A Letter Writing Social is a fancy name for a couple of people coming together to write letters. Sometimes you bring your own supplies and sometimes stationery is provided. Either way it is a super fun time. Imagine, a group of people that get you and your love of snail mail, they don’t stare at you with eyes glossed over when you speak about your overflowing stationery stash and they can gush with the best of them about the latest postage stamp. You chat, write letters, maybe have a drink, write more letters. Honestly, there are no better people than snail mail folk.
Hosting a Letter Writing Social is all about keeping the art of letter writing alive. It provides a forum for people to intentionally sit down with pen in hand and try out this whole letter writing thing. If you love letter writing, have a stockpile of stationery and want to see more people writing and sending snail mail, this is for you.
Find your spot
The café where I hosted my Letter Writing Socials was not the first place I approached. It was the third. In fact, it was not until an ownership change at the current café, that I was able to 'pitch' the idea to receptive ears. Don't give up if the first place you approach isn't interested. Keep moving forward. Do some research on the mission behind the café and see how the Letter Writing Social is a good thing for them and their reputation and their patrons. Or get creative and consider an alternative setting like a library, nursing home, school, stationery shop, church, picnic table or museum.
Consider what your budget is and what costs (promotions, food, stationery supplies) can be shared between you and the venue. Although you might be tempted to offer the event for free, resist. People will pay to attend. You want to cover your costs, or it will not be sustainable. If you are not going the café route, do not worry about drinks. Consider asking people to BYOS – bring your own stationery. Keep things simple for both you and those that attend.
You may know that I am obsessed with typewriters. Of course, I brought them to the Letter Writing Socials for people to use. It was a ton of fun and people loved them. Do not, however, let this give the impression that you need typewriters to host a Letter Writing Social. This is simply not the case. Stationery is all you need, plus a welcoming and friendly disposition. I have not met a snail mailer yet who was not either of these things.
Stationery supplies are one of my favorite things about Letter Writing Socials. At the first Letter Writing Social I hosted, I forgot so many things. It had not occurred to me to bring a glue stick, scissors, ruler, or practice paper for the typewriters. I thought that ready-made cards would be the thing that interested people, but people seem to prefer making their own cards.
Vintage postage stamps add that little extra something and they look beautiful on the envelope. You can find them on Etsy or Amazon. At minimum I would recommend bringing current postage stamps with you. I also offered to mail participants letters for them. A little thing, but it was appreciated.
Get the word out
Social media has proved great in terms of getting people out. Have your venue also promote and share with their patrons. Attendance ranged from 8-12 people. Sometimes it was only me. Other times there were not enough chairs. Be prepared for both extremes. Schedule your Letter Writing Socials around seasonal events like Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, National Letter Writing Month. The turn out will be much better than if not attached to a theme.
At your first event, make sure to bring your phone and take photos. You can use these in your future promo materials.
Create a signup list for those that attend so they can leave their email (optional, of course) so that you can let them know about the next Letter Writing Social. Once they leave the café you have no way of contacting them – I learned this the hard way.
If you have any questions, please get in touch. I cannot wait to hear about new Letter Writing Socials popping up everywhere!
-- Written by Barb Marshall of www.ritewhileucan.com
Barb has hosted Letter Writing Socials for private events, including bridal showers, private birthdays, museum openings, monthly café meetups. A memorable experience for Barb was hosting Letter Writing Socials for WestJet airlines.
Both in-person and online format, Barb has worked extensively with libraries sharing her passion for letter writing and snail mail. She is a typewriter enthusiast and stationery addict who loves exploring her surroundings and being active outdoors. You can find her on social @ritewhileucan