An Easter Gift Guide for Catholics 2021
To give Easter baskets or to not give Easter baskets? That seems to be the question within many of my social circles around this time of year.
For people for whom the great joy of Easter is the resurrection of Christ — not the imagined arrival of an oversized Bunny — I understand the impulse to avoid any connection between the greatest Christian feast day and modern-day capitalism. Foregoing the baskets makes sense to me.
And yet, year after year, I end up in the “give baskets” camp, and here is why: I want to do everything in my power to create a spirit of joy and celebration in our home on Easter morning. I want my kids to anticipate Easter like they anticipate their birthdays and I want them to feel palpable excitement and gladness — you know what I’m talking about, the whispered “can we get up yet’s?” and running around on tiptoes — as they wake up on the morning we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death.
And while we all theoretically should feel that joy, anticipation, excitement and gladness as we contemplate the new life that Easter brings, concepts like death, resurrection and salvation are a lot for children to wrap their minds around. They’re hard for me to wrap my mind around! (There’s a reason why our tradition uses the term mystery when discussing these great matters of faith).
But presents? Easter baskets? Peeps for breakfast and jelly beans for lunch? Now these are sources of excitement that none of us need explained.
So, we give Easter baskets, and we do it with this message: Jesus is risen! Let us join in the celebration!
Easter baskets have proven to be such an effective tool for sharing joy and sparking celebration in our home that in recent years I’ve made it a practice to give Easter gifts to close friends, extended family members, and other important people in my life. Here’s what I’m thinking of gifting this year:
For my son
Our kids’ Easter baskets usually include a combination of candy, a small treat or two (stickers, silly putty), an item that they need (new pajamas or socks) and one bigger gift. We try to tie the bigger gift to the meaning of Easter, and so it’s always a religious item. This year, we’re planning to give our son something to hang on his bedroom wall, either this hand sculpted wall cross or this Blessed Solanus Casey framed art. We have lots of religious art and decor throughout our home, but having his very own item will make the piece feel more meaningful to our son. The bonus is that he won’t outgrow these items. The cross, sculpted by hand by an experienced artist in Poland, is a classic piece of art, and the words on the Solanus Casey print “Thank God Ahead of Time” contain a message that will be relevant throughout our son’s life. We hope he’ll take these pieces to his college dorm room, his first apartment, and his eventual long-term home.
For my daughters
I have a few ideas of big ticket items to include in my daughters’ Easter baskets this year. Even though they’re mostly too young to wear much jewelry, I know that they would be delighted to receive a Lady Lourdes necklace or a Blessed Mother of Pearl bracelet. They will grow into wearing these timeless pieces regularly, and until then, they’ll be thrilled to pull them out for special occasions…or just to wear on ordinary days and match me! Alternatively, we may get them a statue to place on their bedside table or bookshelf, such as this alabaster figure of St. Thérèse of Lisieux or this Petite Mary Statue.
For my friends
My go-to gift that I think is appropriate and appreciated in almost all circumstances is a candle. Beautiful candles with heavenly smells are a delight to the senses; they are consumable and so can be given over and over again; and they are a tangible way to share light.
Since Easter is the ultimate remembrance that light conquers darkness, I can’t think of a better Easter gift. This year, I’m planning to give candles to several good friends, and I’ll accompany them with a printable containing a message that I think my friend needs right now, such as “Peace be with you” or “In God’s will there is great peace.”
For my godchildren
Easter is a great time to lean into my role as a godparent and to encourage my godson and goddaughter’s spiritual growth. Giving them faith-inspired gifts is a sweet way to do this. This year I’m giving my goddaughter a Mini Mary Garden. I know that she’ll have fun working with the kit to create a lovely, delicate homage to our heavenly Mother (and that her parents will appreciate the lack of ongoing care that the garden needs; paper flowers for the win!). We’re giving our godson this Padre Pio statue, with a note including Padre Pio’s famous words:”Pray, hope, and don't worry!” Who couldn’t use that message?
For an acquaintance from church
It’s natural for me to think of my children, nieces, nephews and friends when I’m organizing gifts for a special day. But this year I am expanding my circle of gift recipients to include a few elderly parishioners at my parish who have a special spot in my heart right now. The pandemic has been hard on everyone for a myriad of reasons, but it has been especially hard on folks who live alone and who have health concerns. So this Easter, I’m giving gifts to a few people whom I desperately miss seeing at morning Mass. It’s a way for me to still feel connected to them, and a way for them to know that I think about them and pray for them regularly. Since I most associate these elderly women with quietly praying the rosary before Mass, I’m planning to gift a unique rosary, like this one or this one.
While the joy of Easter is undeniably the resurrection of Jesus, I love giving gifts on this special day to infuse the air with an extra spirit of festivity. Given the religious nature of the holiday, it’s the perfect day to share Catholic items that will remind your receivers of their faith in a beautiful and memorable way.