This is a question that comes up from time to time, most recently asked by reader Treva. The sense I get is that people 1) want to buy something culturally appropriate, 2) that the receiver will appreciate, and 3) above all to not offend anyone with their gift.
Getting a gift for an Amish person is not as tough as it might seem. I’ve put together a couple of thoughts followed by gift suggestions below.
Ground rule number one is common sense. The Amish are a family-oriented, traditional Christian people, who use limited technology, so I don’t have to tell anyone that gift subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly or personalized poker sets are probably not the best bet.
It’s also worth considering how traditional the church standards are. Some communities are going to permit things that others won’t. If in doubt, err on the plain side.
Rule number two is that Amish are individuals. So it helps to know whom you are talking about. Male or female? Young or old? Or something for the whole family? That only gets you so far, because while some things would probably make good “Amish” gifts, that doesn’t mean everyone who is Amish will love the gift.
Some Amish men may favor outdoor equipment; others simply aren’t hunters. Some women will appreciate a new egg beater, others an inspirational book.
Just like anyone else, different Amish people like different things. So of course the better you know the person the easier this is…though I realize many asking probably don’t know the intended recipient that well.
With the above in mind, there are quite a few common items that make good gifts. I have a catalog in front of me of a home goods provider which is heavily patronized by the Amish. I thought I’d propose some gifts which can be had for under $20. I’ve suggested 10 items each for men, women, and children below.
These are mostly useful, sometimes fun items which are safe bets (again, with church standards in mind). You might not send someone over the moon, but you’ll get something that is in most likelihood culturally suitable and apt to be appreciated. Of course, they may already have one of whatever you end up getting, but there’s good news–there is always someone in the family who could use one of whatever it is.
If you want to buy something from these lists, and you’ll be in an Amish area, I’d suggest dry goods or variety stores, which should have much of what you see below, or similar items.
Another idea is to just have fun with it, skip all of these ideas, and follow your gut. The worst that can happen is that they’ll smile, say thank you, and re-gift it to their English neighbor once you leave.
Finally, keep in mind my gender categories are loose here. Some of the “man” gifts would probably be appreciated by the ladies, and vice-versa; some just make good blanket “family” gifts.
10 Gifts for Amish Men
- Deerskin Gloves
- Deluxe Foot Massager (takes 2 AA batteries)
- “Old Standby” Basic Harmonica
- Wearable Headlight
- Four-blade Pocket Knife
- Insulated Lunch Pack
- Pocket Watch (Bear, Wolf, Horse, Deer design)
- 6-pound Bag of Popping Corn + Cheddar Cheese Seasoning
- Hardwood Letter Rack
- Giant Rain Gauge (exciting…because it’s giant)
10 Gifts for Amish Women
- Singing Bird Clock
- 10-piece Flower Enamel Bowl Set
- Wooden Recipe Card Box
- Pizza Pan
- Home Remedies Book
- Wildlife and Scenic Thermometers (Goldfinches, Deer, Bluebirds, Harvest Acres, etc)
- Tomato Strainer/Press (for the pizza sauce)
- 7-piece Glass & Pitcher Set
- Keepsake Box with Engraved Footprints Poem
- Hummingbird Feeder
10 Gifts for Amish Children
- Deluxe Stamp Set
- Sleepytime Tales 9-book Set
- Magnetic Chalk/Dry Erase Board
- Mini Spin Top
- U.S.A. Floor Puzzle
- Pound A Peg
- Kenworth Livestock Semi Toy Truck (no license required)
- Farm-opoly Board Game
- Table Tennis Set
- Tinker Toy-style Construction Set
Have you ever given a gift to an Amish person? Any thoughts or gift ideas to add here?