Five Ways to Revitalize Your Long-Distance Letters

Five Ways to Revitalize Your Long-Distance Letters

Posted by Hannah Fleace on Sep 28th 2019

While my husband was in basic training, I tried to write to him every day. It was definitely a labor of love, but I felt it was important. It kept his spirits up and made me feel connected to him – like we were having a conversation. I mean, most of our conversations are just me babbling anyway!

But let’s be honest, it is difficult to come up with something to write about every single day or even every week. Perhaps your service member is deployed. After months of writing, things can begin to feel a little stale.

Never fear! We’ve got you covered. Below are five ways you can change up your letter writing to keep things fresh.

1. Pick a Theme for Each Month

Try picking a different theme for each month and centering your letters around that theme.

Is your service member a sports fan? Print off a team roster, game schedule, and a list of trivia about the team. Throw in a sticker they can display or a news article about how the team is doing this year.

My husband is an avid reader. While he was in basic, I sent him short stories from some of his favorite authors. This would work even better for service members at tech school or who are deployed with a little more time on their hands! If I were doing this again, I might include a bookmark or a Barnes & Noble gift card.

A few more theme ideas: TV shows, video games, hobbies, movies.

2. Try “Open When” Letters

You may have heard of “Open When” letters. They’ve been around for a while and remain a tried and true way to help service members feel connected. Open When notes require a little extra planning, but the effort is worth it!

Essentially you’ll put together a series of letters with “Open When” prompts on the front of each envelope. “Open when you miss me” or “Open when you need a laugh” or “Open when you’re having a bad day.” Once you’ve written letters in response to those prompts, you mail off the bundle, and your service member can open them whenever they need a boost. Cards, Credit Leon Rojas

These don’t have to be difficult, either! There are tons of resources out there. From prompt ideas (from our friends at Jo, My Gosh!) to printables (from another site we love, Lanham Creations) you’ll be able to find everything you need to create a unique bundle! I know of one woman who sent her fella an entire scavenger hunt in his “Open When” letters!

Many people also include little items inside the letters that go with the theme – a packet of gum, photos, gift cards, a package of hot chocolate or a tea bag, a single sleeve of popcorn,

To make things extra easy, you can get bundles with cards and envelopes, so all you have to do is the writing!

Here are ten of my favorite “Open When” prompts:

  • Open When You Miss Me
  • Open When You’re Having a Bad Day
  • Open When You’re Having a Good Day
  • Open When It’s [insert holiday or birthday]
  • Open When You Need Some Encouragement
  • Open When You’re Angry
  • Open When You Want to Walk Down Memory Lane
  • Open When You’re Bored
  • Open When You Need a Pep Talk
  • Open When You’re Sick

3. Inject Some Fun & Games

There is something to be said for long, sweet love letters. But sometimes you just need to change things up! Consider making your letters a little more interactive with fun and games. Invent a code ( or look one up) and write your message in the code. Wait until your next letter to mail the key, so they have time to work it out themselves!

Print off riddles, brainteasers, or puzzles to help them pass the time. You could even try making a personalized crossword or word search . If your husband is a meme junkie like mine, you could always hunt down some funny ones to print and mail.

Don’t be afraid to get personal! Maybe include a list of 10 things your significant other doesn’t know about you or cut up a photo of the two of you into puzzle pieces. Mail a new piece with each letter.

4. Change Your Perspective

We’re about to get a little weird, but I need you to stick with me. If your service member has a dog, cat, or another kind of furry friend, consider writing a letter from their perspective. I know, it sounds a little crazy, but chances are your significant other misses their pal and would love to hear from them.

Cat, Credit Daria NepriakhinaIf you’re going to do this, you’ve got to commit. Is your cat kind of a jerk? Write the letter with some sarcastic spirit. Is your dog ridiculously excitable? USE CAPITAL LETTERS and run-on sentences. One more thing – think about the exciting stuff happening in your pet’s life. Did the red laser light appear and torture your cat for 30 minutes? Did you take Fido to the park so he could chase squirrels? Did the FedEx guy come by to torment your indoor pup? Your service member will love feeling like they were apart of your pet’s day. If you want to take this one step further, you can even order stationary with your pet’s face on it. Talk about happy mail!

But what if you don’t have a pet? You could write from the perspective of your significant other’s car or their favorite chair. Again, I know this sounds a little crazy, but it’s the little things they’ll miss the most.

5. Make it a Group Effort

You may have friends and family who want to support your service member but don’t know what to say or are uncomfortable at the idea of writing a letter. This is a great way to include them and let your significant other hear from their loved ones.

Send out a few emails to family and friends with some prompts they can answer.

Here are a few ideas:

  • What is your favorite thing about [service member]?
  • What is the funniest memory you have with [service member]?
  • What was your first impression of [service member]?
  • When did you first meet [service member]?
  • What is something you admire about [service member]?
  • How would you describe [service member] in one word?
  • What is something [service member] is fantastic at?
  • If [service member]’s life was a movie, what would the title be and what actor should play them?

I like to keep these uplifting and fun. You could dedicate each letter to a different prompt or sprinkle their answers throughout your other notes. If you have little kids or your service member has younger siblings, see if they want to draw a picture to send.

What are some creative ways you change up your letter writing? We’d love to know in the comments below!

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