How We Made Clara’s First Birthday Invitations

It’s her party and we’ll DIY invitations if we want to. You would DIY them too if it happened to you if you were us. After all, our wedding invites were homemade…

… so how could we phone it in for our daughter’s first birthday party? Even though much-more-talented-invitation-designers like Mrs. Limestone generously offered to lend a hand (so nice), we stubbornly set out to attempt to create our second party invitation ever on our own (well, with the help of a cute baby and a computer). I guess we just have a thing for doing it ourselves (ya think?).

So we started out with a very familiar set-up to our weekly Clara photos like these (see how we make them here)…

… which look a little something like this when they’re not all small and tiled like the ones above:

Except this time we just placed Clara in her usual white onesie on basic white fabric (a plain white bed sheet that we already had on hand):

Since Clara’s weekly photos have become somewhat of a theme for her first year of life, we decided to borrow the idea to introduce her big one year old b-day bash in the form of an invitation (her whole party will have a colorful fabric and number theme inspired by her weekly photos, so the invite really sets the tone). The main difference from other weekly pics was that this particular photo required more Photoshop work than most, because we basically created the “fabric” from scratch (since you’re not likely to find fabric with specific party details on it at your local craft store).

I’ll spare you the Photoshop play-by-play (in short: we added type, reduced the opacity so it looked more like it was printed on the fabric, rasterized it so we could erase whatever was “under” Clara, and added some asterisks for “pattern”). Here’s the final result (minus a few private details that have been blurred):

We originally intended it to be all text – just the party details by themselves as the “pattern” behind her. But it felt a bit empty, so we added the colored asterisks.

PS: How awesome is it that her actual birthday falls on a Saturday? Well planned, universe.

As for printing the invite (since you can’t put a stamp on a JPG), it actually took a bit of hunting. We didn’t want to print them at home (or a place like CVS) on photo paper because we wanted a more matte stationery effect (like a real invite as opposed to a picture dropped in the mail). And although we did print our wedding invites at home on cardstock, we worried that printing a more image heavy design like this at home might yield subpar results since they wouldn’t look as crisp and bright as a professional job. So we looked into an online service that could print them for us cheaply but better than we could at home (you’d be surprised how many of those go-to sites for invites and holiday cards don’t give you the option to print something entirely of your own design). Fortunately we stumbled upon Winkflash.

We opted for the 4.25 x 6″ postcard option (in the middle of the bottom row in the screenshot above) because we thought a postcard invite would be a fun twist, plus it would give us the chance to write a personalized message on the back of each one in scribbly kid handwriting “from Clara.” We figured that wasn’t asking for a hand cramp since we’re only sending out about a dozen invites (it’s virtually a family-only party of about 20 people total). But we ordered an even 20 invites just so we’d have some extras for posterity (and the baby book, the hallway frame wall, etc).

The best part was that by googling around for an online coupon code, we scored 60% off (!!) of our order. So the grand total with shipping came down from over 20 dollars to $10.11, which factors out to around 50 cents per invite. Not bad (and possibly cheaper than ink and paper for home printed cards would have been). As for the coupon code, we ordered them a couple of weeks ago, so we can’t guarantee that the “cards60” code is still working, but it did the trick for us.

But that savings must’ve impaired our judgment (call it “discount goggles” if you will) because we realized after receiving our order that postcards don’t always survive a trip through the mail in great shape (no offense, USPS) – especially when they’re white. And since we thought the grandparents might want to hang on to Clara’s invite without any dark smudges or folds, a jacked-up postcard just wouldn’t do.

No biggie though, we just hunted down some envelopes that would shield our postcards on their harrowing journey to nearby VA and even to NY and beyond. It was a bit tough due to the weird postcard size, but eventually we did find a set at Target that would work (for just $4). The funny thing is that the envelopes came packaged with some pre-designed party invites. The invite theme? Tools. How funny is that? Maybe we should’ve just used those in the first place. Except that we’re too DIY obsessed to use DIY themed (but not actually DIYed) invites. Go figure.

Even though our postcard was more like a traditional flat invite now, Clara (aka Sherry’s shaky left hand) still wrote some personalized messages on the back.

The invites went out a little over a week ago and have already been received by all – and they seem to be a hit. Woot. We’re psyched that we did it all for a grand total of under $20 (which includes postage, envelopes, and custom printed postcards) – which would have been what we paid for the printed postcards alone had we not found that lucky 60% off coupon code online before ordering. Thanks google.

Speaking of DIY-ed party details, we’ve got more on the subject over on BabyCenter today. Here’s a sneak peek:

That’s right we DIYed our own Clara fabric for her last weekly photo and a fun birthday party activity that we have planned. Good times. Check out those details here.


  1. says

    What a fantastic idea! I halfway DIY-ed my wedding invites and have DIY-ed all party invites, but this is the best idea I’ve seen yet! I love it (and that fabric…how great)!

  2. Melissa says

    Saw your website in the Washington Post.

    For the future: You can make postcards from USPS and mail them right from your computer (so no envelopes; addresses uploaded in an Excel spreadsheet). We used this service for our wedding save-the-dates. The front of the postcard was a photo of Rodin’s The Kiss that we took in Paris a couple years before. A little photo editing, it looked great.

  3. says

    They are adorabable! You guys are going to remember this party forever. (As for the rest, you’ll kind of remember them in a hazy-like fog. ha ha)

    My kids are 7 and (almost) 5 and I still always DIY their parties. The latest invitation is for my daughter’s Superhero birthday party: I made invitations where the recipients have to *scratch off* like lottery tix. (It was a big hit among the 5 year olds and the moms.)

  4. Tally says

    I’m sorry — what do you mean by “rasterized it so we could erase whatever was ‘under’ Clara”? What is that? How is it done?

    • says

      It’s a menu option in Photoshop. You go to “layer” and down to “rasterize” and select “text” and it’ll then no longer be type-editable (it becomes a rasterized shape that you can erase). Hope it helps!


    • RC says

      There’s no need to rasterize the layer in Photoshop. You can add a layer mask to editable text and paint black on the layer mask to “erase” the letters/letter portions you don’t want.

    • AnuK says

      Just on an off note: there is an application called Rasterbator where you could enlarge any print that you upload…They have some bery cook ideas on their website!

    • says

      Rasterize the text! Of course! Although now that I saw the comment about the layer mask, I’ll probably go that route, but still. I never would have thought to do it either way.

      (I love it that I pop in here for design ideas, and get a little PS trick too. Happiness is learning something new in Photoshop :) )

      LOVE that fabric! Definitely stealing that idea!

  5. Tiffany P says

    LOVE THE FABRIC YOU MADE!! Its perfect!

    Plus I love that I now have the name of this site to make my own personalized fabric!

  6. Kate V. says

    Love the invitation! But that fabric is freakin’ awesome! Now I want to see if I can create something like that for my daughter. Can’t wait to hear about her party!

  7. says

    a) you’ve inspired me to mercilessly search for discount codes (used one yesterday to print photos at CVS)
    b) the fabric rocks and i giggled out loud (at work) when i read on BabyCenter that you might make a *bean* bag chair. i mentally said, “oooh because they call her bean/beanette!” yeah. doesn’t take much to amuse my tuesday. can’t wait to see how special her party turns out!

  8. RebeccaMac says

    Thanks for the Winkflash link. I usually use Staples or Fedex for printing invites. Does Winkflash put their logo on the back like Vista Print?

    • says

      Oh good question. We were surprised but there was no logo on the back (just a postcard line since we chose the post card layout). I think you can see it in the pic where I scrawled a little message “from Clara.” Hope it helps!


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