Tired of giving the same old stocking stuffers, books, and pajama sets for the holidays every year? Here are suggestions from Beliefnet editors for unique spiritual holiday gifts. Some are religion-specific, others are general spiritual gifts for people of any faith, and all are sure to be enjoyed by friends and family on your gift list.


Spiritual Scarves

Sacred Silks takes some of the most gorgeous stained glass windows from the world's great cathedrals and uses them as patterns for silk scarves. Their patterns include the southern Rose windows from the Notre Dame in Paris, the Creation of the Birds from St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the Fire and Water windows from Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, and even the Veriditas labyrinth from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Sacred Silks offers more than scarves. My serious red-tie-shortage problem--how to find one with pizzazz but elegance--was solved when I saw the red-and-black "Sacred Circle" design. --Steven Waldman

Cost: Prices range from $30 for pocket squares, $50 for ties, and $40-$110 for scarves
Where to buy it: www.sacredsilks.com
Contact: 1-877-788-7455

Wall Sanctuaries

A textile artisan in Cleveland makes these beautiful 8" square hangings from hand-painted and contemporary fabrics combined with antique Asian and African textiles. The artist, Mary Ann Breisch, was inspired by prayer practices from a spectrum of religious traditions. Pockets and ties hold small scrolls and pieces of paper, on which you can write a prayer or anything with sacred meaning for you. The artist refers to them as "center pieces" because they can be used for centering before beginning a practice of prayer or meditation. Each piece is hand-made to order; you can give a gift certificate so that the recipient can order the color and theme of their choice. Also available in larger 14" by 14" size (pictured) and 14" by 24". --Martha Ainsworth

Cost: $40 for the small hangings, $85 for the medium, and $200 for the largest size
Where to buy it: The artist's homepage, www.maryannbreischinc.com

Goddess Granola

There are lots of goddess-themed products these days--from Lakshmi candles to Venus shaving razors--but Goddess Granola is unique in its promise to "feed the goddess within." It does so with more than just organic oats and maple syrup. The company donates 10 percent of net profits to programs that support women, such as the Lionheart Foundation, the Center for Women in Enterprise, and the Women's World Bank. Goddess Granola also publishes an email newsletter that features a "Goddess of the Month" to celebrate social workers, businesswomen, educators, and other women making a positive impact on their communities.

The granola is yummy, too. I can personally vouch for the sweet and nutty crunchiness of the Genuine, but it also comes in Ginger flavor and Just for Kids. All three would work as a snack or in a cereal bowl with milk. --Lisa Schneider

Cost: $3.50 for 7 oz; $15.00 for 15 1.75 oz bags
Where to buy it: www.goddessGranola.com and some local stores
Contact: 1-866-GRANOLA

Brigid's Cross
I participated in Beliefnet's sacred tour of Ireland this fall, where we were moved by the simple, rustic beauty of a ubiquitous Celtic symbol, St. Brigid's Cross. Legend holds that the beloved fifth-century saint explained Jesus' Passion to her dying father by weaving a cross out of reeds. Our traveling group saw it constantly as we visited a Brigidine nun, Brigid's Well, and other sites in Brigid's town of Kildare. As a wall hanging or as jewelry (pictured), this cross is a beautiful option for those seeking Christian gifts.

Strapped for cash but have plenty of reeds? You can create a handmade cross the way the original Brigid did--by weaving rushes together using this easy pattern. --Laura Sheahen

Cost: $11-$50 for wall hangings; varies for jewelry
Where to buy it: For wall hangings, www.classic-crossandcrucifix.com; for jewelry, Island Ireland and other stores

Food from the Monastery

In monasteries, "work is prayer" and good food is a celebration of God's gifts. When you buy mouth-watering treats from Monastery Greetings, which offers products from 35 monasteries around the world, you not only support the charitable work of the monks, but get to taste the fruits of their spiritual labors. Our office, full of sweet-tooths, was more than happy to sample these treats. The Trappistine Almond Bark got especially high marks. One Beliefnet employee "bought five boxes of almond bark following sample taste test," one found it "compulsively munchable," and another "appreciated the high-quality nuts and chocolate and simple packaging."

The Trappist Preserves were also popular, especially the cherry preserves, which "actually had whole delicious cherries in it." Among the different flavors of monastery fudge, the Brigittine Praline Fudge "was the big winner," and one taster thought the cherry chocolate fudge would "convert even no-fruit-in-my-choco types." The Merry Monks at St. Gregory's Friary make a tempting selection of hot sauces, herbed vinegars & oils, marinades, soups, bagel spreads and Apple Pie Butter, made from apples grown in the monastery's own orchard. --Martha Ainsworth and Rebecca Phillips

Cost: $11.95 a box for fudge and almond bark, $4.50 a jar for the Trappist Preserves
Where to buy it: www.monasterygreetings.com

A Gift for Your Pet

My kids are Jewish, but our dog is Christian since he sports a Saint Francis of Assisi identification tag that I purchased from Petblessings.com. Though the strength and beauty of Saint Francis's message crosses all faiths, Pet Blessings is adding a new product to its line this month--a Star of David medal for Jewish dogs. The Pet Blessings website includes photos of engaging dogs and cats wearing the medal, which comes in red, blue, yellow and silver. --Amy Cunningham

Cost: $12.95
Where to buy it: Pet Blessings

A Cup With a Message

Meditation and yoga teachers always suggest reconnecting with your breath to center your consciousness. In the midst of a busy day, it's helpful to be reminded to slow down and simply breathe. This pure white ceramic mug, with the word "Breathe" on the outside, serves as just such a reminder. At 20 ounces, the mug is big enough for soup or a satisfying cup of herbal tea. And when you get to the bottom, the words "Inhale" and "Exhale" add an extra measure of peacefulness. --Wendy Schuman

Cost: $18 plus $5.95 shipping
Where to buy it: www.alteryourlife.com

Indoor Fountains

Being near a body of water, the ocean, a lake or gurgling stream always relaxes me, quiets my mind and helps me connect to myself. Most hours of the day, however, are spent working at an office or home, far away from the soothing sounds of nature. One way to simulate this experience is to buy an indoor fountain. They come in all different sizes, materials and prices. You can get them as cheap as $10-50 from www.bedbathandbeyond.com or as much as $99-$460 from www.Gaiam.com. --Carol Haggerty Reardon

Cost: From $10 to $460
Where to buy it: www.bedbathandbeyond.com, www.Gaiam.com

More Gifts