Her second birthday came from her favorite show at the time called "Between the Lions". They don't show it regularly on PBS anymore, but it was about a family of lions who ran a library (it is amazing for pre-and early readers, so if you have one of those, dig up some episodes). We decorated a cardboard book prop with the show's theme and handed out little safari toys at a spray park and she was thrilled.
This year is the year of small family birthdays, so that's what we did. But, as long as the kids let me, I always do a theme. This year for my youngest we had a Max and Ruby party since it is her favorite right now. Rosemary Wells helped my oldest with her "Yoko" books and my middle son loved reading about "Max". My toddler found some old episodes of the cartoon of "Max and Ruby" and that led to her love of the books. I kind of like it, too. There is something pastoral about the work of Wells. Something deeply peaceful and innocent which carries over into all of her books and it is amazing.
If you are planning a celebration for a child who loves "Max and Ruby", then look at the author's website. It features an awesome amount of printables like bunny crowns, a pin-the-tail game, and even a banner. You can find all of that at http://www.rosemarywells.com/ under resources.
We made Max's worm cake with chocolate pudding icing and crushed chocolate icing cookies.
I think she loved it.
Small birthdays mean time for adventures like the water park. It definitely feels like you're fighting an uphill battle ditching some of the trappings of traditional big parties, but everyone had a wonderful time without the stress, hassle, and cash you have to worry about with big get-togethers. It made us really look forward to the day, which is how I think it should make people feel.
Even with parties at home with the family, you can plan some fun themed games and with some footwork find exact decorations to your child's liking instead of the big box store stuff, and that's part of the fun, too.
ESPECIALLY if it's book themed.
I wonder if my last child will like Arthur enough for us to do this in the next few years...