Graceful Envelope Contest

Calling all mail artists, doodlers, calligraphers and crayon wielders! The National Association of Letter Carriers and The Washington Calligraphers Guild are holding their 18th annual Graceful Envelope contest.

Deadline: April 30th postmark
Theme: “D-liver D-letter D-sooner D-better”–create a Graceful Envelope around anything that begins with D.

Rules: Only the front of the envelope will be judged.  Address and design must be hand rendered. No computerized type or images. Send the envelope through USPS as First Class Mail and do not wrap it in anything else.

On the back of the envelope (the entries won’t be opened), include your name, address, email address, and your age group (adult, junior Grades 6-12, and child Grades 1-5)

Winners will be chosen based on artistic hand lettering, creative interpretation fo the theme and effective use of color and design. Winning designs will be selected for display in the lobby of the National Association of Letter Carriers building in Washington, D.C. and on the internet.  Winners will also receive certificates.

Address the envelope to:
The Graceful Envelope Contest
Washington Calligraphers Guild
P.O. Box 3688
Merrifield, VA 22116

See for last year’s winners of the “Time Flies” theme.

Thanks to author Rick Hodges for alerting me to this contest. His article, The Meaning of Mail, in the December 2012 issue of The Postal Record featured Save Snail Mail and others who enjoy sending and receiving post.

Video of How the Mail Moves

I seriously need to revisit the National Postal Museum, I haven’t been in a long time (maybe 20 years?), and they have some great new exhibits.  There is a video there now called All Systems At Work that shows you how mail moves from your mailbox to someone else’s mailbox.  The USPS moves hundreds of millions of mail pieces a day and I am fascinated that this insanely high-tech process can happen so quickly!.  Check out the video here, or on the 270-degree theater screen at the National Postal Museum.  The video is part of a larger exhibit that shows how mail has moved throughout the history of the postal service.  You can learn more about the exhibit here.

2012 U.S. Postage Stamps

If you haven’t previewed what postage stamps are coming for 2012, go check out Beyond the Perf’s list.  I have already added reminders to my calendar for the whole year so I won’t miss all the ones I love.  My birthday is at the end of January and I’m going to treat myself with the year of the dragon (my Chinese sign) and bonsai ones out by then.

The one nice thing about my stamp obsession is that it makes me write more letters and cards just so I can use them!

Stamp photos from Beyond the Perf.

Once they’re released, they will be available for purchase at your local post office or online at the Postal Store.

What are your favorites in the coming lineup?


Letters to Santa

Apparently even letters to Santa have taken a new technology turn. Here‘s an article about high school students who play Santa by responding to instant messages from kids who “write Santa” via instant message. Times, they are ‘a changin’.

If you have children in your life who want to write and mail an actual letter to Santa, they can address the letter to:

1 Santa Claus Lane
North Pole, AK  99705-9901

You can also check with your local post office or call 1-800-ASK-USPS to find out if your local post office has set up a plan for responding to local letters.  If it does, they use the Operation Santa process that identifies needy children’s letters and lets USPS customers pick up a letter to Santa, fulfill the request, and mail the gifts to the kids (the kids’ addresses are kept confidential at the USPS). Given the tough times many families are facing, letters to Santa sometimes just ask for the basics.

And if you’d like to play Santa and thank your postal workers this holiday, please help them comply with the ethical standards required of them.  The USPS employee tipping policy is:

Employee tipping policy
All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of  Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer–no cash, please.

Gift cards are permitted at $20 or less with two caveats: 1) the gift card cannot be redeemable for cash money, and 2) the gift card must be issued from a single establishment, not bank or mall issued.

Fun Christmas Card Tips

It’s December 1st.  That means I’m in full-on panic mode to make my holiday cards, write my annual letter, and get them in the mail.  I usually send about 100 of these, so this is no small undertaking!  I wanted to share with you all a few tips on how to make your cards extra special.  Below are some fun options for those of you sending Christmas cards:

Want your cards to have a North Pole postmark? Simply address and stamp your cards, put them in a bigger envelope or box and mail that package to:

ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998

Letters received by the 10th of December should arrive at their destination by Christmas. More instructions are here courtesy of the USPS.

