American Girl Dolls are always a popular items on little girls’ Christmas wish lists. However, they can be outrageously expensive! With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can provide these “dream gifts” without breaking the bank.
American Girl Dolls
Let’s start at the beginning. First, you need a doll. The American Girl dolls themselves run about $110 each and include the signature outfit and a book. Before making this purchase, there are some things I would consider:
- What is the age of the child you are buying the doll for?
- What is the responsibility level of the child?
- How much do they really want this doll?
The recommended age is 8+. However, many younger girls love those dolls. I think it’s important to consider whether or not the little girl you are shopping for actually really cares about the actual brand, doll, or character. Will she take care of the doll or will it get thrown under a bed after all of its hair is cut off? If you’re unsure, there are alternative 18-inch dolls available. While they aren’t the quality and characters of the official dolls, they are a fraction of the price. You may want to consider one of those before “graduating” to an actual American Girl doll.
Frugal American Girl Doll Alternatives
- Target’s line of Our Generation Dolls are $22.99. They can be purchased online or in Target stores. You will also be able to find specials and packages closer to the holiday season.
- Walmart’s like of My Life Dolls are $27.97. Those too are available in stores and online.
- The Toys-R-Us line of Journey Girl dolls are $32.99 and available in stores and online.
- Madame Alexander dolls give you more of a “collector” look while still costing much less. You can find those dolls starting at $54.95
Each of these brands offer many different styles and looks of dolls so that you can find one that suits your little girl best.
American Girl Doll Play Sets and Accessories
This is where the real price negotiations take place. Most doll vendors and toy stores offer clothing and accessories to fit 18-inch dolls. If there is a specific set that catches your eye on the American Girl website, do some research! Similar play sets can most likely be found much less at Target, Walmart, and Toys-R-Us.
Amazon also has a pretty large selection of clothing, accessories, and doll furniture designed to fit 18-inch dolls. If you do a price comparison, you could save up to 50-75% less than similar items found at the American Girl website.
There are large displays of clothing that fit American Girl dolls at Michael’s craft stores. Michael’s frequently has coupons available for 40% off one regular-priced item. Sign up for their email list and you can get coupons sent to your inbox or download their smartphone app. Some moms even have their own Etsy.com shops for their handmade American Girl Doll clothing and accessories.
Zulily also sometimes features deals on Dollie & Me and Ann Loren matching outfits for 18-inch dolls and girls. Sign up for their emails and you will know when the next sale will be. Kohls.com is another great place to look for Dollie & Me.
That isn’t to say you should completely count out the “real” American Girl items as being too expensive. In fact, you can find some great deals on matching girl/doll clothing, accessories, furniture sets, craft sets, and more. You can actually save up to 70% in their online sale department. It can be hit or miss; so it’s best to check frequently. Jill’s Steals and Deals on the NBC Today Show will occasionally will offer a limited-time only coupon code for American Girl doll packages as well – but those deals only come around a few times a year.
American Girl Doll “Extras”
Girls who love the American Girl doll brand can also find really great deals on books, puzzles, games, crafts, and more at many stores that are easy to find in your local area.
Costco and Sam’s Club carry books, craft kits, and mini-dolls as well. Check out the table full of books and you will most likely see some. They change product offerings frequently, so keep checking back for new items.
Target carries American Girl books, movies, and more.
Also, be sure to check the clearance shelves at any stores you happen to be in that carry American Girl items. I have seen American Girl books on clearance in the past.
DIY American Girl Doll Clothing and Accessories
Making your own American Girl items is also an option. Sometimes you don’t even have to be super-crafty or an expert sewer. Sometimes all you need is cardboard, markers, scissors and a glue gun. Check out all our other tips for Homemade Clothes, Furniture and American Girl Doll Accessories.
Also, check out this easy American Girl Hopscotch game. Little girls can easily make this themselves!
American Girl Doll FYI…
If you happen to purchase an American Girl doll and there is some damage done, don’t worry. There is a solution: American Girl has a Doll Hospital. For $28 + $7.95 shipping, they will brush the hair and clean the skin of the doll. They will also send her home in a hospital gown. There are also other options in which hair, limbs, and body parts can be replaced. This is a great alternative to buying a replacement doll. Or, you can try our DIY to fix tangled doll hair.
Green Coinstar kiosks can be found at grocery stores everywhere. They usually charge a fee for cashing in coins. However, they wave the fees if you trade in your coins for a select e-certificate. Included in the options are Amazon and Toys-R-Us. Plus, Coinstar sometimes runs promotions where you can get a FREE $10 voucher when you cash in $50 worth of coins for an e-certificate. It’s basically getting a $10 gift certificate for FREE! Who knew that you could cash in your coins and purchase doll clothing and accessories for your 18-inch dolls? Sign up for their emails so you don’t miss a promotion.
The whole idea is to make your favorite little girls happy. They aren’t going to care how or where you find their American Girl dolls, they are just going to love them. That’s the important thing to remember.