Brick Architect’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

We’re in a golden age of amazing LEGO sets for all ages. While it’s hard to buy a bad set these days, we’ve highlighted the best sets you can buy right now, along with some other gift ideas for anyone on your shopping list.

Holiday-themed LEGO Sets

From Advent Calendars to Winter Village sets, there’s a holiday-themed LEGO set for almost anyone on your shopping list.

#10267 Gingerbread House

We love the cute Gingerbread House which was released earlier this year. It’s a great looking home for this family of three gingerbread people.

Stay tuned, we’re working on a review of this great-looking set!

#10254 Winter Holiday Train

The Winter Holiday Train is excellent. (We can’t say the same for related set #10259 Winter Village Station. 3/5 Stars, see review.)

It’s nicely detailed, the tree spins when the train moves, and you can make it move by purchasing a motor and battery pack.

#75245 Star Wars Advent Calendar

Due to an excellent selection of minifigures and brick-built models, Star Wars Advent Calendar was our top-rated advent calendar this year.

Brick Architect rated it “Highly Recommended” (4/5 stars). Read the Review.

#75964 Harry Potter Advent Calendar

New this year, consider the Harry Potter Advent Calendar for fans of the books or movies. The mini-models are nicely designed, but a bit repetitive, and there are several unique Minifigures.

Brick Architect rated it “Good” (3/5 stars). Read the Review.

#41382 Friends Advent Calendar

The LEGO Friends Advent Calendar is a great choice, because it includes a lot of brick-built models for a reasonable price. Minidoll fans may be disappointed, since there is only one figure in the set…

Brick Architect rated it “Good” (3/5 stars). Read the Review.

#60235 City Advent Calendar

You might want to get this year’s City Advent Calendar for your friends and family. We liked the lower price compared to other options, but the Minifigures and mini-models weren’t as exciting as we hoped.

Brick Architect rated it “Acceptable” (2/5 stars). Read the Review.

What is Advent? It is a Christian liturgical season leading up to the birth of Jesus, more commonly known as Christmas. (The liturgical season begins four Sundays before Christmas, varying from 22 to 28 days long.)

For simplicity’s sake, most Advent Calendars begin on December 1st, and have 24 or 25 compartments.

Current LEGO Architecture Sets

These are our favorite readily available architectural sets from the LEGO Architecture and Creator Expert themes. Below our top selections, you will see a list of great sets which are retiring soon, and may be available for a discount.

#21046 Empire State Building

Ever wondered what it’s like to build massive LEGO models at LEGOLAND or for a LEGO Convention? It’s actually pretty repetitive, but there are some interesting building techniques and the end result is worth it!

Brick Architect rated it “Highly Recommended” (4/5 stars). Read the Review.

#21039 Shanghai Skyline

It’s hard to go wrong with the best designed set in the LEGO Architecture Skyline series. It features interesting parts, creative building techniques, and an outstanding finished product.

Brick Architect rated it “Must Have” (5/5 stars). Read the Review.

#21043 San Francisco

Budget pick: This set takes the LEGO Architecture Skyline series to new depth, literally. (It uses forced perspective to give the Golden Gate bridge the illusion of depth.)

Brick Architect rated it “Highly Recommended” (4/5 stars). Read the Review.

#10255 Assembly Square

Feeling Generous? By far the largest set in the Modular Building series, last year’s set broke new ground with a wider base and a whopping 4002 pieces.

Brick Architect gave our highest “Must Have” (5/5 stars) rating to this massive set. Read the Review.

#10260 Downtown Diner

Something more contemporary? The most recent addition to the Modular Buidling Series has an Art Deco style, bringing the series unambiguously into the 20th century for the first time.

Brick Architect rated it “Highly Recommended” (4/5 stars). Read the Review.

Other great LEGO Sets

There are some fantastic new LEGO sets outside of the LEGO Architecture theme. Here are a few which you shouldn’t miss!

#21318 IDEAS Tree House

For the whole family: This is an impressive model with no fewer than 3036 pieces. It’s filled with advanced building techniques for older builders, but it’s sturdy so younger family members can use it as a play set.

Brick Architect rated it “Must Have” (5/5 stars). Read the Review.

#71043 Hogwarts Castle

Splurge! This is the ultimate set for serious LEGO builders who also love Harry Potter. Thankfully, it’s reasonably priced when you consider that it contains 6020 pieces, making it the second largest LEGO set ever created.

Brick Architect rated it “Must Have” (5/5 stars). Read the Review.

Retiring Soon

Reliable sources have indicated that the following sets are already retired or will be retiring soon. This may be your last chance to get these amazing sets for a reasonable price.

#10243 Parisian Restaurant

Last Chance? Consistently rated the best model in the Modular Building Series, the Parisian Restauraunt is still available while newer sets in the series have retired. It won’t last forever, so be sure to consider this gift while it’s still available.

This is set designer Jamie Berard’s favorite set in the series. Read our interview!

