How to Make a Family Time Capsule


A time capsule can be a great family project to commemorate a special occasion. Fill it with photographs and mementos, and put it away for as long as you like.

Things You'll Need

  • Safe-deposit Boxes
  • Acid-free Boxes
  • Airtight Resealable Bags
  • Memorabilia
  • Photographs
  • Storage Chests
  • Old Newspapers
  • Acid-free Papers
  • Fireproof Safes
  • Determine how long you want to put your time capsule away. Is it something you want to look at in 5 years? 10? 20? Will you take it out for a special occasion, such as an anniversary or a 21st birthday? Or do you want to hide it away for the next generation to find?

  • Decide where to put it. Keep in mind that you may move before the appointed time, so think about putting it where you can easily find it.

  • Decide what container to use. You can buy containers designed for time capsules, or use any waterproof, airtight and preferably fireproof vessel.

  • Ask everyone in the family to contribute an item - clippings, photographs, letters, arts and crafts, toys or just about anything else that fits into the capsule.

  • Protect the contents from decay. Put them into individual, airtight plastic bags and store them in a cool, dry location. For extra protection, consider copying them onto acid-free paper first.

  • Store photographs correctly - ask at a photography or crafts store if you aren't sure how to treat your photos.

  • Leave out any substance that could decay and damage the other contents of the box. This includes rubber, wool, wood, PVC, and any perishable or edible item. If you must include any of these, put them in an air-tight plastic bag.

  • Mark everything clearly so you or others will know where each item came from and who included it when the time comes to open the capsule. Don't assume you will remember all the details. You may also want to include a detailed inventory of all the items.

  • Fill the capsule and seal it, then put it out of sight and out of mind. Make sure you store your capsule in a place where your kids won't get impatient having to look at it every day.

  • Leave yourself a reminder about the time capsule in a place where you are likely to find it if you move or if your home suffers any damage.

Tips & Warnings

  • Black-and-white photos last longer than color photos and will not fade as much - use them whenever possible.
  • Have each family member include a letter to the older version of himself or herself, or to future generations, if the capsule will be stored that long. Mention favorite foods, music, books, movies and hobbies.
  • If you plan to seal the time capsule away for more than a generation, include instructions for using any equipment or recordings you include. Your compact discs and videocassettes may very well be obsolete 100 years from now.
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