Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pen to Paper: Pen Pal Christmas 2016 Gift Guide

I posted a Christmas Gift list last year for pen pals and I just wanted to add and expand on it a little. Most of the ideas on that post are still great ideas for small gifts to send in your pen pal letters.  Please keep in mind that unless you have specifically discussed a gift exchange with your pen pal it is best to keep it small, simple, and inexpensive or handmade as your pen pal may not be in a place to afford an extra gift or didn't plan for shopping for all their pen pals (giving to each pen pal when you have 5 or more could get pricey and some choose not to exchange gifts so they don't feel guilty sending gifts to some but not all pen pals). Also, please make sure that you are aware what holidays your pen pal observes, the world is a vast place and with many different beliefs so be respectful of your pen pals' choices.
So in addition to items I listed last year like recipes, washi tape or stickers, tea or hot chocolate, small ornaments or creative letters here are a few other ideas to send to your pen pal.
You don't need to go out and buy a complete stationery set for your pen pal, maybe just send a few sheets from your stash with an envelope, or maybe a blank gift card or two. Or maybe even make some of your own stationery using  stamps, stickers or doodles. You can also send blank postcards for your pen pal to save or send out themselves too.
Postage Stamps:
Being pen pals we all know each other sends a lot of mail, why not send a few stamps for them. Maybe you have some unique stamps in your stash or some vintage ones. Also a lot of pen pals are also stamp collectors, so maybe if you aren't and have received some unique stamps from other pen pals send them on to one who collects stamps.
Collection Items:
Chances are over the span of your friendship you may have discussed items you each collect, if there is a small item that your pen pal collects maybe send them something to add, like a postage stamp, eraser/rubber, pens & pencils, stickers, notebooks, etc. are all great ideas.
Unique Goodies & Treats:
Maybe there is a goodie that can only be found locally to you, or that is a specialty to your location (here in Rhode Island we have Del's Frozen Lemonade, my dad is obsessed so I send him the mix every year for Christmas) that you can send to your pen pal. They get to know a little bit more about your area and try a fun treat.
Gift Wrap:
We are all elbow deep in Christmas gifts that need to be wrapped and put under the tree, so why not send some gift wrap. If you have a particularly pretty gift wrap maybe cut off a section and fold it nicely to ship. Or you can make your own using kraft paper or plain white gift wrap and add stamps or stickers to it. This is a fun, unique and useful gift to send, your pen pal could use it to wrap gifts, add it to a journal or craft project or maybe even make envelopes with it to send holiday cards.  You can also make gift tags or if you found some unique ones you won't be using to coordinate with the gift wrap too.
You know those paper snowflakes you may have made as a kid, where you folded the paper and sniped the edges and once it unfolded it made a unique snowflake? Why not make some to send to your pen pals? You could make a variety of sizes they could decorate with, or another idea would be to cut a larger one and write your letter to them on the snowflake.  The nice part is that they fold down and can fit in an envelope nicely, they are inexpensive, not time consuming and are a fun surprise to find.  (Tip: coffee filters work great for this, they are easier to cut when all folded up).
So there are some inexpensive or even free gifts to send to your pen pals, I hope that this list gave you some great ideas. What would you like to find as an extra surprise in your letter? Do you have any other ideas to add?

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