At two, they're a bit more clear on the idea that this is something special, and it seems to be about them, but add sparklers on top of that cake and throw in a present or two, and honestly they pretty well max out for their excitement anyway.
At three, they can finally get it - this is a party, and it's all about you. Granted, Goose is one of the most generous-hearted, artless and easily-pleased little boys in the world, so all he needed to have happen to ensure it was an exciting time for him would be cake, candles and a rendition of "Happy Birthday". But I knew he'd still like a party :)
I asked him months ago what party he would like, and this little boy always has an answer. Some kids need prompting. Some kids shyly hide and refuse to offer up a word. This kid knows what he likes, even if the answer often surprises me. He chose airplanes. He could have picked Spiderman. He could have picked Cars. He could have picked anything he wanted because that's how we do birthdays around here, but immediately he answered, "Airplanes". Which is nice, because he could also have picked something like Triangles I suppose, and how do you plan games for a triangle party? (k, I just came up with a couple ideas as I typed that, but still, airplanes is a nicer theme)
A few things were quite fortuitous about this choice of party theme. First off - unbeknownst to Goose, I had long wanted to do an airplane theme in his bedroom, but kind of gave up when older brother started hanging hunting posters and archery targets on every inch of empty wall, and ceiling, space. But I had already fashioned some cotton 'clouds' that hang from fishing line. Score.
The dollar store was a treasure-trove for this party; we picked up those foam airplanes that come in a flat pack and then you assemble yourself as party favors, a giant one of the same variety to show off to the kids, and an airplane shaped cookie cutter.
Snacks were pretty simple since I was super sick all week and didn't have the energy to prep much: carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and pita chips with hummus, I used the airplane cookie cutter to cut out watermelon pieces, and then I bought a 40 pack of Timbits, stacked them high, and set a candle in the middle for a cake that the kids adored!
Lastly, I ordered an Aviator hat from Avon for little Goose, which he proudly wore and got called 'Captain' by everybody. Any excuse to wear a costume in this house!
I've said it before: we don't rent out Chuck-E-Cheese. We don't hire petting zoos. We don't have professional planners for our parties, or major excursions for them either, but my kids' birthday parties are fun - for them, their guests, and for mommy - and certainly seem to be the highlight of their year.
Mrs. VanderLeek ;)