Social media seems to make it easier than ever to stay connected to old friends, but are we really connected? The danger of relying on Instagram to keep up with your college pals is that, well, people tend to put only the glossiest versions of their lives online.

While you may know your best friend from camp took a fabulous trip to Italy, you might not know about the string of miscarriages, the lay-off, the painful breakup, or whatever else she might be going through behind closed doors.

That’s why it’s so important to stay connected in a real way to the people we care about most. True, it’s a little bit more work than randomly “liking” a photo while scrolling, but it’s almost always time well spent. Scroll down for six creative ideas for staying connected to old friends, and I promise you’ll be glad you did!

image by ashleigh amoroso

photo by buff strickland

Create a time capsule.

When I was in the third grade, my Camp Fire group created a time capsule where we each contributed two objects. I remember vividly what I placed in the box (a slap bracelet and a hypercolor t shirt.) Not only am I stoked to get those items back in a few years, I can’t wait to reconnect with the girls in group when we open the capsule. Why not create a time capsule with your current group of friends, set to open in the year 2040? Not only is it fun, it’s a built-in reason to reconnect when it’s time to open the box.

photo by jenn rose smith

Designate a lucky object.

In one of my favorite books, Just Kids by Patti Smith, the author remembers a lucky necklace shared between herself and the artist Edward Mapplethorpe. The pair of best friends would pass the necklace between them, depending on who “needed it most” at the time. Designate a lucky object for your group of current friends — it should be small enough to drop in the mail if necessary — and pass it between yourselves whenever someone is going through a hard time.

photo by ashleigh amoroso

Create a shared photo album.

Of all the wonders of modern technology, the iPhone “shared album” is one of the best for staying connected to groups. This is especially fun if your group of friends (like mine) is old enough to have a bunch of old film photos laying around the house. Scan those babies in and start sharing! You’ll have a blast seeing each other’s photos from bygone days and have a natural way to catch up on each other’s lives now.

photo by jenny sathngam

Plan an annual girl’s trip.

With destination weddings and family trips, it can be hard to make time for a good old fashioned girls weekend. But an annual (or even bi-annual) girls trip can be good medicine for you and your favorite females. Check out our complete guide to girls trips, and get that email thread started now.

photo by love dove trading

Write an old fashioned letter.

While out-of-the-blue phone calls can be tough for busy friends, everyone LOVES receiving something sweet in the mail. Drop a postcard or short note to an old friend just saying hi. That cute stationary is literally just sitting in your drawer waiting for this to happen.

photo by emilee kunas

Take an old friends road trip tour.

I had a friend who, en lieu of a big destination bachelorette party, took her pre-nuptial show on the road and visited groups of friends in all the major cities in Texas. It was actually genius — not only did she get to extend her moment in the spotlight, she got quality time with every friend she visited. If a girl’s trip isn’t a possibility for your group, consider taking your show on the road with an old friends road trip!

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