Mitzvah Market Magazine: Moms Tell All

Mitzvah Market Magazine: Moms Tell All

Preparing for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a lot of work for both the child, who is learning to read Torah, and the parents, who are designing a celebration of the event. But there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to party planning. You can always get some great advice from others who have been there/done that. Check out our Mitzvah Market regional Facebook groups for tips from others in your community or general advice from those with experience.

Here are some of our favorite tips from our Mitzvah Moms about what’s important and what’s not:

Give A Gift With Meaning
Every time I give a Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift I also include a blank check for $50 for the child to send to a charity of their choosing. This way they get to think about donating to a cause that means something to them. One girl gave it to an organization that was fundraising for a disease that one of her friends was fighting and another boy gave it to a breast cancer charity in honor of his mother. The kids get so many gifts. They appreciate this because it makes them think a little. It’s a lot better than me saying: ‘I made a donation to a cause I care about’ in their name. Why not let them choose? After all, that’s what becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is all about.
– Donna Bernstein

Get Organized
I know it’s a Mitzvah Market thing itself…but the Mitzvah Organizer was the best tool/purchase I made. I used it for both my kids. That, and starting thank you notes as soon as they begin receiving gifts. Finish all those before the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and then all they have to worry about are the ones from the weekend.
– Dorey Krinsky Kappel

Make Memories
Looking back to my kids’ B’nai Mitzvah (they are boy and girl twins), there are not many regrets that come to mind. It was a joyous service and celebration. The one thing I can tell families is to stick to what is good for you and your kids. Do not feel pressure to do anything out of your comfort zone, financially or otherwise. Our culture puts a lot of pressure on us not only to keep up, but to surpass everyone else with whatever we are doing. When it is all said and done, it is you, your kids and your bank account. And the most important memories will not revolve around how much money you spent on centerpieces.
– Kori Rehfield

Be Your Own Trendsetter
Don’t let the latest trends sway your budget or you/your child’s taste and/or comfort level.
– Robin Hochroth

Make The Party About Your Child
Make sure the party is all about your child, not just what the parents want. My sister hated her Bat Mitzvah because it was more like my mom wanted to make a party and invite all her friends instead of a celebration of my sister and what and who she liked. Use your child’s interests and hobbies to make it their special day. If your child is very shy, they may not like a big party. If your child is very artistic, use one of their drawings on the invitation. It personalizes it and makes the kid feel great because it’s really all about them and their talents.
– Leora Lambert

Do What’s Meaningful For Your Family
I highly recommend the Monday morning Bar or Bat Mitzvah; shorter service, none of the Shabbat restrictions. Serve brunch to everybody; go home. Keep your eye on what is important about the event for your family. Is it about the religious observance? Is it about being with your family? Is it about sharing with as many people as you can, or just with a few close friends and family? That is the place to start planning. If you are unsure that something is necessary (band, photo booth, benchers, party favors, inviting coworkers, whatever…) then it’s probably not. Take a lot of pictures.
– Lynn Cohen Berman

Create A Timeline
Work with your DJ and/or party planner to create an event timeline and give it to all your vendors so everyone is on the same page. This way the DJ knows when to play quieter music during the meal and when to rev things up. The caterer knows when to wheel out the cake, etc. It will make the whole event go smoothly.
– Rachel Fishbein

Celebrate The Inner Journey
Keep directing the Bar/Bat Mitzvah to their inner journey, what’s meaningful to them, while setting specific times to learn together, using the Torah or some other touchstone, as it will relate to the big day. It’s not just a party, but a time to grow and bond.
– Sheila Kaufman-Lewis

Hire A Helper
I wish I had hired someone to help me with the details on the day of the event. Someone who could make sure the centerpieces were straight, collect gifts, ask the DJ to play certain songs, etc. Not a party planner, just another helping hand. Even an organized college student would work.
– Jennifer Unter

Be Prepared
Have the tips and payments ready to go and labeled in envelopes before the day starts.
– Michele Erenfryd Minick

Get Your Child Involved
Ask your kid about all aspects of the service and party. A whole year before the big day, we sat down and discussed whether he just wanted an aliyah, or if he wanted to prepare to read from the Torah. Once he said he wanted to read from the Torah, we discussed how much he was going to read. He also said he wanted to give a speech in front of the extended family on Friday night, rather than before the entire congregation the following day. We made a plan for how he would prepare the reading and the speech, and he stuck to it. Also, I narrowed down the invitation selection to three, then showed those to him. He picked the one he liked best. Ask them what foods they want served at lunch or kiddush. When we called the caterer, they had several selections for the package we purchased. We ran the dishes by our son, and he let us know which items he and his friends would enjoy the most. When it came to the cake, he had a particular flavor combination that he wanted quite badly. The more affordable bakeries did not offer either the icing flavor or the cake flavor he wanted, so we asked him if he wanted to serve pastries instead, and which ones. We asked his feedback on other aspects of the Bar Mitzvah, too. It’s important to ask your child and get their input. Becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah means they are taking responsibility for their spiritual life. If we plan and execute every detail of their lives for them, how will they learn to take responsibility? Also, preparing to read Torah, lead part of a service, speak in front of people, learning the obligations of adult Jews — these are all tasks that require time and effort from them. If they help decide what they want the final product to look like, kids are more willing to spend the time and effort on making it a reality.
– Rebecca Klempner

Plan Your Photos
Give the photographer a list of photos to be sure to take. We never got a great family photo with the four of us because we were so busy making sure our daughter was photographed with everyone else.
– Jane Hiriam

Enjoy The Moment
Take a minute or two to stand in the back of the room and take it all in. Look at your child, friends, and family and enjoy the moment. It goes by very quickly!
– Mindy J. Schmidt

Make It About Your Child
#1: It shouldn’t be all about the party. #2: The party should be all about them…a party for them and their friends, not a big dinner dance for all the parents’ friends.
– Keren David

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