A First Holy Communion Gift Guide
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing a number of first holy communions, from my daughters’, to my godchildren’s, to those of good friends, to those of children whom I don’t know by name but who are members of our parish community. The experience never gets old! Seeing both the joy and the solemnity on the faces individuals as they approach the altar for the first time, hearing the beautiful lyrics to “We Come to Your Feast” (a song that is often sung at first Eucharist services, and a favorite of mine!), and celebrating with my community of faith as we welcome new people to the Table of the Lord…well, it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
We’re entering first communion season now, and I’m joyfully anticipating attending at least a few Masses that will involve a child’s first Eucharist. And along with that, I’m beginning to organize gifts and cards for the people in my life who are experiencing this important milestone.
Here are a few of my gift ideas:
A beautiful, high quality statue fills many purposes. As it is displayed for years to come, it will remind the receiver of the special day on which they received the gift; it can serve as a call to prayer, as it draws a person’s attention to the Holy; and it summons joy through its beauty. For all of these reasons, I love to give statues as first communion gifts (who am I kidding? Statues are one of my go-to gifts for all sacramental occasions!). My favorites to give for first communion include this Divine Mercy wall statue (because Jesus’s giving of himself to us in the Eucharist is truly divine mercy) and this Saint Pope John Paul II statue, since the former Holy Father was known for his worship of the Eucharist. If I give the latter as a first communion gift, I always include this JPII quote in the card: “The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace.”
Most children, as they are preparing to receive their first communion, learn prayers like the Our Father, Glory Be, and Hail Mary. I have fond memories of practicing these prayers with our oldest daughters in the months leading up to their first communions, because the time practicing together was time praying together. I can’t think of a better way to honor the learning of prayers — especially the Hail Mary! — than by giving a unique and gorgeous set of rosary beads. One of my go-to sets for children is the Little French Rosary because it is small and sturdy, perfect for tiny and sometimes-less-than-gentle hands.
Many of the Catholic homes of my friends and family members have a cross or crucifix hanging in the living room, foyer, or other common area. For first communion gifts, I sometimes choose a wall cross for the communicant’s bedroom as a way of reminding him or her that Jesus is always with them, through the Holy Spirit’s presence throughout creation, and now, especially, through the Eucharist. The San Damiano wall cross is a perfect option because its neutral white matches with any sort of room decor (even race cars or unicorns!).
For the girls in my life, I love to give a classic and timeless piece of jewelry on their first communion, such as these cross stud earrings or this dainty Benedictine medal bracelet. Although many girls at this age do not frequently wear jewelry, religiously significant items like these are perfect for special occasions, and could eventually become everyday-wear pieces. Both of my older daughters were delighted to receive a special piece of jewelry to mark the significant occasion of receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist for their first time, and my hope is that they’ll always remember the meaningful day when they clasp their necklaces around their necks.
Accompanying every gift I bestow, or sometimes on its own, I write a personal note to the receiver in a card suited for the occasion. For first communions, I’ll either choose a card specific to the sacrament, or one with a relevant message. I include in my hand-written note words of affirmation and love, and sometimes a quote by a saint or a scripture passage. I’m a firm believer in the power of words to uplift and inspire, and a beautiful card is the perfect vehicle for a meaningful message.
We all know that the true gift of first holy communion is the gift of the Eucharist. But I find that by giving a memorable and beautiful present to the young girl or boy receiving the sacrament for the first time, I am doing my part to honor the significance of the occasion. And I hope that by giving a classic, timeless gift, the receiver will have many moments to remember their day fondly, far into the future.