Whoever said this was just a food blog? I never said that.
Sometimes I feel like gettin’ crafty. Just so happens the only medium I can actually manipulate is paper. Hence, I’ve spent a fortune at Paper Source in my lifetime.
When I worked a few buildings down from the Oak Park shop, it took some mighty willpower not to pop in and waste my lunch hour gazing at row upon row of fancy Japanese papers. And yes that is a wedding dress made entirely out of paper in the window display. I remember that display well. It was impressive. Pretty.
I like pretty things. Usually expensive things. I never buy expensive things, though… rather, I scour this great planet to find pretty things at a pretty price.. or just make pretty things myself.
My wedding was huge manifestation of this habit. Jeff, his mother, my sister and I spent hours…. DAYS…. folding, cutting and gluing squares of paper together for my wedding. We made the invitations, the programs, the CD favor labels, and 33 giant paper magnolias.
Half way through the process, with countless paper cuts, double-stick tape squares and dried on paste covering my hands, I wondered if I was mentally ill and contemplated starting a small bonfire in my kitchen sink and then just sending out Evites. I didn’t do that, and I must say, just receiving one complement on your work makes it all worth it.
So with Marlo’s birthday rolling around, I had to think about invitations a few weeks ago. I shopped all the photo websites for an affordable but still cute invitation and had a hard time finding one for less than $1.50 a shot. Now, that’s not that expensive, I know, but when you’ve got to send out 40… all of a sudden $60.00 on invitations sounds insane. So I figured, why not coax out my inner Martha Stewart, again, and create my own.
Here’s how I did it and you can do it for less than $0.80 each.
1.Choose a picture. This took DAYS. We have literally a thousand pictures of Marlo. The girl is just so camera-ready all the time. My Mac is filled to the brim with her cheesy smiles, ponders, and perplexing gazes. So when I narrowed it down to about 25, I thought there was no way I could just pick one, so I didn’t because I didn’t have to.
Google’s Picasa photo editing program is pretty neat. I use it almost exclusively for my photos. You can download for free here, and you should. If you have a Mac, there is an obscure link on the bottom of the page that says Picasa for Mac. The program performs all the basic photo editing tasks, organizes your photos and videos, and does some other neat things like making collages. I put together this collage for the invitation.
This page on the Picasa website explains how to create collages. It’s pretty simple and an easy way to make something unique. It’s particularly fun for desktop backgrounds.
2. Get prints made. I wanted them cheap. The cheaper the better. How about free? Yes. I’ll take free please. It’s not all that unusual for photo processing websites to offer sets of free prints here and there. Often there is just an email stating: “hey it’s summer! use this code for 50 free prints!” Okay, I will. Or, you can just open an account on one of the sites and they’ll give you 25 free prints or something equivalent. Already have an account? Sign up your grandma, your mom, or your husband. You just need an email address, and you’ll get the account with the free prints credit. Here are some links to some photo processing websites that often have free print deals:
3. Buy Paper Supplies. Technically first you need to figure out your color scheme. I chose red & yellow. Will this be the party’s color scheme? I don’t know. Probably not. I don’t think that matters. I’m giving you permission not to care about it either if you promise I don’t have to care. Done.
Here’s everything you’ll need to make invitations like this.
- 5X7 Flat Cards for backing. I used Paper Source size A7 in Curry. $4.50 for 25 cards.
- 4X6 (or similar size) Flat Cards for party information. After printing the wrong information on my Paper Source A9 cards, I used a pack of white 8.5X11 cardstock from Target, cut into quarters. The A9 cards were $5.50 for 25 cards.
- 5X7 inch envelopes. I used Paper Source A7 envelopes in red, $4.25 for 10 envelopes.
- Photo Corners $4.00 for 240.
- Double stick tape or similar adhesive. I used the medium sized Zots, and I recommend you do, too. BIG time saver. One box will do it for $4.95.
- Access to a computer with word processing, preferrably Microsoft Word.
- Access to an inkjet printer for Paper Source papers. Other papers (like the cardstock from Target) are Laser printer ready.
4. Create and print document in word processor for party information. Again, I just used Word. Easy. Didn’t get too fancy, just used a “Who, When, Where, etc.” format. Straightforward. Be there or be square. I have a slight obsession with fonts, though. This dates back to middle school years. I can sit down to look at fonts on the internet, and days will pass by. Weird, I know, but consider yourself warned. Here’s a good site for FREE downloadable fonts. If you need help installing the fonts onto your computer, just go where you belong: Mac or PC (I use the drag and drop method for both Mac and PC).
If using Paper Source paper, it is recommended that you use a regular old inkjet printer. However, if you are using different paper, it normally will tell you if it is compatible with inkjet or laser. If it doesn’t ask somebody at the store. It’s important. If you don’t use a compatible printing method, your text will smear and smudge, and the result will not be legible, pretty, or worth all this time you’re putting into it. If you need to cut the final paper down to size, please use a heavy duty paper cutter. Most libraries or print shops have them available if you do not have access to one from an office.
5. Assemble! Let the fun begin! Apply double stick tape, or Zots, anything but glue (it will ripple your paper) to the four corners on the back of the information card and apply to the center (eyeball it – it’s seriously good enough) of the flat backing card. It’s easier if you do all this step at once, rather than shift gears and switch to apply the photo for every individual card.
Next, apply photo corners to each of the 4 corners of the photo. Peel off backing or lick – whatever kind you have, and carefully apply to the center of the other side of the flat backing card. You could, alternatively, just apply the photo with adhesive the same way as the info card. I chose the photo corners ( a little more time consuming) so the recipient could then have an undamaged keepsake photo.
6. Stuff & Send. Address envelopes, then stuff, then stamp, then send.
Pretty simple, right? I thought so, too. And what you get for your $0.80, is not only exactly what you want (you designed it), but it’s pretty good quality compared to what else is out there for the same price, or higher. True, you do need some time and patience on your hands and not all of us have that. But honestly, this probably took a total of 3 hours of time, including the designing, shopping and assembling. I’ll save my $30 and do it myself, thank you.