When you’re planning parties this summer (or any time), online tools can make it easy to invite guests, track RSVPs, and send out messages and updates. Different tools have different features, but most of them will let you:
- Create an event that includes the what, where, and when information
- Send invitations to guests using email addresses or social network messages
- Receive notifications as people RSVP
- Easily send messages out ot all invitees, or any group of RSVP type (asking the Maybes to say yes or no, for instance)
- Update event information on the page and notify guests of changes
- Link to a map or directions to your event
Some tools will also help you organize a potluck or other party contributions, let you pick themes and offer recipe and decor suggestions, or include other party planning fieatures.
How Does It Work?
First, choose what tool you’re going to use. These are some of the more well-known invitation tools online:
- Evite.com – the most well-known invitation tool; owned by Yahoo, but you don’t need a Yahoo account to use it
- Anyvite.com – an alternative to Evite; simple to use
- Punchbowl.com – a full party planning site
- Signupgenius.com – think of it like an online sign-up sheet posted on a bulletin board; create a sign-up list for anything from a party to a potluck to a volunteer schedule
You can also use the event scheduling features of some social networks to create events and invite guests:
- Facebook event is great if you and your guests use FB
- Google Plus (G+) lets you easily create and manage events if you use G+ or just have a Google account
- Tweetvite helps you invite folks to an event using Twitter
- Google Calendar (or any other online account calendar) will let you create an event on your calendar and then invite others to it. If you want the basics, this is enough.
Then, create an event. You might need to sign up with the tool first, or it might let you just get going. Click Create an event or whatever the button is, and then fill in the day, time, location and other details. Click Save and you’ve done most of the work.
Next, there will be an option to Invite or Add Guests. Click on that and enter your guests’ email addresses or choose from a list of your social network friends. There will probably be a place to type in a message inviting them to the event – add something cheerful but don’t repeat all the information in the event itself. When you’ve got everyone entered, click on Send to send out the invitations.
If you need to change the event information or add guests, you can do that at any time. The tool you use will probably ask whether you want to send a message out with the updates or email the new guests – do this so your guests know that something has changed. You can also Send a Message to all guests or just folks who have RSVPd yes or maybe to give them the new details or remind them that the event is coming up. Some invitation tools will automatically add your event to your guests’ online calendars, and send them reminders as the date of the event approaches.
Since you probably used your email address to create the event or sign up for the tool, you’ll receive notifications as your guests RSVP. If not, you can always go back and visit your event to see who has said yes, no, or maybe so far.
Once the event is over, your event page can stay up as a place for people to leave messages telling you what a great time they had, or you can hide it. That’s usually your choice, depending on the tool you used.
How Is it Useful?
What’s most useful about this is that it lets you keep all your event information in one place, online, where your guests can see it and keep track of it and their RSVPs. It also lets you easily track RSVPs and attendance numbers for your event, and might even let you manage potluck or other party contributions all in the same spot. Just like many of the other things we’ve looked at, it’s a one-stop party planning powerhouse of a tool.
Try It Out
If you have Yahoo or Google, it’s easy to just create an event in your online calendar and invite a few guests using their email addresses.
If you want to do a bit more, try out Anyvite or Punchbowl for a complete party planning experience. Push the buttons and see what special features each tool has, and see which one works best for you and the event you’re planning.
If you’ve found any other online party planning or invite tools to be really helpful, post them in the comments below.
Help & Resources
- Top 10 Party Planning Sites – a great comparison chart from TopTenReviews.com
- Use any of the online collaboration tools we’ve looked at to help with scheduling and planning
- Evite help
- Anyvite list of features and frequently asked questions
- Punchbowl.com’s list of features and help
- Signupgenius.com’s help section and event planning resources
- Facebook events help
- Google+ Events help
- Google Calendar event help