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Pen Pals and Snail Mail

Sarah is a certified Hatha, Vinyasa, & Kundalini yoga teacher. She is an artist who believes in the importance of living a creative life.


Letters the Old Fashioned Way

There is a special moment when you receive your mail for the day and find something unexpected, something that is not a bill or ad, but a letter. Writing and receiving letters the old fashioned way is a magical experience. There is something about writing down your thoughts and sending them off to see what comes back to you.

Today, it takes less than a minute to send a text message or reply to an e-mail. The art of writing letter seems to be lost. However sometimes it is necessary to slow life down and write by hand. A hand crafted letter is truly something special. It is both a delight to send and to receive.


The Art of Letter Writing

getting started: who do I write to?

You can write to anyone in the world! Be it your mom, dad, best friend or next door neighbor. Some people prefer to write letters to people they have never met before. I find this to be a wonderful way to write down your thoughts and silly things about your life without feeling judged. An excellent website to find penpals is It is almost like a for penpalling! If you take a little time to search you will find the perfect match. Remember that penpalls from countries outside your own may take longer to send/receive mail and may cost more.


The First Letter

Now that you have chosen who you want to write to the next thing is what to write. The first letter is your chance to introduce yourself. Remember, you get to choose how much you want to put in or leave out. You can always tell more about yourself in future letters. Some things you may want to include in your first letter are:

  • name, age, where you live
  • family and pets
  • hobbies and interests
  • your favorite song, book movie, etc.
  • are you a student or working

We may think our lives are boring but to others they may be fascinating! This does not mean however that your penpal really needs to know the names of all 17 of your fish (unless of course they are really unique!).

After you have introduced yourself it's a good idea to ask your penpal some questions. Chances are the first letter you get back will also be an introduction letter so stay away from asking things like how old are you and what do you do for a living? Ask one or two questions to get a "conversation" flowing. Here are some sample questions.

  • What are you afraid of?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • Would you rather have the ability to play every instrument or learn every language? (I was just asked this by my penpal!)
  • Which historical figure inspires you the most?
  • What is your favorite place in the world?
  • Who would you trade places with for a day?

Things You Can Send in an Envelope

One of the perks of penpalling is people usually send small gifts with there letters. I have one friend to mails me a box of goodies every months! Now you don't have to go that far, as it gets expensive to mail packages but there are many small things you can fit right inside your envelope along with your letter. Try to make it personal. If you penpal says she loves peace signs why not send something with the peace symbol on it. You get the idea!

  • bookmarks
  • sealed teabags
  • stickers
  • original drawing
  • pretty paper
  • flat magnets
  • a poem
  • an interesting article
  • pictures
  • flower seeds
  • postcards
  • quotes

keep in mind that heavier items require more postage!

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Mail Art

Want to send something that is a little more unique and exciting? Mail art is an excellent way to use your creative energy on paper! It is very similar to art journaling except on an envelope.

Experiment with collage, paints, pens, and stickers. Your creation can be as simple or layered as you like. Making and receiving mail art can be a lot of fun. Just make sure the mailing and return address are visible. Even just writing the person's name in a fancy way can really make them glow when they receive it. If you pair yourself with someone else who loves to make mail art, you can build your own art collection over time!



Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on September 14, 2020:

Thank you for sharing your letter experience! That is really awesome, what a fun way to get a taste of celebrity like!

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on September 14, 2020:

Thank you for sharing your experience! I have lots of fun with it, too. It is very special to receive letters and little gifts in the mail!

LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on June 24, 2020:

I miss having pen pals.

When I was 16, I posted in the pen pal section of a former teen magazine called, FRESH. And for about a week, I was receiving about 21 letters a day from all across the country and even Africa ... So cool. And when I moved 3 years later, the mail man saw me checking the mailbox one last time and he was like, "you're the one that was getting all of those letters a few years ago. Aren't you?" I felt like a real life celebrity.

Liza from USA on January 26, 2020:

Oh, I love both. First of all, I'm such a traditional. I love snail mail, and I love sending/receiving letters, cards, and postcards. They stored special elements such as the handwriting and the stamps. I have a collection of postcards and cards that I still keep. They remind me of my past. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Victor Jacobs from Zurich Switzerland on January 11, 2020:

Looking for the traditional method (snail mail penpals)

I live in Switzerland.

Speak a little German.

Interested in communicating with pals from Asia, north America, Australia and the Scandinavian countries.

Ja11day on April 14, 2019:

So excited to have discovered this site, I've been looking for information about how to participate in decorative mail, snail mail, the art of letter writing and pen pal partnerships for quite some time now.

Sarah O'Brien (author) from Pennsylvania on November 14, 2018:

Thank you! It is something I love to do. I recently got a few letters in the mail. =) I hope you find the website useful and have lots of fun!!!

Robert Levine from Brookline, Massachusetts on November 14, 2018:

Nice hub, Sarah. I agree that letter-writing is both a lost art and very rewarding. I'm going to check out!

Mari S Adkins from Lexington on May 10, 2018:

Letters! We got lots and lots of letters! ...

I do Month of Letters every year since 2013 and have enjoyed it greatly. Sometimes I get lucky and continue the writing beyond the month of February, and that's great. I have a penpal from a couple of years ago from New Zealand, and she always sends me a birthday card. The whole thing is a lot of fun -- and I get a lot of cool canceled postage stamps and some neat stickers.

Theresa Eckert on October 04, 2017:

I love writing letters!! I hope to bring it back. Just something special about a hand written letter.

Deborah Minter from U.S, California on July 23, 2017:

What a beautiful article! Thank you for sharing......

Aida Soto on August 01, 2016:

I want to become a penpal from someone my age 40 with same interests like arts and crafts sewing creating writing quotes drawing it's been so hard to find adresses can you help me

LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on May 23, 2012:

I used to love writing to my pen pal- seems like the art of writing a real letter has been lost. Thanks for the ideas!

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