Sending smiles and an international family postcard swap!

posted in: Sandra Horning, Valeri Gorbachev | 64

Several weeks ago I read a lovely post about collecting postcards at an Australian blog called Adventures with Kids. This got me thinking about a postcard swap for M and J – they both love making cards and receiving post – but when I searched online for one I couldn’t find any open internationally specifically for families. Not one to give in easily I thought I would set up my own… but of course before I could do that I wanted to find some lovely books to share with my girls, and with you, about writing, sending and receiving post.

Photo: Post Box

The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev is a heart warming, funny and informative book about the joys of sending and receiving mail. When Owen is asked what he wants to send his Granny for her birthday he is determined to send her a giant hug. Not a picture of a hug, but the real thing.

At the post office the clerk is rather surprised at this request but plays game. “We don’t normally send hugs, but I suppose we could give it a try.” And so starts the journey of Owen’s hug – passed from person to person involved in sorting and delivering the mail right across the country, sometimes accompanied by laughter, bristles, blushing and delight. Granny is thrilled when her giant hug is finally delivered right into her arms, and we’re all left laughing when we discover what she sends back to her much loved Grandson.

We all loved this story. M’s interest was immediately captured because the illustrations reminded her of Richard Scarry – and not just because they depict cute animals doing all sorts of human jobs. The generosity and willingness of all participants to play their part in spreading the happiness was lovely to see – I’d love my kids to live in such a community. As well as providing us with many good giggles, it also gave us the opportunity to discuss how post actually gets from A to B, and M found it intriguing to think of all the different people and places that would see her next card she puts in the post. J loved the book because of all the cuddles and hugs we had as we read it! All in all a perfect book about how you can post a little bit of love to friends and family wherever they are.

The Giant Hug: ** (2 stars)

In response to this delightful story J and I illustrated some postcards of our own in anticipation of mailing them to some of you in what I hope will be a fantastic International Postcard Swap for Families. We bought a pack of blank postcards from a stationary shop and just had fun with the paints!

If you would like to take part with your family here are the details.

1. Sign up for the postcard swap. The deadline for signing up is Friday April 30th.
Email me at zoe (dot) toft (at) kuvik (dot) net with
*your name,
*your kids names and ages,
*postal address
*and (if you have one) your blog name and address.
Alternatively leave me a comment to this post saying you want to take part and I will email you for all these details (please don’t leave them in the comments, just to keep your details private).

2. By late Tuesday 4 May I will email you with the names and addresses of 5 families you will be sending postcards to. These will not necessarily be the same families you will receive post from.

3. Make / write your postcards and please make sure you post them out to your recipients by Tuesday 10 May.

4. Eagerly await the arrival of the postman! As this is an international swap it may take a few weeks to receive your postcards.

Other questions?
1) What is the deadline to send the postcards by?
Please have all 5 of your cards in the post by Tuesday 10 May. Please don’t sign up for this swap unless you are happy to write and send 5 cards internationally.

2) What should I write on the message side of my postcard?
It’s up to you of course, but given that we’ll all have “met” via Playing by the book it would be nice if you could include a kids’ book recommendation – perhaps something very popular where you live, or one of your kids’ favourites. If your recipients have blogs you could read a few of their posts and comment on them on your postcard. If your kids are old enough they could write the cards themselves. Really, it’s up to you what you do, but the idea is to send a little bit of fun and joy around the world!

3) What size should my postcard be and what should it be made of?
I don’t know the rules and regulations which cover various countries’ postal system so just use your common sense. You do not need to make the postcards you send, but it may be something your children will enjoy doing. If you wish to put your postcard in an envelope that’s fine, but you may incur additional costs.

5) Will I be receiving postcards from the people on my list?
I will set up the swap so that (hopefully) you will not receive postcards from anyone on your list. I thought it would be a nice surprise not knowing from where in the world postcards will be coming to you. I will endeavour to match people up so that you receive postcards from at least 3 different countries (though this will depend on who signs up for the swap), and from families with children of a similar age.

6) Can I help spread the word?
Yes please! Obviously this swap will work better the more people from more countries sign up. If you sign up for the swap please find some way to spread the word about this swap! You can direct people to this page (a round up of how to participate, without the book review included above):

and you can use this button on your blog:

International Postcard Swap for Families Logo

To get the button you can right-click on it above and save it, or copy the HTML code below:

<a href=""><img src="" /></a>

You could email your friends who might be interested, you could tweet about the swap, post it on your Facebook page, or just tell friends about it over a coffee! The more people know about the swap the better the swap will be for all involved.

6) Anything else?
If you receive any particularly beautiful or interesting postcards please let me know – in June I’d love to write a post about everyone who participated and the postcards and book recommendations which were sent.

Any other questions? Please get in touch either by leaving a comment of via email.

I’d like to shout out a big thank you to Hanna at Create and Live Happy, a great crafting blog, and Aimee at Adventures and Pursuits, who is currently hosting The Great American Postcard Swap, for their advice about setting up and running a postcard swap!

And finally, as it’s Thursday I’m linking up with stART – do head on over to A Mommy’s Adventures to see what other book and craft activities families have been getting up to!

64 Responses

  1. Zoe

    hi Choxbox! Next week I’ve got a blog post with 99 picture books about mail / letters / post but I didn’t have this one 🙂 A great addition – thanks so much. And looking forward to getting your details for the swap.

  2. char

    What a great idea. Reminds me of when I had a pen pal from australia when I was in elementary school. I loved recieving letters in the mail. : ) I love that you made your own postcards, how neat.

