As you officially bring your baby into the church, you naturally want to celebrate the occasion by hosting a baptism party. It's a time for people to socialize, focus attention on your new little one and give gifts that will help him or her to grow spiritually. Plan ahead of time because you may not have much time the day of the party. You'll need to schedule the party, invite your guests, arrange the food, and figure out a parting gift for the attendees all before the day of the big event.
Most people choose to hold the baptism party immediately after the baby's baptism. Contact your church to find an available time for your child's baptism so that you can plan the date of the party and send out invitations. Generally, it's best to give guests as much notice as possible, but since you want to baptize your baby soon after his or her birth, you may only be able to give a week or two's notice. If your home isn't big enough to host the party, you may want to check if the church's basement or rec room is available the day of the baptism. This is very convenient for your guests.
The guest list for your baptism party should primarily consist of your friends and family within the church, since this is a religious celebration. Generally, it's fine to invite those who follow a different denomination than you, so if you have close friends who are of a different faith, don't hesitate to ask if they want to come. Some people would prefer not to come, but others might be offended to not receive an invitation to an event that is important to your family. When making the guest list, remember that you'll have to plan to have food for everyone. A large guest list may stretch your budget a bit too far.
The food for the baptism party should vary based on the time of day that you're holding the party. In most cases, a baby's baptism is at the morning church service and the party follows, allowing for lunchtime food. However, if the baptism is later in the day, you may be able to serve small snacks only. You probably won't have much time to prepare the food before the party, since you'll be at the baptism service, so choose foods that require little preparation the day of the party. For example, you could prepare a platter of deli meats and allow guests to make their own sandwiches.
In some churches, the community works together to provide food for a baptism party, with guests each bringing a dish to pass. This can take some of the pressure off of you. If you choose to host a potluck baptism party, talk to those bringing foods to ensure you have a bit of everything--ask some people to bring main dishes, side dishes or desserts.
Provide a small gift for guests as they leave the party. This could be something like personalized candy bars or something with a religious theme, like a bookmark with a spiritual quote. Another idea is to give a small photo album--buy them cheaply at a discount store--and place a picture of your baby in his or her Christening gown in the first photo slot.