By Leslie Price, In Any Event
Whether I’m planning a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Wedding, my clients often ask how to incorporate the memory of a loved one at a party without seeming morbid and sad.
In fact, nearly every celebration I’ve ever planned has acknowledged and honored a relative who is no longer with us. The secret is to do it in a way that is joyful, not mournful.
If you plan to have a traditional candle lighting or montage, it’s an easy and obvious way to include someone in loving memory.
Here are 7 other ideas which are meaningful ways to acknowledge the loved one during a Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration:
1. Use Photos – As an alternative to photos of the Mitzvah child at the entrance or around cocktails, use old family photos which create a sense of heritage and belonging. Frame each photo and hang it as an art installation with a short description of who, what, where and when next to each. It also gives your guests something fun and interesting to look at and discuss during cocktails. You can also create a family time line by including photos of other relatives at their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and important family milestones.
If you can’t hang anything on the walls, use easels or consider digital photo frames on each table during cocktail hour with a slide show dedicated in loving memory. Add a card ‘In Loving Memory” with the name and relationship to the Mitzvah child. Group it in among other family photos to create more interest and reduce the ‘shrine’ effect. Perhaps even write a brief description of a favorite memory from one of the photos or a short letter which can be displayed along side the photo. If it’s celebratory, it’s not morbid.
2. Food and Drink – There are more subtle ways of infusing a loved one into the celebration; for instance, using a favorite recipe or drink in memory of a loved one, and mentioning it on the menu….
Grandpa Joe’s Filet Mignon
Served with shoe string French fries
Just the way he would have liked it
3. Favors – Recently, a client gave each guest a reusable bag with a mini challah, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla along with Bubby’s Famous French Toast recipe card and a short paragraph about Bubby. What a hit!
4. Printed Materials – In addition to menus and favors, you can mention a loved one in your Mitzvah program if you customize it (about $12 each at www.invitationsbyana.com).
This Mitzvah program above used the theme of a butterfly which was symbolic to the guest of honor
In the program, there is a section devoted to loving memory.
We remember with love, Grandpa Herbie,
who would have loved every minute of this day.
5. Donations – Another wonderful and meaningful way to acknowledge a loved one is to make a donation to their favorite charity or an organization which in some way relates to their memory. Attach a card which can be distributed to each guest, tastefully, with dessert.
In lieu of traditional favors, a donation has been made to Plant trees in Israel. Grandma Maddy would be very proud.
6. Momentos – Use an item from the deceased during the service whether it’s a talit, kiddush cup or a piece of jewelry, it’s a great way to honor their memory. (Try: OnceUponATallis)
7. No-No’s – While there’s no ‘wrong’ way to remember someone with love, there are two things to avoid at a party; empty chairs around a table and moments of silence — both are party killers. No one wants to be sad on a happy day.
We would like to thank Leslie for these great ideas. You can read more of her guest columns here: