American Girl Doll the “Price” of Admission for a Birthday Party? FAIL!

This is Rebecca, a $105 American Girl doll.

This’ll be short, because it’s a short story that’s left me, on the how-do-I-feel spectrum, adrift between puzzled and spitting mad, and I’m interested in opinions.

The other night, at our friends’ house for pizza, my friend, Sally, mentioned that her daughter, Phoebe, who is five, was just invited to one of her pals’ birthday parties. Because this little girl has an August birthday, I guess it’s been an issue — people out of town, parties hard to plan — and the girl apparently really wanted Phoebe to be there. So the girl’s mother texted Sally to let her know what the date would be, in advance of sending invitations. Sally checked her calendar and, noting that Phoebe was actually scheduled for an overnight at her grandmother’s, shifted things around and texted back that she would leave the party day free and clear.

And then the invitation arrives: The party will be held at one of those birthday-party places that have popped up in our area, where a gaggle of girls get manis and makeovers and come home sparkly and dolled up (the equivalent for little boys’ parties, I’ve found, is glow in the dark mini-golf, zombies optional where the boys come home with those rubber fingers with fake blood, or vampire teeth).

The kicker, though, was that the invitees are asked to Bring Your American Girl Doll!

Puzzled? Mad? Kind of both, and my friend feels the same, plus annoyed and betrayed and in a tough spot with Phoebe, who has many, many dolls, but not an American Girl doll.

You know the kind: They are expensive, and compel you to buy extras and tempt you go to the store (if you have on near you) for brunch and hair styling with your dolls.

I have nothing against American Girl dolls in principle. They each have a back-story and an accompanying book. I haven’t examined one closely in a while, but I was under the impression they’re well-made. Kind of keepsake-worthy. The kind of doll,had I had one when I was a girl, my grandmother might have whipped up some outfits for out of her fabric scraps (I had thebest dressed Barbies, ever. Mine had a gold lame gown and a mini-skirt and peasant blouse, plus a wedding gown and other assorted outfits that my friends’ dolls could only envy).

The point is not that I would have had one doll to treasure, while many of today’s American Girl devotees have several, amounting to a pretty hefty investment). The point is not even that it’s gotten to a (to me) ridiculous point where you have to reserve the expensive American Girl brunch at the store months in advance, and take out a small loan to pay for it.

The point is that now Phoebe has no AG doll to bring to the party. The point is Sally hasn’t felt compelled to buy her one (and has gone to lengths to stash unsolicited AG catalogs in the recycling before Phoebe can see them). The point is that the mother of the birthday girl checked that the day was free for Phoebe but didn’t mention the doll factor. The point is that had the invite arrived without the pre-text-invite, Sally could have said, “Oh, look — turns out you can’t go to so and so’s party after all, you’ll be at Grandma’s,” and problem solved.

So. What does she do now? What’s your take — party? No party? Send her with a different doll? Confront the other mother? Buy an AG doll and start that ball rolling?