In order to make your son or daughter’s bar/bat mitzvah celebration successful and meaningful, consider doing the following: contact your temple, determine if you need an event organizer, set the date and time, decide on your budget and guests, choose a theme, let your child decide a bar/bat mitzvah project, choose and book service providers, make a detailed guest list, order invitations and other personalized items, inform out-of-town guests ahead of time, decide on the details of the celebration, follow-up your son’s progress, confirm with venue and other booked service providers, confirm guest, and give final instructions to everybody.
A successful bar/bat mitzvah takes even more than a year of preparation and organization. As important as a wedding celebration and other big events, a bar/bat mitzvah involves many considerations. To help you successfully plan from start to finish, consider the following:
Contact your temple
The first thing you need to do when planning for your son or daughter’s bar/bat mitzvah is to visit your temple or synagogue as early as three years before the child’s important celebration. You need to understand the religious proceedings of bar/bat mitzvah, including the time required for preparing the child for such a celebration. The child usually takes lessons in the temple a year before his/her bar/bat mitzvah.
Determine if you need an event organizer
Especially when planning for an elaborate bar/bat mitzvah and you have the budget, you may want to consider hiring an event organizer who can look for service providers, great venues, and help you plan a unique and memorable bar/bat mitzvah for your son or daughter. However, if your budget is limited and you are planning for a simple celebration, you can always do the planning yourself and trust in your capabilities.
Set the date and time
In setting the date, you need to coordinate with your rabbi in advance to see if there is a Torah service on your son's 13th birthday. You also need to set the time of the religious ceremony and the reception that follows, since you will be giving out invitations for your guests.
Decide on your budget and guests
Budget is a very important factor to consider in celebrating your child’s bar/bat mitzvah. You have to list down all the accounts that you need to spend on, such as the venue, meals, decorators, musicians, photographers, invitations, transportation of guests, accommodation for out-of-town guests, party favors, and other things needed for the celebration. Decide who you will invite and estimate the number of guests so you have an idea of how much to spend. You will need to plan your budget and include things like the food, invitations, and party favors.
Choose a theme
There are a lot of themes to choose from to make your child’s bar/bat mitzvah memorable. Whether your theme is sports related, all about dance, Hawaiian, or the movies, the important thing is that it focus on your child. Make sure to include your son or daughter in planning for a theme to make the celebration more enjoyable and unforgettable for him or her.
Let your child decide a bar/bat mitzvah project
Help your child decide on a community service or bar/bat mitzvah project. It is common for many bar/bat mitzvah celebrations to include a charity or “tzadakah” project to make the celebration not only meaningful, but also helpful to those in need.
Choose and book service providers
Next, you need to look for a great place fit for the celebration. It can be a function room in your temple, in a hotel, in a restaurant, or in other possible venues. Book as early as one year ahead of the event to secure your reservation of the venue. You also need to select and book other service providers for your child’s bar/bat mitzvah, including caterers, decorators, photographers, videographers, and entertainers. The best way to look for all of them is to ask for recommendations from close family and friends, as well as feedback from other clients.
Make a detailed guest list
Since you already have an idea of who you will invite for the celebration, make a detailed guest list. This list can be helpful when ordering invitations and other personalized items. It can also help you adjust your budget especially when it comes to meals and help you determine other party details, such as venue seating arrangements and candle-lighting ceremony participants.
Order invitations and other personalized items
As early as six months before your child’s bar/bat mitzvah, you can start working on the details of your invitations, as well as other personalized items for the celebration, such as paper napkins and thank you cards. You can choose the style of these personalized items from among the samples of your supplier or formulate your own design according to your theme. Order them as soon as you have finalized the details in order to allow enough time for proof-reading and alterations. Make sure the invitations will be ready for delivery two months before the event. If you prefer, you can also order personalized yarmulkes or thin skullcaps.
Inform out-of-town guests ahead of time
Before you start giving out the invitations, you may inform your out-of-town guests about the celebration, especially your close relatives and friends. This will give them enough time to decide and plan for the special event. Advise them to give you response as soon as possible to help you finalize some details of your child’s bar/bat mitzvah and so you can arrange for their accommodations.
Decide on the details of the celebration
As the celebration draws near, you can start deciding on its details. For the venue, you can choose the centerpieces you want and the decor details. Develop a program for the event, including cocktails if any, the dinner, some speeches and presentations, the candle-lighting ceremony, and the giving of bat or bar mitzvah gift.
Follow-up your son’s progress
While you are busy with the details for the reception, do not forget to check on your son’s progress on tutorials and practices for the religious ceremony. It is important that your child is able to master his/her role to make the bar/bat miztvah a great success.
Confirm with the venue and other booked service providers
Even if you have made your reservations for the venue and with other service providers, it is important that you confirm with them at least one month before the event to make sure everything is fine. This is also the time to give special instructions and requests to them, like particular songs for your musicians, seating plan for the venue and decorators, photo booth request for photographers, and other important details.
At least one or two weeks before the celebration, contact other guests who have not confirmed their presence during the event. Once you have your final head count, relay the details to your caterer so you will not be paying more for less attendees and to avoid food shortage during the reception.
Give final instructions to everybody
To make sure everything goes well, do not forget to give final instructions and reminders to everyone concerned. Call your suppliers and service providers and remind them of the agreed time of delivery or arrival. Most of all, advise your celebrant son or daughter to sleep early the day before the celebration to start and end the day right.
A well-planned bar/bat mitzvah is the key to a memorable and meaningful celebration. Always make a list of your plans and ideas and make a schedule of things to do. Organizing this event may not be an easy task, but all your effort will all be worth it after a meaningful and successful bar/bat mitzvah takes place because of you.