Michelle Houts’s 52 Letters in a Year Challenge

stampWhen I was young, we didn’t have email or texting. If we wanted to talk to someone we’d usually pick up one of two things – a telephone or a pencil.

Since I grew up in a house with three girls, and the telephone was on the kitchen wall, a private conversation was out of the question! Not to mention if you and the caller lived more than half an hour’s drive from one another, chances were good you were talking on L-O-N-G D-I-S-T-A-N-C-E rates. And, oh, how my daddy could complain about that phone bill!

Often, I’d write letters instead. I wrote to my cousin. I wrote to my grandma. I had a penpal named Stacy in Connecticut. We wrote for years, but we never met. Letters ready to mail sat near the front door every day. Envelopes licked. Stamps affixed. Ready to land in someone else’s mailbox.

And there was nothing more exciting than opening the mailbox and finding something with my name on it! I still feel that way today. I love opening the post box and finding envelopes of different colors and sizes, with printing and cursive, large and small. I love knowing that each one came from a house where the mail sat ready to go. Where someone took a little more time than it takes to send an email. Where a card or stationery was selected and a careful hand put words to paper.

There’s still nothing better than a birthday card, a thank you note. Or, ooooooh, a LOVE letter!

I think the world would be a better place if we each took more time to spread our love and appreciation, our kind thoughts, and cheer through the written word.

So, here’s the 52 Letters in a Year challenge:

    1. Write one letter, card, or note a week for one year.
    2. The first one can be to me! Tell me you are starting the challenge. My address is
      Michelle Houts
      P.O. Box 434
      Rockford, OH 45882
      I write back to every individual letter sent to that address. It’s a promise!
    3. Now you’re started! You only need to write 51 more letters. But who to write to? Here’s a list you can print. You don’t have to use them in this order. You don’t have to use them at all! But if you want to, you can cross them off as you go. But, remember, you don’t have to write to a different person each week. For a few years when I first moved away from home, I wrote to my grandma every Thursday night!
    4. Keep track as you go. Here’s a blank list for you to fill in.
    5. Remember, it’s okay if you miss a week. Just send two letters the following week, so you’ll still have 52 at the end of the year.
    6. They don’t all have to be mailed. If you don’t have stamps, choose people you can give your letters to. (Or better yet, hide the letters where they will be found by the recipient!)
    7. When you’re done, don’t forget to write to me again. As always, I will write back to congratulate you on completing the 52 Letters in a Year challenge!


Is this challenge still current?  Yes, it is! I has been ongoing for many years, and it will continue as long as there are letter-writers out there. And, yes, I’m still answering every first and last letter. (Eventually. Sometimes I’m a bit slow!)

Do I have to start this in January? Certainly not. Your first week can be any week of the year.

Is this a way to find pen pals? Not really. The purpose is to encourage people of all ages from anywhere in the world to write more letters. I’m not matching writers with others, and I don’t share your name and address with anyone.  That said, though, one of the 52 people you choose to write to in a year might become a frequent correspondent! Lots of people tell me they’ve reconnected and stayed in touch with someone because of this challenge.