Guide to Giving Gifts to Clergy

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We all have a priest or two in our lives. Whether you’re good friends with your pastor or not, you will almost certainly find an occasion to give him a gift. When that time comes, be prepared to give a thoughtful gift. The last thing Fr. Joe needs is another crucifix, a rosary, a statuette, or an icon. Do you have any idea how many such gifts he received after his ordination? Too many. On top of that, for every person who gets the message to not give religious items as gifts to your priest, there are ten parishioners who didn’t get the message.

So, what should you give your priest as a gift? Well, your priest is a regular guy, and he’s not cookie-cutter. So, take these suggestions as that, and give it some thought. But this list should help you out.

1. Red Meat

Few meals are as enjoyable as a quality cut of beef cooked to perfection (medium-rare if you ask me). So, find a company that’ll deliver a few choice steaks to the rectory, or head down to your favorite independent butcher and tell him that you want the finest Rib Eye, New York Strip, or whatever cut Fr. prefers. This is an indulgence that few priests would not relish.

2. Event Tickets

Maybe your priest is an opera afficianado. Perhaps he is a sucker for a good symphony. Or it could be that your priest friend can’t get to a ballgame often enough. Whatever the case is, event tickets are rarely a miss. Just be sure that you give him enough time to arrange his schedule. A pair of tickets for a game next week is nice, unless he already has a funeral on his schedule.

3. Tools

Now, I’ve met some priests who probably can’t swing a hammer, but I’ve also met plenty of priests who are as comfortable with a pneumatic drill as they are in front of the altar. If your priest is of the latter type, he would definitely appreciate a shiny new toy / tool. If you need something small, maybe a good everyday carry knife would fit the bill. Or if you’re feeling generous, a new socket set or an air compressor will go a long way in keeping Fr.’s car in good order.

4. Airline Miles

In case you didn’t know, priests don’t rake in the big bucks. Also, priests are a bit like parents, in that they are on call 24/7. These guys need to get away every so often, and you can help make that happen. If you have some airline miles saved up, consider gifting them to your priest. They can bring down his travel expenses or give him a nice comfy bump up to business class.

5. Online Subscription

There are a lot of fantastic online services today that seem all but ubiquitous. I’m thinking about Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and more. Some of these are entertainment focused — even priests need distractions — and others have utility… Amazon Prime, Google Storage, Evernote, and Dashlane. One or more of these is sure to put a smile on Fr.’s face.

6. Gym Membership

These things aren’t cheap, especially for nice gyms, but even priests need exercise. If he has the space, you could give him exercise equipment, but that’s rarely ideal. So, whether Fr. needs to lose a few pounds or merely maintain his good health, a gym membership is a great gift. And with all that red meat and gift #7, he’ll need an outlet to burn calories.

7. Booze

You might not have thought of alcohol as a good gift for your priest, but it’s a sure thing. A nice bottle of wine…maybe a fine port…a 12-year-old bourbon… Whatever suits his tastes, a nice bottle is always well-appreciated. For a lesser occasion, grab Fr.’s go-to bottle, but for a special occasion, give him something that he wouldn’t typically buy himself. Nothing says, “Thank you,” like a good drink.

Of course, if either the recipient or the giver is a pope, then all bets are off.

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