DIY Techniques to Enhance Spookiness or ‘Age’ of Party Invitations – Handmade or ready-made!

‘Aging’ paper invitations can be useful when you’re doing a period party theme and want to set up the feeling of a vintage era or long ago time period or set the feeling of foreboding for a party theme with a sinister angle. Invitations can be enhanced by aging them and as long as they are made of paper, whether handmade or ready-made, the techniques outlined below will work.

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The first couple of ‘aging’ tricks aren’t difficult and they hardly cost anything to create. Next, you’ll find other easy suggestions to make any invitation a little spookier or feel more vintage and organic overall.

1) The parchment paper in the invitation pictured above was stained after it was photocopied from the original artwork and trimmed. These stains were made with a strong cup of coffee and coffee grounds. Coffee liquid was blotted onto the parchment paper with wet paper toweling and coffee grounds were rubbed onto the paper in spots. Coffee has a more aggressive, grunge look. Tea has a more delicate, vintage paper effect.

Once you have stained all the invitations to your satisfaction, allow each to fully dry. (Note: Blot the paper in unprinted areas or your printed ink will run.) Check each invite for retouching or go over wording that has bled with a fine-point, black marker pen. Brush off coffee grounds.

2) An effect that increases the spookiness factor on the invitation in the pics, is that several edges in the total piece have been burned. This is an adult’s job only (or maybe a supervised teen). You’ll need an inexpensive, long-necked, fireplace utility lighter, available at any pharmacy or hardware store. Do this entire process over a sink where water is available (paper ash can be collected in the sink to be washed away or if the paper accidently ignites, it can be dropped into the sink and doused with water). Open a nearby window for good ventilation (and so you don’t set your fire alarm off).

Decide which side(s) or corner you want to burn. Over a sink, hold an invitation in one hand and the lighter in the other. Light the paper on one side, let it burn for just a few seconds, blow it out. Light another spot and let it burn for a few seconds, blow it out. Continue along the edge, watching it carefully to be sure it doesn’t burn into some part you don’t want burned away. Additionally, BE VERY CAREFUL that there are no glowing embers on the paper before setting it aside to cool completely. Continue with additional sides if desired.

3) An easy effect to make an invitation feel spooky/creepy is to add a few ‘blood’ drops on a corner of the invitation. In a glass, put a small amount of water, add red food coloring until the water is a deep red. Use a small spoon or straw to practice applying a few drops to a scrap paper before you do the invitations. Make the droplets or ‘spatter’ on each invitation and then try not to move the invitations until the drops are dry (you can very carefully blot them after awhile to speed up the drying time).

4) Use a layer of vellum paper (available at office supply, or stationery stores). Print or photocopy directly onto the vellum paper or just add the vellum paper as another layer in the total invitation ‘package’. It can add to the elegance of an invitation or it can add to a ‘ghostly’, ethereal feeling.

5) If choosing a font for a handmade invitation, research fonts used during the theme’s time period or if the theme has a non-specific time period, choose one that feels appropriate to the look you’re going for; i.e. retro, rustic, vintage, medieval, gothic, art deco, elegant, scary, fantasy, etc.


Paper Source: black envelopes; ‘cement’ matchbook-style cardstock covers; owl rubber stamp; Color Box ‘Chalk’ series Stamp Pad

Jo-Ann Fabrics: dyed raffia

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