In my tween and early teen years, I loved collecting pen pals. I would introduce myself to girls my age at homeschool conferences and camp grounds and ask if they would like to be my pen pal. Many of those girls never responded to my letters, but a few became friends I’ll love for life. We used letter writing to learn about each other. We used letter writing to encourage each other in the Lord. We used letter writing to love each other well.
Letter writing has become less needed and less practical as digital communication continues to develop, but it still holds a special place in my heart. Opening an email doesn’t hold the same excitement as opening the mailbox to find a note from a friend. Reading words on a screen lacks the personal, heart touching warmth of handwritten words on paper.
Who in your life would benefit from a letter of encouragement right now?
Right now many of us are at home. Many are struggling with feeling isolated, feeling fearful over job status and the economy, feeling anxious about the health of those we love who are elderly or immunocompromised.
By all means, this is a good time to take full advantage of digital communication. Text your friends. Video chat with your grandparents. Live stream your church service. But maybe remind yourself how to write a letter too.
How to Write a Letter
These days, the biggest challenge for me is figuring out what to write. My friends are only a few taps on my cell phone screen away. We often share details of our lives on a daily basis.
What is left to write a letter about?
Here’s a few ideas:
- Copy a poem (or write an original one)
- Share a Bible passage (if you want to make it fancy, you can write key words in a different color to make them stand out)
- Explain what God’s been teaching you through your current Bible study or from the most recent sermon at church.
- Free write your thoughts about the happenings of the day. I find I often share facts via text message, but the deeper thoughts of how I’m responding to those factual events come easier in a letter than a text message.
- If you’re a writer, hand write a short story. A friend of mine and I have done this by trading story prompts. The story has to fit one one note card or sheet of paper.
This isn’t the time to try to follow your grammar school guidelines for how to write a letter. You don’t need proper salutations or formatting to send a letter of encouragement. Letter writing isn’t about perfection, it’s about communicating and making someone feel seen and valued and special. And also having fun. Don’t forget to have fun with it!
Little Gifts to Add to a Letter of Encouragement
A day or two ago, someone posted in a Facebook group that, because of the Coronavirus quarantining, they’d had to cancel the baby shower they were planning for a friend. This person reached out to the Facebook group for ideas on how to love the expectant mama on that day despite the need for social distancing.
I threw out a few suggestions, and her favorite was the idea of a “letter shower” with notes containing special little extras.
You might be surprised at how many little gifts you can tuck into an envelop without adding to the shipping cost. USPS rules indicate that one postage stamp covers a standard sized envelop no thicker that 0.25″ and weighing no more than 1oz.
I keep a little gift bag in my closet filled with tiny gifts that meet these qualifications. Here are some of my favorites:
- Tea bags. These are my all-time, favorite, go-to, tuck-in gift. Tea comes in so many different flavors, it’s easy to send something exciting and new for people to try. I’m more comfortable sending tea bags that are individually packaged. Some favorites of mine are:
- Face masks. It can be a little challenging to keep your envelope under 1oz if you include a face mask, but it is possible!
- Mini Chocolates. I usually grab these from the check-out display at the local health food store.
- Bookmarks. I like to grab these from tourist gift shops on vacation to make them unique, but any small, light bookmark will do.
- Scripture Cards.
As you can see, there are many options to sending little gifts in your letters of encouragement. If you don’t like these or get bored of them, try googling “flat things to send to penpals” or “tiny gifts that fit in an envelope” to find more options.
Other Extras for a Letter of Encouragement
Now you have your note and maybe a little gift. There are still plenty of ways to jazz things up even more. If you want to go all out, here’s some more ideas:
- Add stickers to your note. Wait. Aren’t stickers for kids? Not anymore! Last year one of my co-workers found a bunch of faith based stickers on clearance and grabbed them for me. I love adding using them to pretty up my letter writing (and my journaling). The ones she got me are from Illustrated Faith, and they’re great!
- Washi Tape. Washi tape is perfect for using inside the note or to seal the envelope. I’ve even used it to frame the mailing address!
- Wax Seal. A word of caution, wax seals have a habit of falling off in transit. I guess the postal service of medieval times was a little less rough. However, wax seals are a ton of fun. I might try putting a piece of clear packaging tape over the seal next time I try one. Maybe that will hold it on.
- Fun Postage Stamps. The post office is always coming out with new stamp runs. Why use a boring stamp when the fun ones cost the same price? I shared my current favorite stamp design in 5 Things I Loved This February.
Right now we’re all feeling the need to support each other because we’re all, to varying degrees, feeling the impact of Coronavirus. But it doesn’t need to take a worldwide pandemic to get us checking in on each other and finding ways to make someones day a little happier. Sending letters of encouragement (my friends and I call them “happy mail”) can be a wonderful, everyday little joy of regular life too.
So go ahead. Grab some stationary (or a simple piece of printer paper) and a pen. Pick a friend or relative to write to. Or do a Google search and find a letter drive for a cancer patient or a nursing home. Pick one of the options for how to write a letter. Maybe add some stickers and washi tape. Maybe tuck in a little gift. Write an address. Add a stamp. And you’re done.
When was the last time you tried your hand at letter writing? Do you love receiving letters of encouragement? Which tuck in gift do you want to send to someone? Who are you going to send a letter of encouragement to?