What Holy Communion gifts will win the heart of a 9-year-old? A smartphone, a smartwatch, a smartscooter? A huge, heavy gilded Bible? Or a topical board game, an own plant or a well-planned adventure?
Popular misguided Holy Communion gifts and how to enhance them
Are fashionable gizmos and state-of-the-art devices good Holy Communion gifts?
Many people buy their children fashionable and often very expensive gifts that are totally unrelated to this religious celebration. These include nowadays: smartphones, smartwatches, laptops, tablets, bicycles and electric scooters. Some websites also suggest treating kids to an unforgettable experience. I had hoped they would tell me about some unconventional Holy Communion gifts worth recommending before I learned I was supposed to offer a 9-year-old a jump with a parachute or a tank ride (sic!).
I understand that the First Communion is an important event in a child’s life and hence calls for exceptional presents, which may be more expensive than usual. And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it would be even better if the givers could justify their presents somehow. For instance:
This digital camera is a gift for you so that you can photograph all God’s creation.
A computer, in turn, may be supplemented with a topical game that will familiarise the child with Scripture or the Gospel. The choice is really wide. If you don’t know what to begin with, start here: https://www.thoughtco.com/glorifying-god-not-violence-700408.
Should devotional articles last a lifetime?
People who give their children fashionable items often do so because they don’t believe a child would be interested in receiving a Bible or a medallion. This is actually something I partially agree with. A very serious gift for a child seems an appropriate choice for a very serious event – the First Communion. The question is whether it will encourage the child to uphold and nurture its faith?
I believe that such traditional religious gifts should be suited to a child’s age. From my own childhood, I remember two such gifts. One of them was a rosary with heart-shaped pearly beads that gleamed with all colours of the rainbow. I thought it was absolutely magnificent and was really excited to have it. The second one was a huge, heavy Scripture with gilded pages. Not even once did I have an impulse to open it on my own. Yet I frequently read other religious books with pictures, targeted at younger readers. And when I grew up and started reading Scripture on a regular basis, I bought myself my own Bible that I can hold in one hand.
If you also believe that the Holy Bible should not just stand in a cabinet and look presentable, but familiarise people with the Gospel, buy your child a Bible or a collection of biblical stories targeted at its age group. Religious bookstores offer a variety of such publications. And if your offspring is hardly a bookworm, you may try an Action Bible – a comic by Sergio Cariello. Such form of presentation of biblical stories may be the only effective way of preaching the Gospel to more rebellious kids, who are not attracted to pretty-pretty, sugary pictures.
Unusual First Communion gifts
Here are some ideas for gifts that I highly recommend because:
– they relate to the religious nature of the ceremony,
– they are unusual, so a child won’t receive several copies of them,
– they will be remembered by your child for a long time.
Unusual Holy Communion gifts from parents and godparents
These are gift ideas that require longer preparation and time for their implementation. For some of them you will also need to know the child well.
Bonfire with biblical stories as a Holy Communion gift
The First Communion is usually organised in May. This first warm month of the year is a perfect time for a bonfire. Organise it in a way that will present your child as the host. His or her duties should be adjusted to the child’s age, so that it is not overwhelmed with them but proud of the responsibility. The child may e.g. greet all the guests, pay each of them a compliment or distribute sausages. The bonfire should focus on telling biblical stories. Ask your child, all the invited adults and older children to prepare their favourite story. The story-teller may sit in a central spot and be listened to in silence, or everyone may add details of the stories they remember. The important thing is to show children that Scripture may be entertaining.
A trip to Eden (a zoo / a botanical garden) as a Holy Communion gift
A child will be even more excited by a trip during which it will not only hear but also see parts of the Bible. It would be great if each family could go to the Holy Land on the occasion of the First Communion. There are, however, cheaper and safer options.
For instance, in a zoo children may see a snake (similar to the one that tempted Adam and Eve), lions (sleeping with Daniel in a cave) or a donkey (like the one that carried Jesus to Jerusalem). There are plenty of animals and plants in the Bible. If you don’t want to browse through Scripture on your own, look for them on the Internet, e.g. on ChristianAnswers.net: http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/animals.html http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/plants.html.
The trip may take various forms: 1) let the child lead you, and talk about chosen animals/plants, their role and related Bible stories when you approach them OR 2) prepare a set of riddles related to chosen animals/plants that the child will have to find on the spot in order to provide answers.
I have once participated in such a trip, though without religious motifs, and I am positive that the children remembered it long.
