How to Plan the Best Bar/Bat Mitzvah, According to Teens | MitzvahMarket | MitzvahMarket

How to Plan the Best Bar/Bat Mitzvah, According to Teens

How to Plan the Best Bar/Bat Mitzvah, According to Teens

By Vered Ornstein

This past week, I spent some time at Camp Ramah in New England, a Jewish sleepaway camp in Central Massachusetts. In between their daily electives, meeting new friends, and settling in for the summer, I was able to sit down with about thirty campers to discuss all things bar and bat mitzvah parties. Over the course of our time together, I uncovered some revealing trends, regrets, and likes and dislikes of teens who were either in the process of planning a party or had celebrated their b’nai mitzvah in recent years. Below are some bar and bat mitzvah party elements preferred by today’s teens, direct from the sources themselves!

Diversify Your Activities

Across the board, the teens that I spoke to agreed that having a variety of activities available at a party was essential to keeping guests happy and engaged. “A good b’nai mitzvah party needs dancing but also something to take a break with…You just need one stand out activity, like an arcade or table games,” one interviewee reported.  Ideas thrown out for alternative activities included classic party games (90% of campers interviewed said they felt playing Coke & Pepsi was a must!), a photo montage halfway through the night, or booking the party at a venue like a park or garden that has outdoor space to walk and lounge in.

One teen relayed that he incorporated his mitzvah project into his party by having dancing in one room and allowing guests to pack meal donations for his local food bank in the next room. This not only gave guests a chance to take a break from the loud music and dancing, but was also a fun and unifying way to do acts of charity and kindness. “That’s really what a bar mitzvah is all about,” he noted.

Teens had mixed opinions about the role of party DJs at their bar and bat mitzvahs. One remembered that her DJ’s team gave out raffle tickets to guests who participated in dancing and party games, which kept the dance floor active and exciting. On the other hand, there was a consensus among the teens that a bar mitzvah DJ should be fair when judging games, and they agreed that rigging games in the bar/bat mitzvah kid’s favor does not usually go over well with guests. These are small details that are important to keep in mind when hiring and communicating with your DJ.

Dos and Don’ts for Parents

While parents work tirelessly to plan and execute the perfect party for their teens, it’s important to remember that it’s the child’s big day, not the parents’. “I feel like some parents throw parties to impress their friends, not for the kid’s benefit,” said one teen. This sentiment seemed to resonate with other teens I interviewed, who shared their experiences in making their party feel like their own. One camper reported hosting two smaller parties rather than one large one, with one being geared towards kids and the other catering more to her parents and their friends. Some shared that they steered clear of dance or banquet hall parties, opting instead for parties that featured laser tag, paintball, or other such kid-centric activities.

Other party elements that parents often prefer were found to be unpopular among former bar and bat mitzvah kids. Many teens surveyed said they didn’t like the restrictive nature of assigned seating, and 100% of those surveyed said they found formal sit-down meals to be unnecessary. Finally, a handful of campers offered up that they felt the presence of alcohol or an open bar at their party was inappropriate or otherwise made them uncomfortable. 

While of course a bar or bat mitzvah is a day for parents to celebrate their child’s achievements and growth, it is important to always acknowledge the teen’s wishes and wants in the party planning process!

Tips for Other Teens

Finally, over the course of our time together, the campers dropped pieces of advice for any soon-to-be bar or bat mitzvah kids. A sentiment commonly shared was that it can often feel hard to have fun at one’s own party when there is pressure to ensure that all guests are having a good time. While it can feel overwhelming hosting a party and bringing together friends from different parts of life, teens told me that it was also the most fun and rewarding part of their party. “At your bar [or bat] mitzvah, don’t pick favorites,” one teen said. “Remember that it’s your party. Focus on yourself and on having fun.”

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