Ideas for the Party Human

Tip 2: Inviting Invitations

Posted on: September 29, 2009

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming . . .

           I once read in an outdated book on helpful hints for teenagers that party invitations are best given over the phone.  Their reasoning for such advice was as follows:  If you first call the one person you really want to come, then you are free to change the date if he or she can’t make it on the original day.  This is true.  So, if you’re having a party mainly to entertain one particular person, then this is the advice you should follow.

            However, most of us throw parties to entertain all our friends, make new ones and enjoy ourselves in the process.  We set a date that works for us and invite our guests.  For this purpose, phone invitations are decidedly dull. They generally leave no lasting impression on the receiver, and certainly no tangible record as a reminder.  (Beyond that, they could even be disastrous, if you–like thousands of other normal people–are a wee bit shy on the phone.)  Many people find it easy to say no on the phone, without really considering what they’re turning down.  Others will say yes automatically and then promptly forget all about it.  Still others will intend to come but will get the date and/or time mixed up with something else in their mind.  (It’s quite disconcerting to have someone show up on your doorstep unexpectedly, ready for the party from which you are now recuperating.)  Another problem with the phone invitation is that few of us will take the time on the phone to build up the party, giving details with picturesque speech.  All things considered, there must be a better way to get people to show up at a party.

            The purpose of invitations is to invite–and another word could be entice–the guests to your party.  Without people there, the party will be a flop; with lots of people there, it has a great chance of success.  So the invitation is a truly essential part of the party-planning process, after all.

            The invitation should do three things:  A) inform the intended guest of the event (date, time, what, where, things to bring, RSVP phone number); B)  make the guest interested in, and want to come to, the party; and C)  serve as a reminder of the upcoming occasion, so the guest doesn’t forget to be there.  The phone invitation will fulfill Requirement A, but it fares poorly with Requirement B and fails miserably in Requirement C.  The preferred kind of invitation, however, succeeds at all three.

            What is the “preferred kind of invitation”?  Well, we’ll call it a “hard invitation,” as opposed to the “soft invitation,” which would come over the phone (as in the computer world’s “hard copy” and “soft copy”).  The hard invitation is the kind that can come in the mail or be hand delivered.  (An email invitation could qualify, because it can be made enticing and can be printed out into a hard copy.)  The best invitation generally provides something visual that can excite interest in the party, and it is usually something that can be tacked on a bulletin board or stuck on the fridge to remind the guest of the upcoming event.

            The only rule as to the content of the “hard invitation” is that it must fulfill Requirement A described above, clearly and completely.  Beyond that, anything goes.  And that’s where the fun begins!

            Remember the theme you chose in Step 1?  Here’s where it comes in handy.  A theme will spawn many ideas for fascinating invitations, if you will let your imagination run on it for a few minutes.

            You don’t have to be artistic to make enticing invitations.  You can trace pictures from books, magazines, etc. and photocopy them.  You can use computer images and clip art.  You can cut pictures and even letters out of old periodicals.  You can get somebody who is artistic to do drawing and lettering for you.  (I used my dad a lot when I was young.)  You can also use stencils.  You can even send recorded messages.  

            The important thing is to make them interesting.  Be creative!  Cut the invitation up and send it as a puzzle.  Send the guests on a treasure hunt.  Tell them to look inside a certain book on a certain page and write down the first letter of every word to get the message.  Write it in code and give them the key or make them decipher it.  One college student sent an invitation “Mission Impossible”-style, in a manila envelope complete with tape-recorded message, picture, code and mailbox key.  The recipient answered in kind, with a tape and code of his own.  That’s one of the beauties of inventive invitations–they bring out the creative genius in those who receive them and also in those who produce them.

            Some other ideas are to write the invitation like a recipe, newspaper editorial or social item.  You can also write it on unusual things, like paper plates, napkins, fabric, rocks, photos, balloons, calendars or Japanese origami.  Use “ghostwriting” with lemon juice ink, or write it in reverse, to be read in a mirror!

            As you can see, the list could be endless.   And again, if you come up with some inventive invitations that you’d like to share, feel free to tell us about them.

            One more word about invitations:  Most invitations end with those strange initials, R.S.V.P., and a phone number.  We’d like to clear up the mystery for any of you who might have always wondered what they stood for but were afraid to ask.  “R.S.V.P.” comes from the French phrase “Repondez S’il Vous Plait,” which simply means “Please respond” in English.  The correct etiquette is to call or write the hostess whether or not you are coming. 

            It is important to include this in your invitation, to help you get some idea of how many guests to expect.  Of course, some guests will not bother responding, so be prepared for more people than you actually hear from.

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1 Response to "Tip 2: Inviting Invitations"

Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!! 🙂

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