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I remember my First Communion almost like it was yesterday. My pretty white dress. Receiving a keepsake Bible. And celebrating in our home’s greenhouse with all of our family and friends. I also remember being told multiple times that I couldn’t run around the backyard to chase my cousins because I would get my shoes dirty. Not everything was perfect.
First Communion is an amazing moment in a Catholic child’s life. Like other religious events, it marks a coming to age moment. After watching your parents and church community participate in receiving the body and blood of Jesus for many years, you finally get to participate. It’s a big deal.
And so is the celebration afterwards. My parents always joked that I had three big events in my life. My First Communion, high school graduation and my wedding. I would probably add in there the birth of my children. But, it really is that important.
So, you want it to be memorable. No matter if your celebration is a 50 person dinner or a small gathering at your home. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to host a beautiful First Communion celebration. Check out these First Communion party ideas.
Start with the Invitation
Luckily, with the rise of independent designers, there are lots of First Communion invitations to choose from. Gone are the fill in the blank cards that you get from Hallmark. These days you can select from some beautiful First Communion invitation designs.
Before starting to browse, make sure that you have an idea of the type of First Communion invitation design that you are looking for. Do you want glitter? Gold foil? An angel? Dove? A cross? Would you like your child’s monogram represented?
Your invitation will also match the look and feel of your celebration. If you are hosting a fancy First Communion luncheon, then you should use a fancier invitation. Or if you are focusing at a more quiet family gathering at home, then you can stick with a more casual invitation.
This is also an event where it’s best to steer away from digital. I am a huge supporter for digital invitations to be sent for birthday parties and even baby showers. But First Communion is more akin to a formal wedding event. Have your invitations printed and mailed to your guests. They will truly appreciate the keepsake.
Think about Extras
First Communion is an event that can have extra inserts included with the invitation. If you have a lot of out of town guests, consider including a set of directions to help them get around town.
The restaurant or event space might offer a fixed menu option for guests to choose from that needs to be ordered before your event. You can include an insert card with the menu choices so guests can make their selection. The restaurant also might have designated parking for your guests. Consider include a map with ideal parking spaces, parking garage information and a parking voucher if necessary.
Consider a Save the Date
First Communion is a big day. And people’s schedules are very busy. We found out the date of First Communion from our church in September. Although I didn’t send out an official save the date, I did let our guests know when it was coming up. This way they could avoid other conflicts.
If you are worried about guests’ calendars getting packed – I mean it is the spring – then consider sending a save the date earlier in the year.
When sending your invitations, make sure that you send your invitations with plenty of time in advance. For a First Communion event, I would aim for about 8 to 10 weeks. This way your guests will have plenty of time to write it in or move another event if there is a conflict. They can also make travel arrangements, which can be tricky.
Decide on a Menu
Depending on the church where your child makes his or her First Communion, the schedule can vary. But, usually there is the First Communion mass in the morning and you can follow it with a celebration in the afternoon.
The problem is that there isn’t always a lot of time between the two events. Depending on how you word it on the invitation, you could write “Celebration to follow” or you could set a specific time.
I am a huge advocate for cooking when you entertain. At least cooking a menu that you feel comfortable with.
But I’m not sure I advise this for a First Communion event. Cooking takes time – a lot of it. And if you are enjoying the mass and seeing your child receive this important sacrament for the first time, you do not want to be worried about serving hors d’oeuvres when you get home.
If you host your First Communion event at home, consider having it catered. Or at least semi-catered.
Another option is to host your event at a local restaurant. The less food preparation that you need to do, the better.
Choose a menu that is formal enough, but all guests – particularly kids – will enjoy. Decide if you would like the event to be a formal sit down affair or more mingling. This will determine the dishes you end up choosing in the end.
One easy way to save money is to select the menu choices for your guests. This also helps limit their decisions on event day. You can present the selected menu on a First Communion menu card at their place setting on event day.
This is probably my favorite part. I love decorating! Whether it’s room or a party, this is probably my favorite part of the party planning process.
To make your First Communion beautiful, you need to create an elegant space with your decorations. Choose materials that are soft and luxurious such as silks, velvets and sateens to cover your table tops and banquets. You can also add tuille, doilies or other delicate touches to make the space seem extra pretty.
You can also add candles to your dessert table and other places around the space. Just make sure to keep them out of the reach of small children.
Crosses make beautiful decorations. You can paint wooden ones and give them a textured finish by sanding them. Or collect crosses on your travels and display those.
Since it is spring, this is the perfect time to bring in flowers. Create bouquets from your garden or visit your local florist for some bouquet ideas. You can add your flower arrangements to decorative vases.
If you are celebrating at home, add a pretty spring wreath to your door to greet guests when they enter. Although coat season may be over – depending on where you live – have a plan on where to put jackets, wet shoes and umbrellas in case it rains.
Another pretty touch is having a custom welcome sign made. This is especially helpful if you host your First Communion event in a restaurant. Choose a large customized sign that can be displayed on an easel. This is warm way to welcome guests and let them know that they are at the right event.
To dress up the dessert or favor table, hang a God Bless banner. This is a great way to bring a personalized touch to your event space. Check out an easy tutorial to make your own God Bless banner here. Or you can find many printable versions in our shop.
One more iconic image that I love using for First Communion is the angel. You can decorate with a variety of angels from wooden statues to photos. You can even choose First Communion party decor with angels on it.
Bring out the Heirlooms
Since First Communion is such a special event, it’s a the perfect opportunity to bring out family heirlooms to use. Instead of purchasing a lot of decorations, you can use things from your family’s past.
