Not all religions and their denominations bring babies into the faith right away. But many have birth rites or blessings. If the family doesn’t have a christening, baptism or similar ceremony, they will often bless the child and officially give them a name within their church. Even the non-religious often hold an event to welcome their child into the world, whether just as a general celebration or within the tradition of a belief such as Humanism.
When someone invites you to this type of occasion, it’s both an honour, and perhaps a bit worrying. If you’re unfamiliar with the faith and tradition, you might be wondering what to do. Gifts are a particularly thorny issue, first working out if they’re expected and then choosing something appropriate. If you’re not sure what to do, here’s your guide to turning up with the right gift (or sometimes without one).
Are Gifts Expected?
Before you go buying any gifts, you should find out whether you need to take one. Of course, you never have to buy anything if you don’t want to, but there could be occasions when it’s seen as a bit rude not to bring something. For some events, only people playing a special role in the ceremony would bring a gift. Meanwhile, for others, you wouldn’t be expected to bring one at all. The best way to find out if you should buy a present is simply to ask. The parents will be happy to let you know. However, if you’re worried they might tell you not to bother out of politeness, it’s just as easy to check on the internet.
When to Give a Gift
If you’ve found out that gifts are appropriate, you need to present it at the right time. For example, at a christening it’s usually most appropriate to give a gift at the party after the ceremony. If you can’t attend the party, you would usually send the gift to the family either before or after the day. This is another piece of etiquette that’s easy to check, but if you still don’t know on the day, you can follow the other guest’s example.
When you need to pick out a gift, it can be difficult to know where to start. The best place to begin is with traditional gifts. It’s easy to find out which gifts are customary for different religions and beliefs. For example, you might give a christening bible or silver jewellery to a Christian family for their newborn. However, before buying a traditional present, make sure it’s not reserved for someone playing a special role in the ceremony. For example, it might be that the godparents are usually the ones who would buy a Bible for the baby.
Giving Your Time
Apart from giving a physical gift, you might offer your time to help with the ceremony. Organising an event is stressful when you have a baby to look after, so offers of help can be appreciated. There may be times when outside help isn’t appropriate, but you can usually assist in some way. For example, you might bring a dish for the party or help to serve drinks.
Attending a baby or birth ceremony can be a minefield of etiquette. But the easiest way to clear things up is to ask. The parents will be happy to let you know how to behave and what they expect of you.
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