Amid the hubbub of Christmas decorating, gift buying and party organizing, it can sometimes be hard to remember the true meaning of the holiday. Likewise, people often pass up religious gift items in favor of the season’s hottest new toy.
There are religious gifts out there, however, that appeal to kids and adults of all faiths. And in their own niche, they’re as popular as Tickle Me Elmo ever was. If you need a little help in the idea department, consider the items listed below.
If you’ve ever wanted to see talking cucumbers or tomatoes, check out the “VeggieTales” video collection. They feature animated vegetables dealing with important issues, such as resisting peer pressure and the true meaning of Christmas.
The videos are a huge hit with everyone from small toddlers to college students, said Daryl Brusch, co-owner of the Christian Gift Centers in Spokane. “If we play it in the store, even the parents will sit down and watch,” said Brusch. “It’s so captivating.”
There are seven titles in the collection, produced by Big Idea Productions, including “Larry Boy and the Fib from Outer Space,” “Where’s God When I’m S-Scared,” “Dave and the Giant Pickle” and “The Toy that Saved Christmas.” His stores have sold about 200 copies of each title since Nov. 1, said Brusch.
The videos sell for $14.99 at the Christian Gift Centers, and $14.95 at The Kaufer Co. Christian Supplies, 907 W. Boone.
Like any success story, the videos have spawned a rash of other products, including books, games, audio tapes, journals, gift wrap - even letterhead.
An item popular with teenagers across the country is WWJD bracelets. The initials stand for the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Teenagers can use this question to guide their behavior.
Brusch said pastors buy the bracelets for their youth groups, and kids themselves come in the stores in droves. “I’m not sure if it’s just a fad or if kids are into what it means,” said Brusch.
Once the bracelets became so popular, other products covered with the initials began appearing, including coffee mugs, shoelaces, T-shirts and necklaces. Local stores have a hard time keeping WWJD items in stock.
The bracelets are available in a variety of styles for $3.95 and up. More than 20 companies now make WWJD items.
A popular item with adults is the new Visual Bible produced by Visual International and Visual Entertainment Inc. The biblical books of Matthew and Acts are brought to life in a series of four videos per book, which sell for $24.99 each at the Christian Gift Center.
Another best-seller is the daily devotional journal, “Experiencing God Day-By-Day” by Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby. Each page features a short devotional and space for the reader’s written reflections.
The book’s local best-seller status is due partly because area ministers have bought copies by the armful for classes, said Brusch.
The hardback book, printed by Broadman and Holman Publishers, retails for $19.99.
Kaufer’s has sold a lot of traditional items, said gift buyer Rita McDermott. Traditional items, like pictures and statues of Jesus and Mary, seem to be selling well.
“People are really starting to come back,” said McDermott. “If there’s any one trend we’re noticing, that would be it.”
Nativity sets are also popular, said McDermott. Kaufer’s carries a large selection, with prices ranging from $17.74 to more than $600.
Kaufer’s also offers something unique with Christmas cards printed in more than a dozen languages. They come with greetings in Spanish, Japanese, Russian, Vietnamese, Serbian, Czech, Slovak, Finnish, Hungarian, German, Swedish, Portugese, Lithuanian, Chinese, Italian, French, Polish and Danish.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: The above items can be found in area Christian book stores, including The Sower Bible Bookstore, with locations at 5023 N. Addison and 13312 E. Sprague; and the Adventist Book Center at 3715 S. Grove Road. The Christian Gift Center has locations at NorthTown Mall, 615 N. Sullivan, 510 E. Frances, 301 W. Boone, and 1602 W. Appleway in Coeur d’Alene.