So you’ve been invited to a baptism or christening. This is a huge honor! If you have never been to one it may bring an element of stress or intimidation.
This is a religious gathering and you might want to know if you should bring a gift or not. If a gift were expected you may also wonder what type of gift would be appropriate. If you have been invited you are wanted for reasons that aren’t always due to your religious beliefs. It is okay to attend a christening even if you are not the same religion as the person being baptized. If you are wondering if you should attend or not take into account your relationship with the parent or grandparents and not the denomination of the host.
It is proper to show up for the actual service rather than the after party. The baptism is the main event and why you were initially invited. In order to attend you will only be expected to be respectful and attentive. You do not need to participate in the same ways the other attendees may be doing. Remember those that are actively involved may also be of the same denomination and this may be a familiar service for them. It is okay to sit back, smile, and show respect without partaking if it isn’t your belief to do so. The person who invited you most likely knows if you do or don’t believe in the same religion as they do.
Make sure you dress nice, be quiet during the service, and stand when the officiate asks or the singing of the hymns takes place. You will not be required to kneel, make the sign of the cross, or participate in recitations from a prayer book. You will not be required to pray if it is not your regular practice to do so. If it is not in your faith to partake just comfortable follow along and allow the others attendees to do the same.
If you bring children please let them know what to expect. Let children know to be respectful and or be quiet if they don’t understand what is going on. If a child starts to get loud our act out, take them somewhere they won’t interrupt like you would at any other event.
As far as clothing goes, wear what you would wear to a wedding shower or any other religious ceremony. Men generally wear a suit and tie or a sportcoat and tie. Women will show up to a christening in a dress, skirt, or a business pantsuit (don’t show bare shoulders, cleavage, or wear a miniskirt). Dress modest and respectfully for these types of events.
Gifts are an important part of most baptisms they do not need to be expensive gifts. Bring a gift that is respectful. The gifts are not for the christening ceremony but for the party that follows the service. If you are not attending the after party or there is not one planned have a gift sent or delivered to the host family before or after the day of service. Good gift ideas include crosses, some form of religious book or story that is appropriate for the given religion, an engraved gift, artwork or print of some religious theme, a statue or other kind of religious symbol. It is okay to bring food to the reception following the ceremony to show your appreciation for being invited.
These types of events are generally very moving and beautiful even if you are not a religious person. The average length of a baptism is 20-30 minutes. If the baptism is done during mass it usually only takes 10 minutes. The invitation will let you know how much time to plan for especially if there is a ceremony following the christening.
Remember to show up and be respectful and kind. The event will unfold easily and you will be guided through the necessary steps. Don’t feel obligated to do anything you are uncomfortable with. Just being present and kind is enough.