Pens.com Pal Day is coming up on June 1st and in honor of the day, we say: slow down! With sound bites and selfies flying left and right, the best part about the pen pal vibe may well be the pace—and that would be leisurely. Also, thoughtful, methodical, measured. In other words, the opposite of instantaneous. So let’s dive in headfirst—or wade in, as it were, sloth-like, to the enriching world of pen palling. We have facts, figures, and fun letter writing ideas that will leave you brushing up on your penmanship and reaching for the nearest stamp and stationery.
What does pen pal mean, you might ask—especially if you’re under 20 or a technophile to the core. The pen pal tradition has been alive and well since 1700 and was made a national holiday in 1975. Pens.com Pal Day was created to encourage people of all ages to write letters and build relationships through thoughtful, growth-provoking, culturally enriching communication. Pen pals often come from different cities, countries, and cultures, and sometimes speak different languages. Usually, the friendship between pen pals exists purely on paper. On rare occasions handwriting gives way to handshakes and hugs but mostly, pen pals are more about education and enrichment and less about real-world rendezvous.
It’s high time we highlight the unique relevance of pen pal pursuits. The rapid pace of contemporary communication includes instant delivery of text messaging, emojis, email, and social media. This has left some of us inspired and many of us dazed and anxious. Brain fog and screen fatigue may be our body’s response to too much, too often, too fast. As a result, we are increasingly opting for slow fashion, slow food, slow fitness—overall, mindfulness over mayhem. In this setting, putting pen to paper to write a few well-formed sentences becomes an exercise in tranquility.
The competition for pen pals is, happily, not fierce. You need not be Virginia Woolf or Oscar Wilde to capture the attention of your pen pal. That being said, if you’re experiencing a pinch of writer’s block and could use a few fun lettering writing ideas, here are five easy writing prompts to get the ink flowing:
A fast way to connect with your pen pal is to share about your best friend. This allows your pen pal to learn a lot about what’s important to you, and how you interact with your world. It also helps your pen pal to understand similarities among all of us, spanning myriad countries, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Describe how you met your best friend and what you most admire about them.
Your pen pal can google your town to get history, and current economic info, but your personal anecdotes allow your recipient to learn about your culture in a personal and up-close way. Often it is this “day in the life” view that teaches us the most about an unfamiliar area. This is one reason why the most enriching exchange programs involve students living with a “host family”. Learning about your day-to-day life is sure to be enriching and interesting. Have no fear: your pen pal will appreciate reading every detail about where you live.
A great way to share your culture and yourself is by describing a delicious or traditional dish where you live. Include all the detail you can. What is well known for you will be interesting to your pen pal. You may write about overnight oats for breakfast while your pen pal in Morocco describes a breakfast of B’ssara, a fava bean soup.
A great way to cross cultural barriers it to talk annoying siblings and strict parents, birth order and bunkbeds. Yes, you can go online and find a video of a typical family in your country or your pen pal’s, but learning about your pen pal’s family in the one-on-one context of a personal letter simply hits different. What you’re reading is written for you and you only, and the words and content have more meaning.
A cashier in your town may be quite different from a cashier in theirs. Likewise, in your pen pal match up you may be a teacher corresponding with a mutual fund manager. Gaining access to what it’s like to live a workday or school day with your pen pal is an eye-opening experience. Include every detail that comes to mind—none of it is boring for your pen pal overseas or in a different job or life situation.
After you’ve shared personal stories and interesting tidbits using the prompts above and your own stream of consciousness, end your letter with a question or two for your pen pal. Keep the questions open-ended and easy to answer:
If you’re encouraging a pen pal program at school or work, help everyone get in the spirit with custom writing supplies. We like these:
DuraHyde Zippered Padfolio: What better place to store pen, paper, and letters from your pen pal, than this stylish, personalized padfolio?
Newport Gel Pen: With smooth Gelebration™ ink and a ribbed rubber grip, this cap pen makes correspondence a breeze.
Soft Touch Hughes Stylus Gelebration™ Gel Pen: They might use it to write to their pen pal, but this gel pen allows for screen swiping as well.
Engraved Light-Up Ace Stylus Pen: Celebrate Pens.com Pal Day with a pen that has it all!
Full Color Mineral Alpha Pen with Rose Gold Trim: What a lovely gift for one pen pal to send another, in celebration of Pen Pal Day, to kick off new correspondence, or just because.
For more on slowing down and putting pen to paper, check out our blog about the lost art of letter writing. To learn more about handwriting, read these:
Happy pen palling! Enjoy quiet thoughts, rustling paper, stamped envelopes, and connecting with strangers with the stroke of a pen.
Wondering how to turn creative talents into a thriving career? Tim Lum, owner of design studio Pixel Flex, did just…
According to Forbes, 66% of American households own a pet—so marketing to pet owners can have serious payoff.1 And even if…