John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Maureen Woodman an event planner for on and off-site catered events at the Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. Today we’re talking about how to organize a First Communion party. Welcome, Maureen.
Maureen Woodman: Hey John, thanks for having me today.
Steps Involved in Organizing a First Communion Party
John: Absolutely. Maureen, what are some of the steps involved in organizing a First Communion party?
Maureen: I think the first thing is you have to contact the church or the church will contact you, because First Communion is traditionally done in the month of May. A lot of times it’s actually done on Mother’s Day, which I think a lot of people aren’t happy about.
John: I get it. Many people have plans on Mother’s Day morning.
Maureen: Yes, but it is a nice way to go to church that day and celebrate. I think that you have to make sure that the kids go to the classes and make sure that they are up to speed with everything that they have to learn in order to make their first communion. Then I think you want to send out your invitations, pick out something that’s clean and white and pretty and reflects this large moment, as this child begins his [or her] journey with God. From there, I think you want to look around and pick a venue that’s going to accommodate your budget and your needs for that day.
Hosting a First Communion Party
John: Okay. What are some of the things involved in hosting a First Communion party that might make it unique or that people might not think about?
Maureen: Again, this is another family-friendly event, so you want to make sure you have a space that’s large enough. Maybe have some games off to the side, [for] children typically around eight or nine years old when they make their first communion. Have things that are friendly for them in case you invite some of the other children from your son or daughter’s class and let the kids play, because they’ve been kind of pent-up getting ready for First Communion.
John: Right. Staying quiet in church.
Maureen: They had to be quiet in church, they had to take a lot of pictures and now they’re ready to run around in their white clothes. I think you want to make sure that your venue can accommodate some fun for the children. The food is usually pick-up, because it’s probably about 11 o’clock 12 o’clock now, so everybody’s kind of hungry and they need something ready right when they get in there. There is always coffee at a First Communion right away.
[It’s] not a huge event for a lot of alcohol, I think it’s more a lunch-brunch kind of menu. There’s always a beautiful First Communion cake involved that’s very pretty. Then, of course, a lot of sweets would be involved [and] you do them family style on the table. A lot of times aunts and uncles will make the sweets to bring them in, depending on their ethnic background. If it’s traditional for them to have a lot of cookies or something [else] that is traditional for the family.
Outdoor Space at a First Communion Party
John: Do you ever have an outdoor space available, like you said for the kids to play some lawn games or something and run around?
Maureen: Sure. At the Essex Room, we have a great space. Usually, in the month of May, it starts to come around if the weather is cooperating and we always let the children run outside. We call it the front lawn, because it’s safe there. There’s really no traffic or anything and the kids can just get all their energy out.
Decorations for a First Communion Party
John: Right. What types of decorations do people usually use at a First Communion party?
Maureen: Usually something a little more fun. Right now tassels are really popular, made out of crepe paper. You see a lot of the lanterns. We’ve been using a lot of the pinwheels which are very popular right now on Pinterest. I think, again, you may see balloons because they’re festive for children. Of course, you may see some religious symbols throughout the room as well.
Food for a First Communion Party
John: Okay. What food is usually served at a First Communion party and what options can people choose that might make the event extra special?
Maureen: I think depending on your budget and you might just see sandwiches, some breakfast breads, some salads, some fruit salad. I think if you can spend a little more you may see a big stuffed haddock or stuffed chicken on a buffet. It’s not traditionally a sit-down dinner, it’s usually a buffet and that’s because people are coming and going.
Again, the timing on an event like this maybe three and a half hours. It’s not something that you’d see people staying for five or six hours. It’s already been a long day from the morning and they’re ready to sit down have lunch and go home. Maybe the child would open their presents or sometimes they take their presents home if they can’t stay still that long.
How to Organize a First Communion Party That Is Really Memorable
John: Okay. Any final thoughts on how to make your First Communion party really memorable?
Maureen: I think, again, it depends on who you invite. It’s who is there with you and remember why you’re doing it. Remember what this journey is for you.
John: Right. That’s really great advice, Maureen. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Maureen: Thank you, John. Thanks for having me.
John: For more information, you can visit the Essex Room website at essexroom.com or call 978-768-7335.