The first step for any party planner is to send out invitations. Easy to do, right? Well, we all remember to include the basic who, what, when and where information, but its easy to overlook the small details that can make a big difference. Make sure your invites communicate all the important information clearly so that guests won't hesitate to RSVP, yes! to your next bash.
Who: The Host & Guest of Honor
When you send out an invitation you never want to forget to include the name of the host or the guest of honor.
- If your party is all about a guest of honor be sure to let invited guests know so that they can plan accordingly.
- Don't forget to put your name down as the host of the event. Since you're planning the party you will be the go-to person for any questions guests may have.
Time to Party: What's the Occasion?
Make sure you explain the purpose of the party. Is Dad turning 50? Or is it your daughter's 5th Birthday?
- Be specific about the occasion and the person being honored so that guests will know what to expect--the last thing you want to do is mislead your guests.
- Also, be sure to let them know if they should arrive armed with a gift, prepared dish, or simply ready to party.
Date: When's The Party?
One of the most important parts of an invitation is the planned date of the party.
- I always suggest including the day of the week to avoid any possible confusion, although the way the date is written generally depends on the type and degree of formality of the event.
- An informal invitation can read: Wednesday, August 1, 2008.
- A more formal approach spells out the date: Wednesday the first of August, 2008.
Time: When Should Guests Arrive?
Including a detailed time on your invite helps your guests as well as you.
In general, be as specific as possible about timing. The more explicit you are, the less likely it is that guests will arrive too early or stay past their welcome.
- If you know from past parties that some guests are more likely to arrive late, include a bit of a schedule for them. For example write, "Come for cocktails at 7PM" or "Dinner will be served at 8PM." By doing this you allow guests to plan accordingly.
- If you're hosting a surprise party inform guests as to when the guest of honor will arrive. Nothing blows a surprise party more than when the birthday guy or girl arrives along with tardy guests. Putting an acceptable time down will allow delayed guests to arrive safely without ruining the surprise.
- The invitation is your line of communication, so choose your copy carefully. For example, for a seated dinner, let your guests know that fashionably late won't fly. Be polite, but don't be afraid to use a pointed adjective like 9 o'clock "sharp" or 9 PM "on the dot." This is especially important if you are working within a strict time frame (e.g., you only have your venue for two hours). I like to be very specific, so I spell the time out saying, "8 o'clock in the evening."
Location: Where's the Party At?
Generally, the name and address of your party venue will do the job, but in some cases you may need to go a bit further.
- If the location is a bit more hard to find be sure to include directions or small map.
- Or, if you are hosting an in-suite soiree at a hotel, state the name of the hotel, and the specific room or area where the party will take place, in addition to the street address.
Attire: What Should Guests Wear?
Always specify the dress code if an event demands certain attire.
- Think "black tie," "cocktail casual" or "pool ready."
-Specifying the preferred dress will save you and your guests time and grief. Guests appreciate guidance, so instead of saying business casual, consider a specific directive like "no denim" or "jackets required." Trust me, you don't want to spend you precious party prep-time fielding fashion inquires from panicked couture-conscious attendees!
RSVP: How Should Guest's Respond?
Always remember to indicate how you would like people to respond as well as by what date.
- You can ask everyone to let you know whether they are accepting or declining your invitation, or you can opt for "regrets only" to respond.
- Just be sure to provide a contact number or e-mail address regardless of your method.
- I prefer phone calls instead of e-mail as it makes it more personal, but if your preference is email be sure to always bcc (blind carbon copy) so that you don't give out everyone's personal e-mails.
The Final Step: Proofread
Always be sure to re-read your invitation thoroughly before sending them out.
Remember to double check: