Tag Archives: bar mitzvah video invitation

Bar mitzvah #2 in the books!

Hey kids– remember me??

It’s good to be back! I’m finally coming up for air after a few months of nuttiness. I like the full-time job but it’s kicking my ass– lots of hours and intense focus required. I was producing our local “Listen to Your Mother,” show in May, and Aden became a bar mitzvah this past weekend.

Lots of planning, hours on the computer, and stress. I’d like to say I took it well, but I was a frazzled mess for much of the last month. I’d work 10 hours a day and read emails on the train home.

Aden practicing torah reading with our cantor

Aden practicing torah reading with our cantor

After dinner and getting the kids to bed, I’d be up til the wee hours working on the bar mitzvah video invitation, montage, invite list, and general party planning.

The invitation came out great, thanks to Aden’s swagger. You can watch it here.

We’re taking a trip to Israel with two sets of grandparents and my cousin and her boyfriend in August to celebrate Aden’s bar mitzvah. We’re going for 10 days with a guide and chose lots of outdoorsy activities seeing animals and sights, which Aden should love.

Because of the trip, we were trying to keep the local celebration low-key. But all of our family is out-of-town so we knew we’d be hosting meals and events all weekend, and low-key is hard for me when it comes to parties.

I like things to look a certain way. I wanted the celebration to be personal and make Aden feel special, without the dancers and a photo booth.

Bar mitzvah logo on cake

Thanks to the one and only Able Baker for the delicious and beautiful cake!

I think we accomplished all of this, but it required a lot of work and angst to get there. I’m happy with how it all turned out. But let’s just say I needed the help of my dutiful mother,  a lot of friends, and Ambien. Even with the sleeping pill, I didn’t sleep more than 5-6 hours a night for weeks!

Aden was wonderful on the bimah, and our kiddush lunch was intimate and fun. We had some friends and family over for a backyard party Saturday night– which closely resembled a college keg party– and turned out to be one of the highlights of the weekend.

At the end of the day, of course it’s really about the people and love in the room and we are so lucky to have amazing friends and family to share in our pride and joy in Aden.

I’ll blog again when I get the official photographer’s pix– my one regret from the weekend is that I did not take one photo. ACK! I was trying to be ‘in the moment’ and too distracted by all the people and planning.

But my mom took a few at the kiddush during the speeches.

Bar mitzvah candle lighting

Bar mitzvah candle lighting

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my speech to Aden… who was poised and charming through it all. Unlike my other two boys, Aden doesn’t like so much attention– which is why we planned the Israel trip– but he rose to the occasion in a big way– rocking a bow tie.

Aden’s independent thinking and self-confidence from a very young age has always left me envious and made my heart swell with love and pride.
He’s a complicated dude.  

He’s quiet and poker faced… extremely sensitive, thoughtful and sweet. He can be icy cold and pissed off one minute, and hugging and kissing you an hour later. He is my most challenging child– often stubborn, sometimes obstinate– and yet I know with unshakable certainty that he’s the one who will take care of me when I’m old.
He’ll play NBA on PS 4 all day, and read poetry in bed at night. Aden can tell you more about the two-toed sloth than you ever needed to know and play you ”Ode to Joy” on his guitar.

He’s a talented athlete, but always takes the field or court on his own terms. He plays hard and as a pitcher and point guard, handles pressure with ease and grace. While he may be hard on himself at times, he always supports his teammates and cheers them on.

He’s our own little Renaissance Man.

Jand E gave a short congrats speech to Aden.

Jand E gave a short congrats speech to Aden.

One of the best parts of throwing a bar mitzvah and going through all the angst and stress is to celebrate your child at an important time in his life. We know who Aden is to us in our family, but now he’s a teenager and has his own place in the world and life outside of home that we sometimes know little about.
The teen years are a challenging time for kids – everyone’s trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.  I love the opportunity to take a moment to recognize every part of Aden and celebrate what makes him special to so many people here today.  

Anyone who’s planned one of these events knows how much time and energy it requires, and there may have been moments when I questioned why it’s necessary to have a big party to celebrate this milestone. 
But then I saw Aden on the bimah working with the rabbi and cantor, reading Hebrew– focused, committed and unafraid. I listened to the words of friends and family describing him for the montage: compassionate, smart, funny. I watched him try on a suit, choose a bow tie, lace up man shoes, and nod approvingly in the mirror. 
And I realized what we are celebrating is Aden growing, maturing, and becoming his own person. 

Today– at least in Jewish tradition– he became a man. I can’t wait to see what kind of man he’ll be. I feel so lucky to be a small part of this Renaissance Man’s journey. I hope he carries the sweetness of this day throughout his life….and I hope his confidence and talents help him realize all his dreams.”

Mazel tov kid!

Bar mitzvah planning tips that won’t break the bank

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.

Bar mitzvah video invitation

Bar mitzvah video invitation

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:

bar mitzvah logo

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.

Bar mitzvah logo rubber stamp for thank you notes


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.

Bar mitzvah creative favors

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!