Homegrown Catholics is an excellent resource for religious education teachers, homeschoolers, and parents. Here you'll see all my lesson plans and project ideas on many Catholic subjects as well as school topics. If you would like to read about my adventures as a Home Educator, click on the St. Brigid's Academy tab above.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Preparing for Baptism

Baptisms and First Holy Communions are such special events, modernly set aside as more intimate occasions than big weddings. None the less, they are Sacraments which hold special value in our lives. I want to witness to family and community that we believe in the equal beauty of ALL Sacraments of the Catholic Church. A Baptism IS a big deal, and takes proper planning and grandeur reception I think. While a tired mom and dad to a newborn won't be inviting 200 people and spending thousands on the occasion, it can still be made special with proper planning. I'd like to share our ideas with you to consider or admire. :-)

Some of these ideas were inspired by Pinterest ideas I found. Take a look and pin some here: https://www.pinterest.com/modestmommies/sacraments/

The Invitation

Baptism Invite Sample - Page 001Baptism Invite Sample - Page 002
Text Outside: A Baptism Celebration, [Child's Full Name]
Text Inside:
Come celebrate  the Baptism of our [son/daughter]
[Child's Full Name]
on [Date]
Promptly arrive at [Time]
at [Place]
Refreshments following the ceremony will be at
[Location & Address]
Please RSVP [Phone/Email]
Parents: [Names]
Godparents: [Names]

Who to invite?
  We choose to include parents, siblings, godparents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles for certain. Anyone who is significant in the life of this child should be there, and anyone you very much want to be a witness to! Perhaps your funds are larger than ours, and you could include close friends and neighbors?

Choosing Godparents

AmericanCatholic.org says: "When it comes to infant Baptism, godparents are to assist the child's parents in raising their child in our Catholic faith, so that the child may profess and live it as an adult… choose a firm believer, someone who is truly committed to the Catholic faith in which their new baby will be baptized." (Click here for more)

CatholicEducation.org: The Role of Godparents.
"To be a sponsor, a person must be chosen by the person to be baptized, or by the parents or guardians of a child, or, in their absence, by the pastor or minister of the sacrament. The sponsor must not only have the intention of being a sponsor but also meet proper qualifications. He must be [at least 16 and] a Catholic who has received the sacraments of holy Eucharist and confirmation, and 'leads a life in harmony with the faith and the role to be undertaken.' Moreover, the sponsor cannot be impeded by some canonical penalty. Ideally, this sponsor at baptism should also be the sponsor for confirmation. 
  Here we should pause to clarify who qualifies as a Catholic godparent. A Catholic who does not practice the faith by regularly attending Mass or who is in an invalid marriage disqualifies himself from being a godparent. Moreover, if a person is Catholic but antagonistic to the faith, i.e. has the attitude "I am a Catholic but...," and would not be a good example and witness to the faith also disqualifies himself. If a person is not striving to fulfill his own obligations of baptism and confirmation, he will not fulfill the responsibilities of helping another to do so. "   (Click Here for more)

Godparent Certificate from Parents (Link to Printable Download)
- Add photo after Baptism and send with thank you note, or present on the day and send 3x5/4x6 photo later.
Godparent Certificate poem Godparent Certificate form

Godparent Gift Ideas

GB-2TBeing a Godparent Book
"The Godparent Book" by Elaine Ramshaw
"Being a Godparent" by Patrick Gallagher

The cleansing waters of Baptism theme inspired a bath/spa bundle.

Another occasion, I purchased Water Mugs, so every time they'd take a drink they'd remember our child.

I'd love to hear any suggestions or links you may have for Godparents and gifts! I have a few more pinned to my board:  https://www.pinterest.com/modestmommies/sacraments/

The Baptismal Gown
Choosing a gown or other outfit for an infant baptism is certainly based on personal preference and finances. Many people have heirloom gowns that were used for generations. Read more about the one I designed and have sewn, as well as others my children have worn [at this link]. Of course, don't forget to take pictures. I wish I had professional pictures for each child's baptism instead of just the one. I'm getting better at it with each one!

