Ten ideas for your child’s naming ceremony

Blowing bubbles – an eco-friendly alternative to a balloon release.

Whilst it’s possible to host your own naming ceremony, when you work with a Humanist Ceremonies celebrant, you’re working with someone with training, skills, and experience in creating inclusive, family-friendly ceremonies. Having a professional celebrant leading the ceremony means you can spend time with your guests and relax and enjoy the day. 

Our celebrants are full of ideas for how to make your ceremony meaningful, memorable, and fun!  Award-winning humanist celebrant Jane Blackman shares her top ten ideas for personalising your child’s humanist naming ceremony.

Ten ideas for your child’s naming ceremony

1. Signing a naming certificate

Signing a naming certificate provides a short pause in the ceremony and a lovely photo opportunity during which the parents and supporting adults sign a certificate witnessed by all in attendance, marking the occasion and the adults’ commitments to the child. The certificate can be kept by the family as a memento of the event.

Signing the naming certificate. Photo by ETT Photography.

2. Creating a time capsule or memory box

Some families include the creation of a ‘time capsule’ or ‘memory box’. You can ask your guests to bring something to add to it such as a newspaper article from the day your child was born, family photos, recorded messages, gifts to be opened when they reach a significant date in the future.

The container can be sealed during the ceremony with a view to being opened again on a significant birthday such as their 18th birthday.

 3. Tree-planting

Depending upon the time of year, planting a tree in commemoration of this special occasion is a lovely idea and a great way to involve other children, close friends, or family members in the ceremony. Tree-planting also provides the opportunity to include words about the importance of nurturing and caring for the growth of the child. (Please note: Bare-rooted tree stock is best planted in winter when the tree is dormant.)

4. Planting seeds or bulbs

If you don’t have room to plant a tree, or you have chosen an indoor venue, you could instead give seeds or bulbs to guests to plant in pots and take home for the growing season ahead.

Plant tulips from October to December for them to flower in spring.

5. Bubbles

I have been asked to lead balloon releases before now, but they do not sit at all comfortably with me and I no longer agree to them as sending balloons out into the world can result in injury, suffering, and even death to wild creatures. There are plenty of lovely ethical alternatives which pose no harm to the environment, risk to wildlife or harm to animals.

Blowing bubbles is a fun and environmentally-friendly alternative to a balloon release. Children love to make, chase, and catch bubbles. Bubbles make quite a spectacle and provide a great photo opportunity.

Blowing bubbles is a fun and environmentally-friendly alternative to a balloon release.

Here’s how to make your own eco-friendly bubbles.

  • 1/2 cup of eco-friendly washing up liquid
  • 5 cups of distilled water
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin
  • Mix this together in a storage container and leave overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours.

6. Lighting candles 

A flame can symbolise hope, warmth, and the brightening of lives as a result of the arrival of the child. Lighting a candle in a naming ceremony can also be done as an act of remembrance for a deceased relative or friend. Candles can be lit with an accompanying reading or music – or in contemplative silence.

7. Wish trees

Invite your guests to write promises, words of advice, or good wishes on individual tags and then hang on a tree (real if outside or artificial if indoors) as a special collective moment in the ceremony.

After the ceremony, you can then gather the messages and keep them for your child as a memento of the day.

Naming ceremony ‘wish tree’.

8. Signing a guest book 

A guest book enables your guests to add a message to your child before, during, or after the ceremony, creating a keepsake for your child to revisit in years to come.

9. Video of good wishes

How about making a video of guests’ wishes for your child either in advance to be shown during the ceremony or made at the ceremony as a memento for your child to enjoy as they grow up?

10. A sand ceremony

A sand ceremony can be used to symbolise the input, commitment, and contribution that people are prepared to make to the child, whose naming day ceremony it is.

This symbolic ritual involves filling a large empty glass jar with layers of differently coloured sands. Guideparents – or parents, family, and friends – take coloured sand and slowly pour it into the larger central vase, one colour at a time.

Each person involved in the sand-blending, pours an individual layer of sand, resulting in layers of coloured sands in the vessel – each layer representing the individual commitment to the child.

Sand-blending. Photo by Firefly Photographic.

After the naming day celebration, the glass jar filled with layers of sand can be displayed in the child’s bedroom, or somewhere prominent in the home, as a constant reminder of the support the child has from their guideparents or parents, family, and friends.

A sand ceremony can also be used to symbolise the blending together of a family. Members of each family add layers of sand to the jar in turn, resulting in one harmonious display.

Next steps

If you would like a personalised, bespoke naming ceremony, you can use our ‘Find a celebrant’ map to find a Humanist Ceremonies naming celebrant in your area. Your local celebrant will be happy to talk with you about your ideas and the possibilities for the celebration you are planning.

If you would like to discuss a naming ceremony with me, you can email me at jblackmancelebrant@gmail.com.

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