DIY Lego birthday party

We can get away with the occasional “Trains” or “Rainbow” themed party during the first few years, and then kids tend to want parties focused on their favourite character, TV show, or movie.

But who wants to spend $10 on a package of 15 Super Mario plates, or run all over town looking for Max and Ruby party invitations?

Here are a few ideas for putting together a fun, creative party without buying a single branded item …

  • Focus on the colour scheme. Having a Bubble Guppies party, like we did two birthdays ago? Don’t freak out because you can’t find paper plates printed with pictures of Gil, Molly, Deema, and the fishy crew. Buy plain orange plates — in honour of Mr. Grouper — and decorations in different shades of blue like the ocean. For our Lego party, we bought plain yellow loot bags and drew Lego heads on them. We bought a few packages of plain yellow plates, and drew an eyes and a smile on each one using a black marker. We intermixed those “Lego head” plates with plain white plates we already had.

  • Make simple invitations using PicMonkey. I’ve done the fancy custom invitations before, and there are plenty of pricey themed invitations available on Etsy. But lately I’ve been making my own invites with the help of a free website called PicMonkey. It’s easy to play around with the wording and add pictures, and then you can save the photo to print at home — or use an online service to have it professionally printed.

  • Use what you have! If your child is into that particular character or movie, chances are you already have some of their merchandise. Set up little displays using the toys. Play the movie in the background. Download music from the show. Dexter is just starting his Lego collection, so we didn’t have much to bring. But we did have a ton of MegaBloks, which is basically giant Lego. I stacked some blocks together in towers, and used a black marker to write messages that welcomed our guests, and thanked them for coming.

  • Don’t feel pressured to get a “designer” cake. I’ve been to parties where they have expensive, professional cakes or cupcakes, and you know what? It’s the parents who are very impressed. The kids don’t seem to notice or care, for the most part. If it’s in your budget to buy a fancy cake with life-sized fondant Polly Pockets dancing on the top, great. But if it’s not, you can make something cute yourself. I’ve carved a homemade cake into a wobbly Mr. Grouper shape, slathered on some orange icing, added an eye, and called it a day. I’ve frosted homemade cupcake with “ocean” blue icing and added a Goldfish cracker to the top. For the Lego party, I make a few basic cuts to a sheet cake, covered it with yellow icing, and used a tube of black icing to draw a face. I also added Lego faces to some yellow-frosted cupcakes, and stuck Lego brick candies on top of some chocolate-frosted cupcakes. Super simple, and the kids loved them!

  • Collect old jars to use as party decor. I love recycling glass jars into our party decor, because we always have plenty in our salsa- and pasta sauce-loving household. For Charlotte’s rainbow-themed party in April, we painted the insides of our jars with the colours of the rainbow, displayed them in rainbow order, and added a white flower to each one. For Dexter’s Lego party, he helped me pour yellow paint and water into jars, screw on the tops, and then shake-shake-shake until the paint coated the insides. We drew faces on the outside of the jar with a black marker, and had some very cute table decor.

  • Make a Punchbox from an old cardboard box. Dexter requested a pinata for his Lego party, but yanking a string isn’t very fun — and the idea of giving a whacking stick to one-year-olds, two-year-olds, and three-year-olds certainly wasn’t appealing. So I cobbled together some small cardboard boxes to make one large Franken-box, wrapped in brown paper to hide my tape, cut holes in the front, and painted it. Then I glued squares of tissue paper behind each hole, filled plastic cups with treats, and taped a cup behind each hole. The kids had a blast punching through the circles to get the candy inside, and even the littlest guests were able to participate. Then I apologized to the parents for sending them home with sugared-up kiddies!

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