Thursday, September 8, 2011

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

I feel like I've taken a huge break from the blogging world and I'm very happy to say that I'm back. Life is slowing down, and I'm getting much more free time to do the things that I love.

A couple weeks ago, Ariel celebrated her 10th birthday. We felt it was a pretty big deal, and wanted to have a huge birthday bash. We're talking; I've been planning and getting ready for it for over 6 months!

She was especially pleased to finally be able to say that she is now a decade old! I can remember that feeling of accomplishment when I was her age. It really was something to say that you made it into the double digits.



If you're not familiar with Kit Kittredge, she is the American Girl from the Great Depression. She also celebrates her 10th birthday, so this seemed to be the perfect choice for Ariel to pick. Last year during her gifted classes, they spent several weeks learning about this time period. She was very fascinated by it, and read all the Kit books.

I found a new love for her too, as I was researching for Ariel's party. I actually checked out every Kit book from the public library and took thorough notes so our party could be very accurate. I wanted to gather as much information as possible, and put it into action.

Kit has a love for writing, and enjoys making her own family newspaper. Each day she would write articles about what went on in the home that day, and printed it special for her father to read when he walked in the front door.

I thought it would be fun to have Ariel's birthday invitation in the form of a newspaper. I tried to copy as much from Kit as I could. I even considered making the same mistakes that Kit's typewriter made, but figured nobody else would even understand. They would probably just figure I was bad at typing.

Birthday Invitation

Something I always enjoy doing is working on a costume for the birthday kid to wear. Since we don't celebrate Halloween, I have to use all other opportunities to dress up my kids. There is so much fun in pretending to be something different.


This project started out to be fun, and ended up frustrating me to no end. I found an old 1940's dress pattern on EBay. I intended to alter it a little to make it just like Kit's feed sack birthday dress. This was much easier said than done. I spent hours and hours with my mother pouring over that pattern. In the 40's the sizes were very different than now, and they didn't explain things as well either. We had to guess and do some trial and error several times. The end result was fabulous I thought, and gave me that nice sense of accomplishment.

You would think after I spent the hours going over Ariel's dress, it would be simple to duplicate it in a doll size. Maybe it would, but I didn't even give it a second thought to try. I was running out of time, and I wanted the doll dress to be a surprise for her. When she came home from school on her party day, the doll was dressed waiting for her. I figured as long as they were made out of the same fabric, and a little similar, it would be great. I was right, she didn't care and it saved me a lot of time.


My favorite part of the party was coming up with a craft for the girls to do. I needed to find something that Kit might have been able to make. I know during the Depression things were limited and they would have to be very crafty to make their toys to play with. I love to be creative, and I couldn't resist when I saw this idea in a Family Fun magazine. In fact, I actually saw the idea first in the magazine and then tried to come up with when I would be able to make it.

I researched egg cartons and found they were invented in 1911, so technically Kit could have made this doll house furniture. In one of the books her family gets some chickens to raise so they can sell the eggs to make a little extra money. Kit and her friend, Stirling, sell them door to door. However, Kit packaged her eggs in half dozen amounts wrapped in newspaper.


We made doll houses with egg carton furniture. I had to purchase 50 boxes and cut them up, hot glue them, paint them, and carpet them, all before the party began. Originally I was going to have the girls make everything themselves, but after a trial run that took me an entire day, I figured I had a lot of prep work ahead of me.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a wonderful mother who is always willing to lend a hand. We spent an entire afternoon building houses for the girls! I thought building houses was difficult and painting them was very time consuming, however I was very wrong. Compared to cutting egg cartons, the houses were a cinch.

I worked for days cutting out furniture. Ariel was allowed to have 10 friends since she was turning 10, and that meant 10 sets of furniture. I believe I had 20 different pieces of furniture, so 200 items total. It was an adventure for sure! I was completely wiped out by the time the party came around.


I never could have done it without the help of my family and friends. I needed 50 egg cartons saved! I am so grateful to everyone for all the help I was given. In fact, I was overwhelmed with egg cartons and touched that I had such good participation collecting them. I asked one question, and my friends came through for me. Thank you all!!!

Our furniture included: Beds!


Chairs! Each girl received 4 chairs for her dining room table, and 1 computer chair


Toilets! I loved designing the bathroom. They were given a toilet and bathtub.


Kitchen sink complete with stove and burners!


A couch! And they got a footstool!


Lamps! Each girl was given two lamps, one for the bedroom and one for the living room.


Ariel chose a tie-dyed blue carpet for everyone's house.

Here's their almost complete set of furniture. The computer and footstool is not pictured.



I know there was no rationing going on during the Depression, but it still would have gone on during Kit's lifetime. She would have been almost 20 during World War II.

I thought it would be fun to give the girls their own ration cards. I had great difficulty deciding what I wanted to ration out for them to help them really understand what it was like. I ended up deciding to ration out candy. I know sugar was a big thing that was rationed, so I thought we would have a candy store, and I would give them some ration stamps.


Each girl was given 18 birthday ration stamps. All of the candy was 4 stamps, and then gum was only 2 stamps. So each girl got 4 pieces of candy and 1 piece of gum by the end of the party. Once the stamps were gone, the candy was no longer available. I told them it must be saved for other people. This was difficult to understand for some, as there was TONS of candy leftover. It appeared to them they could continue to eat and eat.


I also made sure to only have candy that Kit could have eaten in her lifetime. This was so much fun to research for me, and I was a little disappointed that the girls weren't more interested.

I found out so many fun facts about each candy bar. The most interesting to me was the Kit Kat. I thought already it seemed appropriate that we would have Kit Kats since this was a Kit Kittredge party. But even more interesting, the Kit Kat bar came out when Kit was 11 years old, and it was introduced to the public on August 29th, Ariel's birthday.


Candy Bars from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s

So... enough talking about the party. It's party time!!!


The girls were all encouraged to bring their own American girl dolls. Only one of Ariel's friends had a doll. The rest belong to my family. As you all know, I bought Felicity when I was young, and what you may not know, I bought Molly for my sister as a Christmas gift one year. The dolls are very special to me. They are a thing of my past which makes me love them all the more.


I didn't have to do any prep work on this part of the party, and it actually turned out to be Ariel's favorite thing we did. American Girl sells mystery games for a few of the girls, so I found the Kit Kittredge mystery on EBay.

The girls were all assigned different characters and played along as we all solved the mystery. Kit's mother's necklace ends up missing and it's up to Kit and her friends to find out what happened to it, and who took it.

I loved how much the girls got into the game. You can't see it in a photo, but they each took on the different rolls and even gave them accents. It was so much fun! If you're doing a Kit party, I would highly recommend this game!


The game suggested we feed everyone oatmeal cookies, carrot sticks, and cream cheese with jam sandwiches. All of these foods were something that Kit might have eaten.




Ariel did not want to have the cake that Kit had on her birthday, a chocolate roll cake, so I let her choose something else. She requested a watermelon cake that my sister was kind enough to help out and make for me. It was delicious! The cake even looks like a watermelon on the inside, chocolate chip seeds and all.


When the girls all arrived and set their presents down on the table, I tried to slyly insert Ariel's "Kit doll". She immediately found it, and ran excitedly to me yelling, "Mom! There is a box that looks just like the size of an American girl doll."

I tried to talk her out of it, and said, "What friend do you think could afford to buy you a doll??? I mean, come on, they cost over a hundred dollars!" It never worked. She was convinced!


It was so much fun to see her open the doll. It brought back good memories of my little sister opening hers years ago.


We had to get another group picture now that Kit was out of her box and unwrapped.


The girls enjoyed using their ration stamps. The button candy seemed to be the biggest hit of all.


The time finally came... after hours of labor. It was painting time! The girls enjoyed putting their own special touches on each piece of furniture. You could definitely tell by the end of the night who the artists were in the crowd.



