Start the party off right!

Invitations, p. 1

Put your guests in a festive spirit with these easy-to-make invitations.

Fly Me In

Cut paper into the shape of an airplane and decorate. Then tape a white ribbon or piece of white paper behind the plane like a streamer, and write the party information on it.

Frame Me

To spruce up an invitation, create a homemade frame using pinking shears or craft shears with funny edges (scallops, half circles, triangles). Or cut large shapes, such as fish or apples, and paste your invitation to the center of each shape.

Doll It Up

Trace a paper doll's body and then place a color copy of the birthday girl's head on top. Write the party details on the body and enclose a cutout of a dress for kids to color and decorate. Invite guests to bring their creations to the party.

Garden Party

Tape an invitation to a seed packet such as sunflowers, corn, or marigolds. Have dirt and starter pots at the party along with extra packets of seeds.

Jump-Start Invitation

Tape a tiny spring (available at hardware or craft stores) inside a homemade or store-bought invitation. Make pictures or use stickers and attach to the top of the spring for a jack-in-the-box effect when the envelope is opened.

Bug Crazy Invite

To make a colorful bug-themed invitation, use red card stock. Then cut ovals from decorative paper, and glue onto card. Create head, legs, and antennae with a fine marker, and write in the party details.

Mystery-Scroll Invitation

Use parchment-style paper or age white paper with a wet tea bag. (Let paper dry completely.) You can singe the edges of the paper (adults only!) by lighting the edge and blowing out the flame immediately. Repeat as needed. Write invitation details and draw hieroglyphs for added effect. Roll paper into a scroll, then secure with twine weighted with two pebbles. Hand-deliver or mail in tubes.

Basketball Invites

Cut a 4-inch x 11-inch rectangle from a piece of red construction paper and fold in half. Carefully score and bend back the flap of the card 1 inch from the fold. Punch two holes in this folded section. Loop twine through the holes, knot, and trim any excess. To decorate the front of the invitation, cut a 2-inch x 1 3/4-inch rectangle from a piece of blue construction paper; attach a small photograph of your child; trim blue paper border with scallop-edged scissors and glue matted picture on the front of the card. Using an oversize craft punch, cut out two hearts and affix with glue alongside the photo. Write the invitation details on a 3-inch x 5-inch piece of white paper, apply glue, and center it inside the album.

Pennant Power Invitation

This invitation will put your guests in the team spirit. Cut blue and orange card stock into pennant-shaped triangles, each slightly larger than the one before. Glue together and use a marker to write party details.

All-Star Party Invite

Send baseball-card style invitations with the birthday child's picture in the frame and the party information in the section for "stats." To make, use a color copy machine or computer.

Stylish Invitations

Use glitter markers to write party details on tags. Using silver thread, tie tags to bejeweled sunglasses. (To save money, decorate inexpensive cardboard sunglasses with glitter paint.) Have guests wear their shades to the party.

Little-Sleepers Invitation

Fleecy fabric gives this invitation a cozy touch. Trace the pajama template onto fabric, cut out the pajama shapes, and glue them onto folded card stock. Add invitation details with a marker or alphabet stickers.

Pillowcase Invitation

Our pillowcase invite is perfect for sleepovers.

What you need:

  • Paper luggage tag
  • Scalloped scissors
  • Marker
  • Pillowcase
  • Ribbon

To make:

Trim luggage tag's edges using scalloped scissors. Write party information on tag in marker. Fold the pillowcase in half lengthwise and roll. Tie ribbon around rolled pillowcase, and thread one end of the ribbon through the tag. Send in cardboard mailing tube.

Little-Hand Invitation

Celebrate how far your child has come by showing her handprint on an infant onesie. This invitation will be a memento that your guests are sure to treasure. (Don't forget to make an extra in a larger size for your own child to wear.) For a cost-saving version, trace a onesie on card stock.


  • Infant onesies or T-shirts
  • Puff and fabric paints
  • Paintbrush or sponge
  • Tags
  • Diaper pin
  • Ribbon

To make:

Apply fabric paint to hand using a paintbrush or a sponge. (Practice on paper before making handprints on onesies.) The paints are nontoxic, but enlist a helper to prevent your child from putting her fingers in her mouth or on fabric. (The paint will wash off hands easily with water.) Dry onesies overnight. Then use puff paint to write a birthday message on the onesies and the tags, practicing first. Dry overnight. Pin cards to onesies, fold, and tie with ribbon.

Invitations, p. 2

CD-Me Invite

Make color copies of your child's photo, or use your computer to create an invitation that stars your birthday boy or girl. Slip it into a CD jewel case, and add party details.

"Soul Train" CD Invite

Pump up the volume before the party by sending your guests a CD of favorite tunes.

What you need:

  • Blank CD with case
  • Solid and patterned paper
  • Train template (click below)
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Rubber stamps

To make:

Cut patterned paper to fit inside CD case. Trace enlarged train template to solid paper, cut, and glue to the piece of paper that will line the cover of the case. Cut a square from white paper, and write party information on it. Glue square to paper that will line the back of the CD case. Record party music on the CD, and label. Mail in CD-size box.