Grapevine sapling / olive tree as a Holy Communion gift
Give your child a plant associated with biblical stories, and tell him or her that:
A grapevine/ an olive tree has to be nurtured just like your relationship with God. Otherwise it will wither away.
I like this idea for two reasons. Firstly, it shows a child that the First Communion is not a one-time celebration, but the beginning of a more conscious relationship with God. Secondly, it gives the child a sense of responsibility – a duty whose fruit can be seen with a naked eye. Even if a child doesn’t grow up to be a botanist, the cultivation of a single tree or vine may be a beautiful adventure.
Own manger as a Holy Communion gift
On the occasion of the First Communion, give the child its own manger, which you may supplement with one figurine (either bought or DIY) each Christmas. Such a manger will grow and mature along with the child, who will later decide on its own who should be added to the crowd.
Album with photos and words from Scripture as a Holy Communion gift
Choose some verses from the Bible and photos of the child that may illustrate them. Those of you who are more familiar with Scripture may first choose the child’s photos (from birth, through Baptism until the Holy Communion) and intermingle them with adequate quotes. Such an album – either DIY or made on the computer as a photo book – will be a splendid topical gift for the First Communion.
Unusual First Communion gifts from distant relatives
Here are some gifts that do not require as much time and preparation and should please every child, regardless of its interests. You may prepare some of them on your own. Others can be bought in Christian stores.
Where to find unusual gifts for the First Communion?
In on-line Christian stores look for the ‘Children/Young adults’, ‘Souvenirs’ and ‘Gifts’ tabs. Apart from books or board games , which I am going to discuss in more details, they also offer jigsaw puzzles, topical bracelets (also for boys!), key rings, mugs or even mouse pads (which you may consider when buying a PC for your child!).
Books as Holy Communion gifts
I believe that books written for children, in a language that is suited to their age, will appeal to them more than items that should last a lifetime. Especially that when a child is finally mature enough to read adult books, it may no longer be interested in such topics due to a lack of positive experiences from childhood.
I have always been a huge fan of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia‘. These books, which belonged to my grandmother, were my favourite childhood series. I really enjoyed discovering the Christian motifs in them on my own. Now I have my own copies, to which I go back now and again with immense pleasure.
When I was younger, not many young adult Christian books were available. Fortunately, the choice is much greater now. Just browse through the ‘Books’ or ‘Children/Young adults’ tab in a Christian on-line store. You may also consider buying interactive books and publications, such as ‘Can you find saints?’ They may be shallower in terms of educational content, but more engaging for children, which is a value in itself.
If you decide to give a Bible or a book for the Holy Communion, supplement it with a personalised bookmark (in the post: DIY Paper Corner Bookmark in 4 Easy Steps you will find some examples of such bookmarks with detailed instructions). Such a bookmark may also be an unusual gift from distant relatives who are not present at the ceremony, but would like to add something to their greeting card.
Board games as a Holy Communion gift
While not all 9-year-olds are overwhelmed with joy at the sight of books, most of them don’t need to be encouraged to play board games. There are Christian versions of numerous popular board games as well as some original Bible-related games available on the market. Here is a short overview that you may begin with: http://www.covenantgames.com/boardgames.htm.
Other unusual First Communion gifts
How about jigsaw puzzles? Look for pictures appealing to children, which are not too easy to put together (100 pieces or more).
Pre-teens should also be thrilled about their own Christian music CD. Choose either songs for children or for adults (check out Hillsong if you haven’t heard it yet!).
As regards movies, some people I asked recommended a movie they remembered from their childhood: ‘The Miracle of Marcelino’. I can definitely recommend ‘The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible‘ by Hanna Barbera. It tells the story of three young adventurers who travel back in time to watch biblical events take place. I used to watch it on VHS, but I discovered that it was also released on DVD.
How about writing a short story or creating a souvenir booklet for the child on your own? One of the ideas I liked most among various unusual Holy Communion gifts I read about were booklets about the child’s patron saints or archangels added to related devotional items (medallions, etc.). For instance, a booklet about archangels explained that Michael is to provide courage; Gabriel helps to express yourself; Rafael should soothe pain, and Uriel should help how you face new situations and solve problems.
Holy Communion gifts in brief
In conclusion, in my opinion:
– fashionable, secular gadgets; huge, heavy Bibles; devotional items and souvenirs – not too many!
– adventures, small responsibilities, books suited to the age, valuable board (or computer) games, cool Christian gadgets, music and movies – the more, the better!
If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments below! Owing to your suggestions, some 9-year-olds may receive really valuable and unforgettable Holy Communion gifts!