Edwards Baptism Gown by Mommy 

The Baptism Ritual

The Presentation
The Presentation

We've always had a private baptism with my dad, the Deacon, godparents and immediate family. Once we participated in a beautiful, traditional ceremony we didn't want to miss out on. My dad performed the baptism, but it was so touching to have our church community included. They had music and other traditions I've never witnessed such as having a "special person" holding baby during the readings then presenting him to the parents, or baby entering in street clothes, undressing down to diaper, then gowning up after baptizing in water. We were so excited.

Our special person holds our child at first, then brings him or her in when called in by name. Shortly after it is time to bless the holy water and then the children. What an exciting time for everyone there. All babies are born with original sin, so what a beautiful gift God gave us with Baptism to fill our children with soul-cleansing grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit!

In the ceremony, The parents and godparents take the newly baptized child to be dressed in their gown (or white outfit or cloth)  to symbolize their being clothed in Christ, pure white without original sin.

The child is anointed and blessed. Then the parents are also blessed along with the godparents.

Their candle can be lit on the anniversary of their Baptism, on their birthdays, at future sacraments such as First Communion, and it can be the candle they use with their spouses' to lite their wedding unity candle.

 Afterwards, everyone lined up and the people all came along in a line to give their blessing to the baptized and the parents.
Now, I'm no professional photographer, so you'll have to do research how to get great shots inside a church during the Baptism. But afterwards, it certainly is important to take pictures of your child with EVERYONE who attended. You'll be glad you took the time. I've had a lot of experience with this, and someone can really feel left out if not included in the pictures. Take a group photo if there are time constraints. Include the priest or deacon who baptized your child too!
Consider having a photo booth/background in your reception room. Recently, we used a shower curtain and banner. Everyone took turns standing in front of it to get their picture taken with the baby. I hung it near the window for good lighting.


Deacon Papa and Grandma!

The Reception
So I've done this seven times (so far) and while it's cheap to host the reception at home, I highly recommend finding a space at the church to rent! We got a classroom, and it was such a smooth transition to setup before Mass, Baptism after/during Mass, then head over to the room.

I used the doilies to note the room reserved, as well as to make a banner. Banners can also be made out of scrapbook paper or fabric.
Tables can be covered in linens or disposable cloths (nice but thin), but either will make a formal presentation. Centerpieces add a special touch. My favorite is fresh flowers and candles. Here you'll see I added silver platters (Dollar Tree) with bowls of water and glass beads for a vase.

 I was looking for white carnations, but settled for all I could find - some white daisies. Each family got to take home a centerpiece. Lindt has these beautiful chocolate coconut truffles in blue wrappers. I also added some mints. I also added place settings which included a prayer card featuring my child's patron saint. We made bowties from the napkins, but the tape I used didn't hold well - so I taped it more which only ripped the napkin when opened. So I don't recommend that unless you have a better way.

 Hosting at home I love to add special vases, dishes, candles, streamers, etc. Everyone loves a bowl of snacks while they are waiting for you to get ready.

Food and Dessert
Lamb Cake w buttercream frosting and coconut grass
 Hydrangea Cupcakes2
 Mine did not turn out as hoped, but they were pretty and delicious! Christian Cupcake paper cups at CatholicSupply.com are cute to add a special flair.

Everyone enjoyed these Root Beer bottles (or water) with a personal label. Each one said "Blessings for ..." then the nutritional label read "Baptism Facts." You can click on the image for a close-up of the words and create your own labels!
Another time I simply had water bottles with flavor packets for those who wanted them.
When we hosted at home, I enjoyed sharing my tea set for warm drinks.

I love preparing a meal for a group of my favorite people. Choose menu items that can be easily prepared ahead of time. These are a few suggestions I've had success with.
- Cranberry Chicken Salad, lettuce wraps or crossaints
- Fruit Ambrosia Salad
- Veggie Pizza or Veggies and Dip
- Colorful Salads of any kind really
- Layered gelatin
- You could get ambitious and make edible White Doves - Jordan Almond Birds by TheKitchn.com

Party Favors

Everyone seemed to like these mini Altoids mint tins labeled with a thank you for attending.
The most simple gift we gave was a prayer card of our child's patron saint. I had hoped to have a saint medal on a string for everyone, but this turned out much better.

A basket of bags filled with hand cleanser, chocolate, and a prayer card was a nice touch.

