10 Tips: Throw the Block’s Best Backyard Bash

10 Tips: Throw the Block’s Best Backyard Bash

Nothing says summer quite like a beautiful day and a barbeque — it’s the perfect way to spend time with friends and family. With that in mind, here are 10 tips for throwing the ultimate backyard bash.

1. Invites are a surefire way to get guests excited about a day of outdoor fun. After all, who doesn’t like to come home to a festive invite in their mailbox? Check out our whole gallery of barbeque and picnic invites. Here are a few of our favs:

2. For those of us who aren’t crafty (read: me!) decorating can be a daunting task. Our advice: Find inspiration in your invite. After choosing your design, pull out some of the primary colors and start there. It’s a simple way to tie everything together and your guests will notice the effort.

3. Once everyone on your list RSVPs, make sure your layout works. Are there are ample tables and chairs available for partygoers? It might seem obvious, but think about backyard parties you’ve attended — how often did you find yourself trying to eat while standing up? Yeah, us too.

4. Chances are, your friends and family enjoy all varieties of food and there is no way to please everyone on your own. To guarantee a wide selection, ask guests to bring a signature dish. That way, you’ll know there is at least one thing they’ll like to eat! (Make sure to include this info on the invite.)

5. Much like food, it can be difficult to predict what your guests will want to drink. To help make the decision easier for them, in addition to typical beverages (water, soda, etc.) create a signature cocktail for the party. You can’t go wrong with lemonade and for bonus points, add a bit of fruit for a summery twist. Plus, it’s easy to have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions to keep all your guests happy. We love this recipe from Epicurious.

6. There’s no question that games are a summer-party staple, but playing horseshoes might get old after a while. To keep things interesting, think about hosting a “tournament” to get everyone at the party to participate. You can even provide a fun prize for the winner.

7. It wouldn’t be a party — or at least not a good party — without music. Take some time beforehand to load up your iPod with a playlist full of summer songs (Billboard has a handy list to help get you on the right track). With your iPod full, you’ll be able to hit “play” and forget about it…except for all the times you’ll hear, “I LOVE this song!” from your guests, of course.

8. Nice weather often brings not-so-nice visitors, like mosquitos, so stock up on Citronella candles to keep these party-crashers at bay. If you want to get fancy, pick up a Citronella torch or three at your local home improvement store.

9. We’re sure that this party will create wonderful memories for everyone who attends, but it doesn’t hurt to give your guests a little something to leave with. A fun, yet super-practical, favor to consider: beach towels! Stores like Target have a number of inexpensive options to choose from.

10. A great way to help ensure your place is clean after the party is to make sure guests walk away with leftovers! Before the party, stock up on inexpensive containers, and encourage your guests to fill them up with favorite dishes and desserts. Unlike when you send people home with dishes, you won’t worry about getting these to-go containers back.

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day

 

If you like this design, check this out!

 

I’m a Vistaprint Bride: Christina

Today we’ll be chatting with Christina Lee, a bride-to-be and a senior analyst in our business strategy group.

Wedding Invitation

With my wedding only about a month away, we’re starting to get to all the minute details in order. One of the details I recently tackled was a sign for outside the ceremony to direct traffic.

We’re getting married in a church that’s hidden from the main road. Though the church is quite large (it’s an 800 person sanctuary) – it’s tucked away on a small private drive. On Sundays, the church usually has signs by the side of the main road so visitors don’t drive right by without noticing the turn. But with a large out of town guest list, I could picture this happening to some of my guests.

With days ticking by, I needed a quick solution. Knowing that lawn signs are typically used for businesses (think landscapers and painters), I knew I could make one myself that would match my purple and green color scheme and chic nature theme perfectly.

And that’s exactly what I did. I designed the sign using Photoshop, uploaded it to a lawn sign on Vistaprint’s site and ordered a few of them just in case. I plan on putting two on the main road near our church so that our guests can easily spot our ceremony from far away.

Now that I have that wedding dilemma solved, I’m on to the next one – finalizing the seating plan!

Brochures: A Bridal Multi-Tasker

Today Matina, one of the newly-weds in the Vistaprint office, shares some bridal sanity-saving advice -using brochures…

You may be thinking to yourself – brochures? Aren’t those for businesses? How on earth do brides use those things?

True, brochures are primarily for businesses. But with a little creativity, some out-of-the-box thinking and a lot of customization, you’ll see just how handy these multi-taskers can be for your big day.

