March 3, 2016

Invitations That Actually Invite


I normally try to draft my blog posts on Mondays so when Thursday morning comes, all I have to do is edit, format, and add photos. That didn't happen this week.

On Sunday, I was hit hard by a lovely little bug that decided it would be fun to give me a fever and stuffy nose. Oh, and it sucked all my energy away. Five days later I'm still feeling the effects. Dumb bug...

It's a good thing this week's post is pretty easy.

I mean, how hard can creating the perfect invitation be?

It's obviously harder than you think.

With two boys in school and one heading to kindergarten this fall (only five more months - hallelujah!), I've seen my fair share of birthday invitations. Not only that, but I've been the recipient of dozens of baby shower, bridal shower, home party (think Tupperware and such), and church event invitations. Some have done an admirable job of conveying the proper information. Others? Not so much.

For example: My 6yo received an invitation last year to a friend's birthday party. He was thrilled. He was excited. I wanted him to go. The problem? There was no date on the invitation. No joke. There was a time, a place, and all other relevant information. But no date. Fortunately, we were able to get it figured out so he could attend.

Another example: Recently, my same child received another invitation. This one had all the necessary information -- Saturday, noon, trampoline park. But it failed to mention whether lunch would be served. Our family often eats lunch at 11:00 (sometimes sooner), so that was a critical piece of information we needed to plan our day.

What to include:

When I was a kid, my mom had a rubber stamp for making invitations. It listed the five "W's" of need-to-know information:
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
It also had balloons and confetti to make it pretty, but that's not necessary. 

Well...maybe it is. We're trying to be festive here, people!

Add an RSVP and a theme and tah-dah! Perfection.

Who

Always, always, ALWAYS mention who the party/event is for. Make it big and bold. Feature it proudly. If it's for a kid's birthday party, the first name and last initial may be sufficient. For bridal or baby showers, full name. If it's an organization, write the whole darn name out. Don't abbreviate! Make sure it's clear who or what is being celebrated!

What

Is it a birthday party? Is it a fundraising event? What kind of shindig is it? Casual? Formal? PJ's? Hawaiian luau complete with grass skirts and hula contest? What kind of food will be served? Will there be any competitions? Performances? Contests? What should the invitee expect? 

Be specific.

Johnny is turning eight! Come join us for pizza, popcorn, and a "drive-in movie" experience in our backyard. We'll be decorating "cars" to enjoy a matinee screening of the movie Cars. Cake and ice cream will be served.

Or...
It's a block party BBQ! We provide the hot dogs and buns, you provide a side dish or dessert to share. Music, dancing, swimming, and sand volleyball. We may even scare up a karaoke machine so you can show off your mad American Idol skills. 

When

Again, be specific. Include the day of the week. If you have people coming from other time zones, specify which time zone. This is especially necessary if you're doing an online party or Skyping people in from across the country. Make sure the date and time are clearly visible so they can't be missed.
Example: Saturday, May 7th at 12:00 pm MDT. 

Where

You can include this in the "What" or "When" sections or have it stand alone. I'm going to sound like a broken record, but be specific!
This month's craft swap will be held at the Main Street Community Center in room D12.
Or...
 We'll be celebrating Amy's sixth birthday at the splash pad on Oak Street (include city, if necessary). Look for the red canopy with pink and purple balloons and streamers. You can't miss it!

Why

There may be times when you'll need to add a "Why" to your invitation in addition to the "What". The sample below includes all the relevant information.

Come to the Boy Scout Food Auction! (who and what)
Wednesday, March 16th at 6:00 pm in the cultural hall at the LDS church building on Maple Street. (when and where)
Make a bid for your favorite food and enjoy dinner with your family. (what)
The scouts are raising money for scout camp this summer, so come prepared to bid your heart out. Let's send our boys to camp! (why)

 RSVP

Most parties and events require an accurate head count so you can be sure to have enough food/party favors/seats. This is where the RSVP comes in. There are a few ways to do this.
  1. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope for responses along with a response card. This is great for super formal events such as weddings. It's a bit fancier than I care to go, but to each his own.
  2. Include a phone number for people to respond to via phone call or text. I prefer RSVP's via text because it takes just a couple of minutes and I don't feel the need to engage in small talk. Email is a good method for responses as well.
  3. Facebook event page. This works well for Facebook parties and for social circles where most, if not all of the members are on Facebook. Each invitee can mark "Going", "Not Going", or "Maybe".
  4. There are websites out there -- both free or paid -- that will give you a link to pass on to your invitees where they can RSVP online. Just Google "RSVP online" and you'll get several pages of results. *Disclaimer - I have never used any of these sites myself, but I have RSVP'd through a couple of them. Do your homework. Make sure you find one that works for you. And read the fine print!

Theme

My kids have always had a theme for their parties. In fact, one year my oldest's birthday party theme was "Classic Birthday Party". The theme serves two purposes -- it lets your guests know what to expect and, if gifts are involved, gives the gift-giver an idea of what to get.

I love this last purpose. How many times has your child received an invitation to a birthday party for a kid in their class and neither you nor your child had a clue what to get them? This happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. We usually end up wandering the toy aisles of Walmart for an hour before we can decide on something. How much easier is it if the child's interest(s) is on the invitation?

The last birthday invitation that passed through our doors had the Minions plastered all over it. That wasn't the theme of the party, but it was obviously something the child enjoyed. Decision made easy. 

My kids' birthday invitations almost always have something they like on it - Lego Star Wars, Lego Spiderman and Lego Marvel Superheroes. Even the Classic Birthday Party invitation had Legos on it.

Huh. I guess if you need to give my kids a gift, you can't go wrong with Lego anything. That's what happens with a house full of boys.

You can also mention the recipient's likes or let guests know where they're registered. Although, registering for a child's birthday party seems a bit much. Save that for showers and weddings. :)

Final example (that I hope to be using someday in the near-ish future):

I'm having a book launch party for my debut book - Between Shadow and Light, the first book in the Corners series! (who and what)
It'll be released on [insert date here]. To celebrate, we're going to invade [insert location here] that day at 7:00 pm for fun, food, and lots of giveaways! Not to mention the autograph signing by yours truly. (when, where, and what)
Seriously, let's party! You don't want to miss it!

Sigh... That will happen. Someday. After I get these revisions done, land an agent, get a publishing contract, do more revisions...

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

It really will happen. And, in the words of my 14yo, it will be EPIC.

Coming soon...

Next week my husband and I celebrate SIXTEEN years of marriage. Man, we're getting old. 

Anyway, to celebrate, I'm going to post a few pictures of us through the years and talk about strategies we've used to stick together for so dang long. I wonder if he'll actually read this one... (Just kidding, love. Kinda.)

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