TEKē Tuesday: 5 Ps of Punchbowl.com

punchbowl_home_screen

{Punchbowl Home Screen}

Disclaimer: Punchbowl.com is NOT paying me to write this review. I really just love it that much and believe in the service.

Techie_TuesdayAs the holiday party season bears down upon us, allow me to offer an excellent option for helping to plan events – last minute, way in advance, big, small, short, weekend long – whatever…I am a big (to put it mildly) fan of Punchbowl, the online invitation (and more) creation site. Since 2010 I have used the site to create invitations, manage RSVPs, to-dos, and potluck lists for more than 50 events…and have been invited to numerous more through this innovative, sophisticated, user friendly, party planning site.

Founded by CEO Matt Douglas, Punchbowl offers a user friendly interface, a beautiful end result, and an easy way to manage your event from beginning to after – ALL FOR FREE. Paying for a monthly subscription will offer additional features, but honestly, everything that Punchbowl offers is presentable.

mattdouglas_lr

{Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl}

UNLESS you are sending a beautiful, wonderfully designed and printed paper invitation with a real stamp and a real envelope through snail mail, keep these five Ps in mind when you start thinking about inviting guests to your next event. It takes I’d say 15-30 minutes or so to set up an event, and then you just refer back to your particular event details as needed while planning – daily, weekly, whatever works for you leading up to your shindig.

Presentation – As an artist, this is kind of a big deal to me. One of my favorite things about Punchbowl is that the invitations look like the ones you would get in the mail. Don’t get me wrong, I love a paper invitation. A nice piece of cardstock with beautiful graphics and carefully selected fonts perfectly arranged and a message carefully written to fit on a small card? Makes my heart happy just thinking about it. I also love getting mail – other than bills that is. I love the act of hanging an invitation on my fridge to remind me that there is a party to look forward to. If however, you are not sending paper invitations, with Punchbowl, you can choose from LOTS of designs, and even more if you pay for a membership – which I do because I use it so much. On top of that, you can customize from a selection of colors and fonts that coordinate with your choice of design.

Potluck – The invitation set up offers a potluck option as part of the invitation. Guests will be able to sign up for whatever dishes or items you specify under categories that you create. This is a REALLLLLY handy tool. I set up the Punchbowl invitations for Clemson tailgates, and our crew just signs up for various items. I also use it for our annual Friendsgiving – which involves anywhere from 30-50+ people bringing a Thanksgiving dish for an afternoon of friends, fun, and giving thanks. It works like a charm. No potluck? Just don’t use this section of the invite. It won’t show up blank or anything.

Presto – It is a really, really, really user friendly process. Arrows pointing to what you have to fill out, convenient back and next buttons, and a step by step process will guide you through setting up your event. After you’ve set up the invitation, selected options such as offering a potluck list, a paypal donation option, or gift suggestions, you can further customize your invitation by allowing guests to forward the invitation, bring additional guests with them, select options to send reminder emails to guests, create a message board for guests to post on, view who’s coming…. I really think they’ve thought of everything. On top of that, you can send a thank you note to guests for coming after the event is over with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Planning – In addition to beautiful graphics and an easy process, Punchbowl offers the option to plan the event from beginning to end. There is a save the date option, so you can send a simple message on a fun “snail mail card” looking graphic to let guests know to save the date if an event is far away and guests will need to plan ahead due to travel, time of year or other circumstances. There is also a to-do list option, so you can make grocery lists, task lists, and other lists you may need. There is an option to copy an event. In the case of Clemson tailgating, this is really handy. I usually just copy the week before’s event and change the details, design, tweak the guest list, update the potluck list to whatever menu we’re planning to do that week (we don’t usually repeat menus in the same season) and voila! Event planned. I hit send. Invitations out.

Productive – It’s efficient. It’s organized. It’s easy. I can go back and refer to past events. It allows me to make quality use of my time. Contrary to my belief in the value of paper invitations, they are unfortunately time consuming to order, recieve, assemble, seal, and mail. They can also get very expensive very quickly. Punchbowl is free unless you choose to subscribe, offers a beautiful, practical, product for users, and offers the planner a multitude of tools to organize and execute events successfully, attractively, and easily.

punchbowl_invite_screen

{Punchbowl Invite Screen}

In doing a little research for this post, I discovered I’m not alone in my thoughts. It’s received a few praises from some widely familiar media:

Recognized in Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Most Brilliant Companies” issue.

“…And then I discovered Punchbowl. It has a clean interface, signing up is easy (and actually not necessary for guests), and its pages look crisp and tidy.” – Proud Geek

“Punchbowl offers a good mix of just enough and not too many features. It is approachable for the tech-savvy and nontechies alike.” – The Mossburg Solution from the Wall Street Journal

“Planning a shindig? From firming up a date to sending out invites, Punchbowl will help you get the party started.” – Newsweek

“This free one-stop party-prep site has everything – and we mean everything – you need to pull off an unforgettable gathering for your kid or your adult friends. Pick a date based on guests’ availability, send out invitations, shop for supplies, find local vendors, even coordinate dishes for a potluck, all with a few clicks of the mouse.” – Parents Magazine

In 2011, Punchbowl was recognized at the annual MITX Innovation awards as the Best Consumer Tech that Makes Life Easier.

Ok, I’m done. But seriously – it’s amazing. Best party planning tool on the web – hands, feet, and boohiny down.Try it.

à bientôt j'espère

Oh, and P.S. did I mention that they offer free e-greeting cards? They have a pretty cool Pinterest profile too – check it out!

Lauren is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Please subscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

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