Not your grandma’s religious gifts

By Melissa Keating
Sunday, December 11, 2016

The religious gift market has seriously stepped up its game over the past few years. Gone are the days when an inspiring gift meant a Precious Moments figurine or another Bible. Now, fun and aesthetically pleasing inspiration can be found in everything from jewelry to toasters (seriously — toasters). Here are some of our favorites:

Cloister candles

Candles are pretty much the perfect gift. They make a flattering light scheme, smell good, look cute and are so relaxing. These are even better than normal candles because they’re handmade by sisters. The Dominican Sisters of Summit, New Jersey, support themselves through their shop. They offer jar candles, in addition to 100 percent beeswax tapers, votive candles and tea lights. Their store also includes soaps, room sprays, Christmas ornaments and all other kinds of goodies. Order at summitdominicans.3dcartstores.com.

St. Joseph plaque from Soul Stirring Gifts

Anyone can hang a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the wall, but it takes someone special to make a mixed-media wall hanging complete with antique holy cards and vintage medals. That’s exactly the kind of thing you can find at Soul Stirring Gifts Etsy shop, located at www.etsy.com/shop/SoulStirringsGifts. It’s antique Catholic meets shabby chic decor, with the occasional journal or bracelet thrown in.

Pope Toaster

It burns the pope’s face onto your toast. It’s available from ToastThePope.com

Solar Powered Pope Francis

Using only the power of sunlight, this adorable Pope Francis doll will wave at you all day long. You can order at www.kikkerland.com.

Pope Francis Bobble Head

And don’t forget the Pope Francis bobble head, which was a hot item at the World Meeting of Families in 2015. Catholic New World staff members have a few of these too. Made by Royal Bobbles, they’re available at www.bobbleheads.com.

Amen cuff links from Pink Salt Riot

This Etsy shop is run by a Catholic mom in Oklahoma, and is full of cute, bookish Catholic wares. Everything is made out of recycled books pages. She has “Amen” cuff links, “Love Jesus” stud earrings, and even coasters made out of old book pages with Pope St. John Paul II quotes laser printed on top. The full store is at www.etsy.com/shop/PinkSaltRiot.

St. Francis necklace from Gail’s Designs

Some of the loveliest religious jewelry and rosaries around. The owner has been an artist most of her life, and was inspired by her grandmother’s vintage European rosary. She manages to get medals cast from the original European vintage molds, and the results are stunning. She has rosaries made with Swarovski crystals, St. Patrick pocket rosaries and Hail Mary chaplets.

She has earrings shaped like the Cross of Lorraine and the Seven Sorrows of Mary, garnet rosary bracelets, and St. Francis necklaces complete with tiny nests. The precious stones and Swarovski crystals are a recurring theme. You can browse her full catalog of beautiful sacramentals and jewelry at gailsdesigns.net.

Blessed Is She journal

If you’re a Catholic woman who hasn’t heard of Blessed Is She, prepare yourself for the best news you’ll receive this year. Blessed is She is an initiative to unite Catholic women across the country in prayer. Every day, Blessed Is She sends out an email with the day’s Mass readings and a (short!) reflection by a Catholic woman. The writers are a mix of single women, young moms, grandmas and everything in between; all draw on a deep well of faith. The website includes affiliate links to meet up with other Catholic women in your area, host a Blessed Is She brunch, join a regional group, or even attend a Blessed Is She retreat.

There’s also a store that sells everything from T-shirts to digital downloads. The real winner, though, is the Liturgical Planner. You can buy it now at blessedisshe.net.

Chews Life rosary from Organic Mama

One of the best innovations in Catholic parenting since doughnuts after Mass. These are rosaries made out of soft, food-grade silicone. Instead of a typical cross, they have a rectangle with a cross on one side and bumps to soothe teething gums on the other. They’re sturdily made and come with a lifetime repair or replacement guarantee. You even get to decide what colors you want!

These are made by a mom, and she has tons of other clever ideas, like nursing charm bracelets that let you keep track of feeding and feeding necklaces specifically designed to keep nursing babies from scratching you. You can find the whole catalog at www.chewslife.com.

Mass kit from Wee Believers

Let’s be real — Ritz crackers and grape juice in a sippy cup are so ’90s. Today’s kids have the option of vestments, cruets, patens and all kinds of minuscule Mass trappings. Some are plush, like the Wee Believers My Mass Kit from www.catholiccompany.com. Some are brass and even include little monstrances, like this Montessori-approved one from www.ourfathershouse.biz.


The Little Habit

(Tonsure kits sold separately. Probably.)

This is an Etsy shop that makes religious habits for dolls. Does your goddaughter’s American Girl doll have a vocation as a Carmelite? Maybe her Jenny Gymnast is leaving behind the uneven bars to become a Benedictine? Well, here’s a habit. But they don’t stop there — they have tiny rosary belts, monstrances, rose wreaths and even a tiny Book of Kells. Go to www.etsy.com/shop/TheLittleHabit to swoon over the cuteness.

Benedict’s Brittle

The monks at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, make more than Benedictine College grads. They also make delicious, sweet, crunchy peanut brittle that should probably be classified as a controlled substance. The monks make it, often from peanut plants they grow and using the captive labor — er — volunteer time from college students. Also, the tins the brittle comes in are super cute. Visit www.kansasmonks.org/brittle/ for more info.

Candy from Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey

Caramel. Chocolate. Caramel-filled chocolates. Loads of other sweets. It’s all delicious, and it’s all made by contemplative Trappist nuns in Dubuque, Iowa. Go to www.monasterycandy.com to order and read about how the sisters use this candy to support themselves. You can also watch interviews with the sisters, which may or may not help with your shopping but are definitely adorable. There’s also a picture of a nun who appears to be sweeping a lawn. The whole site is a win, basically.

Creamed honey from Holy Cross Abbey

They sell truffles, but the real eye-catcher on these Cistercian monks’ website is honey. Specifically, creamed honey. According to their website, creamed honey is “All natural honey that’s smooth, creamy, with the consistency of whipped butter.” They offer it in flavors from cinnamon to brandy and lemon to almond. Their website is www.monasteryfruitcake.org. But fruitcakes are only available at the actual monastery gift shop in Virginia.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Denver Catholic.


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