American Girl: Samantha’s Victorian Christmas Tea Party

I am very excited too announce that I am starting an American Girl series at my library. I have done an American Girl Program at my previous library, so this program is not unknown territory for me. However, my new library is starting an American Girl Doll circulating collection. We are only missing Addy, as she was backordered when we purchased all the dolls. We are hoping to add her with the new year.

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I started prepping for this program back in September. We officially announced the program with an American Doll display. Staff members generously loaned us their dolls and accessories to jazz up the cases.

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I also placed a sign in the case advertising the program.

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My age limit for this program is Kindergarten through 5th grade. I figure that most children in Kindergarten have some experience with sitting nicely. I also encouraged everyone to register. A child did not have to have an American Girl doll to come.

I originally began with 25 spots, but I quickly expanded to 38 when we hit max registration by September. I do allow, even encourage, parents and guardians to attend with their children. I see this program as a bonding opportunity.

The Big Day: Saturday, December 20

Food

I was very fortunate that my coworker and I were frugal with our budget this year. This allowed me to purchase bakery cookies instead of store-bought cookies. I would recommend that you talk with your baker and ask how large the cookies will be. I planned for about 5 cookies per person not realizing that the cookies were HUGE. Library staff enjoyed several platters after the program.

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Drinks

Since our library does not own real tea cups, yet, I settled for Chinet Crystal Plastic Cups. It adds a tiny bit more fanciness to the event instead of red solo cups. However, I was not comfortable with serving hot beverages in plastic cups. I opted for:

  • Country Time Pink Lemonade
  • Arizona Half & Half
  • Arizona Sweet Tea
  • Decaf Coffee (we had coffee cups)

To compensate for the lack of real hot tea, I made little party favor bags for all my guests. I placed one celestial peppermint tea bag and a candy cane into a party bag.

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Table Settings

I went with blue and silver table cloths alternating every other table. I had a volunteer die-cut me three big snowflakes for each table and four tiny blue snowflakes to surround the big snowflakes. I then sprinkled shimmery confetti on top of the snowflakes to add a glittery element.

For each place setting I had a plate, cup, napkin, goody bag and name card. I only did name cards for the girls, as I did not have all the adult names.

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Background Music

I love to play music in the background of my American Girl events. I feel that people start feeling more relaxed and enjoy the event even more. I was fortunate enough to locate the cd, The American Girls Christmas–Music of Christmas Past.

Crafts

I chose three crafts for this event. The first one was calling cards. I explained to the crowd how calling cards were used during Samantha’s time. I then had everyone make their own calling card. I gave about 10 minutes for this craft. After everyone was done I walked around and collected the cards on a platter.

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The second craft was silhouettes. I set this station up in the hallway to keep the flow moving. We started this craft while everyone was eating.

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I strongly recommend that you have larger pieces of black paper to do this craft. This allows for the kids to do the whole head instead of just their faces. I have done larger pieces of paper before. Regardless, both adults and kids had fun with this one.

Our final craft was making our own fans. You can find this craft in Samantha’s Craft Book: A Peek at Crafts from the Past with Projects You Can Make Today.

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The fans can be a headache the first time you make them. Here are tidbits to make them go easier:

  • Buy wrapping paper with grid-lines. This makes the folding ten times easier. Target’s wrapping paper normally has grid-lines.
  • Four grid boxes high and the whole width of the wrapping makes the perfect fan. It’s not too long or too short.
  • Use glue when attaching the paper to the tongue depressors and provide rubber bands to keep the paper down.

The Final Surprise

We gave away a Samantha! I was SUPER excited for this part. I crossed every single toe and finger that the child who won did not have a doll. My wish was granted! The girl who won did not have an American Girl Doll and she was very gracious with her winning. Her mom might have been more shocked about the doll than the girl.

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Overall Thoughts

This program went really really well. I had seven volunteers to help me with everything. I really could not have done without them. They made the program run smoothly. When the guests were arriving, I would have my volunteers escort them to their assigned tables and take their coats. After everyone was comfortable, my volunteers had specific tables where they would refill drinks, clean away trash, and bring out craft materials.

Overall, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I actually had several parents and little girls who came up and thanked me for the program. I am glad to report that my registration for my January-March programs are already starting to fill up!

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