Cookie-Cutter Invite

Supply everyone with her own cookie cutter in advance with this adorable invitation.

What you need:

  • White craft paper
  • Animal-shaped cookie cutter
  • "Admit One" rubber stamp
  • Ink pad
  • Fiskars "Stamp"-pattern paper edger
  • Ribbon
  • Glue stick
  • Hole punch

To make:

Cut craft paper into 3-inch x 5-inch rectangle. Create "Admit One" tag using rubber stamp. Decorate blank space with a circus-themed image, such as a big top (right). Trim edges of tag using "Stamp" paper edger. Write invitation information on back of tag, punch hole in one end, and tie around animal cookie cutter with ribbon. Mail in a colored padded envelope or a small gift box filled with crinkle wrap. Ask the post office to hand-cancel.

Clown Invitation

Draw or create a collage of a clown head on lightweight card stock; cut it out and cut a slit in its mouth. Unfurl a party blower and write all the information along it; insert the end into the mouth of the clown. Deliver by hand or mail them in padded envelopes.

Teddy Bear Invitation

Photocopy a coloring-book teddy bear and write the party particulars on it. Ask each guest to bring a favorite teddy bear -- or any beloved stuffed animal.

Outer Space Invite

"One small step for Mikey, one giant bunch of fun for everyone!" Print a similar headline, and the party specifics on paper. Your home computer may have a space-age font and clip art for this. If not, photocopy the invitation onto stationary with a space theme, or embellish it with stars and other stickers. If your child can do it, show him how to fold each invitation into a streamlined paper space shuttle.

Barnyard Invite

For each guest, cut out a simple barn shape from red construction apper; cut a T-shaped slit for double doors. On a piece of white paper, draw the outline of the barn with the doors open. Write the party particulars inside the door outline and photocopy as necessary. Cut out the white barns and glue one behind each red barn.

Purple Passion Invite

Cut an 11-inch x 4-inch rectangle from yellow cardstock and fold in half lengthwise. On the front of the folded card, draw and cut an arc 2 1/2 inches from the top edge. To make the crayons, cut a 4-inch x 5-inch rectangle from purple cardstock. Trim the top edge to look like crayon tips. Draw in details with a black pen; glue to the inside of the card's front flap. Cut two small purple triangles; glue them onto the bottom corners of the invitation. Write party details in purple marker.

Painter's Invite

Fashion a painter's palette cut from manila folders. Glue on blobs of construction paper "paint" in assorted colors and add the necessary information.

Royal Tidings

Draw up a proclamation: "Hear ye, hear ye! Come to Julie's Castle to celebrate her birthday" and include the party details. Photocopy on parchment-like paper, roll up into a scroll and tie with a royal blue ribbon.

Treasure Map Invitation

To make the mailing tube, photocopy a map of your neighborhood onto 8 1/2-inch x 14-inch paper. Use spray mount to glue the map to a 2-inch x 12-inch mailing tube. To make the invitation, trim the edges of an 8 1/2-inch x 14-inch piece of blue paper with scallop-edged scissors. Photocopy a second map onto 8 1/2-inch x 14-inch paper and trim 1 inch from each edge; apply spray mount to the map's back side and center it on the blue paper. Cut out two 3 1/2-inch x 2 1/2-inch green rectangles; trim edges with scallop-edged scissors. Affix one to the invitation and write in the party details. Glue the other to the mailing tube; add an address label.

Barbie Dress Invite

To make, fold a piece of 9-inch x 12-inch pink construction paper in half and trim the edges with scallop-edged scissors. Cut a heart from a piece of purple construction paper and glue to the upper right-hand corner of the card. Place a Barbie dress (or accessory) on the card. After you position it, use a pin to punch two tiny holes in the pink paper on either side of the garment's waist. Attach to the card by threading pink ribbon through the holes and tying it around the dress in a bow. Cut a 3 1/2-inch x 5-inch rectangle out of the remaining piece of purple paper, fill in party info, and glue inside the card. Mail in a padded envelope to protect the dress. Be sure to ask guests to bring their favorite Barbie and maybe a couple of outfits.

Backwards Party Invite

Write "Have Fun!" backwards in block letters on a 4-inch x 6 1/2-inch piece of colored construction paper. Cut out the letters using a craft knife. Glue the paper to a piece of patterned paper of the same size. Cut edges with scallop-edged scissors. Write party details on card-be sure to tell kids to wear shirts and pants backwards-and cover with contrasting flap attached with glue stick.

Garden Invitation

Fold construction paper in half. Attach a real seed packet with a blob of rubber cement, so that it can be lifted off and used. Write "We're planting the seeds for a great party! Hope you can come!" Have dirt and starter pots at the party along with extra packets of seeds.

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Copyright© 2004. Reprinted with permission from the April 2002 issue of Parents magazine.

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