How to Make a Great Time Capsule

by Rebecca on January 5, 2010

When I was seventeen, my church youth group did a time capsule activity.  I remember being very unenthusiastic about this activity.  Now, I can’t figure out why I wasn’t excited- this is exactly the type of thing I love to do!

Well, it’s been ten years since that activity took place.  While putting away the Christmas decorations in our Harry Potter closet under the stairs the other day, I found the time capsule.  My husband has been itching to open it up since we got married, but I’m a stickler for rules.

Since it is now 2010, we were finally allowed to open and reveal the great desires of my 17 year old self.

It was rather disappointing.  Remember- I was unenthusiastic at the time the capsule was sealed.  The things put in the capsule were mostly put in there by my dear friend Jill who wouldn’t let me seal it up without something interesting.  She made copies of pictures and cards for me.

And it looks like I grabbed a few things on my way out the door- the cover of a college application, a certificate for a judged piano performance, my senior picture.  These were interesting to see, but not exactly exciting.

There were two things in the capsule I was happy to see:

1. the pictures Jill copied.  Thank you Jill.


2. a sealed letter from my mother to me.

So that you don’t make the same mistake as me, I have compiled a list of things to include in a time capsule.  At the start of a new year and decade, now is a great time for your family to make your own time capsule!

What to Put in a Time Capsule

1. Lots of pictures.  It made me happy to see a picture of myself with my high school friends.  I am still friends with each one of them today.

2. Letters.  If your children are making a time capsule, write them a letter and seal it up (BEFORE they have read it).  Tell them what you love about them and what you hope for them.  Tell them what you believe and why.  Mention something about what they are currently doing in life.

Have your child write a letter to herself.  Those are so fun to read years later.  If you are making a time capsule for yourself, write yourself a letter.  Think about how old you will be when you open the time capsule, and write about what you hope to have accomplished at that point.

Have siblings, friends and even neighbors write letters too.  Be sure to have them include last names.

3. Lists.  I would have loved to have read a list of what I loved at the age of seventeen.  Or a list of what I hated.  A list of my favorite things in my room.  A list and description of my favorite outfits.  A list of my favorite song artists.  A list of my top 3 college choices.  A list of my favorite books.  A list of my favorite movies.  A Top 10 of my year…you get the idea.

4. Wages and prices.  It would have been fun to find an old pay stub and receipt for something I saved to buy.

5. Labels.  I found a little pink birdhouse with my name on it.  I have no idea where it came from, who made it or why I would have included it in my time capsule.  If you do put an item in your capsule, be sure to include a description of it’s origin and meaning to you at the time.

6. Movie stubs

7. Gas receipts

8. Grocery receipts

9. Your favorite book, cd or movie. Be sure it’s not your only copy since you’re sealing this up for a period of time.

10. Children’s artwork-label label label!  You won’t remember what the scribbles were supposed to be 10 years later!

11. Outlines of hands and feet

12. A lock of hair Since hair color changes (naturally or chemically), it could be fun to compare when you open the capsule.

13. An outgrown but favorite outfit or pair of shoes

14. A calendar of your year- with all the appointments.  Doctor appointments, vacations and piano lessons can be interesting years later!

15. Paint chips, carpet, fabric swatches from your house

Thanks for visiting! Because of stupid spammers, I had to close comments on this post, but please feel free to email me with any thoughts you have. Or better yet, stick around and check out my more recent posts. Just click here to go to the home page. Or better, better yet, add me to your preferred reader so you won’t miss out on any of the hilarity going on at Thrilled by the Thought!

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In Pictures: North Shore Ages « Connect Shore
June 19, 2012 at 5:04 am


Jill January 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

hahaha. this is cracking me up. I wonder if i have mine anywhere around. I don’t even remember the day we did these. I wish i did!

Christy January 7, 2010 at 10:42 am

Oh man, why didn’t we all make a time capsule. Can you imagine the crazy stuff we would have put in there? You need to make a new one for Lydia so she can open it 10 years from now…she’ll be, 12…oh my gosh. That is crazy to think about!!

Linda January 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Great idea. It’s not to late to do another one or make a traditon for each child on a special birthday. I’m going to think on this some.

LaDonna July 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm

This will be the second year I have a Camp for my grandchildren. I have asked them to bring 5 special items from home for the capsule. I’m going to include many of the items suggestion here… Letters to them, list of their likes and dislikes, pictures from camp,etc . This will be one of day activtities. Open when the youngest is 21. I will be 79.


