Gift Your Daughters Lego

The key to IKEA success

Catherine Bell
4 min readJul 30, 2021
Image by FamVeld via Canva

Gift your daughters Lego. When they are in their late 20s and constructing IKEA furniture with the ease and finesse of a Swedish interior decorator, they will thank you.

The pay-off may take some time, but it will be worth it. Trust me. Twenty-odd years on from my Lego days, I have recently enjoyed the admittedly smug pleasure of directing my (otherwise talented) boyfriend as to which Allen key fits where while lecturing him on the importance of following the instructions.

Despite pandemic restrictions, IKEA welcomed over 825 million visitors to their stores in 2020. Flat-pack furniture is here to stay, and DIY is on the rise, so you may well buck up and prepare your daughters for the future.

Cursed by stereotypes of old that women are hopeless at DIY, I have been defying the odds and opinions of gender-biased people around me since the Swedish giant arrived on our shores in 2009. I credit my slick construction skills to the generosity of my brothers when it came to sharing Lego many moons ago.

The brainchild of another Nordic powerhouse, Lego’s coloured blocks were a mainstay in our family as both Christmas and birthday gifts. The brightly coloured blocks fading to grey and beige through the years as basic sets became increasingly complicated, and joyous school houses and castles became the Eiffel Towers and the Sydney Opera House. Arguably, the youngest brother took his obsession too far and is now well on his way to becoming a fully qualified architect.

But back to the strong independent women of our future and to what Lego taught me when it comes to tackling IKEA furniture?

First and foremost…

Always, ALWAYS read the instructions.

Aside from the non-specific Lego kits giving your imagination permission to run rampant, it is imperative that you read Lego’s instructions. If you want your creation to look precisely as it does on the box, and more importantly, to remain stable, the instruction manual is vital. Missing out on that one tiny block you can’t find in the moment will make a difference further down the line.

IKEA is the same. If IKEA tells you to tighten a screw lightly, believe me, you want to follow that instruction. There is no ‘ah sure I’ll save myself the bother later.’ It might seem mind-blowing, but believe it or not, instructions serve a purpose.

Do I sound preachy? Yes. Have I reassembled an IKEA chair because two holes didn’t line up halfway through the process? Yes. Was it my fault? No. I actually follow instructions (or at least when it comes to IKEA, I do), unlike other unnamed individuals.

Organise your pieces.

Just do it. Save yourself the hassle. Save yourself losing screws and washers.

If you have your pieces organised, you mean business. If you have all your elements laid out in a meaningful manner, no rogue sibling will nick a Lego block that looks lost for their creation.

The same goes for IKEA. If you look like you mean business, onlookers will treat you like you mean business.

Conduct a roll-call

Check you have all required parts before you commence. Lego ONLY provides the correct number of parts for each product. So too do IKEA.

Usually, the first page of your IKEA instructions will show each component and the number you should have. Again, follow the instructions. Lay your pieces out, make sure none are missing, and then, and only then, commence.

Pictorial instructions are your friend.

Granted, Lego primarily use images in the absence of literacy in young children.

However, IKEA doesn’t do it out of sentimentality. They use images for the good of your health. Your mental health.

Use the images. Not just to see what the next step is, but to help with orientation. Kids have no fear of judgement; they work out which way is up in a tactile way. Hold the piece you’re struggling with up to the image. No one will judge you if, ultimately, you get it right. They will if you end up with a seat facing one way and armrests facing the other.

These essential basics have stood the test of time and made many an impending IKEA headache vanish before onslaught. They’ve also proved the antidote to more than a few frazzled friends.

When the time comes to construct, I am militant about these factors. I go in with a plan and come out with a bookshelf. I credit my success to Lego and my patient brothers.

Don’t leave it up to chance. Gift your daughters Lego.

Don’t worry about gendered versus non-gendered sets (though, for a great read, see Adrienne LaFrance on “How to Play Like a Girl” for The Atlantic). The magic is in the process, and the process remains the same regardless of whether you’re building a pretty princess castle or a deep dark dungeon.

Gift your daughter’s Lego and give her a gift that keeps on giving.



Catherine Bell

Irish native. Current student teacher with a past passion for marketing and PR. Once upon a time actor/theatre maker. Continuous lover of creative pursuits.