Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations are a religious commemoration of the “coming of age” of boys and girls when they turn 13 (sometimes 12 for girls). The religious commemoration of the event is typically noted at a Saturday morning (Sabbath) service in which a portion of the Torah is recited. While some Bar/Bat Mitzvahs are celebrated with a small casual brunch following the service, others are major events with all the stops pulled out!
It has become quite common for this “coming of age” celebration to last an entire weekend, with the following events:
• Friday evening informal party
• Saturday morning service
• A luncheon following the service for a select group
• A big event on Saturday night
• A Sunday brunch
If you are expecting many out of town guests, or want to continue the celebration for the entire weekend, you may want to plan a few additional informal activities as an option for guests for some of the down time. Some guests will choose to rest, and others will want to be involved in activities such as bowling, swimming, roller skating, biking or hiking, flag football, etc.
Determine first the number of events you would like your celebration to involve, and then proceed to choosing a theme or color scheme for the big Saturday evening event. The other events can share a similar theme, or just be casual affairs with simple decorating and food.
The following themes represent the 10 most popular choices for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs:
4. Sports – (either a general sports theme or one specific to the favorite of the individual: basketball, golf, tennis, football, wrestling, swimming, etc.)
9. 60’s & 70’s Retro
While these themes are the most popular, they are by no means the only choices available. We have assisted in planning “Outer Space”, “WCW”, “TV”, “Butterflies”, “Egyptian”, “Skateboarding”, “Rainbows”, “Night on the Orient”, “Nascar”, etc. Bar/Bat Mitzvahs…anything your child is interested in, we can build a theme around, and help you with your planning. A general color scheme is also a very popular choice, and works well to help blend all the events of the weekend.
After you have selected a theme, or decided on a color scheme, select a theme slogan to use through all your planning. You will need this for invitation selection, personalized favor imprints, and for any other printed materials. Our party tips that are created for specific themes contain some slogan suggestions, or you and your child can come up with something creative. If you are using a general color scheme, it would be perfectly appropriate to choose one of the following: “Join us as we celebrate Rachel’s coming of age!” (For imprinting purposes on your napkins, favors, etc., “Rachel’s Coming of Age Celebration – June 16, 2000″), or “Martin’s Bar Mitzvah – August 4, 2000!”
For out of town guests, call a few local hotels to gather room rates, and don’t hesitate to ask if they offer a group discount rate. Many will allow you to reserve a block of rooms for the weekend, and then guests can call in and pay for their own room. On a separate insert in your invitation, include hotel names, rates, and a code for your block rate, along with a small map of where the hotels are located in relation to where the events will be held.
Prepare a special gift basket for each out of town family, and have the baskets delivered to the hotel prior to their arrival. This simple gesture will show your appreciation for the effort they have made to honor your child.
Hire a limousine to chauffeur your child and his/her best friends to and from the events…this milestone in his/her life should be memorable!
After you have determined the number of events to be held, and also determined your budget for each gathering, prepare guest lists for each event. While some events will include everyone, others may include a smaller group. For example, a Friday evening party may include only family and out of town guests.
While it may seem like a thrifty and personal touch to plan on cooking or preparing some of the food for smaller gatherings, you may find that it is generally best to do as little cooking as possible. Whenever possible, hire caterers, and purchase prepared food from restaurants, delicatessens, and food service markets. There is no need to create extra stress when the parties are upon you, and you will have more time to mingle and enjoy the festivities.
Along with your invitation, let guests know that you will be paying tribute to the guest of honor. Ask them to think of funny or heartwarming stories or important advice to live by to share at your party. Send out a card with each invite, and request that guests bring the completed “card” on the special day. At a specified time, possibly before you eat, have each person read the message they have prepared. Videotape each guest as they deliver the message to your guest of honor, and then present him/her with the videotape as a memento of the party. He/she will be tickled by the gesture, and you will have created a priceless treasure. As an alternative to reading and videotaping the messages, you can collect the cards and compile them into a scrapbook. You could add a photo of each person/family to their message, and the scrapbook would serve as a lovely keepsake.
If you don’t like the idea of having guests come with a prepared message, you could set up a video camera in an area with a decorated backdrop, and ask guests to stop by at some point during the evening, and record a more spontaneous message. Have each guest start by saying “David, you are special to me/our family because…”. Throughout the evening you will create a touching tribute, filled with warm memories, funny stories, and the smiling faces of those who came to honor your child.
