As I mentioned in my last post, my oldest son, Jacob’s bar mitzvah was last weekend. Planning was daunting so I thought I’d offer some ideas I learned along the way to help anyone planning a bar mitzvah or other big event without a big budget.
My first piece of advice is to think outside the box when approaching planning. There can be pressure to “keep up with the Schwartzes” and do things just because you’ve seen everyone else following suit.
Resist the urge!
The purpose of the day is to celebrate your child so I tried to focus on the meaning of the milestone and making it personal. I also needed to find ways to save money so that can also inspire creativity.
The invite sets the tone for the event. Printed stationary can be expensive, not to mention, calligraphy and postage. I decided I wanted to do an e-vite but with a twist. PaperlessPost.com has beautiful invitations that are free for basic options, or very inexpensive for upgrades. We had no problems gathering our guests’ email addresses, the site efficiently tracks RSVP’s, plus it’s the greenest way to go.
Keeping it personal, I created a PP evite and added a link to a video invite, starring Jacob. There were some invitees who had never attended a bar mitzvah so I saw this as an opportunity to educate people about the history and meaning of the ceremony. It was also a window into what Jacob’s all about. Writing and shooting the video zapped a lot of my time but it was well worth the effort. My amazingly talented friend, Amy– who has a video montage editing business– put it together and added some funny and clever touches that made it a hit.
You can watch it here. My favorite part is the surprise movie homage at the end!
Even if you don’t have the time or resources to do this type of video, you can shoot video on an iPad or even smart phone these days. Come up with something simple that suits your kid, sends a message, and makes people laugh.
I wanted to make a logo for the party that would tie things together and say what the day meant to us. You might be able to make one yourself but art is not my strength so I researched designs online and had a graphic artist create our logo with words that summed up what the party was about:
I worked that logo baby. Knowing I would have paper goods instead of fine china and silverware at our Kiddush lunch and evening party, I ordered paper napkins with the logo from partyinnovations.com. I also made logo stickers, which I used on hotel gift bags for relatives, decorations, and favor bags for kids. I even put the logo on a $15 rubber stamp on rubberstamps.net and used it in several places, including personalizing thank you notes.
Is a logo necessary? Of course not! But it added a personal touch to the party that made it special, and doing it yourself can save money on customized items.
Many hosts give out sweatshirts, jerseys, and t-shirts as favors for bar mitzvah parties, which are always popular with the kids. But how many hoodies and pj pants does a kid need?
We decided to change it up on favors and do a mitzvah (good deed) as a way to mark the joy of the day. Each kid received a $10 gift card to CharityChoice, which they can use to donate to any of the 250 charities the organization supports. Jacob appreciated the idea, but also wanted to give the kids something fun, so we compromised and also gave out a personalized zip drive with a recorded voice intro by Jacob and 15 of his favorite songs for kids to download.
I hope the kids liked the favors as much as we enjoyed giving them, even if they couldn’t wear them to school on Monday.
Perhaps some of these bar mitzvah planning tips inspired your own ideas. I’m working on one more post this week on decorating …and then I’ll shut up about it!
I’d love to hear any of your party ideas or questions in the comments. I have two more boys to go (2016 and 2019!) so brainstorming is always welcome!