Deanna is an avid Halloween lover and makes almost all of her own props, decorations, and party invitations for her favorite time of year.
One of the best ways to stoke excitement about a party is to create an invitation that sparks conversation. Invitations that show creativity and that are unique to your party or event will draw your guests in to see what else is in store for them.
In this article, I'll walk you through the steps I took to make invitation booklets for guests to my "Dead End" Halloween party. Process photos are included for inspiration. Happy crafting!
1. Decide on the Theme or "Feel" of Your Book
When I made these invitations, I wanted something that my guests would really talk about. Most of the invited folks were people that my husband and I worked with at a major retail store, so we had to make sure that our party invitations would be the talk of the town, so-to-speak, and that our guests would be excited to attend to see what else we offered since so much work was put into the invitations.
I chose to make small books with different images and wording that to invoke the feeling of a witchy theme for our party. I came up with a poem that ran through several pages and chose images that would fit into the feel of the book.
2. Make Your Invitations
Once I decided on what to include in my books, I organized the pages in a word document using a 2x2 table, and I placed my pages in the table so that I had four "pages" on one actual printed sheet of paper. I included a cover for my book, and I had that single image in the same format of four "pages" of the same thing to print on one sheet of paper.
I printed out as many sheets as I needed for the number of books I wanted to make, and I cut them all into quarters as individual pages. To get that old, worn look that would be visible later, I crumpled each sheet, then smoothed them out and filed them in a box. (This is a good time to include any young ones that want to "help"—my kids loved crumpling the paper and throwing the balls in a basket.)
I printed the front cover pages on card stock to mimic an actual book, and in later years, I actually made a version with a thicker corrugated cardboard cover.
Be creative with your pages! Have some fun, use images and quotes, make up poems or haikus, and add things that will complement other parts of your book and pull the whole thing together.
3. Age Your Pages (Warning: Messiness Ahead)
After I got all of the pages properly cut and crumbled, I set to aging them. I used a flame to burn the edges of the pages very carefully. If you aren't comfortable with or don't want to use fire in the process, you can just tear the edges or use a pair of scissors with a ragged cutting edge (I believe you can find these at craft stores), and then just use a Sharpie to darken the edges if you want that dark burnt/aged look.
This step isn't necessary, but I do it for all of my aged invitations. Also, part of the charm of these little books is that each one is unique, and no two look alike, so having straight page edges sort of defeats that purpose.
Once I finished the edges of my pages, I moved on to the tea-staining part of the process. I boiled cheap tea bags (the ones for brewed iced tea)—about eight of them—in a medium-sized saucepan and placed them and the water in a square baking dish. I wouldn't use any type of dish or pan that you don't want to stain, because that is the whole reason for the tea bags.
I placed each sheet in, one at a time, using a spoon to press the pages into the tea so that they were fully submerged. This is important—you do not want to have too many pages in the tea at the same time. It dilutes the tea and presses the pages together so that they don't soak up the color of the tea. I left them for about 30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes for color. The hotter the tea, the better and quicker the color soaks in. I reheated the tea to use over again, but only twice more because it loses its potency and doesn't work well after too many uses.
When the desired color is achieved, the pages should be taken out of the tea very carefully. They will be fragile, as they've been sitting in the liquid, and wet paper falls apart easily if it's not handled properly. I set them on old bath and beach towels placed on tables and countertops to dry.
4. Put It All Together
I also tea-stained the covers of each book, and I did a little dabbing with black paint along the edges to keep with the aged look that I was going for.
I then stacked the pages together in the order that I wanted the book to be read in and added a front printed cover and back plain cover to each pile. Once they were assembled in order, I used a drill on top of a scrap piece of two-by-four to make two holes all the way through on the left "spine" side of each of the books.
I chose jute cord or twine to push through the holes, and for fun, I added a skull bead to the front side of the twine and tied a knot so that the book covers and pages were all secured together.
5. Add Any Finishing Touches and Deliver Your Invitations
You can add little details and embellishments such as flat crystals or other little decorations to make your booklets "pop" a little more. I've used jewels, flat skulls, bats, eyeballs, and all sorts of things on my book invitations. Just make sure to use a good glue like E6000 so that your hard work doesn't fall apart!
For folks that are local to me, I just hand-delivered them as they were. When I had to mail them, I used bubble mailers and had to pay a non-machinable fee on top of regular postage. I think it came out to just over a buck each to mail, depending on where the recipient lived.
© 2020 Deanna Martin