A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create Your Own Artsy Happy Mail

If you’ve always wanted to start creating your own snail mail letters, but don’t really know where to start, this step-by-step guide is made for you! Crafting happy mail is such a fun hobby and can help you channel your creativity. The following steps are a framework for you to get started on your snail mail journey. You can either follow these exact steps, or jump around and see what works the best for you!

Let’s get started on this how-to pen pal tutorial!

Step 1: Brainstorm Your Theme

This is by far the hardest step, to be honest. Coming up with a theme can be tricky, especially when there are so many different ideas to choose from. Pick something that inspires you and makes you happy. You can use Pinterest or Instagram to get a general idea of what you want your theme to be. Or, you can keep it simple and just choose a color to start with!

[Related: 100 Pen Pal Theme Ideas For Your Next Aesthetic Snail Mail Letter]

You also want to pre-plan what you’d like to include in your letter. Sometimes, people like adding a playlist or a separate card with questions on it for their pen pals to answer. Do you want to include a quote card? Should you include some photos of your recent vacation? Deciding early on will help you plan your theme and make things easier when you get to creating.

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies

Now that you have your theme sorted out, get all your supplies ready. This is the best time to think about what color scheme you’d like to use in your letter. Having a few select colors in mind will definitely elevate the overall appeal of your pen pal letter.

A few stationery tools you might need are:

  • Envelope
  • Letter Paper
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Coloring Tools
  • Stickers
  • Ephemera
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Ruler

The letter crafting process looks different for everyone, so really it depends on what kind of pen-paller you are. If you like hand drawing your designs, great! If you like collaging with ephemera & stickers, awesome!

Step 3: Decorate Parts of Your Letter

flat lay of cactus/desert themed letter paper, binder clips, and flowers

And now, the fun part begins! Decorate your envelope, letter paper, and playlist/question cards BEFORE you write on them. That way you can see how your design will look. You can really go all out and every single item, or you can just stick to the envelope and letter paper.

If you ever need inspiration, it’s great to check Pinterest or Instagram to see how some people are decorating their snail mail contents. You can also choose to create a flipbook style letter if that’s what you’re interested in. There are tons of great tutorials on making flipbooks, but my personal favorite is by @paperpilea on Instagram! She makes a variety of styles that can easily be customized to your preference.

Step 4: Choose Your Pen Pal Gifts/Goodies [Optional]

Sending gifts/goodies can be a nice addition to a letter. In the Instagram pen pal community, it’s common to see snail mailers sending stationery goodies or other small, flat gifts with their letters. You can choose what you’d like to send to match your theme or pick some items you think your pen pal will love!

(But remember this step is entirely optional! You don’t need to send a ton of stuff or even anything at all.)

Some goodies you may like to include in your happy mail can be:

  • washi samples
  • unique paperclips
  • friendship bracelets
  • cancelled stamps
  • ephemera
  • stickers
  • ribbon samples
  • mini paintings

For more snail mail gift ideas, you can take a look at this list of 50 unique gifts for your pen pals!

flat lay of cactus/desert theme pen pal extras, green washi tape, and aesthetic binder clips

Step 5: Write Your Letter

I’d like to believe that most people in the pen pal community love this part. Writing the letter can be so calming and thoughtful. Your letter can be about anything you’d want it to be! Typically once you’ve established a relationship with your pen pal, conversation will flow naturally. But if you’re at the very beginning of the relationship with a new pen pal, you can write an introductory letter.

Step 6: Fill Out the Rest! [Playlists, Question Cards, Quote Cards, etc.]

We’re almost there! After you’re done writing your letter, set it aside and put your brainstorming cap on. You can take this time to fill out any other extra pieces of content, like creating a playlist of your current favorite songs or writing out some questions for them to answer. You can also create a quote card as an added goodie for them!

[Related: 100 Fun & Interesting Questions to Get to Know Your Pen Pal]

Step 7: Add a Stamp, Address the Letter and Mail It!

The last step (and most important step) is to address the letter correctly and place the right amount of postage. You want to write the address of the person you’re sending to on the front, and your address on the back. You’ll also want to check that you have the correct postage for the weight of your letter. If you can, weigh out your letter! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made BOTH these mistakes – no return address and insufficient postage!! When I make those mistakes, my beautiful letter either a) never reaches its destination or b) never makes it back to me…they probably just end up in the bin… 😦

flat lay of a cactus/desert theme envelope, crayola markers, binder clips, and green washi tapes

Anyways, I hope this step-by-step offered some insight and guidance to creating your own happy mail letter! It can be a lot of fun once you get the ball rolling. I know that Instagram can be SO intimidating with the amount of talented people on there, but if you keep trying and experimenting, you’ll see what works for you. (TBH just take a look at MY Instagram feed and you’ll notice I went through the same uncertain rough patch lol!)

x Leslie

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flat lay photo of a written letter with cactus themed paper