Baptism Prayer CardBaptism Thank You
Mini Prayer Cards (click image to print)

Father in Heaven,
when the Spirit came down upon Jesus
at His Baptism in the Jordan,
You revealed Him as Your own Beloved Son.
Keep me, Your child,
born of water and the Spirit,
faithful to my calling.
May I, who share in Your Life
as Your child through Baptism,
follow in Christ's path of service to people.
Let me become one in His Sacrifice
and hear His Word with faith.
May I live as Your child,
following the example of Jesus. Amen.

 - A cleansing theme to go with the waters of Baptism. Bath and Body Works "Bee Good" and "Bee Nice" PocketBac hand sanitizers, wrapped in tulle/netting with pastel M&Ms. Party City's Blue Ribbon and Cross Favor Ties.
- One time I had sidewalk chalk for children's party favors, and Playdoh, for a fun activity.

Other ideas I considered:
  -Themed for the Chrism Oil, give Lip Balm Favors labeled with name and date of baptism.

-Seed Crosses item#16080 for $1ea at CatholicSupply.com

Children at a Baptism

If little children will be at the Baptism, keep them involved. My dad, the Deacon, makes a point to include our children in this exciting experience, especially if they are a sibling of the baptized child. Let them touch the holy water, showing them how to make the sign of the cross. Let them stand near where they can see and watch. Let them make the sign of the cross on the babies forehead too. "Let the children come to me" Jesus said.
The children's table vases had a sucker bouquet. Children also had a stack of coloring pages with crayons as well as a basket of mini bubble blowers.

Here are some coloring book finds from online for the occasion:
Peace Begins with Me Baptism ChildrenBaptism ChildrenBaptismMom and Bassinetbaptism_19children of godconference-coloring-three-2Familyjoyful_mysteries_for_kids_1

Found various sources via Google Images "Baptism Coloring Pages" and "Precious Moments."

If you're not worried about messes, you might consider other crafts like this.

Unique Baptism Gift Ideas

Gift Ideas for the Parents:  (2 of my favorite books)
domesticchurchhomegrown faith
"The Domestic Church: Room by Room" by Donna Marie Cooper O'Boyle.
"Homegrown Faith: Nurturing Your Catholic Faith" by Heidi Bratton

Gifts for Baby:
Free printable Catholic ABC 4x6 cards by me


Catholic Mass Seek and Find Cards

Baptism Gift Plate
Guests Sign-in Plate for Child

Name Wallhanging
Child's Name Wall Hanging

Baptism SackBaptism Sack2
My Baptism Sack - an Older Child's Baptism Gift $9 by Pioneer Party and Gift

My Baptism Book
"My Baptism Book" by Sophie Piper - Includes prayers that are easy to commit to memory and to say at bedtime, along with very simply expressed statements of Christian belief that are appropriate for the youngest of children. The message of My Baptism Book is one of God's eternal love and care. For ages 0-8.

"Can God See Me In The Dark" by Neal Lozano - When Anna goes to sleep overnight at her grandparents' house for the very first time, she is afraid of the dark, but her grandfather explains that Jesus is with her even when she cannot see, which makes her feel better.
"Will You Bless Me" by Neal Lozano - A sneeze from young Anna and her father's casual "bless you" lead to a memorable discovery about true blessing. On the way to their discovery, father and daughter read a story about the boyhood life of Jesus, as he joyfully experiences a blessing while asking his mother to tell the story of his birth. Through the gentle stories of Anna and Jesus, Will You Bless Me? instructs parents in the simple and beautiful process of speaking words of blessing into their children's hearts. And children will learn to desire and ask for these words of love and hope.
"What Can I Give God" by Neal Lozano - During a birthday celebration with her family, Anna walks and talks with her grandmother in a sunflower-laden valley, and upon hearing the biblical story of a boy sharing his loaves and fish with Jesus, Anna realizes that the best gifts are those we can give back to God.
Other Book Titles: "Water, Come Down!" by Walter Wangerin. "God Gave Us You" by Lisa Tawn Bergren. "God Makes Me His Child in Baptism" by Janet Wittenback. "Angel in the Waters" by Regina Doman.

What have you done for a Baptism, or what have you witnessed?

1 comment:

noreen said...

Hi Melissa,

It's been almost 12 years since my son was baptized and I know I didn't plan and prepare as well as you did! Your party will be a wonderful celebration for all of your guests no matter their age! Easter blessings to you and your family!

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