Christenings are often a really significant life event for new parents – and they are usually the first formal introduction of a new baby to family and friends.
Generally, the formality of a christening will be dictated by the church community and family traditions of the parents.
When looking for guidance and ideas for how to run a christening, the most useful source of information is usually another parent who has recently christened their child!
Most parents are happy to share the details about what they learned about what to buy and where, where and how to hold the event, sourcing clothes and other essentials, and how to cope – and will sometimes help you to learn from their mistakes!
Don’t be tempted to turn your baby’s christening into a huge event – unless there is irresistible family pressure to do so! If you’re finding it difficult to cope with life with a new baby, adding the arrangement of a huge event is going to pile a whole lot of stress onto your family.
Consider how you might reduce the stress rather than exaggerate it. For example, could you hold a morning tea or afternoon tea buffet, rather than a sit down meal?
If you are arranging for outside caterers, you’ll be taking a lot of the hard slog out of the event, but there is still quite a lot of organising to be done beforehand.
It’s wise to have a meeting with the caterer with plenty of time to spare before the event, and also to show the caterer where the celebration will take place so that they can inspect the facilities and be sure they are prepared. Experienced caterers will often come up with some ideas tailored to your christening party
The best way to choose an outside caterer is word of mouth – ask friends and family if there is someone they have used who they are happy to recommend. Failing that, ask your prospective caterer for a couple of phone numbers for previous clients so you can check out their performance.
Catering for your own christening when you are dealing with a new baby and all the other details that you need to attend to on the day, can be quite stressful, however it is very rewarding.
The key is planning. Make sure that you have a clear idea of what food will be served, at what time – and do as much of the purchasing and food preparation up front as possible. Buy drinks (soft and hard!) and packaged goods a week or two beforehand if you have room to store them, so that you have more time to spend on the in-house preparations as the big day draws near.
Make lots of lists – and stick with tried and true recipes where possible, this is not the time to experiment with a new dish!
When decorating for the christening, make sure you have a theme in mind for the day. Perhaps it’s a colour theme – blue for boys or pink for girls, mixed with lots of white, is a cheerful, appropriate and tasteful theme for a christening.
You’re celebrating a lovely event – but don’t forget that it’s a religious ceremony too, and more conservative guests might be a little shocked if you go overboard with wild decorations.
Think classy and tasteful, rather than wacky and inventive.
The main focus of the christening celebration, and the guest of honour, is the baby; but often (and hopefully), baby will spend much of the day fast asleep.
Younger babies are often quite happy to sleep in a pram or bassinette in a noisy place, so if you think your baby will cope, try to bring them out into the main area for a while during the celebration so that baby gets some attention too.
Generally the entertainment at the christening was the religious ceremony itself! If you have lots of children attending, you might want to think about setting out a few toys or activities to keep them entertained, but often just being together is enough and kids will make their own fun.
And that’s the case for friends and family too. A christening is not the place for a party with loud music and too much alcohol, but rather is a restrained family celebration.
The highlight of the christening celebration is usually the moment when the christening cake is cut. This is usually a time for speeches too; and it’s an opportunity for new parents and perhaps also godparents to address their families and friends directly and with less reserve than was possible in the formal religious ceremony.
If you may be called on to make a speech at the christening, try to prepare a few days before, particularly if you are a person who doesn’t like to speak in public.
Plenty of people who get “stage fright” find that they avoid any situation where they might be called upon to speak; but it is inevitable that at some stage of your life you will be required to give a public speech, so practice is an important and effective way of calming those nerves.
If you’re comfortable with public speaking though, you may not need to spend time preparing a speech. The best speeches are straight from the heart, they are short, they are spontaneous and they are often unrehearsed.
This article was written by Fran Molloy, www.ultraverse.com.au, journalist and mum of four