19 Best Time Capsule Ideas For Your Baby’s First Birthday

Memory box photo

Creating a time capsule for your baby’s first birthday is a wonderful way to store those precious memories forever and create a special moment for your future selves.

But what on earth do you put in one? Don’t worry, today I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about creating a time capsule. We’ll look at what to put in, what to leave out, how and where to store your capsule and very importantly when to open it.

So let’s get to it

What Is A 1st Birthday Time Capsule?

A first birthday time capsule is a special way to store all those milestone moment items you have collected over your baby’s first year.

Your baby changes so rapidly at this age, it’s comforting to be able to freeze a moment in time and reflect back over the past year.

It’s also a really fun project and can be incorporated into a baby’s first birthday party

The decision about what to include in your baby’s time capsule is a personal one and will depend heavily on your journey and the moments that have been meaningful to you and your family.

The following is a list of 19 ideas for you to consider.

1) First Birthday Invitation

You probably can’t believe you’re picking out your baby’s first birthday invitations.

When you were sleep-deprived and in that endless feed-burp-change-repeat cycle the days felt so long but now looking back the year seems to have flown by.

For some reason, that birthday party invitation seems so important and you find yourself dedicating a ridiculous amount of time to get it just right.

Whether it’s was browsing in multiple stores or painstakingly editing images yourself at home.

After all that effort you’ll be pretty attached to those invitations, but once the party’s over most of them will be thrown away.

Try not to think about that.

Including an invitation in your capsule is a sweet way to immortalize that invitation (and your hard work) forever. 

2) Milestone Accomplishments

Be sure to include a record of your baby’s first milestones.

Sure right now you remember they first stacked an item at 11 and ¾ months old and said Dada at 6 months and 3 days, but in years to come those dates will become fuzzy and you will love having a record to look back at. 

If you’ve used milestone cards throughout your baby’s first year consider including them as well as the photos that go with them.

It will be super cute to hold the cards in the future and look at the photos of how small your baby was when you took them.

3) A Time Capsule Bucket List

This is not only a great idea to include in your time capsule, it also helps you to start planning for the future as well.

You can keep this local, for example, what day trips and activities are in your area that you’d like to take your baby to as they get older?

Or you can think big!

Maybe you want to surprise your baby with a trip to disneyland on their 5th birthday?

Writing it down makes it more likely you will work towards making the plan a reality as you will be accountable when the capsule is opened!

4) Foot Prints Or Hand Prints

Your baby is tiny for such a short period of time.

You may look at them now and think how big they are compared to that tiny new baby you brought home, but in years to come, you’ll marvel at how small they were today.

Be sure to include an indication of your baby’s size in your time capsule.

A great idea for this is feet or handprints. Your baby will have so much fun getting messy and helping create the prints with you.

Find some great ideas HERE

5) Photographs

Printed photos are always great to look back on as a snapshot in time.

Don’t forget to include plenty of shots with yourself and your baby. They will love looking back at old photos of you as much as themselves.

This is a great one to get all the family involved in as well.

Either a family portrait or individual photos of what each family member looked like on your child’s first birthday will be a lovely memory for you to share in the future.

Any current trends in fashion or appearance are sure to bring hilarity for your future self when they have long-dated. 

Photos are also a great way to include precious items that you don’t want to seal away. Your baby’s favorite toy for example, or comfort blanket.

Photos are also a fun way to capture your current life. Take photos of your house, garden, and town. It’s amazing as time passes how much will change

6) Current Newspaper Clippings

There’s something about old newspaper clippings that give such a sense of nostalgia.

What seems like mundane stories today will be a fascinating glimpse into history for your baby in years to come.

Try to include a mix of important current events as well as lighter articles to create a more rounded set of historical records.

Think back to your own childhood and how dated some things are. Myspace and dial-up internet anyone?

What will your baby think of the world they entered into? Will they find it hilarious to look back and see we had to manually steer our own cars or use a remote control to access the TV?

7) Family Tree

Fill in a family tree for your baby. This can be intimate with just close family, or you can go big and research back several generations.

If this is your first baby it’s possible you and your partner have not created a family tree yet. Why not sit down together one afternoon and make one for your time capsule.

There may be family stories you discover you haven’t shared yet.

If you can get a babysitter it could be a nice way for you to relax and spend quality time as a couple. There probably hasn’t been much time for that in the last year.

8) Predictions List

At what age will your baby lose their first tooth?

Where will they go to school?

When will they have a romantic relationship?

What will their first job be?

It’s likely you’ve mused over a few of these with your partner and family.

Why not put a list together and see in a few decades how right or wrong you were?

This will be great fun to review when your baby is all grown up and fill in all the blanks.

9) Baby Vest

A cute baby vest is a lovely item to include in your time capsule.

You can include any clothing item of your choice, but it’s likely you have more vests than you need and won’t miss one.

Baby vests are a part of your daily life now, but by the time you open the capsule, it might be years since you’ve squashed one up to your face and inhaled that baby smell.

If possible place your freshly washed vest into an airtight container or bag so that when you open it the smell is still there.

If you choose one that’s only been worn a few times and is in good condition your baby may even want to keep it for their future baby.

10) Fashionable Magazine

Include an on-trend magazine to showcase current styles and opinions.

It will be interesting to see which celebrities and movies have stood the test of time and which have been long forgotten.

11) Grocery Store Receipt

Include a receipt from your average weekly shop.

Not only will this be interesting to look back on when prices have changed, but it will also serve as a reminder of the types of food you ate as a family when your baby was small.

Will your diet have changed much?

12) Handwritten letters

Handwritten letters

Handwritten letters are a nice way to briefly have some downtime in a busy life.

Take this perfect opportunity to let your child know all the important things that sometimes get taken for granted day to day.

