This is our second year in a row with a child who is preparing for the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.
From my experience of listening to other parents at various meetings, it would seem that the biggest stressors for the parents when it comes to these important Sacraments seems to be one (or both) of two things.
They worry about their child in First Reconciliation (confession), and whether they will remember all the steps. (I have personally assured parents that, at least at our parish for sure, the priest will help the kids. They want it to be a positive experience for them.) And, the second is the First Communion Banner.
Yes, the thought of putting together a First Communion banner is enough to strike extreme fear in even the craft-loving Mama, let alone the craft-impaired one. So, though I don’t pretend to be an expert, I will share some tips from my banner making, especially because we are very excited to have finished and turned in Jack’s banner this week! (If you want, you can read about when we made a banner with our oldest son, as well as to go see examples of banners from our parish’s First Communion Mass last year and this year’s with over 40 examples of First Communion Banners.)
1. First and foremost, check with your parish! Many parishes have specific rules about sizes, materials, or even what they want to have appear on the banner. For instance, in our parish, they have given us a specific size, as well as that they want to be able to hang it on a wire. Because of a generous parent in our parish, we all have the option of receiving a blank piece of burlap which has been made to regulation.
On a side note, most parishes do require that a child’s name appear on the banner. Most just require a first name. This year, we included a last initial, because Jack is not the only Jack in his First Communion group. (Last year, we only used Noah’s first name.) This year, they also urged us to include the date somewhere on the banner as well.
2. Once you know what rules you need to adhere to, you are ready to prepare to make your banner. This always includes a trip to Hobby Lobby or Michaels for us. We pick out felt (and in past years, we also bought puffy paint). Some people use foam letters/shapes to decorate their banner. Heck — some use real “fake” grapes as well. But, as I said, we’re felt people.
My tip about felt — save yourself a lot of time by either buying very stiff felt or by buying self-adhesive felt. I love both of these products for this project! This makes tracing and cutting much easier for both children and their parents. We also used self-adhesive felt letters. (Love them!)
If you do not buy self-adhesive felt (or something else self-adhesive), be sure to use a good strong glue, like Tacky Glue (available in craft areas of most stores), or sew your decorations to your banner. (Remember that at many large parishes, they simply will not have the time to re-adhere an element that has fallen off your banner.)
3. Please, please, please do not make this a project that just Mom works on. Make it a family activity. Or, at the very least, make sure to also include the child making their First Communion. Both years, we have given a lot of assistance, but we left all decisions (and different parts of the decorating and cutting) to the person whose banner it is.
4. Once you have all of your elements cut and ready, try out several different layouts. When we did that this year, we found that Jack much preferred one way over the way that we were originally helping him with.
Common elements you may want to include on a banner include a child’s name, the date, a chalice, grapes, bread, wheat, a Communion Host, and a cross. You do not need to include all of these (you don’t want it to be too overwhelming), and you may want to include something not on the list. Either way — this is just a general guide.
5. Put together your banner by unpeeling adhesive, using Tacky Glue, or sewing. Make sure everything seems like it will stay on.
6. If desired, jazz up the banner a bit with something like puffy paint. Personally, I like that it gives ours a little sparkle (especially since at our parish, they are displayed by hanging them a la clothes line style). If you look at the picture of before and after puffy paint (also available in most craft stores), you’ll see what a difference it makes!
On a side note, we always have uneven puffy paint lines, because we let the kids do it (with some help). It always feels very special to them!
7. Clearly mark your child’s name on the back of the banner, so it can easily be returned after the First Communion Mass.
8. Mark this task off of your “to do” list, and say a prayer for your child. They have a big day coming up!
Need more First Communion ideas and resources, including a downloadable ebook with First Communion Preparation and Printable First Communion Banner Patterns? Be sure to check out my First Communion Resources page!