First Holy Communion is a rite of passage in a young Catholic’s life, one of the three of the Sacraments of Initiation into the Catholic Church along with Baptism and Confirmation. As a parent, between the outfit, the ceremony, and the afterwards festivities, there is a lot to do. We’ve compiled some best practices regarding guests, invitations, and gifts for First Communion day. These are not hard and fast rules but rather guidelines to help make the start of First Communion season easier to handle.
Q. Do you need to have a party?
Most Catholic families choose to throw a First Communion party with friends and relatives. While the party is not mandatory, it is a good way to acknowledge the First Communicant and celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Your children have spent time in formation classes and a party provides an opportunity to celebrate their dedication to the faith as well as make this day even more memorable. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of the Blessed Sacrament!
Q. Who do you invite?
First Communion parties are usually intimate affairs including godparents, grandparents, siblings, close relatives and friends. Guests are typically limited to individuals with whom the child is particularly close or who have impacted the child’s religious development. In most cases, the entire extended family does not attend. But, use your best judgment, if there is someone that both you and your Communicant want to be in attendance, then it never hurts to extend an invitation.
Q. Can I invite non-Catholics?
Just as non-Catholics may attend Sunday Mass with you, there is no reason to exclude them from a First Communion ceremony. A person can still impact your child’s life and moral development even if they are not Catholic, and it is important to include them. Make sure that the individuals invited are aware of the sacramental importance of the occasion and the proper behavior during Mass. Remember to consider that they may be uncomfortable, so take the time to explain the Order of the Mass and their options during Holy Communion (staying in the pew or folding arms over their chest).
It is not required to send out formal invitations, but it will be helpful if you decide to do so. This will help avoid frantic calls the day of regarding times, location, and parking. Make sure that the invitations you choose reflect the religious solemnity of the occasion. After all, the day does center around the Holy Eucharist.
Be sure to include:
- Date of the First Communion
- Name and address of parish
- Time of ceremony
- Time of the party
- Include an RSVP if you need head counts
*It is customary to extend party invitations to those who attend the ceremony.
Q. When do I need to send out First Communion invitations?
Feel free to send them 4-6 weeks before the ceremony. This will give your guests enough time to plan ahead and offer their regrets if they cannot attend.
Q. Do I need RSVPs?
The only reason you would include RSVPs is if you or your officiate requires a headcount for the ceremony. Check with your parish first as there may be limited seating.
Most of the guests will want to come with something, either a card or a gift. This is an opportunity to celebrate your child’s faith. Remind your guests that whatever they bring gifts for the occasion should be religious in nature. Refer your friends and family to our First Communion gift guides if they are having trouble choosing a gift.
Q. Do you send thank you cards?
It is always a polite gesture to send your gratitude with a hand-written thank you. As a parent, you may feel the urge to send them yourself. Involve your children in this task. Use this as an opportunity to instruct your child on thankfulness and the protocol for thank- you notes. No matter how the card looks it will be appreciated!
Note: The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist should be the main focus of the day. Make sure your child is spiritually prepared. Read more about how to spiritually prepared your child here.
God bless you and your Communicant!