How to Set Up a Home Altar: Catholic Home Altar Ideas

In continuing with our series Passing on the Catholic Faith to Your Kids, I wanted to touch on setting up a home altar. When I first heard the term home altar, I felt a little scared. I didn’t know what I was doing, and the idea of setting up an official “altar” felt out-of-my-league. Sometimes home altars are also referred to as family altars, prayer tables, or altar tables. Don’t let these names scare you either. It’s not complicated at all!

You can find my resource page for Catholic home altars here

Printable Monthly Home Altar Packs

Catholic Icing now offers a monthly membership program that includes printable home altars for each month! The home altar downloads include:

  • Beautiful Catholic artwork featuring the monthly dedication or the current liturgical season
  • A “Saint Spinner” which allows you to easily feature different Saints throughout the month
  • My complete Home Altar Guide for Catholic families
  • The liturgical season cube
  • Candle wraps for each month
  • A litany of Saints for each month
  • Dry erase “Saint of the Day” printables
  • Prayer cards
  • Scripture memory cards matching the Sunday readings
  • A prayer triptych 
  • So much more!!!! Watch the video below or click here to learn more

This has got to be the most affordable and easiest way to keep up with a Catholic home altar ever! Seriously, if you’re serious about upkeeping a home altar, you need to check out this resource. 

Here is an example of the printables in the Home Altar Packet of the June 2022 Membership (the membership also includes printables for kids, crafts, and more):

June Home Altar Example

Note: Membership resources change each month and each year, so the items you see featured here may or may not still be available in the current monthly membership. You can see more about our past membership resources here


How to Design a Home Altar: Catholic Home Altar Ideas

I’m here to tell you that setting up a home altar is not the complicated task that it may seem! It’s simple to do, there aren’t any rules, and it’s a great way to set the scene for the Domestic Church in your home.

catholic home altar ideas

What You Need to Start a Home Altar

A Surface to set it up on.

This could be any surface – the top of a shelf, a mantle, a desk, a shelf that hangs on the wall, a section of your china cabinet, the back of your piano… just find something that works for you. I like to use a little cabinet so that our extra religious items can be stored underneath. Don’t let finding a surface stop you. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can always move it later.

Some religious items to place on top.

Try pooling objects you already have around your house such as a Bible, candles, rosaries, statues, crosses, flowers, prayer books, medals, pictures, etc.

If you don’t have many things, your kids can color pictures, craft a crucifix, or make rosaries. And you know all those dried out palms in the shape of crosses you have left from Palm Sunday? You can put those there, too.

That’s is. Just set it up and you’re good to go.

home altar ideas for your domestic church

Catholic Home Altar Ideas

Once you have the basics down, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to branch out creatively. (At least I always do!)

Post continues after this brief information about the Catholic Icing Monthly Membership

Monthly Liturgical Membership

Catholic Liturgical Monthly Membership

Perfect for families! Each month you gain access to printable activity pages, crafts, home altar pieces, and more.
Never has living the liturgical year been so easy and affordable!

Here are some more ideas to use once you get your home altar going:

prayer table ideas for home altar

I just keep our extra religious stuff under the cabinet, and pull it out when I want, but I’ve seen people around blog land store their liturgical items in plastic boxes labeled by the month. This way, you know exactly what to pull out when. Only you know if you’re that kind of organizational nut or not. 😉

You could also keep well-made children’s crafts in these boxes to come out, such as shamrocks to put around for St. Patrick’s day, Trinity triangles to come out on Trinity Sunday, Holy Spirit doves on Pentecost, Divine Mercy statues for Divine Mercy Sunday, and so on.

I also have a post on creating a portable prayer table for a classroom environment, but if you live in a home with limited space, this might also be a good option for you. You can also make small altars for your kids to each have in their room. This has been on my to-do list for awhile!

Setting up a home altar can certainly be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, so remember to choose something that is “doable” for you at your current stage of life. Sometimes we get so excited about something that we over-complicate it, and then it doesn’t end up happening. It’s okay to start small.

Brand New Home Altar Guide

I now have an all inclusive home altar guide in my new ebook, Weaving The Faith. It includes labels for your Catholic items, many pages to display on your home altar, all my tips for switching out your altar for the different feast days and seasons, a simple glossary of terms, checklists of items, and so much more! You can read more about the pack here.

