A christening is a wonderful occasion. It’s the celebration of a new life and the first rite of passage for a child. And for that reason it’s usual to commemorate it with a lasting, personal gift for the baby. If your relationship to the parents is not familial you should be careful to keep your gift proportional; try not to put to shame members of the close family and the godparents, who will usually buy more specific, expensive items.
If you are one of those whose relationship necessitates something a little more unique and valuable, there are certain themes appropriate to the occasion. Traditionally, something enduring that the child can keep for their whole life is especially appropriate, as are gifts that celebrate new birth and the Christian tradition. Colours are important as well; pale shades symbolise the purity of the newborn child, so whites and creams are best. If you’re buying jewellery or similar, silver rather than gold is appropriate.
The christening is also the child’s naming ceremony, so objects personalised with the child’s name and birth details are a common theme for the occasion.
So if you’re stuck for ideas, here are seventeen possible gifts that are special and unique.
Piggy banks are often given as christening gifts as they allow a child to build up savings for the future. They’re also a symbol of growing wealth to reflect what we hope for the child’s long-term prosperity.
To put a more modern spin on the idea of the piggy bank might be to put a small amount of money into some form of long-term investment account for the child. If doing such a thing, it’s best to consult the parents first as many such products require parental consent and signatures before they can be opened. The sum placed in the account will grow gradually and provide a receptacle for future payments in order to ultimately accrue enough to do something meaningful such as paying student fees or providing a deposit for a house.
A Photograph Album
Another very popular gift is a photograph album. Choose a good quality one and maybe even get it engraved with the child’s name. You can start it off by possibly placing some pictures inside it, but leave space to add more over time.
In this day and age of digital photography, an album for mounting printed pictures is just that bit more special and it can be used as a record of the child’s life. After all, it’s not just pictures that can be put inside, but anything else to mark the child’s progress to adulthood such as certificates and newspaper cuttings.
Plant a Tree
On the theme of growth, planting a tree to commemorate the child’s birth is an exciting and beautiful gesture. If the child’s family isn’t fortunate to live in the sort of house that will be passed down the generations and has plenty of land for planting, a tree will need to be placed in a public space where they can have lifelong access. Some landowners offer the opportunity to dedicate a newly planted tree so there’s no need to plant it yourself.
Be careful with the type of tree you plant though, as different trees have different meanings. An elm tree for example, though beautiful, symbolises death, so is the last thing you want to give. More appropriate is a fruit tree; apple trees are particularly good. The child will be able to watch it grow throughout its life and enjoy the fruits of the tree too.
Another slightly ‘off the wall’ idea is a time capsule. This would usually take the form of a box that can then be buried in the garden with a range of items inside. The box itself will of course, need to be waterproof, and of a material which won’t degrade in the ground. The child can then dig it up when they come of age – their eighteenth birthday for instance.
Items to place inside might be magazines, toys and fashion items from the present day that will form an interesting, and possibly amusing, record of the way we live now. Think of the things from your own childhood that it would be amusing to rediscover!
Give a Book
Books make great presents for almost any occasion, and as a christening present for a newborn they can provide a genuine lasting gift that can be treasured for life. Even better, the right books can be the starting point for the child’s own learning, being read first by parents, then by the child themselves.
Go for something classic like a box set of Beatrix Potter stories or traditional fairy tales rather than modern works that may go out of fashion. Nice hard backed editions that can be decorative as well as functional will surely be appreciated.
One of the most common trends for christening gifts, and for other occasions too, is to give a gift to the charity of the parents’ choice. This removes any embarrassing discrepancies in the amount spent as nobody is any the wiser, whilst also giving a gift that will do good for others.
Naturally if you’re keen on this idea then contact the parents and ask them to nominate a charity. You may not have to of course, often a list of charities is provided on the invitation.
For anyone with an interest in history or current affairs, a good idea might be a newspaper from the date of the child’s birth. This is a long-lasting gift and a wonderful record of the world into which the child was born. Of course, newspaper can deteriorate over time, but if kept well in a special leather case or sleeve it can last a lifetime.
A well-respected publication such as The Guardian would be an excellent idea but be careful as to the stories that feature most heavily. If there’s a major disaster that day it might not be a good one to keep.
