It happened. My little girls caught the American Girl Doll bug. I thought I was in the clear, my girls have never really been into dolls. But then…the catalog came. They carried it around everywhere, looked at it in bed, circled their favorites with markers, started noticing which of their friends had one, and now…it’s ALL they want for Christmas.
Okay, okay…I confess. I checked out that catalog, and I kinda…sorta…wanted some of those dolls too. Not sure what I would do with them, but those historical dolls are so fun!
Anyway, I did it. I got them both a doll and researched my brains out. Seriously, they’re like laying on the floor. It’s disgusting. I keep stepping on them. But, at least I found some great info to share with you! Oh, and if you have any great tips for us, your fellow American Girl doll shoppers, please share them in the comment section!
Let’s get started…
I wish I could say that I found some killer, secret way to get American Girls for cheap, but I came up empty. It looks like you just have to fork over the dough. However, there’s always unreliable options, like finding a good deal on eBay (remember when eBay had good deals??), finding a used doll in the classifieds, and…that’s about it. I suppose it helps to know that American Girl Dolls can actually go UP in value if they’re well cared for, which also makes it easier to explain to the husband. But, it’s also why it’s hard to find a deal…boo. So, it’s a trade-off. However, if you get the doll, full price, don’t fret…there’s ways to save money on clothing and furniture.
* If you purchase an American Girl doll, the word on the street is that you NEED to get the doll hairbrush that they sell too. It keeps that doll’s hair nice and non-frizzy.
* Update 2013 – Also, from my personal experience, get a doll with straight hair, if your little girl will be playing with it a lot. I bought my Isabelle a doll with curly hair, to match her own hair, big mistake. The curls got so nappy, to the point where there’s no saving them. My other daughter Audrey got a doll with straight hair (McKenna) and her hair is still perfectly soft and smooth. Isabelle won’t even play with her doll anymore because she says her hair is ugly. 🙁
American Girl Doll clothing averages about $30 per outfit, sometimes a couple dollars less, sometimes many dollars more. But, here are some options for finding cute outfits cheaper…
– My favorite way to get clothes for the American Girl dolls is when Zulily is offering a ‘daily deal’ sale. Probably three times in the last month or so, they have had great deals on 18″doll outfits. The ones I love the most are the deals where they offer the doll outfit and a matching outfit for your daughter. I totally stocked up. For example, Dollie & Me was offering a deal through Zulily for the matching sets…I believe they were around $20 bucks for both outfits (doll & daughter), maybe less. They’re normally twice that much. So, I just watch every day for those deals. They also recently had one on furniture for 18″ dolls. It was way cute stuff, but I was too late in the game. The items I wanted were sold out. Oh, the only beef I have with Zulily is their shipping…it’s slow!! So, if you order too close to Christmas, unless they say otherwise, I would plan on not receiving the items until after Christmas.
– Carpatina is a company that makes 18″ dolls (like American Girl). Their dolls are only about $15 dollars cheaper. Probably not enough difference to sway you from getting an AG doll, if that’s what your daughter is hoping for. However, Carpatina has adorable outfits, that will fit AG, that average about $20 dollars. Just be sure to get their Girlfriends Collection line, as the waists are a little bigger, made to fit the AG dolls.
– Doll Factory Direct also has cute clothing for 18″ dolls. They tend to be just a couple dollars more than those from Carpatina, and several dollars less than American Girl. I do like that you get several pieces with the outfits, like the belts, shoes, purses, etc.
– I haven’t been yet, but a Facebook fan mentioned that children’s consignment stores sometimes have racks of American Doll clothing. Now, THAT would be a find!
– Target offers an American Girl knock-off called Our Generation. Although the price is significantly better, reviewers say the quality, cuteness, and ‘magic’ just doesn’t compare. But, you can find entire outfits from the Our Generation line that will fit American Girl dolls for just $16 bucks. Toys R Us also has a knock-off line called Journey Girls. Their outfits average around $16 dollars, as well.
– I’ve also heard rumors that American Girl will offer deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It sounds like they don’t pertain to the dolls, but sometimes you can get sales on clothing and accessories.
