With the internet at our disposal, invitations are no longer a strictly a signed, sealed, and delivered affair. Here's a look at the most popular online invitation services Lifehacker readers use to create and coordinate their party invitations.
Photo by Jim Empler.
Pingg (Web-Based; Basic: Free/Plus: $US10)
Pingg is an invitation and party management tool. Not only can you use the service to issue invitations via the web, email, snail mail, Facebook, Twitter, and text message, but you can also link invitations to a gift registry, charity registry, money deposit (for people contributing to the party), and a pot luck tracker to keep the dishes organized. Pingg also has tools for reminding guests about the event, sending additional messages to update them, and sending followup thank you notes when needed. The PinggPlus upgrade is $US10 and is necessary if you want to remove ads from invites, need to invite more than 250 people, or want to create custom elements, like hosting the invitations on a custom web domain.
Evite (Web-Based; Free)
Evite is one of the oldest virtual invitation services around, having opened their doors way back in in 1998. The service is completely free and includes customisable invitations, automatic reminders and RSVP, and party-planning tools—like tools for calculating your food and alcohol budget. Evite's strongest selling point—besides the widespread adoption that comes with being an established service—is the simplicity of guest list management. Guests reply by indicating yes, no, or maybe (along with a note explaining), and the master guest list reflects the changes in an easy to read fashion. Evite has no option for paper-based invitations nor a premium model.
Facebook (Web-Based; Free)
If services like Evite have an edge among invitation services because they've been around for ages and have a high rate of adoption, Facebook's 500 million users give it a pretty impressive edge. The social network's widespread adoption and millions of users make it a perfect platform to quickly reach most of the people in your social circle. When you create an event, you create an accompanying event page which is very similar to a Facebook profile page. There people can read more about the event, confirm they are attending, post on the event wall, and if you make the event public, the guests can invite more guests and spread the word. Facebook events provide the least management tools of any of the invite services highlighted here, but they are dead simple to create and easy to share. The catch, of course, is that many privacy-minded people have a strong aversion to Facebook.
Google Calendar (Web-Based; Free)
Google Calendar offers extremely simple event planning. Create an event on your calendar, give it a time and a description, add email addresses to the invitation list, and send it out. Even people who aren't Gmail/Google Calendar users can respond—although only Google Calendar users will be able to edit the event or invite others if you've enabled those features. Google Calendar doesn't provide heavy event management tools but if all you need is to reach people with an email address, it can get the job done.
Want to share a little personal experience with your favourite invite service? Let's hear it in the comments.