Clever DIY Time Capsule Ideas

Published January 26, 2021
Grandmother and grandson selecting items for a time capsule

Time capsules capture moments in history and can be incredibly exciting to revisit years later, or to leave for strangers to find at a later date. There are tons of simple time capsule ideas that are fun and nostalgic to put together.

Time Capsule Ideas

Whether you want to commemorate a special moment, or capture the essence of decades in your lifetime, there are plenty of unique time capsule ideas to choose from.

Time Capsule Ideas for Birthdays

If you are creating a time capsule to honor a special birthday, you may consider including:

Woman reading vintage birthday card
  • Pictures of that day
  • A letter to yourself or to whoever's birthday it is
  • Unused party plates and napkins if the birthday party was themed
  • For babies and kids, you can include handprints and footprints
  • A newspaper from that specific day
  • A favorite outfit or article of clothing
  • Any clean birthday decorations
  • Birthday cards and the birthday invitation

Time Capsule Ideas for Graduations

If you want to commemorate graduating, you can include:

  • Assignments and projects that were completed in the last year
  • Images from graduation
  • Recorded messages from the graduating individual or class
  • Letters written by the graduate and/or their parent(s) or caregiver(s)
  • Graduation memorabilia (pamphlet, tassel, invitation)

Time Capsule Ideas if You're Moving

If you're moving out of your home, you may consider including:

Man unrolling blueprints
  • Memorabilia from the neighborhood (from local shops and restaurants- nothing perishable)
  • Pictures of the home and everyone's rooms
  • A letter about you and/or family and your experience in the house
  • Pictures or notes from the neighbors
  • Blueprints of your home

Time Capsule Ideas for Couples

If you and your partner want to make a time capsule, you may include:

  • Images of your relationship over time
  • A letter about how you met and a timeline of your relationship
  • A note to your future selves if you intend on opening the time capsule later on
  • Cards and notes that you sent to each other
  • A list of favorite memories or milestones and non-perishable memorabilia
  • Letter about what you think the future will be like
  • Journal entries

How Do You Make a Family Time Capsule?

If you're making a family time capsule, you may want to include:

  • A family tree drawing
  • Pictures of your family over the years
  • Memorabilia from your favorite places to travel, local restaurants, and shops
  • A favorite family recipe
  • A list of your favorite local hang outs
  • The prices of your typical groceries
  • A newspaper and/or magazine
  • Kids' projects and drawings
  • Some technology that you no longer use (old phone, old remote, etc.)
  • Letter to your future selves or the intended time capsule openers about what you think the future will be like
  • Journal entries or family questionnaires

How to Make a Time Capsule

Once you've selected your objects for the time capsule, or have an idea of the theme you are going for:

Woman writing on a box
  • Think about who will be opening up your time capsule- is this something for you, or do you intend on having strangers find it later on?
  • If the time capsule is not intended for strangers to find, you can include more personal memorabilia that doesn't require specific context to understand.
  • If the time capsule is intended for others to find, you may want to include some context (magazines, newspapers, etc.) for the pieces you've chosen to include, so it's easier to understand.
  • Write a letter to your future self or family members, or to whoever you intend on finding the time capsule.
  • Leave a list of what you've included in your time capsule and your reason why.
  • Make sure the contents of your time capsule are protected according to how long you plan on keeping the time capsule closed.
  • Be sure to write the date on the time capsule.
  • Choose your time capsule container according to how long you plan on your time capsule lasting and where you plan on keeping it (shoe boxes or other simple containers for short term indoor storage, coffee canister in an airtight bag for up to 10 years and a weatherproof storage for long term).

Where Can I Hide a Time Capsule?

Where you decide to keep your time capsule will depend on how long you intend on keeping it sealed and who you'd like to find it. If you are creating a time capsule for yourself, with your friends, and/or with your family, and you intend on opening it up in five years or less, you may choose to hide it in your home instead of outdoors.

  • If you bury your time capsule, about 12 to 18 inches beneath the ground should keep it safe.
  • You can keep your time capsule in your home, bury it in your yard, or select a public place to hide it for others to find down the line.
  • If you are doing construction on your home, or know someone who is, you may be able to hide your time capsule beneath the floor boards, in the attic, or within the walls. Just make sure wherever it is kept, it won't be crushed.
  • Mark down where you've hidden or buried your time capsule so you don't forget and set a reminder for yourself to open it if you intend on doing so in a year or so.

What to Put in a Time Capsule

What you decide to put in your time capsule will depend on who you want to find it. If the time capsule will be opened by you and/or your friends, or family members, you can place a few special items that are meaningful to each of you in the capsule, as long as they are not perishable. You may also include a note to yourselves or drawings done by little ones. If you plan on burying your time capsule for others to find, you may consider including items and context pieces that help the capsule-finder understand this moment in history, as well as a list of items you've included and why.

Create a Time Capsule

Creating a time capsule is a fun and creative activity you can do solo, with your friends, with your partner, and/or with your family members. Be sure you keep your audience in mind when creating your time capsule and select a suitable container depending on the timeframe and location you intend for your time capsule.

Clever DIY Time Capsule Ideas