Snail mail is something that I love, and because of that I’ve found a large group of wonderful people who love it too! The thing is, we’re not really the “norm”. Most people don’t understand why we “still” send snail mail, and consider letter writing to be a “dying art”. Snail mail is a beautiful way to connect, express yourself, and let someone else know you’re thinking of them.
I’ve put together lists before of ways to find penpals and tips for using the postal service, but I’ve never really given you a reason to use snail mail! That changes today. I’ve made a list of one hundred occasions, reasons, etc. that you can have an excuse to send snail mail for! We’ll start off with the basic Hallmark Holidays, if you will, and then move into weirder, more specific stuff as the list grows. Here we go: 100 reasons to send snail mail!
1. New Year’s
2. Chinese New Year
3. Valentine’s Day
4. Mardi Gras
5. St. Patrick’s Day
8. Earth Day
9. Mother’s Day
11. Father’s Day
12. 4th Of July
18. New Year’s Eve
23. Get Well
27. New Baby
28. New House
29. New Job
31. Thank You
32. To Say Sorry
Featured: Post Muse
33. Book Giving Day (February 14) – Mail a copy of your favorite book to a friend or one you just read that you think they’ll enjoy.
34. Compliment Day (March 1) – Write nice things about your loved ones on postcards for a boost in their day!
35. Draw A Bird Day (April 8) – Draw a bird and mail it to someone (or me!), I bet they didn’t know it was Draw A Bird Day! [more]
36. Nurses Day – Show your appreciation for a friend or family member who is a nurse, or maybe one who actually treated you!
37. Teacher Appreciation Day – Again, maybe it’s a friend or family member who is a teacher that you want to say thank you to, but you can also write a note to a teacher you had way back in high school or college.
38. Lollipop Day (7/20) – So many options! Draw a lollipop, mail a giant one, record a video of you dancing to a song about a lollipop and put it on a DVD to send.
39. Friendship Day (8/3) – Remind your friends why you love them.
40. One Hit Wonders Day (9/25) – Make a CD of your favorite one hit wonders to share! [more]
41. Boss’ Day – Maybe you’ll see them at work anyway, but you could mail it to your business! Getting mail at work is just as fun. Or you could send flowers to an old boss who really had an impact on you.
42. Knock Knock Jokes Day (10/31) – Get weird with it. Make a pop-up card of a door and when you open it up, the second part of the joke is inside.
43. Candy Day (11/4) – Share your favorite sweets, sours, and chocolates with someone who appreciates the finer things.
44. Your goals and resolutions for the year – Hold yourself accountable for what you want to accomplish this year by sharing your goals with your friends, and ask for them to send you theirs back!
45. Love letter to yourself – Practice some self love by writing yourself a love letter. Seal it up to open on a sad day, frame it on your wall, or tuck it in your journal. Just the act is important in itself.
46. Wishlist to Santa Claus – Who cares if you’re not a kid anymore? Those letters go somewhere, and lots of times they send you something back! Probably best to do this around December, though.
47. Back to school care package – Going to college is a big step, so make it easier with a care package full of things they’ll need and want. [more]
48. Postcard from a trip you take – Traveling is great for a number of reasons, one of them being that you can let someone know you’re thinking about them while you’re having a great time! There are tourist shops everywhere that sell postcards for cheap (and postage for postcards is cheaper than for a regular envelope!) so share some highlights from your trip on the message portion.
49. Fake ransom note – Cut out some letters from magazines and make a joke ransom note, claiming they’ll have to do a dance in order to get their joy back that day.
50. Postcrossing – Join a website to really get your postcard game going! You’ll send and receive postcards from all over the world, it’s pretty amazing. [more]
51. To your Senator – Go ahead! Be that person! It’s totally cool. Write what you’re passionate about and something you’d like to see changed. Social/political activism is important. [more]
52. To the President – There’s a whole team of people who read Obama’s mail, and they respond to you, too! [more]
53. Party invitations – In a world of Facebook invites, it’s rare to get a physical invitation in the mail anymore. Surprise people with some exciting invites to your next party!
54. To a soldier deployed overseas – There’s services you can utilize to find a soldier who is interested in getting a penpal. [more]
55. To an inmate – Same as above. [more]
56. To Post Secret – Share a secret anonymously and creatively. [more]
57. Mail art – Send art for the sake of sending art! Collage on an envelope, draw on a piece of cardstock and turn it into a postcard!
58. A holiday photo of you and your family – Bonus points if the photo is super weird or it’s just you and your cat.
59. Ship around a pair of magic jeans to your friends – This is definitely real and in no way referencing a series of books and movies that I was obsessed with as teen.
60. Blown up balloons in a box – So, helium balloons probably wouldn’t make it across the country, but you could always put them in a box and leave them on someone’s doorstep! [more]
61. Envelope full of glitter or confetti – To your enemy or your best friend, depending on what kind of people you know. [more]
62. Send out a friendship book – I actually find these kind of annoying at this point in my life, but it’s a great way for people to find penpals. [more]
63. Using vintage postage – You can buy vintage postage lots of places, but my favorite is through Murph. Sending mail with old school stamps is rad, it just is. [more]
64. Resend junk mail – Support to the post office by fixing grammatical errors or just doodling on those pre-paid pieces of junk mail that don’t require you to do anything but throw it in a mailbox!
65. Actual film from an event – Print out pictures you took on your camera or your phone at a party, dinner, or camping trip to send to those in attendance. Analog on analog!
