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Now is the time of year when I start my early online Christmas shopping. It’s kinder on my budget to spread out my purchasing over the course of a few months. Anyway, this year I would like to do a little something different and I love the idea of sharing my faith with family by buying items made by religious orders. This way, too, I’d also be financially supporting the religious communities. Not all my family are Catholic, though, or even really that religious, so I am looking for gifts that aren’t specifically Catholic because I’d still like to get them something they’d enjoy and actually use. So I was wondering if you could share with your readers a list of religious communities and the items they sell. I’d be grateful for any ideas.
So Ready for Christmas!
Dear So Ready,
I think this is a wonderful idea and a fantastic way to show your support for our religious. One of my favorite things to do each year is create large gift baskets for a whole family, as opposed to individual gifts per person, filled with all types of different goodies from the various communities listed below. I’ve done sweet baskets of fudge and caramels; coffee and tea baskets with mugs; cheese and wine baskets; and jam and cracker baskets. There are so many ways to personalize and get creative with gift baskets.
Since you don’t want to be in-your-face Catholic with non-religious members of your family, food will be the most appropriate and appreciated way to go. While my list concentrates mostly on edibles, it does also include personal items like soaps and lotions, as well as something for the pet and art lovers out there.
Mystic Monk Coffee – In addition to coffee, they also sell tea and mugs. I enjoy their sampler.
Monastery Candy – Their caramels and assorted candies pair heavenly with a nice cup of tea or coffee from Mystic Monk.
Community of St. Benedict – Maple syrup, Bourbon-infused honey, granola, jams, fudge, soup, and a Vatican cookbook. A little of everything in one spot.
Monastery Greetings – Another one-stop shop that not only offers food but also sells soaps and hand creams that make for perfect pampering gifts.
New Skete – Their cheesecakes are too die for. They also have cheese spreads and fruitcakes. And do you have a dog lover in your family? New Skete breeds and trains German Shepherds. You can find dog soap, treats, and leashes in the online gift shop.
Little Portion Hermitage Bakery – Granola, breakfast bars and cookies.
Birra Nursia – Literally the best beer I have ever tasted. St. Brigid said there are rivers of beer in heaven. If that’s true they flow with Birra Nursia.
Summit Dominicans of NJ Cloister Shop – The richest, creamiest soaps. They also have shave and soaps scents for men. Everyone deserves a little pampering. They sell candles and room sprays, too. My favorite feature of their shop is the Build a Basket that lets you pick 2 soaps, a candle, one hand cream, and one room spray.
Norbertinesisters.org – Christmas wreaths, beautiful stationery, and an assortment of delectable sounding goodies, such as Peanut Butter Sesame Honey Spread.
Related : Ten Great Gifts Made by Monks and Nuns
Monks Bread – Bread loaves, biscotti, jams, and fruitcakes.
St. Roger Abbey – A bakery that sells, biscuits, cookies, macaroons and croissants.
Catholic Relief Services – While not a specific religious community, they team up each year with local artisans in impoverished areas and sell their goods through the CRS site. The proceeds from the sales go back to the communities. CRS Gifts has an assortment of jewelry, clothes, and other holiday gifts.
Redwoods Abbey – Hand-drawn cards and artwork of various flowers and plants found in the Abbey garden, perfect for that gardener in your family. My suggestion would be to buy a box of assorted cards and some affordable picture frames from any discount store and frame the set as gifts.
Of course this list isn’t exhaustive, but I think it’s a great place to start. Readers, please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below. Let’s show our love and support for local religious communities by purchasing their handmade goods.