Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Hope Chest


A Hope Chest was originally used as a dowry. It was property that a woman owned and brought into her marriage. Some women could not find a suitable husband, for various factors; therefore, the dowry was used as a way of enticing a man into marriage.

The idea of a Hope Chest symbolizes so many hopes and dreams. It’s about seeing the future unfold before your very eyes and it’s about preserving a lifetime of memories and building a family legacy, a heritage. It’s a place where a young girl places all her treasures and dreams as she waits for her life to unfold. And it’s a place where parents dream, too.

The reality is that a Hope Chest has no special powers and the idea of a dowry in today’s times would be insulting. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop dreaming or preserving your family’s legacy.

True, a Hope Chest is nothing more than a wooden chest, a closet, a storage unit, or a large box full of items that have been collected over time. But with a little personalization, it can be so much more. So close your eyes and think about what you wish would have been passed down to you and then ask yourself, “What would I like to see my child have as she (or he) leaves home to start a new chapter of her life?”

Now, imagine your child’s reaction when she opens her Hope Chest and begins placing those items, one by one, throughout her new home. Can you see the memories she will have as she reflects on each item and the time the two of you purchased those items? (That’s a total “Miracles on 34th Street” feeling.)

Hope Chests also offer a great way to teach your child to start her life debt-free; because a lot of the necessities and/or knick knacks will have already been purchased. Wouldn’t it be nice if your child could start collecting some of those things now, so that she does not have to go into debt to acquire those things later?

Just think how much less stressful your child’s life with be if she could find that perfect apartment and immediately begin to decorate it, to make it feel like home—with items from her past?
There are many ways you can accumulate things for a Hope Chest:

  • Ask family members to share their treasures. Anything that holds a special memory should be accompanied with a story/letter.
  • Purchase items while on vacation or attend auctions and rummage sales together.
  • Ask friends and family members to purchase things that your child would one-day want to own in her own home.
  • As your child begins to work, she can purchase the smaller ticketed items and place them into storage.
  • You can also save for the larger ticketed items in a special “move out” savings account.

The important thing to keep in mind is that a Hope Chest is very much like a treasure chest. It is to be filled with things one will hold dear for the rest of her life. Each item should symbolize a special moment, place, or time in your child’s life, or the life of the giver. Now go out there and get started!

Alyice Edrich is a freelance writer for hire ( who enjoys helping parents earn extra cash from home so they can spend more time with their children. To visit her blog:

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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