Plan a “This is your life” or “Spotlight” segment during the party. Gather old family videos, photo albums, school pictures, artwork, trophies, etc., and take the time to “chronicle” the life of your child. Decorate a special chair for him/her to sit in.
A nice touch for the evening would be to set up a photo backdrop area – either a balloon arch, or a metallic curtain – so that the guest of honor can have his/her picture taken with either individuals or groupings of his choice. You will want to take plenty of photographs to document this important once-in-a-lifetime event!
Traditionally, when we think of party favors, we think of the “loot” bag passed out at the end of a child’s party. Today, most hosts and hostesses enjoy giving each guest a memento of the party to take home. Every Bar/Bat Mitzvah should be marked with a favor to treasure. The gesture doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant.
Rather than waiting until your guests are making their exit to give them a party favor, you can give your guests favors during the party, which will add color and fun! Favors can do double-duty at any party, as they provide perfect tabletop accents that can be used as decorations. The ideal favor for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is one that both teens and adults can enjoy. The following favors will appeal to both age groups.
You may also want to add a few additional teen favors for the friends of the guest of honor. These can be related to the interests or hobbies of your child (sports related favors are always a big hit with teens), or can just be fun or silly goodies in a tote bag. Select favors specific to your theme from one of our “themed” stores, and place them on the tables, or if you are decorating around a color theme, any of the following would be perfect:
GLASSWARE Check out custom imprinted glassware. Flutes, goblets, mugs, and snifters are available in a multitude of sizes, shapes, style and color options. Guests can drink water, wine, soft drinks, etc. from a special glass, then take the glass home and fondly recall the party every time they see the glass. In addition, check out parfaits, dessert dishes, and candy dishes. All will add a lovely, elegant touch to your tables. Tie a small piece of satin ribbon, curling ribbon, gossamer streamer, or even a party horn to each stem (attached with metallic garland) for a festive look. The glassware can also hold a gathered cloth or paper napkin to create a tall dramatic look at each place setting. Glassware filled with candy, mints, or chocolate treats or with metallic shred to match your theme colors also creates a terrific table accent. For a black tie or other formal affair, add charming black, white, gold or silver tux ties to the stem of your glassware.
CANDLES – With the exception of giving candles to small children, a candle favor is sure to be a big hit with all party guests! Glassware candles provide a gorgeous addition to any tabletop, and are available in as many style options as are listed above in our glassware section. They can be imprinted with your theme or special message. A number of glitter candle colors are available, including mixed glitter, glitter banded, and volcano glitter, mini confetti (primarily gold, silver and iridescent), 14 different wax colors, stacked wax (combine two or three theme colors), or gel candles in numerous colors. Add a scent (choose from 13 different flavors) to any of the candles. Set one at each place setting on tables, or group several together in the center of the table. Set the candles on a round or square mirror, and add gem stones, curling ribbon curls or confetti to the base for a beautiful centerpiece.
Votive candleholders can also be used as place cards. Purchase unimprinted votive holders. Add clear or decorative computer generated labels, or print names on with a paint pen (gold or silver look best). Most computer software programs now have a calligraphic font, which creates a wonderful formal look.
FRAMES Give guests frames imprinted with special party details. We stock a huge variety of imprintable frames, in a wide array of sizes, colors and styles. If your budget is limited, try one of imprinted acrylic frames. Place a frame at each place setting, and use the frames as placecards. Using white or colored paper, create a placecard for each guest using a fancy font in your computer. As an alternative, print names with colorful markers or paint pens, or paint names with watercolor or acrylic paint. Cut each piece of paper to fit the frame. The effect on the table is beautiful.
If you will not have assigned seating, and will not be using name placecards, put a special message inside each frame. Add one of the following to each frame: A heartfelt thank you poem or note from the guest of honor to each guest (a copier makes this easy to execute) about sharing in this important “coming of age” celebration; a funny limerick or poem about the guest of honor; the menu for the evening; or your party slogan would look great filling the frame.
When the party is over, the frame can be filled with a photograph. Either use a Polaroid™ camera to send a picture home with each of your guests, or mail souvenir photos at a later date with thank you notes. Make sure that you have plenty of film on hand, so that you can take lots of pictures of the guest of honor with each family/couple/ or individual in attendance. Place disposable cameras on tables and encourage guests to use them. You’ll have plenty of warm memories captured to pass along to your appreciative friends.
