snail mail tips: mail art supplies

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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I say it all the time, letter writing is so much fun. There are so many components that go into it and everyone does it differently. I’ve always been very fond of mail art. I just love the idea of making something as simple as a letter or an envelope pretty. It’s great to know that my time and effort to decorate letter will make someone’s day and mailbox a little brighter.

I’ve always had pen pals that also like to spruce up their mail. It’s always nice to include a little something for those folks to use in their mail art. I love receiving new things for my craft stash, especially stuff that I maybe wouldn’t pick up or be able to find myself.

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Here are a few ideas of things you can send off to those mail art pals!

► Die cuts
► Washi tape
► Doilies
► Magazine cut outs
► Scrap paper
► Stamped images
► Tags
► Stickers
► Used postage
► Airmail labels
► Labels

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snail mail tips: sending yourself

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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It’s so great to include something nice for your recipient, in addition to a lovely letter. It can be hard to think of something to send so I wanted to make share some ideas with everyone!

There are so many things you can include in your envelopes. I recently posted about sending little surprises, mostly flat things that wouldn’t up the cost of postage. There are so many options!

Some of my favorite things to send out are things I love. It’s so fun to share yourself with a pen pal, new or old. I think that is something really special about snail mail; you are opening yourself up to this person you may have never met.

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Here are a few ideas of ways you can share with your pen pal to give them a better glimpse into your life and your personality.

► Zines that you have made
► Mix CDs or handwritten playlists that include your favorite songs
► Recommendations: your favorite books, movies, or songs
► Art you have made
► Photos you’ve taken
► A list of your favorite things
► Local goodies
► Descriptions of your favorite places or things about where you live
► A list of things you are currently enjoying (food, movies, etc)
► Your favorite drink (sending along a bag of tea or hot chocolate)

snail mail tips: sending surprises

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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Who doesn’t love getting something special in the mail? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t find joy in opening up their mailbox and seeing that a letter is waiting for them. I also don’t know anyone that doesn’t associate checking the mail with spam (except for my pen pals, of course!) To make someone’s mail day, try including a surprise in your envelope!

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When I first started sending mail, I had no idea that people would send me anything other than a letter. I believe my exact thought was, “You can put more than a letter in an envelope!?” It was such a treat to find a teabag or zine in my mail. I think my most favorite thing to send and receive are mix cds. Second would probably be zines. After I discovered that people were upping their mail game, I tended to copy what they did. I sent along the same type of items that I received. It’s sure to make a memorable impression!

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There are so many little things that you can include with in a letter that will put a smile on the recipient’s face. It can be difficult to think of what to send, especially if you don’t know the person that well or you are new to sending mail. Check out the list below for some fun ideas!

► Ribbon
► Zines
► Confetti
► Washi tape samples
► Post-its
Mail tags
► Stamped images
► Twine
► ATCs
► Buttons
► Stickers
► Seeds
► Paper Punches
► Tea
► Doilies
► Fortunes
► Pressed flowers
► Bookmarks

What do you like to include in your envelopes? What do you like to receive?

snail mail tips: storing washi tape

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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Most of my great ideas come to me right as I am falling asleep. I sit in bed and think of all the things I would rather be doing instead of sleeping. Half of the time I can’t remember most of these thoughts or ideas when I wake in the morning because I can’t be bothered to actually write them down.

This is one idea I remembered! I was in bed thinking of all the washi tape I have and how I needed to come up with a new way of storing them. I thought of those washi tape holders you can buy and realized they were basically just a rectangular box. I started thinking about the items I had in my house that I could convert into storage for washi tape and, ding!, what better than the boxes that rolls of wax paper or aluminum foil come in?

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Although it’s not the best option out there, this is an incredibly easy and cheap way to store your washi. Let’s get started!

