Formal Invitation and At Home Cards

What is an ‘at Home’ invitation card?:

‘at Home’ cards are a very flexible form of personal stationery which can be used as a formal invitation to any event; from a relaxed coffee morning to large drinks parties and simple suppers.

However, ‘at Home’ no longer means that the event will be held in your own home but merely that you are hosting an event. You may be holding a birthday dinner at a local restaurant but you would send an ‘at Home’ card by way of a formal invitation.

Originating in the 19th century, the lady of the house would invite friends and well-connected acquaintances to her home for, more often than not, a literary, musical or political event.  Traditionally they were sent in the name of the female host. Imagine Elizabeth Bennet, now Mrs. Darcy and mistress of Pemberley, hosting an afternoon tea or evening soiree at her husband’s ancestral home. As hostess, she would have sent out an ‘at Home’ card to invite guests into her drawing room.  Doubtless, recipients would have been delighted to accept!

Engraved at home invitation cards

Examples of a Gold & White Engraved at home invitation cards

Forms of ‘at Home’ cards:

Well, you could either have an ‘at Home’ card created for a specific event with all of the details printed on the card, as you would with a pre-printed invitation. Or you could simply choose to have a set of formal invitation cards printed with the words ‘at Home’, and a few other details such as your address and R.S.V.P, but with all other details left blank. This way the cards can be used for multiple events by simply completing the relevant information by hand.  This option is a far more convenient, and cost effective, choice as they never go out of date and can be used for every conceivable occasion.

How to word your ‘at Home’ card or Formal Invitation

Formal invitation cards

Traditionally ‘at Home’ cards are sent in the name of the hostess. When a married couple or a single gentleman issues an invitation they should either simply invite’ or ‘request the pleasure of the company of their guests.

Of course, ‘at Home’ invitations should include the words (surprise, surprise), ‘at Home’ and also the address, a request to R.S.V.P. plus the time at which the event is to take place.  If the time alone does not give sufficient clue as to the type of event you are hosting, one can also include a brief description for guests such as Cocktails & Canapés or Afternoon Tea alongside the time.  This should also help guests decide on suitable dress for the occasion.

A reason to love ‘at Home’ cards:

We believe in tradition and in the importance of beautiful stationery. We all know how wonderful it is to receive something special like an invitation in the post – that feeling of anticipation as you open the crisp, heavy envelope.  Receiving an ‘at Home’ card is just as exciting. It might mark the celebration of a birthday, an invitation to a drinks’ party, or a gathering of good friends. Sending an ‘at Home’ card is sure to send all the right messages about your event and ensure it stands out from the crowd.

In short, ‘at Home’ cards are a classic, chic and very useful item to keep to hand in your personal stationery inventory.

For more information on traditional invitations and their etiquette, we highly recommend reading the this article from Debrett's.

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