– The Springfield Collection offers 18″ doll outfits for super cheap! Try nine bucks. They don’t seem as I’m-gonna-die-cute, but they’re still cute, and for THAT cheap…?
Furniture & Home Accessories –
As expected, American Girl doll furniture is insanely cute, but super pricey. I’m talking $100 – $200 bucks for a single doll bed! No thanks. But, what fun is a doll without cute furniture? Here’s some less expensive options…
– The best price I could find on a cute bed is from Busy Beaver Toys. Granted, most of them are unpainted, but that doesn’t scare me, especially when the beds range from only $29 to $49 (for the bunk bed with ladder.) How hard is it to paint a mini bed?? I just ordered that white bunk bed, so the girls can have their dolls bunk, just like they do. Plus, it was fun shopping for cute bedding…which we’ll get to in a minute. ADM Woodcrafts also has cute single beds, also unfinished from around $30 to $40, but doesn’t come with the mattress. If you’re up to building your own bed, I love the easy explanation and guide from Ana White.
– To store the doll’s clothing, Busy Beaver also has really nice unfinished dressers for $39. However, I opted for an unfinished wood trunk, because they were having a super sale at the craft store. I’ll just paint it to match their room, or the doll’s bedding. Also, craft stores, like Michael’s or JoAnn‘s, offer great coupons if you sign up for their emails or mailers. Use those and get a great trunk! They sometimes have mini rocking chairs, stools, etc. that make really cost-effective and quality doll furniture.
– I had the hardest time finding tables for a reasonable price. However, the items from the Etsy shop, ADM Woodcrafts are probably my top pick. A table and two chair set, unfinished, is $39.95. There are a couple variations to choose from. The shop is small, so I would jump on this. There is also the possibility that the owner will take pre-orders, just contact him.
– If you like the picnic table look, these sets are only $25 from CrrConstruction1 on Etsy. They also come in pink, white, and yellow.
– Though not the wood-look and quality that I love, Target’s Our Generation line also offers furniture at a much lower price than AG. They have cars, tents, kitchens, salon chairs, bath tubs, and lots more.
– Etsy is a great place to shop for 18″ doll items. I just found the cutest bedding from Madi Grace Designs for just $24 (I shopped around a lot!) Of course, I had to get two coordinating ones for my two girls. There are several to choose from, and I love the details and fine work that is included for that price. I’ve also seen great bedding deals on Zulily, you just have to keep your eye out.
– If you sew…the greatest thing?? Bean bag chairs. Economical, make-to-match, and cute. You can even buy a pattern, here. If you don’t sew, you can find them on Etsy (search ‘American Girl Beanbag Chair’) for under $20 bucks. This one from Jill’s Fabric Designs is just $10.
– I also love these flip chairs (think chair/bed…sleepover??) from Honey Creek Crafts. $21.50
– Speaking of sleepovers…love these sleeping bags ($20) from Ava’s Doll Room (also has cute bedding.)
…and, that’s a wrap! Hope these finds help you with your shopping!
* For more of my American Girl favorites from across the internet, follow me on Pinterest, where I have an American Girl Doll board. I’ll also try to notify you of any sweet AG deals that I find, on Facebook.
* Need gift ideas for everyone on your Christmas list?? I have a killer list of gift idea posts, just waiting for you. Find it here: Gift Idea Central.
I would love for you to share with us any of your tips on American Girl doll shopping!
Cyber Monday deals are real. I got a pony for $20 bucks once they start online at midnight central time so stay up late. Also there is an American Girl outlet store (clothes and accessories only) in Osh Kosh Wisconsin. But the best deals I’ve ever gotten was at a once a year warehouse sale at the Mattel warehouse in Wilmot, WI. It was amazing the items were half off or more and they had beds books outfits bitty baby items previous year goty stuff. No dolls but it is like a well kept secret check the Mattel toy store web site once a month to find out when. I drove 4 hours to get there and it was worth it.
Those are great tips, Jennifer. Thanks!!
Wow, these tips are awesome and I really like the bedding so cute!
