Message In a Bottle Birthday Invitations

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Party invitations are perhaps the most overlooked secret to throwing a successful party.

We moved to Orlando in January of 2002 just 4 months before our oldest son’s 8th birthday. We knew no one in Orlando. No friends. No family.

Cody is not our most outgoing child and not the quickest to make friends. But what did he want more than anything for his 8th birthday?
A party.
A SpongeBob SquarePants Birthday party.
A party at our house with all of his new classmates in 2nd grade.

How was I going to pull this off?

Feeling the self-inflicted pressure that only a Mom can conjure up, I set out to make this party the best of Cody’s young life. Oh, I can plan a mean party. I wasn’t worried about the decorations, food or activities. I had big plans for all that. The thing that worried me more than anything else was getting Cody’s classmates to want to come to the party.

The invitations had to be so good, so intriguing, so alluring that they made the kids want to come and experience this awesome birthday party.

And so, the idea of Message In A Bottle birthday invitations was born.

Cody took his Message In A Bottle invitations to school and hand delivered the “secret messages” to everyone in his class. The kids were so excited that most of them opened their invitation right away. We started receiving RSVPs that same day and ended up with over 20 kids attending Cody’s 8th birthday party! He’ll turn 22 this year but still remembers his SpongeBob Birthday Party as the most fun birthday ever.

And it all started with the Message In A Bottle invitations.

Fast-forward 13 years.

Last year our daughter wanted an Under the Sea Mermaid party. It was the perfect opportunity to bring back the Message In A Bottle invitations, and that is exactly what we did.

Here’s how to make Message In A Bottle Birthday Invitations.

You’ll need:

  • Empty water bottles with lids
  • Clean sand (available in craft stores) or salt (even cheaper)
  • Tiny seashells (also available in craft stores)
  • A funnel
  • Party invitations (the width needs to be at least 3 inches shorter than your bottles)
  • A pencil
  • Small rubber bands
  • Raffia

Start saving empty water bottles a couple of months before the party. They don’t have to be fancy, and they don’t even have to match.


Remove the labels and clean out the water bottles. Allow to dry completely.
(Enlist the help of the guest-of-honor in all party preparations! It’s part of the fun.)


If your bottles aren’t completely dry, here’s a little trick for you. Place a small amount of sand or salt into each bottle using the funnel. With only the sand or salt inside each bottle, place the lids on and shake well. Remove the lids and allow the bottles to sit opened overnight. The sand or salt will absorb the excess moisture in the bottle and be dry enough by morning to place the invitations inside. 


When choosing invitations, make sure the width of your invitations is at least 3 inches shorter than your bottles. You’ll need to roll them up pretty tightly to fit inside the top of the bottles. We rolled ours up using a pencil which worked great! Secure the rolled up invitations with two small rubber bands.


Place a few shells inside each bottle, insert the rolled up invitations and tie a piece of raffia around the top of the bottle. Tighten a lid onto each bottle, and you’re done!
The birthday girl was thrilled to help make these!

The Under the Sea Mermaid Birthday party was a lot of fun and a huge success. I hope one day my daughter will look back on it as a great childhood memory.

But spending time together is what I hope she remembers most.

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