We designed the labels in Inkscape, a free open source vector graphics program that’s similar to Illustrator, and printed them on 80lb white cardstock. Then I used a paper cutter to cut the labels apart and clear packing tape to stick them onto the bottle.
And that was it. (Note: If you’re interested in the files for these exact water labels, they are available with the other Cat in the Hat Party printables – you can find more information here.)
The upside: Besides being totally cute and completely customizable to match any party’s theme? They weren’t really labor- or time-intensive. By the time I decided to do water bottle labels, the decorations for the rest of the party were done so I easily converted one of the other pieces into a water bottle label.
The downside: If you use your home printer, the ink on the labels will not stand up to condensation. If you’re going to ice down your fancy-labeled water bottles, you’ll either want to have your files printed professionally (or, um, maybe pay a visit to that lonely printer up on the 4th floor that no one ever uses) or use already-designed paper (like scrapbooking stock).
Clear packing tape, 2 inches wide
Custom labels or decorative paper, cut to 8.5 inches x 1.75 inches wide (double-check the circumference of your water bottle to make sure 8.5 inches will suffice)
Water bottles, labels removed (I used store-brand 16.9 oz bottles)
Unroll a long strip of tape on your work surface. (I left the tape connected to the roll at this point but you could go ahead and cut it to 9.5 inches if you have a ruler handy.)
Leaving ~1/2-inch of tape at the end, carefully center your label across the 2-inch width of the packing tape and press into place. Lightly rub the back of the label to remove any air bubbles.
Leave ~1/2-inch of tape on each side of the label and then cut the tape.
Place the label onto the bottle – I lined up the top of the label with the first groove on the water bottle – and smooth. The ends of the label will slightly overlap.