Every time you have a family get-together, whether for a holiday or another kind of celebration, family memories are created and stories are usually told, which helps pass a verbal history from one generation to the next. As the patriarchs and matriarchs age, the question of downsizing always comes to mind. Some will opt to age in place, which can sometimes be a financial burden, while others will go live with younger family members or in an assisted living facility. Then, the older folks, in addition to making changes to their living quarters, are faced with the issue of what to do with family heirlooms and possessions collected over a lifetime.
Some will find assigning the "who gets what" easy. Some of these decisions are guided by emotion, and yet some others are guided by who needs household furnishing the most. A lucky granddaughter or a newly wed nephew might be the first to be in line to inherit Grandma's bedroom set or Aunt Alicia's dining room sideboard. This is usually the easiest way to get rid of your worldly possessions. Those nearest and dearest will benefit from your charity.
Certainly, there are many options for how to divest your accumulated home furnishings.
When dealing with finer items, an auction house may be the way to go. In most cities, there are reputable auction houses and auctioneers that can put your items up for sale. Depending on who their audience is, auction houses and auctioneers can either make or break a sale. An estate sale is another way of liquidating everything — from fine china to collections of books to entire living room sets. While it's a quick way to sell, these sales are sometimes overrun by antique dealers, pickers and others looking for a bargain. While effective as a method for a swift purge, this might not be the way to get the most from your goods.
Familiar furnishings often have more than monetary value. They remind you of specific memories. They can also represent relationships such as a marriage or significant events such as someone's birth or death. Heirlooms are strong reminders of the past and, as such, should be dealt with great care.
A popular form of distributing family heirlooms that is gaining interest is throwing a party — yes, a party. Sometimes, the owner or host will give each invited family member or friend a sheet of paper. All items to be given away will be tagged with a number. Then, each invited guest will be asked to quietly list five or 10 items (depending on how large the inventory is) in order of what they want the most. These papers are given back to the homeowner in a sealed envelope. The homeowner can review the lists and assign who gets what at their discretion. Then, the homeowner can inform each guest of the specific time they should show up to retrieve their loot.
This last method is the least stressful way, without any acrimony between family members, and allows heirlooms to connect with family members for generations.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.