I’ve been an avid snail mailer for years now, so when one of my best friends suggested that we start a pen pal program during quarantine, I was all in.
Four of my best friends and I currently live in different cities in different states. Even though we text daily and call weekly, it’s not quite the same as seeing my friends in person. Sending each other postcards and letters is a great way to keep in contact.
How to Start A Quarantine Pen Pal Program
Here are tips on how to start your own pen pal program within your group of friends.
1. Find a few friends who are willing to commit to sending a postcard or letter once a week.
Because there are four of us in our friend group, we decided to send a letter to the same person once a week. Each week, we would write to a different person until each person receives mail.
Week 1: Write to Person A
Week 2: Write to Person B
Week 3: Write to Person C
Week 4: Receive Mail!!
Of course, you can also choose to have just one pen pal and write back and forth, but it’s a lot more fun to receive lots of mail in one week that aren’t bills / spam.
If you’re not ready for a huge commitment or if you’re worried about time, send postcards instead of letters! I personally love postcards because they’re easy to decorate, costs less postage, and requires me to be quick and concise in my message.
If your friends are not into snail mail, there’s a great community of snail mailers on Instagram. You can find a ton of pen pals under the hashtag #penpalwanted.
2. Get your supplies ready.
This should be one of the most fun parts! If you don’t have snail mail supplies lying around in the house like I do, order them online. My favorite places to shop for stationery are local stationery shops and Etsy. (I’m currently working on a full list of my favorite online retailers for stationery!!)
Also, don’t forget your postage! Post offices are considered essential businesses so they remain open during quarantine, but you can also shop online for stamps at the official USPS website.
If you want to go for extra points, use vintage postage. You can use vintage US postage stamps as long as they have no markings on them. Make sure that the value of your stamps add up to the value of a first class letter (as of 2020, it costs 55 cents to mail a letter). You can find vintage postage on Etsy and eBay.
3. Write, write, write.
One of the struggles with writing a letter to people you regularly call/text is what to write about. To be honest, my top tip for this is to hold back on a few things and write them instead of texting them…
You can also just write about anything, as mundane as it sounds. Your friends will probably still want to hear about it. Write about what you would normally talk about in person: personal news, TV/movies you recently watched that you think they would also like, what you did today, your general feelings and anxieties during quarantine, etc.
Don’t forget to ask questions! Letters are supposed to be a conversation. Don’t keep it completely one-sided. Plus, it’ll help your friends come up with stuff to write about.
4. Decorate your envelope.
This step is definitely optional but I love decorating my envelopes with stickers, washi tapes, and paper ephemera. It’s one of my creative outlets, and it brings me a lot of pleasure. I also think it gives a nice personalized touch to your piece of mail.
5. Don’t forget to send your mail!!!
I’ve found it really helpful to send each other weekly reminders on whose turn it is to receive mail. I am definitely losing track of time during these days of quarantine. I also like to keep my friends accountable so everyone receives mail and keep things fair.
Once everyone in your pen pal group receives their letters/postcards, it’s really up to you if you want to keep the pen pal group going. Carve out a time for letter writing and make it part of your routine.
For now, my friends and I are staying committed to our pen pal program, but we’ll see how long we can keep it going!!
Have any questions about sending letters during quarantine? Let me know in the comments!
Where did those “Hello From Inside” postcards come from? I’d love to have a few for Postcrossing (and for myself, of course)
They’re from Rhino Parade! https://rhinoparade.nyc/collections/quarantine-postcards