Keep your hands (and minds) busy.

While we’re still practicing social distancing and homebound isolation, turn off the television. Instead, consider how you might use your time to keep in touch with family and friends.

Here’s an idea: create a puzzle purse.

Puzzle purses are square pieces of paper folded into envelope-like packets. The creased paper is collapsed upon itself to form a twist top. The extending arms can be arranged in a number of shapes.

These paper purses have been around for ages. In Japan, the packet is called a tato and is used to store small items—buttons and sewing needles and such.

In Germany, baptism certificates called Patenbriefs were folded in this manner. The certificates contained information about a godchild and the responsibilities of his or her godparents in raising the child.

In Britain, messages were folded into Valentine puzzle purses and given as love notes. Often, each panel is numerically labeled and the recipient is meant to open and read each panel in sequential order. Valentine puzzle purses were all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Thanks to Great Big Story, a wonderful website, you can find instructions for folding a puzzle purse. Do it, then add your secret message and mail it to someone you miss. She or he is sure to be impressed by your mad skills.

And when you do, let us know all about it in the comments below.

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