First Communion Preparations

First Communion Preparations

My oldest daughter will receive her First Holy Communion in about two months. How exciting!

As much as her preparations are underway, at school and at home, the actual “event” has not been on my radar yet. But, thanks to a couple friends, I am starting to slowly think about the actual day and all that it entails.
And I’ve realized that I need to start planning now. With six children and a home to maintain, I have to start things in advance, if I want to avoid anxiety.
So, now my mind is running in many directions, and I have so many decisions to make. And I need to try to do it without it completely consuming me, for my sake as well as for the other dear people who live under the same roof as me.
So, for all of you experienced with this very momentous occasion, I have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind taking a minute to answer them for me.
1. Finding a balance. I think our culture has gotten in the bad habit of making everything into a party. Or should I say, has gotten in the bad habit of commercializing everything, even the sacred. Just look at Christmas …
So, while First Holy Communion is indeed a very, very special (and sacred) moment in my daughter’s life, how do I help keep it that way?
2. The dress. I have only done a little shopping around. But I already have discovered that First Holy Communion dresses are expensive. I noticed one store has them for less, but many of them are sleeveless, and I do not think a First Holy Communion dress should be sleeveless. Is it just me, or does this thought make sense? So, should I keep looking for a less-expensive option, or should I have the mindset of “This is such an important day. It is OK if her dress is expensive”?
3. The dress continued. My oldest girl has three younger sisters. They don’t all need their own First Holy Communion dress, do they? Or can I shop for one thinking that at least one or two will be able to wear it, too? (They are different builds, so I know they won’t all fit into the same dress when their time comes.) Or is that not fair to the younger ones? What would you do, if you had four daughters close in age?
4. Celebrating afterward. If we are to have a party afterward, how do I keep the actual receiving of the Sacrament more special than the party afterward? How do I handle the food, the cake, gifts? What is the right amount to really show the significance of such a special moment in her life, and what is just over-the-top too much? And is there a way to share our viewpoint with other family members?
5. Any other advice. I’ll gladly take. Any tips. Any ideas you did with your children that were particularly special for them. I would love to hear about them. Especially things that really kept the entire day holy.
I can’t wait to hear from you! Thanks for helping me out.
God bless.

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16 thoughts on “First Communion Preparations

  1. Good for you, Sarah, for planning so far in advance and seeking to keep the Sacrament the main focus. We had Auntie Allison make a dress for Clara and we plan to pass it down to Eleanor (and any other daughters). I do know some people who purchase a new dress for each daughter and hope to pass it along to grandchildren, but unless it's a very timeless design that could be hard to do. By having the dress made, we didn't save a lot of money, but we were able to choose a modest pattern (with sleeves, I agree!) and we will be able to make the adjustments to the gown for Eleanor if needed. (You're welcome to borrow it if you'd like. We also have a nice veil. There are photos from the day on our blog from last spring.)
    I was originally disappointed when our class was scheduled to receive on Saturday night rather than Sunday morning. In the future though, I would definitely opt for Saturday night for several reasons. 1-it gave us the entire day to prepare spiritually with Clara and not stress out about hair-dos, etc, etc. We were able to just take our time and be excited for the Eucharist.
    2-the party afterwards had to be short and sweet because we didn't get home until almost 7pm. We had a few snacks and angel food cake and people were gone by 8:30.
    We also decided to choose a special gift to give our children in honor of their First Eucharist. We will choose a special framed print (appropriate for the child) for their room and for use in their home some day. Clara was a very feminine picture of the Blessed Mother with the Infant Jesus. Brendan and I each wrote a letter to Clara about the importance of the day in her life. She still reads them often. I remember when she was a baby and I would cry thinking about the day she would receive Jesus in the Eucharist….and then there we were in no time at all witnessing such a special day. It was such a beautiful day!
    I realize my comment is getting really long so I'll stop. Besides, I'm getting too emotional. 🙂 Prayers for your family during this exciting time!

  2. I only have one daughter, so cannot speak to whether they all need a dress or if one could be passed down. what do you do for baptism?? Maybe base your 'policy' with dresses the same way. However, as to the expense … my mom made my daughter's dress and veil – that was my parents' gift to her. Would your mother be willing to sew a dress? Then, you can make sure it has sleeves. However, if you purchase a dress, you could always purchase a shrug or knit one to cover the shoulders, too.

