like that? Yeah. I did.

And you could hardly say I was materialistic, because we had nothing and I am SO NOT materialistic NOW, so I just think . . . get the real doll and like Jen said, be fine with whatever she wants to do with it. Unless you really can't afford it, in which case, tell her she can have a real one when she's a little older and then save for it.


I have some of the original American Girl Dolls from the beginning (when there were only 3!) and my mom informed me last year that she wanted to give my not-quite-4-year-old daughter my (now-unavailable) American Girl dolls. I said no. We got her an Our Generation, which she barely played with until the last couple of months and despite her neglect, her hair is basically ruined. She's really into dolls now and loves changing their clothes, so this year, her OG doll is getting a friend (Journey Doll from TRU) and several outfits for them to share. Honestly, though, until she can prove that she can be careful with a doll she plays with, the $100+, irreplaceable collector's doll will remain on display at my mom's house.
She is getting some AG clothes, though, so it's very similar!


If she is asking for an American Girl doll, I think your daughter will know the difference. My daughter has an American Girl doll and up until recently she wasn't really into doing much more than carry her around but now at 6 she plays with the doll constantly! I do, however, purchase the "knock-off" clothing and accessories at places like target and Jo-Ann Fabric. I can not see spending $25-30 on an outfit when I can get 2-3 for the same price at the other stores....I don't know why it bothers me to pay that amount for the clothing when I will shell out for the doll. Maybe because my sister had American Girl dolls as a child and they are still in great condition 20 years later???? I wonder if the Target 18inch dolls will hold up that long?


My mom also handmade my cabbage patch doll (hopefully I was nicer about it). We have bought AG dolls for our girls. I have to say that the dolls are very well made and hold their value long after you buy them (try getting one under $50 on ebay). I know plenty of women my age whose AG dolls are still holding up well for their daughters.

I really love the message the dolls have-girl power, friendship, studying, etc. The books and magazines are great. My girls love playing with their dolls, 5 years later and they are still getting lots of playtime and attention.

*Curly hair dolls need a spritz of water and use the AG brush. It can tame even the worst hair.


We have a few of the American Girl dolls and my daughter's are now 21 and 18. The dolls are very durable, and were played with a ton when they were younger. I am saving them for their daughter's now! The first one we got for my oldest daughter (Samantha) had a tragic accident and lost her arm. We sent her to the doll hospital (for an additional cost) and she came back clean, hair restyled, and with an arm (I think in a hospital gown also!) Over the years I bought clothes and accessories from craft fairs, Target and Toys R Us. The furniture fell apart quickly, but the clothes held up. I even made little sleeping bags and afghans. I thought they were awesome purchases at the time, and thing they should last for generations.


I put real American girl dolls on the list Lululemon yoga pants. They seem way too expensive at first, but then you realize they are worth it. Those dolls are VERY durable and while the one my daughter recevied at 5 looks a little shabbier than her other two that she got when she was 7 and 9, they are all very much played with still (almost 10) and I think all of the AG books and movies and magazine, etc. send very good messages at a time when wholesome activities for girls are hard to find. Plus, they are a little like the Cabbage Patch Kids where we live-girls who are a little older than 5 want a real one.

However, you should totally buy your AG dolls clothes at target, on ebay, at craft fairs, etc. IOn particular if your daughtr wants outfits to match her dolls, keep your eye out at Marshalls and on ebay or Kmart even has a dress like my doll line. The AG girls clothes are expensive and not that well made. Sometimes we spring for the extremely pricy real doll clothes like when we make the rare trip to a city with an actual AG store) but mostly we have tons of fakes and that is FINE.


I am also torn on this. My 6 year old niece got one when she was 4 or 5 and LOVES it and plays with it all the time. However, I just think that is way too much money to spend on a child's gift. Especially because that was only one of many gifts she got that year. I think the generic doll is so close to the real one she wouldn't have been able to tell the difference if she had gotten it. Not only that, but now we are expected to buy the doll clothes and accessories for her birthday and Christmas and those things are not cheap! I think when my own daughter (she's 11 months right now) is old enough to ask for one we'll get the generic one and see how that goes. Then if she MUST have the real one I'll get it for her. I don't think it would kill a child to not have ONE present they ask for.

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