Is it just me, or does time go by faster as you get older? Before you know it, your little one has graduated from crawling to riding a bike and you’re wondering where the time has gone!
That’s why putting together a time capsule with your family is a perfect way to hold onto all those precious memories, no matter how big or small. And if you need time capsule ideas, I’ve got you covered!
Beyond photographs and newspaper clippings, it can be difficult to decide what to include in your capsule. In my opinion, handprints and footprints are a great memento of those precious childhood years, alongside report cards.
Writing a letter to your future self is a great activity if you have older kids but even if your munchkins are too young to read or write, you can write a letter to them that they’ll be able to read in the future.
Likewise, you can put together a questionnaire to gather all the important details on your family at this point in time – looking back on how all of you have changed will be so much fun!
Finally, I’ve got some tips for you on how to make a time capsule and what items you should avoid. Enjoy!
14 Time Capsule Ideas
Sitting down to make a time capsule is one of the most exciting rainy day activities for kids and grown-ups! And who doesn’t like the idea of preserving small items to remind you of the days gone by 5, 10, or 20 years down the line?
If you need some inspiration when it comes to time capsule ideas, take a look at my suggestions below!
Every great time capsule includes photographs to take you down the memory lane of when your kiddo was just a toddler running around and throwing temper tantrums at the grocery store.
And since technology has gotten us used to all our photos being stored up in the cloud, we’ve forgotten all about the excitement of flipping through a photobook.
Take some time to browse through your photos and select your favorite ones to print out. Granted, this might take a while – if you’re like me, you probably have several gigabytes of photos in storage!
Include photos of your child’s first birthday or their first day of school, perhaps a wedding photo or two, or a shot from your first family vacation.
Any photo that stirs your emotions and makes you smile deserves to go into the capsule! However, keep the size of the capsule container in mind and try not go overboard as there are plenty of other items you’ll want to include in the capsule!
2. Handprints and footprints
No matter how old your kids are, making handprints and/or footprints is an easy and fun idea for a capsule. Simply pick a paint color, cover your little one’s hand or the bottom of their foot in the paint, and press it onto a piece of paper.
Leave it out to dry before placing it in the capsule.
Handprints and footprints are a wonderful keepsake from your children’s childhood and they’ll love seeing how much they’ve grown when you decide to open the capsule.
Obviously, this is an activity both mom and dad can participate in! Don’t forget to label the prints with dates and names.
3. Newspaper clippings
Although you’re probably used to reading the news online, this is a great opportunity to run to the store and get a copy of your local newspaper or a magazine.
Cut out any interesting, funny, or important stories and current events you find to serve as memories of this period in time.
If your kids are old enough to use scissors, cutting out newspaper clippings is a fun activity that will develop their fine motor skills.
You don’t only have to use newspapers, either. Your little ones can cut out sections from their favorite kids’ magazines or comic books to remind them of what they used to like when they were little!
4. A handwritten letter
Letters are a staple of every good time capsule. If your kids are old enough, they can write a letter to their future self and talk about their hopes and dreams for the future, what they think will change by the time they open the capsule, and what the most important parts of their life are at the moment.
They can write about their friends, hobbies, favorite shows – anything that comes to mind! This is a fun way to get your kids to practice their handwriting too and they can decorate the letter with stickers and drawings.
However, if your kids aren’t writing just yet, you can write a letter for them to read in the future.
You can make it as funny or as heartfelt as you’d like and don’t forget to include all the little details of your life right now – your kid’s favorite food, whether they’re sleeping through the night, how many words they can say, how potty training is going…
You might find these details unimportant right now but it will be a riot to read once your vegetable-averse 2-year-old turns 21!
5. A family tree
Considering that you have your own family right now, this is the perfect time to create a family tree complete with photographs (where possible).
Thanks to websites that can track your genealogy, you can go back in history as much as you’d like – who knows what you’ll uncover!
But, you can also always keep it simple and download a free family tree printable where you only include your immediate family members.