The best part of these dolls is how easy it is to make accessories for them. I now have a business making custom wedding gowns, but when I was 13 I learned to sew by making my own American Girl clothes. The sewing is simple, and fast, and teaches basic skills. The pattern companies (Simplicity, Mccalls, Butterick) sell DOZENS of patterns, from trendy modern to historical costume. Simple beds are a good beginners wood project. ana-white.com has a lot of free instructions for building doll furniture. If you can only sew straight uncomplicated seams, you can still make super cute bedding. A lot of craft stores and craft supply companies sell Doll accessories, things like shoes and glasses, for 1/3 the price of American Girl. Kohls also sells Doll & Me type outfits, and with sales/coupons, you can often get them for $30 or less.
I hope that helps someone!!!
Margaret Evelyn Tatum says
You really need to look at some of the posts to get your daugthers doll’s hair refurbished- or spend the money and send her to the doll hospital. It’s truely amazing what can be done for the hair. If you want the doll hospital to straighten the hair they will. However there are lots and I do mean lots of home made solutions listed on pinterest for fixing the hair. Best of luck- (you paid too much for the doll not to be enjoyed!)
We have actually tried some different hair things. But, there may be more out there that could help. The hair is pretty gnarly though. I looked into sending it back to American Girl to get fixed, but the only thing you can do is replace the whole head, and it has to be the same head. The cost wasn’t worth it to me, especially for the same head. I wouldn’t mind getting a curly hair doll again, but I think it would have to be when my girls are older. …but, I’ll keep trying to get it looking good! Thanks for the suggestions.
If you live near an AG store, take your curly haired doll to the salon. At first I thought, “NO WAY am I going to spend $20 for them to comb Kanani’s hair.” Cut to me spending 3 laborious hours combing out her hair with the AG brush. Im certain I pulled out a quarter of her hair. The next time Kanani’s hair was a hot mess, we took her to the salon, and they had it combed out and styled in 20 min. Now we keep it in a braid or other hairstyle that doesn’t tangle it. I also advise, same as you, to go for a straight or short haired doll for younger girls.
Don’t forget the cardboard and ductape! Between YouTube and pintrest, and just a Google search, you can find TONS of ideas on how to make doll furniture, accessories, and clothes from cardboard, ductape, and household items. If your daughter is over the age of 8 she can even make these herself. Some of the videos are even by 8 and 9 year olds. We made an entire gym collection for our dolls for under $20 and a trip to the dollar store. Most of that was the cost of 2 rolls of patterned ductape and a ‘desk basketball’ set that was doll size. McKenna would be proud to work out there.
It is housed in a cardboard box we decorated and left the flaps on. So when it is not in use, everything goes inside the box. Close the flaps, put against the wall.
We also took a card board box. Did a Google search for printables and made one side a school room and the other side a doctor’s office. I found everything from how to make doll pencils out of toothpicks (color them with sharpies). To a printable school book and school pictures (ABC’s, math problems). My doctor office has x-rays I printed out and covered with packaging tape for a real look. We have a homemade cast, syringes, stethoscope. Via McKenna. I think I had more fun making them then my daughter. All for the price of a printer cartridge. Cartridge was $25 but we have about 4 play sets we printed off.
My next project is this weekend is making a couch. Again out of cardboard, some stuffing and fabric. No-sew. Just glue.
Great tip! Thanks, Shelley!
Margaret F says
You say your daughter won’t play with her doll because her “hair is ugly”. What a great opportunity. Shave the doll’s head and and donate her to a children’s cancer ward.
That’s a great idea!!
I had a frizzy haired american girl doll. What I did was washed her hair and did a downy dunk and let it sit for 20 minutes then I cut the hair to shoulder length. Let it dry overnight. Then I trimmed the pieces once it was dry. Now this might sound crazy but it worked. (I watched a 8 year old fix her doll this way on YouTube) lightly spry armorol the kind you use to detail your car. Maybe 5 sprays about 8 inches away from the dolls head. And brush it in. Then the friz is gone!!! It really worked. Then I used small doll curls and curled the dolls hair under and let it sit for 1 day. And now the dolls hair is almost perfect. It was better than paying to have the head replaced because it was going right back into a child’s hands anyway. Good luck 🙂
Wow, that’s neat. So cool that it worked! This doll’s hair that we have is beyond frizzy now, it’s basically matted dreadlocks. But, it’s definitely worth a shot… they are so dang expensive!
after the downy dunk you can use a ceramic flat iron on very very lowest setting and use son of gun spray for car vinyl or you can easy remove her wig an replace it with a straighter one for only 20ish bucks you would be amazed at what this can do for the dolls looks! an magic eraser on vinyl body parts not on face you can then wipe her whole body with that Son of a gun spray I use it in hair an on body it’s in the car section made for vinyl if you replace her wig liquid nails in a tube walmart should have it works great! good luck!!!
