Three Ideas for Writing the Most Memorable Time Capsule Letter

We all want our great grandchildren to know what life was like in our time—to appreciate the simpler things, to wander different landscapes, and to learn from our mistakes. But, a time capsule can also be meaningful when opened sooner—they can help you and your family remember how far you’ve come in just 10 or 20 years.

A time capsule includes items used in everyday life, photos, news articles, and even art. The most treasured piece of the time capsule is often a letter from its maker, allowing those who find it to hear personally and directly from the past. But it can be challenging to get started—how can you write a letter that explains the times in which you live? Good news: You don’t need a journalism degree to write a meaningful time capsule letter thanks to Lifetime Wishes.

The First Step? Consider Your Audience

When do you want your time capsule to be opened, and by whom? You’ll include different time capsule letter ideas if you plan to open it yourself in 20 years than if you intend it to be opened by a youth group 60 years from now. Ask yourself:

  • Is my audience myself, my family, close community, or strangers?
  • Will my audience remember my time, or will it be before they were born?
  • Will my audience recognize the things in my capsule? Tip: Technology can become obsolete in 5-10 years, while cooking utensils might only change slightly.

The Next Step: Thinking About What to Say

William Jarvis, author of “Time Capsules: A Cultural History,” advises writers to approach the task lightly, noting that personal stories and used everyday items can be the most impacting.

Some time capsule questions to consider:

  • What is my daily routine? This is not mundane information—it’s a personal slice of history!
  • How do I usually get from place to place?
  • How and when do I interact with people around me?
  • What local or regional current events have affected my life?
  • What concerns me about my world? Why?

Passing on Wisdom and Advice

It can be valuable to help someone in the future be more aware of the differences in their lifestyle, for better or for worse. For example, we appreciate our vehicles when we hear our great grandparents say, “When I was your age, I walked 3 miles to school—each way!”

Similarly, we might re-evaluate our busy lifestyles when we read a memoir that includes a family eating dinner together every day at sundown. To pass on valuable advice and perspective, think about:

  • What daily tasks are challenging for me? Why?
  • What daily activities are especially meaningful to me? Why?
  • What is going wrong with my life and environment? Why? What decisions might change the situation?

Writing these experiences and thoughts down for yourself or others to uncover in the future can be meaningful and inspiring. But Jarvis and other time capsule experts note that often the greatest impact of a time capsule is made on its maker. As you place your letter and memorabilia into the capsule, consider how you might grow in your perspectives and habits if you were to open it tomorrow.

Start writing Lifetime Wishes now: Begin a conversation that will continue for generations to come.