6. A candy wrapper
When you create a time capsule, the main idea is to transport a piece of your present into the future. And there’s nothing to give you a throwback quite like old candy wrappers!
Growing up, I’m sure that there were sweets you loved, only for them to drop off the face of the earth a few years later.
Suddenly, one of your old Facebook friends shares a post with a picture of your favorite candy bar from childhood and a wave of nostalgia hits you – this is the same feeling you’re supposed to get when opening a time capsule!
Let your kids pick which candy wrapper they’d like to save (just make sure it’s clean prior to putting it in the capsule) and rest assured it will make for a great memento of a time gone by.
7. A popular toy
One of the coolest ideas for a time capsule is to add a small toy that adequately describes what was popular at the time. And in this way, your kids don’t have to part with the toys that they actually love.
I’m sure that you have plenty of such toys lying around the house already, so this is a perfect opportunity for you to declutter!
8. Fill in a time capsule questionnaire
Put together a list of questions each family member will have to answer, print them out or write them down, and fill them in. You can even leave some room for a photo!
Here are some question ideas:
- Who is your best friend?
- What’s your favorite toy?
- What’s your favorite food?
- What’s your favorite part of every day?
- What’s your favorite board game?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What’s your favorite animal?
- What’s the best thing about this year?
- What’s the worst thing about this year?
- What was your favorite family vacation?
- I am most thankful for…
Feel free to expand or edit the questions as you’d like!
9. Memorabilia from a birthday party
This is one of my favorite time capsule ideas for parents who’d like to celebrate their baby by putting together a first birthday time capsule.
Hold onto one of the birthday invitations or any small decorations you used for this special day and don’t forget to print out many photographs!
You can also ask your guests to write little notes to your baby – they will be amazing to read once your kiddo turns 18!
10. Small art projects
I’m sure your kids love taking part in fun projects and arts and crafts activities, whether it’s at school or at home (or both, if they’re in homeschool!).
You can take a few of those Louvre-worthy drawings and include them in your capsule – make sure to write the artist’s name, of course, including the date on the back of the drawing.
If you’re planning on opening the capsule in 10 or 20 years, you can ask your kids to draw a picture of what they think the future will look like. That will be so cool to look back on!
11. Baby clothes
Let’s be real – most parents end up buying way more clothes than they need for their baby’s first year.
While you can always donate old baby clothes (or save it for another baby), including a tiny baby onesie in your capsule is a terrific way to remind your future self of how little your little one used to be.
Apart from clothes, you can include an old baby toy, their first Halloween costume, or even a small lock of their hair.
12. A popular clothing item or accessory
Every period in time has its fashion fads – the 80s had big hair and leg warmers, the 90s had bucket hats and scrunchies, and the early 2000s gave us frosted lip gloss and mood rings.
So reach into your closet or jewelry drawer and find an item that everyone’s wearing as it will make for a great keepsake of this era.
The same goes for your kids – this is especially great if you have tweens or teenagers who are already developing their own style and have a couple of favorite clothing items that they’ll look back on with a healthy dose of embarrassment in 10 years time!
13. A receipt from the grocery store
Seeing how prices change over the years can be pretty crazy. Did you know that a gallon of milk cost only $1.15 in 1970?
Suffice to say that its price has gone up since then, so including a recent receipt from your grocery store run can be a fun way of looking back at the past.
In addition, you can write down your family budget on a piece of paper, focusing on your biggest expenses, and see how it compares to your budget 20 years from now!
14. Other special items from the past year
Old movie and concert tickets are fantastic keepsakes to remind you of the fun times you’ve had with your family, and you can also hold onto report cards from the past school year.
Try, however, not to go overboard and hoard a bunch of junk. Rather keep it down to only a handful of items.
Whether you took your first family vacation or moved to a new house, look back on the previous year and try to find a way to mark those special moments with a few items in your capsule.
