A child’s first Holy Communion is a landmark in the life of a young Catholic. It marks the admission of a youngster into the body of the Catholic church, and is a time of great celebration for Catholic families around the world. While the first Holy Communion is a sacred right of the church, it is often celebrated by a large party for family and friends. But throwing a First Communion celebration takes some planning, and as the season for First Communion rites is usually short lived it is essential to begin early.
Setting the Date
Catholic churches usually hold First Communion rites only once or twice a year. Children, typically between the ages of six and eight, must attend classes in preparation for their first confession and subsequent First Communion. Family’s planning a party to celebrate their child’s First Communion need to begin planning early, so as to better coordinate the date of the religious service with the date of their celebration. Remember, many children will be receiving their First Communion at the same time, and there may be a great deal of competition for suitable banquet halls and event spaces in which to hold your celebration. Give yourself plenty of time to make arrangements, and book your venue as early as possible to ensure its availability on the day.
Choosing a Venue
The choice of venue for your First Communion celebration will largely depend on the size of your party. Some families choose to have their celebrations at home following the service. This is fine for small gatherings, where only the immediate family and few close friends will be attending. But quite often First Communion celebrations are large affairs, with family and friends coming in from out of town for the occasion. More often than not, it will be necessary to book a professional event space in which to hold your party. A professional venue offers a variety of benefits over holding your celebration at home or at a local restaurant. Beyond the ability to accommodate a greater number of guests, a hired venue typically offers a choice of banquet halls, on site catering facilities, and experienced staff to help ensure that your party goes off without a hitch. When choosing an event space for your First Communion celebration consider the following:
- Is it centrally located, and easy to get to and from?
- Is it close to hotels for your out of town guests?
- Does it provide ample parking, restroom facilities and handicap access?
- Does it have an on-site catering service? If not, you will have to book an off-site caterer for the day.
If the venue you have booked doesn’t have an on-site catering service, the event planner can often suggest a local caterer with whom they have worked well in the past. Again, it is important to book your caterer as early as possible, to ensure their availability on the day of the party. Discuss the menu with you caterer, focusing on selections that will appeal to the guest of honor. This is their big day, after all, and the menu should reflect their tastes. Keep in mind that your guests will likely be dressed in their Sunday best, so avoid any menu choices that tend to be messy or difficult to handle in a party setting. For the adults, you may want to provide a wet bar with an experienced bartender. If so, cocktail hour should be set when the children are playing games, or the guest of honor is opening their presents.
Invitations for a First Communion celebration should be somewhat formal, and should reflect the religious solemnity of the occasion. Be sure to include an RSVP in all invitations so you can get an approximate head count to help with catering decisions. It is also a good idea to include a map to the venue to help out of town guests plan their visit.
A First Holy Communion is an important event in a young Catholic’s life, and the celebration that accompanies it is one they will remember for years to come. By planning early, and making a few strategic decisions well in advance of the big day, you can ensure that your child experiences the best this sacred passage has to offer.