What Do You Want to Pass On? Exploring Family Heirloom Ideas​

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The legacy you leave can be as unique as the life you’re living. Much more than leaving money or property to your heirs, bequeathing is about determining how you want to be remembered.

Do you have a grandchild? Or how about grand nieces and nephews? Imagine that someday, decades from now, they have kids of their own. What do you want them to remember about you? Do you think about passing down family heirlooms?

Legacies Comes in All Shapes and Forms

Let’s say you have a daughter and a granddaughter. The two of them enjoy taking long bicycle rides in the countryside whenever they get the chance. As mother teaches daughter the rules of the road plus cycling etiquette and safety and all about the gear, she has a flashback. What she’s remembering are all the times you took her out on bicycling jaunts around the countryside, much like she’s now doing with her own daughter.

What happened there is that you instilled a love for fitness, the outdoors, and cycling in your daughter. And now she’s passing it on to the next generation. That’s a long-lasting and valuable legacy from you that neither of them will ever forget. And in that legacy, your unique impact on the world lives on.

Now imagine you pass down’ve bequeathed that mid-century Italian cycling poster you got during your earlier years of travel. You bequeathpass down the poster to your granddaughter as a way of commemorating the bond you both share over a passion for cycling.

That poster, once treasured by you, can now be treasured by those you love and to whom you wish to bequeath something special. In this way, it becomes a treasured heirloom symbolizing your unique character and how part of that character lives on through each generation.

This is just one of the endless examples of family heirloom ideas that impart true meaning and love. Do you have something like this in your life, which you can pass on? Can you see how this type of bequeathing can turn out to be more meaningful than the usual form (money or property)?

In just a bit, we’ll share a few more ideas, but first, here’s why heirlooms such as this give so much meaning and value. Once you understand the simple concept behind meaningful bequeathing, the ideas will start flowing.

Bequeath a Part of the True Life You Lived

Passing down family heirlooms such as this is how traditions are borne. As we age, we often view our lives through the lens of those who came before us… our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, the aunts and uncles who loved us and made our lives richer. We honor their lives by celebrating what made them special, different from everyone else.

And in that regard, just passing on money or property can seem devoid of true meaning. To that end, we each seek treasured slices of our lives that we can pass down.

Whether they are prized objects like the Italian cycling poster you carried home in your beat-up old suitcase or the family recipes with which you’ve delighted your loved ones for decades, these are the heirlooms that really matter.

Family Heirloom Ideas for Creating a Unique Legacy

We’ve already described how items that symbolize shared values across the generations can make the most treasured heirlooms. Here are a few more examples.

Precious Items that Symbolize Shared Interests or Values

Enjoy fishing with your son? Bequeath a mounted fish from your glory days of sportfishing in the deep sea.

Share a taste for gourmet cooking with your niece? Leave her your set of copper kitchenware.

Have a loved one who enjoys traveling, just as you did? They’d treasure any mementos from your travels: the hand-carved wooden animals you brought home from Africa, the hand-embroidered blouse you got in Central America, or the classic wooden clogs you got in The Netherlands, for example.

Starting to get the idea? Here are a few more family heirloom ideas- this time they’re geared more toward treasured collections you may have.

Special Collections Your Heirs Would Treasure


Image Source: Max Pixel

Your collection of antique silverware pieces can be made into a lovely display using a shadow box and some creative effort.

What to do with that cedar chest full of antique linens? If you’re crafty, you can refashion them into useful keepsake memories. For example, anything with a pattern (quilt) can be sewn into holiday tree ornaments.

Vintage jewelry is prized by many, but when it comes from a family member, it’s even more special. Even watches that no longer work may feature gorgeous detail that would make a nice bracelet for someone. You can insert family photos in the “face” of the watch, much like an open locket.

If there’s nobody who will wear your vintage jewelry, consider framing some of the more stunning pieces, like brooches. They make fun, creative art for someone’s wall, especially if you wore the piece often. They will think of you every time they pass it by.

Have family memorabilia from service members? Medals can be framed and hung on the wall to serve as a source of pride for generations to come.

Leaving family recipes is classic - but why not mix it up and find a printing company that can take your hand-written recipe cards and transform them into any number of items: mugs, tea towels, or professionally bound hardcover books, for example.

These ideas are just a sample of what you can do to leave a creative, meaningful legacy that your heirs will treasure for generations. Now that you’ve got the idea, what other ideas can you come up with?

And while you’re in the planning mode and mapping out your legacy, consider that in addition, you can avoid passing on costly funeral expenses by pre-planning your arrangements early on. Make important decisions now, saving your loved ones from having to make them during emotionally stressful times in the future. ​ ​

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