When a Jewish child enters adulthood, there is usually a celebration otherwise known as a ‘Bar Mitzvah’ planned by the child’s family, where friends, family, and members of the Jewish community come together to commemorate this milestone in the child’s life.
Many families hire vendors to execute the party in an effort to bring their vision of an energetic party filled with laughs and love to life. Entertainment Exchange has had the honor of providing various forms of entertainment for hundreds of bat/bar mitzvahs over the years, and we picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. If you are planning a bat/bar mitzvah, keep reading to grab nine tips to celebrate your child’s bat/bar mitzvah.
Choose Your Date Early
The first tip in planning a successful bat/bar mitzvah is to choose the date for your event early. In most cases, the date for your bat/bar mitzvah will coincide with your child’s birthday. Most parents choose a party date within a week of the child’s actual birthday. Knowing your child’s birthday gives you a head start on researching venues to secure a location within that week. You can choose a date, but until you secure a venue, you are taking a considerable risk of not having a place to host your event, which brings us to the next tip – book your venue.
Book Your Venue
Without a venue, you cannot do much planning because you must remember – if you are hosting the event at a local or regional venue, you are competing with other parents who may be planning a bat/bar mitzvah within the same timeframe. In addition to competing with other parents planning bat/bar mitzvahs, you compete with couples who want to plan their weddings on the exact dates at some of the same venues.
Another factor to consider is that you cannot book other vendors, like caterers and entertainers, without securing a date. Popular vendors are booked years in advance and will not hold unsecured dates for you, at least not for long. Pick the range of your party date (within a week of your child’s birthday) and find a venue as soon as possible.
Are you having trouble with finding a venue? We suggest starting within your community and asking other parents about locations they used or were interested in using for their child’s bat/bar mitzvah. You can also reach out to your local community centers and church to gather information about the best venues in your city.
If you plan to have a large crowd, you may have to host the party at a larger venue, and we recommend hiring an event or wedding planner to help you coordinate everything. There are several elements to planning a party with a large group of people, and it is always best to enlist help when you can, as early as you can.
Pick a Theme
While most bat/bar mitzvahs have very traditional elements incorporated into the event, some families and their children are choosing to integrate fun or less traditional themes into their parties as well. Some families opt to find a theme that is meaningful to their child. Maybe your child loves traveling or a specific book series and wants to give guests parting gifts that go along with that theme. The options are limitless. You can use a platform like Pinterest to gather ideas.
Pick out Décor
After you have a theme set, you can begin to look into décor that aligns with your theme. Before buying anything, ask the venue whether they have décor available for rental first. This may be easier than finding decorations online or in the store, especially if the venue has already been accustomed to using specific materials. For instance, if unique candles, drapes, chairs, and tables are available throughout the venue, it would be wise to use those rental items first since you know they will likely fit/work properly within that specific space. Asking family and friends about decoration recommendations is a great option as well. Parents who have already been through the process can share a few do’s and don’ts for finding and budgeting for decorations.
Another option is to use the venue’s “Preferred Vendors List,” a list created by the venue that highlights their favorite vendors from past experiences. If you need to find décor, you can ask the venue to share their Preferred Vendors List and choose a decorator from that list.
Entertainment Exchange is often added to Preferred Vendors lists, which demonstrates a high level of professionalism and successful execution of services and lets potential clients know that we have experience working within the venue and can abide by any guidelines, restrictions, and challenges the venue may currently have. For instance, if you host your bat/bar mitzvah in a venue located in a busy city downtown, parking may not be as easily accessible for vendors and attendees. A decorator who is also preferred vendors will know this information in advance and build concessions to accommodate loading in the decorations or arrive early to find parking. A decorator from the Preferred Vendors List will also be familiar with the venue’s layout and will support you in finding decorations that work best for the space.
