Our Guide to How To Be A Great Godparent
You have been asked to be someone's godparent. Whether this is because a) the child's parents think that you are the perfect person to guide their newborn's spiritual development, or b) this is their fifth child and they have run out of people to ask, it is important to understand from the get go that you are making a huge commitment to this child. A commitment to buy them birthday presents, Christmas presents, graduation presents, engagement presents, wedding presents... basically you are undertaking to turn your self into a gift giving machine for the rest of your god-bundle-of-joy's life. (It's not for no reason that Elton John has so many godchildren!).
First Things First...
Your success or failure as a godparent will primarily be judged on your ability to produce better gifts than their sibling's chosen spiritual mentors, so it is important to have a strategy in place from the outset. The minute you accept your new role, set up a birthday reminder to ensure you remember the date. This will ensure you don't commit the cardinal sin of letting a birthday go by ungifted.
This is your first big test as a godparent and the precedent for all future gifts so it's important you get it right. Stay away from clothes (trust us, they will be given more than enough), and overpriced silver baby tat (it will be left gathering dust in the back of a cupboard). For some Christening gifts that are as thoughtful and stylish as you are, check out our Christening Gift Guide. It's packed with advice on how to make sure your gift is the one they're still talking about at your godchild's 21st birthday party.
Birthday and Christmas Gifts
Unlike busses, you can rely on your Godchild's birthday to arrive punctually every year. Judicious use of fillers and injectables may have left you gloriously impervious to the passing years, but you can be sure that your charge will be counting the days until he or she turns another year older. By the time the big day actually arrives, they will have built themselves up into a frenzy of anticipation. Anticipation of your gift. No pressure, but the happiness of a small person is relying on you to a) remember to get them something b) get them something that will make their siblings jealous.
You Need A Plan
We are not all blessed with the hyper-organized gene, so if you doubt your ability to arrive bearing suitably impressive gifts at least twice a year, there are a few options open to you.
Set up a bank account in the name of your godchild, then set up a direct debit from your bank account into theirs. Then let the money accrue until they turn 18, at which time they are allowed to blow it on a ridiculously expensive designer handbag, or a motorbike, or something else their parents wouldn't approve of. The beauty of this is that it requires no effort on your part once it's up and running, and they will spend their formative years fantasizing about what they will eventually spend the money on. It's not the most original idea, but it's always a winner.
Buy them a subscription to their favourite comic book or magazine. This will involve a bit of consultation with the parents, and you'll need to adjust the title you choose every now and then, but it's fairly straightforward to set up and they get the fun of getting a present from you through the letterbox EVERY month.
The tricky part of choosing a gift for someone is coming up with an idea of what to buy them. If you only knew what to get, it would be a cinch, right? Take the stress out of the process by creating a 'tradition', ie buying them the same thing every year. Even if it's something relatively unimaginative like a selection box, kids love knowing what it is they are looking forward to, and you'll know exactly what to get. Everybody's happy.
A nice idea is to buy them an Advent calendar every year (preferably the kind that has chocolate behind every window). Or if your godchild is a girl, buy her a charm bracelet, then add a new charm every year. A similar idea is to buy her a jewellry box, then fill it with jewellery. Our favourite though, is to start a library for them- there is no better gift that a love of reading. Start off with a few classic books, which you can add to over time. If you're not sure what is age appropriate, check out our guide to classic children's books.
How to be popular with the parents
Even if you're not the kind to take your godchild to Sunday school, you can still be an influence for good in their life. Choose gifts that will encourage them to be more creative, musical or academic like a painting set, musical instrument, science kit or the enduringly brilliant lego. The parents will thank you, and hopefully someday your godchild will too. (Preferably in public, as they accept a Nobel Prize).
How to make your godchild think you are the best godparent in the world, ever, bar none
If you're not too concerned with keeping the parents happy, this is easily achieved; buy them things their parents won't let them have. Think drumkits, iPods, mobile phones, unsuitable computer games, or best of all, a puppy. They will be putty in your hands.
Give the gift of time
Of course, being a godparent isn't all about buying gifts, you are now “part of the family”. As astonishing as it may seem to you, you have been chosen for this role for a reason, the parents actually think you will be a good influence on their child. And best of all, you get the chance to spend time with and enjoy a special relationship with a child without the responsibilities of parenthood.
Whether your reward will be in heaven, or in the indecipherable drawings you are proudly presented with, there is no doubt that being a godparent is a joy and a privilege. And like the very best things, the more you put into it, the more you'll get out. Truly great godparents are the ones that introduce you to the cinema, or fishing, or instruct you on how to apply makeup when your mother says you're still too young. They are also the ones who insist on thank you letters (good manners never go out of fashion).