Thursday, February 8, 2018

No.80: 30 (Mostly-Flat) Things to Send Your Penpal

This post contains affiliate links.

February is International Correspondence Writing Month and many people challenge themselves to write a letter or card each day during the month.  I had great intentions, but quickly found myself unable to keep the pace!  So my revised goal is just to send mail.  When a friend or loved one comes to mind, jot a note.  When a new baby arrives, mail a card.  When someone is feeling sad and needs a little pick-me-up, send over a few small surprises.  My focus is less on completing a challenge and more on creating a habit.  

Gifts are my love language, so I love adding little things in my letters.  It's certainly not a requirement, but so much fun.  Below, I've compiled 30 ideas of little bits you can include in your snail mail.  Almost all of the links are small businesses or etsy shops, so I hope you'll check them out!  Happy writing. xo

STICKERS //  Did you have a sticker obsession as a kid like I did?  I don't think that has ever gone away for me - I still love them for decorating my planner or the outside of an envelope.  
A POSTCARD // Just came back from a family vacation?  Have a cool location in your state to share?  A postcard is the perfect memento and helps your pen pal learn something new in the process.  I also like the idea of giving new life to unused vintage postcards!
FUN BAND-AIDS // Unexpected and yet useful - what's not to love?
TEA // I credit snail mail to introducing me to tea.  Sharing a packet is a no-obligation way for your pen pal to try new flavors and learn a little bit about you too.
  • My all-time favorite is Tazo's Passion, but Mark and I also enjoy Peach Mango (so good as a cold brew!) and Chai.
JOURNALING CARDS // The scrapbook section of the craft store isn't just for preserving your photos anymore!  The options are endless and much more versatile - you can use these cards for everything from jotting down your grocery list to writing out a great quote.
  • Becky Higgins has a journaling card for every season and color palette.  One of my favorite brands.
  •  I also have purchased from Studio Calico and their cards are awesome.
WASHI TAPE // Washi tape comes in fun little rolls and are perfect for embellishing envelopes or taping things to the fridge.  Give your pen pal a sample of your favorites by wrapping a few around a piece of cardstock.
SEED PACKETS //  With spring just around the corner, these are easy to find.
PAPER GARLANDS //  Super cute and you can customize to an upcoming holiday or season.
POST-IT NOTES // Who doesn't love and need Post-its?  I use them all the time and even have a few in my nightstand for to-do lists before bed.
  • Embellish My World has so many cute options: everything from animals to floral wreaths. 
PHOTOS // This is one area I would love to be better about!  Print a special photo from your recent trip or your blooming flower beds.  Send Grandma a picture of her happy grandbabies.
  • Groovebook looks like a great app to print photos directly from your phone.  I love how the photobooks are perforated so they're easy to rip out and add to a letter.
A BALLOON // Not just for birthdays!  An idea: blow up the balloon, write a note in Sharpie, then deflate.  Add a note instructing the recipient to inflate to reveal the surprise!
CANDY // Candy is tricky, but there are a few sort-of flat options out there if you keep your eye out.  Things like lollipops, fruit chews or even mini Hershey's chocolate bars would all work.  (Although I'd probably keep the chocolate for cold winter months and definitely not summer.)

MAD-LIBS // Rip out a page or two and tuck into your letter for your pen pal to fill out.
A TEMPORARY TATTOO // Temporary tattoos remind me of being a kid.  I love that they are inexpensive and often come in packs of two, one to keep and one to share!
PENCILS // A snail mail staple!
A MAP // Grab a map of your city and circle a few of your favorite places.  Did you visit a museum or an aboretum?  Grab an extra map on your way out and write about your experience in your next letter.

RECIPE CARDS // It's always fun to hear what other people are cooking.  Ask your pen pal for their favorite cookie/dinner/entertaining recipe and include one of yours.
  • My go-to for paper recipe cards is 1canoe2, but I have these on my wishlist!
PAPER CLIPS // I like to clip all the little bits together I send with a paper clip.  I've been using the regular colorful ones, but after researching for this post, I've been introduced to a whole new level!
  • Pinkie Bows has hundreds of adorable appliqued paper clips.
  • There are also paper clips in different shapes.  How awesome are these cocktail clips?
GLOW-IN-THE-DARK STARS // One idea is to include a star with every letter you send.  Eventually your pen pal will have enough for an entire constellation or galaxy!
  • This set has 150 pieces - more than enough to send multiple friends.
  • This set even has the planets!
RIBBON // Fold a length of ribbon neatly (preferably long enough to wrap something) or tie it around your letter with a bow.
AN INTERESTING ARTICLE // Writing letters is an intimate way to learn about a person's feelings and views.  Instead of fast knee-jerk reactions, letters require patience and thought, which in turn can become a thoughtful and respectful dialogue.  Find an article online that made you think, print it out and include it in your letter.  Ask your pen pal for their thoughts.

BOOKMARKS // Is your pen pal a reader?  If so, a bookmark is always welcomed.
A SMALL NOTEBOOK // Handy for jotting notes and to-dos, especially when you're on the go.
  • 3"x4" (like these) is a great little size to tuck into a letter.
GEL PENS // While I typically only write with my boring black Bic pens, colorful gel pens seem like a fancy touch.
  • This set looks great.  Send a few and keep a few for yourself!
  • This isn't a gel pen, but how cute is this "happy notes" pen?
GLOW STICKS // Another one of those childhood favorites sure to make your pen pal smile.
A NEWSPAPER CARTOON // When I was little, my grandmother would send a few "funnies" from the newspaper.  In today's day and age, this may be a stretch, but maybe there is an online cartoonist that you love?  Print, or if you want to save ink, share the link.

PRESSED FLOWERS // If you have a green thumb and grow amazing flowers, dry and press a few.
  • This post has a simple DIY if you've never pressed flowers before.
STICKS OF GUM // There are tons of gum choices that now come in tablet form, but look for the flat sticks.  Wrigley's is a good brand to look for: Doublemint, Juicy Fruit or Big Red.

A SMALL CROSS-STITCH // Are you a whiz with handiwork?  Tuck in a small completed cross-stitch or needlework project.  Bonus points if you give the recipient ideas for how to display it.

A CHARM ON A NECKLACE //  Simple, inexpensive necklaces are great to include.  Be sure to carefully package it around a piece of cardstock, so it doesn't get tangled during transit.
  • Caritas Dei LLC has a wonderful assortment of Catholic medals and necklaces.  I have this one and wear it everyday.


  1. These are fantastic ideas! I love the pens and washi tape!
    Getting mail from you ALWAYS puts a smile on my face. You are the best pen pal ever!

  2. It is ridiculous just how happy this post made me. I am going to try a few of your ideas! :-)

    1. I'm so glad it was helpful! Snail mail is just the best, isn't it?

  3. These are great ideas! I have an older cousin in Switzerland who is dealing with metastatic breast cancer. She's VERY artistic and always sends original cards to me. I'm not so artistic, but wanted to include a little something of/from me to warm her heart & brighten her day. So excited I finally have a "bucket" of ideas!

    1. I'm so happy it was helpful! Prayers for your cousin.

  4. Thanks - my kids and their cousins have been sending more mail since the start of Covid self-isolation, and this will make it fresh and exciting!

    1. So happy to hear it was helpful! My kids and I been sending a lot of mail during our lockdown too.


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