Get Creative With Your Event Invitations

Blue envelope with card
••• firina / Getty Images

Before the days of the Internet and the world of just about everything online, event invitations were either custom printed at a print shop or purchased in a package of eight from a party store. From there, they were taken home by the host to handwrite the party details into the blank spaces provided.

And that’s not all. Each envelope had to be individually addressed, a postage stamp adhered to the envelope, and then the stack was enthusiastically taken to the post office for mailing. This certainly involved many more steps than the online platforms available today where, in just a few clicks of the mouse, your invitation appears in the “inbox” of the recipient’s email.

And yet, the invitations of days gone by were perhaps more special because of the time invested to select just the right invitation, assemble the guest list, and handwrite the rest. They certainly received an excited response when retrieved from the mailbox with the rest of the mail.

And it didn’t stop there. These event invitations garnered a special place on the front of the refrigerator or the kitchen memo board so the event would not be forgotten. Granted, the ease with which invitations can be sent out online, guests added, and replies updated in real time is a dream for the event planner managing multiple aspects of an event.

But in a sea of online communication when inboxes are flooded with everything from personal emails to store solicitations and junk mail, event invitations get lost. If seen, they are often left unopened and forgotten until the automatically generated email reminder appears. So how do you bring back the personal, special element? Simply get creative with your event invitations.

Start With a Party Theme

The first step in creating a memorable event invitation is to start with the party theme. Use that as the springboard for the invitation and everything else that you plan for the event. Do not send out any party invitation until you have decided on a theme for your party.

The result is typically a bland, standard invitation that will signal to your guests that your event is an ordinary, run of the mill party. So resist the temptation to rush to send something out and take the time to select your party theme. When excited guests commit to attending and arrive ready for the festivities, you will be glad you designed the right invitation.

Keep It Colorful for Kid Parties

Is your party for children? Then get colorful! What child doesn’t enjoy a party? If you are planning an event that involves very young children, keep in mind that the adult in the house will be reading the invitation while the child will see the picture or any embellishment.

Adopt a colorful graphic that ties into the party theme, such as a magician if there will be magic tricks, or a pirate if there will be a scavenger hunt. If you get starting planning early enough, you can even include a scavenger hunt clue in the invitation so that when the guest arrives at the party, they can immediately join in the fun.

Having a piñata? Tuck a small piece of candy into the invitation against the backdrop of the themed piñata. Or make a cutout into the invitation and insert a balloon so the party guest can blow it up (or have a parent do the honors) and get in the party mood. If the guest of honor is a school-aged child who likes to draw, have them draw a photo of a party scene and color it in with colored pencils. Then make color copies and – if their handwriting is neat and legible – have them write out the date, time and other party details.

Keep It Fun and Fancy for Adults

Planning an elegant affair for adults only? Consider silver, gold or black invitations. For milestone birthdays, search the Internet for a copy of a newspaper from the actual date the guest of honor was born. Use this as the background on the event invitations.

A Winter Wonderland party? Glue some clear glitter on the invitation and insert tiny white paper snowflakes into the envelope to put guests in the mood. An Academy Awards party invitation begs for a red carpet on the cover so look for red felt strips, make tiny black bow ties out of ribbon and invite guests to dress accordingly. 

Sprinkle some grains of white sand onto a beach themed party invitation and glue in place or – if budget allows – tie the invitation to an inexpensive pair of flip-flops or a pair of sunglasses for guests to wear to the party. For a bon voyage party, consider a passport invitation replete with stamps from foreign venues or a replica of an airline or cruise ticket to reflect the guest of honor’s travel plans.

Take Advantage of the Senses

Paper with texture, an object attached to the invitation with ribbon, a scented item included in the envelope – all of these elements ignite the senses and bring your party to life. Guests will delight in receiving Mardi Gras glasses for a themed carnival party or a silk flower for their hair to wear to a Hawaiian luau party. The scent of barbecue sauce or a card that plays “take me out to the ballgame” music, when opened, capture the spirit of your event and immediately connect your guests to the party.

Added Touches

Postage stamps that match the theme of your party add an extra special touch to the event invitations so go that extra mile. Beach umbrellas, tropical flowers, bowling pins and the like are all available as are customized stamps printed with a personal message.

Keep in Mind That the Invitation Is the First Impression

Most importantly, have fun. Your event invitation will make an impression on your guests and – as the first item they see regarding this event – can convince them to attend or persuade them to stay home. So don’t miss out on this important opportunity to get your guests excited, engaged and talking about your upcoming event. Make sure your event invitation stands out and then get to work on planning this award-winning event.