By Ellen Malavsky
What to give as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift is probably one of the biggest decisions you have to make once that invitation arrives… well, that and what to wear. Should you give money or a gift? And if it’s a gift you choose, what will it be?
Sometimes it just feels right to give a gift to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah child rather than money. Of course gift giving is a very personal thing and there’s often some sentimentality to your choice of a present. It also requires extra thought. It’s nice to give such a gift when the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child is close to you and you want to give something that will make them think of you when they use it. My mother-in-law, for example, gave my sons laptops in time for the start of the school year before their Bar Mitzvahs. This was a great present because each had a brand-new laptop at the start of 7th grade. They even referred to them as the “laptop Grandma gave me.”
One of my sons also received a limited edition copy of his favorite book, The Alchemist, as a gift from a classmate along with a Barnes & Noble gift card. Another son received a basketball signed by his teammates in a plexi-glass case along with a framed team photo. The sentiment of these gifts remained long after the party was over.
The most unique gift one son received was the gift of an “experience.” These can come in many forms, such as tickets to a sports event, concert, amusement park or a Broadway show, a parachute jump, swimming with dolphins. It can be something for the child to do on their own, with a friend or even better, with the gift giver. My son received a hot air balloon ride and it was a one of the most memorable experiences of his life. You can be sure he will always remember who gave him that!
When giving gifts, the sky is the limit. You can go big or small, pair an actual present with a check or have it stand on its own. Here are a few ideas that we hope will inspire you:
A thoughtful and memorable way to celebrate this Jewish lifecycle event and create a lasting link with Israel is a Bar or Bat Mitzvah Certificate and Homeland Book from the Jewish National Fund. The child receives an attractive certificate and their name inscribed in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah book (Sefer Bar/Bat Mitzvah) in Jerusalem as well as a copy of the book, HOMELAND: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel. $30
Jewish National Fund’s Bar/bat Mitzvah Remembrance Wall adds meaning to this memorable occasion. Link the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child to a child who perished in the Holocaust by inscribing both of their names on JNF’s B’nai Mitzvah Wall located in Jerusalem’s American Independence Park. A glass tile is embedded into the wall with the date of the occasion, their names and hometowns. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah child receives a plaque certificate and knows that proceeds from this gift have gone to developing, maintaining and advancing JNF’s five Israel campsites allowing children to have a camping experience. $1,800
Personalized jewelry by ShameOnJane is a gift any Bat Mitzvah girl will love. They make custom necklaces, rings, charms and bracelets personalized with initials and symbols. Their on-trend designs are made from Sterling Silver, gold vermeil, leather and semi-precious stones. As seen on actresses like Kate Hudson and the cover of Seventeen magazine. Prices range from $28 for a charm to $120 and up for a necklace.
Here’s a perfect gift for one girl or boy to give to another. Megan Goldkamp Jewelry offers special Handwriting Signatures, necklaces, bracelets, keyrings, cuff links and tie bars engraved with the actual handwriting of the person who submits it. Have the message Mazel Tov Carly! engraved in your own handwriting or perhaps a BFF wants to convey a special message, code or favorite expression. $35 and up.
Watches are a popular and long-lasting Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift. We found a Hebrew Letters Watch by Adi from Your Holy Land Store. The Bar Mitzvah boy or girl can tell the time in style while expressing appreciation for the Hebrew language. Unisex watches are stainless steel with a gold plated finish and instead of numbers, Hebrew letters tell the time in a classic script. Made in Israel. $109.99
Is the star of the day truly a super hero? You Kick Ass creates original 3D printed action figure “Heros” personalized by the gift giver with everything from custom powers to a one-of-a-kind name. “Mitzvah Boy” perhaps? Or what about “Girl on Fire”? Get creative and give an awesome gift sure to be cherished. $59.99
What Bar/Bat Mitzvah kid doesn’t have a pile of treasured old t-shirts they just can’t bear to throw away? Campus Quilt is dedicated to turning them into lasting memories in the form of t-shirt quilts. This is a great idea for sports and school shirts and all those mitzvah favors collected over the years. Quilts vary from lap size up to king and can incorporate t-shirts, sweatshirts, ties, socks, hats, baby outfits, and any other memorable fabric. $129 and up.
Here’s a gift that’s actually three gifts in one. The Destiny Candle by Karen Michelle is an aromatic candle made with all natural ingredients. When melted down it becomes a luxurious body oil made of all natural ingredients and essential oils that you can safely use all over your skin. But wait; there’s more! Each candle has a real ring or earrings hidden inside, only revealed once you burn it down. The jewelry can be worth anywhere from $10 to $10,000. Prices for the candles range from $14.99 to $24.99.
For a gift that keeps on giving there is the Gift Card of the Month Club. The gift giver chooses the stores and the amount and the recipient does the shopping. There are hundreds of stores to choose from, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Barnes & Noble and iTunes, with a new shopping experience each month. Your personal message is included with each monthly shipment. $25 and up each month
JellyBean Arts elevates the common jellybean to an artistic medium, creating unique, one-of-a-kind mosaics, portraits, logos and landscapes for a truly one-of-a-kind gift. Limited only by imagination, each piece is painstakingly constructed using up to 10,000 jellybeans from a palette of 50-60 colors. Painterless painter, Sue Laufer, starts with a high-quality image and your choice of background to create a custom piece that’s “whimsical, larger-than-life, and sweet, of course!” Princes range from $2,000-$5,000
depending on the scope of the project.
Another interesting custom art piece perfect for giving is a personalized photographic mosaic available through NSR Creative. They create photo mosaics displaying hundreds of client-supplied photos that capture the Bar or Bat Mitzvah child’s personality. Each piece is finished with gallery quality mounting. Give a finished piece or a gift certificate for the child to create their own. Pricing is determined by the size of the final piece, number of photos and complexity of the “main picture.” The average price is typically $800 for a finished size of 20”x24”.
A fun and functional gift idea from Hammacher Schlemmer, is The Selfie Toaster. Anyone can take a selfie, but how about searing your image repeatedly on your morning toast. Now that’s unique. Submit a headshot of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah child to receive custom inserts for this two-slice toaster. As each slice of bread is toasted, a likeness of the image appears. This certainly makes clear ownership of your breakfast and think how cool your kid’s sandwiches will be in the lunchroom at school. $69.95
JellyBean Arts: firstname.lastname@example.org; jellybeanarts.com
NSR Creative: email@example.com; nsrcreative.com
Hammacher Schlemmer: 800-321-1484, hammacher.com/Product/87141
Jewish National Fund: 800-542-TREE (8733); jnf.org
Megan Goldkamp Jewelry: etsy.com
Your Holy Land Store: 716-418-8211, yourholylandstore.com
You Kick Ass: http://www.youkickass.com/
Campus Quilt: 800-880-8534; campusquilt.com
Destiny Candle: 855-557-5700; destinycandle.com
Gift Card of the Month: clubsgalore.com
This story is from the 2015 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy, click here.