It's a good time to plan a Lego-themed birthday party

With opportunities to view awesome Lego displays stacking up in Central Ohio, it's a good time to plan a Lego-themed birthday party. Groveport Town Hall, COSI and the Columbus Museum of Art are hosting Lego exhibits this month (Groveport's display ends Dec. 31, COSI's closes Jan. 6 and the art museum's runs through Jan. 27). Knowing that the displays might inspire your children to ask for a Lego party, Columbus Parent Magazine asked event planner Abby Lechner, owner of Frolic: Playful Kids Parties, for advice. Lechner recently organized a Lego party for her son Julian. WHAT: Lego Party WHERE: Your home WHY: Kids never tire of making new Lego creations and the colorful building bricks are a built-in source of fun at the party, Lechner said. The theme also appeals to boys and girls of all ages. INVITATIONS: Legos lend themselves to easy homemade invitation options, Lechner said. A rectangular card can be made to look like one of the iconic bricks by gluing circles to it. Another simple idea is printing the party details on a piece of cardstock and tying it to a large Lego and hand delivering it to guests. FOOD: It's easy to incorporate the Lego theme into the refreshments. Several local candy stores sell Lego-shaped candies that can be used to decorate cupcakes or added to trail mix. Many online retailers sell molded chocolates and lollipops in the shape of Lego bricks and mini-figures, Lechner said. She suggested making your own Lego-figurine head treats by dipping large marshmallows into melted, yellow candy discs (like the Wilton brand, available at craft and candy-making stores). After the yellow coating hardens, use food markers or icing to draw faces on them. When planning the rest of the treats, choose food in bright, primary colors - like apples, carrots, broccoli and red and yellow peppers - to correspond with Lego colors. CAKE: There are lots of Lego-inspired cake ideas online. One of the simplest is a 13 x 9 cake decorated to look like a Lego brick. The cake is frosted in a primary color with four or six iced cupcakes set on it, resembling a Lego piece.
DECORATIONS: The Lego color scheme also lends itself to easy decorations, Lechner said. She suggests using streamers or balloons in primary colors and making large Legos out of empty rectangular and oatmeal boxes or other circular containers. For her son's party, she created a table runner that was inspired by the green Lego base plates. She made the runners by spray-painting bubble wrap green. ENTERTAINMENT: Lego-building is a must. Lechner suggests having a large table set up where kids can play with Legos. Older children might enjoy a relay race where they have to make a Lego creation or pass them on spoon. Another option is building vehicles that children can race. Many traditional party games can be given a Lego twist. You can hide the bricks for a scavenger hunt or put them in a jar for a guessing game. Lechner suggests letting kids make shirts. For her son's party, she screen-printed a blank Lego figurine on a shirt and gave children fabric markers to decorate it. Lechner also used some of the large Legos she made out of boxes to create a game that was a cross between a pinata and The Price Is Right "Punch-A-Bunch" game. Each child had the opportunity to punch open one of the homemade Lego boxes to reveal candy and prizes. She created the game because she thought it would be safer than having children whack a pinata. PARTY FAVORS: Legos are available at a variety of price points. A mystery minifigure costs about $3 and small Lego sets range from $5 to $15. Favor bags can be made from small gift bags with circles attached, again to resemble Lego bricks. For her recent party, she found round yellow buckets for $1 at a local party store. She used a permanent marker to add a face so the buckets resembled Lego heads. ADDITONAL INFORMATION: While planning the party, keep the age of the guests in mind. Small children may not be able to assemble complicated Lego sets. They also should not be given small Lego pieces as they can be a choking hazard. Regardless of the age of the children, it's a good idea to have adults on hand to help with Lego building. Learn more about Lechner's party planning at frolickids.com.