bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah planning guide
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Decorations come from many sources: party stores, centerpiece designing services, balloon artists, florists, as well as businesses offering sign-in boards, decorated guest books, and other personalized services. These will be the biggest contributors to a themed celebration. Ask them if delivery is included and if they could design a sample to help you decide.

Make sure to choose a centerpiece that will not overwhelm the table or block guests view of each other. Consider some of following, in addition to themed centerpieces, for a unique touch:

Special effect lighting, lasers, fog, snow
Fireworks or pyrotechnics
Candle lighting name display
-boards and theme props, like cardboard cut-outs

Decorating Tips
Formal or fanciful, simple or bold, decorations set the mood and tone of a party. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah has worked hard to get there, make the celebration festive, regardless of your budget!
Table centerpieces usually coordinate with the theme (see Popular Party Themes).
Linens and napkins could coordinate with color themes, and they make a dramatic color statement. Some banquet facilities have a selection of colors, but rental centers will have a larger assortment. Consider chair covers, they add elegance to the setting.
Check out the decor in your banquet hall or facility. Ask about upcoming renovations. Choose colors and decorations that will not clash with the surroundings.
Don't forget about decorations for the buffet tables, gift table, and band/DJ area. Clusters and arches of balloons are an inexpensive and dramatic way to add large splashes of color. Decorate tables with inexpensive glitter for a festive appearance. Remember to include a table with a sign-in or message book, keeping with your theme. An easel with a decorated photo collage or for sign-ins (don't forget some colorful pens!) can add excitement to a room entrance and point the way for guests.
A decorated welcome sign on an easel can be a beacon to guests and also set the tone of the celebration. Use balloons, cardboard cutouts, flowers, enough to identify this as a special time for the child and the guests.
Decorate baskets filled with favors, socks for younger dancers (the girls always seem to take off their shoes), candy, or to place gifts.
Make all your decoration arrangements well in advance. Many vendors will gladly deliver and set up for you, if you coordinate with the facility.
Check with your synagogue or facility manager for any restrictions on decorations, set-up times, extra cleanup charges, etc. that may apply.
Pyrotechnics and Decorative Lighting
The Hottest Trend in Weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs
By Alysha DiGiorgio–Digital Lightning, 1-866-4-LIGHTNING,

Many of today’s brides are learning what experienced party planners and wedding consultants have known for years - fireworks and/or pyrotechnics add very special memories for a wedding reception. It’s not all in the chemistry. Fireworks make up a very unique combination of light, color and sound. For weddings, outdoor fireworks at a climactic moment are becoming more popular and affordable. Imagine as the bride and groom cut the wedding cake, the sky fills behind them with a colorful display of florals, light and sound. Specialty shells such as hearts and stars can also be used to achieve memorable looks. For weddings, industry experts recommend a 3-5 minute display. Another popular option for weddings is indoor pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnic devices placed in the floral centerpiece can provide a very special moment. When choosing a pyrotechnics company, use a licensed, experienced and professional company that can arrange proper permits and provide a certificate of insurance, references and a copy of their license. More dramatic effects for a wedding or Bar/Bat Mitzvah are achieved by the use of decorative lighting. The use of uplighting with temperature-specific color gels can change an ordinary room into a very special place. Color wash is sprayed onto the walls in critical points in the form of light. Pinspotting allows the room to become intimate with the utmost appreciation for centerpieces as well as general table presentation. To achieve an intimate effect, the existing room lights can often be dimmed. In order to allow guests to see the table settings, food and centerpieces, individual pinspots focus white or colored light from the ceiling onto the tables to create a very elegant atmosphere. A dance floor color wash can be static or moving, creating a special effect. When lighting is done right it can be breathtaking. It is so important for everything to be perfect - no detail overlooked. The client should be blown away by the lighting.

