Busman's holiday: organising a first birthday and naming ceremony

In between all of the adventures of my work projects, my daughter celebrated her first birthday and I combined this with a naming ceremony. Hosting your own party requires a tricky balance between the pressure and expectation from others versus having the motivation to organise yet another event.

Hosted at a local pub in Herne Hill which offered two spaces - space for food and space for the ceremony itself - the afternoon was intended as an informal way of celebrating our bundle of joy and all of the people who have kept us sane over the last year. Let's face it, at the tender age of one, they barely remember who you are, let alone the party you've thrown them...

The day consisted of a champagne and canapé reception, short theatre-style ceremony, followed by a finger buffet (and children's food) with cabaret seating. The Prince Regent provided all of the hot food but kindly allowed us to bring in additional salads and desserts.

My wonderful father is a retired vicar and has been wheeled out for numerous family occasions, most recently my sister's wedding and this was a new one for him. He admitted that he had dreamt that his conducting of the ceremony was so well received And I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case! I'd never even been to a naming ceremony before so resorted to googling the format and structure, which I've detailed below for anyone interested in doing the same.

Ceremony structure (thanks to the British Humanist Association)

  1. Welcome
  2. Reading
  3. Information about the child now
  4. Parental promises to the child
  5. Talking about the importance of wider family
  6. Poem
  7. Appointment of godparents and godparents’ declaration
  8. Reasons for the choice of name
  9. The naming itself
  10. Short concluding words

The beauty of this format was that it allowed us to personalise it to our needs, involving all of our favourite people in some way, whilst being able to keep it short and sweet given that there were children there.

We often shy away from organising our own events, giving the excuse of time of money or not wanting to make a fuss. But based on this experience and despite the late night baking and the inevitable sweary rants whilst we were setting up, I'd encourage you to brave it! I was incredibly grateful to all of our family and friends for making the effort to join us, overwhelmed by the number of presents we received and so thrilled to share the day with our nearest and dearest. That said, I'm already planning to have tea and cake at my mum's house next year...

The basics

Dress code: whatever you want

What we ate: mini burgers, mini sausage and mash, M&S salads, macarons, and millionaires shortbread

What we drank: pink fizz, Tiger beers and Blackcurrant squash

Photography: (c) Fria Brennan www.friabrennan.com