You may also want to check out this idea to spell liturgical words on your home altar. Tons of ideas in this post!

Find all of my home altar resources for families here.

This post is a continuation of our series “Passing on the Catholic Faith to your Children.” Other posts in this series:

Check out the Whole Series! “Passing on the Catholic Faith to your Children

Check out my new printable liturgical ebook, Weaving The Faith! This is the perfect resource for families that are living the liturgical year at home. You can use this book year after year to organize your liturgical resources, building your library as you go! Read more about my Weaving The Faith ebook here


  1. BunnyMomRocks says

    I was looking at ideas for this last night on Pinterest and found mostly adult oriented articles. Here this morning I find your article on Pinterest!!!! thank you so much for putting all of these ideas together and making it seem less terrifying. As an adult convert sometimes I find it extra challenging to help my children grow in their faith. Will get going on this today!

  2. This is just so all-around excellent Lacey. Love it! Thank you for your blog. It is definitely a blessing.

  3. It was wonderful to find this post as I have just bought my alter piece and was wondering where to start. The “alter” is a console table with some nice shelves/nooks and I was wondering if it’s ok to store books, specifically homeschool books, underneath our alter, or should the alter be used solely for religious items. They are Catholic homeschool books though 😉 Thanks so much for all of your ideas, Lacy!

  4. I was disappointed in the crafts that came with our VBS this year so I changed them to a series of crafts (rosary, cross, holy water jar, holy image, and flowers) so our kids could put together their own home altar with their crafts from each day. It was truly a blessing when I saw you blog entry a few days before we started! It gave be great confirmation that changing the crafts was the right thing to do, and it also gave me a great jumping off point for my letter to the parents about putting together their home altar. THANK YOU!!

  5. Growing up in the Philippines an altar in the home is common to each household. Even when you are approaching a house you know that the people who live there is Catholic because of the cross or the Twin Hearts of Mary and Jesus is hanging at the door or the gate. Or even the palm crosses are hanging too. When I read your post I am so glad you started it hope everyone follows ^_^.

  6. Julie davis says

    Love your page, so helpful!! Love all the kids projects and how to get them involved. So, appreciate the hard work and organizing the information for all of us who are trying to pass on our faith to our children. Love the home altar idea, plan on using it with my children this week. Blessings

  7. My daughter was afraid to come to Mass (stalker/bully started showing up) so I decided to put together a home altar. I have seen lists and photos on line but your list is Wonderful! I have the basics and will build on that. I do have to say that since I started pulling everything together for our home altar, my daughter and our family are having such a good week! I wish we had started this sooner!

  8. Mary Porter says

    As a senior now,I find myself embracing my Catholic upbringing more. I use my mom’s mahogoney drop leaf table in my spare room to display my items. I inherited my familys statues and other religious actifacts. I want them in a quiet reflective place. They mean alot to me. Memories of childhood and my mom and her sisters. A simpler more civil time.

  9. Susan Maddox says

    I am a CGS facilitator. I have given each child a box (usually a converted cigar box) that is decorated with an appropriate bible verse and a bible verse that incorporates their first name. I then put a couple of things inside that reference something we covered that year. At the end of the year I give them their ‘Prayer box” to take home. They are encouraged to put it beside their bed and at night pull it out, open it and spend time with the Lord. Just some quiet few minutes to listen for Him. They love getting their boxes and look forward to adding items over the years that make them think of the Lord.

  10. Your ideas are always so amazing. Your website is my favorite go to for ideas.

  11. Thanks for this awesome and helpful guide. It feels good to have an altar at home. When you don’t have time to go church, it’s the altar where you can pray.

  12. Donna Westerkamp says

    I just bought an altar cloth on Etsy and it is so pretty.

  13. Christine Mulcahy says

    Thank you and God bless you and your family, Lacy, for sharing your graced-filled ideas. Even for a single middle-aged woman such as myself, I firmly believe that by His merciful grace, He will touch my family through the altars I am currently building in my home. again, may our Jesus continue to strengthen, protect and guide you in your very important ministry! Blessings in Christ, Christine form Australia

  14. Every Catholic home should have an image of the Sacred Heart prominently displayed

  15. MahaviraMahakaya says

    very wonderful blog thanks for posting.

  16. Rotimi Samuel says

    Thanks so much
    You’ve just enlightened me altar ideas for my home and family (upcoming).
    God Bless you.