How to Get Your Kids to Write Snail Mail in this Digital Age
There's nothing quite like receiving an old-fashioned, handwritten letter in the mail — the thrill of seeing your name on the envelope, the rush of carefully tearing one side open without ruining the contents, and the joy of finding something so thoughtful and personal inside. Sadly, with the rise of technology and the instant gratification of emails and text messaging, today's kids may never experience one of life's simplest pleasures.
So how do you get your kids in on some snail mail action? First things first: You've got to give before you receive. In other words, have them initiate an exchange by writing! Stock up on some stamps and try some of these old-school ideas:
Invite Kids by Mail
Want to step those routine play dates up a notch? Extra-fancy mail invites will do the trick. After-school Scrabble marathons and Friday night pizza nights will feel that much more special with a lovely, handwritten invitation.
Simply get a hold of your child's classroom roster for a list of addresses. Now's a great time to encourage your children to invite a diverse group of kids. BFF's are cool, but how about reaching out to someone they'd like to get to know a bit more?
Once you have the guest list sorted out, get cracking on the invitations. Try out this simple template:
A [Tea Party/Nintendo Tournament/Mermaid Sleepover]
Will be held by
[Your Child's Name Name]
At [10000 Avenue, City, State]
on [Monday, February 29, 2016] from [2 to 3 pm]
Admit [Guest's Name]
At the [yellow house with a lion door knocker]
RSVP [Your phone number]
Sign the bottom, decorate accordingly, and voila! Teach your child how to properly label and address an envelope, and send those babies out. Pretty soon you can kick back and delegate all the playdate planning completely to your kid. Is this the life, or what?
Make a New (Pen) Pal
If constant mail exchange is what you're after, then a pen pal is just what you need. Check out websites like Students of the World Penpals, International Pen Friends, and Global Pen Friends that'll match your child up with kids from around the world. You can even write to deployed soldiers, elders at the local nursing home, and kids at school that are in a different grade level!
To make things even more exciting, throw in little surprises with every letter you send. Maybe it's a photo of your pet... or a pretty shell you found while walking on the beach... or maybe even an old knick-knack you used to love but have outgrown. Once your pen pal gets the hint and does the same, it'll be like Christmas every time the mailman comes.
Now's a great time to introduce letter-writing etiquette and safety to your children. Make sure to teach them not to give out private, identifiable information, and to keep things fun and wholesome.
Show Gratitude by Post
Writing thank you notes is a wonderful way to show gratitude. Kids these days almost expect to get things for no reason, uttering a quick and insincere "thx" before scuttling away and anticipating the next, brand-new offering.
Sit your kiddo down and teach them how to write a proper, heartfelt thank you note. The key is to keep it short, sweet, and specific. Rather than saying, "thank you for the gift," be a bit more precise: "Thank you for giving me the prettiest toy castle. I can't wait to put it together with my dad and throw a party for all my princess dolls." Much nicer, right?
Be generous with the gratefulness, too. Almost anything warrants a "thank you"— having guests over, getting presents, even receiving random acts of kindness. Write to the local librarian who always gives the best book recommendations, the cashier at Trader Joe's who gives out scented stickers before you even ask, and the girl scout down the street who always gives you dibs on the Samoas during cookie season.
For good practice, send one thank you note a week. Not only do you get to brighten someone's day more often, but you'll also get to hone those all-important penmanship skills.
Gush with Fan Mail
Inspired by a comic book's beautiful illustrations? Got a CD in the car you can't stop rocking to? Love the Youtube videos of the helicopter pilot doing insane flips? Can't get enough of the local pizzeria's 5-cheese masterpiece? Show artists, athletes, chefs, and other great talents how much you appreciate their work by sending over some good, old-fashioned fan mail.
Forget the impersonal emails. Send over something heartfelt and attention-grabbing to their PO boxes . . . Write about how they've directly inspired your life goals. Send in some photos, artwork, or anything personalized. Even the great masters need uplifting words every now and then. Who knows, one of these days, you might even get a response! (Perhaps a free pie?)
Birthday and Holiday Letters
And we mean letters, not pre-made cards with a quick signature. A letter doesn't need to be 5-pages long to be thoughtful. It just needs to be sweet and sincere. This is also a great way to teach your child the proper letter-writing format. (Address, date, salutation, body, closing, signature . . . all the good stuff.)
What better way to tell people you love them than with a personal note on their birthday? Write about specific, fond memories and pleasant well-wishes. Same goes for holidays — we all know generic cards tend to go in the way of tattered gift wrappers and mauled toy boxes. When you put in a little extra effort in the content, a simple card can turn into something incredibly moving and encouraging — maybe even earn a spot on that prime fridge door real estate.
Love snail mail? What are some of your fun tips and ideas? Share them with us in the comments below!