By Christopher G. Axelrod
Cleveland Go To guy

As your family gathers for the holidays and you are now ready to begin rightsizing your future lifestyle, this can be the ideal time to divest yourself of vast treasures that have been accumulating for decades. We often are surprised to hear that the younger generations do not want anything material belonging to their elders. That may well be the stark reality for a variety of reasons but perhaps the secret to successful gifting of personal artifacts lies in your thoughtful approach and method.

As always, be warm and welcoming to all who enter your domain. It is first best to set the stage by letting family know of your confirmed future plans and life goals.
The next step is not to openly ask or invite them to merely take what they want from your longtime home. Their natural response will be to awkwardly brush it off. They will claim that they don’t need a thing, have no room and that perhaps somebody else will want that lovely item. The emotions will stir as memories and traditions will now take a new visitation experience in your eventual new space. Take note of what family has always said that they admired from your many treasures. Now is the ideal time to gift it to them. “You have always shown an interest in that special piece so I want you to have it and take it with you right now as my holiday gift to you” is a kind and heartfelt approach and always gets a positive acceptance. Let them take it. You can even offer to do a selfie with them presenting the item in the process. Also let them know how much to look forward to seeing/visiting it at their home.

Taking the time to give family the history of special items and heirlooms entices new interest and fosters the desire to keep finery in the family for future generations. When somebody responds “I never knew that before” it is the foundation of sincere gifting and creating appreciation as well as positive relationship bonding. You should also add that they are honestly helping you by removing it right away and how you enjoyed it for decades, but are now so pleased that they will give it the next generation of affection and appreciation. You can even write down the item’s historic record or provenance and include
any appraisal documents or historic photos. Finally, date the document and give it to them for their keeping. Keeping a copy for your estate records is also wise to maintain actual proof of the gift and value.

Fine china, silverware and stems are the most challenging because they are so personal and everyone has their own sense of what they want in periods, patterns and styles. If you do not want to send it to auction or have a public estate sale, both risking a modest return, then be ready to offer the elegant personal surprise gift of a lifetime to each family member. Purchase the finest matching heavy weight large gift boxes and gift wrap décor. Carefully clean, wrap and pack one complete place setting with one silver place setting and place stems into the box. You can even add a single placemat, linen napkin and napkin ring. Then compose and copy the same dated keepsake letter from you to each recipient. Your letter could read: “I gift this favorite single place setting unto you as a gift of love because, much like you, it meant so much to enrich my life and family celebration moments. Please set a place for me during your special occasions as I will eternally be with you.” You can identify the patterns of the contents and perhaps include some history. Place the letter in the box. Finally gift each box to each family member as they depart. No refusals. No excuses. Done.

Your ability to get the details right and be gracious in the process will make all the difference and will bind hearts to make this holiday glow with the joy of meaningful gifting while helping you to feel good about your steps toward a bright and easier future. May your holidays be memorable and the best ever surrounded by the joys of family.