A bit belated... The whole birthday thing turned out very different from the original plan. For starters, M was going through some kind of funk the week before his birthday - lots of crying, "no-no-no"s, "I won't do it"s and such. He kept saying that he didn't want a birthday and whatever comes with it - balloons, guests, gifts, even a cake!
Then there was the issue of choosing a theme. For the last month or two I thought it'd be a Word World-themed party. After all, M's been crazy about Word World and, in particular, Chef Pig for the whole last year. Well, a week or so before his birthday, as if on cue, he stopped talking about WW, didn't want to play Chef Pig games and didn't even care to watch WW cartoons! (He did the same thing last year with the whole Thomas the Train obsession - dropped it a few days before his birthday party AFTER we bought a very expensive train cake form at William-Sonoma.)
Finally, it snowed here the weekend before his birthday. Why is it relevant? Because a few of his little friends' birthday parties got cancelled due to snow and rescheduled for the following weekend. And the other couple of kids played in snow way too much and came down with cold.
And so, there we were... So we decided to have a small birthday dinner the day of M's birthday (which fell on a Tuesday this year). We didn't send official invites, but instead called and told people to "stop by between 5pm and 7pm for some cake". And M's grandparents drove into town on Monday evening.
The day of M's birthday it rained very hard all day. And that, combined with the fact that a couple of friends were still sick, meant that noone "stopped by between 5pm and 7pm". Which was just fine.
The night before M's birthday Chris went to the store and bought a ton of balloons and put them into M's room while the little one was asleep. Imagine a 3-year old waking up and seeing a big bunch of balloons next to his bed! Can't go wrong on this one.
The day was spent playing with grandparents. And then, in the evening, M got to open a few gifts and eat a yummy cake which he helped to make and decorate. And he absolutely loved the whole thing!
(I actually really liked the low-key, low-stress and low-budget birthday production. Consider this - all the truly important elements were there: family, gifts, cake, candles, birthday song, balloons yet nobody got exhausted, fought over toys or threw fits and there was practically no cleanup afterwards. )