Passing Down Your Heirlooms May Be Harder Than You Thought

Unlike kids of previous generations, millennials aren't interested in Grandma's china or Mom and Dad's Amish dining set. A millennial explains why.

Table appointmentsPhoto: Shutterstock / Mariana Marakhovskaia
Photo: Shutterstock / Mariana Marakhovskaia

Baby boomers and members of the Greatest Generation will have no trouble passing down recipes for delicious home-cooked goodies to their millennial relatives, but if they’re hoping to share that treasured dining room set, they may want to think again. According to recent news reports, it’s no longer the norm for millennials, defined as those born between 1982 and 2004, to accept possessions from family and friends, and it’s because of their lifestyle.

A Millennial Weighs In

Speaking from my own experience as a millennial, I realize I have limited room for extra possessions, and in building the life and home of my dreams, I never imagined my mother’s long-treasured blue china plates as part of the picture. And I’m not the only one hesitant to take on the dinnerware or kitchen gadgets of eras past. As The Christian Science Monitor points out, the millennial trend for home decor is tech-savvy and edgy—clean designs as opposed to the dark furniture, colorful patterns and kitschy knickknacks the previous generation grew up with.

It’s a unique time in American history, as two generations simultaneously downsize, experts point out. Baby boomers are moving into smaller spaces, hoping to leave their possessions in the hands of loved ones with more room. But millennials prefer an atmosphere of minimalism, outfitting their spaces to match their on-the-move lifestyles.

No matter how much Mom or Grandma may love her Hummel figurines and precious wedding china, millennials just don’t see those pieces growing with them. I understand the sentimental value of my grandmother’s plates etched in fancy floral designs, and I know the set would look beautiful at a dinner party, but I’d prefer to remember the generations that came before me by lining my walls with pictures or filling albums with photos. I’m not alone in this belief, either: The Christian Science Monitor reports that “many younger families see trips, vacations and photos as the repository of family memories—not shelves full of mementos.”

So What’s the Solution?

Perhaps the best thing for millennials and their older relatives to do is share a moment together instead of a dining room set. Regardless of our age, we’ll all have a particular piece from the past that we treasure, but just because it feels important doesn’t mean we’ll always have the room. When it comes down to it, the best thing families can do is work together on downsizing and ask each other if they really need what they’re trying to keep.

Dinnerware, dining sets and long-held family treasures are important peeks into the past, but one of the best ways for future generations to remember those who came before is by spending time with their loved ones. I’d much rather sit down and have a family dinner with my mom and dad than use the dinner plates they no longer need. Memories are something millennials and baby boomers can share, and no space in the home is required for those.

Popular Videos

Lauren Rearick
Lauren Rearick is a freelance writer/editor based out Pittsburgh, specalizing in arts, entertainment, music, health and wellness as well as lifestyle writing. Her work has appeared in CNN Opinions, The Huffington Post, Reader's Digest, Teen Vogue, Travel + Leisure, the Pittsburgh City Paper, Vinyl Me Please, Hello Giggles and more.

She founded the music blog, The Grey Estates, which was selected as one of the top 100 indie music blogs by Style of Sound. In 2016, she was recognized with a Keystone State Press Award for a personality profile.