Birthday Party Extravaganza

Over the years, I have planned more than my share of children’s birthday parties. When my children were younger, the parties we attended were quite extravagant and so I admit, I followed suit. Custom designed or hand-made invitations were mailed to guests that often did not know my child. Gourmet food was ordered in amounts enough to feed a small country. Elaborate cakes were delivered that were more detailed than my wedding cake. Specialty ordered goodie bags took days to assemble. And the pile of generous gifts was more than I had room to store. But as my children grew (and I got a bit wiser), extravagance was exchanged for elegant minimalism. My children took part-ownership of the event and I was more than happy to share the burden. Evite eliminated the need for hand delivered, custom made invitations. The guest list consisted of children they knew (at least mostly).   The private chef catering was substituted with pizza. The three-tiered cake was replaced by cupcakes. And the goodie bags became more reasonable. Nevertheless, I struggled with how to make such an extravagant day a truly meaningful life experience. How do you overindulge your child on their birthday and still teach them to be compassionate, thoughtful individuals? How do show them to appreciate the beauty of celebrating without losing sight of reality? In essence, how do you ensure they don’t become spoiled little brats? Early on, I encouraged them to write their own guest list. I regularly got a list of their 5 “best friends.” And though I would have been delighted to entertain such a small group, this generally...