Communion and Christening planning

Communion and christening planning

Do you have a communion or christening coming up? Here are some tips on how to plan your child’s special day.

Communions and christenings in Ireland are wonderful big family events. They are a time for families and friends to get together and celebrate their children.

While christenings are more of an event for the adults as the child is usually a baby, communions have become a huge event in the life of your seven or eight year old.

Here are some tips to help you take the stress out of your communion and christening planning:

Plan early

If you are planning on hosting a communion party it is essential that you begin planning early.

Firstly, you need to decide where you want to have it. You can have a party in your house, rent a venue or book a table in a restaurant and have a nice meal out instead of planning a big party.

While booking a venue may take some of the overall stress out of planning a communion party, this can be a very expensive option so many families opt to have the party in the house.

Here are the essentials that you need to consider if you are throwing the party in your house.

Decide on the number of guests

This will help you to make decisions for the rest of the party, as you will know how many people you are catering for.


Catering is the easiest option here, although it is not the cheapest. When deciding on a menu, it is best to go for simple popular dishes that everyone will enjoy. Also make sure that there is adequate food for the kids.

Self-catering can be a cheaper alternative. The same rules apply; keep it simple. Although Ireland’s weather may not always permit, a barbecue is a popular and easy option. You can accompany this with salads and breads.

Another good way of keeping costs down and alleviating some of the stress is to ask family members or friends to each bring a dish, such as a salad or dessert.

Communion and Christening planning


Let people know well in advance of the date, especially if your friends and family have kids – there will be plenty of communions on around the same time. A good way of saving money here is to just send out an e-card. People can RSVP online and it will save you the hassle of sending out individual invitations.


Communions and christenings are normally full-day events, so it is important to have enough entertainment and activities to keep kids occupied from afternoon until evening.

Probably the most popular form of entertainment is hiring a bouncing castle. The only downside to this is that they can be quite costly and unfortunately dry weather isn’t always guaranteed.

There are a number of other types of entertainment though that will be cheaper and indoors. You could rent a karaoke machine, a piñata, or organise some indoor games. It’s a good idea to have a few suitable DVDs at the ready to put on in the evening when the kids’ energy is at a low.


As this is a day your child will always remember, it is important to capture as much of it as you can. Many families opt to get professional photos taken when their child is in their communion outfit together with the family. However, there is no reason you can’t simply capture the day yourself and get the photos printed afterwards.


Both girls and boys traditionally wear a long white or cream christening gown. It’s lovely if you have a family gown that has been passed down through the generations.

Many large department stores will sell appropriate clothes for christenings. Communion dress/suit You will find a whole range of communion dresses and suits in the larger department stores/specialist stores.

Mums experiences

“My first child’s christening was a big affair, she was the first grandchild on both sides. We had a room in a hotel with sandwiches, tea and coffee. I had a cake made and that was served too. For my other two kids, I reserved an area in our local pub and served finger food, tea and coffee with just immediate family, I had cakes made too. The same christening gown was used for my girls and I got an outfit for my son as the gown was far too girly. My granny had made a shawl so that was used too. I got them nice outfits too as the gown was quite heavy. I have a communion next year, but I think we will probably go out for a family meal.” Naomi Casey

“I have had two christenings, the first was in a function room – bit awkward for feeding and changing the baby but it was nice to not have to do anything. I had the second christening at home. I did all the catering myself (hard work) but I really enjoyed the day and so did my guests. The kids had somewhere safe to play and everything was so relaxed.” Gillian Burke

Of course the most important thing  of all is to find what’s right for your family and budget. And don’t let the stress of trying to make things perfect ruin your day!

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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.