Creative pen pal letter ideas

Creative pen pal letter ideas DEFAULT

Whilst sending and receiving letters themselves is great fun, I often enjoy popping a little something else in the envelope with my outgoing letters, and this is especially true with my international pen pals as we have so much to share in terms of culture. Even the smallest little surprise can be fascinating to the recipient. With that in mind, I’ve created a list below of 50 items you could pop in your envelope with a letter to your penfriend. I’ve tried to keep the items fairly slim, so you don’t end up paying too much on postage.

  • Pressed leaves or flowers – pretty & also interesting to people from other countries
  • A bookmark – you could make one or buy one themed around something your pen pal has an interest in
  • Tea bags
  • Hot chocolate sachets
  • Sweets
  • A couple of sticks of chewing gum
  • Something you have cross stitched
  • A postcard of your local area or somewhere you have visited
  • A leaflet from a local attraction
  • A photograph – this could be of you, your area, your friends, or whatever you would like to share with your pen pal
  • A note card – either blank with the envelope, for them to use, or written in by you
  • A crossword or Sudoku puzzle
  • A newspaper clipping about something interesting, or perhaps relevant to a discussion you and your friend been having
  • Flattened origami
  • A friendship bracelet &#; I encourage this at any age!
  • A keyring
  • A ticket from somewhere you’ve recently visited, or your travel ticket
  • A (non-metal) nail file – they now sell these with all manner of patterns on them
  • Pretty plasters (band aids)
  • A packet of flower seeds to plant (inland only)
  • A packet of pretty tissues
  • Your favourite recipe
  • A pack of stickers
  • A slim notepad
  • A fun pair of socks
  • Your favourite chocolate bar
  • Washi tape
  • A little quiz on a separate piece of paper – ask questions such as ‘what 3 items would you save in a fire, after your family?’ or ‘tell me about your best ever Birthday’
  • Write a little list to pop in with your letter, such as ‘My top 10 books’, ‘My 5 favourite films’, or ‘What I’ve done today’.
  • A hairband, hair bobble or hair clips
  • A luggage tag
  • Sticky notes
  • A pen or pencil
  • An inspirational quote
  • Free cosmetic samples
  • Drinks coasters, or free beer mats from your local pub
  • An amusing comic strip
  • Coins (of a low value), unless your pen pal is from the same country or uses the same currency (such as the Euro)
  • A drawing or doodle
  • Fun paperclips
  • An air freshener
  • A CD of your favourite music
  • Postage stamps, if they collect them
  • A fridge magnet
  • Stationery for them to use
  • Write the first line of a story and fold the piece of paper, then send it to your pen pal and ask them to not read what you have written but add the next line, fold it, and send it back to you
  • Start a drawing off, then ask your penfriend to add to the drawing and send it back to you
  • A map or travel guide for your city
  • Paper confetti
  • A handmade necklace

Do you have any more ideas to add? Let us know on social or in the comments below.

Tags:letter writing, pen pal, Writing


How to be a Pen Pal: Letter Writing Tips + Inspiration

How to Be a Pen Pal | Pen Pal Ideas, Snail Mail Ideas, Snail Mail DIY, Letter Writing Prompts and Ideas from the Root & Branch Paper Co. Blog

Here at Root & Branch, we are all about snail mail. Writing letters is one of the best ways to sustain a long-distance friendship, get to know someone better, or send encouragements with a quick handwritten sentiment. In this blog post I've put together tips, inspiration to help you up your letter-writing game. I've also compiled an extensive list of Letter Writing Prompts, which you can download for free at the end of this blog post!

In honor of National Letter Writing Month, I've teamed up with my friend Dorien Scheltens to give you some tips and inspiration on how to be a better pen pal. Dorien is an incredible photographer (you're gonna want to see her portfolio) as well as an all-around artist, creative soul, and truly the most incredible mail-sender I know. 

10+ Ways to be the Best Penpal Ever | Penpal Ideas, Snail Mail, Letter-writing, and Correspondence Tips from the Root & Branch Paper Co. Blog

Before I met Dorien in person, we had a ton of mutual friends and we actually spent a few months writing back and forth. I have been privileged to be on the receiving end of a few of her packages, and they are beautiful, thoughtful, and heartwarming. Honestly when I thought of creating some tips about being a penpal, Dorien is the first person who came to mind.

I'm super thrilled that she was willing to answer some questions for me and provide you guys with inspiration and tips on how to send lovely things in the mail that are guaranteed to make your faraway friends, family members and penpals feel the love.

Let's dive right in!

Jessie: Tell us a bit about why YOU love mail and what sending mail means to you.

Dorien: Offline mail has a timeless notion to it, but at the same time it’s a tangible slice of what life is like in that very moment. Writing letters is a beautiful tool to pause life, put into words how you are doing and engage others in it.

I love the slow process of putting together a package and the moment where it all comes together and it’s ready to be sent off.

&#;Writing letters is a beautiful tool to pause life&#;
Photo by Dorien Scheltens
Photo by Jessie Tyree Jenness

What kinds of things do you usually send in the mail? What are your go-to's? 

I’ve developed this antenna for goods that fit in an envelope as that saves a ton of stamps!

Lately it’s been [photo] books, but usually I send chocolate and coffee/tea, paper goods of all kinds - posters, photos, postcards that somehow remind me of the person I’m sending mail to. Let me think what else Leaves, haha. You know! Magazines too, sometimes knitted goods. Notebooks! Always a fave.

&#;Writing letters is good for you + a powerful encouragement for others.&#;
Photo by Jessie Tyree Jenness
Photo by Dorien Scheltens

What are some of your favorite things you've ever gotten in the mail?

I always love getting notebooks, I’m fairly sure I’ll be mid-thirties when I’ve finally filled all of the empty ones I’ve gotten over the years, haha. Handwritten scraps of paper for sure! Or just paper scraps in general.

Photo by Yvonne Bender
Photo by Dorien Scheltens
10+ Ways to be the Best Penpal Ever | Penpal Ideas, Snail Mail, Letter-writing, and Correspondence Tips from the Root & Branch Paper Co. Blog

And finally, what advice would you give someone looking to be a better penpal? 

What helped me is that on my desk I have a few piles of things I need to send, one pile per person, haha. And then there’s the general box for random scraps that’s handy to have too! Honestly now it sounds like I’m a full time post office which I’m definitely not! Sometimes I go months without putting together packages for people. #adulting

Another tip would be to not fret too much about the timing of your packages. Sometimes I get the best ideas for a present on someone’s birthday and then it can take weeks before I actually send something, so my mail is always an after party!

Writing letters is good for you + a powerful encouragement for others, and even though you think you talk to someone nearly every day and they know what you’ve been up to, there’s always words left to be written 💌 

Photo by Dorien Scheltens

Such lovely words. Thanks Dorien!!

I love the way that Dorien uses snail mail to send little snippets of life and encouragement to friends all over the world. 

My hope is that this post will encourage YOU, friends + readers, to send a letter this month, and think about ways you can use your creative tendencies to brighten up someone's day by filling their mailbox with something other than bills and junk mail!

As promised, I've got a PDF download for you guys with Letter Writing Prompts. That is a LOT of ideas that are sure to get your creative juices flowing, and get you on track to becoming the greatest pen pal on earth! Download your free prompts by signing up for our email list below:

Who do you plan to send mail to this month? 

Let me know in the comments!



For more inspiration regarding letter-writing, photography, and all-around creativity, follow Dorien on instagram or visit her website. She also photographs weddings, including mine! Dorien lives in Holland and is pursuing her masters degree in photography.

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Hey there! I'm Jessie, the designer behind Root & Branch Paper Co. I've been an artist for as long as I can remember, and running Root & Branch is an extension of my passions appreciating the beauty of nature and making lovely things.

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Hello, dears!

My last pen pal post, &#;The Ultimate List of Pen Pal Ideas,&#; was super popular, so here I am with more ideas! Apparently that list wasn&#;t ultimate after all. 😛

Today I&#;m going to give you suggestions for how to take your letters from a one-page weather report to the highlight of your pen pal&#;s day. 🙂 We&#;ll go through tips for improving your letters and envelopes, as well as a big list of fun extras to send and creative activities to do with your pen pal. Excited? I am! 😀

Let&#;s get started.

featured image 59

How to Improve Your Letters

Do you ever have trouble coming up with things to say in your letters? XD If so, hopefully these three tips will help. (That sounded like one of those annoying ads: &#;3 Weird Foods to Help You Lose Weight!&#; or something. XD Don&#;t you hate those? ANYWAY.)

