Snail Mail: Tip Mini Series #1

*Disclaimer: I'm sure there are several people (or more) who will roll their eyes at the concept of snail mail or they might find it stupid or super nerdy. I suggest if you fall into this category... don’t read any further – your eyes might roll out of your sockets.

I have received quite a few emails of late asking me about snail mail, how to get into it, how to find other enthusiasts and so on. I thought I would do a mini-series where I share a few facts at a time. (Photo snapped with Instagram). You can look forward to other posts going forward and I will cover additional tips like how to post items and other tricky questions. I’m not an expert, but I really enjoy sending pretty post!

What's it all about?
You might have seen the snail mail revolution via social media – it’s a wonderful trend focused on sharing, giving, meeting new friends and taking part in creating beautiful mail rather than the horrid stuff we usually receive (like bills). Years ago I launched The Package Project which had a similar feel and with snail mail alive and well I look forward to opening entries again – watch this space. I have been really fortunate to take part in a variety of exchanges and snail mail swaps. I have also made some real friends who I care for – we keep in touch quite often and the things we send to each other are well thought out with loads of love and care within each package. 

The Lingo:
There are several words associated with snail mail like pen pal, swap, exchange, trade, letters, happy mail, mail art etc. All in all this all relates to the same actions of exchanging fun and pretty post via good old fashioned mail.

Let’s chat about the basics of becoming part of the snail mail revolution.
Snail Mail Tips - Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Do take part in sending snail mail because you love giving and sharing.
  • Don’t take part if your only goal is to score free stuff with little regard for your partner.
  • Do take part if you can commit to sending something even if it's small.
  • Don’t take part if you are prone to flaking out on commitments (be honest). You will bitterly disappoint a new friend who deserves better.
  • Do take part if you love attention to detail and spending time decorating and wrapping small gifts. A penchant for letter writing also comes in handy.
  • Don’t take part if you can’t stand wrapping gifts or putting pen to paper. You will soon get bored and disappoint your pen pal.
  • Do take part if you have a small, but reasonable budget to spend on postage.
  • Don’t take on too many pen pals and realise you can’t afford postage. Start slowly. I will do a postage related post soon.

I suggest seeking out people with similar interests and tastes to you. Approach prospective snail mailers without expectation. Some people will reply, others will already have enough pen pals, just try a few different people and hang in there until you find the right type of person to exchange with. 

A quick tip is to take a look at their bio / other photos / blog. Don’t email / contact potential new pen pal friends with a list as long as your arm of all the things you like and want. I often get emails that basically say things like ‘I like your packaging style! Want to swap? You can send the first package. I like.... (and a looong list)”. My first reaction is I will never hear from them again and they are in it to get free stuff. Sad, but true and I usually turn down those requests.

If you want to take a look at what it’s all about check out these hash tags on Instragram – the easiest way to connect with fellow snail mail enthusiasts.
*There are so many more, but these will get you started.

A few of my favourites for inspiration – be sure to follow these lovely ladies:


Hope this helps! I look forward to sharing more soon.


  1. Of course, I'm grinning like a fool while reading this post. Thank you, Nadia.

  2. A great and perfect post for me after my email last month :-)

  3. Hi Nadia, thank you so much for the lovely and so relevant post to me. I have taken part in a few snail mail swops this past year and they were the snail mail collective, the cara box, delish box, scarf swap, Great Christmas Exchange, valentines day exchange and now I am currently doing two mug swaps which I am very excited to do. I have approached one girl on Instagram and she will be sending to me first. I look forward to making new friends and joining the snail mail revolution because at the end of the day who doesn't enjoy getting happy mail and spreading the love and joy by returning the favour :)

  4. It's so strange that you've just posted about snail mail! I've just discovered (via Ideas Magazine) where you send postcards to random people around the world and receive postcards from strangers. Almost like a little mini cultural exchange. I've just sent off my first 5 postcards to Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Ukraine and the USA and had so much fun searching for the right postcard according to each persons likes. I can't wait to get a little surprise in my postbox soon! The girl from the Ukraine shares my love for crafting and I'm hoping to start swapping craftiness with her soon!

  5. You wrote this post almost as though you could read my mind! I have just asked 2 friends who live far away to be my pen pals. I've recently given up Facebook in favour of a more personal approach to life and I am super excited!! Looking forward to your next #snailmail posts :)

  6. Thank you for sharing Nadia! I used to postcross and have penpals and lately have rediscovered all my pretty stationery and want to get back to writing letters, its so fun to meet people and learn about new cultures! Definitely no eye rolling here! Off to see if I can find any penpals. Do you have any sites to recommend or do you just use instagram?

  7. Well, you KNOW how I feel about the subject of snail mail! :) Love your tips--they're all perfect! And thank you so much for including me on your inspiration list. That means a lot coming from you--one of my earliest Instagram inspirations! Let me know if you ever want to collaborate somehow--I love this topic!

  8. As someone new to the blogging/creative world this whole snail mail concept really excites me! Thanks for sharing about this process! I'm really excited to learn more and get involved!

  9. Very interesting - I think I am the only person who is not entirely into this idea. I signed up for a snail mail swap with people overseas. I participated twice, and both times did not receive anything back. I still participate in the Delish Box though, which I much prefer as the ladies you share with are all in SA, which allows for possibilities of real life friendships. I am not a fan of relationships only ever being online. I do get why some people would find this concept so exciting, and almost feel ashamed to say I'm not one of them! (But as you say - each to their own!)

  10. So perfect for me :) I can't wait to get in touch with others - thanks Nads x

  11. Thanks for your comment friend. Hope you get to take part in some snail mailing soon. x

  12. Hello - thanks so much for your insight. How sad that you didn't receive your parcels - it seems that some people just don't respect exchanges. I have found that connecting directly with people rather than larger exchanges has helped as there is a strong personal commitment. I only have one or two people who I am very close with and our friendships are more on paper than online which makes it so authentic. I find it's an escape for me from my online life as I get to be crafty without having to create products. Hope you will get some papery love in the mail soon! x

  13. Maybe I should give it another try - definitely sounds like a much better idea to do it personally, rather than joining a mass project!

  14. Thank you for your post! I saw that words, but I didn't know the meaning! I like so much!!!
    I hope to try soon with this project, "happymail" sounds so... an happy surprise in the mail!
    :D Have a good day!

  15. Hi Alice. Thanks so much for your comment & for visiting my blog. Snail mail & happy mail are always lovely surprises! Have a wonderful week! x

  16. Angeline Mae7/07/2014

    It is an honour to be one of your favourite inspiration. In fact I should be the one to say that you inspire me alot!

  17. JoScofe1/02/2015


    I'm aware this post is older and therefore my comment might not be seen but wanted to say thanks for writing a post about this. I've always wanted to take part but didn't know how! Thank you! X


Independency by Nadia Jonker All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger