Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Have you heard the one about the $100 invitation?

For many people, holding an event to celebrate a life milestone involves making choices based on cost. Some have an afternoon event because lunch costs less than dinner. Some use potted plants as centerpieces because they are less expensive than flower arrangements. Some print their own invitations or send announcements by email to save on printing and postage costs.

But it is obvious that for some people, cost is no object. I received an invitation years ago in a box that cost $4 to mail. The invitation itself involved multiple folds, inserts, wrapping, ribbons, and photographs. I can’t even imagine what that invitation cost.

When the sky is the limit, the invitations can take your breath away. And that’s not always a good thing, according to this story by SheSez on Divine Caroline.

(“T)oday I came home after schlepping the kids all over tarnation for after school activities, and spied a twelve-inch square box. What could it be? I lifted the lid to reveal the mother of all invitations! Sitting in a nest of curly, angel hair pasta-like wood shavings was a hand-painted tambourine. It was a beautiful work of art, depicting the first song that appears in the Torah.

And there’s more. The explanation of the relationship between the musical instrument and the Bat Mitzvah girl is offered on gold, pink, and cream colored stationery.
It spells out the significance of the Bar Mitzvah girl and the scene depicted on the tambourine.

I couldn’t help but start calculating how much this individual invitation must have cost. With a couple of clicks of my mouse, I established that each of these works of art retails at $65. Then, there’s the stationery, the wooden “pasta,” the square of Papyrus paper that adheres to the inside lid of the box, as well as the pink envelope that holds all the very expensive stationery. As I examine the box more closely, I note that the pre stamped, pre-addressed RSVP envelope bears a very special 58-cent stamp. But this is no ordinary stamp. Instead, the face of the stamp bears a photographic image of the Bat Mitzvah kid, posing like a showgirl cabaret style.

I’m on a roll here. I get out my calculator. I determine the cost of the individual invitation before applying a very simple multiplication calculation that would reveal the sum total of the invite alone. Now, remember, that’s before even considering the cost of the party.
Packaging—(gold colored, 12-inch square cardboard box, wooden “pasta” nest), probably $10
Postage—Silly me! It didn’t arrive in the regular mail delivery, it was delivered by courier. $20?

Math is not my strong point but that has to bring the cost of an individual invitation in at approx $100+. Now, we know at least one hundred kids have been invited so, what? Multiply this by 150? 200? You get the picture.

Suddenly, I have to stop my math project. The TV is blaring in the background with images of the fire wreaking havoc in Southern California. An estimated million residents have been evacuated and 1,500 homes have been burned. I’m thinking about how much time and money it will take to make things okay for these traumatized people.

Back to the matters at hand. I check the box noting my child won’t attend. He tells me (after all this!) he’s not especially friendly with Tambourine Girl. As I walk to my mailbox, the ash-laden air, contaminated from the Malibu fires, makes me cough slightly. I pop the envelope in the mailbox, marveling at the craziness of the world.”

In some communities, given unlimited resources, there will always be a “can you top this” competition – “oh year? Well, my invitation is (bigger, thicker, more layered, more expensive, more creative…you get the idea) than yours.” Does this make sense? You can draw your own conclusion. Send in your comments - we want to know what you think.

In my opinion, the most important thing about any invitation is that it reflects who you are and captures the spirit of the event. And that can be done at almost any price point.

Here's my invitation to you if you’re having a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, Sweet 16, quinceanera or other celebration

Whether you’re spending $1 or $100 on each invitation, make sure that Purple Raincoat has the opportunity to turn that invitation into a unique framed keepsake. We look forward to hearing from you and getting started on your one-of-a-kind work of art.

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