Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The American Girl Party

Recently we celebrated our six year old daughter's birthday American Girl style, and I just had to share some of the fun ideas that I found to fill our time.

When searching for party ideas (at Birthday Party Ideas website as usual) we kept coming up with nothing that interested her or that sounded feasible or interesting, without hiring a person or a place to have the party. Finally, we came on the American Girl Doll party ideas and a few inspirations later we had ourselves a party!

Since most of the American Girl Dolls have historical time periods to fit in, we decided to play games that little girls have played throughout history. Some of these still populate playgrounds today, but some were new to us.

Here are some sites that we used for reference . . .

Parlor games -- These games enjoyed a time of popularity during the Victorian age (roughly 1800-1900), before TV, but when some families began to enjoy some more leisure time.

Games from the 1800s -- Here you can actually purchase some of these long ago games. We didn't buy any from them, but came up with our own Whirligig and Game of Graces from this site.

American Girl -- this didn't give us game ideas, but it showed what time period the girls were from and gave us a mini history lesson to intro the new time period as we moved through the afternoon together.

Ducksters -- If you want to know some of the story behind the story, this site has some interesting stats about where the American Girl dolls came from, which molds they use, etc.

On to the party . . .

We spent most of the party traveling through time. We briefly introduced each of the American Girl dolls in order chronologically. We have a few dolls, a few books, and a few other knickknacks. We used the pictures and some of the bio information in the front of the Rebecca book.

Whirligigs -- buttons on string. I got the buttons on sale for a bout 60 cents each and we tied them on a loop of string and then used pencils to keep from squishing our fingers as they spun. Simple craft and activity to get the girls started and engaged.

Jacks -- Originally called knucklebones, because that's what it was played with, this game has survived the ages. We had two jacks sets and let the girls each take turns trying to pick up as many as they could while bouncing and catching the ball.

Hopscotch -- Another age old game that really only requires a rock and some open dirt or concrete. We have a nice hop scotch rug and beanbag set which was perfect for an indoor game of hopscotch.

Game of Graces -- This has become a family favorite. Each player gets two sticks or dowel rods about 1 1/2 feet long. You also need one hoop of some type 6-12 inches in diameter. The bigger the hoop, the easier the game. Holding the sticks in an "X" shape you pull your hands quickly apart. This causes the hoop to fly off toward your partner who then tries to catch the hoop and send it back your way. Not really an indoor game, but we have a high ceiling and large living room, so it worked well.

Ball of Yarn -- This is a parlor game involving a table and a ball of yarn. All the guests sit around the table and try to blow the yarn around the table. The idea is to protect the spot on your right side while trying to blow it off the table by someone else. They had a lot of fun with this, and fortunately kept the spitting to a minimum (one of my hesitancies in playing this game, but it proved unwarranted).

Hobo signs -- Kit introduced us to these and the kids each took turns choosing one off of the sheet I had printed out and the others would try to guess what it meant.

Throwing your smile -- We ran out of time for this parlor game that simply involved keeping a straight face at the appropriate time. One person must "throw their smile" to another while the rest remain stone faced. The last one able to maintain their somber appearance wins.

We had so much fun, and even learned a lot in the process. We had cupcakes made after many of the American Girl Dolls, as well as one for each of my daughters' faces, and a few "nobody" faces.

I'm trying to talk my older girls into using this theme also, because we just scratched the surface of the games we could have played and they were different than your traditional party games. But, they usually each have their own idea of what they want for their party.


Amy in Peru said...

This is AWESOME! Thanks for all the links. I'm thinking that this would be a perfect theme for my almost 7yo... perhaps next year? Her birthday is in February, so not much time to gear-up for this year (I'm not that good last minute). My goal this year is to get her reading better so that perhaps she could read the books first?! What do you think? Or did you read them to her?
Birthday parties here really lack the creativity and personal flair compared to what I'm used to, so I've kind of petered out when it comes to inviting friends... but I'm been thinking this might be just what we need for inspiration?!

amy in peru

5intow said...


This was an easy party to pull off without too much prep. We used lots of stuff around the house, and of course it was just a few days after Christmas, so it had to be manageable.

My eight year old reads the books on her own, but does still enjoy having them read to her. The six year old I definitely read to her. She is just starting to take off in her reading.

I'm not a huge American Girl fan because the girls are sometimes a little too "real." They aren't as respectful as I would like a role model to be, but they usually come around in the end. They do give some good glimpses into life in different eras though.

Have fun!