Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tips for Holiday Invitations: You'd Better Get Busy Now!

I've been griping about the merchants foisting Christmas upon us before the leaves have dropped here in Indiana. It is such an anti-Zen way to live, shifting our consciousness ahead two and three months at a time. But if you read Shindigs & Soirees, I can only assume you are a doer and a planner, and there are, after all, numerous events creeping up on your calendar. That said, I know you'll forgive me for instilling holiday panic before you've even picked up your Halloween candy!
I was the party planner for our family business until Hubbs retired. At that time, my father in law (may he rest in peace) was still the CEO and our holiday extravaganzas included an employee party, a separate formal dinner dance for employees and clients/associates, a Santa party for our employees' children (complete with wish lists granted for 25-35 kids), client gifting, correspondence, and our personal family gatherings. Needless to say, my holiday planning began with our annual Halloween rager at my house and ended with me horizontal in a fuge state on a sofa by the fire by 3 pm on Christmas Day.
I abdicated my duties about 5 years ago, but inherited all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve cooking. Not a bad trade, considering all the work that went into the season. In those days, internet commerce wasn't as prolific, and I had yet to discover the blogosphere. I'm not entirely sure there was much content yet, anyway. That meant the week before Halloween, I had to scour all of the stationery shops, spending hours pouring over catalogs and invitation samples. The schlepping alone drove me nuts.
Despite the options and convenience of the web, etiquette time tables still apply. Formal invitations for Christmas and New Year's Eve really must go out 6 weeks prior: people should be receiving theirs right after Thanksgiving. Anything later, and you're really pushing it because of the rush and rigmarole of the season!
Start by thinking backwards. Figure out the date of your event, subtract 6 weeks plus 10-14 days for processing and shipping, and you'll know when to get started. Whether you order from your local shop or online, you can do your address labels while you are waiting for your products to arrive. One advantage to having your invitations printed locally is the occasional opportunity to take your envelopes with you while the cards are being made. If you choose to print your addresses on labels, choose clear for colored envelopes. In my case, my boss insisted all invitations be addressed by hand. This usually took me every bit of a week to accomplish, but the results were very personal.
Your invitation should set the tone of your party. Often, I would come up with the theme by finding a super cool invitation. We celebrate Christmas, but not everyone does. That's why I usually crafted my text to read something like "Celebrate the Season With (Our Company Name)." The corporate tradition was to send a Harry & David ham to our clients, but when I took over we began ordering turkeys instead. Not everyone appreciates pork - including myself. Definitely something to consider in a culturally heterogeneous business world!
Here are some ideas to get you started. There is nothing I love more than poring over stationery, and though I consume far, far less of it these days I am happy to daydream of the parties that might be as well as the soirees that have been. Feel free to drop me an email ( or a comment if you want to pick my brain while planning your own winter wonderlands!

Holiday Classics personalized Business Greeting Cards. Save 50% off Holiday cards until 11/25.

I don't normally send Thanksgiving cards because everyone I want to greet is usually at my house eating free range turkey and organic cranberry chutney, but if your business is food oriented, you'll make a big impression on your clients before the deluge of December mail rains upon them!

Note: The designs below were handpicked and captioned for you by Kitty. They are posted in a "shop" format for your browsing/my posting convenience. The links are clickable if you need more information or you want to order anything. In that case, you will leave the Kitty website.
While browsing invitations all afternoon, I was inspired to begin planning my own holiday social schedule. Among the pending get togethers, I'm penciling in an afternoon tea for some yoga friends to kick off this season's Innerspace Yoga Seva project, a wild girls' night out, Thanksgiving for 3-23 people, an intimate cocktail party at home, Christmas Eve White Elephant, and of course Christmas Day. Whew! I've worn myself out just thinking of it. More on these projects as they develop - Please check back!


  1. This is full of great tips Kitty! Thanks! I too am usually sent into fits of mad, tree smashing rage by early Christmas displays... but this year, I just feel sorry for the retailers. They're so desperate.

  2. Thanks, Sanity. I've heard projections that stores won't be stocking so much holiday crap this year, so waiting too long may work against smart shoppers. I think the popularity of "handmade" goods is going to really thwart retail this year.

  3. Kitty-I'm worn out just thinking about all your entertaining. I must admit that entertaining is not my strong suit. My favorite holiday activities are decorating my house and going to lots of parties.

  4. SR2: I wear myself out, too! I will look forward to your holiday chinoiserie touches, which I'm sure you will post! xo kitty

  5. You did it again. Incredibly useful advice & gorgeous/fun invitations. I don't know how you did it all. I think I'd be passed out before New Years eve. Actually sounds like a heap of fun. Thanks for all your kind words regarding my mom's illness. Something we all have to go through, but still heart wrenching. All my best to you xx

  6. Thanks, DT! Actually, I hardly ever go out on New Year's Eve for that very reason - a total post-Christmas fuge state!