My American Girl has turned seven!
Official birthday is September 26th, but we opened ‘Natalie’s Doll House’ on Sunday to celebrate her inner star with 16 of her closest doll-obsessed friends.
This party was born almost a year ago. Haters, be kind. I am a planner and details are what make me happy, so a year is a must! Thankfully I have children who can stick with a theme once it is chosen!
If you are the parent of a little girl, no doubt you have been to the American Girl store, scrolled through their website and rushed to the mailbox when the new catalog arrives. It is hard not to love these dolls and all of the insane little do-dads (that’s a funny word, huh?) that accompany them. I hear a lot of grumbling about AG, but I have chosen to embrace this time in Nat’s life. She plays with her dolls a lot and well, they make her happy. I know it is just a phase and I know they are crazy expensive, but I plan to re-sell a bunch of the ‘goods’ when she moves on! We gave Natalie her first AG doll (a Bitty Baby) when she was three. Thanks to her older friends, Molly & Sydney she was immersed in all things American Girl at a young age. The Bitty Twins came a year later and then her first official AG doll a year after that….in case I lost you:
Bitty Baby at age 3. Noah named this doll Alice, because Natalie’s birthday theme was Alice in Wonderland that year. My boy is CRE-A-TIVE!
Bitty Twins at age 4. Twins were named Jack & Jill….yep, the birthday theme was Mother Goose.
McKenna at age 5.
Saige and Kit joined our family at age 6 and Sunday we surprised Natalie with ice skater Mia who was retired years ago.
Hint: buy your dolls from your neighbors who are cleaning out their daughter’s bedrooms! I scored a used box from a different friend and voila, Natalie was in shock as to how we found Mia because “she is not even in the stores anymore”! I love it when a surprise pans out! One point for Mama.
Sorry for the sidebar….back to the PARTY!
I began saving boxes, bags and tissue paper and stock piling the free star stickers they give out at the store over a year ago. I had a vision of using 7 doll boxes with a picture of Natalie in each one. My original plan was for a picture for each year of her life. I changed my mind at the last minute and used all current pictures. So glad I did. I LOVE how it turned out and even Noah told me that it was very cool. Another point for Mama.
I used a hot glue gun to create my box art. The party guests were hoping the boxes were filled with gifts for them! And the gum ball tubes made the perfect favors. Natalie chews gum ALL.THE.TIME…and the stickers from the store made them ‘official’ American Girl gum balls! Get the gum ball tubes HERE.
A close up of the favor tag…I was pretty impressed with myself for coming up with that saying! Although I had to explain it to Natalie so I am sure it was as equally lost on her guests. Minus one point for Mama. Hopefully a mom to two appreciated it.
As the little dolls arrived they began decorating t-shirts for the doll they brought to the party. I had two tables set up with the t-shirts (cardboard already inside and ready to go) and the pens. Order your doll t shirts HERE. (Her shop link is broken, so type in RoaringKids in the search box from Etsy.)
When the t-shirt was complete we dressed their doll in their new shirt and a tutu and party hat. My super creative mom made the doll tutus and party hats! She rocks….really! Check them out…she is taking orders, email me for her contact info! You know you want to!
In case you are wondering what we did with the clothes the dolls came in, well… I had the tutus and hats (and some AG stickers) in a bag labeled with each girl’s name. Their doll clothes went into their bag and I am happy to report that nothing was left behind. Whew!
It’s not a party without games! We played Doll Bingo and Pass Kit! Jeremy was an excellent Bingo caller and was very patient as the girls found the right doll on their card! I was racking my brain as to what to use as markers for the Bingo cards. At first I thought of something edible, but I didn’t want to ruin the cards (I will use them again, I’m sure of it!). Buttons? Pennies? Beads? They would have all been just fine, but the DETAIL OBSESSED part of me was not content. The Bingo gods spoke to me and I remembered the bucket of doll house miniatures that belonged to my Grandma Dortmund that Natalie loves to play with….perfect! The girls were so into the little items and it made the game much cuter! Buy your custom Bingo cards HERE.
