Making a time capsule is fun, and it becomes even more fun to open it over the years. A time capsule can be any container that houses objects destined for people to discover in the future, be it 5, 10, or even 100 years from now. A suitable time capsule will hold its contents securely, preserving it for a future version of you, your grandchildren, or even a stranger to open. Soon you will have the skills to create a time capsule which will excite and fascinate someone in the future.
Method 1 of 4: Gather the content
Step 1. Choose an audience for the time capsule
Think about who the time capsule will be for. This will help you choose the contents, the location of the capsule, and the container. Whether you plan to open the capsule yourself, prefer to have your grandchildren open it, or wish for a stranger from the far future to stumble upon it, you must be clear about your intention.
If you're having trouble finding an audience, think about the type of capsule you'd most like to open. Wish your grandparents had left you a time capsule full of handwritten notes and memories? Are you excited by the idea of opening a 150-year-old capsule left by someone who has long since disappeared?
Step 2. Make a list of potential objects that you could include based on your audience
Depending on your audience, you may prioritize content in a number of ways. There is always a chance to collect more items for the time capsule other than what you end up including. The only limits are the space and the capacity of the capsule to be able to be stored safely.
- If the capsule is for you, focus on the personal memories of your life as it is now. Things like a pair of headphones you've worn every day for 2 years, an old key, or a takeout menu from your favorite restaurant will bring back memories in a few years.
- To make a time capsule that you plan to give to your children or grandchildren, look for things that interest them about your life and your world. Both personal items of importance to you and your family, such as wedding invitations, and things that represent the state of the world, such as technology, are good choices.
- If the capsule is for people in the far future to discover long after you're gone, focus on the era you're in. Things that may seem of little value now may be fascinating to someone 75 or 100 years from now.
Step 3. Put toys in a children's capsule
If you are doing the time capsule with children, or for the children of the future, one way to get children excited about the experience can be by placing simple toys and games. Of course, don't lock up a child's favorite toy for many years, but using a handful of toys from when they were younger could help them become interested in the experience.
Toys can change over the years more than you might think, and a child can come to remember them quite fondly years later
Step 4. Pick some current newspapers or magazines
For a more general audience, print media showing current events or trends is a good option to give them an idea of what it was like to be alive in your era in the future. You can even cut out headlines or items pertaining to the day the pod will be placed in its resting place.
Make sure to keep the paper in plastic sheeting to make sure it keeps
Step 5. Store diaries, letters, and photos for a personal touch
Whether the time capsule is for you or your family, many people find it rewarding to read messages between people from the past. Both magazines and photographs also provide a captivating look into someone else's life.
These items are particularly vulnerable to damage, so protect them with special file sheets if the capsule is to last more than 5 years
Step 6. Choose any other item that is compact and non-perishable
There is no limit to what can be kept in a time capsule, as long as it fits inside and does not reach its expiration date before the date you want to open it. Most foods and beverages are not good candidates for inclusion in a time capsule, as they are likely to rot or spoil before the date the capsule will be opened.
If you have no ideas about what to put in the time capsule, go over your daily activities in your mind. What objects do you use? What are you staring at? What do you read? Asking yourself these questions can give you a lot of new ideas
Step 7. Write and attach a letter, if you wish
This gives you the opportunity to tell the future audience about daily life, current news, fashions, attitudes, and trends, what you think the future will look like, and anything else you would like to say. You can also mention your intentions on creating the capsule.
Write the letter as if it were addressed directly to whoever opened the capsule. This will give it a much more personal touch than a letter that is more like a fact list than a form of communication
Step 8. Take an inventory of the entire contents of the capsule
Write down all the contents and put the list in the capsule and in your records. This will help future openers know that everything is in place, and will help you remember what you put in the capsule.
Method 2 of 4: Choosing an Appropriate Container
Step 1. Choose a duration for the time capsule
In the case of a personal time capsule, a span of between 10 and 30 years may be sufficient, while a generational time capsule for your grandchildren may require a duration of between 60 and 70 years. If you want the capsule to be opened at a later date, you will need to start planning the logistics.
It's okay if you don't have a specific date for the capsule to open. You may want to open it when you are married or get to retire
Step 2. Make a plan to deal with the worst wear and tear
No matter where you plan to store the time capsule, the damage could ruin the contents before anyone sees it. You should keep the wrapped items separate from each other and choose a container that can hold up beyond its likely duration.
Step 3. Use an old shoebox, trash can, or suitcase if you want to choose to store it indoors for a short time
If the capsule only lasts between 5 and 10 years, a simple, daily container will keep the contents safely hidden and easily transportable, without the risk of storing it outdoors.
