I get LOTS of questions on printing, and I thought it would be a great idea to put ALL the info in one place! It’s not hard at all to print party printables, but it certainly helps to know where and how to print. I’ve learned a couple tricks along the way that I’m happy to share with you.
If you would prefer to have your invitations printed professionally (and I know there are a lot of you out there), I now offer invitation & stationery printing (for my designs only) in the OandD shop. All cards are printed at a professional photo lab with tons of available options. I’m super picky about card stock and fast shipping, so there are multiple premium card stock options to choose from (classic, shimmer, linen, recycled) with overnight U.S. shipping included. Better yet, want matching envelope liners or return address labels? Just ask.
The DIY Method:
First, the basics…File Types
– JPEG/JPG files: Jpeg files are essentially “photo” files and the format to upload to a printer. I also like to email jpeg files because when attached in an email they typically show up in the body of an email. That way a person receiving the email won’t have to click on an attachment to open the invitation. This type of file is also what you would want to use if you were posting the invitation/card to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media outlet.
– PDF’s: In my etsy shop, invitations in pdf form are formatted two per page on a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. This is done so that you can print two invitations at a time from one sheet of heavy white card stock and save on paper. You’ll want to use this file if you’re printing from a home color printer or if you’re taking the invitations to be printed at an office supply store. BUT, here’s the trick.. if you’re uploading to an office supply store to have THEM cut out the invitations or cards, then you’ll need to use the jpeg file. Some office supply stores may need to make the file a bit larger to account for bleed. No edits are allowed to my pdf’s as they are all password protected. Unfortunately, I have to do that so that my designs don’t end up being copied somewhere else. You can download, save & print a protected file, but you can’t open it in any editing software (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.).
A Word about Party Packages
I like to use a couple different methods to print my own party packages/decorations. I just find this is the easiest, highest quality option. So for my own kids’ parties, this is what I do:
- Print Invitations – and maybe stationery – from a quality online printer. (All my invitations are available professionally printed through the OandD Etsy shop. This frees up your time from having to cut them all out and purchase envelopes. More importantly, though, the quality will be far superior. The cards will be thick and you can print double-sided (depending on the vendor).
- All Other Decorative Items: Print from a decent home color printer or take them to an office supply store to print on heavy white card stock (100 lb) or more. A few tips: For home printing, be sure to set your printer to “Actual Size.” For office supply stores: If you bring in your own card stock, they generally give you a large per page discount.
- Chalkboard Signs: There are a lot of ways to print these. All chalkboard posters are available printed and mounted on heavy matboard. You can also print yourself from any office supply store.
Now On To More Printing Details: Printing Invitations
- Mpix.com – If you would prefer to print your own invitations/stationery, I recommend Mpix above all others. They are first and foremost a photo lab, so they are proficient at photo printing. They have a lot of premium card stock options available, offer rounded corners, and print double-sided. All you need to do is upload your jpeg files here. Tip: When purchasing your printable files request files set-up with standard bleed to ensure no information gets cut off the edges.
- Online Stationery/Photo Printers (Shutterfly, Snapfish) – Printing from these vendors is super easy, though I don’t love the quality. For these types of vendors, you’ll want to first find a full photo design (or an upload-you-own design) invitation and upload the jpeg file. They’ll do all the trimming and will send you completely finished printed invitations and envelopes. However, I don’t typically recommend printing double-sided invitations or photo cards from these vendors.
- Vistaprint.com – Vistaprint is another inexpensive option and does a somewhat decent job assuming you print on their upgraded linen or heavier card stock. They are definitely not my favorite, but they do a better job than a home printer/office supply store. They have very odd sizing (for example their 5×7 is not actually a 5×7 at all)…. so, if you plan to print at Vista, PLEASE let me know prior to purchase so that I can format files appropriately. (Otherwise, the files have to be completely reformatted, which does take a bit of time and you may incur an additional fee). To print, go here, look under the invitations menu, pick your size and upload your Vista specific jpeg file(s). Caution: I do find that Vistaprint is very inconsistent with trimming, so reprints are sometimes needed.
- Photo Labs (Costco / Walmart / Walgreens, etc.) – Use this option when you want to print on glossy photo paper (e.g. a photo invitation card). Some vendors also offer card stock. You’ll want to upload the jpeg file to upload to their website or bring the file into the store on a USB drive. This is definitely not a preferred printing method, though. If you must go this route, I would recommend Costco. (Tip: They have weird sizing! Know dimensions prior to ordering!). You can upload the files either as a photo (to print on glossy paper) or as an invitation (to print on photo paper or “stationery” card stock). Depending on which option you purchase, you may need to purchase envelopes as well and can grab the standard white ones in their stationery/business aisle. I do NOT recommend Walgreens. They have never done a good job printing my photos and the color is always off. Save yourself the hassle.
For nearly every printable party item, you’ll want to print on some sort of heavy white card stock. For invitations and stationery, I really like a linen paper that has a subtle linen texture. It just makes everything look a bit richer. (I don’t necessarily recommend linen paper for photo invitations though). For other types of party printables like labels, you may want to consider using sticky label paper (like water bottle labels or sticker favor tags etc.). I personally like Avery Full Sheet White labels. You can print anything on these labels and cut them to the specific size. I even print matching return address labels on them.
Lastly… envelopes! If you are printing from anywhere that you have to cut out the invitations/cards yourself (home printer, office supply stores from the pdf), you’ll need to purchase envelopes. You can find these pretty much anywhere. For more colors options than you can ever imagine, I recommend French Paper. They’ll have every color that you could possibly ever need. And here’s a tip… consider using some coordinating digital paper to create an envelope liner for an extra punch to any invitation. All you need to do is take one of your envelopes apart a bit and trace a template. I also always offer matching envelopes liners for all printed invitations upon request.
Here are the standard invitation/stationery sizes and corresponding envelope sizes:
5×7 – Use A7 size envelopes
4×6 – Use A6
5.5×4.25 – Use A2
A note about printers… I have found that at some point, every printer that I’ve utilized over the years has made some type of minor mistake. Usually it’s in the scoring or the trimming being off. In any case, a good printer will stand behind their products and offer free reprints with expedited shipping when necessary. So, if you ever are disappointed, please don’t hesitate to call their customer service and have them do a reprint.
And one last piece of advice … Recently, I’ve had a ton of people ask me how to print their previously purchased printable invitations with trademarked characters/themes (mickey mouse, cat in the hat, etc.). Do yourself a favor. Don’t buy these. Not only is it illegal and no credible graphic designer would ever use trademarked items in their designs, but no printer will ever touch them. And… well honestly… no responsible small business owner would ever sell you something that he or she knows can’t be used.
And so after all that it, if you’d prefer the convenience of having cards printed and shipped directly to you , I do now offer printing services (for my designs only) available here.
Hope this helps sort out some of the possible printing options!