To convert your box, you really just need a few simple supplies:
► The box (duh)
► Washi tape (duh duh)
► Scissors
► (optional) Pretty paper to cover the ugly box
► (optional) Double-sided tape or glue

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First things first, cut off the little flaps on the side of the box and the cover flap. I considered leaving the top flap on but it’s likely your washi tape are going to stick out a bit so the top flap just becomes pointless. That’s basically all you have to do to make this into a washi tape holder. It’s really that simple. Cut off the flaps and stick your washi inside! Done.

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I recommended covering the box with something pretty or color-coded. I decided to cover my boxes with scrapbooking paper that matched the colors of washi tape I was going to put inside. It’s super simple to cover the box! I just stuck on a bunch of double-side tape on each side and basically wrapped it like a present. I didn’t cover the bottom, just the front back and sides. You can also cover the inside if you’re feelin’ fancy. I think it might be kind of annoying to use glue to complete this step but, if that’s all you have, I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it work!

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With this storage, you do have to take out the washi tape each time you want to use it. That can be kind of annoying! I’m trying to think of something I can put in, like a empty paper towel roll, to have the washi tape on. I feel like the washi tape holes vary in size though that could just be my imagination. I’ll have to give it a go the next time I run out of paper towels.

Another thing you can do is put a piece of tape that you are storing on the outside of the box. You can easily see what tape you have and, once you take it out, you know where it should go when you have to put it back!

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Snail Mail Tips: What To Write

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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If you’re not new to the letter writing game, it should probably come pretty naturally what to write about in letters. If you are new to the writing game, you might find it difficult to start a letter. Shoot, sometimes I struggle with things to write about! I don’t lead a very exciting life; I work, hang out at home, and don’t go on many adventures. If you don’t really do a lot, what are you supposed to write about? Here are a few tips to help!

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Yourself

Duh! One of the best things about letters is that we have the opportunity to share a part of ourselves with someone we may never meet. It’s so great to learn things about people you don’t know or might not be friends with in the first place. We are all unique, why not share your quirks, likes and dislikes with someone? Write about your hobbies, your life, your past, your love or your favorite foods. Share yourself!

Emotions

It’s one thing to share facts about yourself with someone in a letter but it’s a whole different ballgame to share your feelings behind those facts. One of my favorite things about writing letters to strangers is that there isn’t any fear of being judged. I could write the weirdest shit in a letter to some random person and the worst thing that might happen is that they write back. It’s helpful to tell people what you are feeling. Don’t bottle it up!

Tell Stories

I’m really bad at this. Like, really bad. In general, I’m just not a story teller but those are my favorite kinds of people. I’ll start telling more stories if you do!

Weather

Okay, this is actually something I don’t want you talking about. I’m incredibly guilty of bringing up the weather. A lot. But, can we stop? I think it’s totally acceptable to bring up the weather when it relates to you or your life but quit asking, “How’s the weather?”. It’s boring! I tend to bring up the weather a lot in relation to how I’m feeling. If winter makes you depressed, bring it up! If you’re super unproductive during the summer, let’s talk about it!

Be Nice

If you truly value a pen pal’s friendship, don’t make it your goal to offend them. If you know the person you are writing to might find something offensive, try your best not to bring it up. Unless, of course, if that person is a bigot. By all means, offend a bigot. My views on having children are less than favorable but I’m not going to rain on someone’s parade if they have, or want to have, kids. Just be nice!

Snail Mail Tips: Logging Mail

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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For an active snail mailer, one of the most important things to keep track of is all incoming and outgoing mail. Keeping track of your mail is the easiest way to make sure you’re replying to letters promptly and not forgetting to do so! If you love making lists, you should definitely be logging your mail. It just takes a few minutes to do!

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to keeping track of their mail. I know a lot of people keep paper logs or journals. I used to do that but I found that I didn’t have a very uniform system and I was often forgetting some information for every entry I made. I quickly switched to logging everything in a spreadsheet. I could have a header of all the information I was looking to log and I wouldn’t be able to forget that information.