Party snacks! Since kids are always hungry, except for a proper meal, and everyone enjoys some good party eats the snack table is always a priority to me! And I am glad I was prepared because about 15 minutes into the party (starting time of 3:30) one little guest announced that she was ready for a snack! Here’s what we served:
Teddy Grahams (two flavors of course), Pretzel Rods (love how they can be displayed), Bagged Apples (with caramel dip…bonus!), String Cheese and Grapes. Easy peasy! The girls were happy once their plates were full.
Natalie requested Dippin’ Dots, but man those are not cheap! Kroger came through for me with their generic version thank goodness. And, it’s not a party without cake, right?! My friend Angie is a Cake Goddess. Really she is. I send her a picture and she always exceeds my expectations. Order your own awesome cake from her Facebook page, ohmygoshCake. Seriously, look:
And here we are singing to the Birthday Girl…
she actually hates to be the center of attention (or have her picture taken, but that is a blog post for another day), so the yearly, “Gather around Natalie, stare AT her and sing TO her” announcement most likely makes her cringe. She is a good sport though and even managed a smile during her special song. It might be the adrenaline rush of the party or the teeny, tiny reminder that she cannot open her gifts unless she smiles for my pictures!
I am a sucker for iced cookies, anyone else? Once upon a time I made them myself and spent endless hours perfecting my decorating skills. Let’s just say that decorating cookies is HARD! I have decided to leave it to the professionals. My Cookie Diva can be found HERE.
A few other buffet table decorations:
Let’s talk drinks! Natalie loves lemonade and its cheap and easy so I said yes! A couple of years ago it was mini cans of Fanta, so I was super excited about lemonade! I’m a big fan of lids when little ones are involved and actually started using the Mason jars before they were blowing up Pinterest 🙂 I am pretty sure I got the idea from my Grandma Dortmund…she was a thrifty lady! I strongly suggest you buy a case of jars for your future parties. You will save tons of money in the long run! Add some fancy lids and colored straws and sit back and pat yourself on the back! I added stick-on chalkboard labels for this party. A few girls begged me to take their glass home. Sorry sisters!
A few years back my very creative friend, Sarah from Pennsylvania celebrated her American Girl with a star-studded affair. Sarah likes to throw over the top themed parties too (one of the many reasons we are friends!). This particular party included a life-size doll box for the girls. I stole her idea and Jeremy and I set out to create a box for Natalie. It is adorable if I do say so myself….
Wanna make one for the doll in your life? Head to U-haul and buy a Sport Utility Box. Next, stop by the hardware store and buy a couple cans of red spray paint, a small jar of white paint, a few rolls of white electrical tape and you have the fix-ins for a one-of-a-kind doll box! We measured Natalie for the face hole and Jeremy’s circle cutting skills did not disappoint. Thank goodness he listened in math class and was able to MacGyver some sort of contraption with string, a thumbtack and an Exacto knife and I was presented with a perfect circle. I love a man who is not afraid to craft! I used a cross stitch hoop (I grew up with a sewing mama, so these were on my radar) to make the perfect circle around the face hole. I had nightmares about stenciling the stars on the sides of the box, but JoAnn Fabrics saved me the day before the party. Moment of poor planning…I finished the box about 20 minutes before the party started! YIKES!! Anyway, I bought adhesive paper in pink and white, traced some stars and slapped them on the box! Since I am a tech idiot and could not figure out how to download the American Girl font to my computer I did the next logical thing and cut the logo from one of their bags and taped it to the box! We took a picture of each party guest in the box and will include a copy in their thank you note. The girls loved the box! One friend asked if she could borrow all my ‘stuff’ for her party. This same guest told me that I had really “upped my game” this year! Little girls crack.me.up!
I always take a group party picture. My kids LOVE looking at them years later. It’s fun to remember who celebrated with them. This year we had to include the dolls…and silly faces!
We ended the evening with dinner from Donato’s, a few cold beverages for mama and daddy and lots of fun presents to open! My American Girl went to bed happy and loved. She fell asleep with her arms around my neck after thanking me for her ‘best birthday ever’!