The long search is over and you’ve managed to find a pen pal, but… What should you actually put in a letter or postcard to a pen pal? How do you even start it? If it’s your first contact with this still faceless person, you might also be asking how to go about introducing yourself.

These are questions every pen pal has asked themselves at the beginning of their penpalling career – including yours truly! And now I’m going to share some of my tips, tricks and ideas with you to help get you started. Read on to find out how to write a pen pal letter, postcard or email.

How to write a pen pal letter

I’ll go through all the different scenarios you could find yourself in, where you might find yourselves staring at the blank page before you. (Remember to open up the dirty window. Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find.) And let me know in the comments, if I’ve missed off what you’re looking for!

Did you ever wonder what a pen pal IS exactly and what the history is around it? Find out here!

How to write a letter to your pen pal introducing yourself

A person dips their stamp in ink next to blank brown writing paper.

Thinking what to write to a pen pal for the first ever time is actually easier than you think. You’re introducing yourself, and who knows YOU better than yourself?

Tips to help you introduce yourself

Think of it like a normal in-person conversation and focus on these main points:

  • Your name: Every introduction starts off with what you’re called. If you have an unusual name, or you’re writing to someone in a different country/culture, you could consider adding what your name means.
  • Where you’re from/where you’re based: A good starting bit of info is simply where you come from, or where you live now. Give your reader somewhere to imagine you actually writing your first letter or postcard to them. Try adding a short description of your surroundings, e.g. the room or space you’re in, or the type of place, be it your home, a school or a park.
  • Why you’re writing: What made you pick this person to write to? If you’re a member of PenPal, maybe it was something in their profile or interests section that caught your eye? If it was via social media or through a relative, maybe you chose them because you wanted to learn more about their culture. Perhaps you just wanted to get writing or find friends! Let them know what got you curious and penpalling.
  • Finish up with a question or request. One that always works well… “tell me something about you!”

Examples to help your write to your first pen pal

Example for an introduction to a pen pal abroad:

An example on a postcard template of how to write a letter to a pen pal your first time round.
Hi Jane, I’m Maud from England. I had to write to you when I noticed you’re also based in Germany! As I write this, I’m sitting in Gleisdreieck park in Berlin (maybe you know it…?) just watching the trains go by. So we’re both internationals in Germany… what else do we have in common? I love reading, traveling and eating. 😉 Tell me something about you!

Sample for a pen pal introduction to someone you know nothing about:

A sample postcard graphic with a text on how to write a pen pal letter introducing yourself
Hi there, I’m Maud, and I’m pretty excited to write you! You’re actually my first pen pal so here goes with a small introduction in the form of a few fun facts about me. You can decide how fun they are! My name means ‘powerful battler’ – I’ve yet to try this out. Ich bin ein Berliner (I’m a Berliner) but I’m English at heart – and on my passport. I support pineapple on pizza. Looking forward to hearing a bit about you! Yours truly, Maud

How to start a pen pal letter or postcard (post-introductions)

We’ve looked at how to introduce yourself in your pen pal postcard. But what if you’ve already past that stage, and you just want to know how to start a pen pal letter in a more creative, or even traditional way?

Here are some tips on opening your letters when you have a running corrospondence

Think about using one of the following ideas to start off your message to your pen pal.

  • A life update: What’s happened to you recently? Did you get a promotion at work, a compliment at the local bakery or maybe you hung out with a good friend you haven’t seen a while. Tell your pen pal about it – it’s a good place to start your letter! Since you’re writing via snail mail, you might have a few stories to pick from! Equally, if you feel like you haven’t been doing much, tell your pen pal about how it makes you feel. Part of being a pen pal is the soothing nature of writing and the fact that your relationship is not in person, making it a good hobby for someone with social anxiety.
  • Something you saw in the news – about their country or yours. Make sure to keep it light if you don’t know them well yet – it could be triggering or affect their life more than you know! If you’re unsure, stick to positive news.
  • Take a lead from something your pen pal told you about in their last letter or postcard. React, give them your opinion and support. Once of the best ways to start your letter is by acknowledging what they told you in theirs.

Traditional greetings to start your pen pal letter, postcard or email

  • Dear…
  • To my pen pal,
  • To the best pen pal a person could ask for,
  • Greetings from…
  • My dearest…

What should you write about to a pen pal anyway?

We’ve talked about how to start a letter or postcard to a pen pal, whether you’re introducing yourself or continuing a corrospondence. And we will also cover how to end a pen pal letter or postcard. So what about topics you can write about inside the middle bulk of your message?

Here are some topic ideas to get you thinking:

  • Whatever your pen pal talked about in their last communication with you!
  • Your hobbies! The only way you can connect properly with your pen friends is by talking about topics that really interest you. That way you’ll find people with similar interests too!
  • Local events, parades or festivals – either in your home or things you’ve heard about near them.
  • Life events – moving house, you or a family member getting married, getting a new pet and so on.
  • A global news piece – for 2021, you could bond over how the pandemic has affected you both for instance.
  • Places you have both visited on your travels
  • Languages – try exchanging your languages and teaching each other a thing or two!

As you can see, you can pretty much talk about anything that comes to mind! If it fits on the page, go for it!

How to end your letter to your pen pal

A heart being drawn on to an envelope which rests on brown blank writing paper.

The last thing you’ll want to do is close your letter *properly*. Of course there is no such thing! But here are a few classics to help you get creative.

  • Yours truly,
  • Cordially yours,
  • Yours sincerely,
  • Love from,
  • Greetings from (place),
  • XOXO
  • From your devoted pen pal

Ready to write your pen pal a letter or postcard?

Awesome! By the way, if you’re interested in finding some more pen pals – either by random match or to keep track off pals you already have – check out PenPal!

The short story: PenPal matches you based on interests with other members and guarantees you receive a postcard back for every card you send using PenPal Match. You send postcards easily online, and receive them in the post. That’s because we at PenPal print and send off your personalized designs for you!

Author

British girl turned German-wannabe- that's me! 👋 If living in Berlin has taught me anything, it's that learning about other cultures is always fun... And short of actually traveling to a country and meeting locals in person, being a pen pal has proved a great way to virtually discover people and places!

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