Time Capsule Ideas – How to Make one & What to Include (Plus Free Printables!)

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Looking for a fun and creative way to preserve family memories? If so, then making a time capsule may be just the thing for you!

old photos in an old wooden box

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If you are looking for an activity to do with your children that is not only fun, but meaningful as well, then you have come to the right place! Creating a family time capsule is a project that everyone can enjoy doing together. And if you don’t know what it is, or what to put in a time capsule, then this list of time capsule ideas is sure to be helpful!

Time capsule ideas (what to include)

So you want to make a time capsule with your family, but what do you even put in one? The possibilities are almost endless with what you can include in your family’s time capsule. Each family is different so each time capsule will look different as well, but here are some ideas of what you could include to get you started (you can pick whatever makes sense for your family).

  • Family Photos (make copies and place the copies in the time capsule)
  • Awards or certificates
  • Newspapers or magazines
  • Mementos from special trips or activities
  • Pictures or magazine clippings of current fashions, cars, houses, etc
  • Favorite family recipes (a copy of these will work just fine)
  • Photos and/or the floor plans of your current home
  • Pictures of pets or special memorabilia (leash, collar, etc).
  • Special letters or cards
  • Party invitations
  • An old cell phone
  • Any other objects that show what life is like at the time you make your time capsule
  • A record of what common things currently cost (get this printable for free when you sign up below!)

Time capsule ideas for kids

Instead of doing one big family time capsule, maybe you want to have a smaller ones for each of your children. Or each child can do their own in addition to a bigger family time capsule. No matter which option you pick, here are some ideas of what your children can include (or you can put in if they are too young).

  • Photos (school pictures, family pictures, and candid/everyday life photos)
  • Ribbons, awards, certificates, medals
  • Art work, drawings or craft projects that are special
  • Photo of their favorite blanket, toy, book etc (unless they’re ok with the actual item being placed in the time capsule)
  • Report cards
  • Wrappers from their favorite candy or snack
  • Diplomas
  • Special letters or cards
  • Handprint or footprint painting or stamps
  • A special outfit or piece of clothing they’ve outgrown
  • A list of their current favorite things (get this printable for free when you sign up below!)
  • Their favorite book (or a picture of it if they still read it)
  • Meaningful cards or letters they’ve received
  • Growth chart or record of height and weight at each age
  • Birthday invitations
  • Handmade ornaments
  • A letter to their future selves (get this printable for free when you sign up below!)
  • Projects they’ve made
  • A letter that you write to your child (you can include special stories or memories you have of them, your hopes for them, what you love most about them, etc)
  • Figurines they like

Again, make sure that the container you’re using will keep everything inside safe and dry. If possible, make copies of important things like photos, keepsakes, family recipes, certificates, etc and store the copies in the time capsule, not the originals.

Family time capsule ideas

Making a family time capsule is a great way to spend quality time together. It’s also a fun activity (and for more ways to enjoy being together, check out these 67 ideas for family fun night!) You can also add to the fun by decorating your own containers (which is easier to do if you will be storing your time capsule inside where it’s safe).

So if you’ve decided that you want to all work together and make a family time capsule, then the following ideas can help you do just that. But as always, you are not limited to just this list – make it as unique as your family is!

  • Family photos
  • Favorite recipes
  • A family tree
  • Special mementos from a family trip or activity
  • A family questionnaire (get this printable for free when you sign up below!)
  • A list of special (or crazy!) family traditions
  • A family heirloom (or a picture of it if that is safer)
  • Menus from your favorite restaurants
  • Handmade gifts (from your kids or other people)
  • Family bucket lists
  • A list of everyone’s favorite memories

Get all of these family time capsule printables for FREE when you sign up below! You will also get access to my resource library full of fun, FREE printables!

printable time capsule worksheets for kids

What should you NOT put in a time capsule?

I hope that that list of time capsule ideas have been helpful in deciding what you might want to put in your own time capsules! And while there are countless things you can include in one, there are however some items that you may want to avoid.

