A Catholic Christening, or Baptism, is a celebration of a new member in the Church community. It marks the first sacrament the person -usually an infant child- will receive as a member of the Catholic church. The giving of gifts to the baptized is a common way to recognize this milestone.
To Gift, or Not
If you have been invited as a guest to the baby's christening ceremony or reception, the family considers you a close family member or friend. A gift is an appropriate way to mark the occasion and show your happiness for the family. If you have already given a "welcome" gift to the baby, a Christening gift is not necessary. Likewise, if you have not been invited to join the festivities, you need not feel obligated to send along a gift.
The godparents of the child have been honored with an important role in the child's ceremony, and in her life. A thoughtful gift is expected. Traditional godparent gifts include silver spoons, eating utensils, and plates and bowls. These keepsake gifts can be engraved with the child's name, dates of birth and Christening, and a special message from the godparent.
It is also appropriate for the parents of the child to gift the godparents with a token of their gratitude for taking on the role and responsibility of being a godparent.
Many family members and friends choose to give a token religious keepsake gift to mark the special occasion. Engraved silver items, including photo frames, are popular and appropriate choices. Others select children's Bibles, hanging crosses, religious books, or jewelry adorned with the symbol of the cross. All are tasteful options.
Avoid items such as toys or even baby clothing. Because this is an important religious event, the gift should reflect the significance of the day.
Gifts for the Future
While keepsake gifts will be treasured mementoes, many people find an investment in the child's future to be a more practical gift. Etiquette dictates that savings bonds are an appropriate choice to help the family start preparing the for the child's future. Cash is an acceptable option as well. Regardless of your decision, select a card, and include a personal message. Most parents will save these special messages for their child and treasure them for years to come.
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A.J. Ryan is an elementary school teacher and graduate-level college instructor. She holds a professional teaching certification in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as a Master of Education and a Bachelor of Science in business administration.