Pirate Invitations

Generally I like to begin my posts with a little background story about the project before I jump right into how to do it.  This time, I happen to have a rant/question.  (If you just want to get to the how-to, scroll down.  Stop scrolling when you see a large, bold font heading.)

This is my sons first year in school.  Part of the reason I began this blog was him entering Kindergarten – I figured it would help keep me as busy as he did. 😉  Help keep my mind off missing my ‘little’ boy.  I know school isn’t the same as when I was in school.  Obviously change is inevitable – I just assumed it would be in the advancement and improvement of the education.

Even with advanced preparation of all the ‘changes’ in the public school system, I can’t help but find myself emotionally taxed with frustration at them.  What am I talking about?  Not being allowed to bring homemade goods to the class room – everything needs to be purchased.  Parents are required to bring legal identification with them to the schools to visit their child.  And if a child has a birthday party, they have to invite everyone in the class.  (In case you can’t tell by the title of this post, it’s the latter that I’m going to rant about – this time…)

I completely understand that birthday invitations shouldn’t be handed out in class if everyone isn’t invited.  Apparently there is a little girl in my sons class that passed out invited earlier this week, but only to a select few.  Apparently this triggered a crises.  Angry parents made calls to the principal.  Really?!?  Exactly what do these parents think the principal is going to do about this?  I am empathetic to the children getting their feelings hurt.  I do not understand the justification parents have to call the principle regarding this.

Although I think it would be fantastic if we liked everyone around us.  But, I know that is not, and will not ever be the case.  There are always going to be people you have a stronger connection with than others.  I have always discussed this issue openly with my child.  You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to treat everyone with respect.  Follow the golden rule, and treat others the way you would like to be treated.  (Those of you shooting the screen dirty looks right now, 2 things: 1. you can’t possibly tell me you are sincerely friends with every single person you’ve crossed paths with. 2. You’ll have your chance – leave a comment at the end.  Remember, this is a PG site!  If you feel that strongly about it, send me an e-mail.  I have no problem taking into consideration the other side of things.)

Having a Kindergartener with a September birthday apparently is a huge problem – at least it has been for me.  Every year the PTA collects the contact information of attending students.  Provided there is no opposition, the information is published in a handout given to all those who attend.  That’s great – if it were published already.  I’ve been advised it will still be a while before it gets distributed.  If I had a first grader, I could just refer to the previous year to collect contact information.  I don’t.  I have a Kindergartener.

I asked against my knowing suspicions, if I could have the addresses of some children in my sons class.  Yep – nope.  i figured.  So, to pursue yet another avenue I managed to get the first names of the children’s parents.  As they were said, subdivisions were uttered amidst them.

Once home and armed with my newly acquired information, I began my search through the white pages.  Childs last name, narrowed by parents first.  With some I had luck, with others I didn’t.  Cross checking every address that contained information correlating to the information I had with the boundaries of the school district.  There was a point when it crossed my mind that perhaps I was supplied incorrect information by the secretary.  Showing up at one wrong house, and realizing another slipped through my cross checking and was not in the right district, I decided to call it quits for the day.  After which I was informed by our neighbor this is the secretary’s first year.  That explains a lot.

*And, just a little FYI: addresses can be checked at the U.S. Census Bureau to find out what neighborhood it’s located in.  Does this elevate me to the same status as a stalker?  Honestly, my intentions are not ill!  Not to mention I haven’t been provided any help here!

Six hours in to finding 6 children’s addresses, I am going to implement plan C.  Distribute the children’s invitations tomorrow at another classmates party (discretely, of course!).  And, plan D will follow in efforts to contact those children which did not attend.  So my complaint/question is this:

If invitations are not to be distributed in class unless to the entire class, and information cannot be disclosed regarding any contact information, what is a parent to do?

I have half a mind to ‘concede’ and send ‘invites’ to all the kids in class.  Each childs name on the envelope – address and information provided inside the ones of the children my child hopes will attend – and perhaps different wording inside the others?  Seriously, I’m just kidding!  But, as much of a pain this has been made the thought has crossed my mind.

Is our society so politically correct, and fearful that we are willing to let our children believe that life is fair?  I would rather my child learn this lesson now through lack of an invite, than later in life when the stakes are higher.  If a child displays bully like behavior in class, do you force the birthday child to include him?  Personally, there are a couple of children I was glad my child didn’t want to invite.  From our dinner conversations these children do not make good choices, and quite frankly I would prefer to keep their influence on my child to a minimum.  Should a child that is not well liked by his peers not receive consequences to their ill received behavior?  Receiving invites even though their behavior certainly didn’t earn it through the eyes of a birthday child?  Does this instill entitlement in our children?  And, my last rant – perhaps the most irritating yet: why is it the parents who call the principle on such an insignificant issue are the same parents who remain uninvolved and non-contributing to the class the rest of the time?  Don’t you think the parents that are highly involved would have equal weight in complaints against policies as those who remain unknown the majority of the time?  All right, let me have it.  I’m sure I’m in the minority here – I’m just having a difficult time accepting this.  On with the tutorial!

