How to Have a LEGO Birthday Without Breaking the Bank

Geek Culture

My kids and I have in the past few months become somewhat obsessed with LEGO. I attribute this largely to playing the various LEGO videogames on our Wii, and to the existence of the LEGO Star Wars and Agents lines. So it wasn’t a big surprise to my wife and me that, when we asked our son if he wanted to have his eighth birthday party at our local LEGO Store, the answer was an emphatic "Yes!"

We found out that our local LEGO Store, in the Tysons Corner mall in Virginia, holds birthday parties one day last September when they had a flyer up in the store advertising them. They had multiple options for a theme: Agents, Bionicle, City, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars (Pirates had just come out, but I think they’d’ve done that, too). My son chose Star Wars, which we expected, and when then presented with a choice between regular or Clone Wars, chose the latter, which we also expected but were kind of hoping against.

Now, the way our local store organizes birthday parties (which may not be the way they all do it) is to set up a couple of tables in the middle of the store for the kids to stand at. There, each child gets a small kit from the chosen theme, and they all assemble them together. A store employee stands with them to provide help if needed. Because of this setup, they only hold the parties on non-holiday weekdays, which is inconvenient for parents but perfectly reasonable when you think about it from the store’s point-of-view: it would be against their best interests to place a huge distracting obstacle in the middle of the floor on a busy day. The minimum age for the kids (birthday boy/girl and guests) is six, and the maximum number of kids allowed is ten (which I consider a benefit because it gives you someone else to blame when your kid wants to invite lots of people, and you tell them they can’t).

Yes, that really is all they do: stand and put together kits, then when they’re done walk around the store playing with them and looking at all the cool stuff for sale. It doesn’t sound like much of a party to most adults, but if my kids and my son’s friends are any indication, it’s a great party for kids. I mean, after all the kids were done, we took them all down to one of the food areas, found a table, and gave them all cupcakes and juice (and sang "Happy Birthday" to my son, of course). But the kids just had an absolute blast at the store, even though all they really did was put together LEGO kits.

EDIT: Details of pricing fixed. For this, they charge $125 US, which includes the kits, which are typically $7-$10 each, for each attendee (unless the price of the kits adds up to more than $125, in which case you have to pay the overage). At first, I thought it was silly to pay that much just for the privilege of having the kids stand in the middle of the LEGO Store while they put together the kits, since they could just as easily put the kits together somewhere else, like our home, where it’s free. But then I realized that, no matter how many LEGO-related decorations we put up in our home, we could never approach the coolness of having hundreds of LEGO kits and the Pick A Brick Wall around the kids and available for looking at (and talking about) after the kit was assembled. And, speaking as one who loves LEGO himself, I had to admit that that was certainly worth it.

If you don’t have a LEGO Store (or one that has parties) near you, I’m sorry for having whetted your appetite for something you can’t have. If you’re lucky enough to have one near you, though, I highly recommend doing this. It’s probably the easiest birthday party to manage we’ve ever had for either of our kids, and several parents of attendees have come up to us since the party and told us it was the best birthday party their kids have ever been to. You really can’t beat that combination.

(All photographs were taken by my wife or me. I’ve pixellated all the kids’ faces in the pictures for security reasons.)

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