Hope chests are a tradition that spans centuries, continents, and cultures. Filling a hope chest can be a touching labor of love, and gifting it to a loved one is an unforgettable moment. A beautiful, handcrafted cedar chest can be passed down through families for generations, and become an adored family heirloom. Learn more about the history of hope chests and how to fill your own below!
What is a Hope Chest?
A hope chest is traditionally a solid cedar chest that is gifted to a person when they are newly married and leaving home. The “hope” is a wish for a happy marriage and life. Hope chests are made by filling the chest with items that can help a family just starting out on the road to their new life together. Traditional cedar hope chests are often still gifted among Amish families to newly married couples today.
From Historical to Modern Day Hope Chests
The most popular items to include in hope chests have changed over time. While they once included items meant to be counted in a dowry, modern hope chests often include items with more sentimental value. This makes them a wonderful gift for someone getting married, as they are both deeply thoughtful and very useful. In addition, they are no longer limited to those newly married. Anyone moving from home onto a new step in their life can benefit from a hope chest.
Ideas for Filling a Hope Chest
Traditional hope chests of the past included items that, as mentioned previously, might’ve been included in a dowry, but also items that were meant to be used in a new home. These items could be ones made specifically for the new couple, or be family heirlooms getting passed down, such as:
- Bed sheets, covers, and quilts
- Kitchenware such as dishes and tablecloths
- Baby clothes
- Other household items
Modern hope chests often include similar items, but with more sentimental items added in addition to the practical ones. Sometimes entire families work together to fill a hope chest for a young person with meaningful items collected over the years, such as:
- Scrapbooks and family photos
- Inspirational items, such as books or trinkets
- Family recipes
- Antiques or heirlooms
What goes into a hope chest can vary depending on who it is being gifted to. No matter what you decide to fill a hope chest with, the care put into every item will be felt by the recipient.
A Treasured Family Heirloom
Gifting a hope chest is more than a timeless tradition. It’s a way to express how much you care to your loved ones, and to wish them success in their life. Not only does what you include inside your hope chest give your loved ones valuable, memorable items to help build their home, the chest itself gives them a fine piece of heirloom quality furniture that can be used and treasured in their family for generations.
Whether you’re looking for a hope chest for someone in your life, or a classic solid oak furniture piece to add to your home, our furniture experts can help.