How to Put Together a Time Capsule Gift

How I put together a time capsule for my kid to open on their 18th birthday.

“Treasure the time you have with your baby. Before you know it, they’ll be walking out the door to start life on their own.” If I had a dollar for every time that parenting tip was brought up to me, I wouldn’t have to live a DIY/frugal life. Just kidding, I still would, because creating art is the best!  Yes, it’s true, time does totally fly by.  The world as we know it changes, and babies grow up.

So capture time. Trap it in a box. Duct tape it up, and hide it away. Pop artist Andy Warhol did this on a regular basis.  Keeping a cardboard box on his office desk, he would collect moments from his life that he received like photos, magazines, letters, and gifts. Once the box was full, he taped it up, and began a new one. This ended up being his largest collecting project, with 612 boxes in total; The Time Capsules. They were cracked open 7 years after his death and can be viewed by anyone at The Andy Warhol Museum.

I ended up creating a time capsule for my girl on her 1st birthday, to be opened on her 18th in the year 2034!!! It was already a trip down memory lane as I cracked it open to create this quick tutorial. I had forgotten some of things that had been placed in there, so I can’t wait to see her reaction. I mean YES I CAN. I CAN WAIT!

Here’s a list of what I ended up putting in the capsule that could help jump start your inspiration for a time capsule of your own! (And to my daughter Vivi, if for some reason you’ve stumbled upon this blog post years from now, stop reading! You’ll find out what’s in the box July 2034! <3 )

Get a box:

You’ll need a strong box that can withstand time. Who knows what will happen in your life before that official unveiling date. You could move, your home could get flooded, bug invasion, etc. A shoe box could work, just duct tape the crap out of all the edges so it’s impenetrable. I used a photo storage box, acquired on the cheap from my favorite craft store.

A Letter From You:

A nice way to kick off the box opening is an intro letter of some sort, which could relay info of when and why this capsule was created.

For my capsule, I started it off with a pretty awesome birthday card featuring Adventure Time art because that was the show we first binged together during feeding sessions. I included a personal letter, spelling out my hopes for our relationship as mother/daughter, what I sang to her nightly to help her fall asleep, and about our first conversation we had at the hospital and all the promises I made her at that point. There are also a bunch of pictures of us from our first year together.

Baby Outfit & First Shoes:

You could add the first onesie they ever wore, their first Halloween costume, booties your grandma knit for them, the hospital issued beanie, the outfit they wore the most, or whatever snuggly cute shirt you are willing to part with for 18 years.

I added one of my favorite outfits that I dressed her up in as much as possible before she quickly outgrew it. She looked like a little punk rocker. And her first pair of shoes that are so worn out, just like a pair of cool chucks should be.

Letters of Encouragement:

Rally the family and folks that have already made an impact on your kid, and have them be a part of the capsule! Collect letters from them, asking them to include words of encouragement, advice, favorite stories they have so far of the baby, and predictions.

I had my girl “write” herself a letter! I also added a letter from the President and First Lady Obama! All her many aunts and uncles contributed too, as well all the grandparents. She also has a whole village helping to raise her, so this capsule is jam packed with cards from all our favorite people. The box is missing one letter, so until he writes one, I can’t duct tape it up- GREG! 🙂

List of Yearly Trends:

Include a list of what’s popular the year the capsule was created. It’ll be fun to compare it to what is popular the year the capsule is opened! The list I made includes Pantone’s color of the year, popular food trend, popular slang words, most watched TV show, top grossing film, most popular song of the year, and the hot toy kids were begging for that spiked prices.


Magazines may not even exist in 18 years. So these may be pricey collector items that your little can trade in for college tuition funds. Just kidding, I hope. Including magazines that highlight what the current world culture is like are great additions to a time capsule. Unsure of what her interests will be, I did a ranged selection of magazines that cover technology, food, fashion, and current events. Teen Vogue was on point with all their activism coverage, featuring strong stories of empowering women. I had to go to several locations to find an issue because they were flying off the shelf.

Other little things you can include:

  • Savings bond
  • Heirlooms
  • Mix tape (CD, flash drive with music you want to pass on)
  • Photos
  • Newspaper from the day they were born
  • Souvenirs from places they visited that year

When you’ve got everything you need, secure the box with some fun duct tape, write the date that it should be opened on it, and hide it where you usually hide all your holiday gifts.

What else would you include? I’d love to hear your ideas. After all, my box still isn’t secured, as I’m still waiting on your letter GREG. <3

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