  1. Don&#;t be afraid to ramble. In other words, what I just did. XD I left the &#;weird ad&#; conversation in as an example of how rabbit trails can lead to very interesting places. After sharing a story or bit of information, end with a question: &#;What do YOU think?&#; &#;Has this ever happened to you?&#; Or perhaps &#;What&#;s the weirdest ad or commercial you&#;ve seen?&#; pen pal 1
  2. Keep a question book. As I just mentioned, questions are super helpful for lengthening letters. Other than interspersing them in your writing, you can just ask straight-out about all sorts of things &#; basic facts, favorite things, beliefs and opinions&#; I&#;ve found it helpful to set aside a notebook for writing down interesting questions I&#;ve been asked or queries I&#;ve thought of for others. pen pal 2
  3. Buy a pen pal kit. If you&#;re low on inspiration in general, consider buying a pen pal kit, like the super fun ones my sister sells here. Megan&#;s kits not only come with a bunch of fun things for you and your pen pal to use, but also inspiration lists and creative ideas for using the supplies in the kits. Be sure to check them out! {pc: Megan}

Swaps & Activities for Pen Pals

One of my favorite parts of having pen pals is all the fun things you can include in an envelope besides letters! Here are some meaningful and fun activities to do and things to swap with your pen pal.

  1. Swap book lists and discuss what you&#;ve read. If you can&#;t start a real book club, have a mini one with your pen pal! Choose a list of books to read, then talk about what you read in the next letter. This is a GREAT way to make your letters longer, because who doesn&#;t love to ramble about books? Everything in this picture except the background is from my pen pal Aria, who posted about the book swap in more detail here.pen pal 3
  2. Swap writing prompts and use them. Print or cut out a prompt photo, or simply write a prompt on an index card or in your letter. Challenge your pen pal to write a short story with the prompt(s) you picked and add it to the next letter for you to read! pen pal 5
  3. Send a puzzle a few pieces at a time. &#;I&#;d get it one piece at a time, and it wouldn&#;t cost me a dime&#;&#; (Anyone recognize those lyrics? XD) Ahem. Send your pen pal a whole puzzle at no additional shipping cost by sending them just a few pieces per letter. It would take FOREVER, but how fun would that be?! 😛 pen pal 8
  4. Memorize something together. Simply include a few verses in each letter for your pen pal to memorize before the next letter comes. If you don&#;t send letters often, consider sending postcards with verses instead. Memorizing this way is great because&#; 1) Writing it down helps get it in your head. 2) It&#;s easier to visualize the words with pretty lettering hanging nearby. 3) Aiming to memorize the verses by the next letter breaks your larger goal into manageable bites and provides motivation. 4) It&#;s more fun to memorize with a friend! (These cards are from Aria.)pen pal 4
  5. Color a coloring page together. Send one page back and forth and each paint or color in a little more each time until it&#;s finished. It&#;s fun and easy, with a beautiful result. pen pal 6

Fun Goodies to Send

I made a huge list of things to send your pen pals in the last post, but here&#;s another one! XD TIP: If you really want to make everything aesthetic, use one color scheme throughout. 

pen pal 7
  • newspaper clippings from your local newspaper
  • face masks
  • scrapbook paper
  • unusual or foreign coins (or a quarter with their state on it)
  • a watercolor palette (with dried paint from tubes, watercolor pencils,  or watercolor crayons)
  • fabric scraps
  • patterns (sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, crochet, etc.)
  • business cards
  • feathers (make sure they&#;re clean 😉 )
  • an aesthetic collage (either their aesthetic or yours)
  • playlists, lyrics, or artist suggestions
  • pamphlets from local business or visitor&#;s centers
  • a map of your city/state/province/etc. marked with your favorite places
  • a hand-drawn map of your property, house, bedroom, etc.
  • paint chips or paint cards in pretty colors
  • pictures cut from magazines, calendars, etc.
  • small works of art
  • printables
  • handlettered verses or quotes
  • jokes or riddles
  • greeting cards (you can write the first part of your letter in these and add additional sheets of stationery as needed)

Envelope Art Inspiration

It&#;s hard not to smile when you see a letter for you in the mail&#; and it&#;s even harder when the envelope is beautifully decorated! Here are a few examples of mail art I made. The latter designs are for sale on my Etsy shop if you&#;re not into art but still want to send pretty envelopes. 😉

envelope art (7)
envelope art (4)
envelope art (5)
envelope art (10)
envelope art (11)
bunny envelope etsy 2
bunny envelope etsy 3
bunny envelope etsy 4


Phew, that was a LOT of ideas! I hope you guys gathered some inspiration for how to make pen-paling even more fun. 🙂 If you enjoyed this post, feel free to pin the image below for future reference.

pinterest pen pal

Which of these ideas are you most excited to try? Which piece of envelope art was your favorite? Do you have any tips for pen-paling?

Thanks so much for reading, dears, and please have a lovely day!


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7 ideas to add as extras to your Penpal Letter! Penpal guide #1

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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!

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.

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!

Surprise rainbow


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.

Special envelopes card


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!

Rustic handmade paper from scraps


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.


Pen letter ideas pal creative

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10 Easy Penpal Snail Mail Ideas 📮☕️

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