#21030 United States Capitol Building

Last Chance? While the build process is a bit repetitive at times, the finished model is one of the most striking in the current LEGO Architecture collection. (Political debates at your own discretion.)

4.6 Star rating at Amazon.

#21315 Pop-up Book

Inspire Creativity: This is an incredibly imaginative set that you can’t put down. In addition to the two stories included in the set, you will be inspired to build your own inserts too.

It’s a Must Have set… 5/5 stars!

Additional popular sets which are retiring soon:

Get Organized!

The only thing better than a large LEGO collection is a perfectly organized LEGO collection! It is so much easier to find what you are looking for when your pieces are sorted into categories, or even by part.

Here are a few of our favorite products, but you can find even more recommendations in the Brick Architect LEGO Storage Guide.

LEGO Storage Guide, by Tom Alphin.

Get Organized! My LEGO Storage Guide offers in-depth suggestions to organize, sort, and store a LEGO collection of any size. Be sure to take a look, as there are some great storage rpducts for the LEGO Lover on your shopping list.

See how a well organized LEGO collection can unlock creativity!

Akro-Mils 64 Drawer Cabinet

Plastic drawer cabinets by Akro-Mils are the top pick for most LEGO enthusiasts in the USA. They have several advantages over other options including: drawers are easily removed and stack-able, drawers are deep enough for 16-stud bricks, drawers are flexible which makes them hard to break, and have competitive prices.

Stanley 014725 with 25 Removable Compartments

With 25 removeable compartments, this is a great option for collections which are very well organized. A tight-fitting lid makes this perfect for portable LEGO Collections.

They also offer a deeper version of this product with just 10 larger compartments.

LEGO Brick Labels, by Tom Alphin.

Get Sorted! If your collection is large enough, it makes sense to sort your most common pieces by part.

We’ve got you covered, with labels for more than 1000 most common LEGO parts.

Brother Label Printer

Label Printer. You can’t print the labels without a compatible label printer.

I chose the Brother system because the labels print on durable plastic tape, and have a strong adhesive. This one has a keyboard, so you can label stuff around the house, too.

Swoop Bags, Photo by Swoop.

Easy Clean-up! Younger LEGO builders do not want to sort their collection.

Swoop Bags are an easy way to keep LEGO in one place when building on the floor. While it’s best for kids, I also enjoy using it to build medium-sized LEGO sets in the Living Room.

Books

If you want a unique gift for someone who already has a large LEGO collection, consider the following books. Books are one of my favorite ways to find inspiration when building LEGO Architecture creations.

The LEGO Architect, by Tom Alphin, No Starch Press.

Learn 7 styles of architecture using LEGO. The book includes a brief history of each style, photos of amazing buildings to use for inspiration, and instructions to get started. Written by Brick Architect founder Tom Alphin.

4.7 Stars at Amazon, and available in 10 languages.

The LEGO Architecture Idea Book by Alice Finch, No Starch Press, 2018

This new book is packed with great architectural details for LEGO builders to incorporate into their creations. Best for experienced LEGO builders with a large collection of bricks.

Brick Architect rated it “Highly Recommended” (4/5 stars). Read the Review.

LEGO Micro Cities. by Jeff Friesen.

This beautiful new book shows you how Jeff Friesen creates intricate Microscale cities using specialty LEGO parts in unexpected ways. Instructions are provided for a few buildings from within each scene.

Architecture: A Visual History, by Jonathan Glancey.

Explore world architecture through 350 different buildings across a wide range of styles. This elegant book would make a great gift for someone who wants to learn more about architecture.

5 Star rating at Amazon.

Makers of Modern Architecture (Volumes I-III), by Martin Filler.

Architecture Geeks: Join author Martin Filler in these collections of long essays exploring the life and legacy of prominent architects. These are not picture books, and are aimed at adult readers who are already familiar with a wide range of architectural styles and prominent architects.

These were invaluable resources while writing The LEGO Architect.

LEGO Storage Guide, by Tom Alphin.

Get Organized! My LEGO Storage Guide offers in-depth suggestions to organize, sort, and store a LEGO collection of any size. Be sure to take a look, as there are some great storage rpducts for the LEGO Lover on your shopping list.

See how a well organized LEGO collection can unlock creativity!

Sketching Supplies

There’s nothing quite like a quality notebook and a sturdy pencil to get your ideas out. Consider these two quality products for the creatives in your life.

A high quality notebook like these from Leuchtturm make sketching and note-taking more satisfying. This A5 sized notebook is perfect for general puposes, but the smaller A6 notebook is better for travel. (Dot Grid is my favorite pattern for Architecture & Design. Choose from 21 vibrant colors!

4.5 Stars at Amazon.

This is the best mechanical pencil for architectural drawings and note-taking. It’s a fantastic balance of high quality feel and a reasonable price.

4.4 Stars at Amazon.

I hope this guide helped you find the perfect gift for friends and family, or ideas to add to your own wishlist. What did we forget? Be sure to leave a comment below!

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