Recently a dear reader asked:
"I have kind of a silly question, but I just don't know (I wasn't raised in a Christian home). What exactly is a Hope chest and how do I make one for my daughter?"
Certainly this is not a silly question at all, hope chests of the past have been replaced with modern store and online bridal registries but there is no reason why we cannot create and bless our daughters with a beautiful gift of a hope chest today. Hope chests were originally used to store items for a daughter to be used after she is married to take to her new home.
Whatever your budget is you can begin today to begin saving and collecting items for your daughter's future home. Traditionally items were kept in a cedar chest to preserve items and keep them safe, but if accumulating an actual wooden hope chest is not any where in your near future (if your husband is handy, he could even make one), don't worry! You can begin gathering items and placing them in a box or plastic tub in the attic or garage as long as the items are stored carefully. Here are some ideas of what to begin collecting:
A family Bible
family pictures and history scrapbook
Linens- (you might want to embroider some of these or handmake to add personal touches, what daughter wouldn't want something her mother made?!)
dresser scarves and table runners
towels and dishclothes
aprons, tableclothes, cloth napkins
Friendship quilts, theme quilts, wedding quilts, baby quilts, memory quilts, wall-hanging quilts
family heirlooms, letters, recipes, scrapbooks, antiques, practical items, baby items, china and the list goes on...
I, personally, have started my oldest daughters hopechest---I even had let out the word that I was doing this and her aunt and grandmother have added their share of items during Christmas time and birthdays--my daughter was very grateful to receive the gifts and know that they are for her future home. Even if a daughter does not marry, if she eventually leaves the home she can still use many of the items stated above.
An excellent resource of which I compiled most of this list from is this book:
She gives the history of the hope chest, practical ideas that you would never think of, how to throw a shower for your daughter to add to her chest, how to make a hope chest for sons and how to care for a chest and pack it. She also has a chapter on caring for cedar wood. In any case, this book is invaluable and worth the read if you plan on preparing this beautiful and timeless gift to your daughter(s). You will not just be giving her a material gift, but an invaluable one of love that will last and be passed on to the next generation.