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Old School: Fun Ways to Customize a Pen Pal Letter

Don’t get us wrong, we love social networking and Internet communication as much as the next person! In fact, we fully admit that we might even love it a little more than average. Our use of online communication, however, has also given us a huge appreciation for more antiquated ways of chatting with our loves ones. What’s our favourite method of contacting people right now, you ask? Well, besides the beloved text message when we need a quick answer, we’re currently completely obsessed with sending letters!

Sure, it’s a little more time consuming to write a whole letter and develop a pen pal relationship than it is to send a quick Facebook message, but we love the thought and creativity that goes into it. Being DIY enthusiasts, We also love that pen palling is an awesome opportunity to get crafty!

Check out these amazing ways we’ve discovered to really amp up your letter writing game and give your pen pal the full, awesome experience of actually receiving exciting mail for once!

1. Giant hamburger postcard

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If you spend as much time in your average day thinking about food as we do, then we’re pretty sure you’ll love this giant hamburger postcard idea. It’s kitschy and fun for adults to make, write on, and send, but it’s also a cute idea if you have kids who like to help you out. Cut the shape out of cardboard, paint the design, and write your letter! Even if the kids aren’t the ones doing the pen palling, they’ll still have a blast painting the front and slipping a huge burger through the slot in the mail box. Check out how it’s made on My Poppet.

2. Sewn ice cream cone envelope

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Do you adore the idea of sending your friends giant food, but your pen pal is actually a vegetarian? Here’s a cute alternative to sending them a giant meat patty in the mail! Write your letter on paper like you normally would but instead of putting it in a regular white envelope, send it in a big ice cardboard ice cream cone! My Poppet shows you how to draw, cut, paint, and seam your very own, very “cool” envelope.

3. Recycled calendar envelopes

VIEW IN GALLERYRecycled calendar envelopes

Have you ever had a wall calendar with pictures so pretty that you just can’t bear to throw it in the trash can or the recycle at the end of the year? Try upcycling those pictures instead! Folding them into a beautiful envelope for your latest pen pal letter, just like Making Mondays did here, is a great way to let a new set of eyes appreciate the images you liked so much over the last few months.

4. DIY instant comfort boxes

VIEW IN GALLERYDIY instant comfort boxes

Has your pen pal been having a rough time lately? Are you looking for an affordable but heartfelt way to cheer them up? Check out these cute little DIY “comfort boxes” by Making Mondays! When your pal opens the envelope and sees the decorated little matchbox drop out, they’ll open it up right away out of curiosity and be surprised by your uplifting little message and design inside.

5. Washi tape memento sticks

VIEW IN GALLERYDIY Washi tape memento sticks

Are you and your pen pal both DIY enthusiasts who love sharing crafting tips in your letters? Maybe you even go a little further and actually share little bits and pieces of your favourite crafting supplies too? Well, just in case you’re as obsessed as we are with awesomely coloured washi tape right now, here’s an awesome tip from My Life as a Magazine for how to share that too! Stick the edge of one end of the tapes you like around the edge of a popsicle stick and wrap each one around so it sticks to itself. Your friend will be able to grab the free end of the tape and unstick it from its own shiny surface to use what you sent them in their next washi tape craft!

6. Double envelope letter

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Perhaps you and your pen pal have bonded over food and cooking? Do you love sharing your favourite recipes back and forth, or perhaps the recipes your kids like best? Here’s a more fun and creative way to do it than just sticking an extra sheet of paper and a regular envelope along with your letter! One Crafty Mumma suggests sticking two little envelopes in a card- one for your actual letter and one for your best cooking advice.

7. Pen pal folder

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Have you loved all of the ideas you’ve seen so far and you just can’t choose which one you want to try first? One Crafty Mumma has come up with a way for you to combine bits and pieces of each idea for the ultimate pen pal letter! Try making a folder instead. Make a pocket for some pictures, a pocket for an origami gift that you made yourself, a spot for an inspirational card quote, and don’t forget your letter before you close the folder up and send it!

8. Story book page envelopes

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Has your favourite idea so far been the one that suggested folding pretty envelopes out of old calendar pages, but you don’t have any physical calendars laying around right now? There are plenty of other nice paper options you can use! Ingthings suggests recycling the pages of old, abandoned, or damaged childhood storybooks to send your pen pal an extra bit of whimsy with your next letter.

9. Message balloon

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A Mom, A Wife, and A Me has an extra unique idea that’s fun for you to make and fun for your pen pal to receive! Blow up a balloon nice and big and use a fine Sharpie marker to write your letter or message across the front surface. Wait until the ink has dried and then untie the bottom of the balloon and slowly let the air out so it shrinks back down. Your pen pal will be super excited to blow it up and read the tiny letters when they open that envelope!

10. Paint chip ombre cutouts

VIEW IN GALLERYHomemade paint chip ombre cutouts

Are you a scrapbooker with a big collection of awesomely shaped hole punches? Put them to use for your pen palling! Take a trip to the hardware store and grab some paint chips that show a full range of shades in a few colours. Punch one shape out of each colour and arrange them all over your letter and your envelope for a little extra fun, just like The Homestead Survival.

11. Coded letters

VIEW IN GALLERYDIY coded letters

Maybe instead of just making your letter look interesting, you’d rather have the process of reading it be more interesting for your pen pal? Grasping for Objectivity thinks a code is the perfect way to do it! Develop your own alphabet, assigning an easy symbol to each regular letter. Write the letter with those symbols instead of your usual words so your pen pal has to decode each sentence to read your message. Just make sure you remember to actually include the decoder sheet in the envelope too when you send it!

12. Surprise rainbow

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Maybe you’re okay with a regular letter in a regular envelope, but you’d still like your next installment to your pen pal to have something a little more unique about it as well? Try folding a rainbow right inside the envelope! Cut the shape out of rainbow craft paper (or regular paper that you’ve coloured to look like a rainbow) and glue or tape one end of it inside the envelope. Fold the rest of it down like an accordion into the envelope and pop your letter in. When your pen pal pulls it out, the rainbow will pop out too! In case you feel like you need a guide to make the shape, here’s a template from Mr. Printables.

13. Special envelopes card

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Did you like the folder letter idea but your style is a little more girly? Maybe you’d rather your version have a bunch of little pockets rather than a clear sleeve like the other? Check out this design from ArtCreatiu! They suggest including a little wrapped gift, a special surprise envelope, a pocket for your letter, and some other little trinkets, sparkles, and mini art pieces. Decorate to your heart’s content!

14. Rustic handmade paper from scraps

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Do you love the idea of DIY pen palling so much that you’d like to take it to the next level and actually make your own lettering supplies form scratch? Then maybe you’d be up for the challenge of making your own paper! It’s not a quick task, but it’s rewarding once you see your words written down and packed into an envelope ready for your pen pal to read. Find the full paper making tutorial on Paper Slurry.