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I was invited to and attended the induction luncheon of a friend of mine who recently became a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. I wasn’t sure the protocol, but given her enthusiasm and excitement throughout the pledging process, I wanted to congratulate her with a small gift. But when I went to the local Greek shop looking for something nice, I was very disappointed because everything seemed so run-of-the-mill and typical. I mean, how many brightly colored tote bags and umbrellas does one need?

Anywho, while I did purchase some of the standard fare (a cute tea mug and keychain), I decided to make her something as well. I figured ‘why not’ since she has everything anyway. What unique gift could I give that all of her new sorors wouldn’t have as well? Here’s what I came up with…

custom stationary for alpha girl

A gift for the lady who has everything.

First, I decided to make custom stationary in the colors of her sorority. I put an ivy leaf on the top and bottom and added crystal embellishments for a bit of bling (my signature touch). I used pink cardstock paper and the print is in green. This will be great when she wants to send a personal note or thank you to one of her sorors.

I also made a sparkly pen figuring that women always love sparkly things (I know I do!). I couldn’t find an ivy leaf specifically but thought the green was a nice touch. Since we’re smack dab in the middle of Christmas season, everything’s green at the craft store, just not ivy:(

And in keeping with the holiday season, I made her a set of AKA Christmas ornaments. You can see from the pics that I had the letters cut in vinyl (at the local greek store: Unique Greek located in Chicago Heights, IL). I actually have the store owner to thank for this idea. I saw a set of Delta ornaments and thought, ‘how clever’ and decided to step it up a notch with my design. So I added the year in rhinestones on the clear glass balls I purchased from Jo-Ann crafts. As you can see from the pictures, once I added the metallic shred to the inside of the ball, the numbers didn’t show up as well so if I ever do this again perhaps I’ll use a white iridescent shred instead. What do you think?

alpha kappa alpha ornament gifts

Before Shimmer Shred

aka gifts holiday ornaments

After Shimmer Shred

Quick Update: I was later asked to make Delta Sigma Theta holiday ornaments for another custom gift, so I made a few tweaks and here’s a pic on how they turned out…

delta sigma theta sorority holiday gift ideas

Using the white shimmer shred turned out much better:)

custom baby christening invitationThis was a fun project I completed recently to celebrate the christening of Baby Alessandro. This was an extremely quick turnaround. I usually like to plan 3-6 weeks out for a custom invitation. Especially since clients are usually particular about color schemes and elements of the design. It’s important to allow time for design, color matching and ordering of papers and production.

However, this was a small run so I was able to source materials locally. This particular invitation had a turnaround time of 5 days.

invite boy christeningWhen designing the invitation, the client really liked the belly band used on a wedding invite I’d designed and wanted to incorporate that into her design. I was able to find a lovely fiore blue ice deocrative paper from the Paper Source. This blue unryu paper is very sheer and printed with a light blue flocked dot and then punched out. The flocking almost feels like rubber on the sheer paper. It has a very light and airy feel to it which ties in well with the soft, whispy feelings associated with all things baby.

Judging from the client’s reaction when I delivered the invites, I’d say it was a success. Even though I love creating and working with papers, I also love the look on a client’s face when I’m able to capture the essence of their imagination through an invitation made just for them.

custom invitation envelope

Delicious Wedding Fonts

Select The Right Font To Make Any Invitation Pop

Planning a spectacular soirée begins, well…at the beginning, of course!

So it’s time to choose our communiqué. An invitations’ first goal is to deliver information. It’s primary purpose is to relay the pertinent details of the event, but it can also say something about the sender as well. Allow your personality or brand to come across in your correspondence.

The invitation is the very first impression your guest receives of your upcoming event and setting the tone for the festivities is a tall order. If you’re working with a limited budget, one way to inflect some personality into your announcement is with font selection. But being that there are almost as many fonts to choose from as stars in the sky, how do you go about narrowing down the decision?

  1. What’s the theme of your event? Will it be kicked-back and relaxed? Formal and elegant? Intimate and garden fairy-esque? Fonts have personalities and choosing one that echos the mood you want to create at the party helps to set the tone.
  2. What kind of paper will you use? If you’re going to use a textured paper, then a thin whimsy font is likely to get lost in translation. A heavier font with thicker strokes will work better. Likewise, a heavy font like Gill Sans Ultra Bold will dominate on a vellum paper. This could work, but make sure the strong bold message it’s communicating is your intention.
  3. Remember the K.I.S.S. Method (Keep It Simple Silly:) It’s tempting to go overboard with font selection simply because there are so many fun ones to choose from. But a little self-restraint goes a looong way here. Using more than three fonts on a page will make your invite start to look chaotic…now if that’s the look you’re going for….well, hey, why not use 10 then!

For more tips on font selection, check out this helpful article from Dynamic Graphics + Create Magazine. Just an FYI, you’ll also hear the term “typeface” tossed about when referring to fonts. Although there is a difference, for us regular folks using both terms will suffice. Experiment with different fonts before making your final selection. Print up a few test versions on your home computer (there are free fonts available from DaFont.com) to get your started. A simple change in font can give your invitation a completely different look & feel, armed with these tips, you’re bound to send just the right message. Scan the Comments below if you’re looking to source a specific font shown here…

Okay, you’ve thought of everything, the invitations, the reception decor, even the little red truck your 2-year old ring bearer is going to ride down the aisle has been decorated. There’s only one small, but very important detail left to attend to…the thank you favors.

Oftentimes, thank you favors get lost in the hustle and bustle of event planning but they are just as important as all of the other details. The thank you favor is a genuine show of appreciation to your guests and lets them know that their attendance is an important part of your grand celebration. Simply put, it lets them know that you care about them.

