You've just been asked to pick a date for your child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah - two years from now. Maybe your first thought is that it's impossible that this time has come, or maybe you are feeling excited and nervous about all that has to be done to make this coming-of-age milestone event the best it can be. Well I'm here to help you with my personal New York City Event Planning Mitzvah list. So enjoy, and let me know if I should add anything to the list, or if I can be of help. Mazel tov!
Alexandra Partow Events - Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning List
10-12 Months Before
Decide on the budget.
Start the guest list.
Decide what kind of celebration you would like to have? When and where will the service take place? Will you have an afternoon or evening party? A separate kids party? If you wish to have a multigenerational party, will the kids have a distinct area? Will there be a lounge or a seated dinner for kids?
Talk to your child about how he/she envisions the event and the party.
Choose a color scheme or theme.
Book an Event Planner or Coordinator.
Book your ceremony venue if needed.
Book your reception venue(s).
8-10 Months Before
Book a band or a DJ.
Book a florist and/or event designer.
Reserve blocks of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests and email out-of-towners with accommodations and travel information. Decide if you will have Friday night Shabbat dinner, luncheon following service, and/or brunch the next day. Invite out-of-towners.
6-8 Months Before
Select save-the-date cards and invitations, and order.
Mail (or Email) Save the Date Cards.
Book your transportation vendor, if needed, to transport guests to party.
Decide upon honors for service and ask family/friends if they would like to participate.
Plan additional events, including Kiddush luncheon and day-after-party brunch, if necessary.
Check on your child’s progress with his/her parsha. Schedule tutoring.
Help your child to create a meaningful Mitzvah Project. Speak to your rabbi or synagogue administrators for support.The Mitzvah Project is an excellent opportunity for you and your child to work on something together and create great memories.
4-6 Months Before
Meet with florist/designer to create look of party.
Meet with Entertainment/DJ Company with your child to book games and crafts for his/her friends to enjoy at the party during the cocktail hour and for non-dancers.
Book a pre-Mitzvah photo shoot in order to have great images of the guest of honor for customized items and for the montage.
Design and start creation of favors and customized items for party, including monogramed items, lounge pillows, signage, guest sign-in board or book.
Hunt for inexpensive socks to give the girls if you are having dancing. (Or order customized socks as an additional party favor.) Consider where the girls will put their shoes and where kids will put photos and favors if you are doing a kids' lounge? If necessary, rent cubbies (DJs/ Entertainment companies typically supply these along with labels and an attendant.).
Hire expert or make photo/video montage of your child's life to be shown at party.
Hire hair/makeup artist to come to the house on day of service.
Shop for clothing for service and celebration. Shop for all additional accessories like undergarments, shoes, jewelry, etc.
Shop for entire family’s clothing, shoes and accessories. Think about the photographs and coordinate the outfits.
1-2 Months Before
Submit guest list to calligrapher.
Create your ‘must-take’ photo list.
Order customized kippot with name and date.
If you have a DJ/band, work on a list of ‘must-play’ and ‘do-not play’ songs. Be sure you also send them selections for your introductions, motzi, candle-lighting ceremony, and father/daughter dance.
Write and order programs for service.
Order food for Kiddush, if necessary.
1 Month Before
Write your speeches and practice them.
Call guests who have not yet RSVP’d.
Create your seating chart.
Give the seating chart to your caterer, reception venue manager, and coordinator.
Create a day-of schedule. Send the information to your honors and vendors.
Order escort cards and table numbers. Give typed names to your calligrapher.
Confirm all final payment amounts with your vendors.
1-2 Weeks Before
Get haircuts and any beauty treatments to prepare for the big event.
Spend time with your child and reassure him/her that everything will be fine and that you are proud of him/her. Limit activity and socializing at this time. Don't overschedule him/her.
Give final head count to the caterer.
Confirm set-up instructions and menu items. Decorations, escort cards or table numbers/names, cards.
Take a deep breath and enjoy.
Smile at your child when he/she is on the bimah.
Write thank-you notes. Traditional etiquette gives you an 8-week grace period.
Create keepsake box and album(s).
Thank your vendors, your rabbi, and cantor.
Hug your child and be proud.