Creative use #1: Welcome guides

Having a destination wedding? Brochures are a great way to welcome guests, provide sightseeing tips and general wedding information. One of my friends even wrote down useful Spanish phrases for her wedding in Mexico.

 Creative use #2: Kids’ games

Little ones can get restless sitting through the ceremony and the reception. Games will definitely keep them busy (if only for a short period of time!). Create kid-friendly brochures with crosswords or wedding I Spy – give a list of 20 wedding items and have them go find them!

Creative use #3: Bridal party newsletters

When I got married last summer, I felt like I was emailing day and night. All the appointments, fittings, out-of-town guests. A brochure turned bridal newsletter is a cute (and handy!) idea to mail to your bridal party. You can let them know all the important information in one place.

Creative use #4:  Creative programs

Okay – we’ve all seen the tried and true programs made on single pieces of paper. Why not create a larger format and give your guests something fun and meaningful to read before the ceremony. Tell them how you guys met, give fun facts and write a heartfelt thank you note.

Those are just a few of the ways you can use brochures for your big day. Can you think of any others?

Wedding Tip: Three Quick and Easy Photo Booth Alternatives

Three Quick and Easy Photo Booth Alternatives

If you’ve been to a wedding recently, or are planning one of your own, you might have noticed a new trend: the photo booth. When it comes to weddings, there is oftentimes a certain amount of, shall we say, pressure to do something one-of-a-kind and memorable at the reception. Some couples choose music or food to make a statement, others rely more on décor (we’ve all seen a ginormous ice sculpture or two in our day!). But lately, photo booths have become the hot new wedding-day accessory popping up at every post-ceremony party, and some would say with good reason — they can be a fun, easy-to-execute reception addition.  But there’s one, not-so-small detail that might cause you to keep a photo booth off the guest list: cost. These bad boys can add big bucks to your budget for the night. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few substitutes that are big on impact, not on your budget.

Snap It Yourself

Idea: A great option instead of a hiring a traditional photo booth company is setting one up on your own. Getting crafty is easy! Just designate an area of the reception venue with a fun backdrop, pick up a camera like the Polaroid Pogo Instant Digital Camera (which snaps and prints the pics), and watch your guests have fun.

Quick hint: Provide fun props to inspire creativity — who doesn’t love a fake mustache?

What you’ll need: Backdrop (try a Vistaprint banner), instant digital camera, someone to snap the pictures, fun props.

Use Your Cocktail Hour
Idea: Set up a DIY booth during cocktail hour, like the one we mention above, but instead, use a regular digital camera. While the reception gets underway, load everyone’s pictures onto a computer and project them during the reception.

Quick hint: Although the guests don’t leave with the pictures, think about printing them out after the big day, and including them when you mail out your Thank You notes — it’s a unique, personal touch.

What you’ll need: Backdrop, digital camera, someone to snap the pictures, computer, projector.

Put Your Guests to Work
Idea: Although it doesn’t provide the same instant gratification as a photo booth, leaving disposable cameras on each of the tables is a great way to get candid shots of family and friends at the reception. You can even scan some of the best pics to your wedding website or Facebook and send out the link for all your guests after the big day.

Quick hint: Encourage your guests to snap pics throughout the night — and not just of the wedding couple! Just provide a few suggestions of must-take shots to keep it fun.

What you’ll need: Disposable camera.

These are just three neat ideas! Do you have any fun photo booth alternatives to share? Tell us in the comments section!

Creative Inspiration from Around the Web: Color

color

Spring has certainly sprung in New England! It’s a beautiful day here – what is your day looking like, wherever you are? Over here, color is everywhere I look, from the vibrant bright green of new leaves, to the splashes of color in new blooms.

Have you ever been lifted by the colors in an image? Have you ever considered using those colors? Maybe in an outfit, to decorate a room or in new crafting project? If that’s your kind of thing you should check out Design Seeds. Here’s one image you find when you search for “spring”.

 

If you’re a bride, then I’m sure you’re aware of Style Me Pretty. It’s a great site for inspiration for your big day (or any other special occasion!) and their inspiration gallery is a great way to just click and see what grabs your fancy. This is what I found when I searched for “yellow”.

 

 

More color inspiration comes from this amazing table setting, by Eddie Ross. Read more here.

