Are Digital Invitations Too Impersonal?


About a year ago, we sent out an evite for our child’s first birthday party.  Of course, it was a retro theme party with Curious George at the epicenter. However, it never dawned on us that a digital party invitation might come across as too impersonal until…AFTER we hit the send button.

Are digital invitations too impersonal?

The answer will vary on a few factors such as the type of party, size of the party, and the guest list.  In general, it is perfectly acceptable to send out digital invitations for a retro theme party so long as the party is not a first birthday, bridal shower, baby shower, or wedding.

Evite 1
Evite 2

Evite 3

For us, as it turns out, we made a poor decision in sending out digital invitations for our child’s first birthday party, regardless of the retro, informal vibe we were going for.  I had to do some damage control and apologize to appease the emotions of others.  Lesson learned.

If I had to do it all over again, I would consider some of the options below and try to remain as traditional as possible to prevent anyone’s feelings from being hurt.  


How To Make Digital Invitations More Personal

The first way that comes to mind is to create a custom message.  To save you time, avoid the masses that will be okay with the generic invitation and consider only the guests that may need some extra TLC. 

If you’re able to send a 1-off invitation just to them, with a brief sentence or two about why it is important they attend, or perhaps an inside joke, that will save you boatloads of time and mean a lot more to that guest.

Next, pairing a custom message with a different design from all the other guests will also aid in making it personal.  We would recommend this option only if you can add an image (picture of the people you are sending as an example) to the template or the template itself is related to an experience you have shared with the said guest.

The one is a bit trivial, but ensure that they are the only email in the “To” section of the email.  You may not have this option depending on the company you elect. By doing this, it will come across as less “spammy” to your guest.

Last, ensure the subject line of your email is bolded and specific to your guests.  Include their name if you can. “Attention Mr. Blank and Mrs. Blank ”  This is a lesson out of Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and a very important one, I might add.

“A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Dale Carnegie

Outreach After Digital Invitation Sent

If you fail to take your parents or grandparents off your digital invitation, or you can see that they haven’t even opened the email yet, don’t fret.  Give them a call.

A simple phone call to each person explaining the circumstances will make sense and show that you care and didn’t want them to be left in the dark. 

Ice Breaker Call Script: “Hi Grandma, I just wanted to let you know that this year we’re not sending out paper invitations in the mail for Jimmy’s First Birthday Bash.  Money has been tight this year and this just seemed like an unnecessary expense. Plus, it is informal and not going to be a big to-do. You were first on our guest list and we’d love for you to come.  Did you still check your email?”

Or, make it a point the next time you see them, within reason, to let them know why you were sending out an evite and that they are invited.  Don’t go out of your way to do this as it would probably be easier just to send a paper invitation (which is always an option to do both).


What Are The Pros vs. Cons Of Digital Invitations?

Let’s face it, we live in the Information Age.  The shift from brick and mortar (paper invitations) to eCommerce (digital invitations) is compounding daily. 

We all want to be notified of things quickly through our smartphone with just a few thumb keystrokes. It’s convenient.

There is a lot of value in digital invitations.  There are also a few drawbacks.

Let’s review the ‘Pros and ‘Cons of Digital Invitations and compare to their traditional, old school friend, Paper Invitations.

Pros to Digital InvitationCons to Digital Invitation
Fast – both creating (for you last minute-planners) and sending Have to know everyone’s email
Inexpensive Risk of not getting read – sent directly to junk or spam folder
Green friendly Less tech-savvy guests may have trouble reviewing or responding
Ability to receive comments and answer questions Perceived as “tacky”, “cheap” or even “lazy”
Easy follow-up, reminders and notifications Advertisements may be embedded in the invitation
Real-time RSVP
Digital Invitation
Pros to Paper InvitationCons to Paper Invitation
More personal Slow – selecting, receiving and sending
Increased percentage of being opened and read Expensive
Usually kept in high-traffic areas of the house (kitchen table, refrigerator) – this is a constant reminder of the party as well as the positive memories they may have about you (invaluable) Time consuming – more work
Sentimental value – a keepsake Have to know everyone’s mailing address
Perceived as traditional, proper etiquette, thoughtful No notification if someone didn’t receive (moved, no mail forwarding setup, wrong address)
Cumbersome process for guests to RSVP (completing, envelope, stamp, mail)

Are Digital Invitations Going to be the Norm?

This shouldn’t surprise many, but we believe that just like anything else (shopping, banking, dating), electronic invitations will become the norm over time (if they haven’t already). 

Ultimately, you’re not going to be able to please everyone.  The guests that want to attend will find a way to do so. Those that do not, may complain or get offended, and at the end of the day, they were invited like everyone else regardless of the modality. 

They have a choice.

In time, receiving paper invitations will be a hidden gem.  Much like getting a physical, paper, thank you card today. It’s a lost art.

Like clockwork, people still get mail daily.  Most of it complete junk. So, when you get a handwritten piece of mail, it is extremely exciting!

If you aren’t afraid of putting in the work, paper invitations will always be a notch above an evite.

And if you’re forced to send paper invitations for whatever reason (wedding), try to find ways to incorporate digital communication such as electronic RSVP or directing them to a website to ask a question or to get driving directions.  Combining the best of both invitation methods will be a great balance.


What Information Should Be On Your Digital Invitation?

The following information is a basic guide of essential information to incorporate on your invitation:

  • Greeting Headline
  • Name of Party | Brief Explanation or Tagline
  • Date | Time | Length of Party
  • Location
  • RSVP Instructions
  • Misc. space to use for a message, where to go for more info, or general contact info

Example:

  • You’re invited!  Join in dancing the night away in your best retro-inspired costume.  
  • Retroween 2K20 | A Night(mare) To Remember!
  • October 31, 2020 | 10:00pm to 2:00am
  • 666 Scary Street, Haunted Hills, PA 12345 
  • Please RSVP no later than October 20, 2020 to [email protected] 
  • Check out our FB group page for more information and creepy photos from last year!

Mark Plevyak

Thanks for reading! Throwing events can be overwhelming but to me one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences. Since we all grew up in different decades, we can't always relate to iconic time periods of the past. There is so much to celebrate so if you are thinking of planning an event, plan a Retro one. And, if you're attending a party, ensure you relive it to the fullest. Party Unique!

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