How to Write an Open When Letter to a Best Friend


You and your best friend have done everything together. You have posted videos on social media, made summer bucket lists, and created a time capsule to open when you are old and gray. But a time may come when you aren’t able to spend every waking moment together. You or your friend may move away from each other. Your situations may change that will make it more difficult to see each other as often.

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Of course, you will probably still be able to text, send messages on social media, and talk on the phone, but it’s not the same as actually being with each other. Show your friend that they still mean the world to you by creating a series of “Open When” letters. 

“Open When” letters are old-school letters that you place in envelopes, which are sealed and marked with instructions on the outside. The instructions on the outside of the envelope will tell your friend under what situation or date he or she should open the envelope.

What Topics Can You Write About in an Open When Letter to a Friend?

Topics to write about in an open letter to a friend

Do you need some ideas for your “Open When” letter or series of letters? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

  • Open when you are bored.
  • Open when you are stressed with work or school.
  • Open when you are hungry.
  • Open when you are homesick.
  • Open when you feel lethargic.
  • Open when you feel heartbroken.
  • Open when you feel lonely.
  • Open on your birthday.
  • Open when you hear a song on the radio that reminds you of me.
  • Open when you had a bad date.
  • Open when you had a great night out with friends.
  • Open when you have been gone for one week.
  • Open when you have been gone for one month.
  • Open when you miss me.
  • Open when you can’t sleep in the middle of the night.
  • Open when you wake up from a nap.
  • Open when you are eating lunch alone.
  • Open when I’m not responding to texts or answering the phone.
  • Open when you're mad at me.
  • Open when you feel as if no one knows or understands you.
  • Open when you are watching “our” movie.
  • Open when your parents/spouse/children/other friends are driving you crazy.
  • Open when you are grieving.
  • Open on the anniversary of the day we met.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Now that you understand what an “Open When” letter is, let’s help you create one.

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How to Write an Open When Letter to a Friend

How to write an open letter

Are you still having trouble grasping how to write an “Open When” letter to a friend? They aren’t necessarily hard to do, but it may take quite a bit of time to complete the project. Here are some steps to get you started. 

Step 1: Brainstorm facts about your friend

Scroll through the texts or social media messages between you and your friend. Think about the time you have spent together. What similarities do you share with your friend, and how do you differ?

As you think about your friend, answer the following questions.

  • What brings your friend joy?
  • What makes your friend sad or grumpy?
  • What causes your friend to worry?
  • Who or what situations cause your friend stress?
  • When does your friend seek out your help?
  • How does your friend fight stress?
  • What is your friend’s favorite snack or treat?
  • What’s your friend’s favorite drink?
  • What memories do you treasure with your friend?
  • What is your friend’s favorite movie, song, tv show, book, or celebrity?

Step 2. Write out your plans

After you have thought about what makes your friend tick, you are ready to plan out your “Open When” letters. 

Think about what types of “Open When” letters your friend would most appreciate. Make a list of those letters with spaces underneath each category. 

For example, under your category called “Open When You Feel Bored,” you may write the following list: coloring sheets, crossword puzzle, list of books, or a list of YouTube videos to watch.

Under the category called, “Open When You Feel Angry,” you may write the following note to yourself: “Remind them how much better they feel when they go on an angry run, and then include a favorite candy bar in the envelope for them to enjoy when they return.”

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Step 3: Purchase and gather supplies

Go back through your list with a highlighter and mark each item that you need to gather from your house or purchase. You may need to purchase candy, gift cards, trinkets, books, or art supplies.

It might also help to print photos, gather pieces of memorabilia such as ticket stubs or drink umbrellas, or take pictures of your favorite places. You may need to look up quotes or song lyrics that you would like to include in each message.

You may also want to think about the logistics of the project. Do you have large enough envelopes to hold messages as well as small gifts? How will you ensure that the food items placed in the package won’t melt or spoil, ruining the other parts? 

Finally, how are you getting this letter to your friend? If you’re mailing them, will you mail them all at once or will you ship over a big box with said letters and packages? Make sure you have your friend’s address as well. 

Step 4: Write the notes and assemble the Open When packages

Set a chunk of time aside to write the notes to include with the packages. This may take a long time, especially if you include a lot of detail in your notes. 

Think about what you could say that would have the biggest impact on your friend’s life. Take the time to say the things that need to be said. Be kind, inspirational, and uplifting. 

Label each envelope before loading the items inside. Once the envelopes have been filled and sealed, send them to your friend. Make sure to include a cover letter to explain the project, so your friend understands so they don’t open all the notes at once.

Step 5: Send the package of letters with confidence

Don’t worry if you can’t remember if your friend prefers Juju Beans or Sour Patch Kids. Instead, think about how happy you would be to receive a package of letters from a friend. 

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Examples of Open When Letter for Best Friends

Examples of open letters

You may have a few ideas on items to include in the “Open When” letter for your best friend, but here are some examples that you may not have considered. 

Open When You Feel No One Cares

Everyone goes through times when they feel as if no one cares about them. Those feelings may come when your friend feels particularly isolated or lonely. 

Your words may be the most important things that you include in this package. Remind your friend that everyone feels this way every once in a while. Tell them how much you care, even if you don’t see or talk to each other very often. Include inspirational quotes, verses, or song lyrics that will cause your friend to smile.

Open When You Are Bored

Print out QR codes or links for funny videos of bears playing in swimming pools or kids saying cute things. Include those codes in the package, as well as a crossword or sudoku puzzle. You may include a coloring sheet as well as a few colored pencils or crayons.

Open When You Are Hungry

Include a gift card for your friend’s favorite fast-food or chain restaurant. You may also consider including a package of trail mix, a cookie mix, or the ingredients for an easy recipe. 

Open On Your Birthday

Include a birthday gift for your friend. You may also want to include a snack cake and birthday candles. Perhaps you could also figure out how to send a recording of you singing “happy birthday.”

Open When You Are Procrastinating

Is your friend a procrastination expert? Include a sweet treat in the envelope or a gift card to a local coffee shop so they can get a caffeine fix. Also, include a message to inspire your friend to get things done. Depending on the type of relationship you have, you may have to use words that seem like “tough love” to get your friend going. 

Open When You Had a Bad Date

Does your friend need a laugh? You probably know the key to making your friend smile. 

Remind your friend of the lousy dates that you have had in your life. Tell your friend that they are fantastic and that the right person will soon come along. 

Open When You Feel Like You’re Drifting Through Life

Some people feel as if they are simply drifting through life. They may feel as if they are in a dead-in job or relationship, and they may seem the months and years pass by without positive change. 

Include inspirational quotes and messages in this envelope. You may also want to encourage your friend to write a letter to their future selves. This is an excellent exercise for someone to do when they feel as if they are going through life without purpose or goals. 

What Are Your Ideas?

Some people may enjoy receiving Bible verses or devotionals. Others may like to receive a link to a perfect playlist that includes his or her favorite songs. Everyone loves to see photos of themselves with their friends sharing happy memories. Some friends may like to receive long, rambling letters full of positive messages and goofy drawings.  

The best items to include would probably be those that remind your friend of inside jokes or memories that you have shared. Write the one word on an index card that will remind your friend of a fun night out you experienced together. Include a shell that you picked up on your last beach vacation together. You could even add an empty wrapper or container that your friend would understand as being significant. 

What items are you going to send to your friend? What items or messages could someone send to you that would make your day? Comment below and share your ideas with others. 

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