by Jonathan Vatner | November 01, 2003

Tired of the same dull invitations, but don’t have the means to splurge on something attendees usually throw away? With a little creativity, impressive invites can be designed to fit any budget. Guests might even save them as keepsakes.

“It doesn’t have to be high-end printing and multiple colors,” says Cindee Johnson, president of Boise, Idaho-based Ooh La Lu! (, an invitation-focused offshoot of her advertising firm. “It just has to be a clever idea and high quality.” Johnson sells blank versions, at a discount, of invitations she custom-designs for upscale events. One looks like oversized matchbooks placed in a box of Cuban cigars. Another: fold-up paper lanterns that can be used for evening outdoor events.
   If the event is near the end of the year, print the invite on a cardboard calendar for the coming year, or staple a page-a-month calendar to the cardboard. Peter Kruty Invitations ( )
Brooklyn, N.Y., says making such invitations with commercial letterpress printing can be less costly than traditional engraving, especially if only two or three colors are used and if the planner submits a design.
   For large events, invitations made from die-cutting are relatively inexpensive, says New York City-based John Kneapler ( This technique involves cutting out shapes from the paper to create pop-up effects, or interactive invites with parts that can be assembled into a paper toy, such as a mobile.