I've had a few surprise birthday parties in my life - my 16th, my 30th, my 39th - and each one was totally different and lots of fun once I got over the shock.
Here are a few tips if you are in charge of planning the surprise:
1. Make sure you know the schedule of the guest of honor and that they have no conflicts with your planned surprise party.
2. You'll need a decoy person or diversion activity to keep the party a secret until the last moment.
3. Make sure your invitations clearly state the party is a SURPRISE! List a phone number and email on your invitation order (if they need to call you for any reason) and on your invitations themselves so the guest of honor will not see or have access to your plans and ruin the surprise.
4. If your guests can't "lie" to the guest of honor about their social schedules, hopefully they can avoid the guest of honor until the party or you might want to come up with a decoy story they can tell to keep the secret.
5. Ask your guests to arrive early, at least a half an hour before the guest of honor's timed arrival, and stress that they can't be late or be seen sneaking into the party a step ahead of the guest of honor.
6. Request guests park their cars out of site. You don't need to hear "Why's Joe's car here?"
7. Pray no one will slip-up and blow your surprise. If you've done steps 1-6, you are probably in the clear.
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Unless your wedding invitations are a single sheet of 80 lb. cover stock in an average envelope, chances are you will need more than one first-class postage stamp on your envelopes to get them to their destination.
If you guess or assume the amount of postage required and you're wrong, all your wedding invitations will be returned to you rubber stamped "insufficient postage."
They will be returned provided you didn't skip putting a return address on your envelopes. Yes, some people have chosen to ignore the obvious and to save time or money, did not put a return addresses on their envelopes and the post office has no clue what to do with your beautiful invitations except to toss them.
Did you know:
In the planning stages, it is important to ask how much your invitations will cost to mail. If adding $.11 or more postage just to be able to mail square envelopes (has nothing to do with weight, but orientation limitations with the post office scanning equipment) is something that isn't in your budget, you will need to choose a different size invitation before you get to the design, proof and printing stages.
Do NOT buy all your postage until you have mailed a sample to yourself. As soon as you get your invitations, put one together with all the pieces, address it to yourself, take it into the post office and have a postal employee determine and affix the correct amount of postage for your invitation, then mail it to yourself. You can work on assembling and addressing all the invitations after you've mailed this test sample. When your sample arrives in your mailbox, you'll know the postage was correct (or not if it was returned to you with "insufficient postage" stamped on it), you'll also see how it survived its journey and what your guests will see in their mailboxes and you can make any changes necessary before you mail all the invitations. After you've done the test mailing, you can then buy your postage.
Don't guess at postage and don't take chances with your invitations. A few extra steps will ensure your guests receive their invitations.
When should you mail your party invitations is not a trick question, but the answer can be confusing. When to mail your party invitations depends on:
When to Mail Kid's Party Invitations:
For kids birthday party invitations, two to four weeks in advance should be enough notice. However, if your child's party is around a holiday, around a busy sports schedule or around sports play-offs for your child or is on the same day as say the Super Bowl, extra notice or even having the party on a different day close to the birthday may be necessary. Once children are in school, they understand their parties will occur on weekends and not necessarily on their birthdays. You will also want to make sure best friends, grandparents and other special people are available on your chosen date and time before creating invitations.
When to Mail Formal Party Invitations:
Formal invitations should be sent four-six weeks before the date, even as much as eight weeks for a wedding. If you want to send more than eight weeks notice of a party, consider sending a save the date card instead with the invitation to follow six-eight weeks before the event. Formal occasions include:
When to Mail Casual Party Invitations:
Informal or casual event invitations should be mailed two to four weeks before the party date. Casual barbecues, pool parties, dinner parties, birthday parties don't require a lot of notice to attend. Again, the exception to this is if there is a holiday on your party date or if there will be several other people celebrating the same occasion such as your child's graduation party should not be scheduled at the same time as their best friend's party, the Super Bowl, Halloween, etc.
When to Mail Holiday Invitations:
Holiday schedules fill up at warp speed, so for the best turnout at your party, you will want to mail holiday party invitations early enough to be the first to claim the date and the excitement and attention of your invited guests.
December Friday and Saturday nights are popular nights for parties, so don't wait long to claim the date for your event. New Year's Eve is also a party you will want to give guests lots of notice so they select your party as to one to attend.
When to Use Save the Date Cards:
If you are planning a party that needs advance notice for guests to take off work, travel long distances or arrange for child care, you can send save the date cards that notify them of the party, the date, and that more information will follow by a printed invitation with all the details. Holidays, weddings, business functions or occasions that fight for your guests attendance such as 4th of July, Christmas, New Year's Eve are parties guests will appreciate receiving save the date cards to make advance preparations necessary to attend your party.
You want your wedding day to be perfect and coming up with a guest list is one of the most important things to consider when arriving and sticking to a budget.
As most aspects of our wedding are based on "per person", an accurate head count of who's invited and who's coming is crucial.
Your guest list is where everything begins and ends. You need to know how many people you are inviting and how many are realistically going to attend. This number dictates the size of your wedding location and the reception venue, your budget for food, drinks, favors, etc.
Mailing out 300 hundred invitations and hoping only 150 guests will accept is not realistic.
If your chapel or beautiful section of beach will only hold 150 people and 200 reply that they are attending, you will have a serious problem. Turning away invited guests is a situation you will want to avoid. Also, there may not be room to simply add more chairs or more tables to the venues you have chosen. There are space limitations and also fire laws that will limit the number of people allowed at one time in a location.