Tell them how happy they make you and how proud you are of their achievements so far.

Let them know how it felt to become a parent and how its changed your life already in this first year.

If both parents are writing a letter, choose if you will let each other read the letters in advance or if the first eyes to scan the page will be your baby’s.

Close friends and family are also ideal contributors.

As they will likely make up the guestlist for your baby’s first birthday party it’s a good idea to ask them to bring a personal letter to the party as this will make collecting the letters much easier for you.

Including a personal note from family members is a great way to create a meaningful time capsule.

As a long time will pass before you re-open the capsule it is possible that elderly family members may not still be with you.

You will treasure those letters as much as your baby.

13) A Popular Toy

Include a small popular toy that will be fun for your child to receive in later years.

You may even find this item has some value when you re-open the capsule if it becomes a cult item.

14) Baby Art

Another messy idea. Why not include some artwork from your baby?

With non-toxic paint and careful supervision, you should be able to safely create a few masterpieces for your time capsule.

This is also a great sensory experience for your baby and a good way to keep them entertained for a few hours.

15) Face mask?

Let’s face it, if your baby was born around the pandemic this was a pretty significant event for the entire population.

Although Covid-19 is something the majority of us would like to forget it’s important to remember the positives and the lessons it taught us.

Amongst the frustration and heartache, there was an unprecedented global community spirit and some real shining examples of individual kindness.

It took a huge amount of strength to get to the other side, and that’s worth paying homage to.

16) Technology

Technology can date and become obsolete very quickly.

Think back to those first mobile phones that were a similar size and weight to house bricks.

If you have an old mobile phone or iPod why not add it to the capsule? Chances are by the time you open the capsule your baby won’t remember anything like it and it will provide similar comedy value to the vintage Nokia.

Bear in mind it’s unlikely you will be able to access the technology so it’s not worth buying something new or storing anything on it.

It would be very challenging today to access information on a VHS tape or floppy disk.

17) Music

Popular music is always fun to go back and listen to.

Note from the point above that it probably isn’t sensible to put electrical items in the capsule that you will need to be functional on opening.

You could take the risk and compile a USB of favorite songs, but be aware you may not be able to access them

A printout of the current top 20 is a good alternative. You can always look the songs up when you open the capsule. Probably youtube will still be around, certainly the internet!

18) Time Capsule Questionaire

Fill in a time capsule questionnaire for a personalized snapshot of your family life on your baby’s birthday.

Include questions about your baby’s favorite things (such as favorite food or favorite book) as well as personal information like height and weight.

19) Directory

Include a directory of each item you have included in the capsule and why

This serves 3 purposes

  1. It provides a checklist ensuring all the items you intend to put in the capsule make it in
  2. It forces you to critically evaluate the contents of your memory box. I’m not suggesting you include all 19 ideas from this list unless you’re aiming for a treasure chest!
  3. You may not remember the significance of every item in years to come. Making a list now safeguards this important information.


Things To Avoid Putting In Your Time Capsule

Food

I would avoid placing food into your capsule.

Most items will degrade before you re-open the capsule and even if you intend to open the capsule before the expiry date the scent of food may attract animals or insects to the capsule.

If your capsule becomes compromised and the food is either exposed to air or moisture then it could become moldy ruining the entire contents.

If you do want to include your favorite foods I recommend either using empty, clean wrappers or photographs instead.

Perishable Items

Similar to food perishable items such as flowers, or cosmetics may degrade over time or worst case harbor bacteria and molds that could impact the capsule’s entire contents.

Valuable Items/Heirlooms

As time capsules tend to be hidden away I would think carefully about including valuable items or heirlooms. T

his is especially true if you intend to store your capsule outside.

There is a small risk your capsule could be lost forever or stolen.

Where To Store Your Capsule

Now you’ve spent time carefully curating your time capsule it’s vital you find a safe place to store your unique and special item.

Deciding where you will store your capsule will determine what you store your capsule in. This can be broadly broken down into either indoor or outdoor storage.

Outdoor Storage

The classic place to store your capsule is buried in the back garden. Digging up the container in years to come will be a great family activity. There are a few things to keep in mind though

  1. You will need a sturdy, watertight time capsule container. This is more suitable for commercially purchased capsules than a home design.
  2. You will need to dig a sufficiently deep hole to place your container. Keep this in mind if you intend to bury your capsule in winter
  3. The more protection you can give from the elements the better chance your capsule has of surviving
  4. Accurately record the location of the capsule. It will rapidly deteriorate the mood on reveal day if you end up digging half the garden before you find it.
  5. You need to be reasonably confident you will stay in the same house until reveal day (or be prepared to move it). On a similar line, it is not sensible to plant your container somewhere you may want to add solid structures like paving or decking on top.
Digger in garden
A sign you definitely needed better planning!

A big advantage of burying your capsule is it reduces the temptation to cheat and open it early, and it almost completely removes the option of anyone else sneaking a peak without you knowing!

Indoor Storage

There are many reasons you may not want to bury your capsule outside.

Perhaps you know you are likely to move house before you want to open the capsule.

Don’t let this put you off as there are plenty of other options for storage.

You could hide your capsule somewhere safe in the house such as the loft, or even a corner of the shed or garage.

The best way to prevent early peaking is to seal your capsule with tape so it is impossible to open without creating damage.

As you don’t need to worry about exposure to the elements you could make your own container. Mason jars are a good way to store individual elements.

When To Give Your Time Capsule

Personally, I think this makes a fantastic and unique 18th birthday gift.

You can invite all the family to watch the opening of the time capsule and have a wonderful day together reliving old memories and stories.

I hope you liked my first birthday time capsule ideas. Let me know in the comments if you think there’s anything I’ve missed off.

What will you put in your box?