  3. Victoria

    I LOVE this idea and have already sent you our details. Postcards are such lovely things. I was planning to get our children to write postcards to themselves when we are travelling as a colourful kind of diary with stamps. What a good idea!

  4. Zoe @ Playing by the book

    Hi victoria, I think your idea of getting your kids to write postcards to themselves whilst your travelling is a *fantastic* one – imagine how lovely it will be when they return home to open up their PO box (or however you arrange it). Your idea reminds me of a lovely blog post I read:
    Oh and I haven’t yet received your details – maybe there’s just a delay. I acknowledge all emails I get so if you don’t hear from me in 24 hours please resend!

  5. Almost Unschoolers

    I’m so bad about getting to the post office, I don’t dare sign the kids up – but I think this is an excellent idea! And, thanks for the book recommendation – it looks great.

  6. Zoe @ Playing by the book

    Hi Almost Unschoolers – quite understand the situation! Even if you’re not participating, please feel free to spread the word. And I definitely recommend the book – it will bring a smile to your face 🙂

  7. Deanna

    What a wonderful idea! I have sent you my information and put the button on my blog. I intend to email my friends to let them know!

  8. JDaniel4's Mom

    Whata great book! The project sounds great. I hope you get many interested people.

  9. helen rawlinson

    HI Zoe,
    this sounds like a lovely idea. We got a party invite through the door the other day for my son and he was very excited about it. I still think he’s a bit young though and although would love the receiving end of it, the sending wouldn’t be so appealing to him! Hopefully I’ll be able to join in next year! Have fun everyone.

  10. Anne

    We would like to participate in the postcard swap. We live in the states.


  11. Michele Hill

    I have a 5 yo girl and 3 yo boy we live in Queensland australia and would love to take part in this postcard swap thanks

  12. Karen Meacham

    Do you know the book “Mailing May?” It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I remember the basics. It is a great book (and a true story) about a little girl living in the 1920s maybe (not sure about the year) who wants to go visit some relatives. Her family doesn’t any money for her train ticket, but May’s father works for the post office. So her family pays for postage instead of a ticket, and May’s father “delivers” her to her destination. Cute!

    • Zoe

      Oh yes, Karen, this is a wonderful book – in fact I was thinking about writing about it here on Playing by the book, and may still do. It’s amazing that it is based on a true story 🙂

  13. Loni

    Ooo, this should be fun! Please, count us in 😀
    I emailed you my info… thanks for hosting this!

  14. Crystal

    This is a great time to track down one of my favourite books I had told you about, “The Jolly Postman!” I’m going to track down “The Giant Hug” as well as a few others at my Library and take out the Jolly Postman (I’ve been saving it till Rachel is a little older, and this is the PERFECT TIME!)

  15. Janelle

    We will join in the fun as well! I’ll get you my information later tonight.

    Also wanted to let you know about Postcrossing.
    We belong to this large postcard exchange site and have received a number of wonderful cards. Highly recommend it!!

  16. Judi

    We would love to participate! Please e-mail me!

    And we are off to the library and I hope to find this cute book you referenced!

  17. Zoe @ Playing by the book

    Hi Janelle,

    Yes, when researching for this swap I discovered postcrossing but I couldn’t see a way to make sure it was kids contacting other kids so that’s why I went ahead with my own swap. But if there is a way to ensure it’s families swapping with other families please let me know!

  18. Catriona

    I’d love to join in, to be honest I’m not sure my kids would do it, for various reasons, but I teach kids and I think some of them would love to get on board. Can non Mommy bloggers get involved too, I have a friend in Kolkata who loves this type of thing.
    We’re in Japan.

  19. Stacie

    We would like to join your postcard swap please. I have emailed you our information!


  20. Melinda Wolfe

    We would love to take part in the Postcard exchange.

    Thank you,

  21. Janelle

    When I use postcrossing I use my own name, not my kids. I don’t think there is a kids only swap, but I really haven’t checked into it.

    • Zoe

      Thanks for letting me know Janelle (and for replying in this flurry of comments!)

  22. Noe

    Hello. I am Noelia,from Madrid (Spain). I love the idea. I would like to participate. I will try to send a message to your e-mail.

  23. katie

    love to take part in the postcard swap, what a good idea. Im sure the kids will enjoy this.

  24. paula

    hi, would like to sign up for international postcode swap for families, please email me with the details, thanks

  25. Family Postcard Swap « HomeAge

    […] Just been visiting over at Adventures with Kids (thank you for the lovely link! ) and saw this link on there for an international family postcard swap, so I am spreading the word for anyone who may […]

  26. D'nelle Lemon

    Count us in this sounds very interesting and exciting.thanks for such a great idea.Were in Australia

  27. BookishIma

    Hi, I am a new reader to the blog and already a huge fan! We would love to participate in the postcard swap, perhaps matched with another toddler artist? (My son is 2.5.) We are Israeli but currently living in the States – and are happy to include some of our culture in our mailing (such as Israeli stamps and Hebrew letters).

    Do you know of the book “Dear Juno”? Another great picture book about the power of the post.

  28. Rose

    Les escribo desde Bizkaia (España) y me encantaría participar, pero ni hablo ni escribo ingles. ¿Sería posible?. Tengo dos niños, de cinco y (casi) dos años, ambos grandes devoradores de libros.
    Envío mis datos por correo electrónico.

    • Zoe

      Dear Rose,

      Yes – please join the swap! I shall email you! And I’ll try to find some families who read/write Spanish for you!

  29. UPE

    Through my friend Maria I discovered this swap and I think it´s a very interesting idea.Count with us.

  30. Sylvia


    Trough María and her blog I discovered this wondeful swap.
    We love to join it, it’s a great experience for my kids!
    Waiting your mail.


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