Ideas for Time Capsules

Boy looking into box with light illuminating out

Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Many years down the line, a time capsule will make an exciting find for relatives, strangers or even yourself. Pack a weatherproof container with personal items, a section of a local newspaper or even a letter about yourself, including today's date, to give the time capsule's finder a glimpse back at today.

Family History

A time capsule for future generations clues your family in to what life was like when you made the capsule. Write a letter on acid-free paper, including the date and names of current family members, the occupations and ages of the family members, and even a dated family photo. Pack a picture of your home or property, especially if the property has been in the family for several generations and you intend for that tradition to continue. For amusement or shock value, include a copy of utility bills, which will be very different decades from now. A photocopy of a family tree also helps your descendants know more about their own past. Include copies of any images, stories or recipes left behind by your grandparents or great-grandparents. A copy of a local newspaper such as a free weekly paper sheds light on life in the neighborhood.

Personal Time Capsules

A time capsule by you, for you -- or more so, by the kids, for the kids -- serves as a bit of entertainment now and excitement years from now. Give children or teens acid-free paper and pens or markers to write about themselves, including the date and their current age, best friends, and favorite foods, songs and activities. Offer each participant a weatherproof container such as a plastic storage box with an airtight lid so their time capsules will last. If storing the capsules in the house, cardboard boxes such as shoeboxes will do. Encourage each child to include a small trinket such as a toy, a drawing he made, or a report card. Write the current date on each capsule, along with a "do not open until..." note, listing a year at least a decade in the future.

Group and General-Interest Capsules

A time capsule based on an organization, such as a church group or children's scouting troop, allows future participants a glimpse into the organization of today's church. Include a handbook or several current schedules of group events, as well as a group photo and news articles about the organization. If the group collects badges, include a badge or two, if possible, or a few projects made by group members. Pack a photo of the most common meeting place for the group, and stash the time capsule in this location, along with a date at which the capsule is to be opened.

Adventure Capsules

Stash contents for future descendants in a time capsule with a geocaching twist. Fill a stainless steel container with photographs and family information; then hide it in a fake rock or log designed for this purpose in a remote location, such as a large wooded family property or farm separate from your home's location. Prepare a second package with the latitude and longitude of the hidden capsule using a GPS unit to obtain coordinates, along with a picture of the rock or device in which the capsule is hidden. Keep the second package in a drawer where important family documents are stored. A stainless steel capsule is best for this type of time capsule, as it may be subjected to continual changes in weather.