Party Planning 101: The Invitations

Finalizing the guest list is the first step to planning invitations. This is always the worst part of my party planning. The more people you have the more expensive things get, not to mention the noise and the chaos if every parent decide to use you as a babysitting service on the day of the party. My children have a number of cousins nearby so there’s no way to avoid large numbers. This year I allowed my children to choose 3 friends each. All together, we’re expecting 16 kids!

I love using Vistaprint and Shutterfly to create announcements and invites, but didn’t want to spend that kind of money this year. We bought an inexpensive set of themed invites when we purchased our party supplies from Party City, but I found they will not arrive until the 16th. I need invites right now–we only have 10 days until the party.

I searched around for invite ideas and really loved some of the examples I found on Stop, Drop and Blog. I browsed Snapfish and for a second thought to spend the money because it’s so much easier, but surprisingly I stuck to my budget–which is now zero for invites. Hmm…how do I get nice invites for nothing at all?

I searched online for a firefighter theme digital scrapbooking kit and found myself back at Stop, Drop and Blog, jumping over to Kim’s Scrappin’ and Designing to download Just Call Me The Fireman. This is the best darn fire theme ever and it’s free!

I had my pieces, a rough idea of what I wanted to do, and fired up Adobe Illustrator. I set the red flame paper to background and layered additional papers cropping their shapes and sizes as I went. I used Adobe Photoshop to remove the lettering on the fire engine sticker and added lettering that’s a little more personal to my boys (Engine No. 09, Perry F.D., Ladder No. 07.) I placed the Maltese cross button and the engine sticker, added drop shadows and layered on the text.

I started playing with Illustrator for the first time about a year ago and this is the first complex project I’ve ever finish in under an hour. I went in with little confidence and came out tooting my own horn. Really. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t know I had this kind of craftiness in me.

To keep the printing cost low, I grabbed an open pack of Kodak Ultima Picture Paper that I had collecting dust on a shelf and printed at home. They came out glossy and vibrant, even better than I hoped.

My plan was to purchase a pack of black paper for $4 and cut them to shape for my envelopes, attaching the invitation to the inside center, folding the flaps and closing with a gold foil sticker; however, after searching four stores I had no such luck finding the paper I needed. I settled for an invitation kit from an office supply store and pieced the invitations together for less than 60¢  an invitation.


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