You’re inspired to host a gathering - - there’s an occasion in mind – perhaps a theme – and you’re ready to set the wheels in motion to entertain guests…
What’s next? The invitation – the tool used by a host to communicate to a potential guest interest in including them in the gathering - and it is most essential for entertaining.
The invitation is the first impression you give to your guests about your event or gathering.
Use it creatively to share your entertaining inspiration and to give guests a flavor of what they have to look forward to!!
We suggest a few easy steps to achieve invitation success.
Step 1 - The guest list. Who are you including in your gathering or event? Consider these points when pulling it together:
Group size - Don't be tempted to invite more people than your location, budget (and sanity!) allows.
Estimating headcount - If you’re considering a large group event, you will need to make some assumptions about the number of guests that will accept your invitation. There are so many variations of what the magic formula is for acceptance rates – with a group of 50+, it’s reasonable to assume that 25-35% of those invited will NOT be able to attend. But be sure to factor in any potential holiday conflicts…
Mix & mingle - consider carefully the mix of guests you'd like to invite - are they all acquainted? Are there any possible conflicts that could arise during the evening? A little strategic thinking about the interaction of the guests can go a long way towards avoiding an awkward interruption of the fun of the evening.
Step 2 - Invitation format. Once the guest list is in place, use your event theme to help you decide on the format for your invitation. There are three basic types of invitation formats:
Formal invitations – you can certainly consider bespoke invitations custom designed to your look and feel by such talents as ABCD Design and Sweet Papier. These creative resources are definitely blogswelove and favorite Twitter follows. Take a look and see why... You could also try a very modern approach with the "Invitations in 3 Dimensions" from Egba. Or you can look at pre-packaged sets, to be printed or handwritten, from your preferred paper goods store. A favorite location in bricks & mortar and online is Papyrus ~ they, like us, believe that life is a celebration! We also like what Urbanity Studios has to offer online...be sure to follow them on Twitter, too!
E-invitations – Evite is familiar to most everyone and is an easy set-up for an event. We have recently gotten acquainted with Purple Trail (another worthy Twitter follow!!) and love their creative take on web-based invitations.
Phone call/email – for a casual gathering, or small dinner party, a phone call coupled with an email (especially to capture the logistical details accurately!!) works well.
So how to decide? A formal celebration for 25 likely needs more than a phone call - while a dinner for a few close friends may not. Is the plan to celebrate Valentine's Day or Christmas? A Golden Anniversary celebration? These may suggest a printed invitation to highlight the theme or special occasion. No matter what the etiquette guides suggest, it is up to the host to decide how to invite the guests - it can be as easy as a phone call - or as formal as printed invitations. You may even want to use a multi-step approach-head's up phone call, a "Save the Date" email, and a hard copy or web invitation.
Step 3 – Invitation content. A dazzling invitation is wonderful but ONLY if it communicates the necessary information for the gathering, along with the response request.
Type of event– what’s the occasion for the gathering? Let your guests know what you have in mind to build their enthusiasm.
Date & Time – this is basic common sense, right? However don’t miss the subtle opportunity to inform your guests about any strict schedule issues – from dinner seating following cocktails, to the arrival time of the guest of honor. If you’re planning an open house to last all day, offer your guests enough information to let them take advantage of the flexibility.
Location – street address and contact phone for the location are a must, but give yourself a gold star for including directions and a Google or MapQuest guide! It’s also very helpful to include parking information as a part of the invitation…
Response Request – how would you like your guests to communicate their response to your invitation? Is there a deadline date? Would you like them to call you, send an email, or … Do you need to know special dietary needs? Is there a meal selection required or other specific information needed? Help your guests by providing some structure for their response to you.
Who and How Many – we recommend sharing with your guests who else you’ve included and how large a group is planned – perhaps simply by phone or email when they RSVP. This helps to set the stage for their expectations for the event and increase their enthusiasm when they know something about who else will be participating.
Other Details – do the guests need to bring anything? What is the proper attire? Are gifts required?
Overall, the most important thing to remember - make sure the invitation communicates what you ~ the savvy host ~ want to say to you guests about your gathering!
and let the entertaining begin...