There's a lot to think about and do in preparation for your child's First Holy Communion. From making sure your child is spiritually prepared for the big day down to the concrete practical details of party planning—it's a big job. Here's an overview of stuff you need to think about along with ideas to streamline your preparations.
Your Child's Spiritual Preparation
The most important thing to do for your child's First Communion day is to make sure they are well catechized and understand exactly why this Sacrament is so special. Don't rely solely on what they may learn from their CCD or Faith Formation classes. Be sure that you're talking about this Sacrament at home, asking them questions, and getting them excited about it. You can read more tips on this with this helpful article, How to Spiritually Prepare Your Child for First Communion.
First Communion Crafts
I think the best crafts are those that can do double-duty, not only catechizing your kids but that can also be put to use at the First Communion party, such as First Communion banners, First Communion shortbread cookies, and First Communion party favors. Catholic Icing is a fabulous online resource for Catholic crafts for kids. I love this kid's monstrance craft that would tie in well to preparing your child for First Communion. And it would be great to show off at the First Communion party too.
First Communion party
It's customary to have a small gathering of friends and family following your child's First Holy Communion. I mentioned above that your kids can help make shortbread cookies to serve. Don't worry if the cookies they made don't look the greatest; no matter how terrible they may look, they're still cute.
Have your kids come up with shapes that symbolize the Sacrament, such as a cross, a host, a chalice, or grapes. Use the shortbread cookies your kids made as the cookies to serve at the party, while you make the nicer cookies and wrap them in cellophane as party favors. Use the First Communion banner and other crafts your child made and display them on the food or gift table.
With the First Communion party food, keep in mind that presentation goes a long way even if the food itself is very simple. The easiest way to give your food presentation pop is to do layers or tiers. If you don't have fancy tiered serving trays or can't borrow some, create the tiered effect by stacking up boxes, tupperware, or even books and drape a table cloth over them. Keeping a unified color theme is good too, even just picking a single color works well. A clean, uncluttered display of simple foods like cookies and cupcakes goes a long way.
First Communion Photography
Your child will definitely need great photos of their First Communion day. If you aren't a fabulous photographer and don't plan on having your child's photos professionally done, don't fret. There are plenty of photo editing tools that make you look like a pro, such as Picasa and Instagram, and both are free.
To help you generate some photography ideas, check out The Catholic Company's photostream on Flikr and view the entries for their annual First Communion Photo Contest. There's lots of creativity on display there.
First Communion Apparel
Shopping for First Communion apparel is easy enough for boys, because boy's suits are pretty versatile. But a girl's First Communion Dress is something special because it's only worn for this one occasion. Picking out a First Communion gown can be a little tricky, but here is a helpful guide, How to Choose a First Communion Dress that takes you through the steps to make your shopping experience a bit more straightforward.
First Communion Gifts
It's traditional for parents, grandparents, godparents, friends, and relatives to get the little girl or guy special gifts to have as keepsakes of the special day. These range from rosaries to photo frames, from jewelry to Bibles. To get an idea of what's popular, here's a First Holy Communion Gift Guide for Girls and a First Holy Communion Gift Guide for Boys.
Hopefully this overview helps you to stay focused and organized while planning for your child's First Holy Communion. Even if the day ends up being harried and your child doesn't really soak in or reverence the Sacrament they received that day, don't worry; you always have every Sunday mass to continually prepare your child to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.
Copyright 2013 Gretchen Filz