First Communion is an important period in the development of a child's faith. It marks the first time a child receives the Eucharist or body of Christ. This sacrament is celebrated in the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches and occurs between the ages of 7-9. Other Christian faiths recognize a First Communion in a different way, sometimes during infancy or only after Confirmation. Holy Communion is the third of seven sacraments in the Catholic church and can only occur after baptism and one’s First Confession or Reconciliation. The preparation for a Holy Communion is as important as the day itself because children begin to learn important Church doctrine, new prayers, and participate in classes and retreats. Parents are also very involved in activities and help their children better understand the maturity and faith required for the Holy Eucharist. As such, Holy communion is very much a family-oriented process and celebration, yet is a time during which the child begins to take more responsibility for their faith life with a deeper understanding of various teachings and rituals.

If you know or love a child receiving his or her First Communion, a gift is definitely in order! First Communion gifts can range from simple and inexpensive to elaborate and heirloom-quality. Choosing a First Communion gift follows the same guidelines as other presents. Consider:

Budget: No one wants you to overspend on First Communion gifts! While there is nothing wrong with splurging if you can afford it, the most important thing is to simply mark the event and that can be done in many affordable ways.

Age: This one is a bit less important, as the ages of First Communicants are about the same, although there is a small range.

Gender: This matters to some children and families and not to others, but it is usually a factor.

Personality/Interests: Voracious readers might appreciate a religions or spiritual book as a gift. Playful kids might like a Communion-related toy or game. You get the idea – think about the child’s general “likes” and apply that to your First Communion gift choice.

Common First Communion gifts include bibles and books, plaques, holy medals, religious games, and cards. Some of the most perennially popular gifts are patron saint medals and St. Christopher sports medals for both boys and girls. Saint medals are unisex and generally very neutral in design, so they work well for just about any child. One of the newer types of First Communion gifts you may consider are crafts, such as a DIY Holy Communion banner or a build-it-yourself First Communion frame. Other crafty choices abound and these types of First Communion gifts provide an opportunity for quality time with the communicant during the sacrament period. Working together on a faith-based project means the gift-giver (or a family member) may have time to talk with the child about their feelings related to the sacrament – excitement and along with apprehension and confusion are all quite normal experiences. The crafts can also be done after the First Communion and, again, provide a unique “break” from it all to debrief and talk about the experience with the child.

An easy choice for many is to give a child some sort of cash gift to celebrate their Holy Communion. This can make a great addition to a college fund or savings plan – or just as a way for the child to treat him or herself. If you still want to include a nod to the religious or spiritual importance of Holy Communion, many affordable token gifts or a prayer card could serve as an accompaniment to a cash gift.