Paper invitations to a summer party can feel practically archaic, having largely given way to the e-vite -- a high-speed summons for a good time. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But the paper invite -- with its handwritten lure -- can be extra-appealing. It's something to be hung on the fridge, an RSVP number to call, a date to save in the calendar.

"While an e-vite is certainly a simple, cost-effective way to send an invitation to friends, it doesn't convey the sense of excitement or importance that a printed invitation does," says Heidi Bauer, co-owner of Rock Scissor Paper, a stationery company. "The in box of my e-mail account is filled with e-mails that need to be responded to or deleted. It's not a place for me to get excited about a party."

Mila Albertson, the Greeting Card Association's membership services and publication director, doesn't believe e-vites will make paper invitations obsolete. "There are way too many occasions where people are going to send real invitations," she says.

Which is good news for stationery purveyor Margaret Danek Jones of Tiger and Jones. "Presentation and detail is most definitely everything to me. The physicality of an invitation is seducing. And I've been seduced many times."

-- Janelle Erlichman Diamond

From the top: Dahlia, Dot Daisy, BBQ Collage and BBQ Grill invites, $14 for 10 at Horseshoe and "Fun" party invites, $18 for 12 at Bad Girl Art All Purpose Party Postcard, $16 for eight at The Blue House, 7770 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda. Sugar Bean Press barbecue and party invitations, $15 for eight at Pulp, 1803 14th St. NW and Pulp on the Hill, 303 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Custom cocktail party invitations with brown and pink ribbons, $10-$40 each at