Pocket Invitation Number 1

Shown here: pocket folder with invitation attached; four insert cards: rsvp, directions, brunch, evening party; tab on flap shown upper left, rsvp envelope lower left.

This is the first pocket invitation set I designed. As I was the customer, I made it a rather complex project. This included using for the first time a letterpress printing set that I got in the spring, a small model that sits on the table. I lettered the text, drew the border, and had a plate made to use with this press. I found that applying the ink takes practice. I love the look of the impression in the paper. I used that for the invitation cards, which were adhered to the folder. The other items also used my lettering and design, but were printed by a commercial invitation printer, http://www.phdcalligraphy.cceasy.com/. I was wise enough to know I wouldn’t have time to hand-press each item. They were then all assembled, some of them using more insert cards that others, depending on whether they were out-of-town guests or not, and put into the envelopes which we addressed using our computer printer. It was a great learning experience, and a pleasure to create.


The invitation season has begun. I had a great session with a customer–the whole family–for a bat mitzvah invitation. The photo shows the table with all the materials we referred to for this project. It is always a fascinating process which is at first overwhelming, but the preferences become clear soon enough.

While I work with customers all over the country, thanks to the internet, phone and mail, it is great to meet in person. I’m glad to be able to offer this to those in the Greenfield-Shelburne Falls-Amherst-Northampton area, as well as to those in Western Mass., Connecticut and Vermont who are able to travel here.

Invitation albums set out for browsing

Pocket Invitations

Pocket invitations are so appealing, providing a neat packet which holds the invitation on one side and all of the smaller insert cards of an invitation sets in a pocket on the other side. This packet goes into an outer mailing envelope. Pricing will vary depending on how many cards there are in the set and whether or not I provide original art for it. $600-1200 would be an approximate price range for 100 invitation sets with this pocket format depending on the choices you make.


Pocket album open on lower left; pocket invitation I produced this summer on right.

Full-color Invitation Designs

I’m enjoying creating full-color invitations that are moderately-priced. One of the printers I use now offers full-color digital printing on two sides of a card, and my customers are making good use of this option. This is a new design I created using a watercolor illustration of a tallis. If you’re looking for invitations, look at my website to see examples of ones I’ve created. Then contact me to talk over your ideas.

Click on the link to Peggy H. Davis Calligraphy in the right margin.

Sand and Stars Invitation

Vayishlakh invitation set

This is an invitation created for the parsha “Vayishlakh,” when Jacob is promised that his descendants will be as numerous as the sands of the sea. The design includes that verse, the sand and the sea, and, referring to the earlier promise to Avraham, that his descendants will be uncountable like the stars in the sky, the invitation was printed on a paper impressed with gold foil stars. The invitation was adhered to a glistening brass-colored paper and hand-cut to reveal the Hebrew verse at the top and the star shape at the bottom.

My new style of adding an illustration to the respond card envelope is shown here.

New! Three-Color Designs

One of the invitation printers I use offers a three-color digital printing process: two ink colors plus the color of the paper (white or ecru) to make up the design. The pricing is comparable to other printers I use.   Here is an example of an invitation set I designed for this process.

I’ll be scheduling invitation orders for 2010 after December 29. E-mail me to let me know of your interest and the date of your event: phd@ganeydn.com

Ready to order invitations?

 Most of the invitations that I produce for customers are custom designs. Even if it is based on a design already in my collection, there is usually some customization that goes into the final product. It can be a smooth process, and the following pointers will help you get started.

1) The invitation will convey to your guests a sense of what the event will be like: casual, meaningful, formal, intimate, are words that you might think of. When we start talking about the choice of paper, the colors, images, lettering, size, shape, these will all relate to what  you want to communicate. Bring these ideas to the first discussion of the project.

2) Think about the coordinating items in the set that you will need. These can include:

• The invitation itself, with a single or more formal double envelope. A double envelope set has an inner envelope that is addressed with just the name(s) of those invited at that address. The envelope (or inner one of a double set) may have a liner which relates to the design of the invitation, using a particular color, pattern or texture of paper.

• A save-the-date card or postcard that would go out well in advance of the event; it could include hotel reservation information.

• A respond postcard or card with envelope. This should request that guests include their names, number attending, and, if needed, entrée choice(s). It is also nice to leave some empty space for a note.

Reception cards: These may be used to invite a guest to a Friday evening dinner, a rehearsal dinner, a Sunday brunch, an evening party for a morning Bar or Bat Mitzvah, etc. You may need two or three such cards, but they may not all be ordered in the same quantity. For example, you may send 100 invitations, but only 30 may be for out-of-towners, who might be the only ones invited to a Sunday brunch.

Directions and hotel information: One card may include directions to the event and a reception; the directions may give instructions from a few locations. Hotel information may be on a separate card or one the reverse of the directions.

Gift registry, charitable donations: You may want to inform guests of gift registries. If you are starting a marriage with two full households, you may use a card to indicate a preference of charitable contributions on your behalf. Some Bar or Bat Mitzvahs will indicate a place to make a donation if that is the kind of gift you are giving.

Placecards: There are many ways to indicate where guests should sit; one way is to use folded cards with the guests’ name(s) and table number.

Table numbers: We make table numbers (or sometimes a thematic table name) for an event that use elements of the invitation design.

• A favor tag or label can be designed to tie to or adhere to favors you give your guests.

Thank you note and envelope: Usually a folded card with the name(s) of the wedding couple or Bar/Bat Mitzvah. I often include a design element from the invitation.

3) Don’t underestimate how much time it will take to get the address list in order. Printing the invitation will take about a week, so you want to be working on that list while we’re designing the invitation.

4) Timing: Most people plan to send the invitations 6-8 weeks before the event, although some customers report that number is creeping up. Allow two weeks for printing. That means that an ideal time to start discussing the order is 4–5 months before the event. We can produce invitations in whatever time you have, but this is a comfortable margin.

Gift cards: a good idea?

Gift cards seem like they’d be a great solution to the problem of what to buy a bar or bat mitzvah child. On the surface, such cards seem to be a very personal gift. If you want to buy the person a book, but don’t know what she or he would like, you buy a card from a national chain, right? They buy a book, it is a gift from you. However, it turns out that there are problems that can arise with gift cards.

Throughout the year, I meet with invitation clients planning a bar or bat mitzvah, and have planned them myself, as well, so I’ve heard many tales of gift woes.

Here are some of the problems that have cropped up with gift cards. Most important, beware that some cards do not maintain their value. They are set to decrease in value with time since purchase or activation. Hidden fees and actual decreases may be part of the card agreement you enter into on its purchase. That’s the worst.

But there are other problems, as well. In my case, I found that it wasn’t so easy to have the correct card/gift certificate in the purse or pocket when I found myself in a store. Also, consider whether the person lives near the store the card is from. Even a small, local place could be a problem: the card might have an inconvenient expiration date or the store might go out of business before the person gets to the store with the gift card in hand.

There is also the chance that the store won’t have anything the person wants. I remember once receiving a card for a major national toy store chain. Finally getting to the store, I was dismayed at the quality of the toys, didn’t findanything to buy and eventually gave the gift card to a charity.

While a check might seem less personal, it isn’t so bad to give a check or cash if you don’t have a physical gift to give. It gives the recipient much more flexibility and increases the chance that the money will be spent on something of long-term value.