Each year it happens that someone asks for suggestions about what gifts would be appropriate to give their priest. So it is that I once again offer this post, which I have updated slightly from previous years.N.B.: 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.
Before getting to my list of suggestions, let me offer a few thoughts.
First, you have to keep the personality of the priest in mind; not every priest is the same, and neither are their interests. 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. Even if your priest does go out to eat, is the restaurant you have in mind one he either already likes or will like? You don't want to give him a certificate or card that he won't likely use (I have a stack of gift cards to restaurants I haven't yet used).
The same might be said with vestments. There are vestments that some priests wear that I'll never touch and there are some vestments that I wear that others will never touch.
Second, various religious 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 over the years, the more things he has to move when the time comes. 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 secretary to see how much has already come in. At this time of year the kitchen counter is most always overflowing with goodies that cannot be eaten because of their sheer quantity and can't really be given away because parishioners often know who makes what.
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
- Gift cards for oil changes or tire rotations
- Gift certificates to book stores (Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Ignatius Press, etc.)
- An I.O.U. for baked goods later in the year (just don't forget!)
- 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 wish list on Amazon.com, Ignatius.com, or other web sites
- Make a donation in the priest's name to Aid to the Church in Need, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, or Peter's Pence
- Offer a gift for a particular situation in the parish
- Cash never hurts, either
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.
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