Traditional hope chests are usually given to young women on the cusp of adulthood, and contain heirlooms and household essentials designed to make married life easier. Parents and their daughters frequently spend years gathering special items, which they pack carefully into cedar chests to prepare for the future. Once the domain of strict traditionalists, hope chests have made a major mainstream comeback. Nowadays, the custom is much more inclusive; parents often create hope chests for their college-bound children or even for themselves. Read on to learn about a few hope chest essentials for your own project.
Choose Your Hope Chest
Traditional hope chests are often made out of cedar, but there's no reason why you can't stretch tradition a little and come up with some hope chest ideas of your own. Vintage-style trunks, open-top ottomans, and decorative wooden storage boxes all make great alternative hope chests. Some people take inspiration from the German dowry closet, or Aussteuerschrank, and use small lockable cabinets as hope chests. Still others choose well-made toy boxes for their children, which they later turn into hope chests.
Whatever your preference, make sure you pick a container spacious enough to hold the items you want to include in your trousseau. Small boxes fill up quickly, whereas larger trunks leave room to dream a little.
Beautiful Bed Linens
Smooth sheets and pillowcases are real luxuries after a hard day's work, and high-quality bed linens last for years. If you have a bigger trunk or storage chest, consider including several high-thread-count sheet sets to ensure restful nights and hassle-free laundry days. Patterned sheets make a lovely statement in a simple room, whereas single-color sheets tend to work in a variety of settings. For a European touch, add a duvet cover or two to the bed linen selection.
One of the most comforting items in a traditional wooden hope chest is often a quilt. If you don't have an heirloom quilt to pass down to your child, you might purchase a well-constructed classic quilt. Quilts of any type sit nicely down in the bottom of hope chests, where they provide cushioning for the rest of the items.
Pick a goose down comforter to stay toasty in the winter, or select a thinner polyester-filled blanket for the summer. Wool provides an upscale down alternative for people with allergies, and feather-and-polyester combinations offer the best of both worlds: loft and warmth at the same time.
Soft, Luxurious Towels
People often include thick, soft towels in a traditional cedar chest. High-quality towels offer superior absorption, and they feel smooth and comfortable against the skin. Well-made towels are also far less likely than cheap towels to wear out over time, making them a quintessential hope chest staple.
Towels made with Egyptian cotton are highly sought after because the long Egyptian cotton fibers stay strong and keep your towels looking new over time. Towel manufacturers also frequently include bamboo fiber in luxury towels, because it's a highly absorbent and eco-friendly cotton alternative.
As far as household essentials go, good silverware lasts a lifetime. Drop-forged flatware is much stronger than stamped flatware, making it a great choice for your wooden hope chest or cedar trunk. Single individuals and young couples often choose a four-person place setting; people who love to entertain, however, frequently select eight-person or even 12-person place settings. An array of available silverware designs makes this component a special and personal addition to any trunk.