It’s no secret: The USPS has been in the spotlight quite frequently lately. Although it has been a longstanding, essential service that millions of Americans use everyday, the Postal Service is in trouble. From funding shortages to election and pandemic highs and lows, we may see another milestone on the USPS historical timeline soon, but the agency must endure and ultimately prevail.
- The USPS is:
- Critical for election mail and ballots, especially with pandemic social distancing guidelines
- Essential in delivering sensitive documents, medication, business marketing materials and packaging, etc.
- Key in rural areas where it isn’t profitable for private companies to deliver
- Employment to over 600,000 workers nationwide, making it among the largest employers in some States. It is also one of the largest employers of veterans in the country, employing more than 97,000 military veterans.
- A tribute to our past and way to communicate with loved ones in a tech-free fashion
I, for one, have always cherished snail mail: From greeting cards to invitations, I keep intentional correspondences as mementos of monumental life happenings and little moments, scribbled down on paper or postcard. I love that letter writing has played a crucial role in history for thousands of years, dating back to 500 BC, appreciate the thoughtfulness and care surrounding a handwritten note, and find communication without technology to be refreshing.
I therefore have been making it a point to send stamped letters for years, even added a goal to my 2020 list, to mail 4 hand-written cards per month. It’s fun for me to gather a bunch of cheerful, old-world materials and brighten someone’s day, and between pandemic distancing and USPS hardships in the forefront, everyone could use a little extra love.
In 2018 I published a blog entry called, “Putting Meaning Into The Mailbox,” wrote about how I made custom postcards on Zazzle to send to my best friend. Years later, I still find ways to stay creative with my correspondences and have come up with a list of five items I always have onhand.
Greeting Cards: True story: I hoard greeting cards. There’s something about gorgeous illustrations and powerful prose that move me to hand over my cash, no matter the price tag. Thankfully though, I find my cards at incredibly low prices at both Trader Joes (hands down, the best, at 99 cents each!) and stores like Homegoods and Marshalls. I even have luck from time to time at my local Dollar Tree.
I try to get a well-rounded assortment for all types of occasions: Congratulatory, Sympathetic, Just Because, Birthday, and Wedding/ Baby/ Anniversary cards. I keep them organized in my office, in a large baggie for each theme, so that I can pull cards as needs arise.
Stationary: When I want to write more descriptive letters, I reach for some stationary. My best friend purchased a set for me after my wedding, complete with the custom monogram that I displayed on my napkins and cake topper. The gift was so sweet, and she got them on Vistaprint! They always have amazing deals and add-ons.
My sister in- law gifted a gorgeous notepad from Sugarboo & Co. that has honestly been my quarantine go-to. I’ve been trying to write more thoughtful, elaborate letters and this numbered pad helps me keep track of my progress. Even better, there is a perforated quote on the bottom of each page to lift the spirits of my recipients.
Stamps: In addition to supporting the USPS in their time of need, stamps are critical for snail mail correspondence. I always keep them onhand and love to collect different types, especially those that reflect the times and seasons. For example, I just went to my local post office this week to purchase a book of the “Women Vote Forever” stamps, celebrating the 19th Amendment and commemorating the suffragists’ historic fight for voting rights.
I send Christmas stamps on my holiday cards, added floral depictions for wedding invitation flair, and even sometimes match my stationary with stamp selections. Take a look at what artwork is available here.
Wax Seal: This one is definitely not a necessity but adds an old-world touch to my letters- It’s fun. I found a set of wax seals and sticks while vacationing in New Orleans last January: The Papier Plume shop is a toy store for the literary lover. From there, I continue to add to my collection of seal stamps with Amazon’s large assortment.
Address Labels & Contact Book: When I was making my wedding list, my husband and I used Google Docs to compile all names and addresses for our invitations. We still keep the file updated, nearly five years later, and use the it to create labels for Christmas cards, invitations, etc. (Not to mention that we can access it from our phone, so when we need an address for a friend’s house we can pull it into our GPS.) I have about 100 addresses in the Excel file, and do an audit each Christmas when new cards come in.
In terms of address labels, I order sheets from Shutterfly: A lot of times, they send coupons to your email where you just pay for shipping!
I’m curious to know what other supplies are used for letter writing. I don’t live in a tourist town so postcards are hard to come by, but one of my favorite pastimes still includes making my own photo ones for gifting, complete with inside joke depictions and embarrassing photos of my friend and I, in our younger years. If you have any other fun ideas, let me know in the comments!
Even if letter writing isn’t your thing, there are still other ways that you can support the USPS:
- Buy stamps: They make nice collectibles and are consistently changing!
- Contact your congressional representative: Although it’s possible your senator or congressperson already supports action to preserve the integrity of our mail system, they still need to hear from you. In July, the American Postal Workers Union said its members made almost 30,000 calls to Congress. It’s a start. Call yours and tell them to save the Post Office.
- Join the activists: A coalition of progressive groups is working to spread the word about saving the post office through a number of direct actions, including petitions and awareness campaigns. You can find more information about their efforts and how to get involved here.
- Vote early: If you do plan to vote by mail, voting early can help ensure that the USPS is not overwhelmed at the last minute. The website Vote.org has a good roundup of early-voting rules by state.
I said it in 2018 and its critical now, more than ever: “Let’s put some meaning into the mailbox again.”