The Religion News Service 2013 holiday gift guide logo. RNS photo

The Religion News Service 2013 holiday gift guide logo. RNS illustration by T.J. Thomson

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(RNS) From ecumenical prayer beads to naughty Christmas sweaters, the Religion News Service 2013 Holiday Gift Guide has suggestions for everyone on your list, no matter their religion — or lack of religion. The guide was released in time for Christmas and Hanukkah shopping, but we hope you find it useful throughout the year.

The guide, which we hope will become an annual feature, is actually three lists in one: the first caters to people who are religious or think seriously about religion; the second is for people who think religion can be hilarious; and the third is for the kids on your list. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and have a wonderful whatever other holidays or occasions you celebrate.

Hand painted Allah wood earrings.

Hand painted Allah wood earrings. Photo courtesy Etsy

Gifts for People Who Take Religion Seriously

  1. A Night In A Monastery Get someone a getaway. Many monasteries welcome tourists of all faiths for short stays at reasonable rates. You can find several lists of monastic accommodations online. This one is global.
  2. Ecumenical Prayer Beads Prayer beads are perhaps best known as something Catholics use, but they’re actually part of many faith traditions. Here’s a handmade selection for Anglicans and others.
  3. Tickets to Handel’s Messiah From the New York Philharmonic to the Carolina Ballet to the Nashville Symphony, some version of “Messiah” is playing near almost everyone this holiday season.
  4. Sabra Menorah A sabra is an Israeli prickly pear, and this menorah casts sabra leaves in aluminum. They can be added and rearranged for each night of Hanukkah.
  5. African-American Ornaments Here’s a wide assortment, from Santas to soldiers.
  6. Allah Hand-Painted Earrings Lightweight wood earrings say “God” in Arabic.
  7. Assumption Abbey Fruitcake Dispense with the fruitcakes jokes. This one is made by Trappist monks in Missouri who got the recipe from a French chef who worked for the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor. Trust us, it’s divine.

    Monks at Assumption Abbey Monastery in Ava, Missouri Feb. 17, 2006.

    Monks at Assumption Abbey Monastery in Ava, Missouri, on Feb. 17, 2006. Photo by Jason Borseth/The Missourian, courtesy Assumption Abbey website

  8. Religionist Philatelist The U.S. Postal Service’s Christmas offerings include stamps that depict everything from poinsettias to the Holy Family, but they also sell postage for Hanukkah and Eid.
  9. “Veggiyana: The Dharma of Cooking” Recipes are interspersed with Buddhist wisdom such as “Understand that a simple green has the power to become the practice of the Buddha.”
  10. “An Appetite for Wonder” Richard Dawkins’ new book explores the famed atheist’s early days as a churchgoing boy and his evolution into the scientist he is today.

Gifts for People Who Can Laugh About Religion

Awkward Moments Children's bible book cover

Awkward Moments Children’s bible book cover photo courtesy

  1. The “Awkward Moments Children’s Bible” Definitely not for children. A sample illustrated page paraphrases Lot in Genesis 19:1-9: “Take my two virgin daughters and do with them whatever you like!”
  2. “Here I Stand” Socks Martin Luther, pressured to recant his writings, famously refused, saying: “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Well, he actually might not have, according to religious scholars. So what? It looks really cool on these socks.
  3. “Adult” Christmas Sweater At first glance, it’s just another ugly Christmas sweater. But just what are those reindeer doing?

    Naughty reindeer sweater photo

    Naughty reindeer sweater photo courtesy

  4. Nice Jewish Guys Wall Calendar 2014 Twelve months of mensches who are not bad to look at either.
  5. Life-sized Pope Francis Cutout This is a very chummy pope. Why not have him hang around your house?
  6. Artisanal dark chocolate Jesus sprinkled with sea salt A Kickstarter project, made in Brooklyn and packed in an archival box.
  7. No Limit Texas Dreidel Game A mashup of poker and the classic Hanukkah dreidel game.
  8. Seven Deadly Sins Shot Glasses Adorable! Each glass features a cartoon version of the sin as drawn by New Yorker artist Mort Gerberg.

  9. We Vishnu A Merry Christmas Shirt This greeting brought to you by the Hindu god who protects the universe and maintains moral order.
  10. American Gothic Thanksgivukkah Poster Because this is the first time since 1888 that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day.

Gifts for Children of Religion or No Religion

  1. Mosque Building Blocks Includes arches, minarets, domes and staircases.
  2. Mormon Missionary Action Figures This particular set of guys is on bicycles, but you can find others from the same company that show them expounding on the Book of Mormon.
  3. Atheist baby shoes On one sole it is written: “I believe in Mummy.” The other: “I believe in Daddy.”

    Mormon missionary action figure toy.

    Mormon missionary action figure toy. Photo courtesy Deseret Book website

  4. Tzedakah Box A container in a Jewish home for collecting money for charity, a tzedakah box typically gets passed around before Shabbat. This ceramic version has a “kids in the park” theme.
  5. My First Buddha Plush Toy Extra good karma — your purchase helps support Save the Children.
  6. Live Forever Cross Baby Pacifier Made with a silicone orthodontic nipple. BPA and phthalate free.
  7. “Too Many Latkes!” A fun Hanukkah book about a poor family that gets a magic potato. Hanukkah madness ensues.
  8. Indestructible Nativity Scene Made by Fisher Price. The musical manger lights up and plays “Away in a Manger.”

    Itty-Bitty Baptist bib photo

    Itty-Bitty Baptist bib photo courtesy

  9. Itty Bitty Baptist Bib This one is particularly alliterative, but also know that you can get an “Itty Bitty Methodist Burp Cloth.”
  10. A Christmas Together is the name of an album made by John Denver and the Muppets that went platinum after it was released in 1979. It’s still terrific, especially when Miss Piggy belts out “Five Go-old Rings!”



  1. Absolutely brilliant! Some really good ideas here. I really like the Mormon action figures, but what is that muck they’re biking through? Does it symbolize the difficulties they face on their mission?

  2. This is so very excellent! Wonderful idea. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for RNS. As a super busy clergy person, chaplain, teacher, husband, and father of three, I really don’t have time to read books or research like I used to. RNS is really a gift that I can access on my phone anywhere I get a moment to breathe. So thanks. And have a wonderful Hanukah!

  3. Lauren Markoe

    Lauren Markoe

    Article author

    I appreciate all the suggestion. And Liz, you ask a good question re. the muck. Please keep the suggestions coming. I’m looking for candidates for the guide in 2014. Thanks!

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