Favors can run the full spectrum in terms of extravagance and pricing, but for the budget conscious bride or event planner, there’s no need to sacrifice quality for cost. All it takes is an extra bit of creative thinking to fashion a super stylish favor that won’t break the bank. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  1. For a cute candy favor, buy candy in bulk and use colored organza bags as the container. Create a custom favor tag that looks like your invitation using your home computer. However, I would recommend that you print the labels at your local copy shop on their color copier/laser printer. Ink jet printers  scream “homemade” because of the obvious difference in ink quality. Plus, if the tags (printed on an ink jet) get wet, there goes your presentation.
  2. Use clear favor boxes with a decorative ribbon or crystal accent and add a sticker tag with sticker sheets found at Staples or OfficeMax. Or, you can create a fold over tag and pair it with clear cello bags from the craft store. This is a great way to use local favorites like Garrett’s cheese & caramel popcorn for a Chicago-themed wedding or Rocky Mountain candy apples as your parting gift. Guests love the personality of local food favorites. Martha Stewart has some useful templates for tags & favors, free to download here.
  3. Go for something three-dimensional and customize it with a personalized pendant. I used this idea for a wedding favor that was three days before Christmas. The secret here is to purchase the base of your gift, whatever that may be, in bulk, that’s the way to make your favor dollars stretch the farthest. Once you customize it with your own pendant, no one will ever guess that it wasn’t made just for them because it looks so much more expensive than it really is…shhh! You can check out the Custom Favor Ornament here.
  4. Even though the CD favor has gotten some mileage, it can still be a great favor if executed well. When it comes to the CD favor, packaging is everything. Skip over the clear plastic CD cases and opt for something much more personal. Use a cardstock in your event theme’s colors to create the case, then personalize it with a special story about the couple or event and how these songs made the cut. Do they hold any significance? If so, tell that story to your guests. Oh, and don’t forget to list the songs and track numbers for easy reference later.

The secret to making any party favor spectacular is the presentation. As long and you go the extra mile to make it special and unique to your event, it will be a great gift. Really, the only time you’ll lose favor points is if your gift looks mass-produced, so don’t get lazy during the last leg of the race, finish it out in style:)

Have you got a great idea for a unique favor? Add your idea here…

Have you ever received an invitation that arrived on the most sumptuous textured paper with letters that seemed to leap off the page begging for your return reply? Well, if so, then you have no doubt been enchanted by a delightfully delicious letterpress invitation.

Letterpress is a classic art of printing in which a pattern is (usually) inked and pressed into the surface of the paper. Letterpress is experiencing a revival in our highly digitized world and I, for one, am excited about the comeback.

If you’re shopping around for invites and want a classic, handcrafted feel then letterpress is definitely a wonderful choice. When visiting the invitationer, you’re likely to hear a few terms tossed about. Don’t be intimidated, we’ll break them down here…

Debossing is when the design is pressed into the paper. Typically ink is not added to the impression so it’s great for a graphic element to accent your information.

The easiest way to think of it is if you were riding along in the car and drove over a pothole. The wheel of the car is forced downward in order to fill the empty space created by the pothole. If the street were an invitation, the pothole would be the debossed accent. In the invitation on the left, you’ll notice that the letters and date dip down into the paper, that’s a sure-fire giveaway that the paper is debossed.

Now, let’s move along and onto another road. We turn down a residential street and notice that they’ve included speed bumps so that we don’t speed down the block. (Children must live on this street.) If this street were an invitation, then it would be embossed because the wheel is pushed up in order to accommodate the disturbance in the road.

The traditional letterpress invitations usually will not have ink added to the impression but the more modern styles will be accented with an ink color. Either way is fine, there’s no rule of thumb here. It all depends on what flavor you want to add to your special event. Brighter colors create a fun, relaxed tone while darker colors or creams suggest a more formal event. Hope this helps!

Have you got a burning craft question? Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll include it in the next “What Is That?” series of posts.

Snowflake Invitation Well ladies and germs, the festive season is here! Finally, we can just let go and release the childlike joy bubbling beneath the surface without fear of any disapproving eyes. After all, it’s the holidays and what better excuse than a gaudy Christmas sweater or re-gifted fruitcake to bring a smile to your loved ones faces.

When sending out your holiday greetings this season, here are a few quick down & dirty, invitation etiquette tips to keep us all on track:

  • Completely spell out all dates, times and places. For example: “Friday, December twenty – fifth, two thousand and nine at six o’ clock in the evening.
  • Don’t abbreviate anything – like street names or addresses. Spell them out completely also.

And I know that planning a wedding can be tight on the budget, BUT it’s very important to include the following courtesies in your invitation etiquette. It will go a long way in fostering good feelings about your upcoming nuptials. After all, you want your guests to look forward to your event with eager anticipation, not dreaded obligation:

  • Allow your guests to bring a date to the wedding. No one wants to feel forced to sit through your nuptials alone, leave the decision to them. To ensure everyone is on the same page, you can address the invitation as “Ms. Renee Foster and Guest.”
  • Even if it seems efficient or a good use of space, please don’t mention guest registries on the invitation, it’s considered poor form. Information about your gift preferences should be gained through word of mouth (i.e. your bridesmaids or family) or you can also note it on your wedding blog.

As my momma always said, ‘if you’re going to do it, do it right.’ Perhaps she carried more wisdom in her words that I gave her credit for

adorable snowflake invitation

Adorable Snowflake Invitation by Michelle Mospens of MyPersonalArtist.com

(Shh…don’t tell her:)