10 Tips for Creating a Fab Naming Ceremony

Naming ceremonies are beginning to grow in popularity as parents look for different, non-religious ways to celebrate the arrival of a precious new life into their world. Namings can be fun while being heartfelt at the right moments too, and they are always special. So here are my top tips for creating a personal ceremony that’s just right for you.

  1. Choose a time of day that will fit with your usual routine of feeds, sleeps and hopefully some awake time to help take the stress out of the day. This will also maximise your chances of having a smiley baby for part of the celebrations at least! Find a venue that will work well for you too, if having the ceremony at home seems like a good idea but is stressing you out then book a local community venue instead or a nearby hotel who will take care of everything. Or if you don’t want to wait until the pandemic is over, consider going virtual instead.
  2. Think about who you would like to appoint as guide parents and role models for your little one. There is no set number of guide parents, so anything from one to 10 works. They don’t need to be upstanding pillars of the community, just friends and family members who will take an interest in your child as they grow up. Maybe they have an adventurous nature and will help your child develop a sense of adventure, or they might be a great role model for their family or work ethic, or maybe they are great fun and will be a positive force in your child’s life. Whatever the reason, this can be celebrated as part of the ceremony. 
  3. Shape the commitments that your guide parents will make to your child to reflect their character and attributes. If one of your guide parents is football mad then make this part of their commitments, “I promise to take Rory to see the match on Saturday afternoons and to teach him the offside rule!” Or if their kindness is what you admire most about them, “I promise to teach by example to help Chloe become kind and generous”.
  4. Consider if you want to make promises to your little one yourself. You could do this in the form of a poem or reading – the tale of Edward hopping into life from Beatrix Potter is wonderful. Or your celebrant could ask you questions that you then respond to, either together or you could have separate commitments for each parent.  
  5. Poems or readings make a great addition to a naming ceremony, or maybe a short story would work well if you’ve got lots of young children there. Find a friend who’s great at reading stories and gather the children at the front for a quick story time with a moral, The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright is a great option.
  6. If you are music fans then why not include a karaoke style song as part of the celebrations? I love these moments, the whole room is singing the song you’ve chosen at the top of their voices and loving every moment of it. It Must by Love by Madness is one of my favourites but you can choose anything you like, although something well known that is also easy to sing is best.
  7. Make sure you tell everyone how and why you chose the name that you did for your child, and the significance of each name – if there is one. Maybe their middle name is your grandma’s first name, what attributes does your grandma have that you’d love your little one to inherit through sharing her name?
  8. Find a way to involve all your guests in the naming ceremony. There are loads of options here and you could ask them to add their wishes for your child to a wishes tree, or to add their fingerprint and name to a picture which you can frame and display at home afterwards. It’s great to ask everyone to join in formally naming your child too, they can repeat a few short sentences after the celebrant.
  9. You might want to hire the services of a celebrant to write the ceremony for you and to lead the proceedings on the day, Humanists UK has a directory of celebrants who are trained specifically to perform naming ceremonies. But you might feel comfortable doing this yourself or asking a confident friend or family member to do it for you, particularly if you’d like a very relaxed celebration. There is no right or wrong, just what’s right for you!
  10. Finish on a high! You could end with a toast, just make sure everyone has their glasses charged before you start and they know they need to keep a little back until the end of the ceremony! Alternatively, you could finish with three cheers or by singing happy birthday if the naming ceremony is doubling as a 1st birthday party. Have some music ready to play as soon as the ceremony finishes to keep the atmosphere going. 

There you have it, my top tips for creating a great naming ceremony that everyone will love and that will bring a smile to their face when they think back to it. You can find out more about naming ceremonies here.

However you decide to celebrate, enjoy welcoming your little one to the world!

Should you choose a Naming Ceremony or Christening for your child?

If you are wondering what a naming ceremony is, don’t worry you’re not alone! Although they are rising in popularity lots of people haven’t heard the term and most have yet to experience one.

I could quite simply say it’s like a non-religious christening, when the parents formally name their child and ask close friends or family members to take a special role in their child’s life as guide parents. But is it so much more than that.

Firstly a naming ceremony involves just those people that you invite to the service. It’s just for you and your family and friends whether that’s a small gathering of 10 people or over 100, whereas a religious service normally takes place as part of a Sunday service with the congregation and there will often be other families having their child christened too.

The service can also take place anywhere you choose whether that’s at home, at the top of Box Hill in Dorking, Surrey, your local community hall or your favourite hotel. And you can have your naming ceremony and the after ‘party’ all in the same place.

Naming ceremony Surrey
Claire and Matt with their gorgeous Edward!

The most important difference for me is that a naming ceremony is personal to your family and your child. Each service is written just for your little one and draws on details about their personality and your family values to create a unique script. Poems and songs are a great addition to a ceremony too and enable you to involve close family and friends in the proceedings.

You can appoint guide parents, instead of god parents, and I love to talk about why you’ve chosen each guide parent and what influences and learning they will bring to your child – whether that is to ensure they learn the value of giving to others, to develop an adventurous streak, or to become a life long Chelsea fan! The guide parents you choose make promises to your child that are meaningful to you all, rather than the standard promises you make at a christening.

And if you’d like a keepsake from the day, we can ask your guests to add their contribution to a finger print tree or wishes box as part of the ceremony, in addition to the guide parents and child receiving a signed certificate.

Finger Print Tree for Maisie

So, if you are worried about what your family may say I suggest you give a naming ceremony a go and I guarantee they will enjoy the experience! You can always arrange for one of your great aunts to read a prayer as part of the service if that will help smooth the waters.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s what one of my families told me: “Stephanie was able to provide us with such a special day for our beautiful baby boy at his naming ceremony. Her kind nature and loving personality made Hudson’s day very special and we will never forget it. After having two christenings for our two older children we found Hudson’s naming ceremony so much more laid back and a lot more personal and memorable. Everyone commenting on what a lovely service Stephanie provided us.” Kate and Martin, July 2019, Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey

Find out more about these fab occasions on my Naming Ceremonies page.