Thursday, November 04, 2010

Romp in the Swamp Louisiana Halloween Party - Invitations

It may be costly, and it may not be "green," but I still cling to invitations as an integral part of most parties. The invite is the first hint of the masterpiece to come, sets the tone for your event, and plants an image in your guests' minds that may convince them whether or not to make room on their busy social agendas for your party. With all of the other "competing" Halloween events out there, I want to capture my guests' imaginations early, inspiring them to create elaborate costumes and exciting them about the event.

But I also have to live within the confines of my budget & schedule...

So with those goals in mind, here are the invitations I created for our 2010 "Romp in the Swamp" Louisiana-themed Halloween Extravaganza:

For the party details, I used credits I already had to create a deck of cards through Heritage Makers (normally around $19.99, cheaper if you catch them on sale or host a workshop.) Just because they're called playing cards does NOT mean you have to put hearts and spades on them, like all of Heritage Makers' products they are fully customizable. I plucked an image of a spooky swamp off of Google images (I believe it's from one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?), centered it in an antiqued looking frame because it wasn't quite hi-resolution enough to resize it over the whole card, and added the party title as a caption. This image was the "back" of the playing card, so it was printed on the entire deck.

For the other side, which would normally have each separate number & suit (2 of hearts, 3 of clubs) I typed out the important factors my guests needed to know - theme, date, costumes REQUIRED, RSVP email, BYOB request, and NO KIDS decree (unless you could keep them in your womb all night). I worded everything slightly more creatively (in my humble opinion), but you get the idea. I split the deck into 2 halves, and spread the info over 2 "pages" to be readable.

When the cards arrived, I used clear tape to seal each of the pages together like a little book - the swamp scene on the outside, party details inside. Because I already had the credits to make the cards & the tape, this part cost me: $0.

And for the "big wow" factor I knew I wanted to play up on the voodoo aspect with some mini voodoo dolls. I looked around briefly at purchasing (too expensive), and though I found some tutorials for string or stick versions, in my head a voodoo doll was plushier, so you could stick pins in strategic places. So I set about creating them myself.

I used a gingerbread cookie cutter as my pattern (Wilton, I believe, from my stash of them) and cut them from 2 layers of black felt ($2 after my 40% off coupon at Michael's, it was enough to cut at least 35 sets).

For the hair and hearts I got some smaller sheets of colored felt ($0.29 each - I used most of one white sheet, and barely made a dent in the red, blue, green, purple, and pink ones - less than $2 for all). The "faces" were made by tracing around a shot glass, the eyes are tiny buttons from the quilting section of Michael's (about $4 for 2 packages). I secured all of the embellishments with fabric glue to save time - it was way easier to use, but made it almost impossible to sew through, so keep that in mind when you are applying and keep it away from the seams. The fabric glue was about $7 with a 40% off coupon at Joanns, and I still have most of it left.

I had a bunch of tiny spools of colored thread from an old sewing kit (no idea where that came from) so I used that to messily whip stitch around the edges of each doll, and stuffed them with fiberfill from an old pillow that had torn, but I kept around for just such an occasion.

To underscore that these were VOODOO dolls (in case people just thought they were strange gingerbread men or something) I knew I wanted to include some pins. I printed off lists of words one might cast spells around - wealth, love, passion, luck, pain, health, hatred - each in a different font, and in a different color. I cut them into strips so that the word was on each side of a tiny flag, and secured them to pins with double stick tape.

I had already printed the words when I went looking for the pins, but I found these awesome "wheels" of colorful bead-topped pins that matched PERFECTLY! I bought them during "coupon commotion" week, so I was able to use 40% off coupons on all 3 wheels, for a total of just $14 for all of the pins.

I punched the cards with a tiny hole punch, strung through some gold ribbon I had lying around, and looped it around each doll. Then I stabbed 3 pins in each, positioning them carefully as not to let them come through the envelope and stab anyone, wrapped them in 1/4 sheet strip of tissue paper, and stuffed them in envelopes.

I had a box of 1/2 sheet envelopes lying around from a previous project, so again, that didn't cost me anything, and I used printable labels for addressing. I downloaded a creepy typewriter font from 1001 free fonts (google it - excellent, free, and fun, except there is no "1" character, so you have to use a lower case "l" and really watch what you are doing, or you'll have "0" where you typed a "1"). I paired it with a clip art voodoo doll from google images, and voila!

To save money, I did hand deliver about half of the invitations to people I was seeing for various things the week I sent them out, and the rest got mailed at a cost of $1.22 each.

Total cost for invites was about $55 for 30 invites.

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