Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review of Dollhouses and Dollhouse Accessories

My Cousin Edna Surprised Me With a Dollhouse for Christmas

My Cousin Edna could think up the best surprises for me. One of them was my dollhouse. I only had vague ideas about what I might want but she always knew what would make my eyes sparkle more than I did myself. 



Review of Dollhouses and Dollhouse Accessories
My Family and My Dollhouse
Photo Is from Family Collection

Both my grandmothers died when I was a child. One I'd never known except for a total of about ten days. She lived in Oklahoma, and my parents had only taken me to visit my father's parents once. My mother's mother was closer and I have some early memories of doing things at her house, but she died when I was seven. It was Cousin Edna, my father's mother's first cousin, who filled in for my grandparents. The magic she worked in my life made her seem more like my fairy godmother.

My dad had promised his mother that he would act as a son to Edna, who had never married. She lived about thirty miles from us, and we visited her every Sunday afternoon unless we had invited her to our house. We also visited her on Christmas and Easter. After Santa (or the Easter Bunny) had visited me at home, we would then go to dinner at Cousin Edna's to see what he had left at her house. He really outdid himself there.

It was on my fourth Christmas that I discovered Santa had left me a dollhouse under her tree. Cousin Edna must have realized I would need something quiet to do since I was still convalescing from scarlet fever. There were no antibiotics back then and I had to limit my activity to get completely back to good health. That dollhouse was just the right medicine. I loved dolls and I had a vivid imagination. You  can see me with my dollhouse that morning with my parents in the top photo. 

Back then, we did not have television. That meant the media didn't tell us what we needed to make us happy. To make a Christmas list, one actually had to look through a paper catalog, magazine, or news ad or visit an actual store. I never would have thought to ask for a dollhouse. I'm not sure I even knew they existed before I found mine under the tree. But it was love at first site.

So often today, children only know to ask for what their friends are talking about as the “coolest” toy or what they see advertised on television or the internet. Sometimes they will even tell you they want something because the other children they know are talking about it – not because they really want it. Some children, like me, can be even happier with something that a loving parent or grandparent who knows them well, picks out to match their interests. Perhaps there's a special little girl in your life who wants a dollhouse or princess castle and just won't know it until you give her one. Or maybe there's even a boy who would like to be lord of his own castle or the father of the house. 

Everyone in my family knew how much I liked to play with my dolls. Cousin Edna usually gave me a new one every Christmas. It's no wonder Cousin Edna thought I might be delighted with a dollhouse, and she was right. I was.


Like Any Other House, a Dollhouse Needs Furniture


Review of Dollhouses and Dollhouse Accessories
Interior of My Dollhouse, from Family Photo Collection
Cousin Edna saw that my dollhouse was fully equipped so that I could start playing with it immediately. It came with its own baby doll and a furnished nursery. It also had a finished kitchen, dining room, and living room, complete with a grand piano downstairs. The bedroom, bathroom, and nursery were upstairs. I'm guessing Cousin Edna had a lot of fun setting this up. You can imagine all the fun I had playing with it.

Today one can buy even prettier dollhouses. You can buy almost any style at Amazon. After reading through endless reviews,  I have recommend the dollhouses below for young children. The Fisher-Price Loving Family Dreamhouse comes with its own family -- male, female, school-age girl, and baby. It seems to be the easiest dollhouse to assemble and requires a Philips screwdriver and three AA batteries. Reviews by users state it took them ten - fifteen minutes to get the job done.

This dollhouse has a flushing toilet, doorbell, and other sound effects, and has lights that light. Very little furniture comes with the house, just enough to start playing. You may want to purchase more. There is no kitchen, but there is a room for which you can purchase kitchen appliances. Although this model has a Caucasian family, you can also get it with an African-American family. Read the complete reviews on Amazon and watch the videos, including that by a purchaser, for a wealth of information and answers to commonly asked questions.

The KidKraft dollhouses accommodate dolls up to the size of Barbies, but do not come with their own dolls. They do, however, come with more furniture than the Fisher-Price Loving Family Dreamhouse. It is a large dollhouse and some models have rooms completely open to the outside to make the pieces easier to play with from outside. The larger size makes this ideal for more than one child to play with at a time. Read the complete descriptions and watch the video and other reviews when you click through to discover the unique features of each dollhouse. The Kidcraft dollhouses do take more assembly time -- hours, not minutes, and some suggest a helper would be useful. If I were assembling this, I would not wait until Christmas Eve or whatever day you want to give this to a child before beginning to assemble. I always expect things to take longer than stated. Murphy's Law always seems to apply when I do something with my hands. According to the reviews, the work is worth it because the children love these dollhouses.



Many dollhouse styles are available -- even a castle  or two. There are also more Victorian, dolls of different ethnic origins, royal families, medieval figures, and princess dolls -- any kind of doll your child needs for imaginative play. If a dollhouse has a garage, you can be sure there will be a car you can add on to go inside of it, and maybe even a roadtrip set to add on.

