Saturday, January 3, 2015

A low-fuss yet fully satisfying Lego birthday party.

Several days before Johnny's sixth birthday party, we decided that a Lego theme would be fun. There are dozens of ideas on the internet for Lego-themed decorations, party food, games, and favors, but I needed something that would be quick and easy to prepare. I decided to skip the decorations and fancy food and games.

Instead, we created a magical Lego country.

We covered our long dining room table with large pieces of white paper, taped together. We put out crayons, markers and other art supplies (but no paint). Kids who were more interested in art than in building drew the layout for our Lego land, with roads, rivers, trees, and other landscape elements. The paper was taped together on the underneath surface so that the tape wouldn't get in the way of the art.

Meanwhile, the entire living room floor was devoted to building structures that would go in our Lego country: houses, castles, cars. One boy specialized in spaceships. We do have a few official sets, but most of our Legos are miscellaneous pieces, which we keep in big tubs. The kids built whatever they wanted. The results of their labors may not have looked as impressive as the officially formulated buildings from Lego sets, but they were products of a free-form creative process.

Whenever a new structure was finished, the builder carried it to the dining room table and decided where it should go.

Since the dining room table had been transformed into a Lego land, I had to keep the food very simple. Finger food (string cheese, carrots, apple slices, etc.) was available on a kitchen counter. When we were ready for the "cake" we went out to our backyard picnic table and ate cupcakes that were bought at the supermarket and made by . . . Tastycake. The frosting on Tastycake cupcakes is not gooey, the way home-made frosting is, so there was very little mess. I didn't even provide plates or forks.

Party favors were used books — books that were weeded out from our bookshelves and some that were bought at a library book sale. Each guest got to choose one.

So the party turned out to be "Lego themed" in only the most basic sense: There were no Lego-shaped decorations or Lego-shaped food, or Lego party favors. But nobody seemed to mind, and I was pleased at the end of the day. A simple, yet satisfying party.