(I am not writing this post as an attempt to receive gifts but as a way of trying to assist people in choosing gifts for their local priest).
I will first offer some thoughts and then make a few suggestions.
First, you have to keep the personality of the priest in mind; not every priest is the same. For example, if you want to give your priest a gift certificate to a restaurant, first ask yourself if he goes out to eat. Personally, I rarely go out to eat, both because we have a cook and because it is often difficult to find the time to go out (that, and I like to stay at home, anyway) and, consequently, still have a few certificates given me last year at this time. The same might be said with vestments. There are vestments that my pastor wears that I'll never touch and there are some vestments that I wear that he'll never touch.
Second, various artworks and knick-knacks are always nice but keep in mind that the rectory only has so many shelves and blank spots on a wall. At the same time, the more things a priest collects the more things he has to move. Some things priests don't mind moving, other things they do.
Third, homemade holiday treats (cookies, pies, cakes, fruits, etc.) are delicious and always welcome, but check with the secretaries to see how much has come in. At this time of the year the kitchen counter is most always overflowing with goodies that cannot be eaten because of the sheer quantity.
Now to the suggestions. Some of these are things that I wouldn't mind having myself and some have come from conversations with others priests (I won't tell you which is which):
- Gas cards and oil changes
- Gift certificates to book stores (Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Ignatius Press, etc.)
- Gift certificates to religious goods stores (both local and on-line)
- Gift certificates to his favorite restaurant
- Car wash tokens
- See if the priest has a wishlist on Amazon.com, Ignatius.com, or other web sites
- Make a donation in the priest's name to Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, or Peter's Pence
- Offer a gift for a particular situation in the parish
- Cash never hurts, either
The above list is certainly not exhaustive and is not meant to discourage you from giving your priest a physical gift. If the list is helpful, use it; if not, ignore it :)
When still in doubt, always check with the secretary to see if she has any ideas. Priests often comment to their secretaries on a variety of issues and you never know what he might have mentioned quite in passing the other day. Astute secretaries are aware of these things.