President Obama kicked off his birthday celebration with big dollar fundraisers in Chicago Wednesday night, but back at the White House for his actual birthday, the commander in chief has two low key celebrations with close friends and family.

"The senior staff will toast the president later today to mark his 50th birthday," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday. The toast with staff is expected to take place in the Blue Room of the White House.

"There will be a birthday gathering with friends and family this evening," Carney said. As White House chefs prepare the BBQ pits outside, the smokey aroma filled the press area Thursday afternoon.

The president told reporters his oldest daughter Malia was returning from summer camp to celebrate her old man's half century. Obama also expects friends from Chicago to attend his Rose Garden reception this evening.

First lady Michelle Obama wished her husband a happy birthday with an e-card on his re-election site. She asked supporters to sign the card wishing President Obama a happy 50th birthday with messages about their involvement in his campaign.

The birthday celebration will continue this weekend, as the first family is expected to take a trip to Camp David.