So that’s us done – 2 kids, both dunked. Organising a christening is a little bit like organising a wedding (without reward of the partying into the night and going on honeymoon!).
In all seriousness though, it’s something we wanted to do for our children. So here’s a little MMT roundup of what goes into a Christening in our, somewhat eccentric, family.
- Why? We gave it a lot of thought with baby #1. I’m a Roman Catholic (and I have been since the day I was born), a descendent of an Irish family whose faith has been somewhat diluted through the generations, but takes this stuff rather seriously. The hubster was christened in a Methodist church but is an avid scientist and has more interest in the big bang theory than Adam & Eve. As a non practicing Catholic since I was old enough to protest about sitting in Church on a Sunday Morning, I had to question why we would christen our baby. I did a lot of soul searching, but ultimately, I concluded it DID feel important to me to have her Blessed and officially welcomed in a church service. It felt important to say Thank you for this amazing gift, and to stop in our day to day tracks and celebrate this little life we had created. We decided to have them baptised Roman Catholic, as that’s all I know, so it felt right. Mr G didn’t have strong feelings about any denomination, and was happy to have our children Christened too.
- The church. We chose a neighbouring village family church that we didn’t attend regularly for baby #1. (We did have to get a letter from our parish priest to say we weren’t infiltrators). Mostly to capture a bit of family tradition, please my Mum, and it is also very pretty. Baby #2 was christened in a different church, the one I attended as a kid. Note: Don’t expect to just turn up at a RC church and book a date – you’ll be expected to have shown your face on a Sunday to show you are serious about this stuff.
- The venue. Most christenings throw a ‘little’ reception afterwards. Think Sunday tea party. Good options include sports clubs, pub function rooms, village halls. If your family (like mine) enjoy a celebratory tipple, go for one with a manned bar. Always check out if you can bring your own food – lots of places will only allow their own catering. Great if you can fork out for it (ouch) but if you want to do your own spread, get the OK first. We went for the pub opposite our house, which has, amazingly for us, just been renovated. A cute function room, pub garden, lovely owner…and no arguments about who is driving.
- Invitations. So now we have a date, a church, a venue. You need to let your guests know. I don’t go all out for personalised invitations as the norm birthdays etc, it can get a little expensive!…but a Christening is one I think deserves a little special printed one. There are some amazing online sites for stunning invitations (also great for the Thank you’s later).
- Guests. Now this is a bit I really struggle with. Do you keep it an intimate affair? Nearest and dearest only? Or do you invite ‘just close friends’ (a potentially friendship limiting step if you get it wrong). Do you just go all out and ask old friends, new friends, friends of the family, cousins etc etc. Due to our aversion to causing offense, we decided to go for the latter. So, without intending to create a scene from ‘My big fat gypsy christening’, our guest list was at around 100. Yep, I didn’t accidentally add a zero. But, this is our life, we decided to embrace it. We just might need to get in a few extra sausage rolls…
- Buffet. Which brings us on nicely to the christening party food. As pointed out by one of our guests – you can’t beat a christening buffet. It’s different to a wedding buffet (less posh), and more like a grown up kids party spread. Sausage rolls, vol au vents, cupcakes, egg sandwhiches, prawn rings, cut up cucumber, a french stick or six… Now, I am a relatively mentally stable Mum, however even I can’t knock up a buffet for 100 in a morning (in addition to decorating a hall, getting myself and 2 kids ready). This is where my AMAZING family step in. The best thing about having a family bigger than the Waltons (amongst other things, obviously) is that between us we knock up an immense party spread. Everyone has their dish. Feeling somewhat cheeky, but more so overwhelmingly desperate and grateful, the clan did me proud on Sunday, with enough food to feed not only all the guests, but half of the south East of England.
