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How to Make a Time Capsule

By: Nancy Wurtzel

A personalized time capsule can be made for any special event, such as a birthday, wedding anniversary, graduation or even the birth of a child. Your personally designed time capsule preserves history, popular culture, special memories and can help link generations of a family together. It is a unique and thoughtful gift that will be appreciated and long remembered.

There are a number of steps to keep in mind when creating a time capsule gift.


Traditionally, a time capsule provides a “snapshot” of a specific day in history. Consequently, if you are making a capsule to welcome a new baby into the family, then you would focus on the baby’s birth date -- what was happening in the world and with the baby’s family on that day. On the other hand, if the capsule is to mark your grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, you probably want to make it more of a “retrospective” on their many years of marriage.


1. Start Early. The best part of any time capsule is the thought and preparation that goes into it. Be sure that you don’t rush the process. If you leave everything until the last minute, it will look that way!

2. Choose a Container. Think cool and dry when you search for just the right container. Check online for affordable time capsules and you will find a variety of styles. Some will even engrave the person’s name on your selected capsule. However, to make it very simple, you can make your own capsule by choosing a sturdy metal container that can be properly sealed.

3. Select an Unsealing Date. Perhaps you want to set a significant date, such as a child’s 21st birthday, a couple’s silver wedding anniversary or return from military service. Most people give their time capsule to the recipient unsealed so additional items can be added. However, you can seal it before it is presented and have the contents be a total surprise when it is opened.

4. Put it in Writing. This is especially important if the time capsule will be opened far in the future. Make a capsule document that details everything about it, including the contents, unsealing date, purpose of the capsule and who should be present when it is unsealed. Then keep it in a safe place.

5. Storing the Time Capsule. Although you may be tempted, it is not advisable to bury your capsule. You are likely to move or forget exactly where it is buried, and the contents could be damaged by the elements. It’s a better idea to give the capsule a special place in your home -- perhaps the fireplace mantle or on the family piano. Let the capsule become a conversation piece as you show it to friends and family and talk about its significance.


The key to a meaningful time capsule is to make it personal, relevant and interesting. Following are some ideas on items to include and more importantly a few to leave out.

First, it is strongly recommended not to include food, drinks or liquids. Basically, anything that could ruin the contents or create a bad odor. Instead, consider coins, money, stamps, a small keepsake album, newspapers and magazines. Write a letter explaining the time capsule’s purpose -- be sure to use acid-free paper that won’t deteriorate as quickly. Cards and photos are an excellent choice, but consider layering them with acid-free paper as well.

If you are making the capsule for a person with special interests, try to incorporate their personality into the contents. For instance, a political junkie will enjoy campaign buttons and literature. Someone who is a golf fanatic will love golf paraphernalia or the signature of a famous golfer. A college graduate will get a kick out of seeing the plastic and metal “character” style toys that kids were playing with when he was born.

You can choose contents that are more lighthearted and funny or more serious and reflective. Just remember that you set the tone.

To learn about the history of the time capsule and how to register your personally created capsule, please visit the All About Baby website at

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About The Author, Nancy Wurtzel

Nancy Wurtzel founded her ecommerce business, All About Baby, in 1995, All About Baby at specializes in personalized and memorable gifts for children. Ms. Wurtzel also consults with small businesses seeking to enter the marketplace.
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