Catholic Digest's Catholic Christmas Guide
By Lori Hadacek Chaplin
At the request of our readers, this year Catholic Digest went in search of gifts made or designed by Catholics. We are excited to feature a number of presents that are handcrafted by Catholic businesses—including fragrant soap, cedar religious boxes, monk-made fudge, and more. We also went in search of the latest gifts and American-made products, to make your Christmas shopping a breeze.
Gifts from Catholics
$14.95 – Etsy.com/shop/prayerpockets?ref=l2; 504-430-7134
Three ladies from Louisiana—Ann Beckemeyer, Mary Diehl, and Charlene Ryan—make Prayer Pockets to encourage people to pray. “Our mission is to get people to realize the power of prayer and to get them to pray more. For some, it’s getting started in the first place. For others, it’s being exposed once again to prayers that were said long ago but long forgotten.” Prayer Pockets come with a stack of quality Catholic prayers and prayer cards that encompass a variety of spiritual and physical needs.
$6 per bar – NazarethFarms.webs.com; 208-685-9714
Denise Draper, mother of eight, from Selah, Washington, makes handmade soap with only the purest ingredients, including essential oils. She told Catholic Digest, “I see a need for pure ingredients to keep people healthy—an alternative to mass-produced products that are full of unnecessary chemicals.” Each of her handcrafted Saintly Soaps are named after a particular saint. For example, the cedarwood-scented soap has a woodsy smell and is called St. Joseph Soap because he was a carpenter.
Cedar Religious Boxes
$25 – CrazyDawgWoodworking.com; 504-237-6243
Sturdy religious-themed boxes are made out of Louisiana cypress, then sealed and coated with polyethylene for a shiny finish. Pat and John Schneider started Crazy Dawg Woodworking after John was laid off from his work as a computer consultant. The boxes are perfect for storing items such as religious cards, rosaries, and other religious-themed items. The boxes measure 6" x 12" x 4.5" in size.
Immaculate Heart Tenner
Artisan Bethanne Callahan-Plato from New York started making rosaries in 2001. Her business has made it possible for her to stay home with her three children. She told Catholic Digest, “As a big supporter of local and small businesses, I try to use vendors, suppliers, and artisans who operate small businesses like mine, as it helps real families thrive.” Featured is her Immaculate Heart Tenner, a bronze and red poppy jasper single-decade rosary.
Mary the Mother of God Fine Art Print
$18 – PortraitsofSaints.com; 425-205-8908
Self-taught portrait artist Tracy L. Christianson sells prints of her art through the Portraits of Saints website. She told Catholic Digest, “After a long career designing and illustrating for an outerwear company, I am now living my passion. I have combined my love of portraiture and my Catholic faith.” Tracy runs the business with her sister, Dixie Foster, and says, “We enjoying working together, doing what we love, and sharing our faith with the hopes of inspiring others by making known the lives of these amazing saints and role models.” Featured is the unframed Mary Mother of God fine art print (11" x 14").
ModHMary Original Art Prayer Cards
$1.75 per 2.5" x 4.5" card – ModHMary.com
Professional artist Elise Faurote from Rochester, Michigan, creates original art nouveau-style prayer cards. She started her business by making rosaries from antique beads. Wanting to expand and utilize her fine art background, she began designing prayer cards. Elise says, “ModHMary’s purpose is to ‘put believing and faith back into fashion.’”
Shining Light Dolls Marian Dolls
$13.95 – CatholicCompany.com; 866-522-8465.
Kirk and Chantal Wilson started Shining Light Dolls in 2012. Chantal designs all the dolls and the packaging. She told Catholic Digest, “Looking around, I realized that today’s children are attracted to specific types of imagery, and by applying contemporary graphic styling to traditional images, I found I could open a child’s heart to the message of that particular apparition.” Children of every age will enjoy collecting all eleven of these sweet, vinyl Virgin Mary dolls (approximately three inches tall) representing Marian apparitions, including Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and more.
