Giving the Gift of Barbie

Today begins my second-hand-gift-giving-with-pride quest and so far I am pretty darned chuffed with myself.

My daughter has been invited to a fourth birthday party for one of her kindy friends and I am so excited to be giving the gift of Barbie.

To explain, I was a huge Barbie fan back in the day. I can still remember receiving my first Barbie from Father Christmas with great excitement – it was Western Barbie. She came dressed in a tight, white, totally-inappropriate-cowgirl-jumpsuit complete with white boots and a white hat. The best part though was when you pushed a button on her back – she winked!


It was love at first wink for me.

Cowgirl Barbie now resides in a toy box at my Dad’s house, buried amongst a range of other Barbies and Steve, the Six Million Dollar Man, who played a very admirable Ken over the years.


Her winking eye no longer has eyelashes which gives her a certain narcoleptic look but my daughter doesn’t seem to mind playing with her when we visit and neither did my nieces before her.

Some of the other Barbie’s have had haircuts, others experimental makeup sessions and Steve’s bionic arm is loose and generally falls off at the most inappropriate moments but I have to remind myself that some of these dolls are, ahem, nearly 30 years old and Steve, well, he must be pushing 40.

It’s this longevity that has seen me hunting around second hand stores for Barbie dolls that have been loved and then sadly moved on. Perhaps I have watched Toy Story too many times but I love the thought that a Barbie can go to a new home and be loved all over again.

Plus it has been so much fun bringing a battered Barbie back to life.

When I bought this Barbie she was lookin’ uuuuuugly my friends. Bushy hair, texta marks and an air of defeat.


First stop was the hair. For even the worst cases of Barbie bed-head (or any doll hair for that matter) a little bit of diluted fabric softener (about 1 tablespoon fabric softener to 1.5 cups of water) in a spray bottle and a tiny comb can do amazing things.

To remove any unwanted marks, I use a baby wipe first or some kitchen spray as they generally don’t have a strong smell. But for any tough marks that won’t budge try eucalyptus oil or nail polish remover.

I was lucky enough to score some clothes in another second hand shop but eBay also has loads of pre-loved Barbie clothes, mostly in bulk. I gave the ones I bought a wash just as I would my own clothes.


To really give Barbie a more presentable and polished look, I used some craft wood I had leftover from another project as a backing board and then wrapped her in cellophane with a comb as an accessory. Any sort of strong cardboard would also work.


I added my pre-loved gift tag to let the parents know that this was coming from a second-hand store and voila – Barbie was ready for her new home!

What toys of the past did you play with that are still around today?


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