66. Say something nice to a business – Surprise a business by taking the time to write a handwritten letter thanking them for their customer service or something awesome they’re doing that makes you smile!
67. Pay a bill – Send a check in the mail instead of paying online or over the phone and decorate the envelope! I bet it’ll stand out pretty well.
68. Using customized postage – You can also make your own postage! Put your face on a stamp and freak everyone out. [more]
69. Participate in a swap on Swap-Bot – This is a great site for getting started with mail art, postcards, and more. You can exchange mix CDs, recipes, letters, and craft supplies. [more]
70. Mix CD – Make a good old fashioned mix CD and mail it to your friend! Bonus points if the CD has a theme or you reveal that you’re in love with someone.
71. Newsletter – Get narcissistic up in this piece and tell people what you’re up to even if they didn’t ask! Do it as a satire, even. There’s tons of templates on Microsoft Publisher for making newsletters.
72. List of things you accomplished this year – Write down a list of things you were able to do this year, whether it was climbing a mountain or finishing a book, and share it with whoever! It will make you feel good to recognize your achievements and just might inspire someone! [more]
73. Thank a company for interviewing you – A follow up letter (especially handwritten) is always appreciated and is something that can set you apart from other candidates for the job you’re applying for.
74. Change your handwriting for an entire letter – Try to write with your non-dominant hand, in all caps, slanted a different way, or just completely wacky for an entire letter. [more]
75. In a clear envelope – Clear packing supplies are amazing, and add a level of intrigue to your missive. [more] 76. Packing tape postcards – You can also take the clear thing in a different direction by making a postcard out of packing tape and then adding stickers and washi tape to it! The recipient will actually be able to peel the stickers off to use them again or they can proudly display your art on their refrigerator.
77. Participate in the Snail Mail Game Show – Yeah, I run a Snail Mail Game Show. And it’s awesome. [more]
78. On register paper – Write an entire letter on something really small, or unusually sized like register paper, origami strips, receipts, cut outs, etc. [more]
79. Share a zine – Make a zine about something that happened to you or something you know a lot about and send it all around!
80. Anonymous notes to strangers – Use websites like SendSomething to get addresses of strangers and send them anonymous notes or create a friendship. [more]
81. Document your week in paper scraps – Collect bits and pieces of the evidence of your life for one week, like Metro cards, receipts, bubble gum wrappers, wrist bands from concerts. Throw them in an envelope and share! [mpre]
82. Swap local snacks – Make a deal with a friend in another state or country that you’re going to share some local goodies like chips and candy! Get to know the deliciousness of another region through the mail.
83. Fill a box with goodies of all one color – So when your friend opens up the package it’s like a ray of sunshine hit them directly in the face!
84. Write on a typewriter – Actually type out a letter on a typewriter. That shit is fancy. I have two, come on over.
85. Announce something – Announce that you’re pregnant, moving, or just organized your bookshelf with some postcard announcements!
86. Send an object naked – Sending naked mail is super cool, you can really send just about anything as long as you pay the right amount of postage. Write an address directly on a bucket, book, or baseball bat and take it to your local post office. Be sweet, and ask them how much postage it needs.
87. Attach a disposable camera to cardboard – You can affix a disposable camera to a piece of cardboard and write instructions on it for the postal workers to take photos with it. Have a friend mail it back to you to get developed. [more]
88. Respond to a mail art call – There are mail art calls in tons of places. I did one for a show at the top of the World Trade Center in Baltimore. Use someone else’s prompt to create art and then possibly be featured in a show or book. [more]
89. Turn a poster into postcards – Make a large piece of art on a poster board then cut it up into smaller pieces to send as postcards, so each person has one piece of a larger project. [more]
90. Send me a lock for Baltimore’s Love Lock – I run a Love Lock in Baltimore. If you decorate and send me a lock, I will install it for you and take a picture! [more]
91. Send me a postcard on my birthday (June 21) – I love mail. [more]
92. To practice your calligraphy – Make your letters and addresses look gorgeous with calligraphy, and this is the best place to practice that fancy script.
93. Make a silly pun come to life – Turn mail into a joke! [more]
94. Send inspiration – Be the thing that makes someone’s day turn around. Mail does that all the time.
95. Add and pass art – Make a little something on a piece of paper, enclose instructions for the next person to add something else and pass it on. When it’s done, they’ll mail it back to you!
96. To actually use your stationery – If you like stationery, chances are you have more than you know what to do with. Sending mail will actually get you to use up all those supplies you’ve been hoarding for years!
97. To use a Moleskine postal notebook – These things are awesome! You can fill up a notebook full of thoughts, quotes, drawings, clippings, etc. and seal it up to send like a letter! [more]
98. To learn about other cultures, and practice your second language – Sending mail is a pretty cheap way to travel. You can learn about other countries and cultures, exchange items, and practice using the language you’re learning with a native speaker!
99. Miniature mail – Try to write as small as you possibly can on a letter that looks like it would only have a place in a doll house! Just for funsies.
100. To get mail – The best way to get mail is to send it. So use these ninety-nine ways to send mail to put that goodness out into the world, and I promise you that your mailbox won’t be sad for long.
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Okay, what do you think? Can you think of more reasons to send snail mail? I’d love to hear from you in the comments and start a dialogue about why you love sending mail! Feel free to share this article with your mail-lovers.