The Facebook Invitation. It’s something we at UJCreative are all too familiar with. Though a valuable tool for getting the word out for larger, public events, there are significant shortcomings in the platform when planning a more intimate get-together – the occasional accidental posting of your private party in your public news feed; the stifling list of requisite party categories; the possibility of forgetting to invite real-life friends who are not on Facebook; and worst of all, the maybes.
The invitation process for anything larger than a basic game night can be daunting, we know. For our annual New Year’s party, we were so determined to make a memorable invitation that we designed and hand-lettered our own, handmade craft paper envelopes and sent them via *gasp* the United States Postal Service. (Upon receipt, a very kind friend texted to say the handwriting on the outside of the envelope was very nice – but assumed that we must have had the calligraphy printed, because who in their right mind would letter 35+ invitations?…)
Perhaps, though, this would be overkill for an informal summer barbecue. Or maybe, like us, you sometimes wait until the last minute to make the decision to throw a party just because. If this sounds more like it, you might be in search of email-able alternatives.
Evite has long been the favorite online invitation option for hosts looking to eschew Facebook. Though it has its strengths, there is only so much customization one can do, and the end result is more often E-card than elegant.
Pingg is a newer option, which has the benefit of offering templates submitted by artists and designers. Customization is still limited, but with a better base to start with, you give your invitation reputation a fighting chance. Should you have the time, Pingg will also send your invitations via snail mail, for a fee.
Alas, Evite and Pingg share one characteristic that I consider a major downside: the maybes.
Enter a newcomer, to debut this summer: the MyPunchbowl Digital Invitation Studio.
MyPunchbowl presents itself as a one-stop shop for any entertaining challenge – they currently offer online invitations similar to Evite or Pingg, tools to help you select the best date for your soirée, local vendor listings and party supply sources and even systems to assist in managing a potluck. The Digital Invitation Studio, though, intends to up the ante further – and it can be previewed here.
The Digital Invitation Studio aims to imitate the experience of opening a formal paper invitation, online. Guests retain the ability to RSVP on the site, much like Evite and Pingg – but the maybes can be disallowed, requiring a firm yes or no from attendees. Invitations are fully customizable, allowing you to choose color schemes, layout and to select “postage” and upload personal images.
There are of course the obvious benefits of both expedience (being able to deliver a last-minute invite via email) and low overhead (it’s free, after all, and you needn’t spend hours looking up guests’ addresses). The studio is entirely flash-based, however – so those with iPads will be left unable to view your invitation. And, of course, an email invite (no matter how flashy) is still not quite as fun as receiving an actual, pen-and-paper invitation in the mail.
We’re nonetheless looking forward to playing with the Digital Invitation Studio more when it’s released. Would you consider using services like those offered by MyPunchbowl? Are you a Facebook inviter? An Evite adherent? Do you prefer a simple phone call or email to invite guests, or do you enjoy the beauty of a classic, paper and snail-mail invitation? We’d love to hear your thoughts!