What to Know Before Your Baby's Catholic Baptism

Advice for parents on names, godparents, baptismal certificates, christening parties, and more.

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For Guests: What Gift Should I Bring?

You didn't have the baby. No one asked you to be an official witness. You're an honored guest! You're wondering, What am I supposed to be doing? Well, at the church, you're not supposed to be jumping up on the pews or scrambling around the baptismal font with a video camera. Save that for the house party.

Your next big question is undoubtedly, Should I bring a gift? Here's the scoop on gifts for the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, First Eucharist). If you're invited, but don't attend, you're not expected to send something. May the Holy Spirit guide you to a greeting card that doesn't make you gag.

If you're invited and attend, depending on your closeness to the family, your gift may range from a bouquet of flowers to a monetary gift in the child's name (e.g., savings bond, stock, charitable contribution). If you're Catholic, it's appropriate to give sacramentals and items like religious jewelry, saint statues, saint medals, guardian angel figurines, children's books, or icons. If you're Christian, but not Catholic, don't give stuff you'd never use in your own faith practice (e.g., a rosary). If you're neither Catholic nor Christian, then you really are quite the honored guest! How about giving the parents a gift certificate to a restaurant or the movies? At some point, they'll need a break from parenting fun.

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