Be aware that a capsule made of cardboard or paper can be completely destroyed by fire, flood, or some other natural disaster
Step 4. Use a coffee pot if you want to choose a simple short-term option
If you have a used coffee can on hand, the aluminum will keep underground for about 10 years. To prevent water from seeping through the lid, bury the container in a zip-lock bag, or some other airtight plastic wrap.
Step 5. Select a highly weather resistant container for long-term storage
If you plan to place the time capsule outdoors or bury it, select a container which is likely to hold up, such as one made of commercial or home-made aluminum, stainless steel, or a plastic PVC capsule.
- An example of a sturdy homemade PVC container is a PVC pipe with a PVC cement bonded closure cap and a test cap that can be screwed tightly onto the pipe.
- Consider using desiccant "gel packs," such as those found in electronics packaging and vitamin tablet bottles. These help absorb any moisture that may have been present at the time of encapsulation and help kill microbes that may cause some of the items to perish.
Method 3 of 4: Find the Correct Location
Step 1. Use the imaginary audience to decide where to place the capsule
If you plan to open the time capsule yourself, you may be able to store it in your own home or bury it in your backyard. If you want an audience to open it in the future, other than your family, it would be best if you store it somewhere that is off private property.
Make sure to store the capsule outdoors in a safe place that does not undergo development and construction processes, such as exactly outside a national park or landmark, especially if you decide to bury it
Step 2. Choose to bury it to take a traditional time capsule approach
Although burying it may not be the best option for a number of reasons, it is certainly the classic way to store the capsule. Buried capsules are very prone to being forgotten or lost, and being underground makes the contents much more susceptible to moisture damage.
Another positive aspect of underground storage is that the capsule is less likely to be removed or opened early as it could be if it were found indoors. Storage outdoors offers a better chance of the capsule remaining in one place
Step 3. Store the time capsule indoors for a safer alternative
Away from the elements, time capsules stored indoors are a safe alternative to underground storage. While opening these types of capsules can be more tempting and a little less captivating than handling buried time capsules, you should still consider taking an enclosed storage approach to short-term storage of the capsule.
Step 4. Choose an outdoor option, above ground level, for a fun challenge
An interesting alternative is to store the time capsule items in a stainless steel vacuum flask hidden within a camouflaged polyurethane rock or log.
These time capsules above ground level are called geocapsules and can provide an additional level of adventure to the experience of hiding a time capsule
Method 4 of 4: Store the time capsule
Step 1. Mark the container with the current date and the date you expect it to open
This ensures that the person opening it knows the exact origin of the time capsule and, if they find it by chance, knows when to open it.
- Avoid using ink to mark the outside of a buried capsule. An engraving would preserve better, although using waterproof paint is another good option.
- Writing these dates on the outside and inside of the capsule will create additional security measures.
Step 2. Do something to remind yourself or others about the time capsule
At a minimum, you will need to record the location and expected opening date on paper, digitally, and in a safe place. If you use a calendar, set reminders each year, or schedule an email to be sent to you on a certain date.
Consider writing the location and opening date in your will, or leaving a letter with instructions for your grandchild
Step 3. Make additional arrangements if it is a time capsule that will outlive you
If the time capsule is meant to open years or decades after its original placement, double-check that multiple people know of its exact location and surroundings. Ask them to keep the information to keep it safe, sharing it with others if necessary.
- Take pictures of the location, identify the GPS coordinates, and write down all the important data to pinpoint the precise location.
- Search the time capsule to make it feel more legitimate, and for a higher chance of being found, if all else fails.
Step 4. Seal the time capsule and put it away
Make sure to seal it firmly and completely. Remember to use a plastic bag outside, as well as for outdoor storage. If it's a personal time capsule, the hard part will be resisting the urge to open it, but you'll soon forget about everything until something reminds you of it!
Step 5. Place a marker of any type on the exact spot where a buried capsule is found
Even if it is just a painted rock, keeping some kind of visible, but not too obvious sign of where to dig to unearth the capsule will help you or someone else in the future avoid losing the treasure.
- If possible, use acid-free paper if you decide to include papers, books, or writing.
- Go find time capsules that you may already have. Has the grandmother left a suitcase, a log or a newspaper in the attic? Does the local library have old magazines, maps, or books that you could explore?
- Remember to put the current date on the time capsule.
- Always treat antiques, historical artifacts and other records from the past with care and respect so that your messages can also reach future generations.
- Don't put perishable items in the time capsule. No one will want to eat a 40-year-old peanut butter sandwich!
- Also take into account the lifespan of other items. A plastic toy could survive the years in better shape than a book or magazine, especially if the time capsule is exposed to water.