Arts & Antiques By Dr. Lori: Use family heirlooms for home decor to spark memories and make the holidays bright – News – The Times

This holiday season, home decor takes center stage.

Lights, wreaths, seasonal plants are all the rage. So, as you decorate your home to receive visitors, why not highlight your cherished objects and family heirlooms?

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As you dig out last year’s gift wrap from your closets, attics and storage areas, take some time to look for those family heirlooms that are “too precious” for everyday display. Now’s the time to display them proudly around your home.

Revive those objects that remind you of loved ones from years past, family gatherings or vacations. Photo frames that present slide shows of digital images scanned from old-fashioned snapshots are great conversation starters. Pull out those old high school yearbooks, scrapbooks and wedding albums and give them center stage on the family room coffee table.

Don’t stop there, bring out special objects for reminiscing. While there are always the tried and true heirlooms that make it to the holiday table like mom’s Staffordshire china turkey platter or grandpa’s favorite football jersey, feature objects that haven’t seen the light of day in a while.


Memory bowls

Fill a few small, decorative bowls with items from your past.

Place these memory bowls around the house where people might set down a drink during a holiday gathering. For instance, fill a bowl with collectibles from your sports activities or favorite school clubs. Assemble old Girl Scout patches, swim goggles or fishing lures.

For the powder room or guest bedrooms, fill a memory bowl with the costume jewelry that were used by the kids when they played dress-up. You can even fill a bowl with slips of paper asking guests to share something about their history, such as “what was the number of your college dorm room?” or “name the store where you bought your high school prom dress” or “what was the phone number at your first job?” It’s fun!


Paper, paper, paper

Paper collectibles — or ephemera as they call it in the antiques world — is always interesting. Fill a decorative hat box with old newspaper articles about your hometown, high school, favorite vacation spot, etc. Add in some old school report cards, class pictures, ID cards from jobs, maps to vacation cabins, school photos, college ID cards, old passports, expired library cards and driver’s licenses for variety. These items that can liven up a holiday gathering with chatter. The boxes can be simply placed on the floor near a comfy chair or by the hearth. Choose boxes that are colorful or holiday themed.

Make a real key chain for this year’s holiday trees or string of lights. Just knot old keys and tags from your first car, roller skates, apartment door, or school locker on a long piece of string or twine along with a tag stating the key’s origin like “Locker 754 from Martindale High School” or “John’s first car: 1987 Buick Regal.” Add this “key chain” to the holiday string of lights or on a holiday tree or topiary in the foyer or family room.

To decorate all rooms in the house with family heirlooms, hang grandma’s cocktail dress and beaded purse from the 1960s on a guest room door. Feature grandpa’s golf clubs in the corner of the foyer so they can be seen as guests enter. Place an old crystal punch bowl with old ornaments on the dining room table or toss your kids mittens into a flour-sugar-coffee-tea canister set on the kitchen counter.

Don’t forget to dig out those old school projects made by you or your kids like white-glue macaroni picture frames or masterpiece drawings from grade school. No need to frame them professionally, just carefully place them on small inexpensive table easels that you can buy at the hobby store and position them around the holiday dessert buffet table. You can even tape them to the cabinet in the garage or mudroom to brighten up that busy space that will be used by the whole family after a game of Thanksgiving afternoon touch football.

Use family heirlooms for home decor to spark memories and make the holidays bright. Happy holidays.


Dr. Lori Verderame is an acclaimed antiques appraiser, author and award-winning TV personality who stars on The History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island” and Fox Business Network’s “Strange Inheritance” appraising artifacts. Her column appears on the first Wednesday of the month. With a doctorate from Penn State University and experience appraising 20,000 antiques every year, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events and keynote speeches to worldwide audiences. Visit or call 888-431-1010.



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