A memory box is an excellent opportunity for a beautiful, personalised gift. Typically this is about the size of a large jewellery box and can be used to stow mementos such as letters, postcards, newspaper cuttings, photographs, and small items of sentimental value that can be kept close throughout the child’s life. Choose a box finely made out of carved wood, decorated metalwork or even coloured glass engraved with the child’s name. Such items can be an inexpensive but treasured gift that will stand the test of time and keep treasured possessions safe as well.
These are usually given by the godparents but make very attractive keepsakes for the mantelpiece. They would usually be of silver and engraved with the name and birth details of the child. Other similar silver pieces such as plates, bowls and spoons can serve the same purpose and, curiously enough, egg cups have long been associated with this particular rite. So why not?
Symbolic of time, another christening theme, might be a personalised clock. There are two good options here: a child’s clock that will help the youngster learn to tell the time, or something more lasting which will stand the test of the years. As with so many other gifts, a personalised engraving for the child will make it so much more special.
Jewellery is always a christening favourite. Even more so when it’s personalised with the child’s name, date of birth and place of birth. The great thing about such items is they last. They can be worn when the child is older, or kept in a box as a memento, but it’ll surely become one of the most treasured items they ever own.
Appropriate pieces might be a locket or an expanding bracelet, or possibly a necklace on a chain. For christening jewellery, silver is the traditional metal rather than gold.
A Picture of the Christening Venue
A more leftfield but nonetheless appropriate gift might be a small picture of the christening venue. Usually christenings take place in a church so a painting, engraving or sketch of the building by a local artist can be a fantastic souvenir of the day. Look around the local galleries and art stores for something suitable, and if all else fails try and find a local artist to do one specially.
Typically it’ll need to be framed in a quality picture frame and quite small, nothing that would dominate a room. As with so many other things, such a gift can be personalised and, if bought from the artist, can be unique too. You can write a message on the back of the artwork that can be read when it’s taken out of the frame.
A very traditional christening gift is a set of children’s cutlery. Maybe a small decorative fork and dessert spoon set, or a knife, fork and teaspoon. Look for something in sterling silver and a presentational box. For details such as handles, mother of pearl is a good choice.
A gift like this can be decoration or heirloom, but it can also be practical as the small sized cutlery with which the child will learn to eat as it gets older.
Baby Hand and Foot Prints
A little more light hearted and fun might be a set of specially made ink and paper sets for making prints of the baby’s hands and feet. These provide a visual record of the child’s growth and can be placed with so much else in a memory box or photograph album.
This is a gift that can go the other way too. It’s the sort of thing that parents may want to give to the christening guests as a souvenir. They’ll also help your little star get used to signing autographs!
Many of our traditional rites of passage have been secularised over the years but most of them have their origins in Christian tradition. However, there’s no getting away from it, the christening is a religious ceremony. Its sole purpose is to induct the child into the Christian communion and for that reason a Bible is a wonderful gift for a christening.
A small and beautifully bound edition would be very appropriate for the occasion, and of course it can be personalised, either with the child’s name written inside or inscribed on the bound cover. Once again it can be a real keepsake that will never go out of date so will be appreciated for a lifetime and beyond.
In a similar vein but far less ornate would be to provide a simple plaque. Something of wood, metal, or glass that can be hung on a wall like a picture. Typically it would have an inscription of some sort with maybe some design appropriate to the child.
This would be another keepsake to go round with the child and provide a feature for any place they live in the future.
A Music Box
Every child should have a music box, and when would be more appropriate to present it than at their christening? Such a gift can provide a lovely soothing tune to lull the child to sleep before becoming a treasured ornament on a dressing table, and ultimately a family heirloom arousing their own grandchildren’s interest. It’s little surprise that music boxes feature as cherished possessions so frequently in literature.
A nicely crafted item will last a lifetime and longer, whilst, as with so many other gifts, it can be personalised. Choose good quality hardwood or glass with a cheerful tune to mark the occasion.
Whatever you choose to give, think carefully about the meaning of the occasion and your relationship with the child. Make it something personal that’ll last a lifetime and you won’t get it wrong. For more information about anything to do with christenings, visit the Little Doves Website or give us a call today.