Last Updated on August 6, 2022
A fun little gift idea for people you may not get to see very often, long distance relationships, expats etc are ‘Open When’ letters! They can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. At the end of the day they come from the heart. The trickiest part is coming up with what to include! I gave some to my mum and sister in England when I moved to America. Then in return my mum sent some to me! Hopefully you’ll find these Open When letter ideas helpful!
Open When Letter Ideas
Me and my mum both had different approaches to what to put in Open When letters! I opted for trying to make her smile with funny pictures of myself. Then I added quotes that I knew she’d like or that would make her laugh.
For the main part of my Open Me When letters, I simply went into Snapchat, took silly pictures of myself using filters and emojis, screen grabbed them and printed them off.
I then decorated each Open When envelope with the different situations. You can be as wild or as simple as you like: lot of colours, draw pictures, use stickers or stamps. When deciding on the Open When letter topics, it’s nice to pick ideas that are good for when the receiver may not be able to contact you. This may be due to things like living in different time zones. That way they can still feel close during those times that don’t quite match up!
On the back of each of my photos, I then wrote a quote that I found online/Pinterest and I thought was nice. I kept the same pictures and mostly the topics for both my mum and sister, but I changed up the quotes for each person. The quotes below were for my mum’s Open When letters.
Open When Letter Topics
Open When…You Can’t Sleep – “When you cannot sleep at night have u ever thought maybe it’s god saying we need to talk and now have time”
Open When…You Need a Treat – I put in a couple of pounds so she could buy a little treat, guilt free on me, whether that be sweets, a cake or an ice cream etc
Open When…You Are Fed up of Dad’s Farts – “It wasn’t a fart…his lower intestine just blew you a kiss”
Open When…You Are Content With Life – “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful places”
Open When…You Are Fed up of the Rain – “When it rains, look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars”
Open When…You Want a Flashback to the Past – “We didn’t realise we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun”, then I drew a Route 66 shield representing a trip we took together.
Open When…It Feels Like I’m a Million Miles Away – “Even when someone is miles away, always remember this: we are under the same sky looking at the same sun, moon and stars”
Open When…You’re Bored – For this one I actually made a word search with words that meant something to us. Just draw a grid and write the words with a letter in each box. Then fill in the remaining squares with random letters. Don’t forget to write a list so they know what to look for!
Open When…It’s Christmas – “Christmas is the time of year when you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks”
Open When…You’ll be Seeing me Again Soon – Mmmhmmm damn straight I’m gonna be seeing you soon! (Stupidly excited picture of my face…)
Open When…You Feel Like a Fat Piggy – “I’m in shape, unfortunately that shape is a potato”
(We have a bit of a ‘joking around’ relationship so when I say about being a ‘fat piggy’, I don’t really think she’s fat! They are comments that often fly around because we do like to pig out on yummy treats!)
Open When…You Are Fed up With a Messy House – “The room is not messy, it is an assault course designed to keep you fit”
Open When…You’re Feeling Sad – “Whenever you feel sad, just remember that somewhere in this world there’s an idiot pulling a door that says push”
Open When…You’re in a Music Listening Mood – “I hate it when I’m singing a song and the artist gets the words wrong!” (My mum often sings the lyrics wrong!)
Open When…You Are Fed up With Work – “When life gives you lemons, freeze them and throw them as hard as you can at people making your life difficult!”
Open When…You Need a Bit of Positivity – “All your life, everything that ever happened made you into the incredible person you are, even the hard stuff”
Open When…You Think England is Bad – “Signs you’re in America: 1) A pizza can get to your door faster than an ambulance. 2) Sick people must walk to the back of the drugstore to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front. 3) Drive up ATM machines feature braille lettering…”
What To Put In Open When Letters
My mum did less Open When envelopes for me, but opted to include flat, post-able gifts instead!
Open When…You Are Bored – A photo she’d taken of some things back home and then cut up to create a little puzzle.
Open When…It’s Your Birthday – Full of ‘Happy Birthday’ sequins/confetti.
Open When…You Miss Braintree (my hometown) – She had cut out the crime column of the local newspaper to try to make me not miss home!
Open When…You’re Feeling Kinda Bleugh – A ‘wallet card’ saying ‘Just in case you’re having one of those days’ with a bear hugging a heart. (A wallet card is meant to slot into a credit card slot in a purse or wallet. Usually you can get them from greeting card shops).
Open When…You Fart! (Dad’s idea) – Giant print out of the poop emoji saying ‘What’s that smell?!’
Open When…You Need a Treat – Like the envelope I sent her, she included $5 and said buy yourself an ice cream. So I did, I walked straight down to the little corner shop in town and bought myself an ice cream!
Open When Letters
We both really loved and appreciated the things that we received. They didn’t have to be anything big or expensive. Of course if your budget allows, you could include larger items. Just remember if you send food or sweets/candy that because of the nature of Open When letters, it may be a while before they are opened so you don’t want anything to go out of date/melt!
You could get fancy with the way you present them, maybe put them in a fancy box or something.
I think if I was to do it again, I’d create a list to go with the envelopes, a little bit like a table of contents. That way at a quick glance you’ll be able to see what situations are on the ‘Open When’ letters without needing to flick through the pile each time. You could then tick them off too so you knew which ones you had opened!
My sister then adapted the envelopes slightly to give as a gift to someone. She used colour coded ‘categories’ that were more of a free for all, rather than to open for different situations. I really like this idea too.
Related Reading: A Helpful Gift Guide for a Friend or Family Member Living Overseas