You’ve Found Some Pen Pals, but Now What?

This is my second year doing the LetterMo challenge. I have to tell you, last year I was so excited! The idea of writing to a bunch of new individuals from new places was really compelling to me. I have friends and family all over the globe, but new people? A chance to say “hey” to someone I might never meet? I can tell you, it appealed to my introvert soul like all get out!

Then I ran into the hump,

the snag,

the wall,

after sending out about 10 letters to folks I had never met, my brain got tired. I had yet to receive a letter back — heck we were only ten days in, what did I expect? However, the creative fire was more like an ember and I was flat out tired of trying to be interesting and engaging.

So what to put in the post when you get to the struggle point? Here are a few of my suggestions


Food is a great connecter and even though some of us have strange diets or food allergies a recipe for a family favorite is always fun to get. If you want to spice it up, tell about where it came from, how old it is or what happened the first time you tried it. Anything anecdotal that makes it even more fun for the soul your sending it to!

Poetry! While not all of us love John Donne like I do, a sampling of some poetry you like gives the person you’re writing an opportunity to learn about an author they may or may not have heard of before. If you feel adventurous write about why you like that poem, what it means to you. Or consider a more creative outlet, and make your own black out poetry.

Comic strips! I don’t get the paper on Sunday anymore, but I love reading comics online. It’s easy to find a funny one to print out and tuck in the envelope. I confess my sense of humor is dry and warped, so sometimes the strips I choose really showcase my nutty side.

Seeds! My local garden center already has their seeds out for 2019, and even a package of butterfly mix is fun to sprinkle in a pot for the window. But be careful, sending seeds internationally can be tricky.

Tea! Tea bags, the sealed kind is best, and it doesn’t have to be something fancy. I have a dear friend who sends me oolong from Japan in every letter. One pen pal to whom I sent tea informed me she was NOT a tea drinker, but that she had saved it, so was able to offer it to a visitor who was delighted to try it. Don’t worry whether or not someone will like the tea. if they don’t, maybe they will just tuck it in their next outgoing piece of mail!

I should also point out that if you are packing an envelope with tea, seeds, or other fun extras, you will need to weigh your final packaged letter to see how heavy your missive is. If you live in the US, anything over an ounce requires additional postage. Your friendly neighborhood postal worker can help you make sure your letters won’t be returned for insufficient postage!

Postal Calculator, US
(who knew that mailing chicks could be so complicated?)

Research the SnailMail Blogosphere

Now if you are the creative type, which admittedly not all of us are, here are a few additional resources to spark your imagination for cards and envelopes to make

from The Postman’s Knock: Folded Heart Handmade Card Tutorial

from Homespun Seasonal Living: How to Make Upcycled Calendar Envelopes

from the blog at I Love to Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards

Inspiring Things I’ve Received…

Candy Bar Wrapper!
I had an international pen pal from Russia send me a wrapper from a candy bar. The illustrations on it where amazing!

Coffee Sleeve as Stationery!

Imagine my surprise when I got a letter written on the paper that goes around a coffee cup with the coffee shops logo on it! How unique was that?

Coffee Cup Sleeve Scrap album from Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Mickeedos Creations

Don’t drink coffee but want to try sleeve stationery? Ben Franklin printable coffee cup sleeve from Deviant Art

Lyrics on Fabric!

One inventive lady wrote me out a verse from her favorite song on a scrap of fabric in a colorfast marker! Tips from bydawnnicole

No matter if your letter is long and rambling or just something short and sweet with a bit of whimsy tucked in, there is someone on the other end who will be delighted to hear from you!

Happy Month of Letters!

Banner Image Credit and Enclosure Inspiration Video from Mei-Ying Chow

Contributing Editor: Carrye De Mers

22 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?”

  1. Having been a letter writer for several years now, I don’t particularly find this challenge all that difficult, other than remembering to do it every day instead of when the whim takes me to write. And since I may not have a penpal’s letter to answer, then I need to think outside my normal circle of penpals and write to others. I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with a few old penpals that had lapsed, family members that live outside of the city, friends I haven’t seen in a while, and strangers or persons of stature. I think it’s a great challenge and maybe it will even boost the joy of those who process all this mail and deliver it to us. 🙂

  2. I love your post. And I totally agree.

    Email, tweets n twitters, FB comments all have their place and moment in time where they are the appropriate way to respond.

    However, sending a letter, postcard, or notecard is the only way to connect with someone on a more personal, even intimate, level.

    The act of sending a missive does take time, but more importantly it takes thought. What paper will I use? What will I add (stickers, washi, etc.)? What will I say? Combined these choices will be a bright spot in someone’s day. Added bonus? It was created specifically for them.

  3. Great article on postcard apps but you should also take a look at Postsnap’s easy to use postcard app.
    The app offers a number of unique features compared to the other apps reviewed including:
    – Guest checkout with Apple Pay
    – Extensive personalization options including collage layouts, stylish borders which can be adjusted in size with a slider and the option to add editable text in a variety of font types and colors and position it anywhere on the cards
    – iPhone and iPad support
    – Apple Pencil support
    – Facebook and Instagram integration
    – US postal address verification and UK postcode lookup
    Cards are printed and posted in our facilities in the UK, USA and Australia on the same or next working day and so cards typically arrive quickly. Enjoy!
    Stephen Homer

  4. I have been writing letters for several years now. My go to paper is Rhodia Premium or Rhodia Ice pads. I also Life pads too. I like them because they are not quite as slick as the Rhodia.

  5. I too love journals to pull apart for writing. For me the most important aspect of the paper is the pattern. I love to have some colour and some design on the paper. I’ve managed to find a number of nice colours and designs at one of my local “Home Sense” discount stores in the book section. Most of the small journals are a perfect size to fit in the envelopes I use. If not I just give one edge a bit of a trim (but sometimes I really like the ripped edge look too!) ;P

  6. Hi, Christmas cards & more recently a letter (a bill) from the UK to Australia have taken 3 weeks to arrive. The exterior of these envelopes were stamped with a mark such as this from the latest envelope:
    DLC 992-4
    The example quoted arrived at the Australian address on 28/07/2017, unfortunately it contained a bill dated 06/07/2017 which had to be paid within 14 days, by 20/07/2017.
    Why is the post so slow? What does the DLC 992-4 stamp signify? Would appreciate your feedback.

  7. My letter that I wrote was in September. The person who it was for still hasn’t gotten it and it’s now November….
    I don’t understand why it’s taking this long. I live in AZ and he lives in NY. I want answers.

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