So here is a list of what you should NOT put in a time capsule:

  • Original photos, certificates, special papers (make copies of these items and include those instead of the originals)
  • Food (or drinks)
  • Batteries (or things with batteries)
  • Anything that wouldn’t do well with extreme heat or cold

It’s not a long list, but worth keeping in mind as you assemble your own time capsule! It wouldn’t be any fun to discover that something you put in was ruined.

So now we’ve covered a bunch of time capsule ideas, but what if you still have questions? Continue reading for more information on what they are, how to make one, and how to get free printables that you can add to your time capsules!

What is a time capsule?

A time capsule is any kind of container that holds a variety of different objects. You can include everything from items that are meaningful to your family (or child) to things that represent present day life and current events. It’s a way to preserve a part of your family’s history and paint a picture of what life is like at this point in time.

It is meant to be put away, and left alone for a predetermined amount of time. This way, when you open the time capsule at a later date, you can look back at what life was like 2, 5, 10, or however many years ago.

You can make a time capsule for each child to open when they’re a certain age, or you can make one that includes your whole family and open it up together, years down the road. You get to make all the rules on what to include, where to keep it, and when you will open it!

So now that you know what a time capsule is, let’s talk more about how to create one.

How to make a time capsule

Step 1. Decide where you will be storing it

There are countless places where you can hide or store your time capsule, but it’s really only divided into two categories – indoors or outdoors. The location you decide on will determine the container that you use. You wouldn’t want to use a cardboard box for a time capsule that you’ll be burying outside for 10 years!

You can keep your time capsule up on a shelf, hidden in a closet, under a bed, in the garage, in a shed, in the basement, in the attic, or even buried in the ground. The key is to remember where you hid it!

You also want to be sure that wherever you keep it is out of the way and not easily seen. Part of the fun is opening it together sometime in the future, so you don’t want to be tempted to peek!

Once you know where you’ll be keeping your time capsule, you can better decide what kind of container you will use. That leads us to step 2…

Step 2. Pick a container

Now that you’ve decided whether you will keep your time capsule indoors or outdoors, you can pick the container that will hold all of your objects. In order to pick the best size, you will need to think about what items you may want to include.

If you’ll be storing it inside, then it’s a little easier and cheaper to find a container. You can use a shoebox, small plastic tote, wooden box, or even an empty coffee can (just be sure that no water or animals can get into whatever you pick). The great thing about these kinds of containers however, is that they are perfect for decorating!

This is where you can involve the kids and get creative – making it a perfect family activity (for more ways to have fun, see these 67 ideas for a fun family night)! Since you’ll be keeping your time capsule inside, you don’t need to worry as much about protecting it, so let the kids have fun decorating the container!

two cardboard shoeboxes stacked on top of each other

If you don’t want to keep your time capsule inside, you can keep it outside. However, it does make things a bit more difficult in that you cannot just pick any old container. If you want to store it in a garage, shed, or buried in the ground, you will need to pick something a little more sturdy and safe.

You will want something that will keep water, moisture, the elements, and critters out of your time capsule. You could pick a stainless steel container (the preferred method if using outside), or some other type of container that is airtight and waterproof. Whatever option you decide on, just be sure you can keep the contents safe (and include copies of things and not the originals).

Step 3. Decide when to open it

Now that you know where you’ll keep your time capsule and what container you will use, it’s time to decide when you want to open it. There are no rules here, so you can pick any timeframe you’d like! You can open it one year from now, or 5 years, or 10 years, or on a specific date that’s meaningful- the choice is up to you!

Once you know how long it’ll be stored away for, you can seal up the container and put a label of some kind on it specifying the date when it’ll be opened (get a label printable for free when you sign up below!). And no peeking until the agreed upon time!

FREE time capsule printables

As you can see, there are so many things that you can include. Some of the fun time capsule ideas mentioned in the list above involve recording information about your child or family. I have made it quick and easy to do just that by making these FREE time capsule printables for you!

All you need to do to get these free printables is sign up below! You will then be sent the password to a subscribers only resource library where you can download any of the printables you’d like – for FREE!

time capsule worksheet printables

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