John July 24, 2011 at 12:40 am

We did time capsules for our daughters when they were born and opened them ten years later. We included footprints, pictures, dates/times of events like first smile, first dirty diaper, LOL. We also included baseball/football/soccer/basketball cards for that year, stamps, toys (Tickle me Elmo and Furby new in box, beenie babies). We also deposited $500 in compound interest savings account rolling over. Opened one in 2007 and the other last year. It was great. We resealed them on December 31, 2010 with some of the original stuff and other items like art pieces, wine, whiskey, stock certificates and collections of words to ourselves and advise, letters to each other and ourselves. Some currencies like Euro, Pounds and Dollars. Gold and silver coins. It’s fun. Date to open is Jan 1, 2020 written our wills and with attorney on locations. It’s really a neat hobby we’re thinking about doing every year or every other year. Thanks for sharing.

Neil December 13, 2011 at 8:16 am

Thanks for the idea! I am in charge of a youth group and was really having a hard time coming up with something meaningfull for them to do. This is great!

lily April 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

this is great!

lily April 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm

this is great i think i might do this.

Hana April 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Thanks for making this! I made a time capsule when I was little and was disappointed when I opened it up. It was mostly lists and media from what was popular at the time, things you can learn about without making a time capsule. The one I’m making now has old identification cards, a journal I kept of when I first met my husband, and my old cell phone (hopefully it’ll still work when I open it up!). I also plan to include lists of current prices of gas, groceries, movie tickets etc, and my favorite trends this year :)

Top Kat May 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm

This is a wonderful idea and now that I am a grandmother (cough), I’d love to see my grandchildren do these. Wish I’d thought of it myself! Thank you for the great tips!

Karen July 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

This sounds fun! I am so going to do one of these so i can open it up when I go to college.

Karen July 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

What did the letter say?!?!

Veronica July 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

My friend and I made a time capsule when we were in about 2nd grade and it is almost time to open it! Now we are going to make another time capsule to open when we graduate from high school! Thanks for the ideas.

Btw, we are both now 12!

Gervie August 7, 2012 at 4:04 am

I’m making a time capsule right now! :) ) I placed it in my Audrey Hepburn suitcase since I’m just keeping it indoors. :D I’m so excited!

Danno August 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Thanks to the author of this post and those who’ve replied. My husband and I celebrate our 10th anniversary this weekend and since tin is the traditional gift, the best idea I could come up with is a tin (looking) time capsule that we’ll open on our 20th anniversary. Our children will be 18 and 15 by then so they’ll really get a kick out of the letters we write to each other. Makes me a little sad thinking of opening it though. The past 10 years have gone by so quickly and the next 10 are sure to pass even faster.

I’m including a bottle of wine from our marriage year (now that we can afford something nice), our favorite jeans, all receipts from our anniversary dinner and movie night, a list of things we’d like to do together like dance lessons and learning hangul, newspapers etc….
None of these things seem exceptionally special or as personal as I’d like. Something is missing.

Anna September 5, 2012 at 6:23 am

My husband and I wrote letters to one another after our honeymoon and sealed them to be opened five years later. It was a great idea, and we loved reading the letters (crazy how much a person changes in a few years!) The time capsule is an even better idea, although I’m definitely going to do the letters again. :)

Hailee October 4, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I am in the process of creating one. So far I have put in a wreck your journal. I will use this for reference

Anna October 6, 2012 at 9:29 am

This post was great. me and my friends when we where in are reception year in school but a time capsule. Just some tiime after we lost touch and now time to open it. Afew weeks ago we all found each other and now found out that the oldest who was keeping it safe.
when he was 9 years old his family home went on fire and the time capule could not be saved. Since that day of our reunion. At the end of that day we know we was so differnt and i have never seen them again.

but least the burning news i recieve meet them again i got to meet there families again and suddenly notice my close friends older sister. It just had to be my worst childhood bully.

But great idea to make my own. So in the future i will able to see how much i have changed

Sharon October 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I love all these ideas. What I have been doing over the last twenty years is a bit different. Each year before I put my Christmas stuff away in the attic I write a letter to myself about what kind of year it has been, the good things and the sad things that have happened, I also write about my hopes and dreams for the coming year. I put the letter in a box of my best ornaments. I always look forward to unpacking the Christmas stuff to see my letters. Also, I am a widow with one grown daughter and I know if something should happen to me she would find the letters and I think she would be happy to have them.

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