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National Letter Writing Day

Happy National Letter Writing Day! With the current ease of emails, text messages, Facebook/Instagram/Twitter direct messages, etc. you may think letter writing is a thing of the past, but that’s not the case for me. I currently have two letter-writing pen pals, and I also regularly send birthday, holiday, and thank-you cards to friends and family. I’ve always loved getting and receiving mail, but I never really enjoyed the art of the handwritten letter until later in life.

I worked at a grocery store in high school, and often worked some super slow shifts. To help pass the time and to avoid getting in trouble for talking to each other for too long, one of my friends and I started passing notes on receipt paper. When we went off to separate colleges the following fall, we advanced to sending handwritten letters in the mail instead, and we’ve also added postcards to our rotation; I even sent her a postcard to tell her I was going to be writing this blog post.

We both have kept every letter and postcard over the years, and I’m so grateful for that. She’s traveled to and lived in many other countries, so I have a pretty impressive collection of international postmarks from so many different places from her. I got married in June 2021 (if you’ve read my past posts you may recall that my wedding was postponed and altered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it finally happened!) and she was my maid of honor. I knew her speech was going to be great, but it was even more special than I’d imagined because she was able to reference our letters and reminisce about the first time I mentioned my now-husband to her, plus many other great memories.

Sending and receiving handwritten letters is so much more fun and personal than a text or social media message. Who doesn’t love getting mail? Plus, with every stamp you use, you’re supporting the United States Postal Service (USPS), and they have some really cool options beyond regular old flag stamps, like Scooby-Doo, adorable otters, and more.

You can make your letters feel fancy in other ways, too, like:

  • Fancy addressing with hand lettering. Sometimes I address my envelopes in cursive (yes, I actually use this skill sometimes!) or faux calligraphy, or just use a funky pen to make the address stand out. I don’t write my letters or cards themselves in cursive, but the funky pens sometimes make their way to that, too.
  • Drawing on the envelopes. This could be anything as simple as a smiley face to coloring in the entire envelope, depending on how much time you want to spend.
  • Using washi tape. I like to stick washi tape over the seal of my envelopes; this might help keep the seal intact but also makes the envelope less plain, especially if I haven’t drawn on it. Washi tape can also help dress up plain notebook or printer paper if you aren’t using fun stationery. You can find washi tape online or at craft stores.
  • Using fun stationery or cards. I was matched with a pen pal through a stationery store, and she finds the coolest cards. She recently sent me a card and envelope shaped like a slice of pizza! Postcards are also automatically cool, especially if you’re able to mail them directly from the place you’re visiting. You can also print out photos you’ve taken directly onto cards or tape them onto a card. My mom is a great photographer and she started doing this recently; I think it’s a great idea.

It can be hard to get in the habit of sending “snail mail,” but here are some tips on how you can get into letter writing if you’re having trouble getting started:

  • Don’t focus on quantity. With letters, it’s the thought that counts, not the length of the letter or the word count. Don’t feel like you need to write a novel to send a letter. Even something as simple as “Just wanted to say I’m thinking about you,” or “Happy birthday!” is plenty enough.
  • Grab some fun supplies. Buy some fun stamps from USPS, and make sure you have pens or pencils (or markers or whatever you feel most comfortable writing with) that are ready to use. If you don’t already have washi tape or some fun stickers, buy some from Etsy or a craft store. And seek out fun cards. I’ve found some of my favorite birthday and wedding cards at Trader Joe’s, believe it or not.
  • Pick an occasion to send mail. Having the excuse of a birthday or holiday might help motivate you to get that card or letter out sooner rather than later, and if you feel awkward about sending out physical mail for any reason, it might also help ease your nerves.
  • Enjoy it! If you’re not having fun, you’re not going to want to stick with the habit of sending letters, and your recipients probably won’t enjoy getting your letters as much as they would if you were enjoying sending them.