My experience planning each bar and bat mitzvah is so different from one to the next. Each child is different, sometimes the themes are different, each family dynamics are different; however, there is one element that always stays the same. Regardless of whether the family is looking for a grand and elegant affair or a smaller kids party, the request I always hear across the board is, “We want this to be about the kids.” As a professional event planner, I couldn’t be in more agreement about that. It is a celebration for and about the child and he or she will have all of their social circle gathered around them.
So, are you now wondering how to get started? Here are my top five tips for a successfully planned bar/bat mitzvah:
1. My number one suggestion would be to hire a professional event planner to assist you. As an event planner, I of course feel that everyone can benefit from my services, although I certainly know that many parents choose to go it on their own with the help of family and friends. If you are on the fence about whether to hire a planner, I ask you, do you want to enjoy the event and not worry about anything or do you want to be the one carrying the event file and clipboard and organizing everyone on the event day? Trust me, knowing all of the fires I put out, I would advise that you enjoy the meaning of the event, your friends and family who have come to celebrate with you and get to experience it rather than take on the stress and worries. Do you want to be the one to make sure the DJ has arrived, the giveaways are unpacked, the tables are set up in the right place, the dance floor is clean, the timeline is following the right order throughout the night, and so on?
2. Whether you have decided to hire a professional to help with the planning or have decided to go it on your own, don’t get overwhelmed. Start with the big stuff first- Location, schedule, logistics, budget. I create a planning time table for all of my clients which outlines the planning priorities from the first month we start planning all the way through to the week of the mitzvah, in order of importance. This helps as a guide to keep them on track with order of priority, acts as a check list and helps to limit feeling overwhelmed by taking everything on at once.
3. Make the big decisions on your own as a parent, but ask your child for their input at some point. Most kids do want a voice when it comes to their special event. I intitially meet with the parents to find out their vision of what they want for the event and make sure all big “purchasing decisions” are approved by them before presenting them to the mitzvah child. Whether it be early on or midway through the planning, I like to interview the child to find out things about what he or she likes and doesn’t like as well as what they would like to include or not include. This can provide important information that sometimes even surprises the parents.
4. Engage the kids. I can’t stress this enough. Make sure the kids have something to do and proper supervision throughout the entire mitzvah day. It is a must to plan accordingly to what will keep those kids entertained, engaged and satisfied. After all, nobody wants to deal with a poorly planned party where 100 kids around the ages of 12-13 are running wild and free. Also, don’t forget about properly planning drop off and pick up of the kids. Make sure that is safe, organized and supervised.
5. Personalize your event. I don’t just mean branding either. Yes, for some mitzvahs we incorporate a logo, color scheme or theme, but what I mean by personalize is more about the overall vision and feeling. This should be established early on. Do you want a small intimate gathering that feels hamish and religious? Do you want a sophistcated party that appeals equally to adults? It is important to establish your priorities of what you want this to be for you, your family and most importantly the bar/bat mitzvah child and then work toward bringing that vision to life.