First Holy Communion Etiquette
There are a few guidelines to be followed considering the fact that the First Holy Communion is a rite of passage. Here are some of the most important points to keep in mind for this special occasion:
Sending Out Invites
More often than not, the extended family does not have to be invited to the First Holy Communion unless the child is particular close to a few family members or individuals who have impacted the child’s religious development. Those who should be invited to the church ceremony and party afterwards include grandparents, siblings, close aunts, uncles, cousins and godparents.
Guest Invites: Those In Your Congregation
Traditionally, guests who are invited by the parents of a child who is receiving their first Holy Communion includes family members, close friends and members of the church. For those events that include a part after the communion, it is a good practice to extend an invite for both the events – the communion as well as the party as the same time.
If the invitation has a religious theme, it is recommend that it be sent a minimum of 6 weeks in advance from the main event. This way, you can get a headcount of the number of guests who will attend the event and ensure that there is enough room for everyone on that day.
Guest Invites: Those Not In Your Congregation
You can also extend an invitation to family and friends who are neither religious nor familiar with the customs of the church. It is perfectly fine to do that. The only thing you need to ensure is that the priest is informed in advance if many people are invited from outside the congregation.
Guests need to be instructed to stay in their seats during a part of the service where adults are invited to take communion after the ceremony for the children. It is not considered impolite to explain every part of the service as it only assures and reassures the guests that they will not get confused or awkward during the event.
The invitations should always include both the name and address of the church as well as the time and location details for the first Holy Communion and the party afterwards. This is importance because some guests may choose to skip the church ceremony andthe celebration that is after that. Always ask for an RSVP if you are having a party, as this will help you plan the various details and logistics well in advanced based on the number of guests who will attend the party.
Invites: The Child’s Friends
The First Holy Communion is not an event to which a child’s entire class should be invited. Make a list of their closest friends and sent an invite to them and their parents. You can also invite friends whose families attend your church to join you in celebrating at the party after the ceremony. In those churches where the First Holy Communion is a group event, you can plan a celebration after the event. However, if you do this, you need to be prepared to gift all the children who are close in age and
Since most churches have groups of children who are close in age and receive their First Communion on the same day, you may consider a group celebration after the ceremony, either at the church or another venue. If you agree to this, however, you should also be prepared to give gifts to all the children who are celebrating the event.
Having followed the etiquette when it comes to sending our invitations, the next thing to pay attention to is the ensemble. Boys traditionally wear dark-colored suits with a white shirt and tieat their First Holy Communion and girls traditionally wear white dresses, with an optional veil or hairpiece.
Guests should be advised to dress respectfully as well. Though formal attire is not mandatory for those attending the event, they need to dress traditionally. Regular Sunday church attire is appropriate for any First Holy Communion. For me, this ranges from slacks and a collared shirt, to a suit and tie and women should stick to business casual attire, for example a dress or a dress shirt and slacks/skirt. Tennis shoes, flip flops, short skirts, bare midriffs, low-cut tops or hats should never be worn to the First Holy Communion ceremony.
The First Holy Communion is a time for togetherness, but it is not a party. Everyone must be respectful of the importance of the event by turning off their cell phones throughout the event. Any conversation (persona;/private/mundane) must be completed before entering the church to avoid disturbances. Chatting during the service is forbidden for the same reason.
Gifting: Within The Family
Putting in some time, effort and thought will be nice as these gifts commemorate a big event in a child’s life. Close family members give religious-themed gifts and cash. Some of the most common presents include, but are not limited to fancy rosary beads, Bibles, religious medals, plaques and jewelry (do check who is giving the cross and chain). There are a wide selection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings available online for girls who are receiving their First Holy Communion. For boys, there are name bracelets that are designed exclusively for this occasion. For older children, more sophisticated styles are appropriate.
Other gift ideas includerosary keepsake boxes, statuettes of Mary or girls in white, holy water fonts, photo albums and photo frames in silver or wood. These types of gifts are personal and are often reserved for those closest to the child. More than several small gifts, one big present is considered appropriate.
As far as cash goes, family members like aunts, uncles, grandparents and godparents should give more money than someone who is not as close to the child, say a family friend or a neighbor.
Guests must always present the child a gift for the First Holy Communion, as it is customary. People who do not know the child too well or have not seen them in years usually give cash. Money is a more appropriate gift, especially if they want to avoid giving the child something they might already have. Regarding the amount of money a guest can give the child for their First Holy Communion, it varies a lot depending on the standards of the family and their location. The etiquette is different for those who are family members or close to the family as discussed previously.
If the parents are also hosting a party either as a catered event at home or at a restaurant, it is a nice gesture to gift the child a bit more than you would at an event that is casual. You can at least include enough to cover the cost of your food. If you are not sure about how much to give, check either with someone in the family or congregation regarding what the best amount would be.
A gift in cash form should be presented in a card, as this is the most appropriate way to go about it. There are several First Communion-themed cards available commercially that come with a holder for the money. Another option is to buy a savings bond, timing it in such a way that its maturity coincides around the time the child attends college. This is a great way to spend less and give more. A small, token such as a religious-themed bookmark, a picture frame, or a small stuffed animal, can also accompany cash. In this way, you can give the child something they can look forward to and enjoy now, while the parents save the cash for later.
Last but not least, do not include any gift registry information in the invites. It is not considered appropriate for The First Holy Communion. Besides, most guests will follow tradition by bringing a small, religious gift.