Trappist Rum Fruitcake from Assumption Abbey
$36.95 for two pounds – MonasteryGreetings.com; 800-472-0425.
In the wooded Ozarks, Assumption Abbey Trappist monks make the most delicious traditional-style fruitcake with raisins, pineapple, currants, citron, wine, and rum, and lots of walnuts and pecans. If you don’t like fruitcake, it’s because you’ve never tried theirs!
Hazelnut Fudge from Brigittine Monks
$16.95 for one pound – MonasteryGreetings.com; 800-472-0425.
Handmade by the contemplative Brigittine monks at Our Lady of Consolation Priory in Amity, Oregon, is melt-in-your-mouth hazelnut chocolate fudge. The proceeds go to support the monks.
New or tried-and-true gifts
Adventure Tree House and Hopper Kangaroo Family
Adventure Tree House (13" x 11.5" x 15") $69.95; Kangaroo Family $22.95 from Intplay.com
New from International Playthings are the Adventure Tree House and Hopper Kangaroo Family. Little ones will enjoy playing make-believe with this treehouse featuring a moveable cabin, slide, sundeck, swing, and pulley and kangaroo family of four (mom, dad, sister, and baby). Ages three and up.
$99 – HearthSong.com
The Flying Turtle is a blast—plus it’s made in the USA! The rider swings the handlebars from side to side to make the Flying Turtle move on smooth surfaces indoors or outdoors. Helicopter parents, beware: There is an element of risk. Daredevils will want to use this on inclines, but the only breaks will be the rider’s feet. We recommend wearing a helmet. For ages 3–12; holds up to 150 pounds.
Mystery in the Forest Play Masks
$14.95 – GeniusBabies.com
Encourage make-believe with eeBoo’s whimsical Mystery in the Forest Play Masks made of heavy cardboard. Children can pretend that they’re a rooster, pig, bear, or raccoon—or a queen, maiden, or gentleman. Ages three and up.
Dino Construction Company™
$39.99 (each sold separately) from EducationalInsights.com; 800-995-4436.
Combining what little boys like best—dinosaurs and construction vehicles—Dino Construction Company by Educational Insights offers a Triceratops Bulldozer, Brachiosaurus Backhoe, Ankylosaurus Steam Roller, and T-Rex Skid Loader. Cool dino-treaded rollers leave dinosaur footprints in dirt or sand. Ages three and up.
AquaFarm Self-Cleaning Fish Tank
$59.95 - BacktotheRoots.com
It’s a sure bet that AquaFarm will be a hot ticket item this Christmas. The beauty of this 3-gallon fish tank is that the fish’s waste feeds the plants that grow on the top and the plants in turn clean the water. We were surprised to see that our plants germinated in just a few days. Includes everything you need to get started as well as organic seeds (basil, wheatgrass, and baby greens) and a discount coupon for a Beta fish. Manufactured in California.
$49.99 - Educationalinsights.com - 800-995-4436.
Nancy B is a mom and former science teacher who invented her own line of science tools to encourage children to love science. The MoonScope magnifies the night sky up to 90x, so young scientist can see mountains on the moon, Saturn’s rings, and more—plus the Skygazer’s Activity Journal provides activities so the fun is directed.
Butterfly Watercolor Kit
$9.99 (4.75 by 3.5 inches) from Ravensburger.com
The perfect stocking-stuffer for a little girls ages 7-12, the award-winning Aquarelle Mini: Butterfly Watercolor Kit comes with paints, brush, palette, and watercolor board with paint resistant outlines.
$8.95 each - Pauline.org - 800-876-4463.
Two new graphic novels from Pauline Press, St Francis of Assisi: Messenger of Peace and St. Ignatius of Loyola: Leading the Way, by Toni Matas and illustrated by Picanyol present an engaging way to learn about the lives of these two highly enfluencial saints.
Despicable Me 2
$23.99 (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/UltraViolet) from Amazon.com
In Despicable Me 2, the reformed Gru (Steve Carell) returns and this time he is being recruited by the Anti-Villain League to catch a mystery villain. A fun film for the whole family!