    We've always had a big celebration after. I usually order food and a cake (2 day old baby for one and being pregnant for the other!) because it's just easier and less stressful for me. That may change this next time because we no longer live in Fargo. The celebrations are generally family events, but we do invite the priests and God-parents of all our children.

    My only other piece of advice regards gifts – my husband and I decided with our first that we would make a donation to the church for our children's sacraments. The donation has gone toward something special … like statues, replating of patens, or something similar. We have many statues, crucifixes, and rosaries, so wanted to do something different.

  3. I love the thought of passing down a dress. My daughter wore a dress that had been worn by the daughters of another family in our church, and this year we are passing it on to another family, who also happens to be dear friends. For us, we loved the fact that the dress had so much history of being part of the First Communion sacrament. As far as gifts, we have given each of our children a savings bond, and other family members who give gifts usually make them something small, and always something pertaining to the First Communion or learning about the Mass. And as for a party, we've always chosen a simple dinner out just for our immediate family, grandparents, and god-parents. It's a special time…God Bless!

  4. Decide what's important to you and make a list of what you want for that day. I found the preparation for the day to be soooo much fun.

    The dress, pass down!! When Katherine made her FHC last year, she would have rather had a much more frilly dress, but knowing her little sister gets very itchy, we didn't get that one and found one that they'd both like.

    We went to JCPenny and I'd expected to spend around $80 and I think it ended up being around $60 but with tights and shoes (we just got shoes she would wear again, flat whites) and she wore my head piece from my wedding….and then we got her a shawl too. You could knit a little white sweater for this special occasion, you are so talented!!

    Here's my links, they include in there, Margaret's Novena, it's wonderful for preparing:

    http://makemeasaint.blogspot.com/search/label/First%20Holy%20Communion

  5. I made my daughter's dress with my mother and yes, it had sleeves. I was also uncomfortable with sleeveless. Many of the girls had sleeveless but also wore white cardigans and that was a really sweet look. You could knit cardigan or something in a pretty white yarn, couldn't you? I mean, you have so much time on your hands, right? 😉
    We had a little party after with food that very much reflected our family.
    I totally agree with your thoughts on keeping it simple. It's so tempting to overdo it all and go fancy, but it didn't happen here and I'm thankful in the end.

  6. 1. We've varied our celebrations depending on where we were in our child-bearing year! Some years, it was just the grandparents and any uncles/aunts who came. Some years, it was the parish reception we went to. Other years, we invited friends and neighbors to celebrate with us. But I think No Gifts is a good option. The only gifts were from us (and the grandparents) and they were very special religious items, but they don't need a dozen rosaries or Mass books!

    2. I made the very simple dress for my first daughter and my 2nd, 12 years later, wore it. It was not like all the others, but I found it didn't matter. A friend just found hers at Costco for $15 last week. Hurrry!

    3. Making the day special and holy….the best one we had was when we couldn't be there for the parish celebration and our son received at the regular 10:30 a.m. Mass the next week. We sat together and went up together and it was wonderful. For me, skipping the parish circus is the way to go. But that's my parish, yours may be different!

    Most of all, I would just keep it simple. Yes, you want to celebrate, but Jesus is the focus of the day, not the party or the presents.

  7. It is a special day to celebrate. It is good to think ahead and many prayers to be said.

    the dress….I bought my daughters at a garage sale for 8bucks. It had SLEEVES. I do not sew or knit so this worked out perfect. However, because you have many daughters buy one and pass it down. I do that a lot for my sons.

  8. It is good to be thinking all these things through! I made a dress for my eldest daughter, and so far two of her sisters have worn it. It does have sleeves and is a nice length, and is lovely.

  9. Congratulations! What a wonderful and blessed time! About your questions… I have had 3 receive their First Holy Communion with another scheduled next year. Here are my thoughts…

    1. That's a big question! Whatever you do, focus on Christ. Ask Him to come with you when you shop! Consider whether each item with attract or distract from Him.

