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How to plan a naming ceremony

Baby ready for a naming ceremonyWhat is a naming ceremony?

A naming ceremony is a non-religious celebration of the arrival of a new child. It is a way of welcoming the child and officially introducing him/her to family and friends.

Naming ceremonies are appropriate for anyone, at any age. The arrival of a new baby, uniting of step or adopted children within a family, or an adult name change are all great reasons to hold a naming ceremony.

Naming ceremonies involve the important people in the child’s life – family and special friends. Parents have the opportunity to ask other adults to play a supportive role to their child through to adult life (as  godparents, mentors or supporters).

Poems, readings, and quotes of personal significance can be used throughout the ceremony. Often a symbolic gesture is also made, such as the lighting of a candle or the planting of a tree. In addition, certificates are presented to parents and other special people as a record of the occasion.

Naming ceremonies are not a baptism or christening. While the ceremonies are non-religious, many parents with religious beliefs hold naming ceremonies to welcome their child. Doing so does not prevent the child from holding or participating in a religious ceremony at any stage of their life.

While the Naming Ceremony and accompanying documents don’t have any legal status, they are a wonderful way to welcome your child and celebrate them as they begin their journey through life.   Ceremonies are usually conducted by a celebrant.

Each ceremony is unique and is tailored to suit your individual needs.

Here are some ideas to help you plan your special day. You can also chat to other parents to get ideas and see what worked well for them.


  • Time capsule/treasure box – can contain small gifts, photos, letters or written note cards. The capsule/box is presented to the child when they turn 18 or 21. Invite guests to bring an item instead of a present i.e. CDs; magazines; newspapers; the Guinness Book of Records; coin collections; symbols of something they wish for the child such as runes & crystals to symbolise different things like peace and hope; pebbles from someone’s favourite beach ‘that the child may always have a special place to go and think’; Celtic symbols such as a horseshoe for good luck; cuff links that he may be a gentleman; a joke book – that she/he may always keep her/his sense of humour; a pressed leaf that they may appreciate nature.
  • Photo board of baby photos of ‘special people’.
  • Personalised stamps with a photo of your child – for sending out the invitations or thank you notes.
  • Planting of a tree – guests help plant the tree and as they place dirt into the ground, they say a word/s expressing their wish for the child OR give out bells for guests to ring as the tree is planted (Native Australian Plants are ideal and symbolic).
  • Lighting of a candle naming day candles can be personalised and decorated with little flowers, butterflies, sporting items, cars, child’s name, photo, date of birth, weight and length, and a poem etc. The parents light the candles, make wishes for their child and promise that on each birthday when they light the candle on the cake they will remember what a miracle the child is.
  • Historical significance – mentioning important things that happened in history on the child’s day of birth.
  • Video record – get all your guests to say something about the child (wishes etc.) to play back at their 18th/21st.
  • Release a dove – the worldwide symbol for peace.
  • Wishing well/cards – guests write their wish for the child on a note and place it in a wishing well for the parents to read and keep for the child.
  • Rose petal blessing – shower with rose petals.
  • Fairy Dust – used at the blessing instead of roses/water. Special people say nice words/wishes as they sprinkle it (Fine glitter, non toxic – warning it sticks to absolutely everything!).
  • Soaring spirit celebration – releasing of balloons to encourage your child’s spirit to bloom and grow.
  • Write a poem about your child to read at the ceremony.
  • Meaning of name commemorative certificate – a detailed, full colour, laminated certificate. The child’s name is displayed at the top of the certificate, along with the names origin and meaning. The rest of the certificate could include details such as Emotional Spectrum; Personal Integrity; Personality; Relationships; Travel & Leisure; Career and Money; Life’s opportunities; their lucky numbers, star sign and birth date.
  • Ceremony theme – base the ceremony around the meaning of your child’s name, or a theme they are ‘into’ such as Sesame Street, fairies, clowns, or trucks.
  • Star sign commemorative certificate – a full colour, laminated certificate providing information about the child’s star sign.
  • Astrological chart about your child’s life – various charts are available depending on the level of detail you want.
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  • Signature bear – for guests to sign creating a permanent memento of the day and guests who attended.
  • Photo signature frame – frame a photo of your child with a large enough border for people to write on it. It becomes a beautiful reminder of the day and something you can hang in their room or the house.
  • Thank you/Memento cards for guests – cards mailed out within a couple of weeks of the ceremony are a lovely way to thank your guests for being part of your child’s special day. You could hand-make the thank you card and include a photo of your child or consider ordering personalised cards. The options are limitless.

– this article was kindly supplied by Penny Sorbello, from Accent on Names by Penelope

Image credit:znm/123RF Stock Photo

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