Family celebrations have always played an important role in my life. When I was growing up, my mom created wonderful celebrations for our birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. As a mother, I carried on the traditions for my daughter and son when they were growing up.
Eight years ago, as my granddaughter, Juliet, approached her first birthday, my daughter called to ask for some first birthday ideas on how to celebrate this milestone.
I suggested we create a first birthday baby time capsule and ask everyone in the family to contribute something to put inside. My daughter and son-in-law loved the idea and decided that after we filled the time capsule, they would seal it up until Juliet’s 13th birthday in 2016.
Creating a time capsule is a great way to involve the entire family in the celebration. It’s nice if you can get a mixture of sentimental, historical, and fun items.
- Old family photos
- Personal letters that share memories, wishes or fun predictions
- Family tree
- Tape or video recordings
- Memories of baby such as a blanket, bracelet, or book
- Mementos such as sports, political
- Newspaper clippings of events and trends of the child’s birth year
- Coins, bills or receipts
- Music from baby’s first year or oldies from different generations
- Internet fads
- Pop culture fads
- Popular products
Start by inviting each family member to bring or send an item for the capsule that is meaningful to him or her. Ask them to include a note explaining why they chose it. The note of explanation will help the child understand the contents and put the item in context when the time capsule is eventually opened.
At Juliet’s birthday party, each person showed his contribution and read his note before placing it into the time capsule.
Don’t bury your time capsule. Keep it inside in something bug and waterproof. My son-in-law sealed all the treasures in a five-gallon paint bucket. Your container choice will depend largely on how much you’re putting in it and how long you want to store it.
Store all paper items in their own individual 100% polyethylene bags, place coins and computer equipment in something to keep them safe.
I contributed two items for my granddaughter’s time capsule:
- A letter to Juliet sharing my feelings and memories of her first year
- A photo album of “first impressions” from her first year called My First Year of Firsts. I included pictures of her meeting family members, celebrating holidays, eating solid food, and wearing a party dress.
After the celebration, my son-in-law painted “Do Not Open Until 2016” on the bucket and put it in the attic.
The year 2016 seemed like such a long way off when we sealed the time capsule in 2004. Now that we’re more than half way there, I can actually imagine standing beside Juliet when she opens her precious time capsule.
I can’t wait to see the look on her face as we all wish her a Happy 13th Birthday, hand her the time capsule, and watch her go through the treasures!