Ariel had one friend that I was simply amazed by her creativity. She did a phenomenal job and put such touches on her furniture. I never would have thought to accent things the way she did.


I was a little disappointed that Ariel didn't get into the painting a little more. She probably only stuck around for the first 45 minutes of painting. She quickly gave up and had her own playtime with a few other girls who quit early. The die hards of the group painted for over 2 hours until about 12:30am!

Here's a photo of Ariel's dolls together before getting into bed. Annette is on the right in her party pajamas I sewed for her. Kit is wearing Felicity's nightgown.


Once all the paint was put away, and we all had a last opportunity to shop at the candy store before bed, the girls got cozy in their sleeping bags to watch the movie Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. We thought it was only appropriate to end the night with that movie.


The dolls were tucked in for their own sleepover upstairs. I wonder how late they stayed up??? I think most of the girls lasted until about 4am. After Kit Kittredge was over, they put on Soul Surfer, a special request by one of Ariel's friends.


My mom was kind enough to stay the night with me, and we corralled all the girls together. They awoke to a delicious breakfast cooking on the stove. This was something I read about in one of Kit's mystery books, fried apples with buttermilk biscuits dripping in sorghum molasses. It was a little heavy for me. I don't think I would eat it very often, or even again. Ariel on the other hand, loved it!


Our last activity before the girls went home was our clothing swap. In one of the Kit books, she gives her winter coat to a homeless girl, after she has outgrown it. I thought it would be fun for the girls to bring old clothes of theirs to donate. But first, we made sure to have a clothing swap amongst the girls. Almost all of them went home with at least one item, Ariel chose several. The rest of the clothing was donated to Goodwill.

For fun, we had the girls put on a Fashion show for us grownups. You could tell those who were a little uncomfortable from those who think they're born to be models. My daughter thinks she's in the model category.



During clothing changes, we had a couple of the girls put on candy commercials for us. It was a lot of fun!



Even Zechariah was put into the fashion show. He really did a great job sporting his red plaid skirt.


My last activity we didn't end up having time for. If you remember awhile back we made a shadow puppet theater. I thought it would be fun at nighttime to let the girls put on some American girl skits.

Sometime, Ariel and her brother's will have to use the new shadow puppets! I thought I would include the coloring book pages I made on the computer to use to draw my shadow puppets.

All in all, I think it was a very memorable party. We didn't get much sleep that night, but we had lots of fun to make up for it. I hope it was a perfect day for my daughter. She deserves it! I love her so much!


Happy 10th Birthday, Ariel!


“Pack uP your TroubLes in your old Kit bag and smiLe, Boys, sMile …”

6 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading about Ariel's party. I have five granddaughters and we've had lots of theme parties. Always fun!

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  2. What a wonderful idea. I am sure your daughter was in heaven! I can not believe you created all the adorable furniture with an egg carton! GENIUS!!!!!

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  3. Over here from Tip Junkie-great party. I wanted my daughter to pick an American Girl party (we have several of the dolls), but she went with Barbie. Sigh. Maybe one day. The dollhouse furniture looks like a fun (but exhausting) project!

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  4. Wow! That is amazing. For the last three years we have had historical American Girl parties and this year is Kit's turn. My daughter is turning 11. Would you have any tips or modified patterns to duplicate the dress you made for your daughter to wear? I am trying to make the same dress and I've hit a wall. I am assuming that you keep all of these special dresses you make for your daughter, but if you don't I would buy yours in a second! It is wonderful to see how much effort you put into these parties. It's really wonderful.

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    1. I'm not sure I would even be able to duplicate the pattern again myself. It was such a headache to do the first time. I spent hours and hours trying to figure it out. And I don't know why, but I didn't save any of my extra pattern pieces I cut to alter the dress. I'm really sorry I can't be of any help to you.

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  5. At least I know it can be done! You're an inspiration.

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