First, choose a container. . .

You can make a neat time capsule with stuff around the house. Open it when you're a teenager, when you graduate from high school, when you turn 20, or later. The longer you leave it, the more interesting the contents will be to you in the future. But remember what the experts say: The longer a time capsule is sealed, the more likely it will be lost or forgotten. And don't bury it!

Here are some more time-capsule tips:

1. Plan well. Spend a few days - even a week or more - creating your capsule. The more thought you put into it now, the more interesting it's likely to be when you open it years from now. Get your family and friends involved. Everyone will have different and fun ideas for what to put inside.

2. Use a sturdy container. A large coffee can, a cookie or popcorn tin, even a sturdy cardboard box will hold up well for years if you keep it in a cool, dry place. Hard plastic containers with tight lids and wooden boxes are good, too. The idea is to find something that won't be crushed or damaged easily. Avoid glass.

3. Put in great stuff! Say to yourself: "This time capsule is about me. It's about my time and what life is like on Earth here today." Try to imagine yourself when you are, say, 18, and what you would find interesting about life in December 1999 or early 2000. Ask your mom or dad what they wish they had from when they were kids. A photo of a pet cat? Baseball cards? A picture of their room? Their house? (The story on the next page has more ideas.) Include a "capsule log" with your name, the date, a list of items in the capsule, and the signatures of everyone who contributed to it.

4. Pack neatly. Use the "grocery bag" strategy: heavy items on the bottom, lighter ones on top. Wrap delicate items in bubble wrap or soft cloth. Photos, newspapers, or comic books need extra protection. Put them in sealed plastic bags. Ideally, photos should be in small, PVC-free albums. Do not use rubber bands.

The Original Time Capsule Company of Greenfield, Ind., suggests lining your capsule with a plastic bag and place items inside it. This will provide extra protection against moisture. Fill in any gaps with wads of paper or tissue to keep things from shifting around and being damaged. Push out as much air as you can before closing the bag. Make sure it is sealed well.

5. Hold a sealing ceremony. Closing up a time capsule is a big moment. Gather everyone around to paint, color, or decorate your capsule. Use wide, heavy-duty cloth tape (such as duct tape) to seal the lid and any seams of the container. (Plastic tape, cellophane tape, even filament tape will not hold up as well.)

You could put large stickers on the capsule or tie a ribbon or decorative string around the capsule to discourage tampering. Don't forget to name it! "The Smith Family Time Capsule" or "Ashley's Millennium Time Capsule." Be sure to label it with a "Do Not Open Until...." sign.

6. Store it well. Find a place indoors that is dark, cool, and dry. Avoid the attic, where temperatures can be extreme. Don't store your capsule on the floor where it could get damp or crushed. Write a description of the capsule and where it's stored. (You may want to make several copies for yourself and relatives so the capsule won't be forgotten.)

7. Register it. If you wish, the International Time Capsule Society will keep a record of your time capsule - it's free. (No, the society won't call you when it's time to open it. You have to remember that part.) For a registration form, write to: The International Time Capsule Society, Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30319-2797. Or see their Web site:

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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