 

 

How to be a Great Family Photographer

great-photographer

It’s wonderful to share your pics! Adding a photo makes your invitations, gifts or T-shirts that much more personal. Except for when a photo has a few flaws. Like, oh man, red eyes! Or the fact that your aunt always smiles so awkwardly in the photos.

To help you take the best possible photos, here are some tips:

- Reduce Red Eye.
Most cameras have a function that prevents red eye. Check your manual and don’t forget to use it!

- Think Happy Thoughts.
The best piece of advice I’ve heard about loved ones who smile strangely in photos (which they never do otherwise!) is to suggest that they imagine they are smiling at someone they love as the photo is taken. Hopefully this simple trick will relax the person, and their smile will warm up.

- You’ve got a Photo of the Family – and the Neighborhood, too!
This one has an easy solution:  zoom in. A good photo can be just from the waist up, or head and shoulders  – and that means the faces of your loved ones will be center-stage. 

And if you haven’t done that, well, when you load your photos to your Vistaprint product, you can always crop the photo (a window that says “crop and rotate” will automatically pop up).

- Stand to Attention.
People often “lean in” for a pic – it’s cute when intentional (like the image below), but usually it looks awkward.  Or, if someone thinks that because they are taller than everyone else, they need to bend their knees, and that has the same results. If you spot someone doing that, take a moment to ask everyone to stand up straight and reassure them that you will make sure no one has a chopped off head. 

 

Other quick tips:
- Try not to cut off any appendages half way. Get either all or none of fingers, hands, and feet.

- Check that there are no strange intruders, like random branches, wires or other things in the photo.

- Don’t let the horizon line (if you can see it) be in the center of the picture. Most images look more interesting and dynamic when things are not perfectly balanced.

- If the photo opportunity is planned, go for coordinating outfits. As cheesy as it sounds, just making sure your outfits look good together (they don’t have to be perfectly matched, but try keeping the tones the same) helps the focus be on the people and not your brother’s bright orange hoodie.

 

Jumpstart Your Job Search — 5 Tips for Recent Graduates

job-search

Thanks to Rob for today’s tips…

Are you a new grad looking for a job? Keep up the momentum of graduation as you hunt for employment. Here are five tips to help you jumpstart your search. 

1.)    Create custom networking cards.

You don’t need to be a high-powered executive to have your own business card. In fact, they’re a must for all job seekers. Create a clean and simple card that includes your basic contact information, your field and links to your website, blog or LinkedIn page. Leave a card with everyone you interview with and ask for one of theirs in return.

1.)    Have a stellar resume.

Resumes are such an important part of the job search, especially for recent grads without tons of professional experience.  Remember these tips:

- Edit your resume to more closely reflect each position you apply for
- Stand out with custom letterhead
- Use a format and font size that’s easy for anyone to read.
- Omit names and phone numbers of references. These should be in a separate document.
- Create a simple, professional email address.  Go with Jane.Doe@web.com rather than cutiegurlie@web.com.
- Have someone else proof your resume. Never rely on spell-check alone.

2.)    Your appearance matters.

Make sure you have a suitable interview outfit.  Although some workplaces aren’t as formal as others, it’s always smart to look your best and dress conservatively. You can’t go wrong with solid suits, limited jewelry, simple ties, and tidy hair and nails.  You want a professional appearance that won’t distract from your qualifications.

3.)    Send thank you notes.

Set yourself apart from other candidates.  Send a custom, handwritten thank you note immediately after every interview you attend.  Thank the interviewer(s) for their time and express your interest in the position, once again. Cite something specific from your conversation that excited you.  Sending thank you cards is a personal touch that never goes out of style.

4.)    Consider a temporary role.

Find a company that excites you and inquire about part-time or temporary positions.  Make everyone realize what a valuable asset you are and you’ll land a full-time job before you know it.

Graduates, remember these tips and go forth with confidence!

 

Three Typography Tips

As a graphic designer, I know it can be a real challenge to create a picture-perfect invitation. The toughest part is getting the letters, numbers, spaces and paragraphs to look just right. So, I thought I would pass along some helpful tips to get your invitation from looking lovely to looking fantastic!

Let’s use this fun dinosaur party invitation as our example:

Tip #1:  Highs & Lows.

Sometimes it looks great to make some sentences all lower case (as in “it’s a party!” below) and sometimes it’s impactful to make the most important things all CAPITALIZED (like the birthday boy’s name).

