I vaguely remember having a pen pal as a child. I think it was a temporary activity we did in elementary school. I haven’t had a pen pal since… until last year. I had this idea in my head that I wanted one so I started doing some online research and I found a website where I could find pen pals.
That’s how it all started. I now have 10 pen pals. I do stationery swaps with people. I send postcards out to people all over the world. The past month or so is when I really fully committed and it is the happiest I have been in a while.
I’m going to share with you the in’s and out’s of pen paling, where to find a pen pal, what sites are out there and the thriving #snailmail and #happymail community that is out there. A note of warning, this hobby is addicting! And so. much. fun.
So Why Pen Pal?
If you are a papery, crafty person who loves stationery, stickers, washi tape, journaling, planning, writing, scrapbooking, any and all of the above, you will love pen paling. It is such a creative outlet with boundless options. You can really go wild with creativity here. If you’re looking for a new creative outlet, this is it.
Pen paling with someone can create a real long term lasting friendship. You can have friendships all over the world. You can create as many friends as you want this way. I know it’s for many people to make new friends nowadays. This is a great way to meet new people.
Taking the time to sit down and read someone’s letter, then write out a response relaxes me. Putting my full attention into creating something beautiful and writing thoughtful responses to my new friends is quite calming. It could be for you too!
Connection During the Coronavirus
This is the perfect hobby to pick up right now. For those of you who are still quarantining or are simply looking for more things to do at home because we have so limited options right now, pick up pen paling. You can create beautiful friendships with people without ever leaving your home.
Getting pen pal letters in the mail and opening them up is one of the best feelings ever. Not kidding. That’s why they call it happy mail.
Where to Find a Pen Pal
It’s not as hard as you would think to find a pen pal. If you know where to look you will find a thriving snail mail community, and plenty of people looking to make new friends through pen pals. Here’s a few places for you to start your search.
This is the website where I found my first pen pal. It’s a safe site for adults and children to look for pen pals. You create an account which is reviewed by an administrator and then you can find people in specific age groups, in certain regions of the world and you can filter by male or female. You can chat with each other on the site until you feel you know them enough to give them your address.
I think it’s a great option to find people to connect with. I found people in different countries and I have a pen pal in the U.S. who I’ve become very close to from this site. I also want to mention the basic membership is free, which is what I have.
This is a free website that I just discovered and am already in love with. You send postcards to people all over the world and receive postcards from other people in return.
There is also a postcrossing forum where can arrange for direct swaps (sending postcards back and forth to the same person) and you can find pen pals on there too.
The snail mail community is thriving on Instagram. You can find people who are actively searching for pen pals through the hashtag #penpalswanted. It’s also a lot of fun to follow pen pal accounts and see all the beautiful envelope and letter writing artwork that people are doing.
The Reading Residence blog has a movement called Bring Back Paper. She runs a Facebook group which you can join and find pen pals on and a few times a year she will do a pen pal sign up where you can send her your info and she’ll pair you with someone who has similar interests.
Inspiration On Social Media
There so much out there for you to use as inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. There are Facebook Groups and Instagram Accounts you could follow, as well as a multitude of videos and accounts on Youtube too. Here I’ll go over just a few I follow, and leave it up to you to find more.
Here’s a few accounts that I follow. I love their creativity and I often save some of their pictures for inspiration. Here’s some of my favorite posts.
There are a lot of pen pal, and stationery related groups on Facebook if you would rather connect to people there.
There is the Bring Back Paper Facebook group I mentioned earlier, which is full of like minded people that share their happy mail and ask stationery or postage related questions. It’s quite a lovely group to be a part of.
If you search Facebook for Pen Pal groups, you’ll find plenty too.
Youtube is a great spot if you want to watch envelope art tutorials or pen pal with me videos. I love watching the creative process behind it (there’s also a ton of pen pal with me videos on IGTV on Instagram). People post videos of their stationery hauls too, which is fun to watch what they get.
Blogs to Follow
This is a great blog for all things pen paling. She has so many articles on pen paling. Anything from where to find a pen pal to what extras you could add in your letters.
Make sure to subscribe to Jocelyn’s newsletter too. I love all her posts and activities she does for her bring back paper movement.
This is a great blog to get ideas from too. There’s posts on what to include in your letters, what questions to ask your penpas, templates for different shaped envelopes and more.
I like looking on the post crossing blog just see what kind of quirky things they post. The latest post is on a real underwater post office.
This is a great spot to connect with other snail mail people and to get ideas. There are so many posts on so many different subjects in this forum, I could get lost here for days.
It's not just writing letters...
Snail Mail isn’t just letters. There’s a lot more to it than that! Let’s start with the decoration. You can decorate the letter itself, decorate the envelope it goes in and decorate the extras you add in the letter. It’s all about that creativity.
You also add stuff in with your letter. It’s all about sharing the love in this community. I usually add some stickers or washi tape to my letters. You can exchange tea bags or recipes too. You can add bookmarks, poems, playlists youre listening to right now. The possibilities are endless. Check out this list from the Bring Back Paper blog on things to add to your happy mail.
It’s also not just about letter writing. There are postcards too, don’t forget about the whole postcard community on Post Crossing. And people in the pen pal community will do stationery swaps too, which is literally just exchanging stationery you have with someone. Stationery swaps include papers, stickers, washi tape, stamps, tea, and more. The final thing I’ll note is a concept I just discovered called travelling notebooks. You make a notebook and come up with a list of people who volunteer to write in it. It goes from one person to anther until it gets sent back to you fully written in and decorated. How cool is that?
So like I said, the snail mail community is vast and creative and amazing. Check it out sometime. I promise you won’t regret it.