First Birthdays: perfect for a Naming Ceremony

Naming ceremonies are a hugely popular and personalised alternative to Christenings and other religious ceremonies of welcome.

When Christenings and baptisms were the most common (if not only) way to celebrate and welcome your child into the World, holding the ceremony as soon as possible was part of the deal. Most babies are still christened within the first six months of life; by tradition if not religious necessity.

After becoming Mum to my first child I began planning a Naming ceremony for him almost immediately. Having never experienced a Naming myself, I drew on my own ideas and beliefs. But despite an untraditonal approach, I still felt pressured to fit it in while he was “still a baby”. Five months after giving birth I was planning a party, writing a ceremony, and trying to juggle the organising and politics with becoming a parent. It was exhausting, overwhelming and – quite frankly – not what any of us needed at that point in time!

So, it is with great joy and relief that I am seeing the rise of Baby Namings and Naming Ceremonies taking place as part of a child’s First Birthday Party.

There are so many reasons why combining a Naming celebration with a First (or any) Birthday party is a great idea. Here are just a few…

1. Convenience

It’s a two for one deal; if you are asking your friends and loved ones to come together to celebrate one of these milestones then why not add the other one in and save yourself the time, energy and cost of organising two separate shindigs?!

A small white fake tree with bare branches, hung with feathers, charms and luggage tags stands on a green table in front of a wooden wall decorated with a blue cloth. A wishing tree for a Naming Ceremony by Keli Tomlin
© Keli Tomlin

In all seriousness (and putting cost aside because saving money is a no-brainer) you will be able to consolidate all of the required planning for a fun First Birthday Party and a unique Naming ceremony into one occasion, saving you brain space and energy. You’re more likely to have all your guests attend as they only have to fit one date into their calendar and when it comes to requirements for each event they are pretty much the same:

  • venue
  • food and drink (cake!!)
  • some decorations (if you’re feeling fancy)
  • the people you love

The only added extra is the Celebrant and we can be a boon too!

2. Assistance

A Celebrant is not a party planner but we are pretty good at understanding the flow of events and making guests feel welcome, involved and engaged.

We can suggest where the ceremony might fit best into the day, either as your big finish or to get things started with a buzz, and we are pretty good at chatting with guests, making them feel comfortable and welcome and ensuring they are confident being there and being involved, to whatever degree is required of them.

Most importantly we will work with you to uncover the tone and energy that you want you Naming ceremony and by extension the whole day to resonate with. Going through the process of creating a bespoke ceremony, that is inspired entirely by you and your child, will reveal all sorts of wonderful ideas and themes that you can then roll out into across the whole party.

3. Focus

By placing a Naming ceremony at the heart the day you give everyone something heartfelt and meaningful to gather for.

An altar set for a Naming Day Ceremony led by Keli Tomlin including a vase of hydrangea, two small baby shoes and a pebble painted with a cat.
© Keli Tomlin

Birthday parties at any age can sometimes feel fractured or disconnected as guests form across your life drift into satellite groups that are unsure how to mingle. They wait patiently to have their few minutes with the Birthday Child while the Harassed Parent runs from pillar to post trying to keep everything balanced and fair, trying not to trigger the wrath of any Antagonistic Aunts or Grumpy Grandparents.

Including a Naming ceremony gives everyone has a reason to come together in unified intention and celebration. Whether you choose a formal or relaxed ceremony, those in attendance will become part of the community that upholds and welcomes your Little One in all their glory. It is a shared experience and memory that they will take with them; one that might even make mingling a little less awkward later on.

4. Taking Part

As any parent of a child over the age of one will tell you, it’s a pretty great age! On the whole, children are becoming ever more engaged with the World at this time. Their awareness is keen and their curiosity knows few bounds and these qualities will make a Naming ceremony more vibrant and fun for them, for you and for everyone witnessing it.

A small child smiles up at an adult who is bending to speak to him during his Naming Day Ceremony by Keli Tomlin Ceremonies
© Jess Tucker

They are less likely to be asleep during (of course if they are that’s fine too!) and you can engage them in simple activities, allowing them to take a direct part in the ceremony should you wish. They are also beginning to engage with other people in a more comprehensive fashion and this can lead to some truly eye-wetting, heart-string-tugging moments… and some hilarious ones too! This stands true for Naming ceremonies for older children too. The older a child becomes the more they can take part should they wish. This increased level of engagement is a real gift and will be the subject of its own blog very soon.

5. Heart

Whatever your child’s capacities at this age (or older), if you wait at least a year you are likely to have more energy and resources available to you as a parent and a human, to thoroughly engage with and enjoy the experience.

You will also have had a whole year to get to know this new little person, to explore their likes and dislikes, the quirks and qualities that make then unique humans. There will be so much more juicy stuff to work with in creating a meaningful ceremony that resonates with who they are (and who they will be) if they’ve had time to grow and you’ve had time to grow with them.

A child stands on his father's knee while his mother looks on smiling during his Naming Day by Keli Tomlin Ceremonies
© Jess Tucker

So much is expected of new parents and parents of newborns during the early days and months; it can seem almost harmful to add on another expectation just to meet old-fashioned societal norms.

Choosing to have your child’s Naming ceremony at their First Birthday Party (or beyond) is more just an alternative to stuffy traditions; it is an act of self-care and compassion for yourself and your little one.

With any luck it will mean a truly wonderful day is had by all!

If you have any more questions about when, where and how is best to hold a Naming Ceremony for your child, get in touch.