In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about planning a First Communion party.
The First Holy Communion (The Sacrament of the Eucharist) is a Roman Catholic ceremony. In Ireland, most Catholic children will receive their First Communion when they’re 7 or 8 years old, usually when they’re in second class.
After the ceremony, it’s become something of a tradition to host a party to celebrate the occasion. Planning events like this can often become stressful and, increasingly, our customers describe Communion preparations ‘like organising mini weddings’! To make the process easier, we’ve outlined a few simple planning steps below.
Planning a First Communion Party
We’ve broken down the planning for the communion party into 9 steps. In each step, you’ll find some relevant tips and advice.
As always, the golden rule is to start early!
1. Confirm the Time and Date of the Event
At the time of publication of this article, First Communions are still being organised by primary schools in conjunction with local parishes. This process is expected to change in the near future although it might take some time for the new process to be fully implemented.
At the moment, the schools will inform you of the date and time of the first communion. Most often it will be on a Saturday or Sunday in May or early June.
As soon as you get the date, start planning! Communions almost universally happen on the same few dates which means everyone is going to be hosting their party at the same time. This makes booking venues and entertainment difficult.
The sooner you start the more options you’ll have!
Pro-tip: If you’re starting your planning late for a Saturday Communion (which tends to be the majority), why not host your party on the Sunday, the following day? It may make it easier to find availability.
2. Plan the Guest List
Make a list of everyone you want to invite for the occasion.
Churches tend to have limited seating so the religious ceremony is often restricted to close family. For that reason, hosting a party afterwards is the perfect way to include your extended family and friends.
You’re also going to want to invite the close friends of the Communion child. Just remember that most of his or her school friends are likely to be busy with their own Communions.
Pro-tip: If you’re hoping to stick to a tight budget, keep the guest list small. It’s one of the main determining factors. You can also check out this article by the independent for hosting a communion party on a budget.
3. Book a Venue
If you don’t have space at home, or if you’re planning to invite a large number of family and friends, you’ll want to book a venue for the day. Choose between independent function rooms in such places as church halls or community centres, or opt for a room in a restaurant, hotel, pub or club.
Check your local area to see what’s available. It’s important to take into account the travel time from the church to the venue. You don’t want to be rushing around.
Independent function rooms like community halls tend to be inexpensive but require a bit more leg work from the planner. The main thing is to make sure they have the required tables and chairs for your event. Everything else you can bring with you.
Restaurants, hotels, pubs and clubs, on the other hand, may or may not charge for the room but you’ll generally need to order the food and drink through them. It can be more expensive but it also makes life easier.
If you’re planning to host the event outside, have a back-up plan…. Even though the party is technically in Spring / early Summer, we still live in Ireland!
4. Plan the Entertainment
The key, when it comes to booking entertainment, is making sure that it’s appropriate for the age group. You can view some tips for hiring a great kid’s entertainers in our separate article.
Some of the entertainment that’s most commonly booked at a communion party is:
Magic shows are great because they appeal to a broad age group. There are three main options to choose from:
- A kid’s show. This is a show that generally lasts around 45 minutes or an hour and is designed to entertain the children. They’re guaranteed to love it.
- A family show. This is a show that lasts 45 minutes or more. It’s designed to entertain the kids and the parents alike. This is ideal if you want the adults to be entertained too and you don’t want to separate the kids.
- Walk around magic. This is an informal format where the magician will walk among your guests, performing for small groups at a time.
If you’re based in Ireland, you can book a magician directly through PartyWizz to come and entertain your guests at your First Communion Party.
If your younger guests enjoy dancing, booking a disco is a great option. The entertainer often offers a combination of activities which might include musical games, dance challenges and Karaoke.
These discos can last anywhere from 1 – 4 hours. It all depends on your schedule and how much energy you have!
If you’re based in Ireland, you can book a disco party online for a communion party directly through PartyWizz.
Bouncy Castles are always popular with kids. Most often, you rent them for the day; You just need to have enough space.
If you’re booking a Bouncy Castle through PartyWizz, you’ll find the space requirements listed on the profiles of the entertainment provider.
Pro-tip: As the children will most likely be wearing nice clothes, make sure the bouncy castle games are supervised. Bouncing on the castle should be fine but rolling around in the grass afterwards might not be…
If you can’t book an entertainer (budget or availability) or if you don’t feel like it, you’ll still want to plan some entertainment for the kids. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out our favourite party games.
Alternatively, you can rent lawn games for the day. For example horseshoes, giant chess… Check your local area to see what’s available.
Pro-tip: We can’t state this strongly enough: if you want to book an entertainer, start early! Their diaries fill up incredibly fast at that time of the year. Booking an entertainer 7 months in advance isn’t unusual.
5. Decide Who’s in Charge of the Pictures
If you want some professional pictures taken, consider hiring a photographer. You probably don’t need them for the full day; just an hour or two.
If you don’t want to hire a photographer, make sure you choose someone to be in charge of taking the pictures. As the party planner, you’ll be too busy making sure all the guests are happy to also take the pictures.
Pro-tip: Batteries, batteries, batteries! A camera with no power is of no use. Make sure the camera is charged and plan spare batteries.
6. Plan the Party Food
Planning the food isn’t as urgent as the venue and the entertainment. If your event is in a restaurant, you won’t need to worry about this at all.
The first thing is to decide whether you want to have a seated meal or a buffet. The latter requires a lot less planning. You can find some fun and easy ideas in our article about kid’s party food.
Secondly, decide whether you want to make the food, buy the food or order the food. This depends entirely on how much you enjoy cooking. Also don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring something, for example, a desert.
Next, there are a few practical considerations you’ll want to take into account:
- What time is the ceremony? They’re usually split between mornings and afternoons. This will influence whether you need to plan a full meal or just an afternoon tea.
- What cooking facilities does your venue have? If you’re at home, you won’t have any problems but if you’re a room with limited cooking facilities you might want to opt for cold food only.
- Do the guests (especially the younger ones) have any allergies or specific dietary requirements? Ask this when you send out the invites.
7. Plan the Decorations
The decorations you choose will depend a lot on the venue of the party. Flowers, balloons, banners and other party decorations can easily be bought in your desired colours.
After that, it’s just a matter of displaying them nicely throughout the venue (or your home). If in doubt, keep it simple.
Depending on where you live you should be able to find helium to make the balloons float. If you’re planning on blowing up regular balloons, make sure you buy a pump. They’re cheap and they will save you a lot of time and energy!
Try to set up everything before the ceremony. You don’t want to be chasing time. The only thing that should be left to do is to bring out the food.
Pro-tip: Plan decorations that are easy to take down. If you’re hosting your event in a venue, you will probably be required to take down the decorations after the event.
8. Plan Party Favours & Thank You Cards
It’s a nice touch to have party favours and thank you cards to give to your guests.
For some inspiration, you can read our article on what to put inside a party bag. At PartyWizz, we also sell pre-filled party bags that we can ship directly to you. The bags themselves are reusable fabric and they come packed with goodies.
9. Get Some Help on the Day
Last but definitely not least: find someone to help you on the day. Having someone to rely on is a huge plus. Simply ask around to see if a friend would be willing to help you out on the day.