It is usually a sign that you are held in high regard if you have been invited to the christening of a friend or family member’s baby. Christenings are an important life event and it’s appropriate to arrange a christening gift for the parents who have invited you.
Deciding on appropriate christening gifts can be quite difficult, especially if this is the first time you have attended a christening for some time or if you have not attended a christening event in this church or religion before.
Traditional Christening Gifts
Some cultures will have traditional gifts that family members usually purchase. For example, in a Greek Orthodox christening, the christening outfit and a necklace with gold cross for the baby is customarily provided by the Godparents.
In a number of church traditions, gold jewellery for the baby is often a gift given by Godparents or by close family members. More traditional christening gifts that guests might contribute usually take the form of a commemorative keepsake. For example, a silver or pewter baby mug, a rattle or a silver spoon or even a locket, personalised with the baby’s name engraved.
While these are beautiful items they are rarely of practical use; whether this is an issue will depend on the family that will receive the christening gift. A family of modest means might prefer clothing for baby or a more practical gift. Commonly, keepsake-type gifts are given by godparents or close friends and relatives.
Commemorative baby items can also be suitable gifts to celebrate a birth or christening.
One very popular and also useful example, is chinaware company Royal Doulton’s “Bunnykins nurseryware.” Bunnykins are a series of cups and plates for young children featuring children’s illustrations of rabbits running around the rim, produced in the early 1950’s by Barbara Vernon, a young nun known as Sister Mary Barbara.
Other popular christening gifts include photo frames and money boxes.
Religious items as christening gifts
The christening ceremony is a significant religious one and for that reason, some people will choose to give religious items or keepsakes as a gift – for example, a cross for the baby, a religious statue or a bible or perhaps a set of rosary beads.
This can be appropriate if you hold a senior role in the Church or if you are a close relative, however if you are unsure about what is appropriate, try checking with close family or friends of the host parents.
Contemporary Christening Gifts
If you’d like to give a christening gift that breaks with tradition, you may want to contact the new parents (or perhaps a close friend or relative) to see if they have suggestions of something they might like. Occasionally parents may nominate gifts they would like with a gift registry, if that’s the case they will usually include details with the invitations.
Popular contemporary gifts can include baby blankets, towels or even hats for young children.
Baby clothes can be very useful gifts; if you’re unsure, buy a slightly larger size to fit baby when he is 6 months to a year old. Shop somewhere with helpful salespeople who can suggest something that will be seasonally appropriate when the baby is likely to be at an age to fit into the outfit you choose.
A classic wooden puzzle or good quality toy can also be a lovely christening gift which will be appreciated by the guest of honour when they reach the appropriate age.
Some retailers sell christening hampers, which include a variety of lovely items to suit a young baby.
Personalised gifts, where baby’s name is engraved on a cup or embroidered on a towel, can also be a lovely christening gift – do check the spelling of baby’s name BEFORE you arrange the personalisation, though!
Gifts of money
It’s important to beware of parents’ sensitivities and traditions before arranging a gift of money. Although it is potentially the most useful gift you could arrange, every family will take a different approach, so do check before you sign a cheque.
Managing the Christening gifts at the reception
Christening gifts are usually brought to the post-ceremony celebration by the guests and are often not opened at the time of the celebration, but opened later by the parents.
If you are hosting a christening, it’s a good idea to allocate an empty table as the place where guests may leave gifts at the time of their arrival. This makes everything run just a little more smoothly on the day.
As a guest, it can make life a lot easier for the gift recipients if you make sure that a card is firmly attached to your gift to reduce the inevitable confusion that happens when a lot of presents are opened at the same time, at the end of the day!
This article was written by Fran Molloy, www.ultraverse.com.au, journalist and mum of four