I have included some fold and go wooden dollhouses below. These are more portable when entertainment is needed away from home, or even in a different room. These dollhouses also may be more appealing to boys, especially the castle with its medieval figures and horses. Children can be kings, queens, knights, squires, etc. The regular Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Wooden Castle comes with six play  figures. The Medieval Castle doesn't have dolls included. Reviewers were very happy with the Schleich Knights, Dragons and other action figures they purchased separately. Other reviewers thought the cheaper set of ten Safari Ltd knights and dragons that have a carrying tube were just right. I have also suggested the Melissa and Doug Princess Castle Accessory Set for the castles.

When you click through to a product page, you will see several suggested accessories such as additional furniture, dolls, cars, pets with their own housing, etc. Use your own creativity to put just the right package together to give your child years of imaginative play. The possibilities are endless. Be sure to check age recommendations if you are buying for a young child. Some items in the suggested related products may be for older hobbyists.



I was still an only child back in the 1940's, and I depended upon my imagination and books for amusement. I could play out endless scenarios with my new doll in its dollhouse. Television was not even being talked about yet, and it would be years before the first one appeared in our neighborhood. Children read or played with toys. My favorite toys were dolls, and that included the one that came with my dollhouse. It was many years before I stopped playing with dolls and my dollhouse, but I kept it to pass to my own daughter when she came along.

Today, with all the available electronics, many children haven't experienced enough of the imaginative play they need. Most children will be able to enact many scenarios from their life experience in a regular dollhouse. This kind of play helps them try on different roles and outcomes. If you get your child a castle, it's a great way to familiarize him with a different period of history. Maybe you could stick a book like The Knight at Dawn (Magic Treehouse #2) or one of your favorite age-appropriate medieval stories, inside the castle, to get his imagination going. Read it aloud to young children. Those ages 6-9 may be able to read it themselves.

 If your child is very visual, try A Year in a Castle from The Time Goes By series. It's appropriate for any child of kindergarten age and up. Even older children will get lost in the intricate illustrations of castle life, and all readers will learn what activities were a normal part of castle life and the names of what you might find as part of or inside a castle. Either of these books will provide enough for a child's imagination to make good use of the new castle dollhouse in his play.

Whether your child wants to be a princess, a parent, a knight, a king or queen, or even a dragon, playing with a dollhouse will provide hours of happy and imaginative play. Why not put one under the Christmas tree for a child you love?



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

8 comments:

  1. I built my daughter a dollhouse from a kit when she was 8 and she adored that thing. Every birthday or Christmas after that I would buy her some furniture or more little dolls for it, or make more decorations, I used to make pictures for it out of match covers and frame them with balsa wood edging. It was a treasure. Dollhouses are magical.

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    1. What great ideas!I think that not getting all the furniture at once is smart. It sets up the possibility of future gifts to complete the set-up, and each piece of furniture will be more appreciated.

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  2. What a charming story. The picture of you with your Christmas dollhouse and the story of your Cousin Edna is precious. She made the perfect grandmother substitute. I remember my dad sending our daughter a dollhouse for Christmas the year she was 4. It was one of the old metal ones with the little tabs that fit into the slots and was a 'bear' to put together. Took hubby until 3 am after midnight church service Christmas Eve to put it together! When told this, my dad (who lived far away) said 'it's called "Payback Time" for all the toys I had to put together for you over the years!' :) Barbara, you bring back some fond memories of both my own childhood dollhouse and my daughter's. Thanks for this charming review.

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    1. I wonder who assembled my dollhouse.Maybe it came intact. I was pretty sure it was Santa's elves and never really wondered about who made it. I''m glad I brought back some happy memories for you.

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  3. What wonderful memories you have shared with us today! It sounds like you were definitely blessed to have Cousin Edna in your life. I am sure she was quite grateful that your mom and dad made her such a big part of your family. The dollhouse she gave you looks like a little girls dream come true, even if you didn't know to dream of it. I love the photos of you shared. The intro photo looks like it came straight out of a magazine!

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  4. Love your reminisces and stories about cousin Edna. Your dollhouse is amazing! What a wonderful gift. I like the suggestion of the castle, too, especially since we had boys and they loved that type of imaginative play. I love most what you said about "the media didn't tell us what we needed to make us happy." You've hit on a huge truth, an important truth that every generation needs to learn. I think a dollhouse with accessories would be a perfect gift for a young child. In fact, after reading this, I understand even better why many adults make and/or collect miniature furniture for their own more sophisticated doll houses. It's a hobby that spans generations. Makes me want to play, too!

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    1. Susan, Edna was an amazing person. I can picture her with Lucile setting up that dollhouse for me and having a great time doing it. I remember when I was young and we all used to go to Knott's Berry Farm. Back before they were trying to become more like Disneyland, they used to have Mott's House of Miniatures. It was really for the grown-ups.

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  5. Cousin Edna shared a home with her college roommate. They were both school teachers, and Lucile was quite a photographer. She documented my entire life on film, and sometimes she took me into the darkroom with her so that I'd see how the pictures got onto the paper. She was a science teacher. Cousin Edna made all the movies. If I could afford it I'd get them put on DVD so I could see them with more understanding. Some would probably be of historical interest, since they were made while the ladies were still in college and traveling around California, sleeping by the roadsides, etc. It's a shame that we often don't develop any curiosity about the photos in our family until the people who could answer our questions are gone for good. No one else in my family remains who cares about family history or state history, so it doesn't seem worth making the investment.

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