Family craft: New twist to old-school correspondence

Connect with friends by getting creative with the mail.

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The easiest way to make an envelope stencil is to disassemble an envelope that you already have. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)

Connectivity has certainly proven itself to be a double-edged sword. From instantly and easily bridging loved ones from across the globe, to blurring the lines between work and home. For today, let’s think about the pluses.

Has your phone been lighting up with messages from friends and relatives checking in to see how you are doing? It’s always heartwarming to know someone cares, and sending an electronic message is so easy. Have you received a handwritten letter lately? Wouldn’t it be enjoyable to write a letter to people who may not be as tech savvy? Even those who are computer whisperers will admit that it’s exciting to receive a note in the mail. It’s a perfect way for adults and kids alike to feel special and stay connected.

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Making and decorating envelopes or stationery is a lot of fun! (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)

The letter

For those kids who are no longer attending their regularly scheduled activities, their world has changed. A lot! It is important for us to find ways for them to connect with their people, too. This might just help.


Set up your kids with any materials they may need to create something to send. If they can’t write yet, try creating some custom artwork. Maybe it’s a painting, a sketch, or the placement of stickers on a page. You can label the scene and write a quick note for your child along with the artwork that was created.

If your child can write a letter, it’s a great opportunity for them to work on their writing without them even realizing it. Help them brainstorm about what to write about with these prompts:

  • What have you been doing during this time?
  • What has changed?
  • What is still the same?
  • How do you relax?
  • How do you learn?
  • What’s your biggest challenge at this moment?
  • What’s your favorite thing about your family?
  • What do you enjoy about the person you are writing to?
  • What has recently made you happy?
  • Do you have a goal set for yourself?

To keep the letter writing going (because it's so fun to get a letter!) they can ask their letter recipient some questions.

  • What is your favorite childhood memory?
  • What’s your favorite movie?
  • If you could pick a super power, what would it be?
  • What did you do today?
  • What do you wish for?
  • Are you a morning person or late night person?
  • How would you describe your parents?


If you have a budding artist on your hands, decorating envelopes or stationery is a lot of fun! If you search “envelope art“ on Pinterest, the results will amaze you. These artists often share how they did it, too!

Want to make your own envelopes? The easiest way to make a stencil is to disassemble an envelope that you already have. This may include an envelope that you have received in the mail. You can trace the outer edge on any paper you would like, including comics, an old calendar photo, magazine pages, etc. You may want to attach a white label or card stock to the front in order for the address and return address to be legible.

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A variety of fun containers can be sent through the mail. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)

Unique mail

What does a beach ball, box of candy, coconut, flip-flop, or Hula-Hoop have in common? They can all go through the mail — without packaging! Boxes, envelopes and mailing bags are most often used for protection of the item being mailed. So, you can put almost anything through the mail. When I stopped into our post office asking about the weirdest thing that the employee had seen in her time, it was a potato. Someone had stuck a label on a potato and sent it. Makes me laugh.


Want to create a super unique mailer? We took a bottle out of the recycling, removed its label and rinsed it. We set the bottle out overnight to dry and began to ponder what we wanted to send in this unique package. Here are some of our ideas:

  • Sharpie markers and some coloring pages for adults (as shown in the picture)
  • Candy (as shown in the picture)
  • The contents and instructions for an art project
  • Little toys
  • Party supplies (napkins, balloons, birthday candles, confetti, etc.)
  • A rolled letter or photos
  • Squishy figures
  • A new pair of socks — roll them carefully to get them in the bottle
  • Dry ingredients for a recipe — include the recipe, too

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A small gift can make a real connection with friends you haven't seen in awhile. (Mary Rasch / For the News Tribune)

Note to senders: If you are curious about postage, get your hands on a scale to weigh the item. Anything under 10 ounces can be mailed with regular stamps. There are instructions on the USPS website about how many stamps your item will take based on its weight and how to mail items over that weight. Also, it’s recommended on tube-like packages to put the label on as shown in the picture, to make scanning easier for the post office.

However you choose to stay in touch, do so! It’s fun for the recipient and may prove to be even more fun for you!

Mary Rasch is a Duluth artist, mother of two and author of "Fleece Hat Friends and Playful Hoodies."

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