Penpalling Was My Quarantine Hobbie and Hopefully Your New One

Whether it was baking, animal crossing, or TikTok dances, there were some definite trends that swept through quarantine. And although my sister and I went through at least four jars of instant coffee making whipped coffee, there is actually another niche hobby that I picked up — and that is penpalling. 

I’m not sure about you but I have very fond memories of penpalling with a student from another country when I was in grade 2. So during quarantine when I started missing that social interaction, my time turned to penpalling. What spurred my curiosity is a Youtube video that popped up on my recommended feed (how do they always know?). I thought to myself, ‘Is this a thing that people still do? Is it something I could start? How hard is it?’ And after some pretty intense Googling I found out a) yes this is something that a community of people do, b) it’s absolutely something I could start and c) it’s as easy or as hard as you make it. I love stationery, arts and crafts, writing and talking to new people and pen paling combines all of these things! What more could I ask for really? 

One key benefit of getting a pen pal is that it's pretty inexpensive and you really don’t need much in terms of material. You don’t need much just paper, envelopes, writing utensils, and a stamp to start. As I continued to learn more I came to realize that there are many different styles of penpalling. Some people use simple pen on paper, some may type, whereas others will get very artistic with their letters taking lots of time to decorate and add different elements. It really all depends. Most people, however, agree that it is the thought that counts. But really there is a style out there for everyone. 

Okay, so I’ve convinced you. You can’t wait to try to dip your toe into the world of penpalling. The first step would be to find someone to pen pal with. This was the hardest part at the beginning of my attempt but had the simplest answer — social media. That’s right, to correspond the old fashion way, the best way to find someone to connect with is through Facebook or Instagram. 

Through Facebook, you can join groups like: Worldwide Snail Mail Pen Pals or Canadian Only Pen Pals. These are private groups on Facebook that initiate pen pal connections. You can write an introduction post about yourself or comment on someone else's to get connected. However, it is also important to remember to be cautious before giving your address out online. I make sure to check out the other person’s activity in the group and profile, as well as send a few messages back and forth, before sending out my address. On Instagram check out different hashtags like: #penpalsearch, #penpalswanted and #penpalwanted. 

If penpalling with strangers isn’t for you, you can also connect with friends to explore those relationships in a new way. One of my friends moved back home after graduating, so we’ve been sending letters back and forth. Sure we still text or Facetime with each other, but this allows us to have conversations we might not have otherwise with letters to collect as well. I even pen pal with one of my best friends who lives within walking distance. Her letters I make extra crafty and it’s a way for us to share our art with each other as well. 

Some things you can include in your pen pal letter is of course the letter itself, but additionally, you could add a list of questions, a playlist of your current fave songs, a bag of tea (if sending in the country), some stickers, some small stationery items or a small drawing. 

This of course is just a very surface-level look at penpalling and there is so much more out there to discover and learn. I hope at least it has piqued your interest or brought penpalling to your radar. Whether you just send letters to your friends in a different city or connect with people from around the world, there are so many possibilities in the world of penpalling.