    2. They can be expensive but there are lovely ones to be had for less. Keep looking. When I started shopping for our first daughter, I made a plan first… what I wanted the dress to look like (more or less) and started looking based on those criteria. I wanted something simple and figured if I couldn't find it, I could buy the fabric and have it made for not too much. But I did find it… at a non-religious stuff store for about $65. And yes, it did have sleeves. If it didn't, she would have worn a sweater! I made the veil myself for a few dollars. Just keep on looking but try and start with a vision. And yes, I think it's okay to pay more than you normally would for a dress but I bet you'll find one for a reasonable price. 🙂

    3. I have three girls and plan on passing the dress down. In fact, my younger daughters can't wait to wear their sister's gorgeous dress! It did occur to me that they might not all fit. I suspect my second girl (who is much tinier than my first) may swim in it. In that case, I'll bite the bullet and get another one. I can always save it for granddaughters or pass it along to friends later.

    4. Just suggestions… limit the guest list to family and people who really and truly understand and support the importance of this moment. Don't get so big that it becomes chaotic. Smaller is often more meaningful and children can focus better. Feed everyone well… this is a GREAT day! But keep it real, don't try and pretend money is no object. Ask family and friends to contribute… most will be happy to help.

    5. Relax and give it to God. It's really His day. In your preparations, talk more about the Mass than the party. And when you do talk about the party, emphasize that it is to honor Jesus… that helps keeps kids focused on Him instead of themselves.

    Have your daughter make the favors (if you have them) to focus on giving to her guests instead of thinking about getting presents.

    This might sound odd but try not to go to too many non-family First Communion parties around that time. It becomes difficult for the child not to compare and people do go a tad overboard.

    Do a special novena the week before to prepare her heart for Jesus.

    Wear her First Communion dress to the first Sunday Mass after the First Communion date to share the celebration and joy with your parish community.

    Sorry this is so long… hope something helps!

  10. Hi, there! I just wanted to make a little pitch for my "tiny" cookie business. I made image cookies for my second daughter's First Holy Communion "after party" which she loved. She really enjoyed seeing her face on a cookie and giving them away to her godparents and siblings. A friend of mine asked me to make some for her daughter last year. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to put her daughter's face on her cookies, but we did find a beautiful Eucharistic image to place on the cookies. The result was beautiful…if I do say so myself. She liked them so much, she just asked me last week to make some for her second daughter who will be making her First Communion in April. I could send you images if you'd like. Let me know.:) I think whatever you do, focusing on the Eucharist and the great grace it is for your child makes all the difference. Don't be afraid to celebrate afterward. You should! This will be the most important day of her life. To encounter Jesus as intimately as we do in the Eucharist is the greatest cause for celebration!

  11. My eldest daughter is also my parents' first grandchild. My mom bought her her First Communion dress and it has become the family dress. All of her sisters and my 3nieces have worn it as did my God-daughter. It's a nice tradition I think. Our church has 5-6 children receive First Communion at each Mass on Sunday. It's a very special day and the children and families all sit in the front pews. We have a large family and had a lovely, family brunch at our home afterwards for all the girls. Many brunch dishes are easy to prepare ahead so you can enjoy the day as well. Our local grocery store bakery has beautiful options for special occasion cakes – and we let each child help "design" their cake by choosing the flavor, frosting, color, etc. We wanted to emphasize the God-parents who were there and asked them to prepare a little speech/toast. Have fun planning!

  12. I have 5 daughters and only 2 of them have received their First Holy Communion. My lovely mother in law made a dress in which the length can easily be altered. I am big into "traditions" and all of the girls will wear this. (side note: all my children have been baptized in the same baptismal gown that my husband was baptized in…LOVE it!) If you want to have something for them that is their own, you could purchase/buy a special headpiece/veil that is only for them. It's such a special time of preparation – enjoy it! God Bless!

  13. My son makes his 1st Communion in a couple of months too!!

    I am buying him a new suit that can be passed down.

    We are having a large party at my mom's (just family but that is large enough!) His cousin (who happens to be our god-child) will be making his 1st communion as well.

    I am trying to finding novena preceding his 1st communion to help him make a good 1st communion.

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