- Christening Cake. A bit like Christmas cake, or wedding cake, tradition is to have a special iced fruit cake to cut on the day. In the Olde Worlde times, one would save the top tier of their wedding cake as a christening cake, to be served 9 months later I assume. Back to reality. We did do this JFF (Just For Fun) at our first daughters Christening – worth a laugh and a photo, but definitely not for human consumption! I am again, hugely blessed to have a Mother-In-Law fit to win the Great British Bake off. She did herself proud not only with the most delicious christening cake I have ever tasted, but it was heaving with booze, decorated beautifully and a massive hit with all the guests. (She also baked 86 incredible cupcakes. I know. Amazing.)
- Decorations. Now I’m all for making a function room look pretty, but I’m not a fan of tat. Cellophane banners and balloons might be other peoples cup of tea, and that’s fine, but it’s not really my thing. Think outside the box if you can. Our first daughter was Christened in January, and we decorated the hall with hundreds of garlands of real Ivy. It looked incredible, even more so on the day to the magical backdrop of two foot of crisp white snow. This time around, we went simple. Banquetting roll covering tables (get it online), Brown paper bunting (personalisable) from ASDA just £2. (Everyone assumed it was custom made from Etsy!). Jam jars and Kilner jars, with twine tied around in a bow and a few Coral carnations and gyp. It looked incredibly pretty and didn’t cost the earth.
- Outfits. Now you already know about my amazing dress. It went down a storm by the way, lots of compliments and friends asking where it was from… The special girl had a beautiful christening dress from Monsoon conveniently handed down from her sister. You won’t have any trouble finding a dress these days. If you don’t want to fork out check out ebay where lots will be sold on after the event. Big sister had a gorgeous tartan pinafore from next – a bargain at £8 and will get plenty more wear over Christmas. Teamed up with a coat she got for Christmas last year (ASDA) she looked very smart. Dads get christening outfits too. Mr G looked gorgeous as always in an on trend Tweed Jacket from H&M.
- Godparents. How on earth do you choose when you are blessed with so many wonderful friends and family? I already have 4 god children, and my husband 3, so you can’t (and probably shouldn’t) just ask back the people who have asked you. That can be extremely awkward in itself. With baby #1 we decided to be brave and choose friends (outside the family) as we felt family would already have a special role. Second time around, and knowing this is probably our last opportunity, we went the opposite and chose our siblings plus one of my best friends who I just knew I couldn’t not have as godparent to one of my children. It’s such a hard one to get right, and no one likes upsetting their most loved friends and family. In the RC church, at least one godparent must be catholic too…which adds another tricky dynamic to the equation. But, like everything always does at these events, it all came together perfectly. If we had to have everyone we wanted as godparents we’d have to have 10 more kids. And that isn’t happening! (By the way, the age old tradition of Godparents being legal guardians in the event of your death is now null and void. Think Social services might be a little stretched if all orphaned children were spread across their parents ‘best mates’….someone somewhere will have to make sure your kids welfare is the top priority!).
Once all the planning, shopping, preparations, decorations were done…the stress subsided. The day was beautiful, and everything a Christening should be. Filled with love. Filled with family and friends who have been and will be a part of our daughters life. Magical memories made, and lots of jokes along the way. (Our daughter was actually baptised a different name on Sunday, one letter different to her real name!). Catching up with friends we struggle to keep up with since having the kids, introducing new friends to our family. Seeing the older generation, whose quiet lives are temporarily lit up by family days like these. Seeing the ever increasing next generation of children running around in the leaves, playing together in childhood bliss.
The date couldn’t have been more perfect; Remembrance Sunday. The Two year anniversary of losing our second daughter. Fate seemed to have delivered us that date. Maybe to remember the bad times as well as the good, light a candle for those not with us, but who will always with us in spirit; To be eternally grateful for being blessed with a healthy baby, who brings us so much joy and happiness. Taking time out of the every day moans and groans to stop and breathe it all in.
Do you think it is important to have a baby christened? What kind of ‘do’ would you put on? Thanks for reading x