As a priest (and a person of faith) my very favorite part of Christmas is the worship. I love hearing the story of Jesus’ birth proclaimed in the gospel, and knowing that it is here and now as well as there and then. I love singing my favorite hymns: “Love Came Down at Christmas” and “Go, Tell it on the Mountain.” I love going to the crowded and complex worship of Christmas Eve, and going again to the quiet and simple service on Christmas Day.
But my second favorite thing about Christmas is selecting and giving gifts. I love spending all year thinking of the perfect thing for each person on my list. It brings me deep joy to find something meaningful and lasting and fun for each person that I love.
And the best kinds of gifts are those that foster faith, that help the young people in our lives grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord. So here at Grow Christians we want to help you find gifts to give this Christmas—to your children and godchildren and families and friends—that are fun and faithful. Here are some of our favorite ideas; in the comments, we’d love to hear about some of yours!
Books are one of my favorite gifts to give (and my very favorite gift to receive)! There are lots of great options for books that help support and form faithful Christians.
- An age appropriate Bible is always a great gift. In my family, we love and use the Jesus Storybook Bible, and the Children of God Storybook Bible. For teens, The Guidebook is a good NRSV Bible. [Editor’s note: Melody’s The Path Storybook Bible is also excellent!]
- You might also choose to give a book of prayers that the child or family can use throughout the year. The Anglican Family Prayer Book is a good resource, Psalms for Young Children is lovely, and Praying in Color: Kids’ Edition might open up a whole new avenue of prayer.
- And, of course, there are hundreds of wonderful books of faith to share with children at Christmas and throughout the year. Look for a future Grow Christians post full of book suggestions. A few of our favorites are include: The Weight of a Mass, But God Remembered, Can You Find Jesus, and Maybe God is Like That Too.
- For small children, my parish bookshop carries Wee believer stuffed animals. These sweet stuffed animals and pillows come in a variety of shapes and animals, and each one teaches children a different prayer or prayers.
- Our family loves our prayer cubes, which enable even the youngest members of the family to participate in prayers, by rolling the die for others to read. There is an edition for mealtime prayers, and another for bedtime prayers.
- A pocket labyrinth or finger labyrinth is a fun and beautiful tool for prayer, and a great way for active young people to learn to prayer in stillness and motion.
- A perfect, seasonally-appropriate keepsake for gift-giving is a nativity! Younger children should have a sturdy nativity that they can move and work with, without worrying about breakage. The Little People Nativity and Playmobil Nativity are both very popular. But Etsy and other sites often carry lovely nativities made of wool, wood, cloth, or cross-stitch that would be appropriate for children. You could even make a nativity yourself; homemade gifts are doubly meaningful!
- An icon is a lovely gift that families and children can enjoy now and keep through the years; both of my daughters have icons given to them by their godparents that are well-loved. You might choose an icon of a saint that shares your child’s name, an icon of the saint or feast observed on or closest to their birthday (check here to see the calendar and find the feast celebrated on a particular day), or even just a bible story that you particularly enjoy. Skete has reproductions of traditional icons, and Monastery Icons has both traditional and modern icons in various sizes. Your local Episcopal bookstore might have some as well!
- For a teen, a pocket piece or keychain with an image of faith or a verse can be a lovely gift; my husband and I both still have ours that we were given as teenagers!
- For a very personal gift, consider something like Letters to Open When… These encouraging letters to your child, godchild, or other loved one can help you tell the stories of your faith, share favorite prayers, and give them a keepsake they will cherish.
Gifts of Generosity
What better gift can you give a child, teen, or an adult, than the gift of helping others? Episcopal Relief and Development has a Gifts for Life program that allows you to purchase gifts in honor of loved ones. Pair this gift with a book, and you have something that can make a lasting impact, not only on the child or family you love, but on another child or family somewhere else in the world.
- You could give the gift of a goat, and get Beatrice’s Goat, a picture book about a girl who receives a goat and the way that it changes her life.
- You could give the gift of a bicycle, paired with The Red Bicycle.
- Or pair a gift of education with a book about Malala Yousafzai. There’s a book for adults and teens, a picture book about Malala for younger readers, or a picture book Malala wrote!
These are just a few suggestions for gifts of faith to share with your loved ones this Christmas, or any time of year. We’d love to hear other ideas that you have.
What are favorite gifts you have given, or gifts that you have received,
that have encouraged you in your life of faith?