She's only 5 and doesn't understand that the doll is expensive. So I took a deep breath and started my research as any Broke Single Mom worth her salt would do. :)
I came across a few articles and posts listing less expensive American Girl alternatives. Some are out of date and others, while still available are at higher price points now since most of these articles were written for christmases past. I decided to write my own to give parents and grand parents a look at what other options are available to them if $105 for a doll is simply out of reach.
Before I go on, I want to state clearly that this post IS NOT about the quality of the different dolls. There were some not so nice comments left on some of the articles I read which basically boiled down to people who are American Girl devotees trying to make parents that just can not afford those dolls, feel as if they should be ashamed for looking at more pocket friendly choices. Though AG dolls may in fact be made of a higher quality, that doesn't mean that if a family is barely getting the light bill paid and food on the table that $105 plus tax will suddenly appear to buy said doll.
I will list them starting with the most expensive down through the least expensive as I have found them today December 3, 2012. I almost didn't add the very last entry because it looks a bit like the plastic dolls of my own youth :) ahh memories, however in this economy I know that even $30-$50 can be enough to stretch a family thin, especially if you have more than one child. These are all 18 inch dolls just like the American Girl Dolls.
Almost all come in different ethnicities and hair/eye color. And most clothes are interchangable, I mention this especially for the Fibre Craft Doll that comes in the plainest outfit. You can find outfits on sale or even on craigslist starting at $5.
Best of luck to you all and I hope you and all of your little ones have a fabulous Christmas and remember to keep the CHRIST in Christmas :)
Click on Dolls photo to go to that specific website.
American Girl - $105
Madame Alexander - Favorite Friends $49.95 - I found one for my grandbaby on Amazon for $38
Gali Girls - Jewish Dolls - $20, $30 and $45 (look under Gali Girls and Historical Gali Girls)
Toys R Us - Journey Dolls - $32.99
Walmart - My Life Dolls - $27.97
Kmart - What A Doll - $24.99 - For some reason if you visit in store as I did today they are $19.53 - Don't know how long this will last but that is a nice savings when you consider you will also save on shipping charges. Picked one up for my neice for Christmas.
Target - Our Generation Dolls - $22.99
Kohl's - Dollie & Me - $22.99 on sale (reg 49.99)
Joann Fabrics - Fibrecraft Springfield - $14.24 on sale (Reg $18.99)
You can also try ebay and Craigslist for gently used dolls. Perhaps you will have better luck, when I searched I found a lot of "retired" dolls going for double or triple the $105 a new American Girl Doll costs. But you may want to start there if your daughter is older and more name brand aware.