Baby gifts with a Catholic flair

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When Alexandria Catholics Anna Rose and Michael Riccard got married last year, the couple kept their gift registry bare-bones. “I think if you push people out of the box they were expecting, it's surprising what they come up with,” said Anna Rose. They got a few repeats, but they received mostly creative and useful presents.

When the couple learned they were expecting, they decided that accepting whatever gifts their friends and family had in mind was the way to go.

“I was especially delighted by each gift because of the thought that had gone into it. It made it a fun surprise, because we had no idea what it was going to be,” she said. “Also, everything baby is cute,” added Michael.

Here are a few gift ideas for Catholic parents and their babies. Many of the items are created by Catholic mothers who sell their wares on Etsy, an online shop for art and handmade goods.

A birth box

Expectant moms may be eager to meet their babies, but nervous about childbirth. To help prayerfully soothe their worries, Arlington Diocese native Kathryn Wood and a fellow mom created The Joyful Leap, which sells “peaceful birthboxes.” Each contains a rosary, holy water, a journal and other spiritual items. Or create your own birth box and fill it with family photos, healthful snacks and whatever mementos the parents would appreciate.

Local parenting guide

If you’re a parent who lives near the expectant mom, she’ll know she can count on you for advice and motherly wisdom. But it never hurts to put that knowledge in writing. Create a local parenting guide to answer questions such as, where’s the nearest maternity and child consignment store? Which churches have mothers groups? What are some free and fun kid-friendly activities in the area? Once you read it, pass it on to another new mom.

Meals

Once their bundle of joy arrives, organize friends and family to provide meals and snacks. Websites such as Meal Train can help volunteers coordinate and lets the parents see what's on the docket. Attach a note to the meal saying you’ll offer a Mass or rosary for the family. Throw in some flowers for a real spiritual bouquet.

Scrapbooks

Maternity pictures, newborn photo shoots and every new milestone will keep cameras flashing for months. Make sure the new parents have a sweet scrapbook to record the memories. Or give them some money to put toward Chatbooks, which automatically mails them an album of photos from their phone and social media accounts.

Children’s books

Everyone remembers a picture book or two that they read and loved as a child. Pass that timeless story on to another child. Write a message inside to share your love for the mom, dad and baby. Or, collect a few religious books to make a baby Mass bag. For the literary-inclined, check out Baby Lit for stories that capture the spirit of the classics.

Clothes and accessories

It’s hard to go wrong with cute baby clothes. If you’re hoping to add a little Catholic pizzazz to the newborn’s wardrobe, get a clever “cradle Catholic” onesie, sold by Etsy store Brick House in the City, or headbands and bowties from Hair Bows 4 Life, which can be personalized with religious medals.

Saint dolls

If the baby has a saint’s name, get them a corresponding saint doll. They’ll love having something to cuddle that shares their name, and will learn early the inspirational story of their patron saint. Etsy shops Sanctus Stitchesand Babies, Bow Ties and Bobbins sell plush saint dolls, or check your local parish shop or Catholic bookstore.

Nursery art

Along with new clothes, home goods and gadgets to accommodate the baby, parents will need to decorate the nursery. Peruse Peter’s Square, an Etsy-like site for Catholic creators, to find artwork. Or try your hand at painting, embroidery or calligraphy to create something one-of-a-kind.

Teething rings

For older babies, Chews Life makes quirky silicone jewelry and rosaries for young ones to bite while teething. It’s a charmingly practical and prayerful combination.

Baptismal date memento

Everyone knows their birthday, but few can recall their baptismal date as easily. Have a frame, pillow or blanket inscribed with the child’s name and the date of the day they were received into the church. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

@ZoeyMaraistACH