Stars That Make a Party Sparkle

by Jayne Cohen and Lori Weinrott, authors of The Ultimate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebration Book (Clarkson, Potter Publishers, NY) available on

Every bar/bat mitzvah needs a bit of sparkle in the choice of a menu, a theme, a ritual or a look. It’s that extra oomph, that "ruach" (spirit!) that makes the party shine. Here are a few fun, wide-ranging ideas from our book, to inspire you:

Kid-Friendly Décor that’s Comfortable

Create a cool kid’s area with rugs, comfy chairs and tables just high enough for oversized pillow seating. For colors and themes, think shaggy yellow and orange beanbags for a 60s style Daniel and the Lion’s Den, smoky blue and brassy with congas and cool shades for jazzy-clubby, hot pink and Chinese red with tabletop lanterns and Mahjong tiles for Asian.

Share Traditions that Create Beautiful Moments

Taking a cue from an old Syrian custom, have your child make a memorable entrance, escorted into the darkened celebration space by friends holding votives to illumine the path. Or twist fragrant lilacs around the chair that will hold your daughter for the Ashkenazi chair dance.

Unique & Fun Entertainment & Themes

How about a stilt walker for a golem motif? A character actor masquerading as the town matchmaker or as a Torah scribe turned handwriting analyst? A fruit carver delighting kids with fancy mango flowers? A "Who’s got Soul" dance contest? For an ice hockey lover, an NHL theme (the National Hebrew League), with the bar mitzvah boy as star player. His "goal" this year- his Hebrew studies. Tablecloths with goalie net overlays, dance motivators in jerseys emblazoned with names like Mazel and Tov, David and Goliath. God as the goalie, with "shin" guards. A "Stanley Cup" Kiddush.

Mitzvah Project Centerpieces

For donations to a charity called "Shoes That Fit," assemble bright flower bouquets into small vases and tuck them inside shiny kids’ rain boots in primary colors. Leave a little card on the table describing the mitzvah project to your guests. Use pyramids of Campbell’s soup cans (destined for a food bank) accented with little bouquets of red and white zinnias set in empty matching soup cans as vases.

Dazzling Food Presentation

Think thematic decorative buffets, such as a "Creation" menu with stations for Ocean (fish), Earth (potatoes and grains), Garden of Eden (salads) and Heaven (dessert, of course!). Serve food from old-fashioned pushcarts—bagels, bialys and soft pretzels in shapes of Stars of David, French fries in paper cones, or Belgian waffles with gourmet ice creams served from a hand-cranked ice cream maker.

Fabulous Fruit Decorating

by Gail Anthony Greenberg One of many simply smashing ideas from the bestseller, MitzvahChic, A New Approach to Hosting a Bar or Bat Mitzvah That is Meaningful, Hip, Relevant, Fun & Drop-Dead Gorgeous, available at

The Torah often speaks of fruit as a symbol of plenty and you can use it to inexpensively decorate your tables! Use carved oranges in centerpieces or submerge them in a clear vase with a bouquet of white flowers on top! Other small colorful fruits - cranberries, kumquats, grapes also look beautiful presented this way.

  1. Grape Topiary: Plaster pedestal, 12" green Styrofoam cone, caulk adhesive, U- pins, toothpicks or wooden skewers, grapes.
  2. Apple Candleholders: Apples, candles, knife
  3. Carved Oranges: Oranges, permanent marker, large "U" shaped linoleum gouge

Grape Topiary
  1. Glue cone to pedestal with caulk adhesive. Let it cure for several days.
  2. Take a bunch of grapes, strip one side of fruit and, starting at bottom, wrap flat side of bunch around the cone, securing with U-pins. Continue until cone is covered. Fill in gaps with small grape clusters secured with toothpicks. Or add kumquats, halved star-fruit or other novelties.
Apple Candleholders

Use apples that will stay upright. Insert the knife blade in the center of the apple top to about a 2" depth and turn it to create a cylindrical hole. Use trial and error to make the hole just big enough for the candle to fit snugly.

Carved Oranges

Draw design you want to cut onto the orange with permanent marker. Following your lines, hold the gouge fairly flat against the orange and push it through just the orange layer to expose the white skin underneath. Be very careful not to cut toward the hand holding the orange, as the gouge is sharp.

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