Pirate Invitation Tutorial

I traditionally prefer to make my own invitations for pretty much everything – but especially children’s birthday parties.  Two reasons for this: 1. so many of the themed invites available for purchase are just sooo cheesy. 2. They’re kids invitations!  There’s rarely another opportunity in which the sky is the limit of creativity and possibilities!  My childs theme of choice this year is pirates (title of the post didn’t give it away?).  I wanted to create invitations as realistic (and cheap!) as possible.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • Good ‘ol standard white paper – the amount needed depends on how many invitations you need to create. (Already had.)
  • Pre-made gift tags (Already had, but I think the cost is about $2.99 for 20)
  • Black material (not much, torn into strips.  I used leftover scraps so it was free, but I’m positive you could get some at Hobby Lobby or Joann’s with a coupon for $1 or less.  Depending on the store, the smallest increment for purchase is typically 1/8 of a yard.  That would be more than enough for this project.)
  • Printer – preferably laser (already had)
  • Tea bags (already had)
  • Water (already had – duh, right?)
  • Citrasolv ($11 – but I had intentions of purchasing it anyways.  This just sped the process up).
  • Rag (necessities in our home!)
  • Glaze (Already had on hand from previous projects).
  • Artists brush (borrowed from neighbor, but I’m sure they are available starting at around $0.50 each).
  • Spoon (ranks up there with the water, right?)
  • Sandpaper (optional, but had on hand)
  • A Starbucks Frappaccino addiction (optional, salvaged my daily drink bottle disposal)

Total cost of the project depends on how you look at it.  Yes, I purchased the Citrasolv – but I truly was planning on making that purchase anyways.  So you pick.  These either cost $11, or they were free.  I consider them to be free.

First off, you need to get the right font.  There are unlimited options out there, and for free too!  I researched to find what font was used in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, which I found out is Pieces of Eight.  That’s the font I went with.  You can download it free at dafont.com, fonts4free.net, dailyfreefonts.comfonts101.com, or the several other sites that provide free downloads.

Once downloaded and installed, type up the invitation.  I personally think the more over the top you can be with the theme, the better.  Use some pirate language in the wording of your invitations.  Again, there are scads of sites out there that can provide this information.  Two sites I like are talklikeapirateday.com and yarr.org.  I also used latitude and longitude coordinates for the address.  No, I don’t expect anyone to actually find our home using them, I just thought it was festive.  You can find the coordinates for your address here.  After invitations have been printed, the fun begins – creating the realistic effect!

First, tea stain the paper.  (Name tags can be tea stained at the same time.)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and make the tea.  Make tea strength according to desired depth of stain color.

Loosely wad up each individual invitation.  This will make for an easier time submerging the paper, as well as create a more aged appearance.  The stain becomes darker on areas of the paper that have been wrinkled.

Submerge paper, removing immediately.  Very carefully lay out paper to dry.

This shows the difference in color yielded by the tea stain.

Once paper has dried completely, tightly roll each one.

Three invitations at a time, light one end of scrolls on fire.  Carefully monitoring, allow the flame to spread to entire edge of each paper.  Quickly extinguish with spray bottle.  Repeat the process on the other side.  Allow paper to cool and dry.

Untill each scroll, and lay out on surface you can paint on – you may want to use something to hold them open.  Paint edges (both sides) with clear latex glaze.  I used Benjamin Moore’s Latex Glaze.  What?!?  Why are you doing this?  Take a look at your hands – I assume they are ashen with soot.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an invitation in my home that makes a mess of everything it touches.  By glazing all parts of the paper that have been burnt, this will no longer be a problem.  Allow glaze to dry.

Here is the end result of the steps taken so far.

To make the name tags, they also need to be tea stained.  This can be done at the same time as the invitations.  Loosely wad up each pre-made tag, submerge into tea, remove and lay out to dry.

After tags have dried completely, time for some Cirtasolv action!

I found this amazing technique through Jamie Lyn at Crafty Scrappy Happy.  If you are looking for inspiration, that post is sure to do it!

Taking inspiration provided by Jamie Lyn, I found some Citrasolv at my local Nature’s Pantry. I believe it was $11 – an investment that will last a while, and contribute to several future projects.

Type each childs name, flip names horizontally, then print. One at a time center name on tag. Using an artist’s brush, lightly coat paper behind letters of name. Use Citrasolv frugally – too much will cause the ink to bleed. Use a blunt object and a bit of muscle and thoroughly rub the area name is on. Remove paper, and you should see the name transferred onto tag. Continue process for each child to be invited.

 Roll up each invitation, and secure with small strip of ripped fabric (if you plan to place invitation in a bottle, fold paper in half length wise, then roll up).  Attach tag to scroll.  At this point invitations can be passed out, or you can continue on to the next step…For those of you who have a Starbucks Frappuccino addiction (common – some of you do! How else do you have the energy to do all those projects?), save those bottles! Remove labels, run through the dishwasher, and use a little Imperial Cleaner to remove remaining adhesive.

Use sandpaper on bottle caps to remove any visible labeling, and create a distressed appearance.

Place scrolls into bottles, and you’re done.  Either mail or hand deliver to each child.

For those of you thinking “she has waaay too much time on her hands….”  Stop that!  Stop it right now!  (Ok, so you’re right.  But you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t in the same boat, right?)


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