Godparent Gift Etiquette

Written by michael brent
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Godparent Gift Etiquette
Etiquette governs the way godparents should give and receive gifts. (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Etiquette dictates certain societal rules meant to govern appropriate behaviour. These can run the gamut from table settings to thank-you notes. In fact, there is even specific etiquette for gift-giving to and from godparents.

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Decades after her death, Emily Post is still considered the pre-eminent authority on etiquette. In her 1922 book "Etiquette," Post outlines the proper manner in which parents request that others become godparents to their children. Among these rules are guidelines relating to gift-giving. Godparents, wrote Post, should give the baby a present, preferably before but no later than the day of the christening. The standard gift is a silver mug, porringer -- a small dish used for porridge -- or a knife, fork and spoon. These are typically marked with both the baby's name and that of the gift-giver.


Silver is only a suggestion. In fact, one paragraph later, Post wrote that gifts given from godparent to godchild can be anything the godparent selects. "In New England," wrote Post, "a very rich godfather sometimes gives the baby a bond which is kept with interest intact until a girl is eighteen or a boy twenty-one."

Modern Variations

Traditionalists may feel it appropriate to stick with Post's suggestions, but modern variations in the same vein include similar items made of pewter or fine china that the child can treasure for a lifetime. Another appropriate gift is a photo album or keepsake box in which mementos and photos of the christening can be stored for posterity. In some religious ceremonies, it's customary for the godparent to present the godchild with a silver cross or chain.

Gifts for Godparents

According to Debrett's, an online etiquette guide, there is no clear etiquette as to whether parents should be presented with thank-you gifts from the parents after the christening. This, says Debrett's, is "not de rigueur" but left to the discretion of the parents. If parents feel the need to give a gift to a godparent, a framed photograph of the child with the godparent is recommended. Regardless of whether a gift is given, the parents are expected to give each of the godparents a thank-you note.

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