The bar mitzvah is a time of great occasion in the life of a young man. It marks a boy’s passage into adulthood, and his family and community’s recognition that he is becoming a man. It is a solemn occasion, but it is also a time of great celebration. Family and members of the congregation gather to celebrate this milestone in a young man’s life. Over the years, traditional bar mitzvah festivities have become large parties, with the guest list including both Jew and gentile. It is not unusual for a bar mitzvah celebration to include not only family, but neighbors, school friends and important members of the local Jewish community.
When it comes time to plan a bar mitzvah celebration for your child, there is a much to consider. But by planning early, and making a few key decisions, you can celebrate this momentous occasion in style, and throw a bar mitzvah party the will not soon be forgotten.
The key to any celebration, not just a bar mitzvah party, is early planning. Set the date for your party well in advance to give yourself plenty of time to secure an event venue, to send out invitations and hire catering staff. One of the first considerations when planning a bar mitzvah party, is to decide who you will be inviting. Your guest list will largely determine the size of venue you need, and the kind of catering you will want. For example, if you are keeping the party small, and only inviting the family, and members of the synagogue, you will want a smaller venue and you will need to keep your catering kosher. On the other hand, if you plan to invite guests outside of the faith, such as neighbors and your son’s school friends, you may want a larger hall and a caterer that can provide both kosher and non-kosher menus.
Setting a Budget
Early planning also allows you to set a fixed budget, and gives you time to make changes to your party plans in order to avoid any ballooning costs. When deciding on a budget for your bar mitzvah party, consider the following:
- Number of Guests
- Venue Costs
- Catering Costs
- Cost for Entertainment
Choosing a Venue
The choice of venue for your party will be largely determined by the number of guests attending. If you are planning a large celebration, with a great number of guests, you will obviously need a larger event space. When choosing a venue for your bar mitzvah party, it is also important to be guided by your guest list. If it is a fairly solid mix of adults and teenagers, you may want to consider a venue that offers an adjacent room for the adults to retire to for cocktails and conversation while the teenagers are enjoying the entertainment. This allows both the teenagers and the adults to enjoy themselves to the fullest.
As you consider different event spaces, take the time to visit them in person. This will allow you to get a feel for the premises, and to assure yourself that they are well maintained and offer all of the necessary amenities. A good venue should offer adequate parking facilities, clean restrooms, and accommodations for any disabled guests. The venue should also be able to provide all of the tables and seating you will require, as well as any necessary audio/visual equipment for the night’s entertainment.
Again, catering decisions will be largely based on your guest list. Depending on who you have invited, you may want to keep the food entirely kosher, or go for a mixture of kosher and non-kosher delicacies. Having said that, a bar mitzvah party is a wonderful way to introduce your non-Jewish friends to kosher family favorites. As you scout out locations for your party, inquire as to the availability of an on-site catering service. Having all of your services bundled together can make planning a party much easier, and can often save you money in the long run.
The caterers should be able to accommodate all of your refreshment needs, including hors d’oeuvres, main courses, and deserts. You will want to be sure that they understand the importance of keeping kosher, and that they are able to produce any specialties you specifically want to offer at the party. The on-site caterer should be able to provide a tasting menu for you to sample before deciding on your final selections. Your caterer should also be prepared to provide staff for both service and clean-up. If you are considering an open bar for your adult guests, you will want to check with the caterer and the venue to be sure they are licensed to serve alcohol.
A bar mitzvah is a time of great celebration in the family and the Jewish community. It is a time to come together and recognize the passage into manhood of a cherished son. With the proper planning, and with the right venue and caterer, your bar mitzvah celebration will also be a party no one will soon forget.