I always think it's nice at a party, even a little one, to give your guests one "wow factor" to make them feel special. It doesn't need to be difficult or expensive, just something that looks a bit extravagant, so they think "Wow, I'm excited to be here." It might be a rainbow curtain of coloured streamers at the front door, or a confetti-strewn hallway (if you can stand the clean-up later), or simply a fancy table-setting.
Same goes for the invitations. They set the scene and build anticipation for the party. And because I'm all about the snail mail, I LOVE to make interesting, unexpected invitations and send them by post. These days it's so nice to receive ANYTHING other than bills in the mailbox at all, let alone a little present, inviting you along to a shin-dig.
Madeleine loves a good picnic so we are hosting a "Winter Woodland Picnic" party for her second birthday. Recently I saw these woodland party invitations by Michaela Egger on Oh Happy Day and I thought they'd be perfect for this theme. Michaela gives you a full tutorial for making the invitations, even down to templates to make the boxes yourself. If you have the time, they look pretty easy and then you're talking about almost no cost to make something really pretty!
As it was, I bought my boxes for $3 each from a local cafe, because I couldn't find the type I wanted in craft stores, and was too lazy/time-poor to make them myself. Other than that, the florist moss was $5 and I had ridiculous amounts left over, and I covered the envelopes in old stamps we already had around the house to cover postage, so all in all it was a pretty cheap exercise. From start to finish, these invitations took about three hours to make (I made 14).
These are the steps:
1. Decorate the outside of the boxes, any way you like. I chose to paint little toadstools on mine (Madeleine helped me pick images from the Internet to copy), but you could do anything: make a collage, create a potato-stamp, cover it with confetti... go to town!
2. Print out your invitations, roll them into a scroll, and tie them with string.
3. Fill the boxes. In this case, I filled mine with florist moss to create a woodland/grassy theme, following the Oh Happy Day tutorial. I also sacrificed an old tea-towel and cut up tiny squares to look like picnic rugs. Maybe you could add little doll-house picnic items, or some tiny forest animals...
4. Pop your invitation into the box, stick it in an envelope, and post it to your friends. Done!
Madeleine posted the invitations herself. Later the same afternoon, we saw the post van driving past us ("Red car!" Madeleine alerted me). I explained that her party invitations were in that very car, and the driver was taking them to all her friends. The wonder in her eyes. Oh, to be almost two again!
ps. It seems almost unbelievable to me that we are gearing up for Madeleine's second birthday already. You name the cliche, I'm feeling it. The years are short but the days are long. It feels like just yesterday that she was born, and yet I can barely remember or imagine life without her in it. She is my own little baby. She is growing into such a big girl so fast. And so on.
I once read that cliches only become cliches because they are the best way of expressing something. So there. I am embracing my inner cliches AND my inner conflict. Every day I am so proud of the way she is growing. She is so clever (says her mother), and I can't wait to see what she will do next. Yet, I want her to stay little forever. I'm not ready to lose that baby-sweetness!