Did Our Parents Need a Bar Mitzvah Planning Guide?
Why is there so much more on our "To Do" list?
Modern Bar Mitzvah planning now includes thirteen things your parents did not have to do. If you had your Bar/Bat Mitzvah anytime before the 1980s, it was a fairly simple affair to plan. After receiving the date from the synagogue, all your parents had to do was book a party venue, hire a band, order the invitations and thank you cards, get flowers for centerpieces, and buy everyone new clothes and shoes. Little more was required.
Sometime during the Alexis Carrington Dynasty years on television, when excess became the norm, Bar Mitzvah parties started to become more elaborate. The focus started to shift from the service and moved to the party. While the pendulum is swinging back, there are still things that are now part of Bar Mitzvah planning that were not years ago.
Are all of the items on this list necessary? The answer is subjective, as it depends upon how much time you want to devote to planning and how much money is in your Bar Mitzvah budget.
Personalized Bar Mitzvah Stamps
Before the internet, your parents went to the post office and hoped they had a pretty stamp for the invitation they ordered. With the advent of Zazzle, parents can now create custom made stamps. You can choose from a design on the website or create your own using a picture of your son or daughter.
In order to make all guests feel included, especially those who are not Jewish, most synagogues require the family to create a booklet that describes the service. A template is provided, and parents need to fill out the pertinent information and have it run off. In the past, it was assumed that guests were Jewish and knew what was going to take place.
Hiring a Bus
After the service in the synagogue was over, children were rounded up in two's and three's and seated in the back of Uncle Morris and Aunt Sophie’s Cadillac so they could be driven to the party venue.
That no longer happens.
Today, parents are expected to higher a bus to transport their young guests to the party. For children who only invite a few friends, a limousine bus is hired for this task.
Hiring a DJ and More
Thirty years ago, hiring a five piece band to play music at the Bar Mitzvah party was commonplace and budget friendly. When professional DJs came along, they were able to play a bigger variety of music at a better price Nowadays, you’re not just hiring a professional DJ to play music. You also need to hire a master of ceremonies, as well as two or more dancers to help get the party going. A good DJ with enthusiastic dancers
Bar Mitzvah Giveaways
One of the jobs of the dancers you hire is to hand out giveaways. Children attending today’s parties are expecting goodies, like funky hats, blinking eyeglasses, inflatable guitars and sneakers. It isn’t enough anymore to just provide good music. Our parents did not have to plan and purchase Bar Mitzvah giveaways.
Bar Mitzvah Entertainment
Once upon a time, when your parents were creating your Bar Mitzvah plan, the band was the entertainment for everyone at the party. If the band was playing a slow song or taking a nostalgic trip back to the 1950’s, we would amuse ourselves. A favorite pastime was to make memory glasses. Using a party venue glass, swizzle sticks and matchbooks immersed in water, we would use candles to seal the top.
Most families now hire additional entertainment for their guests. Photo booths, photo giveaways, caricaturists, and face painters are just a few of the entertainers some parents add for their guests.
Sign in Board or Book
Wedding guest books have been around forever, but the Bat/Bat Mitzvah sign in board and guest book is something new. Sign in boards can simply be an enlarged poster sized photo of the child, or they can be more elaborate. Guests sign the picture and offer the child mazel tov and best wishes.
Other people choose to have a sign in book. Creative types can do this from scrapbook materials, while others use themed sign in books. Either one you choose, be sure to have plenty of pretty colored markers for guests to use.
Bar Mitzvah Theme
Adults over the age of 30 can remember a time when the Bar Mitzvah party was just that – a party. Now it is expected to have some kind of theme. Choosing your theme is huge, because so much of your Bar Mitzvah planning will revolve around it. Our parents did not have to do this, and as the adults, they never would’ve asked our opinion anywayParty Favors
In the past, no one had to buy Bar Mitzvah party favors. The fancy families would have Jordan almonds wrapped in tulle at every seat. Nowadays, parents have to plan on buying some kind of thank you gift for the guests who are children. Party favors can be T-shirts, water bottles, sweatpants, gumball machine, nylon sacks, or any other item that can be imprinted the child’s name and date of the event.
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A beautiful floral arrangement in the colors your parents selected used to be a sufficient centerpiece at each table. Because each party has a theme, the centerpiece is required to match it.
Table Seating Cards
When you hired a party venue in the past, they would give your parents those little foldable tent cards. Once again, because parties have themes, these table cards must now coordinate. For example, admission tickets can be used as a feeding card for an American Idol Bat Mitzvah theme or a sports Bar Mitzvah theme.
Because you never know when someone needs some dental floss or breath mint, many families are now creating bathroom baskets for the party venue. Be careful what you put in there, because many of the teens just take what you place in them.
Hotel Gift Bags
Families used to live near each other and visit often. Our modern society has family spread across the United States and even the world, guests are coming for the weekend and not just for the day. To make them feel welcome after traveling, parents planning the weekend provide hotel guests with gift bags filled with food and drink.
Creating a Bar Mitzvah plan with these thirteen things our parents did not have to do creates extra work for today’s families. Choosing which ones you want to use and which ones to omit will make planning yours easier on you.