It may be hard to remember when the last visit into the attic, basement, or any other storage space occurred. If it's anything like most such areas, it's bound to be filled with keepsake boxes; bundles of memories kept safely in a variety of brown boxes. Things that were put away either because it was too hard to throw them out or simply done so with the intention of coming back to them regularly.
Yet fast forward ten years and it's time for a clear-out. How can anyone even remember what went into those boxes? And when those boxes are being opened up, it's hard to image why all that stuff was ever kept. Potato printings, pasta necklaces, invitations, and birthday cards are stacked up from every year of a child’s life. When one can’t remember why they were so precious they ultimately decide to either live with the boxes or clear out and make room for the new things that they are certain they will want to relive in another 10 years’ time.
But what about moms of the past? Were they feeling in over their heads with stuff too? Did they have piles of objects that they were so emotionally attached to that they couldn’t throw out? What keepsakes did moms of previous generations hold onto?
20 Spoons For All Occasions
The expression ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth’ isn't meant to convey the best thought as it refers to someone born into wealth, success and who has never had to work for his living. This expression comes from the giving of Apostle Spoons to new babies. The origins of these spoons are thought to come from the Tudor period. Usually silver, silver-plated or pewter these precious spoons feature the image of a saint or apostle at the end of the handle. These spoons were very popular in England and Germany, where beliefs in patron saints were very strong in the pre-Reformation era.
19 Eat Up Your Eggs
Silver christening gifts are still very popular to this day. Silver is traditionally thought to have healing properties and is therefore beneficial for a baby’s health. Silver is also associated with wealth and prosperity. According to Christeningsilver.com, silver signifies the gift giver’s wish for health and success. Egg cups have been a popular gift since the mid-19th century. At the beginning of Victoria’s reign, a typical breakfast, if you could afford it, consisted of cold meats, cheese, and some spirits. But by the mid 19th century this had been replaced by a healthy and nutritious mix of porridge, fish, eggs, and bacon - yes the Victorians had invented the "full English". So if eggs were in, babies needed an eggcup.
Baby-wearing is bang on trend these days. The huge variety of baby carriers and slings available include wraps, ring slings, pouch slings, and backpacks. Whilst some may claim that baby-wearing is a newfangled trend, it is actually an ancient technique, an absolute necessity for nomadic peoples for whom having babes in arms was completely impractical.
Yet most of the slings we see in the western world have been produced in the last 40 years, from the Snugli baby carrier in the 60s to the 70s, when the first woven wrap company, Didymos was created. If you keep one of these as a keepsake, then chances are it will be well out of fashion by the time your next generation might want to use it.
17 First Curls
Baby’s first haircut is a milestone moment. Many moms are understandably reluctant to lose their baby’s gorgeous little first curls. First haircuts are notorious for suddenly making your tiny baby look like a huge toddler.
So in order to remember the cute baby years what do us moms do? Yes, we keep those first curls.
We preserve them carefully in a small envelope and shut them away. But why? Has any mom ever had a sudden urge to get the hair out and look at it? Unlikely, but more often a keepsake that is forgotten for 99% of the time.
16 Ready For The Tooth Fairy
Aha! A wobbly tooth! The first 10 years of your child’s life seems to be taken up with tooth activity. From their first appearance and the painful teething years to their general upkeep and then their sudden wobbliness, teeth require a lot of attention. There may be nothing worse than a child with a tooth so wobbly that they can’t eat and for those moms who are a bit squeamish, the sight of teeth falling about in the wrong direction can derail our best intentions to be sympathetic.
Yet despite this, some moms love to keep the baby teeth (although really the tooth fairy had them remember!) as a rather pointless keepsake.
15 Snug And Warm
Wherever you come from in the world, regardless of wealth or status, you will have a blanket for your baby. That special covering that not only keeps your baby warm and cozy but is also comforting for them. Traditionally, this might be a family heirloom made from wool or lace, knitted or crocheted and passed through the generations. Or it might be something new made with love, especially for your own baby. As your baby grows into a toddler they may still keep this blanket as a comforter so by the time they have finished with it moms are reluctant to give or throw them away.
14 Pretty Pearls
A beautiful pearl bracelet is a fantastic present for a new baby. They look great and they scream value and style. However, once your baby’s wrist has grown, mom is left with a gorgeous and yet quite useless piece of jewelry.
It becomes a family heirloom, but once it is put away, many moms just forget about them.
As far back as Ancient Greece, pearls have been one of the most valued gems and they were seen as a symbol of prestige. Some societies believe pearls symbolize the moon and have magical properties, while others link them with chastity. Some cultures also tell us that pearls protect a person from fire and dragons.
13 Teddy Friends
What mom could have the heart to throw away their child’s teddy bear? Whilst it is easy to gather a huge array of teddies and toys, it is likely that your baby will naturally have a favorite. And it’s equally likely that that favorite teddy will sit forgotten in a box for years after your child has grown up. In fact, Teddy Bears date back to 1902. With Michtom and Steiff creating bears that were to become popular worldwide, the teddy bear is a great family heirloom.
12 No Finger Foods Allowed
A beautiful set of cutlery is still a popular christening gift today. Historically, silver was currency, so by giving silver gifts, you would be helping to set up a small savings fund for the baby for later life. Moms would hold on to these keepsakes for their monetary value.
As the gift giver, you would probably want to give something useful too, so a personalized set of child-sized cutlery is a good solution. However, once your child has graduated to full-size cutlery, what do you do with this baby cutlery? Hold on to it and forget all about it.