Bought AG doll for 6yr old and OG (target) doll for 3yr old sister in may. Both in good shape so far and the 3yr old gives OG doll a rough day of play. Best hair brush i found was small wig brush from sallys salon supplies. Only about $4. Was amazed how much difference it makes in all dolls hair (barbie etc) walmart my life doll clothes really not bad prices good
Hi! I think you can send the doll to the AG doll hospital for new hair!? I.m even betting that with new hair you cold sell on eBay for a lot! Good luck 🙂
I found this website when my nieces gifted down my daughter their ag dolls. We downy soaked both and it worked on one and then re-wigged the other and this site was so awesome for walking me thru all the hair and removal of marker stains. http://www.justmagicdolls.com/articles/article_index.htm
There are sites that carry doll wig shampoo and conditioner. I’ve heard they make a huge difference. If you happen to replace it, water is great too. I had a curly haired doll literally in just a handful of dreadlocks and with water was able to get the hair brushed completely out and recurled. Water is key though from the beginning to keep curls nice.
Try http://www.twinpines.com for wig care.
You could re-wig the doll so she would want to play with it!
Your tips are great. I have to buy my dolls and everything like that such as clothing or furniture with my own money. I buy really cheap doll clothing at walmart form MY LIFE. I think the outfits are super cute and they are $9.50 each!
For knotted, matted, super-tangled…or even just to clean well-kept hair, you can go to any beauty supply store & buy shampoo & conditioner for synthetic hair (Think wigs or extensions.) Also, get a full-size steel pin wig brush…it will cost less than the AG doll brush, but be MUCH easier to use. My daughter has an Our Generation doll & 2 AG dolls, and I’ve washed & styled their hair…and many Barbies, My Little Ponies, etc.
The Springfield Doll clothing becomes an even better bargain when you purchase at Michael’s or Joann’s using their store coupons.
Very true! Great suggestion!
Agreed with the prices of other companies for clothing and accessories ie. Target, craft vendors and many online companies but in my opinion over the years…with AG prices you are paying for QUALITY and the customer service that goes with it.
Your daughter’s curly haired doll might be able to be fixed. I have fixed many of my friends children’s doll’s hair. You wash their hair with warm water and soap (different kinds depending on doll) even just warm water, brush out then you can re curl the hair (while wet) by using twisty ties or pipe cleaners to re roll their hair, let it dry completely usually about 3 days depending on the length and weather. Unroll and voila curly hair as good or better then factory. It lasts just about as long. If you know what the dolls hair looked like before you can roll in the correct direction to get the proper curl. Hope this helps. It worked great with barbie, Fancy Nancy, Springfield dolls, and my American girl doll with straight hair. I also have heard of using downy fabric softener too… I haven’t tried it yet.
Thanks, Bernadette! I actually tried the fabric softener, but wasn’t too impressed. I’ll look into the re-curling. Thanks!
Maddie jo says
Hey you can go to your local target and get some our generation stuff I my self am a 13 year old and I collect dolls so I just wanted to tell you that the our generation things are pretty cool so go try that oh a walmart mite even have something there as well
I may have missed someone else making this suggestion but your truly missing out if you don’t consider Madame Alexander dolls. I find the quality and style of the Madame Alexander dolls to be much better than the American Girl doll. They also start out considerable less expensive.
I actually haven’t looked into Madame Alexander Dolls much. Thanks for the suggestion!
We have a journey girls doll and whenever I go to a toy section of a store, I look for clothes to fit her. They have these things called MyLife dolls at Walmart, and next to them are these cute little outfits you can buy for $8.99 it’s a really good deal, the doll is wearing them right now, and she looks so cute. They also will probably fit AG.
Great, thanks for the suggestions, Cat!