If you are at all like me, you are beginning to make your Christmas shopping lists. I generally wait until the last minute to purchase Christmas gifts. I do this for three reasons:
- During the Nativity Fast our family tries to keep the focus on prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and anticipating the Nativity. So, we attempt not to celebrate Christmas before Christmas.
- I am often unorganized and don’t get around to thinking about what gifts I’d like to buy until a week before Christmas. (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)
- Because I have 3 young children, work full-time, and am married to a man deep in the dissertation-writing stage of his doctorate, it is just plain tough to find time to do anything!
If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t panic! I have put together a list of amazing gifts that will not only please everyone on your list, but they will also help build your faith and support Orthodox Christians at the same time. So, here it is……..
The Ultimate Guide to Orthodox Christmas Presents
This new magazine is like Highlights for Orthodox kids. Each issue contains stories, crafts, and more! Kids can submit their own artwork for possible publication. A wonderful quarterly magazine that children will love looking at again and again.
Goodnight Jesus by Angela Isaacs
Goodnight Jesus is a gentle rhyming book that helps children wind down as they say goodnight to and kiss the various people who are important to them. The child in the book kisses Jesus and the saints goodnight and then does the same to his family as he prepares for bed. The repetition and rhyme make for a lullaby-like bedtime story that will rock a child to sleep.
What Do You See At Liturgy? by Kristina Kallas-Tartara
Children will learn about the Divine Liturgy through photographs and a predictable, rhyming text. My children really enjoyed bringing this book along with us to Liturgy on Sunday. They had fun looking for the different items or events depicted in the pictures.
H is for Holy by Nika Boyd
My absolute new favorite Orthodox children’s book this year. If you read a lot of alphabet books in your house (like we do!), you’ll want to add this beautiful Orthodox one to your shelves. I review it here.
The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Judith Brown
Set in Russia after the fall of Communism, The Miracle of Saint Nicholas tells the tale of young Alexi, a curious boy. He asks his babushka why their church is closed and won’t stop until it is open again for Nativity. Seeing Alexi’s perseverance, the townspeople join him, bringing their secret treasures. This touching book makes me choke up each time that I read it! My kids love the beautiful illustrations and following Alexi’s quest for a miracle.
The Praises by Nico Chocheli
The Praises takes the text of Psalm 148 and illustrates it in an incredibly beautiful call for all creation to praise the Lord. Children will be fascinated by the pictures. This book also provides a great starting point for a discussion on creation, the role of creation in praise, and our role as caretakers or creation.
Queen Abigail the Wise by Grace Books
Queen Abigail the Wise tells the story of ten-year-old Abigail and a group of girls who are thrown together at church for no other reason than that they are all the same age. Soon the group decides to help others, and they begin by helping each other solve their own problems. The results are often hilarious, generally touching, and always interesting. The entire book is set during Lent and Holy Week, and those themes pervade the story without seeming moralistic. A very fun and engaging book for both boys and girls!
Shepherding Sam by Melinda Johnson
The latest book from Ancient Faith Publishing, Shepherding Sam is the sweet story of a boy, a dog, and a monastery. Sam is a lonely boy who often gets into trouble. However, the nearby monastery has a dog that is trying to change that. A wonderful book for Orthodox children (both boys and girls) ages 8-11.
This hand carved and hand painted peg doll is just one of the beautiful dolls available from the EdmundAndAmbrose shop on Etsy. (Plus they are a bargain at $11 apiece!)
This fun game is the Orthodox version of the classic matching game. Children find matches in little cards showing items that they will see at the Divine Liturgy. Excellent quality and lots of fun!
A high quality prayer rope can be a very meaningful gift for an older child or teen. These lovely ones from Monastery Made are less than $15 each.
If your children love to “play” Liturgy or pretend to be Father, this is the perfect gift. This crochet toy censer will provide hours of imaginative play!
Ancient Faith currently has a lovely bundled gift set available that consists of a copy of the new book, When God Made You, and a guardian angel icon. This would make a wonderful gift for a child or godchild.
Close to Home by Molly Sabourin
I cried, laughed, and said, “That is so me!” at least a dozen times while I was reading this book. Molly Sabourin shares her family’s journey to Orthodoxy, her struggles as a wife and mother, and the depth of our faith in a fantastically engaging book.
Blueprints for the Little Church by Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker
Blueprints for the Little Church is a practical guide for Orthodox families that helps them integrate the faith and life of the church into their homes. It focuses on three major elements of the faith: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I found many helpful tips and ideas that I can implement into our little church right away. A fantastic resource for Orthodox Christians!
The Ascetic Lives of Mothers by Annalisa Boyd
Motherhood brings a new set of joys and challenges to a woman’s life. Annalisa Boyd has created a beautiful prayer book that provides prayers for mothers for a myriad of situations that occur in daily life. If your soul needs spiritual refreshment, a vehicle to help you pray, or even just encouragement to know that you are not alone, this is the book for you.
Parenting toward the Kingdom by Dr. Philip Mamalakis
This is not a book filled with empty promises of parenting techniques that will solve all of your problems. Instead it is a book filled with principles and practical examples that will help you parent with the end in mind–the ultimate salvation of both our children and ourselves.
Ancient Faith has a wonderful package designed specifically for the cook in the family. This package includes the book Fasting as a Family and an icon of St. Euphrosynos the Cook. (Psst….someone tell my husband that this is what I want for Christmas…:) )
These lovely bracelets are handmade and quite inexpensive–less than $15!
A beautiful keychain that would make a great stocking stuffer.
Finally, Ancient Faith has another lovely bundle designed for women. This one includes a copy of the book The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Women’s Monastery and an icon bracelet.
I hope that you find gifts for your family and friends! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some shopping to do……
What are your favorite gifts to give?
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