An invitation for my Princess, Ballerina, Fairy birthday girl.

A few days ago my daughter got an invitation for her party in the mail, but I didn’t send it. Paper Culture did.

As you may know, I recently started writing the “Inspired” blog for Paper Culture. Before I started my job, I did some research — I looked at the site. I checked out the assortment of cards and designs that were available. But I hadn’t really experienced Paper Culture until now. My daughter is turning four next week and I am making, as my Aunt Aleen from NJ would say, a party for her. This year I am doing the tried and true “age of the child plus one extra guest.” I have gone to too many 4-year-old birthday parties recently, where the birthday child has been in meltdown mode for the last half hour of the party. Also my daughter just started a new school, so I wasn’t really sure, who to invite. Here is my experience:

1. Register: I went on paperculture.com and registered, which was a piece of cake.

2. Pick your card: I had a terrible idea and let my daughter pick her invitation. She was very opinionated and a difficult customer to boot. “Fairies don’t have green wings. The princess’ mouth is too big.” And she didn’t like the line that went through the letters – disliking fonts at her age???! We finally settled on a card that she liked. It had scoops of ice-cream on it. Needless to say, she likes sugar.

3. Input text: I filled out the pertinent information. And then the site quickly sends you a proof and asks if everything is ok, or if you have questions about the design. I wasn’t sure if the text should be in all caps or not. I sent my proof back with my question. 30 minutes later I got a new proof and the designer had fixed everything: the “headline” was in all caps, and the other text was capitalized as needed. I also asked if the card could be more pink. Voila! I got a new proof, which had a pink background. We were good to go.

4. Order: I ordered 10 cards as this is going to be a small fete.

5. Mail: I hadn’t realized that Paper Culture offers a “Mail & Message Service.” The cards can be sent directly to you for you to send out, or the “Mail & Message Service” addresses and sends out the cards for you! You only pay for the stamps. I figured I would try it, as my handwriting leans towards being illegible. You can either type in your addresses – there is a nice little intuitive form – or you can import your addresses by using the paperculture.com excel address template. The Paper Culture people will assist you if you are stuck, but really it was so logical that I didn’t need help. And it didn’t take very long to do.

6. Message: Then I came upon the most magical part of the process. You can type individual notes for each guest which will be printed on the back of the card. Or you can send everyone the same key information and either personalize it a bit, or not at all. You never want to fill the front of your card with important, but non-festive information like directions and/or parking instructions. And you don’t need to with the “Message” part of the “Mail & Message Service.”

7. Purchase: I bought ($32.54 including tax and the cost of stamps) them on Tuesday and my daughter received her invite in the mail the next Wednesday. Not bad at all. Actually, it was quite a wonderful experience. And the word on the street has been amazing. My daughter’s friend, Sasha, told her that she had taped it to her wall. And two Moms told me that they loved everything about it.

Now I just have to figure out how to keep six 4-year-olds busy for two hours. Any thoughts? Suggestions?