 

When doing this remember two things:

1. If you are wondering if you’ve lower-cased and capped too much, you probably have.  A light hand makes it look effortless.

2. Don’t capitalize script fonts (the ones that look like cursive handwriting). It makes it very hard to read.

Tip #2:  Move lines closer together.
Sometimes you won’t need all the potential options you’re given. If you fill them out and there will be strange gaps, like this …

… So to get rid of them, click on “advanced editing” (look below the invitation).

Here you can click on the lines, and drag them up or down (or use your arrow keys instead, for more controlled movement).

 

This looks so much better! (While you’re at it, writing out abbreviations looks nicer – like “3 o’clock in the afternoon” instead of 3 pm. It just fills the space better.)

 

Tip #3: The Rule of Two – keep it simple.

You may have noticed that most Vistaprint party invitations have only one or two typefaces, in one or two colors.  This helps people to read the words easily and see which information is more important.

When in doubt, trust your Vistaprint designer. Use the typefaces original to the design, because they’ve been carefully chosen to suit the images that go with it.

But most of all – enjoy creating your invitation!

 

Work/Life Balance: Vistaprint Working Moms Share Their Stories

In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked a few Vistaprint moms about how they find a positive work/life balance, and what advice they might have for other moms (and dads!). Here is what they had to say:

Kelli Connors (Manager Planning & Strategy, North America Marketing), Mother of Three, Pictured Below
A few months ago, I rushed my 5-year-old son into a bagel shop to grab a quick breakfast before school. While waiting in line, I typed furiously on my Blackberry, oblivious to my surroundings. My son tugged on my shirt and said, “Doesn’t that smell good?” I had no idea what he was talking about and asked him what he meant. He replied, “Mommy, if you look up from your phone and pay attention, you’ll smell the yummy bagels.” I realized immediately that I was missing an opportunity to share an experience with my son. However minor, it was together time and I should have been enjoying the moment, not typing. Though finding work/life harmony is a never-ending struggle, and I always feel like I’m rushing from business meetings to soccer games, I now make time to stop and smell the bagels whenever I can.


Alex Taylor (Senior Administrative Assistant/Project Coordinator), Mother of One
For me at least, I don’t think there is really such a thing as a work/life “harmony,” because both aspects are always changing and growing! Whenever you think you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll have three work projects coming to a head at the same time someone at home gets chicken pox or cuts a tooth and the washing machine floods the kitchen, then your car breaks down. Once you finally get to work, you realize the cat has somehow left you a little gift in your handbag and the WebEx information to your early morning meeting has Cheerios stuck to it. Once you deal with all that, another challenge comes along, guaranteeing that you’ll never have a dull day again. It’s called life and I wouldn’t have it any other way! That being said, if anyone knows of a plumber that has had chicken pox and wants a cat, do let me know.

Diane Swint (Senior Director North America HR), Mother of Three, Kids Pictured Below
I love my family AND I love my job AND my house is a mess. And for me, that is OK. I have three children (ages 7, 5 and 3), my husband and I work full-time, he goes to school part-time and we have no family closer than a 13-hour car trip away.  Some days are less graceful than others, but I adore our chaotic and nutty life.  After my son was born, I got used to unfolded laundry, toys scattered across the carpet and, at times, a fairly large stack of unopened mail. I know I can’t have it all, so the house gets the short end of the stick (sorry, Mom). Most nights our kitchen is loud and full of silly stories of our zany days, there are probably a few dirty dishes too, but we usually spend the last hour before bed playing monsters — it is so much more fun than cleaning up.


Trynka Shineman (
Chief Customer Officer and President of Vistaprint North America), Mother of Three, Kids Pictured Below
There are days I come in really early. There are days I work really late. But I know I am out of balance when I am coming in early and staying late.  When I’m not traveling, I make sure that I have at least one meal a day with my kids (breakfast, or dinner).

Nancy Brown (Associate Director, Quality Assurance), Mother of Two
Being a working mom really isn’t the same as “having it all.”  I had two sons and a career, but I didn’t have time. There was no time to sleep, to meet with friends, to read a book and at the beginning, hardly enough time to take a shower! But as my boys have grown older, I’ve found that making deliberate choices is critical. I made time to go to their school functions, I made time to go to their baseball games and I’m glad that I made those choices. Now that they are both in college, I’m finding I have a lot more time, but I’m also happy for the summers when they are both back home.