Pen-palling is a unique way to meet new friends, channel your creative energy and learn about the world beyond your doorstep. There are lots of in’s and out’s to penpalling, but overall it’s a super fun and rewarding experience. In this article I’ll go over all the basics to help you go from beginner to pro in no time.
I’m sure you already know what pen-palling is, but in case you forgot, it’s when you and another person send physical letters back and forth. Sometimes pen pals choose to send packages of goodies to one another or even meet in person. Your pen pal can be somebody that you’re best friends with, someone you talk to occasionally, or someone that you don’t even know! They could live in your town, or in a completely different country. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with a person, or meet a totally new person!
Some people turn away from becoming a pen pal for different reasons. It could be because they’re too nervous to meet somebody new, they might not think they have the necessary things to start penpalling, they don’t have enough time to pick up a new hobby or simply because they don’t want to wait for the mail to arrive. Once you start pen palling however, you realize how silly these thoughts are.
The process of meeting someone new is sometimes a scary one. When introducing yourself over a letter, you have the chance to really think about what you want to tell the other person (it’s not some awkward thing you thought of on the spot). It’s also nice to be able to read about what the other person is like, and it gives you both more opportunities to actually ask questions and get to know each other better. It’s far more painless than it seems, and this could be the start of a new lifelong friendship! If you’re struggling to think of what to write in a letter, check out some of our other blog posts.
Now obviously penpalling is usually done through snail mail, so you’re going to need some paper and something to write with. A common thing you will notice with letters that get sent is that they are very decorative and cutesy. In fact, more often than not you will notice that the letters are decorated with fun themes. Decorating your letters is an easy way to show your pen pal your personality and add a little extra love to your letters. While decorating letters isn’t a must, many people do appreciate it. But at the bare minimum, a pen, paper, envelope and stamp are all you really need. (BUT check out our online store to shop all sorts of pen pal basics and of course, the fun stuff)
An important thing to know is the different parts of the letter. Some people prefer to make one big letter, others prefer to write lots of little letters put together in one envelope, or some like to make theirs look similar to a journal. By this I mean putting pictures and art onto the page and writing around it. Experimenting with different layouts for your letters can be super interesting and it’s always satisfying when you finally find the perfect layout for you. Depending on the way you choose to present your letter can add emphasis to different paragraphs, and can also make it seem like you wrote more!
A playlist is a simple and fun addition to a letter. It can consist of songs that you really like, or just popular songs right now. A lot of people like hearing new songs and you guys might have similar music taste. As for gifts, some cute ideas include stationary, flat (easy to ship) foods, recipes that you like, or photos!
Obviously a big part of penpalling is to get to know your pen pal and hopefully become close with them. How are you supposed to do that if you don’t have any questions to ask them? Personally, I think if you want to get to know someone you should ask more then just “yes” or “no” questions. Read about more question inspiration here.
Another common topic that pen pals talk about is whatever is happening in their country at that time. Whether it be political or just a fun thing that is happening near you, current events are always interesting to talk about. It can be cool to hear about a festival that another country is hosting. Hearing about these can help you learn more about the country's culture and traditions. Politics can either make people awkward, so be careful to be considerate. Hearing others speak about the way their countries run can be neat and a great primary source of information.
One thing that is very important with penpalling, is to be patient. Snail mail can take a while to deliver, especially when your pen pal lives far away. International mail usually takes around two weeks to deliver. Don’t think that your pen pal has forgotten you. Even when the letter has arrived to them, they have their own lives and it might take them a little bit to respond. Just give it time and patience, and the experience becomes more fun and carefree for both people involved.
Remember that there is no specific way to write your letter. After all, it’s your letter! Make it embody your personality and the things you’re interested in. It is entirely up to you, what you choose to include and disregard in your letters. If you write the letter with intentions of it sounding like a conversation you’re having with an old friend, you’ll notice it flows exactly like that.