Your child’s baptism or christening is a special first ritual: it brings family together to celebrate the birth and it’s also a chance for you to show off your newborn and have the community welcome the baby into the fold.
The first few months of parenthood, however, can be a blur – so we’ve prepared a christening checklist to ensure baby’s special occasion goes smoothly and you don’t forget a thing.
1-2 Months in Advance
Location: Decide on the church or other venue where you’d like to hold your christening ceremony.
Prerequisites: Inquire with the church about any requirements it has to baptize your child. Catholic churches and some others may require you to be registered, regular parishioners and complete a baptism class before the ceremony.
Book an appointment with your priest, minister or other celebrant to discuss how the baptism will proceed, go over any paperwork, and confirm a date and time for your child’s baptism or christening.
Godparents: Choose which of your closest family or friends you will invite to serve as Godparents and ask them if they will accept the honor. Discuss your expectations of the Godparent role, if you have some specifics in mind. Consider that some churches may require that the Godparents you present provide proof that they attend church.
Outfit: Whether you’re shopping for a boy or a girl, for a christening outfit or a baptism robe, you are sure to find lots of choices. Start looking early for your baby’s christening gown so you have time to add a monogram or wait for shipping. Keep in mind that baby will be happier – thus, your day will be less stressful – if you select a fabric and fit that’s comfortable for your child. Don’t forget to find “Sunday-best” ensembles for the rest of your family as well!
Accessories: Finish your baby’s baptismal outfit with coordinating accessories. A photo of the day would not be complete without a christening hat or bonnet. Look for cute christening shoes and socks embroidered with crosses and other religious symbols. You can also find christening sweaters to ward off chill and christening bibs to catch baby dribble, all made especially for the occasion. Pick out a baptism towel to wipe away the water or oil from the baby’s head and a christening blanket to wrap your sleepy newborn in once the ceremony is complete.
Decide on a facility for the after-celebration. Most people host christening parties at their homes. If you choose a picnic ground or community center, remember to reserve the location well in advance.
Think ahead about other party details, such as the guest list, invitations, menu, cake and decorations.
1 Month in Advance
Send invitations to guests with RSVP information.
Keepsakes & Gifts: Select christening keepsakes to commemorate the special event – or shop for christening gifts if you are a godparent or grandparent. These beautiful, hand-made commemorative christening plates are a perfect token of love. A special christening frame would be a treasured keepsake in any nursery. To acknowledge the spiritual side of the day, you may want to purchase a christening bible or obtain a baptism certificate suitable for framing.
Photographs: Ask a family member or friend who’s adept at taking pictures to take snapshots of the ceremony and party – or hire a professional photographer if you have the extra cash. Consider having a formal baptism portrait done on a less hectic day. To preserve the pictures and souvenirs from your baby’s special ceremony, pick out a special baptism photo album.
1 Week in Advance
Re-check and confirm: Don’t forget to reconfirm the final christening arrangements with the priest or celebrant. Verify that you have met the requirements for baptism at the church and that you have all the necessary documents and paperwork (such as baby’s birth certificate) on hand. If you have hired outside caterers or other vendors, re-confirm the orders and delivery times.
Tackle the to-do list: Pick up flowers and cake, prepare food to refrigerate overnight, set up tables and chairs, decorate, buy ice, and run through your schedule for the christening day’s events to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
Day of Baptism
Pack a change of clothing for the baby in case the gown gets dirty or wet or is just plain uncomfortable.
Remember your camera if you plan to take your own pictures. Check that the battery is charged and that you have usable film or a working storage card.
After the Christening
Write thank you notes to those who attended or gave gifts.