Print Edition: Feb. 22, 2015
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First Communion and confirmation season is coming up: a good time to look at possible gifts — both traditional and unusual.
BY AMY SMITHREGISTER COPY EDITOR
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — White
dresses. Patron saints’ names. First Communion and confirmation season is
almost here — and the gift buying has begun.
But how will Catholic products be
affected by the economic crisis?
“2009 will be a very critical year
for a lot of stores,” predicted Catholic Marketing Network president Alan
But the bottom line is that these
sacraments will be celebrated, regardless of the state of the economy. Napleton
said, “These are very important times for celebration, and people are looking
for keepsakes and such, so I don’t think there will be much of a cutback.”
And the stores are optimistic.
“People are already shopping,” said Susie Oppelt of Aquinas and More Catholic
Gifts in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Now is a pretty good time to start; the
season is coming up quickly. We have seen some changes. But people still need
to get gifts.”
“Orders are still coming in, but
they may not be as large,” noted Kathy Furlong of Leaflet Missal Company in St.
The Gottfried family of Marietta,
Ohio, is getting ready for its celebration. For them, it isn’t that money
doesn’t matter — but that some things matter more.
James and Diane Gottfried’s
8-year-old daughter, Maggie, will be making her first Communion in May.
They plan on giving her a rosary
bracelet where charms can be added for religious and other special milestones
in her life. “It’s a keepsake sort of item she can add to,” Diane Gottfried
The most popular gifts seem to be
the traditional ones, and these are usually inexpensive.
have the standard ones people are always looking for,” Aquinas and More’s
Oppelt noted. “First Communion crosses and rosaries are always pretty popular,
and for confirmation, books on apologetics and understanding the faith.”
But pricier items still find plenty
of customers during the sacramental season. Personalized gifts are also
favorites for both sacraments at Aquinas and More.
“We offer engraving. Good ideas for
confirmation gifts are patron saint medals with the person’s name on the back,”
The same thing is being seen at
Leaflet Missal. “Anything that is personalized is a huge seller for us,”
Furlong said. “Personalizing goes up drastically from March to May.
Personalized Communion boxes are popular. They are little wooden boxes with
room for the child’s name and a saying about first Communion. Personalized
Communion plaques have been favorites for many, many years.”
But gifts like rosaries, photo
frames and Communion gift sets are always top sellers for Leaflet.
A new item this year is a first
“We’re not sure which way it will
go” in terms of popularity, Furlong said.
The Catholic Marketing Network,
based in Dallas, confirms the tradition factor, especially in today’s economy.
“The traditional gifts would be the
trend,” Napleton said. “And keepsake items. We’re seeing a growing selection in
that area. Also, personalized keepsakes are very popular.”
In terms of confirmation gifts, he
said that youth-focused Bibles tend to be big sellers.
Alternatives to Spending
For those who are watching their
wallets, store-bought gifts aren’t the only options. Gottfried said a first Communion
ring has been passed down to the oldest child of each generation of her family.
“My grandfather made his first
Communion in 1926. He had a simple gold ring that he passed on to my mother in
1956, then to me in 1976,” she recalled. “Our oldest made his first Communion
in 2006, but since he’s a boy, we didn’t think he’d ever wear it, so we’re
going to give it to our daughter this year.”
Other mementos are also passed on,
she said. “My husband and I have items from our childhood — a Bible, a statue
of Mary from my first Communion — that we thought we’d pass along as each of
our children makes their Communion.”
Think of non-traditional gifts, too,
“For our son, in the spirit of growing in
Christ and something a little more fun,” she said, “we got him C.S. Lewis
books. The [Narnia] movie had come out, and it was a good opportunity to use it
as a gift-giving opportunity. He really liked it. I don’t want them to think
that their spiritual life is separate from their everyday life. They have to be
comfortable with the mixing of the two.”
When times get tough, the tough find
Gottfried makes use of online
shopping, as well as catalogs, in addition to the store that recently started
at her parish, St. Mary Catholic Church in Marietta, Ohio. She has also found
rosary bracelets are available at her local jewelry stores. “You just have to
do the legwork,” she noted.
For those needing to find a local
Catholic store, there are several online resources. The websites of Catholic
Marketing Network, As--cension Press and Ignatius Press all offer store locator
functions. The latest is CatholicStoreFinder.com, a service of Aquinas and More
that launched in February and lists more than 700 gift and bookstores
nationwide. The beginning of March saw another online feature from Aquinas and
More: FirstCommunionStories.com, which features self-posted memories.
Regardless of which gifts are
selected, the focus should be on what truly matters.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the gift-giving
portion,” Gottfried said, “but, really the focus should be on the celebration
of the sacrament. That’s the real present.”
Smith is the
Register’s copy editor.
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