A child’s first holy communion is a landmark occasion, and for most Catholic families a major cause for celebration. Family and friends gather to join in the ceremony, and to witness the youngster’s formal acceptance into the Faith.
It’s a significant rite of passage, and one that few Catholic children ever forget. Of course, once the ceremony is over and the mass has ended, the solemnity of the day quickly gives way to celebration. In short, it’s time for a party. That means festive foods, fun and games, and gifts for the guests of honor.
Ah, but where to stage such a party?
As with any big event, planning is everything and the choice of venue is one of the first decisions that you’ll need to make. The two most popular options are holding the party at home or at a hired venue.
There are pros and cons to either choice, so to help you decide let’s see how the two options play out.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, choice is to stage the party at the family home. This has its advantages, but it also has some definite disadvantages.
While it may seem the most sensible choice for budget conscious families, there are some hidden costs to consider and you may find that your total party planning is somewhat hampered by the lack of space and amenities.
Before you go with options #1, the home party, consider the following pros and cons:
- Total Control – You have complete control over the venue. You can invite as many guests as you like (and as the property will allow) and you decorate as you please. There are no scheduling conflicts, and the party can last as long as you like (assuming the neighbors don’t complain).
- Saves Money – Staging the party at home eliminates the cost of a hired venue. However, there are other costs that may negate this advantage, as we will see below.
- Catering – You can hire any catering service you please. Some hired venues prefer that you use their own on-site caterers. You can also choose to skip the professional catering service and handle the refreshments yourself.
- Space Restrictions – Homes are designed for living, not for partying. A large number of guests can make a home party uncomfortable and hard to manage. It can also lead to a lot of wear and tear on your personal belongings.
- Cleaning – If you opt for a house party, you will be responsible for all of the set-up and cleaning. That can amount to a lot of work, especially for a large gathering.
- Equipment Rentals – Here’s where the obvious savings of staging a house party can come under fire. You may find the cost of renting certain equipment (extra chairs, tables, tents, sound systems, etc) severely cuts into any potential savings.
- Enjoying the Party – As the party is being staged in your home, you will not only be responsible for your guests’ enjoyment but for the property itself. That means keeping everything clean and serviceable (think kitchen and bathrooms), monitoring parking, and handling any unhappy neighbors.
- Liabilities – No wants to get into any legal ramifications when planning a party, but if you stage the first communion celebrations at home you, and you alone, will be responsible for any mishaps. That includes broken furniture, accidental injuries, and violations of local ordinances.
While staging your first communion celebrations at home may seem like the simplest solution, it’s not always the best option. For small gatherings a house party might be a sensible idea, but if you’re guest list is fairly extensive you might be better served by considering a hired venue.
Hosting at a Hired Venue
People tend to think of first communion celebrations as fairly small and easily managed affairs. However, once you figure in grandparents, aunts and uncles, members of the congregation, and the guest of honor’s school friends, you’ll find you have a fairly substantial guest list.
That calls for a bigger party, and that almost always benefits from a larger, hired, venue. Booking a professional event venue for your first communion celebrations has some definite advantages, though it, too, has some drawbacks.
- Purpose Built – First and foremost, hired venues are designed for parties. They are designed to accommodate large groups of people for extended periods of time.
- Amenities – Event halls offer all of the amenities you need to host a party. Your rental fee will cover the extra tables and chairs you would otherwise have to borrow or rent to stage a home celebration. Moreover, the site itself will offer plenty of parking, multiple bathrooms, and handicap access for any guests with mobility issues.
- Cleaning Staff – On-site staff will handle all of the cleaning duties (though there may be a fee included in the rental charge).
- Caterers and Vendors – Hired venues typically have a roster of caterers and other vendors that they work with on a regular basis. This makes it much easier to find a service that can accommodate your needs, especially if you have limited experience dealing with party vendors.
- On-Site Staff – Most hired venues have on-site staff to help clients stage events. That means extra hands to help you set-up prior to the party and break down when the event is over.
- Liability Insurance – Most hired venues offer liability insurance for their clients, so if there are any costly mishaps you will be covered. The cost of insurance is typically folded into the venue’s rental fees.
- Rental Fees – Cost is always a consideration, and a hiring a professional events venue can entail some hefty fees. However, those fees cover a lot of the costs of the event (equipment rentals for example), so the difference between the cost of a home party and a hired venue is often less than you might think.
- Scheduling Conflicts – Hired venues need to be booked well in advance, and you may find it difficult to book the hall you want on the day that you desire. You may have to be more flexible in your party planning.
- Venue Restrictions – Depending on the venue, there may be some restrictions placed on guest capacity, decorations, and party time. This should be worked out before signing any contracts.
- Preferred Vendors – Some hired venues have a list of preferred caterers and party vendors with which they do business. You may find you are restricted to choosing from among those pre-approved vendors.
- Deposits – When booking any hired venue, you will have to put down a sizable deposit. If your plans change at the last minute, and the party is canceled, you will likely lose that deposit.
A child’s first holy communion is an important day in his or her life, and it deserves to marked with a big celebration. The key to any event, of course, is planning, and it is important to start early if you are going to ready for your child’s first communion.
The first major decision you will have to make is the choice of venue, but with that settled you will be on track to plan the rest of the day’s festivities, ensuring that the friends, family, and the guest of honor enjoy a party that they will not soon forget.