Pocket Letters: Find a Pal & Get Started

How to create pocket letters, how to find pocket pals, winter themed pocket letter with chipboard, snowflakes, lace and sparkles done in blue and beige neutrals

Have you joined in the pocket letter fun yet? If you're hesitant because you're unsure of where to start, you've come to the right place. This article will everything you need to know to get started creating pocket letters of your own. 


  • What is a pocket letter?
  • Where to find pocket pals
  • Theme & style inspiration
  • Supplies list to get started
  • How to make a pocket letter
  • What to include in your pocket letter
  • Pocket letter etiquette




What Are Pocket Letters?


I remember seeing pocket letters posted in the scrapbook.com galleries and thinking what the heck are these things? Then a friend invited me to join in the fun and I've been hooked ever since. How fun is it to get something in the mail that isn't a bill or a cable ad {aka: snail mail spam}. The anticipation is fun, as is the delight at receiving another scrapper's work and seeing their techniques firsthand.

So if you're wondering what a pocket letter is, basically they are a fun way of exchanging pen pal letters with creative people from all around the world. I'll let Janette Lane, creator of pocket letters, explain in her own words what pocket letters are and how she came up with the idea.






You can check out Janette's pocket letter layout map here.


How to Find Pocket Letter Pals


How to create pocket letters, how to find pocket pals, vintage theme style pocket letter paris and travel with ephemera, in red, neutrals, beige, taupe, and blue
Vintage Travel Themed Pocket Letter
You can find pals on the Pocket Letter Network, or search for pals using applicable hashtags on Instagram. You can find local exchanges, like this one from Hearts and Crafts, as well, with a little searching. Reach out and get to know someone new. That's the whole purpose behind pocket letters: make new friends and share your creativity!

I started my pocket pal exchanges through the Scrapbook.com forums after a friend from the site invited me to play along. There's a wonderful community of scrappers there and a bounty of inspiration from talented crafters.

TIP: If you’re on a budget, keep in mind International postage is going to be higher than domestic. That said, how exciting is it to get something from someone half a world away?


When you're communicating with a potential pal, ask a few questions and set some ground "rules" so you both know what to expect:

  1. Will this be a one-time swap or ongoing?
  2. When do you want to send your letters? Establishing a send-by date is a good practice so you get your letters sent out in a timely fashion.
  3. Will there be a theme? (see below for theme ideas)

Choose A Theme


Get to know your partner. Ask what they are into. Do you both love cats? Gone With the Wind? Invisible tea and crumpets? You don’t have to be that specific. Maybe you both love a grungy look. Once you find a commonality, you’ll find your theme naturally. 

Shabby chic pocket letter in romantic valentine style in pink and pale green and ivory, with sparkly ribbon and die cuts, flowers, lace, and prills


TIP: Don’t take your theme too literally. A St. Patrick’s Day theme doesn’t have to mean leprechauns (though it certainly can!), so don’t worry if you don’t have themed embellishments. 


Holidays


Is there a holiday this month? Does your pal celebrate the same holidays? If they don’t, you might intrigue them. Here in the US, we all grew up dressing as our favorite character and going door to door asking for candy on the last day of October. In Australia, they don’t celebrate Halloween. One pal was once fascinated by this “scary” tradition, so she was excited by the idea (most especially the candy).

How to create pocket letters, Fun Christmas themed pocket letter
Christmas Themed Pocket Letter
  • Valentine's Day: pink, red, sweet, love, lace
  • St. Patrick's Day: green, gold, rainbows 
  • Easter: spring, tulips, pastels, rabbits
  • Fourth of July: red, white, blue, stars, stripes, fireworks, sparkles, pennant banners
  • Halloween: jack-o-lanterns, orange, purple, black
  • Thanksgiving: pumpkins, autumn colors, leaves, 
  • Christmas: red/green, silver/gold, garland, mistletoe, holly, plaid, sparkles

Seasons/Weather


Are you both eagerly awaiting spring? Or is it different for your pal? Maybe they live in sunny Florida and you’re in the North Woods. Send some sunshine or a sprinkle of snow.


How to create pocket letters, how to find pocket pals, winter themed pocket letter with chipboard, snowflakes, lace and sparkles done in blue and beige neutrals
Winter Theme
  • Spring: green, pastels, flowers
  • Summer: bright, bold, colorful, beach
  • Autumn: leaves, earth tones
  • Winter: white/neutrals, blue, snow, frost, lace, glitter
  • Weather: rain, clouds, rainbows, sunshine

Events


Has your pal recently done something amazing or been somewhere exotic? They might appreciate a special way to remember their life event.
  • Vacation/Travel: tickets, airplanes, destination
  • Back to school: scissors, pencils, apples, chalkboard
  • New baby: baby carriage, pastels, bunting, rattles
  • Marriage: wedding/engagement/anniversary white, gold/silver, wedding colors, flowers, lace
  • Birthday: cake, candles, presents, bright colors

Styles


Pocket letters are a fantastic way to try new styles you might not use in your everyday scrapping. 
shabby chic pocket letter style - how to make pocket letters
Romantic Shabby Chic
  • Vintage: ornate metal, dark earth tones, ephemera
  • Steampunk: metals, pipes or gears
  • Shabby chic: pastels, neutrals, distressed
  • Mod: clean and simple, geometric shapes 
  • Grunge: distressing, dark colors, blacks and grays
  • Country/Rustic: burlap, wood grain, gingham, plaid
  • Romantic: hearts, lace, floral, sparkles

Hobbies/Pastimes


What do you enjoy doing? Think about what inspires you and what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Share your passion with your new pal while they share something new with you.

