Sharing Antique Holiday Heirlooms by Dr. Lori


The holiday season is a time for holiday parties, family get-togethers, and open houses.

With family and friends gathered to enjoy the season, it is a perfect time to highlight your own history by featuring vintage photos and antique objects from days gone by. Use these holiday gatherings as opportunities to reminisce about your family via your heirlooms.

Many of the younger members of your family probably don’t know the tidbits of family history. Those antiques and collectibles that have been passed down through the generations reveal much about your family’s background. To share this history with all of the members of your family, you may want to display some of the objects that reflect days gone by. A photo album is the typical vehicle for conversations about family history. I clearly remember my mother’s face when she showed us a picture of herself at age 12 sitting with her new puppy dog, Georgette. She told us all about the family pet and it revealed a great deal about my mom’s love of animals.

Like photos, there are also antique and vintage objects that, when displayed, reveal much about how your ancestors really lived.

This holiday season, highlight cherished collections like your mother’s salt and pepper sets, cookie jars, or cake plates. While grandma’s antique china set typically get a lot of attention at family gatherings, don’t forget to feature grandpa’s military uniforms or sports trophies. These items not only have significant monetary value, but they also reflect upon your family’s past. At holiday time, let these objects tell your family’s story.

A painting or early photograph is fun to look and see how people and styles have changed. Have a contest with the kids to see which grandchild looks the most like the painted image or photo of grandma or grandpa. Capturing likeness was vital to the success of any early portrait painter. If possible, bring out the old clothes and hat. Ask the kids to put on an old fashioned family fashion show.

Perhaps this year as you prepare to make your famous banana bread recipe, you can consider using or even just showing off a mixing bowl, antique mixer, or other kitchen collectible that once belonged to your mother or grandmother. You may want to bring out the old coffee grinder that once sat on the counter of your grandfather’s general store just to show the little ones. Whatever your family history, you have heirlooms that tell the story.

When it comes to gifts, vintage jewelry—costume or the real bling—are always cherished gifts. Handing down grandpa’s tie tack or grandma’s brooch at holiday time is a time honored tradition. While this re-gifting of antique jewelry is commonplace among families, many people are thrilled to receive other antiques—like grandma’s post-war Shiny Brite ornaments for a newlywed’s tree or a 1920s chenille baby quilt for the expectant mother or a Matchbox cars or old board games for the kids.

With antiques and vintage heirlooms on display or given as gifts, you can tell the story of your family history this holiday season. When it comes to family history and re-gifting antiques, all of your family members will want to hear all about it.


Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. As seen on NBC’s The Tonight Show and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, watch Dr. Lori on Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act. For information, visit, follow Dr. Lori at or call toll free (888) 431-1010.


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