If you’d like postmarks from other “Christmas-sounding” cities such as Christmas, FL; Holly, CO; or Evergreen, NC, check out this list and instructions.

And if you haven’t chosen your Christmas card yet and you’d like to send the most vintage-inspired card, pop on over to the British Museum’s website.  They are selling reproductions of the world’s first Christmas card from 1843.  It’s very Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol feeling.

Now I’m all jazzed up to actually make my cards.  I cut it close each year and sometimes they don’t go out on time.  But this year I’m hoping to get them out before 2012 arrives!


The Meaning of Mail

I’m happy to share a great article titled “The Meaning of Mail” in this month’s Postal Record–the magazine for the National Association of Letter Carriers. Yours truly was interviewed for it.  At the time of year when folks will send the most mail, author Rick Hodges wanted to write an article about what mail means in the digital age. I hope it encourages you to reach out to your friends and loved ones during the holidays and connect with them in the way only mail can!

November USPS Roundup

Here are a few interesting stories I came across recently about the USPS that I wanted to pass along.

The USPS posted a $5.1 billion loss this year, even after they got a reprieve on making the $5.5 billion in retiree health benefits payment.  Ouch.  Post office and processing center closures seem imminent as USPS leadership tries to adjust to this reality, but I wish they could come up with ways to improve or innovate with their services rather than slashing them because…

Post office closures will harm the elderly, rural, native and low-income Americans the most.  Traditionally underserved communities should not see even less service now.  I feel like the USPS is a service (not just a business) and that there are good reasons to keep it open and running for all Americans (public safety reasons, for one, access to pharmaceuticals, for another).

To help cut some corners and save some cash, the USPS is asking for its stuff back. If you’re currently in possession of a mail tub or tape gun, they with take it back, no questions asked, so they don’t have to buy new stuff to replace it.

And in another attempt to save their pennies, the USPS is selling off some of its property.  If you’ve ever wanted to live or house your business in a post office, now is the time to make that a reality. Check out for what’s available.

And before you get down about the potential closure of your local post office, remember that you have government representatives elected to represent your issues at the state and federal level.  Write them and ask them to do what they can to preserve the postal services in your community. It’s worked for the most part, at least for now, in Alaska.

And do what you can to support the USPS during the holidays.  Send cards and mail packages.  You can get your free shipping kits from and they’ll pick up at your door!

Senator McCaskill Writes Back

Regular readers may remember that I passed on a recommendation back in September to thank Senator Claire McCaskill for her suggestion that we all write more letters as a way to shore up the USPS.  Well, I wrote my own thank you note to her and on Saturday I got a response.  See below:

When I read the letter, I noted that she said she’d received “scores of letters” thanking her for her comments.  I guess that means she didn’t receive “hundreds.”  As we all work to keep paper mail alive, remember that the decline in paper correspondence may mean that a USPS-delivered letter to your Congressional representative may get more attention than the flood of emails they receive each day.  Write to your reps today about an issue that is important to you and take advantage of the joy of living in a representative democracy that currently boasts a strong postal service.

Snail Mail Roundup

I wanted to share a few articles I’ve read lately about the USPS’s financial situation, email privacy (or the lack of it), some neat postal service history from Springfield, IL, and another person sharing the fact that snail mail in her mailbox makes her squeal with delight.

On another note, last night I put together the stationery stash I’ll be giving away on the 15th.  It includes 15 different card/letter designs and will come in a nice folio by Kartos.  To be entered into the drawing, send snail mail to: Dana c/o Save Snail Mail, P.O. Box 95, Carrboro, NC 27510 USA.  Senders of all notes received by November 15th will be eligible and I’ll announce the winner that night!