Guess who turned four?!!!! My niece, Neve! Back in September. But lucky for me, I can go back to my Instagram story highlights, relive the festivities like they happened yesterday, and then finally write a post about it! (Mazzy and Harlow’s birthday parties coming soon.) For Neve’s birthday, Mazzy and Harlow inducted her into the American Girl Doll Squad at none other than American Girl Place, newly relocated to Rockefeller Center.

The tough part about a party at American Girl Place is that you have to get everyone through the store to get the cafe, which proved nearly impossible. There is so much to look at in the store! And when I say “look at,” I mean “beg your mom to buy.” Pretty much any activity you can think of (skiing, skateboarding, baking, ukulele playing, etc.) there is a doll accessory to accommodate that desire. Mazzy and Harlow wanted EVERYTHING. Harlow was particularly enamored with the American Girl Doll toilet, which I kid you not, is a REAL THING. Even Allie (who was along to help capture video and a big American Girl Doll fan herself) was sneaking pictures of the displays in the store. Imagine having to wrangle your children and realizing your videographer is equally hard to corral into the cafe.

I finally got our crew together and into the party room, only after I told them they could go back to shopping after the party was over.  A birthday party at American Girl Place includes a private room, seats and place settings for everyone’s dolls, dinner, assorted games, birthday cake and conversation starters, which were freaking hilarious. I’ll get to those in a moment.

From the second we walked into the room, it was very obvious where the birthday girl was supposed to sit. Thankfully, Mazzy and Harlow got over their desire to sit in the BIG RED BEDAZZLED THRONE pretty quickly.

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Did I mention the crowns for everyone at the table? Neve had to remove the tiara already on her head to put on her new crown. You know, #princessproblems.

Then, we presented Neve with her first American Girl Doll— the Ashlyn Wellie Wisher. All the girls put their dolls in their booster seats and immediately doubled our party size.

Jack doesn’t have an American Girl Doll and doesn’t want an American Girl doll, so he got a little fox, which he happily put in a booster seat as well. (Allie was definitely a little jealous that she didn’t bring her doll, but handled it like a champ.)

After ordering dinner and snacking on some apps, our hostess brought out the “conversation starter” cards. It all started innocently enough. She read the first question which was, “Would you ever want to live in outer space?” Then she looked around at the kids for their surely adorable answers.

“No, because I don’t want to die,” Mazzy answered, taking the conversation quickly to a dark place.

Thanks Mazzy for reminding us that even at the American Girl Store we’re all headed for death. I don’t think our hostess totally knew what to do with that response, so she moved along to the next question.

“Would you rather become an astronaut or someone who sky dives?”

This got a loud “NEITHER!” from Harlow. According to Harlow, if you’re an astronaut, you just sit around in space for the entire day which is BORING!

Jack was concerned about killer sharks in space. Well that escalated quickly! Or maybe he was scared about killer sharks underwater? I think there may have been some confusion between sky diving and scuba diving, but it’s hard to say. Our poor hostess was just trying to get a little conversation going and two minutes in, we were talking about death and killer space sharks.

Moving along: “What is something you really like about one of your family members?”

This seemed like a safe direction to take things. Just say something nice! She was throwing a softball here. Harlow had other plans though. She wanted to take everyone back to the dark place.

Harlow: “Can I say something I don’t like?”

The hostess never stood a chance. Harlow backtracked and decided that yes, she could probably find something nice to say about the people who raise her and love her most in the world.

“I like my family. We’re pretty.”

Everyone accepted this answer on account of the fact that it didn’t involve death. Harlow did want to clarify that she was only talking about “the girl people” in the family. Sorry Mike, we can’t all be pretty.

“What do you like about your family, Jack?” My sister prompted her firstborn and only son.

Jack: “I like steak.”

Well, okay then! Jack finally conceded that his family is also lovable. Just not as lovable as steak. Mazzy wanted to take this opportunity to point out that she is also lovable. That is true.

My sister tried again with her other child. “Neve, what do you like about Mommy and Daddy and Jack?”

Neve: “Mommy.”

This was not  a multiple choice question, but all bets were off now. Sorry, Uncle Mike! At least she didn’t choose steak.

Things got back on track with the final question.

“Zoo or Museum? Where would you rather spend the entire day?”

The group was divided on their answer, but since nobody was talking about dying in space, running from space sharks, or picking just one family member (or a tenderloin) to love, we’ll call this our first successful conversation starter.

Then dinner was served! The food was good (burgers, pizza and shrimp pasta), but I think the dolls enjoyed it the most.

Jack’s fox was a big fan of fries.

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After dinner, it was “freeze dance” time, with Neve as the judge. Harlow, who was the first out on the dance floor, challenged Jack to a flossing competition. (Don’t tell them, but neither one did it correctly.) Ultimately, it was Uncle Mikey who really got the party started. Now we know where Jack gets his moves!

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After Neve delivered her dance verdict (“nobody wins”), it was time for every kid’s favorite part of a birthday party— the CAKE!

Neve took off her crown and put back on her tiara for the big moment.

We even got a family shot, with everyone smiling and looking at camera. I suspect our success has something to do with Mike being absent for the party. I remember our wedding photographer called him a “blinker” and after years of trying to photograph our family, I now know exactly what he was talking about.

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Look at Jack kissing that lovable piece of steak!

The party ended with Harlow taking all the doll place settings and putting them in her purse, as every good party should. Harlow continues to be the youngest Jewish Grandma I know.

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Happy Birthday, Neve! (Back in September.) I hope you loved your party as much as my kids did!


If you’d like to see the video version of this party (which fully backs up the conversation starter debacle), you can find it on my Instagram story highlights!