Create the Menu
Food is a central focal point at any event, and after investing so much time, energy, and money into your bat/bar mitzvah, it would be frustrating to have underwhelming menu options for guests. We recommend enlisting the help of a professional catering company to provide the food for your event. Here are a few Bar & Bat Mitzvah Food Idea tips from PartySlate.com:
- Start by devising the perfect cocktail hour menu. Kid-friendly appetizers, such as sliders, pigs in a blanket, and mozzarella sticks, are always beloved choices. At the same time, sushi bars, taco stations, and even mini grilled cheese and tomato soup hors d’oeuvres are wow-worthy options.
- Creatively incorporate your theme and décor into your event’s food and beverages. Use custom signage to indicate specialty cocktails and match the hue of drinks to the party’s color palette. For kid-friendly drinks, you can opt for creative mocktails, or offer delectable milkshakes and festive lemonades with LED-lit ice cubes.
- Build a stunning buffet for all to enjoy at their pleasure, or a luxurious coursed-out meal for adults. We love the popular trend of bringing food trucks to your affair. Late-night snacks from hot dog carts to popcorn stations keep the party going and people happy.
- Other food displays can be created for an on-theme experience. For example, a s’mores bar is the perfect addition to a camp-themed Mitzvah, while a sushi bar adds to an under the sea affair. Wow guests and tastebuds with food and drink inspiration found in this gallery, and build your dream menu with chefs and catering companies behind the creative cuisine.
Now that you’ve secured the date, venue, theme, decorations, and food, you can move on to hiring entertainment. We know a thing or two about entertainment options for a bat/bar mitzvah, and while you can opt for a multi-entertainer event, music is usually where most clients start. You may be deciding between choosing a band or DJ for your event, and there are several factors to consider for both types of music options. To start, your budget and venue space will dictate whether it is best to house a band or DJ. You may also need to consider hiring a musician to play during transitional elements of the day, like a cocktail hour or at the night’s end, as guests are leaving the venue space. If you want to hire musicians and have additional entertainment like a comedian or dance troupe, you may not know where to start in finding these types of performers. Knowing all of these things, your best bet is to hire a professional booking agent to help you navigate that process.
Why do we suggest a booking agent? There are several reasons:
- A booking agent is familiar with all types of entertainment acts and can help you find the best entertainers for your event.
- A booking agent can work with you to book the best entertainment within your budget.
- A booking agent can offer you discounted rates if you book more than one act or bundle additional services like A/V and lighting services.
Do your best to reach out to professionals early to get support during the planning process. It will work in your favor.
Choose A Photographer
You may be tempted to try to take photos with a smartphone or rent a standing photo booth, but we recommend hiring a professional to capture this special day. Professional photographers know what moments to capture, and they allow you time to focus on enjoying your loved ones instead of looking for angles.
We are not against photobooths; they are a great addition to your photographer and can serve as a way to make guests feel comfortable and engaged; we just recommend having both a photographer and photo booth operator if you can afford to do so.
Send Your Invitations
You have the perfect day planned, and now it is time to let everyone know. Send your invitations at least three months in advance. We recommend sending a “Save the Date” invite when your venue is locked in. A Save the Date may not include all of the details of your event, but it allows people to keep the date on their calendar and begin to plan for travel if needed. Send the Save the Date at least six months in advance. Check out these bat/bar mitzvah invitation ideas for etiquette, wording, and guestlists.
Plan The Candle Lighting Ceremony
The candle lighting ceremony is very special and sacred. Some families opt to make the ceremony very simple; however, as time has progressed, Jewish families and bat/bar mitzvah planners have started to take the display and overall ceremony to a new level. Here are a few of our favorite displays, and you can visit Mitzvah Market to get ideas for your display.
Secure Party Favors & Gifts
As your final gesture, you can give gifts to your guests to show your appreciation for their attendance and support. You can buy personalized or monogrammed bags and fill them with candy, candles, gift cards, and a handwritten “thank you” card. Most of the time, guests appreciate the thoughtfulness and aren’t looking for you to break the bank on a parting gift, especially after having already hosted the entire event. Just offer something sweet, thoughtful, and memorable.