Put out the linens your grandmother embroidered or the wooden cross from your great grandmother. You can display the rosary that you used as a child or your first Bible. When serving cake, use the cake server that was used at your wedding.
Search around your house to find things that have meaning to you. When you use them during this special event, their meaning will grow and they’ll become more than just things collecting dust.
Make it Memorable
The most beautiful thing about First Communion is it’s all about your child. Make it a memorable event by adding meaningful touches that they will always remember.
Learning to pray and talk to God is an important step in a Communicants life. It’s not an easy skill and one that they have been practicing. Celebrate this process by giving them a personalized prayer book. At your event, have guests fill out prayers for your child. Give your child the journal after the event. Then, they can add their own prayers as they grow in their faith.
Another idea is to display a First Communion milestone poster. This poster design tells your guests about your child. It features the event information, godparents, prayers and their favorite Bible verse. They also serve as a beautiful photo prop. You can find these posters in our shop here.
A lot has happened to your child since Baptism. Set up a photo table to display how much they’ve grown. Choose photos from when they were a baby, Baptism and throughout the years since then. Guests always love reminiscing and if you have a lot of out of town guests, they will appreciate seeing how much your child has grown.
Most children have a favorite prayer. Whether it’s the Our Father, Glory Be or something special that you say just before bedtime, showcasing their favorite way to talk to God can be special. Create a framed print of your child’s favorite prayer. You can even share it with guests.
Another sweet thing to share is your child’s favorite Bible story. You can read it to your guests before the meal or dessert. Or your child can share it if they wish. This is a sweet way to include guests on the religious journey that your child has made over the past many years to get to this sacrament.
Keep Them Entertained
Truth be told, First Communion is more about the kids than the adults. Adults will enjoy conversation. The kids will want to run around.
Depending on weather and your desires, moving the party outside might be an option. But, it’s always a good idea to have a back up plan.
You could provide First Communion coloring sheets. If you are celebrating at a restaurant, setting the table with these First Communion placemats will be great entertainment as they wait for food to arrive. Don’t forget to bring crayons for easy coloring.
Another idea is to set up a wooden cross decorating activity for guests. Purchase unfinished wood wall crosses and decorating supplies such as florals, paints (if you dare – they can also color wood with markers), lace, fabric and other fun. The kids (and adults) can decorate a cross to take home. Or they can gift their cross to the First Communicant as a memory of their special day.
You can also send your little guests on a First Communion scavenger hunt. Choose a number of items around your home or the event space for them to search for. They can check them off the list or take a photo of them. Make sure to have prizes ready when they return with completed hunts.
My favorite idea, though, is to give each little guest a disposable 35mm camera. I like to place these at their table settings. They get to capture the day from their little eyes and it helps keep them busy while the adults talk. The results are priceless.
Don’t Forget to Snap
Designate someone that you trust with the camera and knows takes good pictures to be your photographer. I recently discovered that my mom loves to cut off heads in her portrait shots. This isn’t something that I want to risk on the big day, so I am going to choose someone else to be designated photographer.
By choosing someone else to be responsible to photos, you can then sit back and enjoy the day. If you aren’t sure about trusting someone else with the photography, hire someone to shadow your event. They can walk around and take pictures of your guests in action. A photography student or local high school teen can be a perfect way to keep this service in budget while giving them some practice photographing events.
Not every First Communion event will have favors. When possible, though, I do like to send a little something home with guests. It’s a nice way to say thank you for coming.
If you have room in your event budget for favors, be sure to choose carefully. Try to pick something that is useful to guests after the event or creates a memory. I avoid little trinkets or things that will just be thrown away.
Some of my favorite ideas include small candles, seed packets (it is spring), a rosary or a prayer box.
I also love anything edible. Chocolates, First Communion cookies or the traditional Jordan almonds are wonderful ideas. You can even see if there is a local product that you could feature for the favor. You could choose local chocolate, honey or jam. In our area, pretzels are very famous. And since the shape of the pretzel was created by an Italian monk, I might try to incorporate that.
And remember, you don’t need to gift each guest with a separate favor. You could give one favor per a family if you choose something that is a bit more expensive. One idea are these pretty handmade ring dishes. They are quite beautiful, but due to cost might make a better family favor idea.
Most importantly, don’t forget the favor tag. You can find an assortment of First Communion favor tags in our shop. Attach your tag to your favor and you’ll be all set.
Remember to Say Thank You
After your child has enjoyed their day and opened gifts, it’s time to thank your guests. If you haven’t introduced the art of writing thank you notes with your child yet, this is the perfect event to start.
The process of writing can be hard for a young child. Instead of having them write the entire thank you note, you could create a note that has fill in the blanks. Then your child only has to fill in certain spaces on the note.
You can also print cards that have a pre-written note on them. With these kinds of notes, your child will just have to write their name.
If you choose a pre-written note, have your child help you write it together. Also, encourage them to add a few extra words at the bottom. You can even leave some space for him to write more.
These little handwritten sentiments make pre-written notes even more special to the recipients. Help your child write a thank you note after they have opened their gifts. Make sure they let their guests know how special it was for them to attend their First Communion.
No matter what form your thank you note takes, be sure to thank your guests for their sweet gift and coming to your event. They will remember your thoughtfulness for years to come.
Hosting a beautiful First Communion party is all about making it special for your guest of honor. You can keep your event simple, but be sure to include the special touches that your First Communicant will remember.
Most importantly, make sure everyone spends time together. These are the events that your child will look back on fondly as an adult. They might not remember the God Bless bunting or scattered candles, but they are sure to recall the time spent with their grandparents and relatives. Make sure that the space you choose allows for wonderful interactions between everyone in attendance. Those are the memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.