By Gail Slogoff With Bethany Kandel
If you ask me about my Bat Mitzvah celebration (circa 1970’s), I can describe the dress that I wore in detail — floral Laura Ashley inspired beige and burgundy. I can recall the DJ — Purple Haze — and I can remember the food, especially the desserts that were served — cotton candy; a real out-of-the-box idea for that time period. But, if you ask me to recall what my sign-in board looked like or even where it is 30-plus years later… I have absolutely no idea. I imagine that it was probably thrown out years ago when my parents sold my childhood house after I graduated from high school.
Flash forward to January 5, 2013, and my son Zachary’s Bar Mitzvah. I really wanted to do something unique for his sign-in that would not only celebrate the occasion, but also give him something useful that he would cherish. I decided that a quilt made of his favorite t-shirts would be the perfect memory saver. In it I also incorporated several pieces of baby clothing that I had saved, including the onesie he was given at birth at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. At his celebration, friends and relatives wrote their Mazel Tov wishes on the back of the quilt using fabric markers and now Zach has a lasting reminder of that night that he sees daily since it sits on the end of his bed.
(Pictured above: Zachary’s t-shirt quilt)
Sign-ins have long been a way to give guests a chance to leave a heartfelt note for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah child, but they keep evolving. While the traditional boards are certainly one option, and can be a way to display some beautiful photos of your child, there are many other creative ways to showcase your child’s interests, personality and style, inject some fun into the décor, extend the party’s theme or add some “wow” factor. The bottom line is to try to find something that will be both decorative and worth saving over the years to memorialize the event and won’t end up hidden away in the basement or
worse, in the garbage, says Melisa Imberman of The Event of a Lifetime, Inc. “I usually recommend something you can somehow put to use after the party,” she says, like mirrors or pillows. “They’re functional and don’t take up much space.”
The Pieced Palette offers giant floor pillows or 37” beanbags that can be imprinted all over with your child’s logo or name
and covered with messages from your guests. “Afterwards, it becomes a piece of furniture,” says company owner Jane Sheinfeld. “It’s a great place to sit and play video games or hang out and it actually means something to you.”
Sign-in pillow from The Pieced Palette
Sign-in beanbag from The Pieced Palette
BJ Boyd often recommends a photo booth album to her clients at Parties! Rare to Well Done, which combines an activity, a favor and a sign-in all in one. “For every picture taken we print out an extra that the attendant pastes into a book,” she explains. Then the guests sign next to their pictures. “That’s worth keeping,” she says. “It’s easy to store and years from now it’s going to be cool to see what that person looked like the day of your party.”
Sign-in mirror from Parties! Rare to Well Done
Photo Credit: Creative Photography by Maya
Here are some hot trends to inspire you and take you way beyond the traditional guest book of days long gone:
Here’s a digital twist on the photo/sign-in book that’s also a great cocktail party activity; the iSign® Guestbook from Simon Elliot Events. It all starts at the iSign® kiosk where guests sign or write a message in their own handwriting on a tablet with the special iSign® App, choosing ink colors and custom backgrounds that can be tailored to your event. A professional photographer takes each guest’s photo and then the messages and pictures are transmitted wirelessly to a LED screen for everyone to see. One month after your party you receive a customized hardcover keepsake book with all the images and greetings on personalized pages as a great reminder of your special event. It also comes with a disc containing all of the messages in digital format for emailing to family and friends.
The iSign Guestbook by Simon Elliot Events
Here’s where you can really get creative. Almost anything and everything can be turned into a guest sign-in. Sports jerseys,
guitars, camp trunks…the list goes on and on. Does your daughter have a passion for fashion? Consider having everyone sign a plain white dressmaker’s mannequin that can serve double duty if she’s into sewing her wardrobe. Have a world
traveler? Sign a globe. A mirror is a great sign-in (but note, Sharpies smudge; you need to use paint pens). Be sure to cover a section in the middle with tape if you want a clean area to remain so the mirror is still functional when it’s hung in your child’s room. How about just using your child’s initials? Head to a craft store and buy a giant wooden letter (or several for their first, middle and last names); spray paint them to match your color theme and hand out the pens. These make a fun wall hanging when the party’s over.
Or, consider using something from your child’s own room, says Imberman. Turn a young musician’s plain black music stand, a desk chair, bookcase or even their bedroom door into a sign-in prop. Since 2008 when MitzvahMarket.com suggested using a child’s own closet door as a creative sign-in board, hundreds of kids have taken the suggestion. Simply unhinge your child’s door and deliver it to your venue. Have family and friends sign and tag it; return it home and rehang. Permanent memories! For those who aren’t so good with tools, the custom painted children’s lockers offered by Airgraphics Entertainment are one of the hot trends in sign-ins. The lockers are available in 11 colors and can be painted with cool graphics before being delivered to your venue.
Sports items are always popular sign-ins. Skis, surfboards, giant tennis balls…you name it; if there’s a sports activity there is likely a Bar/Bat Mitzvah theme and a related sign-in. The bigger, the better. A snowboard has more surface area to sign than a skateboard, but even a basketball works; everyone just has to write a little smaller. And most party planners can have your logo or name airbrushed on almost anything. These items can be displayed in your room afterwards or used, especially if it’s something like a basketball backboard or even a ping-pong table that’s truly functional.
Do kids today actually know what a typewriter is? For a retro look, why not stick a typed note in a vintage typewriter that says, “Please sign our guestbook.” Guests can practice their QWERTY typing skills as they type their notes onto colorful cards which can later be placed into a book. Other fun ways to leave lasting messages or well wishes is on smooth rocks, in colorful envelopes, even written on Jenga game pieces. These can be displayed in a glass bowl at home; perfect to peruse when your child is looking for love and inspiration. So let your creative juices flow as you decide on your own unique way to keep the memories of this milestone alive. The sky is certainly the limit.
Does your child want to help others through their sign-in? There is a way with The Adaptive Design Association’s Kids
For Kids Mitzvah Project. For a $300 donation to the ADA, you get a custom chair made of super strong cardboard,
primed and painted and ready to be decorated by you and your guests. After the party, the chair becomes both a
lasting memory and a useful piece of furniture. All proceeds go right back into building custom adaptations for children
with disabilities. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-904-1200.
The Adaptive Design Association Chair
Airgraphics Entertainment: www.airgraphics.biz, 973-247-1844
Simon Elliot Events: www.simonelliotevents.com, 516-586-6822
The Event of a Lifetime, Inc.: www.theeventofalifetime.com, 914-762-5770
Parties! Rare to Well Done: www.partiesraretowelldone.com, 267-312-1990
The Pieced Palette: www.thepiecedpalette.com, 914-420-1746
Adaptive Design Association: www.adaptivedesign.org, 212-904-1200
This story is from the new 2014 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy, click here.