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I created four spreadsheets; two for incoming and two for outgoing. Each set, incoming and outgoing, is separated into domestic and international mail. As I don’t receive a lot of international mail, I add countries to the spreadsheet as I receive them. No way am I going to look up every country in the world and add them to my spreadsheet! Although I don’t receive mail from every state in the US, I do list every state in my domestic spreadsheets.

For my logs, I like to track what was sent or received in a letter. This is helpful so I don’t end up sending the same stuff to the same people. I also write a brief description of a postcard’s image. I also love noting how I “met” the snail mailer. It’s nothing crucial but it’s fun to track!

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One thing I recently started doing is keeping a space where I can put incoming mail during the different stages of receiving it. I have a “To Reply” spot for all letters that I have received and logged but still need to reply to (obviously). Once a letter has been replied to, I place it in the “To Photograph” spot. In addition to logging mail on my spreadsheets, I also photograph all incoming and outgoing mail. It’s a bit excessive but I like doing it! After everything is said and done, the piece of mail goes to the “To File” spot. Right now, filing my mail means putting it in a reusable shopping bag. One day I will have a more official mail storing system!

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Here are a few tips to get you started logging your mail!

Figure out what you want to log

If you’re looking for something super simple, I suggest logging a name, date, and what was sent. If you’re looking for something a bit more, log a name, date, what was sent, postmark (incoming), when it was sent (outgoing), when you wrote it (outgoing), when you received it (incoming), when it was written (incoming), and how you know the person.

Use a system that works for you

If you know you love writing things down and keeping journals, opt for a paper log. If you’re looking for convenience and something that is easily searchable, create your log on the computer.

Log ’em as you get ’em

I should probably take this advice! If you don’t log your mail as soon as you send it, or receive it, it’s likely you’ll forget to do so. Plus, if you log the date of when you send or receive something, you’ll end up forgetting those dates if you don’t log it right away!

Snail Mail Tips: How To Find Pen Pals

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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I recently received a comment that asked, “How do you find pen pals?” so I thought I would address that here!

The internet is kind of a funny tool for people who love to write letters. Some like to blame it for the decline in letter writing, and I would argue that it is probably the easiest thing to use to find people to write to. All of my pen pal relationships have started because of the internet. My first pals were people that I would talk to on a daily basis online! I don’t know how we found things to write about in letters but we sure did; we would send each other 5+ page letters. Then I found mail friends through various websites. Here are a few that I have used or still use!


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Sendsomething

→ This website is my go-to for finding strangers to send mail to. Sendsomething has a great search feature, which I use whenever I have something random to mail out (like, a postcard for the band Aqua). I love searching for people’s interests to better find a way to make their day through the mail! Plus, they have a “random address” button that takes the thought out of who you should mail to. The majority of my pen pals have started through Sendsomething.

 

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Swap-bot

→ I’ve been a member on Swap-bot since 2007 although I’m not too active there anymore. They have great swaps specifically for finding pen pals but they are also a bit hit or miss. I really enjoy swaps that are more art-focused, zines, mail art, ATCs, etc. Those types of swaps seem to be in decline these days. This is a really great website for starting out in the snail mail world, I think! You see a variety of styles when participating in swaps, which is awesome.

 

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Postcrossing

→ Although I really wouldn’t suggest this website for finding pen pals, it is a great resource for sending, and receiving, postcards. I’ve heard tales of people finding great pen pals through Postcrossing but, in the 6 years that I’ve been using it, I’ve only found 1 person that I exchanged mail with on a semi-regular basis. This is a great website to get your toes wet in the snail mail world.


Of course, there are so many places on the internet to find like-minded folks. There are so many blogs that offer mail swaps, little organizations specifically for people who write letters, and plenty of people on Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr that are interested in finding new pen pals.

I think the most important advice I can give to anyone looking for new mail friends is, don’t get discouraged! Try not to expect a reply from every letter your send out. There will be plenty of occasions where you will send a letter to someone and never get a response, or it will take, what feels like, ages for them to get back to you. The most important part of being a letter writer is sending mail, but the best thing about sending mail is receiving it!