Send a Postcard/Letter Hybrid

Introduction: Send a Postcard/Letter Hybrid

About: a long time member of Instructables, I only recently began posting my own. Feel free to check them out, rate, comment, question, and copy!

Postcards and letters are great ways to stay in touch with loved ones, and each has its own strengths recommending it.  Letters are private, and can be multiple pages in length; postcards are attractive, and have cheaper postage.  But one's strength is also the others' weakness - postcards can be read by anyone and can carry only short messages, while letters have more expensive postage costs.

If only there was a way to extract only the best characteristics of each; now that would truly be a powerful piece of Postal technology.  Well, it was with this goal in mind that I created a Postcard/Letter Hybrid!  It combines the length and privacy of a conventional letter with the shape and postage cost of a conventional postcard.  (I'm currently still struggling to think of a good name for this mailing monstrosity - as all the obvious portmanteaus sound stupid: ie. "Petter" , "Lostcard" , "Postter" , "Letcard".  I guess if I had to choose at gunpoint, I'd pick Letcard at the moment.  If you guys have any good name suggestions please feel free to make your ideas known in the comments section!)

Ok, without further hesitation, let's create this grisly mutant of a device before our constitutions fail us.

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Step 1: Diabolical Components

To bring this Franken-card (<- hey, perhaps a name?) to life you will need the following:
  • a single sheet of paper (more on this in later steps)
  • scissors
  • scotch tape
  • glue stick (not pictured)
  • an old calendar or other image you want to make into a postcard
  • marker and/or pencil (not pictured)
  • the handy "L" tool from my previous postcard'ible

Step 2: Choosing the Paper

As you can see for this project I chose to use this lovely sheet of turquoise paper. I did so because it is slightly thicker than standard printer paper, and slightly larger than 8.5 x 11 inches (A4). This allowed my completed Franken-card (<-I'm warming to this name, what do you guys think?) to be a bit stiffer and a bit larger than one made with a standard sheet of A4 printer paper. However, I'll outline the parameters your paper needs to fit within in order to conform to strict postal requirements (again, they're often lenient, but why take chances?)

USPS requirements for any legal postcard are the following:
  • Rectangular
  • At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inches thick                  [8.9cm x 12.7cm x 0.2mm thick]
  • No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick      [10.8cm x 15.25cm x 0.4mm thick]
The "L" tool will make sure the rectangle is the right size; it's the finished thickness you need to be careful of.  I did some measuring and here are various combinations that fit the thickness parameters:
  • A4 printer paper folded 2 times + calendar image = OK
  • A4 printer paper folded 2 times + magazine image = OK(but not very stiff)
  • cardstock folded 1 time + calendar image = OK
  • My turquoise paper folded 2 times + calendar image = OK but barely (almost too thick)
  • A4 printer paper folded 1 time + either image = OK(but not very stiff)

Feel free to experiment with other combinations, just make sure to check that your card, when folded, fits within all the limits. Otherwise you'll be paying standard letter postage and have just defeated the whole purpose of making this beast.

Step 3: Prepping the Paper

Ok, prepping your paper.

[Pic. 1] - outline, trace, or otherwise plan out where your letter will fit on your paper.  Mine will comprise three equal sections across the paper.  Use the "L" tool to make sure that your sections are of legal size.

[Pic. 2] - Cut around the outer edge of your future letter.

[Pic. 3] - Fold your letter into equal parts.  I chose thirds, you can choose more or less as long as it maintains a legal size and thickness.

[Pic. 4] - Flip your letter over.  Plan out where the front and back of the postcard will be.  I like the left-most third for the front image, and the middle third for the mailing address.

Step 4: Prepping the Image

Ok, lets prep that image.

[Pic. 1] - Trace a rectangle just slightly larger than your folded letter/card onto your image.  Cut it out.

[Pic. 2] - Apply gluestick to the picture portion of your unfolded letter/card.  (<- not a bad name either.)  Firmly press the image onto the glued area, smooth edges with a knuckle to prevent de-lamination.

[Pic. 3] - There will be a slight bit of overhang.  Trim this with the scissors.

[Pic. 4] - Your letter/card should now look like this.

Of course in this step you have some leeway.  You could use a photo, a drawing, or nothing and just write more words.  It's up to you.

Step 5: Writing on Your Franken-card

Now it's time to write to your friends/loved ones/enemies/grandmother/whatever.  And I would never presume to tell you what to write to your friends or enemies or grandmother (or friend's enemy's grandmother, for that matter).

But this is a teenie bit more complicated (for the receiver especially) than a normal postcard, so a few words on the subject would be appropriate.
  • The third flap (the right-most flap in my design) will be on the interior, and is free for writing on.  This will be hidden from prying eyes until your letter is opened.
  • The entire reverse side of the card will be hidden from view and is free for writing.
  • Make sure to include a small line or hint on the VISIBLE part of your letter/card (the part with the mailing address and stamp) that tells your recipient to open it.  This is most likely the first such card they've ever gotten, and they may mistake it for a regular old postcard unless you tell them other wise.  And it would be a shame to spend all this time on a letter only to have them never read it.

Step 6: Release Your Mutated Creation Upon the World

The last step is to fold your card closed and tape it shut along the edges.  I taped along all three open edges for the full length of the edge.  I was careful to tape very well and rather tightly, because my card was on the verge of being too thick. 

Then slap on a stamp, add the address, write a message if you haven't already, and let your creation loose upon the mail carrying world. 

Lastly, sit back and smile, you just sent a letter for the cost of a postcard!   Happy mailing.

***One last disclaimer: I've had no problem sending these cards as postcards, with standard postcard postage fees.  But there may come a day when some Post Office catches wise to what I'm sending and decides that this doesn't qualify as a postcard.  If it does ever happen, then I'll just have to pay normal letter postage to send it.  Not the end of the world.  But I've read the USPS requirements posted on their website and this little guy does conform to all the things they check for. 

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