Time Capsule Dig

Family Reunion Time Capsule

Five years later and we finally got to dig up our time capsule!  Five years ago at our Stewart family reunion we had every family member fill out a questionnaire.  We asked questions about the present, their predictions for the future and invited everyone to set some goals that they hoped to accomplish by the time we opened the capsule in 2013.

On the 2nd day of our reunion this year, we went to Grandma’s house where the time capsule was buried to begin our search for the capsule we had buried five years ago.  We followed a very funny set of clues that cousin Tyler made up to find the capsule. 

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The first clue took us to the "”three pronged wooded fork” and then led us to a spot under Grandma’s bathroom window…. but there was no capsule there.

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Retracing our steps we realized that we had misinterpreted the clues and on this attempt found the time capsule buried at the corner of the house.  It took a little digging and we broke the lid off of the capsule but we found all our questionnaires safe and sound.

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Family History Church

We read our questionnaires at  the conclusion of our annual family history “church” we hold at each reunion.  Some of us found that we had remained focused during the five years and completed our goals and some found that their goals had been forgotten.  Some of us predicted what the price of gas would be in 2013 pretty accurately and some found they were living in a fantasy land. We had questioners from old boyfriends that had attended our reunion that year and from a dear Grandpa who had passed away.

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Our family time capsule was a big hit and family members voted to make another time capsule next year.  We’re already working on the questions for our new questionnaire.

Ask Aunt MO about Time Capsules

I have a question about making a time capsule. I want our family to make a time capsule at our family reunion this year but I’m not sure what we should put into the time capsule. Can you give me some more ideas for what to put into my time capsule?

Julie N.

Thanks for your question, Julie. I think you’re family will enjoy making a time capsule at your family reunion and I really think they will enjoy opening it in a few years. In my blog about time capsules I suggested that you add a newspaper to your time capsule. I think you’ll be surprised when you open the capsule to read what was going on in the world or your community at the time you made your time capsule.

You can also ask family members to write down their goals for the five years or ten years that will go by before you open the time capsule. Or write a letter to the future and tell the people what life is like for you now. Be sure and include your favorite family traditions, your worries and your joys too!


Memorabilia from your family reunion is another fun thing to put into your time capsule. Include your family reunion invitation and schedule of events. If you have contests such as a family reunion 5K be sure and list the winners.

Add photos to your time capsule. You can ask every family to bring a family picture or if you are close to a one hour photo developer you can take a family group picture of everyone at your family reunion and put that into the time capsule.


If you will only be storing your time capsule for five or ten years you may want to include a video messages from your family. Be careful about including a DVD for a long term time capsule, as fast as technology changes you may open the capsule and have nothing to play it on.

Get the children at your family reunion involved by cutting pictures out of a magazine showing the hottest toy of that year or the latest fashion trend. Just as we look back at the popularity of Strawberry Shortcake, Clackers, Tickle Me Elmo, Beanie Babies and Pokeman, these are items that are sure to be left behind in a few years and will be fun to remember when the time capsule is opened.


Leave out any substance that could decay and damage the other contents of the box. This includes rubber, wool, wood, PVC, and any perishable, liquid or edible item.

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.

Good luck with your time capsule, Julie.

Aunt MO

Make a Family Time Capsule


A time capsule is a collection of objects put together to preserve the memory of a place, experience, or group of people at one point in time. People often make time capsules for special public occasions, and for others to open many years in the future. You can make a family time capsule at your next family reunion or special event.

The first choice for your family time capsule is the container. It should keep out air and liquid, and be strong enough to protect the contents if it’s dropped. A large gourmet popcorn tin works quite well but if you plan on storing your container for a long period of time or want it to be more official looking you may wish to purchase a container from a company that specializes in time capsules- http://www.futurepkg.com/products/tc_personal.html These time capsules can cost as much as $200.00 but they are very impressive looking and can be engraved with the date assembled and the date to be opened.


We put our families’ time capsule in a new, empty paint can. Paint cans have great lids that will help keep moisture out. If you are concerned about the seal on your can, try turning the container upside down and very carefully dripping wax from a candle around the edge of the lid where it meets the container, to seal it completely.

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 maybe Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary? Or do you want to hide it away for 50 years for the next generation to find? On the outside of the time capsule print clearly the date it should be opened.


Write a time capsule log for your initial ceremony. This should be a record of who is involved, their names and ages, and what life is like at that time. This should be included inside the time capsule.

The first thing to put into your time capsule is a current newspaper. Then add personal items such as family photos, recipes, and small memorable from your family reunion or party. Be sure to list specifics such as names and where photos were taken. Include letters to your future self and bits of family news that otherwise might be forgotten. It’s fun to make predictions of what life will be like for you and your family in the future. If you’re putting in paper, make sure that it’s acid-free. 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.

Decide where to put your time capsule. We buried our time capsule in Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard. If you don’t have a metal container you may want to store on the top shelf of your closet or in an attic. Keep in mind that you may move before the appointed time, so think about putting it where you can easily find it. Keep a careful record of where your time capsule is stored- don’t assume you will remember all the details.


Did you know that you can register your time capsule?   The International Time Capsule Society was established in 1990 in Atlanta, Georgia, and allows people world wide to register their capsule in a formal registry and database. The site asks you to fill out your contact information, the contents or purpose of your time capsule, and when you would like it opened. You can register at Oglethorpe University.

Keep in mind that creating a capsule for unveiling at some future date is really a two sided adventure involving both you and those who will uncover it once again. Make sure that the items you select will add to the element of surprise and discovery for those who open this capsule of your family history. Imagine what a treasure a time capsule would have been from your ancestors and make your time capsule a thing of wonder and learning for those who will open yours.

Aunt MO

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose