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Younger generations are losing interest in heirlooms

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Do you have a fine set of china that you received as a wedding gift? How about some silverware that still has to be polished? Many Baby Boomers keep these things, despite only using them a few times throughout their lives. The thing about Millennials, though, is that they're not interested in holding on to these things, no matter how long they've been in the family. At least, according to a new report by The Washington Post.

Even some Gen-Xers are beginning to feel burdened with the idea of taking on their parents' stuff. Sometimes, Boomers decide to unload their collections when they move to another house, but other times, it's the responsibility of their children to comb through their things when they die.

Why the shift?

One of the biggest reasons your son or granddaughter may pass on that Depression-era armoire or the quilt your great aunt made is that they simply don't have the space for it. For many younger people, houses with an abundance of space for generations worth of collectibles just isn't a priority or even an option. Many only live in cities for a few years before taking another opportunity elsewhere and the idea of lugging place settings for extended family members along with them isn't appealing.

Millennials are spending their lives immersed in technology. The fact that they can listen to all the music they'll ever need on Spotify, watch just about any movie on a number of streaming sites and have a whole library's worth of books on their tablet nixes their need for cumbersome collections of media. It's no wonder they don't understand the appeal of owning things just for the sake of having them. Minimalism is a huge trend that's easy on young people's wallets and small spaces.

What do they want?

"Millennials are design-conscious, informed consumers. They bring a lot more confidence to how they want their homes to look,” editorial director of the Hearst Design Group Newell Turner told The Washington Post. “They need to have reasons for why they are doing something. They are not just taking a bed to inherit it. It has to have an important meaning for them or fit in with an aesthetic they are building for themselves.”

You can also take into account whether what you're trying to unload will appeal to your children or grandchildren's design tastes. According to Forbes, midcentury modern furniture doesn't seem to be going out of style any time soon, and high-quality, one-of-a-kind pieces like artwork and oriental rugs are good bets.

Now, don't assume your children or grandchildren will reject anything you try to give them. The key is to distinguish what is actually an heirloom. For example, a necklace that's been passed down generations will be far more appealing than an antiquated blender you got for your wedding. Just because you own it doesn't mean it's an heirloom, and just because it has sentimental value to you doesn't mean it'll have sentimental value to your children.

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