Set your wedding budget and know how many "heads" you have allowed in this number. To narrow down your list of who to invite, assume 80% will reply they are attending unless you are having a destination wedding and the location will prevent many guests from attending due to cost or travel distances.
Going forward, the number of guests to invite assumes 80% will attend. Calculate how many guests you can safely invite to order your save the date cards, wedding invitations, and your temporary head count when determining costs for your wedding cake, reception venue, caterer, bartender, party favors or any service that relies on per-person price to arrive at an estimated cost of all services and to plan your wedding budget.
Graduation Save the Date Cards can save your party! If you want a great turnout for your graduation party, send your guests a Save the Date Card that gives them advance notice of your event.
Graduation shares the stage with weddings, summer vacations, and even competition with other graduates' parties.
Generally, save the date cards are sent eight or more weeks before the date of the event. To decide who to send them to, you might like to read Who Do You Invite to a Graduation Party?
Graduation party invitations or graduation announcements can be mailed eight weeks or less before your event, but be sure to send them early enough to ensure a fabulous turnout for your party.
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Every graduate will have a list of “must invite” people and that's a good place to start when planning your graduation party guest list.
How do you decide on who to invite? Make a list of:
Once you have your guest list started, the most important thing you must do is pick a date for your party. While this may seem easy, consider the end of school will be filled with other friend's graduation parties, weddings, and summer vacations, so the earlier you can decide on a date, the better.
A crucial aspect of picking a date is to make sure the most important people in your child's life, grandparents, best friends, and other relatives, have the date open. Make sure everyone has the day off work, including the graduate, your spouse and your graduates significant other! Make sure best friends' parents don't schedule their party the same time as yours as everyone will be disappointed, your party mood and turnout and will suffer or may even be cut short to accommodate other events.
You may want to consider mailing Save the Date Cards eight weeks or more in advance of your party so guests can mark their calendars. Parents that also have a child graduating will appreciate the heads up to avoid scheduling their party at the same time and making graduates and friends choose which party to attend. If you have people that won't come to the party because it's too hard for them to travel, consider sending graduation announcements to them instead of an invitation to a party.
Your graduate will be talking about graduation on social media and at school, so be sure to include your child in all areas of party planning so your party will go smoothly and they will not miss out on important events or friends' parties they might not have told you about yet.
Remember, your graduate is going to be busy with their friends at their graduation parties and you will probably be invited to several of them too, so be sure to leave time in your schedule to relax and celebrate this milestone in your child's life.
Lots of humorous Graduation Invitations:
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How is your handwriting? How formal is your event? These are a few of the questions that will help you decide if you need a calligrapher to address your invitation envelopes.
With the availability of beautiful fonts on the internet, you might be able to download a font, free or for under $50, that will match or compliment the font used on your invitations and print your envelope addresses yourself on your home computer.
If you choose to use a calligrapher, you will need to get your envelopes to them two to three weeks before the date you want to have them in the mail. Be sure to ask their turn-around time before you hire them so there are no surprises.
Regardless of if you print your envelopes or hire a calligrapher, you will need to compile a neatly printed guest list. Be sure to double check the spellings and addresses of your guests by making phone calls or checking with friends and family to make sure your list is correct. Your list should include the full names of the guests and any professional titles such as Doctor, Mr., Mrs. or Miss. Do not use any abbreviations on your envelopes. Spell out numbers one through nine; the words Street, Drive, Boulevard, etc.; the word Apartment or Suite, etc., and the name of the state.
No matter which way you choose to go, be sure to allow enough time to compile your list and complete the envelope printing to get them in the mail on time.
"Regrets Only", or don't call unless you're NOT coming, has become a popular phrase to put on party invitations.
While it may seem the hip or easy thing to do, I personally strongly disagree with EVER using regrets only. A few of my reasons could prevent you from having a major party host panic attack.
A few years back, I threw a New Year's Eve party and invited about 20 couples. I made up this really cute rhyming poem, printed my invitations on beautiful ivory shimmery paper wrapped with a gold ribbon and bow, put stamps on the matching shimmery envelopes and sent them on their merry way.
I planned the rest of the party, but when it came time to shop for food, drinks, and other party goods, I started to panic.
"What if no one came to my party?"
Granted, no one had called to say they couldn't come, but then most people have a hard time replying they are coming to a party.
So now what? How many people do I:
I think you now get some of the big issues that can arise with using "regrets only" instead of RSVP on your party invitations. So seriously, why would you use Regrets Only? If you're like me and you break down and call your guest list to see if any one is really coming, you have totally defeated the purpose of your Regrets Only reply request.
Play it safe and use "RSVP to Donna by December 1st" and add a phone number, an email address or both, or some variation of those words on your invitations, especially when a head count is needed for things like seating, a bartender, a caterer, party favors or general peace of mind.
The next time you get an invitation, verbal, in the mail or heaven forbid, by social media, you can do the host and hosts of the future a favor and REPLY! Just pick up the phone, email your reply, mail back the response card and let the host know you will or will not be attending their party. Trust me, they will appreciate it and so will you when you decide to through your own party.
Every day is a reason to celebrate, and today, February 27th, is National No-Brainer Day! Really!
Now this is a holiday I can get behind! No-Brainer is defined as "something that requires a minimum of thought." I'm going to have to rethink my to-do list today and see how many thought intensive projects can be pushed to tomorrow. I think I'll spend the day cleaning, decluttering and feng shui-ing my house and my office. That should be about as no-brainer as you can get, right?
What will you do to celebrate no brainer day?
Custom printed party invitations you're proud to send and guests will love to receive plus party favor boxes, bags, decorating tips and party planning help.