Starting a hope chest. Lane cedar hope chest.

Hope chests are also called a dowry chest, cedar chest or glory box. Traditionally, it’s a chest used to collect items for women prior to marriage. Some items were handmade. Women were expected to have a trousseau, too.

Lane cedar chests were a popular brand and they advertised them throughout the year for various holidays, but sadly they haven’t been around since 2001.

Hope chests have been less popular for the last couple of decades, but they’re gaining popularity again. You can buy a quality cedar chest that can become a family heirloom. If you’re good at carpentry, you can create your own hope chest, too. Here are some hope chest plans. If you’re not handy with woodworking, buy an antique cedar chest and refinish it if needed. Heck, it can be a Rubbermaid storage bin. What matters is your loving, good intentions to help your child to get off to a good start without having to pay the big expense of kitting out her new place.

Are you thinking about starting a hope chest?

While you can collect items for a traditional hope chest, you can add your child’s keepsakes and mementos, school art work, report cards, etc., and it can serve as a personalized time capsule, as well. If you don’t want to give it as a wedding gift, it would be wonderful as a bridal shower gift. But hey, maybe your daughter moves into her own place or lives in a dorm before she gets married.
Simply give the hope chest to her as a housewarming gift or pull from the chest for things she might be able to use while at college.

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Here are some ideas to place in a hope chest:


Buy classic pattern dishes or simply set aside a spare set of dishes you already have. You can add items such as new or vintage pots and baking pans (cast iron or pyrex), flatware, basic tools or as she gets older, small appliances, too.


If your child had a favorite blanket quilt as a child, keep it and place it inside the hope chest. Or if you or another family member or friend quilt or crochet or knit, you can add handmade items as a keepsake. Add a sleeping bag, towels, sheets, dish towels, placemats, table runners, and throw rugs.

Holiday decorations:

Many parents buy an ornament each year for their children, so they have them when they’re on their own. You can include holiday decorations that you find on clearance or secondhand in the chest for safekeeping. Or include ornaments she made as a child, too.

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The hope chest can also include photo albums or a scrapbook, special greeting cards, awards, trophies or ribbons, letters, family recipes, souvenirs from special events or vacations, or favorite childhood toys. Many parents add baby clothes or supplies (bibs, blankets, toys, etc.) to the chest, too.


There are books that can help our kids start off on the right foot. For some people it might be a favorite storybook, personal finance book, relationship advice, basic home-repair guide or a favorite cookbook.


Your kids will have fond memories of basic items. It might be a mixing or cereal bowl, mug, ice cream scoop, measuring spoons, salt and pepper shakers, a cookie jar or a glass they used and loved.


If you have any special family treasures, the hope chest can be a safe place to store them. Personal items with a story such as costume jewelry, small framed art, purses, candlesticks, jewelry boxes, clocks, collectible glassware, diaries, postcards, family movies, etc.


Add items such as a basic toolbox with tools, nails, screws, drywall anchors, various tape or even sewing supplies.
There’s a great book called “The Hope Chest: A legacy of Love” by Rebekah Wilson which is a good read on the history of hope chests and offers more ideas on what to place inside.

Did you have a hope chest? Did you start one for your child? Are you thinking about starting a hope chest? What would you put in one?