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Whether you just recently said goodbye to your soldier-to-be, or you’re swimming in those long weeks of Basic Training separation, writing letters to your man is probably a part of your life right now. For me personally, writing letters became a very strong form of communication (funny how that works when everything else gets limited), and crucial to our relationship’s growth. It was also romantic and that’s totally my thing. haha Anyway, something I have mentioned before is that having a letter-writing station helped me never miss a day of writing. But I never really shared what my letter-writing station consisted of. A few of the items listed below are things I didn’t have, but really, really wish I did. (No worries, they will all make an appearance on my nightstand during Ranger School– *sigh*). Leave a comment at the end if you have any additional stationary supplies to reccommend. Good luck to you and all your writing endeavors!
If you’ve clicked around on my site before, you’ve probably heard me mention this. It’s the perfect little tool to make the outside of any envelope look beautiful. (ESPECIALLY if you’re using regular white business envelopes, like me). A stencil can make all the difference in keeping everything straight and fancy. Plus they are fun to use.
But in case you are not a calligraphy-type person (ahem, hello–still aspiring there), this little address stamp can achieve much of the same elegance! It’s a time saver and requires little to no skill (yay!). I liked using stamps as a heading to my letters, for decoration purposes, but this stamp would be functional as well as cute. I wish I had gotten one of these for my wedding stationary!
Roller stamps are an easy way to mark the date and number of your letters. I know most people would just say, “Um…isn’t that what the date is for?” and they are right. But this is where practicality meets art-inspo. My soldier’s letters would often arrive in clumps of 3 or more identical envelopes, and I didn’t want him to crack the letter open, see the date, and just start reading whatever letter he had grabbed. Maybe I’m OCD about order. Anyway, I created a paper band and would fold it around my letters with the “letter number” stamped on the outside of the band. So that despite whichever envelope he opened (they all looked the same!) he could see the date/number stamped on the band and unfold whichever letter he had last left off on.
Onto a completely different kind of stamp–I think personal interest stamps, like these planets, are a great way to specialize a letter. I think I might have sent my husband a few patriotic stamps while he was at Basic Training. But for the most part, I would buy the most romantic stamps I could find (hearts, wedding ones, etc). If those weren’t available, I tried to find another stamp that he would see and think of me. One time I got a sheet of oil-painted landscapes, and another time I got botanicals. I felt like this little touch of personalization would make him think of me on first sight. You can even self-design stamps: use a picture of the two of you, a photo of your pet, or some object of significance that no one will recognize but the two of you. Follow this link to order your own.
If you’ve read any of my mailing-to-Basic-Training guideline posts, you probably know I have a thing for white envelopes. They might be super lame and super basic. But it makes me feel so comfortable knowing my letters aren’t drawing any attention! Obviously, if you use cards, these envelopes would be too narrow and unnecessarily long. But if you’re like me and like using standard 8×11 stationary paper, these envelopes are perfect for being generically inconspicuous! ha!
Again, if you’ve ever read anything I’ve said about Basic Training letters, you might have realized I’m super wordy. And that didn’t change when it came to writing my soldier at bootcamp. hehe, oops. I LOVED using large, standard size sheets of decorative paper. The cute cards that were temptingly gorgeous were also too cramped for my daily letter-writing needs. I felt like writing front and back on the card would make it look overwhelming and busy. And it would kind of kill the cute and gorgeous thing. So, I just used 8×11 paper, as decorative as I could find it, and filled page after page. The size of these really gave me the room I need to write and to spread things out.
I do have a soft spot for cards though. And I did sometimes send them! They perfectly convey “I miss you” without becoming a novel about how, why, and when you miss your special someone. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that–but that usually made it into my everyday-letters). These are especially helpful if you pass a milestone during your soldier’s time in Basic Training (i.e. his birthday, your anniversary, a holiday). It switches up your regular paper stationary with something a little extra special. It becomes something he can grab from his locker and read before bed more than one night in a row. Cards can be especially effective if your soldier’s love language involves words of affirmation, because cards naturally come with the connotation of care and appreciation.
I hate, hate, hate licking envelopes! (And can only ever think of the Seinfeld episode whenever I have to lick one, haha). The sticky part of the peel-and-stick envelopes only sometimes work for me. I pretty much use a few pieces of scotch tape on the outside of my envelopes, no matter what method of closure they have. Or at least, I did. Now I use this roller glue and OMGEE it sticks. It makes a difference. It’s good stuff. And if you keep the cap on, it will stay moist and last a really, really long time.
I’m a pencil girl at heart, and love the flexibility of erasing. <- for anyone who ISN’T currently in a pen-pal relationship with a soldier at Basic Training, skip this because I’m going to look crazy as I rant for a minute here. Proceed with caution: sometimes writing a letter can be emotional. You’re trying to be positive but there are some negatives you have to talk about. You go on a tangent about something that happened at work and then realize you need to tone it down so that your letter doesn’t come off with an alarmist ring. The last thing you want is to stress him out. So you start changing an entire paragraph. Anyway, pencils are my jam and they saved my skin because I definitely am a committer of “automatic writing.” I write everything I’m feeling and then a few sentences in realize I need to change direction. Enter little pencil. And more importantly, little pencil eraser.
Nothing says “commitment” like permanent ink. These are not for the faint of heart (see above). But they are for the creative and collected girl who wants to vary the color and overall look of her letters. One of my favorite ways to customize a letter is by switching up the ink color. Even though I’m really a pencil girl at heart, pens can be a creative way to vary your letters at a low cost. I also happen to have horrible handwriting and write super long letters, so mixing up the paragraph colors can make the letter easier to read after a long day.
A huge key to “making that daily letter happen” is definitely setting up a letter-writing station. I know this sounds silly, but again, if you’re knee-deep in those long Basic Training months, you’ll understand what I mean. Writing a letter isn’t always the hard part. It’s having enough stamps on hand, the right envelopes, and general organization that sometimes makes or breaks the letter getting out. I kept a stack of about 10 pre-addressed envelopes on my desk, beside my stamp sheet and pen mug. It made writing letters a breeze, because I knew the only thing standing in my way between getting the letter out or not was simply if I indeed had something to PUT in that envelope at the end of the night. It was motivating to see the envelope stack diminish over the week, and that level of organization kept me accountable. It’s definitely a main reason I was able to send him something every single day.
Like I said at the beginning, if you have a crucial or beloved stationary supply to recommend, please leave a comment below! I think all of us here in the Army family are always open to suggestions! And even a single comment can really give someone inspiration. Thanks so much for stopping by, and please come back soon!
**Read next: How To Address a Basic Training Letter **