I’ve been hearing a lot lately about Pandemic penpals and the resurgence of writing letters. With many of us finding ourselves stuck at home with a little more time on our hands and a lot of nervous energy, we’ve either had to come up with unique ways to stay connected or in this case we’ve rediscovered forgotten ways to keep in touch.
Writing/journaling is one of my favorite past times, so one summer, a couple of years back, I decided to get a penpal (before it was a thing). It’s been such fun getting to know someone through the art of letter writing and of course, in the age of instant everything, the excitement of delayed gratification can be so fun as you anticipate receiving a letter through snail mail.
I love to gather up my best stationery, my favorite pen, and set aside some quiet time to pour out my thoughts to my pen pal. It is one of my favorite forms of self-care. She and I share recipes, books, bags of tea, and photos of our everyday life. It truly is something that brings me joy and lifts my spirits.
Through my adventures of being a pen pal, I found out that letter writing is definitely an art. There are Facebook groups, Instagram accounts, and Pinterest boards all specifically dedicated to snail mail. I’ll share some resources with you in hopes that you’ll jump on the penpal bandwagon and discover how much fun penships can be!
Step One: Find Your Person
I discovered my first penpal through the Letter Writer’s Alliance. I paid a small fee and received membership into the alliance, which came with an official membership card and access to letter-writing resources, such as custom stationery, letter-writing socials, and of course, a penpal. Sadly, the LWA is no longer active (as of July 2020), but you can still find tons of resources on their website. They even have links to active letter-writing groups. If you are looking to get started with a penpal, I highly recommend going here first. Its a one-stop-shop for pen paling.
I found my second Penpal through a Facebook Group called Worldwide Snail Mail Pen Pals.
I really like this group because you can vet the person before you make a commitment. By taking a good look at their Facebook profile, and doing a little investigating, you can gather a decent bit of information about your potential penpal, to see if what they say matches up to what you see. It’s not foolproof so my biggest suggestion is to go with your gut. There are tons of positive posts and interactions within the group, but you should definitely perform your due diligence. Here is a helpful article with great advice on vetting potential friends on Facebook.
Step Two: Gather your supplies
This is seriously one of the most fun parts because of course, it involves shopping. You need your basics: stationary, pens, envelopes, and stamps. But this is also where you can go down the rabbit hole of ways to make your penpal letters pop. There are tons of Pinterest Boards dedicated to Snail Mail Inspiration. From do it yourself envelopes to vintage stamps, sending a letter can truly be an art form. Check out these sites for advice on gathering supplies and setting up a mail station:
Not crafty? Do not let that discourage you! Pick up some cute paper from your favorite stationery store and let your creative writing flow. You could also make your own stationery using plain notebook paper and washi tape from the Dollar Store! Or honestly, you could just write on plain paper and mail it off because the next step is the most important…
Step Three: Write a Great Letter
No matter how cute your envelope is, no penpal wants to read a boring letter. You don’t need to write the next best-selling novel, but if you’re not going to write anything other than “Hello how are you? How’s the weather?” then why bother? Your penpal has been waiting for weeks to get a letter from you. This is your opportunity to use your voice, spotlight yourself, ask questions, seek answers, and most importantly, be a friend. The questions will lead to answers that lead to the most interesting conversations. Get to know the person and let them in on your life as well. It’s always a bit awkward to write that first letter, so use these links to help you get started:
- 50 Things To Tell Your Penpal
- 75 Questions to Ask Your Penpal
- Tips For Writing A Great Penpal Letter
And the final step, of course, is to mail it off
Ensure you have the correct address and don’t forget to include yours. If you have chosen to decorate your envelope, don’t go overboard – make sure that the address is visible to the post office and include the correct amount of postage. Consider adding a small gift or trinket, something that will easily fit inside the envelope: unique stickers or stamps, a recipe card, a bookmark. These Pinterest boards offer great suggestions of small things to send along with your letters:
I hope you’ll join me in discovering the joys of sending and receiving handwritten letters! Here’s to creating Penships that last a lifetime!