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American Girl dolls are all the rage. The American Girl Doll franchise takes advantage of this fact. There are knockoff dolls available at JoAnn’s so little girls can feel special for a much cheaper price. Gwen owns two of these dolls.

They come with a short backstory printed on the back of the box. Some American Girl dolls have several paperback books worth of backstory! JoAnn’s offers cute clothes, shoes, and accessories at an affordable price. Around Christmas time you can sometimes find other things for your dolls like beds or even a vanity.

The nice part is the dolls, JoAnn’s or American Girl, are 18″ dolls. Apparently someone was thinking ahead and decided that all 18″ dolls would be made with the same dimensions so the clothes are interchangeable. Buy your clothes from Target if you want. Target also sells similar historical backstoried dolls with clothes, pets, and anything else American Girl sells.

Well, almost anything. American Girl has literally thought of everything. There are select locations throughout the country where you can book a tea party with your doll, or a spa day. You can have your dolls ears professionally pierced to the tune of $16. My mom pierced my dolls ears with hat pins. Barbie got straight pins after they were shortened with wire cutters.

You can take your American Girl doll in to have her nails done. There is a doll hospital to fix any issues from something broken to tangled hair. True story! They sell bald dolls for girls who have lost their own hair to cancer treatments or Alopecia. They sell hearing aids, medical alert bracelets (and stickers for food allergies – every type of food is included along with a cloud for air allergies!), wheel chairs, you name it they have it for sell. The store can be a bit overwhelming with all the possibilities. I wanted to be annoyed by all the special needs you can assign a doll. I said something like, “I bet they don’t have diabetic dolls though.” Guess what? They sell doll insulin pumps! The mind boggles at the American Girl Doll industry.

Nothing is cheap either. The good news is nothing is cheaply made. I heard that an American Girl doll is an investment for sure. Each doll costs around $100. I know! I’ll wait for you to pick your jaw off the floor. But I heard that it’s worth it.

The doll hair alone is worth the cost. Gwen’s knockoff dolls have been sporting frizzy unbrushable hair since the beginning. I thought maybe because she was too young to properly care for their hair. After the second doll’s hair suddenly gave up on the silky brushable dream, I was frustrated. And people kept raving over American Girl Doll hair. Maybe it was worth the investment.

I have weighed the pros and cons over this major life changing decision for about a year now. In the end, Heath and I decided maybe Gwen could put some skin in the deal. We got her a $50 gift card so she could save her allowance and do extra chores to earn the rest of the money for a doll. She was pretty excited to open that present.

Santa full on drank the punch.

He got her a doll. He chose one of the Truly Me dolls. It was really fun seeing how excited Gwen was to get a doll that looks just like her – brown wavy hair, hazel eyes, and freckles. He also stuffed her stocking with American Girl Doll hair accessories. The underwear he got for Gwen included a pair of 18″ doll panties complete with the Fruit of the Loom logo and everything! Gwen was dying she was so excited.

A picture that will forever remain in my heart, since no camera captured this moment, was of Gwen and her doll. Gwen was still in her silky hot pink nightgown. Her hair was a mass of waves flowing over her shoulders and down her back. Her doll was standing next to her as she sat in a chair with the goofiest deliriously happy smile on her face. Sometimes Santa knows best.

Gwen is convinced he got her the doll because he heard us talking about the hair. I am excited about the hair because this is a great opportunity for Gwen to practice different hairstyles. We have been arguing a lot lately about Gwen doing her own hair. Truth be told, my mom did my hair for me until I was 11 or 12 years old. She did fancy braids or put it up in curlers so my poker straight fine hair would be completely transformed.

I have compromised with Gwen. Sort of. I let her do her own hair on Saturdays. She’s not that good at it! She doesn’t even brush it well. When she’s done washing her hair she will insist on combing it. But she refuses to listen to my advice. Long hair has to be combed starting at the bottom. Brushing is the same way when it’s dry. She gets too enthusiastic and will spray water on her hair before brushing it. I have told her time and time again that I only spray it with water when I’m ready to style it. The water keeps the flyaways down. She thinks the water helps get the tangles out. It doesn’t. It makes any tangles worse.

My hat is off to Santa. He found a way for Gwen to learn valuable life lessons, like taking care of her own hair. People think I’m some sort of hair genius. I’m not. I grew up with lots and lots of dolls and a mom who insisted I always look my best. My mom taught me how to braid my dolls’ hair. Eventually I was able to visualize the stranding as I braided my own hair. Having a patient daughter has been a lot of fun. I watch YouTube videos and practice on my live model.

Now Gwen can learn too. Maybe by next school year I will be able to relinquish a little more control. If she could create a ponytail that didn’t come out five minutes later I would be less anxious about her hairstyling! She will learn.

The gift card has been a great learning tool as well. Gwen spent over an hour pricing out different scenarios of things to buy at the American Girl Doll store. It was a good math lesson as well as a chance for her to really decide where she wanted her money to go. Something she always thought was a complete must have was a dog. She decided it wasn’t worth the price when she has a stuffed dog that works perfectly with her new doll she named McKenzie. Economic lessons aren’t a bad side effect of Santa’s punch drinking either. Thank you Santa. Gwen considers this the best Christmas ever!