11 Baby's Finery
In its modern form, the christening gown started to evolve during the 17th century. The trend of swaddling was no longer practiced as much and special silk gowns with petticoats and lace decorations were created. Showcasing your baby for his or her special day involved bibs, mittens, headbands, handkerchiefs and embroidered linen.
Gowns are often manufactured from the cloth of the mother’s wedding dress. It was believed that if your baby slept the night in the gown they would attract good luck throughout their life. This is a vintage keepsake that may well be forgotten until the next generation arrives when it would be given to the next lucky baby.
10 Shake, Rattle & Roll
Favorite toys are hard to let go. Moms may have spent several years watching their baby getting amusement from a particular toy or rattle and will be reluctant to let them go.
So into the box of memories they go, never to be seen again. One of the most popular keepsakes is baby rattles. According to Revolvy.com, baby rattles date back 2500 years and have been found in iron age settlements. Great for developing hand-eye coordination, rattles range from cheap plastic to highly ornate pearl and silver creations. Some even represent traditional stories or characters and are now highly collectible.
9 Another Place At The Table
Silver napkin rings were also very popular gifts for christening gifts in the Victorian era. These are cylindrical items designed to neatly hold your serviette on the table. In the days before handy bibs, you would keep your baby tidy with a serviette so these were useful everyday items.
When a baby was born it was traditional to give a whole family set to the parents, to signify a new place being set at the family table.
Often highly decorative, they might feature family names, crests or mottos and as well as being useful, were beautiful items for the family table. It was usual for each person’s ring to be unique, to identify a particular diner’s napkin.
8 Top Of The Class
Report cards make fascinating reading and give us a glimpse into past educational times. In modern teaching, moms are likely to receive a somewhat impersonal list of subjects, targets and attitude grades. But vintage moms got a much more detailed insight into their children’s education with personalized comments and even sections for physical issues and photos, according to Lomography.com.
These are keepsakes that may be forgotten but are guaranteed to be enjoyed by your children when they are adults looking back down memory lane. So when you break open that memory box in 20 year’s time and suddenly remember that you have these school reports take time to share them with your child.
7 Amazing Artwork
Any mom who has sent a child to preschool or has a had a child go through Kindergarten or Elementary School will understand that the amount of artwork that will find its way into your home can be quite simply difficult to manage. Moms may find themselves asking ‘can you tell me all about it?’ in an attempt to discover what it is they are looking at. Yet, moms find it strangely hard to throw it away. After all, your child took time to create this masterpiece so how can you part with it? Where does it go? In the memory box.
6 Silver Tankard
Silver tankards are by far still the most popular christening gift. However, beautiful as they are, what real use do they have? What does a mom do with a silver tankard? They have been gifted since the late 18th century and symbolize the nourishment of the baby, sending them wishes to grow healthy and strong. They are also thought by some to be reminiscent of the chalice at The Last Supper. They are often engraved with the child’s name, birthday, christening date or family crest. Godparents traditionally use the cup to pour the baptismal waters over the baby’s head during the ceremony.
It's not exactly a gift you could throw out, but at least put in the memory box for another day.
5 By Invitation Only
If a family member or friend has a baby nowadays it is socially acceptable to come around with a casserole or cake. But previous generations of moms had a stricter set of rules to adhere to, especially if they were ‘upper class’.
The use of an announcement card would alert your friends and acquaintances to the fact that the baby was born and would be a signal that you were ready to receive visitors.
These would take the form of a small card featuring the baby’s name and date of birth along with the mother’s calling card. These cards would have felt important at the time but years later you would probably have forgotten all about them.
4 Caudle Cups
Caudle parties sound like a good deal of fun. This is a centuries-old custom that was re-introduced in the 19th century. Caudle is a spiced oatmeal gruel flavored with Madeira and it was traditional to serve this drink when the baby was three days old.
It would be served in a two-handled china cup, so it could be passed easily from guest to guest. Caudle cups were handed down through generations as family heirlooms and were most likely seen as something pretty useless to have sat around until a new baby arrived.
The Victorians brought back this nearly-gone tradition but removed the party atmosphere and made it a more formal occasion.
3 Party Time!
If you are going to have a christening, then chances are you will need to provide some kind of after-party. After all, you can’t invite all your friends and family and not provide some refreshments. Nowadays a buffet is a popular option, allowing guests to mingle, chat and generally adore your baby.
However, a more formal reception, such as in Edwardian times, would require a sit-down meal. And a sit-down meal would require an official menu.
This would leave you with a lovely menu card that you may well put away to remember that happy day. Will you ever want to take it out and look at it again? Probably not.
2 A Special Place For Precious Things
Trinket boxes and vintage Victorian fairings are now highly collectible although not hugely trendy. Fairings are small china ornaments depicting a scene and are sometimes made as pinboxes, match strikers or holders for watches or small mirrors. Some fairings were made in pairs and presented to a baby’s family. They were popular until the start of the first world war.
Trinket boxes and small jewelry boxes were also a popular gift, possibly more useful than a fairing but still more decorative than functional. A safe place to shut away your treasures, secrets, and jewels, trinket boxes were beautiful and high-value objects.
1 Sunday Best
Baptism or Christening is, of course, a festival. So what is the best item to give a baby at this ceremony? A personalized Bible, of course. Yes, these have traditionally been given for centuries, with special miniature ones for children making a popular choice. If your baby turns out to also be observing the faith then this is a handy gift. However, if your child is not so keen later in life then you are likely to have this Bible on your bookshelf for years to come. You can’t get rid of a personalized gift like this, so moms are going to keep it and forget it.