  • Music: Take a song lyric or the title of your favorite song and run with it.
  • Art: Love Starry Night or all things Monet?
  • Books/Poetry: Take inspiration from your favorite book or poem; use imagery to inspire you. 
  • Hobbies: Gardening, science, writing

Other Inspiration


Consider using a word or a favorite quote. 
  • Friendship
  • Wisdom
  • Beautiful
  • Nature/Outdoors
  • Animals

TIP: Think about combining themes. For instance, try doing a surfing theme in a vintage style, or a mod Valentine. Or twist it up; what would you create if your inspiration was a sunny winter’s day? 

These are just some of the many options available when it comes to pocket letter themes. The sky's the limit. The ultimate goal is to have fun, and there are no rules. When it comes down to it, you don't have to choose a theme at all. 

Supplies


The great thing about pocket letters is that you don’t need a ton of supplies, but you will need a few basics.

  • Ring BinderYou may want to consider grabbing a ring binder to store the pocket letters from your pals.
  • Double sided scrapbook paper: Because of the small scale, you won’t have to put out much of an investment: try a 6x6 paper pack like this Carta Bella pack. 

TIP: If your stash is minimal, try out a scrapbook kit that has coordinating paper and embellishments. 


  • Embellishments: Strictly speaking, you wouldn't have to use a single embellishment if you're crafty with your scissors or punches. Some of these will be used to decorate your cards, while others will be gifts to your pal, tucked into the back of the pocket. 


TIP: ATC (Artist Trading Cards) and planner embellishments come in small sizes and work great for pocket letters. 
  • Here's a few options to consider:

Check out Janette's video on creating your own DIY embellishments for a few ideas.



TIP: You can use things from around the house, like paper clips (decorate with sequins, ribbons or the like), cute sticky notes, shapes cut or punched from book pages, or images from magazines.

How to Make a Pocket Letter


Once you've assembled your supplies, it's time to get creative. First, you'll need to cut your paper into nine rectangles 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

TIP: If you don't have double-sided paper, you can glue single-sided papers together, you'll just need to cut 18 pieces. 





Once you have your cards cut, you're at the fun part: embellishing! Don't think outside the box; get rid of the box altogether and let yourself get creative. 

What to Include With Your Pocket Letter

Once you're done embellishing the fronts of your cards, it's time to add the finishing touches. 
  • First, make sure you write a letter about yourself and tuck it behind one of your cards. 
  • Next, add a few little gifts and your letter to the B-side. Another option is to use your gifts as part of your decoration on the front. I prefer to create permanent cards and then tuck the gifts into the back. This way, your pal doesn't have to diminish the cuteness of your creation, but whatever you prefer is just fine. 
shabby chic pocket letter style - how to make pocket letters, supplies for pocket letters

TIP: Pocket letter gift ideas can include leftover embellishments, or goodies from around the house: chocolates, candy, gum, tea or cocoa packets, packet of specialty salt, etc. 

Here's a few more ideas for what you can include in a pocket letter:
  • lace
  • ribbon
  • recipes
  • buttons
  • charms
  • stickers
  • bunting
  • die cuts
  • gift tags
  • magnets
  • sachet bag
  • seed beads
  • journal cards
  • flat-back pearls
  • chipboard pieces
  • small clear stamps
  • wood embellishments
  • interesting article clippings
  • cellophane bag of glitter, prills, or sequins
  • random act of kindness cards
  • small handmade items
  • washi tape sampler
  • poems or quotes
  • mini-envelopes
  • twine or string
  • stick-on gems
  • flower seeds
  • enamel dots
  • book marks
  • metal clips
  • gift card
  • rub-ons
  • sequins
  • labels
  • brads

What this list really reads is that if it's cute and fits, use it! Check this out for a cute way to wrap your letter.


Pocket Letter Etiquette


The last part of pocket letter exchanging is knowing good etiquette. Here's a few tips direct from Janette Lane's blog and a few from my own experience:
  1. Avoid posting your creation to social media or your blog until your pal has received their letter.
  2. When you receive your letter, contact your pal to thank them and let them know it arrived. 
  3. Be sure to put enough postage on your envelope so your pal doesn't have to shell out for extra shipping costs. You can weigh it yourself and print your own label through the USPS Click-N-Ship, or stop by the post office. 
  4. If something comes up, and unfortunately they do, communicate with your partner. Think about delaying your send-by date if needed so you can still fulfill the swap. Communication is key.
And that's all there is to it. Just a creative, fun way to send pen pal letters. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. 

You can find more pocket letter inspiration on my Pinterest board. 




Happy crafting!

1 comment

  1. WOW! VERY nice post Carrie! This is A++. Definitely a nice instructional post to help those that make pocket letters and for those who might be interested.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for all your kind comments!