PHOTO ALBUMS OR PHOTO BOXES Personalized photo albums or photo boxes make a very special favor, and one that your guests will treasure for many years to come. Both of these favors can be imprinted with ink to match your color theme. A white photo album with a red imprint would be ideal for a red and white theme. Stand the photo albums or photo boxes at each place setting. The photo boxes can be used as placecards in much the same way that frames can be used. To make the boxes really stand out at a table, add a little metallic shred to “peek” out of the sides. Add little treasures (candy, mints, special message) inside if you wish. As an alternative to standing the frames or photo boxes at each place setting, tie a piece of satin ribbon, curling ribbon, or a gossamer streamer (the bows hold their shape much the same way that wired ribbon bows do…at a fraction of the cost). Lay each favor at the center of each place setting.
As suggested in the frame favor section above, take lots of pictures at the party, or leave disposable cameras on tables and encourage guests to use them throughout the evening. Disposable cameras can be spray-painted (silver, gold, purple, etc.) to match your color theme, and provide yet another unique decorative touch. Just make sure the lens is left unsprayed! The photo box can also hold the invitation, program, confetti from the tables, other photos, and small decorations saved from the weekend.
SNOWDOMES – Let each guest feel the same warm feeling they experienced as a child looking with wonder at a newly shaken snow dome. They can be imprinted with a special message in a color to match your chosen color theme, and can hold a 2″ X 3″ souvenir photo of your guest. Using the same concept as outlined in the frame section above, the snowdomes make wonderful placecards or an ideal holder for a special poem or drawing.
TOTE BAGS – Glossy and metallic colored totes look great sitting at individual place settings, with tissue or metallic shred peeking out of the top. Fill the totes with fun favors. The totes can either be imprinted with a special message, or you can personalize each one using a paint pen. With each guests’ name spelled out on the bags, they can be used as placecards. If your party is theme based and you select totes related to your theme, they will also look fantastic sitting on the tables. Don’t give a thought to saving the tote bags for “good-byes”…use them on the tables for big decorating impact!
VASES – Allergy sufferers aside, everyone loves flowers! Why not give each guest a vase complete with an array of fresh flowers, a single blossom, or a beautiful silk rose? Set a vase at each place setting, and then inform your guests that the arrangements are theirs to keep. They’ll appreciate the sweet gesture! Silk roses are perfect for decorating around a color theme, and are available in yellow, pink, red, black, purple, navy blue, burgundy, light blue, teal, white, lavender, royal blue and ivory, metallic gold and metallic silver.
GLOW IN THE DARK GOODIES Think glow in the dark– glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces! Not only do the children love them, but adults do too! We’ve seen the necklaces worn in some pretty creative places on the body because they can be connected together, and configured many creative ways. On party tables, wrap necklaces or bracelets around glassware, use them as napkin rings, or weave them into centerpieces…A guaranteed hit!
STADIUM CUPS – For a delightful splash of color at a budget price, place a stadium cup at each place setting. Use the stadium cups for beverages, or fill them with metallic shred and little treats. They can be imprinted with your special message at a very economical price, or individual names can be printed on each cup with a paint pen. Stadium cups are terrific for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, especially for less formal Friday evening or luncheon parties.
BUBBLES – One of the most economical and fun favors we offer is a bottle of personalized bubbles. The label on bubbles can be imprinted with your theme or special design graphic, in your color of choice. The bubbles look great on tables as a stand-alone favor, or you can tie a piece of curling ribbon in an accent color to the neck of the bubbles. For more formal occasions, the bubbles are just as much fun and a great table accent when wrapped elegantly! Cut circles out of gossamer, netting or tulle (9″ in diameter). Place the bubbles in the center of the circle, wrap and tie with a 12″ length of thin satin ribbon or curling ribbon.
KEY TAGS – …theme specific, toys, imprintables, photo key tags…They look terrific as table accents when they are used as napkin holders. Your personal message, a theme tie-in, or your color theme can be echoed one more time in your decorating!
SPORTS FAVORS – Use our cheer phones, mini balls and pom poms on tables for a brilliant splash of color. These items make terrific favors for any party with a sports theme. The cheer phones or mini balls can be imprinted with a theme slogan or a special message, or they can be used as placecards. Print names on either favor with a paint pen, and place one at each place setting. Your guests will love it!
FAVOR BOXES – Favor boxes also provide an economical table accent. Boxes to complement different themes are scattered through our different stores, and we also offer boxes in our Wedding store. They can be filled with candy, mints, nuts or toy trinkets for each guest. If you are filling the boxes with candy, select candy in a color that complements the colors you will be using for your other decorations. To save money on the volume of treats you will need to fill each box, start by filling each box with some metallic shred or a little gossamer “puddle” in a coordinating color.