Making The Time Capsule
Before you get down to writing all your time capsule ideas, you need to follow a few key steps first to avoid disappointments when you open your family time capsule years down the line.
1. Choose the hiding place
A lot depends on where you’re planning to hide your capsule, especially if you’re planning on burying it in your backyard.
However, you don’t need to go with the classic backyard option – your garage, shed, or a storage room in your house will do just fine as a hiding spot for your capsule.
Although there’s something magical about burying your capsule in the ground, the wet and weather-exposed environment of the outdoors calls for a sturdy and weather-proof capsule – and there is still no guarantee that it will hold up over the years.
On the other hand, this option prevents sneaky hands from opening the time capsule before they’re supposed to.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to bury the capsule in your backyard.
One is to bury it in a spot where it will still be protected somewhat from the elements, such as under a tree. And two, make sure to write down the precise location where you buried it to avoid digging up half of your backyard when you try to find it again.
If you choose to hide the capsule indoors, then you don’t have to worry about rain or snow ruining all your mementos. You do need to pick a spot that’s hard to reach and dry, without any insects that could crawl in and ruin your time capsule container.
Another benefit of hiding the capsule indoors is that you can make your own time capsule and avoid spending money on a store-bought one.
In the absence of a garage or attic, you can hide it in the back of a closet.
2. Decide what to place in your time capsule
You’ll find plenty of fun time capsule ideas above in case you need some inspiration but even if you already have a good idea of what you’d like to include, you’ll need to sit down with your family members and discuss what everyone would like to add to the time capsule.
Depending on how old your kids are, they can make a list of their favorite songs and movies, or draw a picture of their favorite superhero character. Perhaps you can even limit the number of items each person gets to put into the capsule.
Don’t forget that there are items you shouldn’t include in your time capsule, such as food. (Food wrappings are okay, though, as long as they’re clean.)
Electronics should be avoided as well. Аlthough a USB drive is a perfect way to pack a ton of memories, there’s a chance it might become damaged over time, especially underground.
And since technology is developing at a rapid pace, who knows – you might find it hard to find a device that has a USB port in 10 or 15 years! If you find this hard to believe, try to think of the last time you saw someone using a floppy disk.
If you’d still like to include an old CD or add another layer of protection to your memorabilia, you can place them in sheet protectors that prevent moisture from seeping in, and seal them with tape.
In my opinion, though, it’s best to keep it old school and avoid technology altogether!
3. Pick the time capsule container
Once you’ve decided on a hiding place and the items you’ll pack, it’s time to pick a container.
For the outdoors, you’re definitely going to need a stainless-steel container that is waterproof and can keep your memorabilia safe from weather damage, such as this container by Mytang.
For indoor hiding spots, you can get very creative with a DIY capsule. Even your little ones can get involved!
You can use a jar, an old shoebox, or a plastic container in which to place your time capsule items.
Plastic is better than cardboard because of its durability but if you’re planning on opening your capsule in a few years, a cardboard box will do just fine too.
Take into account the size of the container as it will limit the number of items you can place in the capsule. Make sure to label it with the date that you’re planning on opening it and seal it tight. Your kids can also decorate it with fun stickers and drawings.
You can decide to open it whenever you want, but the preferred time frame is around a decade when enough time has passed for you to really enjoy all the memories you have prepared for your future self.
If you’re making a baby time capsule, you can gift it to your child on their 18th birthday or when they graduate high school to show them what the world looked like when they were born.
Are you ready to create your very own time capsule? Armed with these ideas, I’m sure it will be filled with amazing memories and items that bring a smile to your face whenever you decide to open it!
Remember that when it comes to putting together a list of all the memorabilia you want to include, quality is more important than quantity. In addition, avoid adding food or any electronics that are likely to get damaged over time or fall out of use.
Objects that will remind you of a special day or carry significance for this period in time are a great choice, as well as any mementos from trips or major life changes.
My last recommendation is to hold off on opening the capsule for as long as possible and seal it tight so that there’s no peeking!
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