I have a life-long obsession with mail. You know, like the kind that comes stamped from the postal service. The thought of the post office one day becoming an antiquity makes me die a little inside.

It started with my grandmother sending me African stamps cut from the corners of letters sent to her church. Then I got into penpalling to practice my German skills in high school. Then my postcard collection. Then the ability to shop online and get packages delivered right to my door. The discovery of subscription boxes and my subsequent addiction to getting surprises in the mail.

If you’ve ever wanted your mailbox filled with things that make you smile instead of junk and requests for money, here’s how to get mail that isn’t bills. Some of these cost money (but who wants to leave their house to go shopping?) and some are just the cost of a stamp. Fill up your mailbox with joy in 2018 – it’s definitely a day brightener!

(Disclaimer: Some of these are affiliate or referral links, meaning that I receive a commission, redeemable points, or free products when you purchase through a link on Autumn on Fox Street. You are never charged more and all opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!)

Letters

Letters were my gateway drug into postal addiction. It started when my German teacher gave me a (now defunct) penpal magazine in high school so that I could find a few German kids my age to write to. It grew into a full-blown hobby of exchanging letters – real letters – with people around the world.

Think penpalling is dead because it’s 2017? Think again. There is a thriving penpal community on Facebook and Instagram, in which you can meet other people who want to send real letters by mail. It’s a great way to meet new friends, learn about other cultures, share similar interests, and fill your mailbox with awesomeness.

Search for “penpal” or “penpalling” in Facebook groups or try these Instagram hashtags: #penpal #snailmail #snailmailrevolution

Pro tip: If you’re wary about giving your address to strangers on the internet, get a post office box. They cost around $70 a year, depending on where you live.

Postcrossing

Yes, postcard collecting is still going strong too! I’ve been collecting them since high school, when I discovered Postcrossing. You create a profile on their website and they allow you to request addresses to send postcards to. Each postcard has an ID number that is registered when it’s received and you can get cool stats like how many miles it has traveled and how long it took to get there. For each postcard you send, someone else gets your address and sends you one in return. I’ve received postcards from places like Japan, Germany, Russia, and Australia. They are a fun little window into the lives of people around the world.

Not sure where to buy postcards? If you don’t live in a touristy area, try purchasing them on Amazon.

Zines

Let me get retro for a second and take you back to the 90s. Punk, grunge, and riot grrrl created a whole culture of self-published, photocopied magazines, and while they were popular well into the 2000s, they died down for a bit over the last 10 years, but are making a huge resurgence on Instagram.

Zines were my first outlet for “lifestyle” type writing in high school and my early 20s, long before blogging ever crossed my mind. There’s nothing like sitting down in front of a computer or typewriter, writing about anything you want, and then pasting it all up with a gluestick, clip art, drawings…the artistic possibilities are endless.

What do you do with zines when they’re finished? Exchange them with other people who make zines, of course! Some people also sell their creations for a few dollars on Etsy. These are super fun and inexpensive to send through the mail. Learn more about what zines are here and here and check out examples on Instagram under #zine.

Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes are one of those things that can be really inexpensive (think Walmart Beauty Box for $5 every 3 months or Ipsy for $10 a month) or really destroy your wallet. I’m in the in between place where I spend a lot on subscriptions, but I’m not breaking the bank. I could, trust me. I love getting a box full of surprises related to things I love every month.

A few of my favorites, in addition to the two listed above:

Once Upon a Tee – Month of the Shirt (nerdy t-shirts)

Geek Fuel (geek goods and collectibles)

Book of the Month (a new hardcover book each month)

You can find a subscription box for almost ANYTHING you like on Cratejoy.

Free samples

Did you know that brands WANT to send you free samples in exchange for feedback, a review on your blog, or shout outs and thoughts on social media? Check out these websites, where you can get free stuff to try in exchange for your opinions on new products.

Influenster

BzzAgent

PINCHMe

Shop Online

We all have to shop – for groceries, makeup, office supplies, things for our pets, clothes… If you’re like me, leaving your house to shop among the busy crowds isn’t your favorite. I’d much rather have things delivered conveniently to my door! And you get the fun of opening packages (and in my case, doing haul videos!).

I could name a million places I love to shop online – I’m sure you have a few favorites – but instead, here are a few tips about how I save money shopping online.

  1. Sign up for their email lists. Yes, your inbox will be blasted with spammy sale emails, but the coupons that brands like Ulta send are so worth it and you’ll know when items you love go on sale.
  2. Use rebate sites. Ebates is my go-to. For every purchase you make through one of their partner sites, which include huge names like Amazon, Ulta, Sephora, and Walmart, you get a percentage of the sale back, which comes to you as a check in the mail when you reach your payment minimum (which is like $5 or 6). Get a $10 bonus when you sign up using this linkSwagbucks is my other favorite, but instead of getting paid by check, you earn so many points per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for gift cards to places like Amazon, iTunes, and Starbucks. Both websites have Chrome extensions that alert you when you are on one of their partner websites so that you never miss out on getting rebates when you’re shopping.
  3. Look for coupon codes. RetailMeNot lists current coupon codes for tons of online stores. They also have a Chrome extension that automatically finds the best codes, stackable coupons, and discounts and applies them when you shop. AND they also have cash back offers that are updated regularly.

Sick of bills and junk? Fill your mailbox with some love in 2018. And if you’d like to write to me, my P.O. box is listed below. I’d love to hear from you and I always try to write back!

Amber McClincy

P.O. Box 12

Bellefonte, PA 16823

USA