A Guide to Gifting Heirlooms

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A Guide to Gifting Heirlooms

The holiday season is a time for giving, entertaining, and enjoying time spent making memories with family and friends. After a challenging year or more for many, meaningful moments have become more important. This rings true with gifts as well. Gifting heirlooms could be a way to share a legacy ready to be passed from one generation to the next.

What is a gift-worthy heirloom?

We often think an heirloom must be an extremely expensive item to preserve or pass down. You could have an heirloom right under your nose without realizing it! The important focus is the meaningful moment behind the item you want to give. FamilySearch.org defines the value of heirlooms this way:

“Generally defined, an heirloom is an object of worth passed from one generation to the next. Dolls, dresses, photographs, personal journals, even recipes can be heirlooms. The object is given value by the receiver—the caretaker—of the object. Caretaking, then, becomes vital; heirloom recipients become archivists. The question quickly turns to what heirlooms to keep and how to preserve and share them.”

Heirloom Gift Ideas

The important point to remember is value is assigned by those who nurture and care for the heirloom item. With emotional ties to a home you’ve spent your life in, it is healthy to sort or inventory items that can be preserved to pass on to loved ones or close friends. We have tips on the most common items used to share the story of any life.


“Throughout most of history, bonds and shared cultures have been created when meals are prepared and shared,” says food historians at All About Cuisines. “Our heritage is often passed down and intimately bound up in the food we eat. Food availability, climate and cooking techniques, evolved over many generations have united individuals and groups of people into a distinct culture.” If you have recipes passed down to you, consider capturing those recipes and sharing them with the next generation.


A scarf, worn leather boots, or a wedding dress are all distinctly different items with the ability to be conduits to history and the moments we hold close to us. In some cases, garments have been passed down over hundreds of years. If this isn’t a tradition in your family, you could be the first to begin a custom that lasts centuries.

Furniture & Household Accessories

From wall clocks to floor tapestry’s, a story awaits. In a recent article Bethany Joy Foss wrote, “One of the things that [make] family heirlooms so special are the stories they collect over time. Objects give us the ability to recall adventures that have been told and [retold] or spark the memory they carry. Cherished items often cross oceans, countries, and generations to create their stories, probably with a few scratches and bumps along the way. It’s as if these treasures traveled down the branches of our family tree and ended up in our living rooms.”


A necklace handed down through generations or a wedding ring passed on bride-to-bride through time are often the first items we think of as jewelry heirlooms. Estate jewelry heirlooms can be more than a necklace or a ring. It could be earrings worn by a great grandmother or a pocket watch treasured by a grandfather. If you decide to give estate jewelry as a gift, know the history behind the item and ensure the jewelry is in excellent condition before giving the heirloom as a gift. This applies for new and old estate jewelry heirloom traditions.

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