How to Create a Quarantine Time Capsule: 6 Steps

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Contributing writer, former long-term care admissions counselor and social worker

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If you’ve never planted a time capsule, it might be one of those things you’ve always wanted to do. Think of how fun it’d be for you to open your time capsule and reminisce someday.

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Due to COVID-19, most of the country is in quarantine or at least observing social distancing rules. Why not commemorate this time? You might be interested in dedicating some time to creating a quarantine time capsule or memory box. If this is you, look no further for how to make a time capsule and time capsule ideas!

Step 1: Decide Your Purpose

What’s your purpose for the time capsule? Sure, it can be to commemorate the time during COVID-19, but it also could be centered around other things: Family time, games you played, projects you did around the house, the artwork you completed, or maybe even the news. Nail down your purpose before you move onto the next step. 

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Step 2: Determine Size 

Is this going to be an independent project or are you hoping to get your family and/or friends involved? Decide who will take part and designate how many items each person can contribute.

Pro tip: You may determine your capsule container based on the number of items you have or choose the number of items you have first and then get the right-sized container for your items. 

Step 3: Designate a Capsule and Destination

Next, you will want to find the perfect container to hold your items. You can be creative here with what you use as the vessel for your time capsule, but don’t forget to consider size, material, shape, and what works best for where you’re planning to put it.

You’ll want your capsule to be big enough to hold the number and type of items you are planning to put in it.

How to pick the correct container 

If you plan on keeping your time capsule out of sight and out of mind for a long time, you’ll want to keep in mind what the item may come in contact with during that time. It’s most important to choose a container that can withstand any changes to temperature, weather, is leak-proof, and secure. 

If you’re hoping to keep your capsule in the ground, choose a container that can withstand the elements and will not leak. Consider an airtight plastic tote, shoebox, Mason jar, lockbox or safe. 

Step 4: Decide Closing and Opening Dates 

Whether you’re working independently or not, you’ll want to establish ground rules and stick to them for the best result. Determine a time you will officially close the time capsule and not add anything more to it.

You’ll also want to set an official time to open it. It’s up to you how long you wait to open your time capsule, but the longer you wait, the more exciting it will be. 

Step 5: Gather Items 

What items will you put in your time capsule? You may have to stick to items you can find around your house or backyard. The items you choose will be guided by the purpose you identified in the first step. 

Do you hope to do a time capsule commemorating the artwork you did during quarantine? Include some pieces and your inspiration for them. If your time capsule is centered around the news, look into different news outlets and consider including different things, from articles to videos.

If your time capsule is all-encompassing with no particular theme, you’ll have more to choose from but it may be harder to decide what will make the final cut and what won’t. 

Step 6: Close Your Time Capsule

Finally, it’s time to close your time capsule! Make sure it’s shut tightly, secure and in a place you will not forget but also won’t be tempted to open it too soon. Set a reminder in your phone or write in your planner on the day you plan to open it and keep the key in a safe spot, if necessary. 

Quarantine Time Capsule Item Ideas

Quarantine has the potential to bring out your stir-crazy side, but also your artistic, creative, and unique aspects. Items can be chosen to reflect what you did during quarantine, how you felt, and what was going on day to day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • News clipping: This time is unprecedented, and the newspapers and online outlets are covering the topic every hour of every day. Select an interesting article to cut out of the paper or print it offline. 
  • Artwork: Have you gotten crafty during quarantine? Throw in your favorite art pieces to look back on. 
  • Photos: As they say, photos say 1,000 words! Document your time and photos and have them developed online or printed from your computer. Don’t forget to capture the 500-piece puzzle you completed or a photo of your son’s spontaneous buzz cut.  
  • Video: A video can be added and feature your choice of things. You can interview your quarantine buddies and get their opinions, take a walk around the neighborhood with it to show sidewalk chalk, and do a time-lapse of you creating a large puzzle!  
  • Movie: Have you watched the same movie over and over again? Throw a copy into your time capsule and you can watch it again when you open it! 
  • Book: Similar to movies, you might be reading a book you enjoy. This is another great idea to add to your time capsule and you can reread it in the future. 
  • Time capsule letter: A letter can be a great way to explain how you’ve been feeling and what you have been doing at that moment. Each day is different and memories fade, so writing a letter to your future self capturing your feelings and recounting memories as they happen is a must-have in your time capsule. 
  • DIY project items: Did you take this time to paint a bedroom or do another home improvement project? This is a big change in your home and is fun to look back on with a paint swatch card. 
  • Recipe: You might have gotten creative with your meals as you try not to go grocery shopping as much. Write out the recipe and include it in your box. 
  • Mask: A staple of quarantine is the infamous mask! If you have a mask to spare, especially if it’s homemade, add it to your capsule for sure. 
  • Flash drive: There are so many photos and other media that can be added to your time capsule, and it might be easiest to put it all on a flash drive. 
  • Toilet paper: Toilet paper has become quite the commodity. This addition is silly and funny, but remember, don’t put it in your time capsule if you need it now! 
  • Inside jokes: Being quarantined with others can provoke some silly times and might lead to inside jokes from your experiences. Anything representing these jokes will bring you back to the positivity of the time when you are looking back at your time capsule in the future. 
  • Homeschool items: These times have made moms and dads the new teachers. Have a red pen you’ve been grading their school work with? Maybe a schedule you created for daily homeschooling? Add that in to remember the time you tried your hand at being a teacher! 
  • Health records: Have you gotten tested for COVID-19? If so, you’ll likely have documentation showing the test and/or if it was positive. 

Tip: Putting together a quarantine time capsule might remind you of a loved one who passed away from COVID-19. If this applies to you, then we're so sorry for your loss. You can consider adding one of their personal items or a photo of them to your time capsule to pay tribute to them.

If you're interested in other unique ways to honor a loved one, you can also consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.

Remember These Uncertain Times 

Quarantine is affecting everyone differently, but there is no doubt how memorable it will be for us all. A time capsule is a fun way to take control of the situation and pick out the parts worth remembering and smiling over in the future. 

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