DIY: Penpals with Benefits



The phrase “You’ve got mail” is your perpetual reality. You (yes, you) may be acutely aware of this fact as you go checking your multiple email accounts, multiple times a day from your multiple connected devices. Of course you’ve got mail. Your meandering of the online world renders you prone to the stuff, a virtual paper trail reminding you of all the online opportunities to see and do.

Email is amazing… don’t get me wrong. It is vastly useful, convenient, and productive, but let’s consider the impersonal, rapid-fire kind that may prompt circuitous re-navigation of the Internet. (The twitter notifications, the endless pinning of things, the shout-outs from all your favorite stores, and confirmations of your shopping spree at said stores…woops). All of these things function to remind you of all the online sites and things people you can see again with the click of a finger. And if you are like me, (aside from the occasional person-to-person messages in the mix of your inbox) it is a tedious array of notifications that you are used to receiving when you check your email.


If you think you might find the prospect of receiving a real old-school letter at your doorstep a bit charming, I’m talking to you. The cardinal rule of pen-palling is that you get out what you put in. Be creative, have fun, and be a dork. And start off with the kind of pen that prompts you to exude creativity and feel important. You might make someone else feel special too.  The letter (I am talking a real hard copy paper and envelope letter) is coming to mean something delicate, sincere, and deliberate.


So here it is: some guidelines to pen-palling: a springboard for your own creative potential.

1: Acquire stamps

Get stamps even before you write the thing! There is nothing more frustrating than artfully concluding a letter and sealing the envelope only to realize the snail mail process will be delayed by your need for stamps. Also, stamps can be pretty. Think of it as the cherry (or lemon!) on top.


2: Consider potential pen pals (hint: it can be anybody!)

Think of friends you have had forever, your college roommate, your aunt who has 5 too many cats, your grandparents, your siblings, your cousin at overnight camp. Collect relevant addresses. And if you feel so inclined, treat yo self with an address book. (Very old school, I know). Your online address book works too of course. But I just stumbled across these lovely things and wanted to share. Moleskins rock too.

Crackled address book:

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3: Write.

Write often. Put down your smartphone and write when you are waiting. Write to feign productivity during some downtime. Write on a plane. Write on a train, a bus, in a park, Write every time that you can. Write about nothing. Write about everything. Write on paper. Write on a postcard. Write on a napkin. Rip out a photo or article and write on the blank spaces. Write on the back of a picture. Write on a cutout from a brown paper bag. Write about an awkward conversation you’ve had. Write in cursive if you have retained what you learned in 1st grade. Write in mirror writing. Create a special language for your nephew. Write in code. Write about a movie. Write about a weird dream you’ve had. Or if you just want to ask: what’s up!


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{ Image via }


4: Embellish 

Seal your note, letter, card with string. Make your own stationary. Use glitter. Add a smattering of dainty stickers. Use paint. Use a paintbrush. Throw in a lucky coin. A button. That awkward picture your roommate from college took on your photobooth when you weren’t looking. Why not?

Try this too: make your own by printing your own 


….and you can even seal said envelope with a homemade stamp seal:





Send anything and everything. Always send it. It may be harder than you think to actually get the thing signed, sealed, delivered. But sending is integral to the process of course. I emphasize this only because it may be harder to stop by a mailbox or post office than you think (as you are a productive, busy, and important human) SO send it right away! No need to procrastinate here.


6. Repeat

 This process takes time. But get some good pen pal things happening. It won’t be instant but it comes highly recommended. It will give you a chance to relax, get crafty, get creative. There isn’t a better feeling than seeing a hand-addressed letter from a friend waiting for you at your doorstep.


Happy letter writing! Spread the #lemonlove



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