Searching for the right invitation helps me to ease into the theme and, often, gives me a great basis for deciding on a color scheme (generally, I like to stick with 2-3 colors -- more on that to come in a later post). My favorite -- and really only -- place to find an invitation is on ETSY. For those not familiar with the site, it allows crafters, artists, and others, to sell items in their own on-line shops. Going onto the site is like attending a huge craft fair. It's awesome!
Jump onto the site and search for "[insert your theme] invitations" in "handmade," and you're likely to find pages of hand-made and customizable digital invitations that fit your theme perfectly. No matter what theme I've searched for (Cars, Robots, Candyland, Superhero, Arty, Puppies, Pokemon, etc.), I've always found the perfect invite! ETSY has a great function where you can mark your favorite invites as a "favorite," allowing you to easily locate those you like at a later date, compare them, etc. I often mark 2-3 invites, at my leisure, well in advance of when I need them, and then I decide on the final one about 5 weeks before the party and order it.
My favorite option is to choose a customizable digital invite that I can print myself. There are a bunch of excellent graphic designers on ETSY who have likely already created a digital invite that looks great and would work well for your event. For only a few dollars (generally about $5-$15), you can order a copy of that digital invite customized with all of the information concerning your particular party -- like your child's name and age, the date, time, and location of the party, and RSVP and other details. Such designers will sometimes send you a proof of that invite within hours, and most do so within a day, to the e-mail address you provide on your ETSY account. Then, you can make small tweaks and changes as necessary until it is just right, and the designer will send you a final digital file. You can then send that file to a photo printing shop and have it printed on photo paper (this is great for 4x6 invites) or bring the file to a copy shop and make color copies on white card stock (which tends to be the more affordable option for larger 5x7 prints).
The following are pictures of three invitations I have previously ordered and links to the vendors I've used from ETSY, all of whom provided awesome invites and a great experience:
For Kate's Pokemon Party, I found these perfect invites from the PreciousCelebtration shop on ETSY for $12.50.
This invite comes in multiple sizes, and I chose 5x7. As you can see, the picture is split in half -- one side being the front and one side being the back of what looks (roughly) like a Pokemon card. This vendor provided a lot of opportunities for personalization, including the addition of a picture. Because of that, Kate got to help me stage a fun shot with her Pokemon, choose her Pokemon name, and choose the type of Pokemon she would be (she chose "water" Pokemon with a blue background). She loved it! The seller (Eliana) helped me finalize the invitation quickly, and I had them printed and assembled within 2 days from ordering. Office Depot made color copies for me (2 invitations per page) for $0.67 each, which was much cheaper than the $2.50 per 5x7 that the local drug store was asking for photo prints. I had to then cut the invites out, fold, and glue them, but I completed those tasks in about an hour.
The invites look fabulous. Now we're off and running!