It is official – my baby girl Kinley had her 8th birthday party! Being my only girl, I go all out for my princess, so this year we surprised her with an American Girl birthday party. And she loved it! We visited the American Girl store in Chicago, IL which is about 3.5 hours away. This American Girl store was the first one built, and is also the biggest. We opted to have a personal shopper (Tracy) show us around the store and she was so knowledgeable. Kinley and I were intrigued to learn more about each of the dolls’ history and how they came to be. One of our favorites was Melody. She loves to sing and was a singer on Mo-town, how cute!
Chicago is beautiful, by the way. If you have not gone before, please add it to your list of “must visit places”. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled program – her party was a real-life dream. The American Girl store really knows how to throw a party! We literally just showed up and it was all set up to celebrate her. I love that for her! And for me, lol. I’m all about making the party easy and fun for everyone.
Why We Chose the American Girl Doll Theme
When I turned eight, my mom surprised me with an American Girl doll. It was such a special moment and I loved my Kirsten so much. Her and I went everywhere together, and I still remember reading her books to learn more about her life and family. You couldn’t tell me she wasn’t my best friend, lol. So I thought it would be a fun way to begin a tradition with Kinley.
She loves baby dolls. She’s always changing their clothes, having tea parties or going on adventures with them so I knew American Girl Dolls would be the perfect addition to her collection. Also, to mention, this year the American Girl brand is celebrating their 35th anniversary! How cool is that?! For 35 years American Girl has been bringing out the joy of girlhood through adventurous stories and imaginative play, giving girls the chance to discover who they are — and who they’re meant to be. Like my mom, I want to assure that Kinley knows she can find inspiration to be her best, to grow a strong mind and spirit, to laugh while she learns to be resilient, confident, and kind. Most of all, to open her eyes to a bigger world so she can create a brighter future for us all.
The American Girl birthday party theme was one of luxury for an 8-year-old, something else I want her to get used to. Knowing what she deserves and how she is meant to be treated. To dress the part, Kinley wore a pink tulle and sequined princess dress. Surrounded by friends and family, it was set up very similar to a tea party. Each guest chair had a doll highchair next to it for those who brought their very own American Girl doll to join (and so no one felt left out if they didn’t have their own doll, the American Girl store also had dolls to borrow for the party, so sweet right?).
My 8 Year Old’s Ultimate American Girl Birthday Party Experience
Now, we had her party at the cafe. There is an option to have birthday parties in the salon (the dolls and girls can get a makeover, and hands and feet painted, how cute is that!) We chose the cafe due to the number of guests we had. I am sure the salon could have accommodated our party (we had 25 guest) but with smaller children I felt having the party in one contained room was just easier.
The décor of the room was gorgeous. As mentioned, it was set up like a tea party. At the center of the room was a big table with the cutest pink chairs. And the party girl had her own very special princess chair at the head. There were balloons, the ceiling was decorated with ribbons, pretty colors, and a throne for the birthday girl! They do allow you to bring more décor and supplies if you’d like, but what more would you need? Seriously, the cafe decor was more than enough. We opted for a virtual invite this year, however, I do think purchasing physical invitations would be a nice touch. I pulled all of this together in a matter of two weeks, so texting everyone was easier, lol!
What activities do the party guests get to enjoy?
This is something I was a little nervous about. From the site it wasn’t completely clear to me what exactly the kids would be doing. And Lord knows I did not want 20 kids to just be sitting around waiting on their food to arrive with no fun games / something to do. But a quick call to the store cleared that right up. I was offered a few activities to choose from, such as a craft Unicorn project, but ultimately I picked cupcake decorating since Kinley is all into Nerdy Nummies (its a Youtube channel ran by Rosanna Pasino who bakes the cutest cakes and cupcakes step by step).
“ Next, let’s get into this cake because girl, WOAH. “
The cake was so good, okay?! I feel no guilt or shame that I had more than one slice lol. The presentation was *chefs kiss* – The servers came into the room singing “happy birthday” to Kinley with a cake. Next more servers came in to present everyone with a slice of their own cake. It was precut and each plate already had ice cream! Now you know cutting the cake can be the worst, so I was presently surprised by this.
The birthday cake was three-layers with vanilla cake on top, icing in the middle and chocolate brownie cake as the bottom tier. If you’re thinking about throwing your daughter an American Girl birthday party, the cake should be the main reason lol, oh and the joy of your baby girl comes in at a close second. My favorite thing about having a party at the American Girl store is that they allowed Kinley to come dressed as a twin to her doll. Since Kinley did not yet have a doll, she did not take advantage of the dress-a-like theme.
Get a doll that’s just as unique as your child!
At the end, we went to purchase an American Girl doll for the birthday girl. This is not a requirement, but as mentioned before, I did want to give Kinley her very own doll. In the store there are so many dolls to choose from. Which can honestly get a little overwhelming. Having Tracey to guide us was a godsend. She simply asked Kinley a few questions and then showed her all the dolls she thought she’d like. I would have loved for her to get one of the historic dolls (just like I had). But the doll Kinley picked out and named Bubblegum is adorable. If you go on the website and find “Truly Me, #88” that is the doll Kinley chose. Her hair is pink, blue and purple, just like your favorite bubblegum.
As you may know, American Girl creates collections of dolls with meaning such as historical characters, wellie wishers, and bitty babies; the Truly Me collection is all about cultivating creativity from head to toe. Which matches Kinley’s personality perfectly. She has always been one to do things her own way, just like the Truly Me dolls.
How Much Does an American Girl Birthday Party Cost?
Surprisingly enough the price point for this experience is reasonable. Parties at the cafe last 60 minutes. For the birthday party, you can choose either the Café or the Salon. As I mentioned earlier we opted for the Cafe. The room holds up to 20 people. The cost per child is $38 and for adults $28. For everything included, I’d do it again! We received a delicious meal, signature cake and ice cream, goody bags, doll tiaras, and a special gift for the birthday girl. To think, all I had to do was send an email.
You may not live close to one of the American Girl stores (I know for us, driving to Chicago was longer than we originally planned) but do not fret. The American Girl website offers the cutest decor items to have a very special birthday at home! And of course Pinterest has some of the best decor and activity ideas.
But if you do live close and are trying to decide if an American Girl party is worth it, this is your sign. Do it! The look on Kinley’s face when she realized where we were going to celebrate was priceless. It was an unforgettable moment for her. I am very happy to be beginning a new tradition in our family that hopefully she chooses to continue someday. Until then, I’ll be thinking about how to top Kinley’s 8th birthday party next year. She says thank you to all her virtual Aunties and Uncles out there who sent well wishes, you are all so appreciated!