P., i agree with some of the ladies that have posted already. i do think that with a 3 year old, less is more, but i do actually think they deserve a celebration of some kind - there doesn't have to be the need to top it every year, there's no reason to set that expectation. if your son is in preschool or daycare i would invite just two or three of his closest buds, or even just family, and have a smaller party. he's three so he's not going to care if you have the "birthday party" at chuck e. cheese. maybe you could just go, get a pizza or two, and play a few games. then do cake and ice cream afterwards at your house. for my son's 2nd birthday (sept 24th) we just had a couple of friends meet us at deanna rose petting zoo and went through it. we didn't do cake or presents or anything, just got together to celebrate the day. it was the easiest and most hassle-free "party" i've ever thrown. then we did a family thing at grandma's house with presents etc. i also didn't want people to feel like they had to buy my son a present. anyway, that's what we did. i imagine it'll be similar for his birthdays to come. it's not about giving them the moon one day a year, it's about celebrating the joy of his birth and making him feel special. you don't have to break the bank to do it!
PS, i am also a "boy" mama....love my little boy, and i hate to say it, but i'd have a dozen more - like you, IF i knew they'd be boys! not sure what i'd do with a girl at this point! :)