The Endangered Art of Written Correspondence and Pen Pals

The Lost Art of Pen Pals


The idea of taking pen to paper is so foreign to me. Everything is digital these days and even as I type this, I have to wonder if my third grade cursive handwriting skills have been erased from my memory as if I had punched the ALT + DEL buttons. While digging through our storage unit, I recently found a stash of old birthday cards, carefully folded notes from my friends on college ruled paper and a stack of handwritten letters from my brother. It made me question when was the last time I corresponded with anyone that didn’t involve typing with my thumbs. The truth is that aside from quickly jotted thank you cards and letterpress birthday cards, I can’t remember.

Now I don’t think I am a rare case here. The handwritten letter is becoming endangered as we get all too comfortable with the disposable content of Snapchat, email and texts. Sure; one can argue that letters can be trashed just as quickly. But when was the last time you held someone’s painstakingly words in your hands? Thinking back, pen pals were everything to me as a kid. The joy of receiving something in the mail made my day. Not quite sure how to get back to those days, I went looking for help. Read on to see how to get started with a pen pal (and other correspondence projects) and fun ways to make your own stationary.

Pen Pal Projects

The Lost Art of Pen Pals


The Pen Pal Project
This Tumblr blog accepts messages from people looking for pen pals. Request a post on their site or browse posts from others looking for a pen pal.

The Extraordinary Pen Pals
A community is dedicated to handwritten letters. Join and get set up with pen pals, ideas on stationary and advice on keeping up communication.

Post Crossing
Send and receive postcards from all over the world. This free service (essentially the cost of postage) is set up so that when you send a postcard to someone, you then get one from another random Postcrosser in the world.

International Pen Friends
With over 2 million pen pals ranging from 8-years old to 96-years old, this international organization matches you up with a pen pal based on interests, country and language (including Greek, German, Portugese, Russian, Italian and French.) There is an fee for these services plus an online application that you can also mail in.

Snail Mail My Email
If you’re just looking to get your feet wet, volunteer in this week-long annual event that began with 10,000 letters in 2011. Hundreds of volunteers write and send out stranger’s emails one at a time. This year it takes place November 7-11, you still have time to join the list of contributors to this massive project.

Interesting DIY Stationary Ideas

The Lost Art of Pen Pals


Make artful stationary using food coloring and shaving cream. Erica at Honestly WTF has an easy tutorial.

Share your love of botanicals by gently hammering leaves onto your paper. Experiment with different leaves to get imprints of shapes and sizes.

Don’t wait for a holiday to make dip-dyed stationary. It’s a relatively inexpensive DIY that will elevate even the most mundane scribbles to a special occasion.

Presentation is everything so make your own envelopes! It only takes 5 minutes, scrap paper and a little guidance from The Crafted Life.

Bring back the wax letter seals from yesteryear. Offbeat Bride has a guide to make your own wax seal stamp that can be used on everything from invitations to chain letters.