STEP ONE - Finally respond to the texts from worried grandparents asking "Will there be a party? When can we give him his gift?" Hastily decide on a location and time and give everyone approximately two hours notice. Forget to hit "send" on a few of the texts and leave some family members dangling in wonder. Repeat to yourself phrases like "An A for effort! It's the thought that counts! Mama tried!"
STEP TWO - Make sure your location is outdoors or somewhere far, far away from the house you have absolutely no time to clean (or in our case - someone else's house during our nomadic existence). No toddler can undermine every productive task you've managed to complete. YOUR SANITY IS SAFE HERE!
STEP THREE - Steal your kid's favorite toys to use for party decor and call it a "theme." Toddlers do not know what a real themed party looks like, and they don't have Pinterest accounts. Bonus points for working in an embarrassing, age-related pun like Tu-Two Ballet Party or Dino-Four Picnic. Pat yourself on the back for feeling really clever.
STEP FOUR - DO NOT FORGET THE CAKE! This is a bare bones party, people. It is built soley on the cornerstone of sweets and candles. You must coordinate with the spouse to make sure one of you places the order or stays up past midnight baking. Forget this step and prepare for oompa loompa's to appear with a personalized song of your failure.
STEP FIVE - Add any finishing touches with what I call the "oh look!" method. In the day/hours that lead up to the party, just keep an ever-watchful eye for something that could make your party not look like the 3 year old himself planned it. Oh thank you, Target dollar spot. Don't mind if I do, vines-growing-in-the-woods. Note: Confirm with husband that the vines you picked were not touching poison ivy. Feel proud and give bonus points again that you correctly identified poison ivy.
Step back and enjoy a kid's party like all the pre-millennial mothers before us did. Let the kids run amok and get dirty in a creek.
Dear child, we will ALWAYS celebrate you!