Do you really need an invitation for your party? Of course you do! Its the mood-setter, so to speak. It tells the guests what to expect, what to bring... its the teaser. Feel the pressure? Well, lucky for you, you're probably inviting friends and family that don't mind too much if your teaser isn't engraved on card stock. There, feel better now?
If that's the case, and I really hope it is because no one needs that kind of anxiety ever, then your next step is basically deciding paper or digital. Neither is "better," but one might suite you or your party better. That just depends and I'm going to let you make that choice.
Some definite pros about going digital is that, for starters, its "green" because you don't use any paper products. Its all pixels, baby. Another plus is that its usually everyone's favorite word: Free. Also, if you're comfortable with it, it can be as easy as fill in the blank. If you're not the kind to want to spend a lot of time on invitations, or if you're just plain pressed for time in general, digitally inviting people to a function can be really helpful. There are a myriad of choices to go with and it comes back to preference, however, I really think you should consider the whole ambiance thing we talked about. It might be faster/easier to just write an email and send it out, but don't forget you're setting the tone for your party too. Even a basic email (or facebook event) can have a color scheme or a picture. But to be honest, if you're really that computer shy that you would avoid using something like Evite.com or someecards.com then you might want to think about doing a paper invitation instead.
Paper invitations can be as easy as buying the Winnie the Pooh cards at Vons for your kids Pooh Bear themed party. But you can also have some fun and make a memory by going DIY. Your budget doesn't have to suffer, but unless you plan to hand out every single invite you should at least expect to pay for postage. If you don't want to buy your invites at Vons OR like to support small business endeavors, then another option is to hop on your maps.google.com or yellowpages.com and look up a stationary store. If you want that crafty look but don't feel crafty enough to do it yourself (or, again, like supporting small business), there are plenty of shops on Etsy.com that will help you design a beautiful, fun, unique invitation all your own.
If you're in the mood for some crafty adventures, then prepare to DIY! When it comes to doing it yourself, you have a wide range on the budget. You can even keep them costless if you have enough materials around!
The main key is: Think outside the box. Have a bunch of old magazines you don't look at anymore? Try cutting out colors, pictures and words that fit your theme and create unique, individual invites. You can combine this with other media (like fabric, buttons, ribbon, sketches, crayon, pen, photos, etc.) to get different looks. All you need is some paper, card stock or even card board to paste everything to and some Mod Podge. The possibilities are endless. If you're doing a kids birthday party or other celebration, try including them in the process by drawing or painting pictures with them to be used on the invitation. They will love it and the recipients will get that warm feeling inside just looking at that totally cute art piece by your little artist. (If you have a lot of invitations to make then you might want to take one big piece of paper, have the kiddos go hog wild on it and then cut it up into smaller mini art works to glue onto the invitations. Remember, its not about child labor, its about having fun!)
Thinking outside the box is key to finding and integrating less expensive supplies too. If you do have to buy something, try looking around your local dollar store first. They carry some craft supplies and what they carry changes, so you never know what you may come across that could fit the bill. But don't just look in the craft section, look around and think of how you can use other items to make it work. Doing a Valentines Day theme? Try using that pack of doilies and offset them on colored paper. Want a light and airy spring time look? Try using coffee filters to make flowers or butterflies (use water colors to paint them). Feeling stuck? Browse some websites for inspiration and then make up your own thing. You can do it :) And you should totally share your idea with others.