Especially for Teens
$149.99 from TheHouseofMarley.com
Stylish and comfortable, the organic wool LIVELY UP™ Messenger Bag with leather trim and shoulder pad contains a padded internal laptop sleeve with wool lining, a dual iPad/Reader slip pockets, and a space for books.
Camera Strap Cover
$14-$29 from Etsy.com/shop/adivaand3dudesdesign#
Handmade in Belmont, North Carolina, this padded SLR or DSLR camera strap cover turns a boring camera strap into a snazzy look for any budding photographer. Available in a number of feminine and masculine fabrics. Use code: catholicdigest to save 10%.
ClearWave Phototherapy System for Acne by Verilux
$99.95 - Verilux.com - 800-454-4408.
Dermatologist recommended, Clearwave® Phototherapy System uses blue light therapy to destroy bacteria that causes pimples.
Jam XT Rechargeable Speaker
$69.95 - HMDXAudio.com New from HMDX is the Jam XT—a take it anywhere bluetooth rechargeable speaker. This nifty speaker is great for music and audiobook listening from bluetooth enabled devices such as the iPad and for movie-watching on lap-tops with wimpy speakers.
Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia
$16.99 (hardcover) from DK.com
Doctor Who: Character Encyclopedia catalogues over 200 characters from the beloved British television show. Each character receives a page with details about their involvement’s with the Doctor. This is an enjoyable book for new fans and old fans alike.
Gifts for Dads and Grandpas
Energizer Mini Pop-up Lantern
$22 (4-inches tall when collapsed) - Energizer.com
Camping enthusiasts will appreciate Energizer’s 360° Mini Pop-up Lantern. We were impressed by the large amount of light this small flashlight emits. Better hide it from the kids because they’ll want it!
8-in-1 Pocket Weather Station
$29.95 - WindandWeather.com - 877-255-3700
Outdoorsy men will like this cleverly designed 8-in-1 Pocket Weather Station. It features weather forecast with moon phase, temperature, and humidity along with a built in pockets knife, bottle opener, flat and phillips screwdriver, a Led Flashlight, alarm clock, and calendar.
Single-Serving Cup of Joe
$26.96 (measures 6-inches by 5-inches) - ChefTools.com
Great for dad to take to work, the Endurance® Coffee Filter Holder makes a single large-size cup of coffee. Place filter in the stainless steel cup add beans and pour hot water in cup.
$22.45 - Ignatius.com - 800-651-1531.
History buffs and those inspired by the saint’s lives will appreciate this dramatic story of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, who was the spiritual leader of Poland’s Solidarity movement in the 80s. Beatified in 2010, this modern day saint was murdered by the Communists for preaching Catholic teaching on human rights.
Gifts for Ladies of All Ages
$18 - MagneButton.com
Use a pretty Magnebutton to close a sweater or to add flare to a scarf. The two magnetic ends are strong enough to hold material together and they come in a number of styles. Made in California.
$149.95 - Aetrex.com - 800-526-2739.
For the woman who likes to look fashionable, this Liv Ankle Pump from Aetrex is a comfortable option with a removable memory foam footbed for support and cushioning.
$22 - TheGrommet.com
The Invisibelt, designed by a mom, is a thin belt that lies completely flat; it keeps pants up without adding bulk under clothes.
The Ultimate Pizza Knife
$14.95 - ChefTools.com
For the mom who likes to cook, this nifty Endurance® Pizza Knife Pro has a long blade with a rocking motion that cuts pizza easily and swiftly. Also perfect for finely chopping herbs in a jiffy.
Do No Harm
$16.95 (hardcover) - Ignatius.com - 800-651-1531.
Do No Harm by Maltese writer Fiorella de Maria is a captivating novel about a legal battle for the so-called right to die. Told through eyes of a young aspiring lawyer, Maria, this novel illustrates how people are negatively effected by our societies lack of respect for the sanctity of life.