What is Mail Tag?

Mail box

If you’re new to snail mail, you may have come across the term ‘Mail Tag’ and wondered what on earth it means.

Put simply, Mail Tag is a game played by pen pals in their letters, which emulates the school playground game of Tag. One pen pal ‘tags’ another by sending them a list of tasks or questions. They are then ‘on’ and need to complete the tasks set. Next they will probably ‘tag’ you back. This can continue throughout all of your letters, or it might naturally start and stop as you both see fit. Some people will reply to your Mail Tag on their own Mail Tag, then add their list for you, or they may tackle the questions within their letter if they have lengthy replies to give.

The ‘Mail Tag’ is usually written on a separate piece of paper to the letter itself and seeing as the letter-writing community is a creative one, the list can be presented in all manner of different ways — whether written, typed or stamped, and on a gift tag, a postcard, or a pretty piece of paper.

How many items should your Mail Tag list contain? As a general rule, I’d say between 3 and 7, but it really depends on you and your pen pal.

So, what are these tasks and questions?

Mail Tag questions

Woman writing a letter

Mail tag questions are a great way to get to know your pen pal and they offer you an opportunity to ask unexpected or random questions that might not come up naturally in your letter. The questions can be as unusual or probing as you like, but it’s still important not to cross any boundaries — such as if you know your pen pal doesn’t want to discuss a certain topic.

A few ideas for questions you could ask:

  • What’s your favourite movie?
  • What’s your favourite food?
  • How many pen pals do you have?
  • What was your favourite subject in school?
  • What holidays do you celebrate this season in your country?
  • What car do you drive?
  • What cheers you up when you’re having a bad day?
  • Who is your role model?
  • What book are you reading?

We wrote three blog posts full of questions to ask your pen pal, so please take a look there for more inspiration.

Mail Tag tasks

Typing on a vintage typewriter

Mail Tag tasks are challenges for your pen pal to complete before they write back to you. Ideas include:

  • Read [book/blog post]
  • Listen to [song/podcast/radio show]
  • Watch [film/TV show/YouTube video]
  • Draw a picture of…
  • Cook [recipe]
  • Send me an article from your local newspaper
  • Send me a photo of…
  • Send me a postcard of your local area
  • Send me a leaflet for your favourite local tourist attraction
  • Find a [orange leaf/sycamore seed/clover/flower] and send it to me

Do you have any other tips for Mail Tag? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Happy penpalling!

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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