Twelve Ways To Spend A Whole Lot Less on a Bar or Bat Mitzvah Party
My daughter (who is being raised Jewish) turned 13 this year and she wanted a bat mitzvah.
A bar (for a boy) or bat (for a girl) mitvah is an important and meaningful ritual in the Jewish religion. There will be a morning service at the synagogue where my daughter will read from the Torah in Hebrew and officially become a member of the adult congregation.
After the services, it’s customary to have some kind of celebration. And I want my daughter to celebrate! She has been going to religious school and studying Hebrew since the 3rd grade. She has worked hard and this is an incredible moment in her life.
But (yes, there’s a but), as soon as you start planning one of these celebratory events, you will quickly find out that people are spending an insane amount of money on them. Like as much as a wedding. Or even more!
But if you’d rather not take out a second mortgage to pay for a young teen’s party, there are really easy ways to save money. And forget keeping up with the Joneses. You can’t keep up, so don’t even try. Ignore what others are doing and plan the party that you want and can actually afford.
1. Kids Only Party
This isn’t always an option but if you can, just do a kids party. Apart from family, a bar or bat mitzvah is really for the kids anyway and you save money by not inviting a ton of adults.
2. Share the Cost
If you have two kids close in age, do a bnai mitzvah (which means they do the service and the celebration together). Or partner up with a friend and split the costs. Often, they are inviting all the same kids so this is a great way to save cash.
3. Email Invites or Make Your Own
Gasp! You can’t email a bar mitzvah invite!?! What will people think!?! They will think, “Cool, a free party! Fun.” Here’s a secret… nobody cares much about those invites. Yes, you can send a super fancy, elaborate and expensive invite but they all end up in the recycle bin eventually. So send an Evite or design and print your own invite. You will save a TON of money. A family friend made ours and that’s his gift for the party. Win-win! You can also print your own table cards and save even more. Show me the money!
4. Pick the Stuff You Really Want
Care about a DJ but not a photo booth? Want a photographer but don’t necessarily need a videographer? Pick and choose the things that really matter and add value to your party and forget the rest.
And often if you hire a vendor that is just getting started in the business or maybe trying to get more experience in a niche area, you can get a far better deal. Our photographer is mostly experienced in baby photos but wants to start doing more bar and bat mitzvahs so we got a very reasonable price.
Also, if you are ordering light up sticks, glasses and other fun accessories for the DJ to give out, shop around. It’s often way cheaper to buy online than from the DJ directly.
5. Do Something Different
These parties don’t have to be carbon copies of one and other. How about just a luncheon? Or a party at an arcade or a baseball field? Start thinking creatively and you can definitely finder more affordable options. And call around. I can’t tell you how many people said to me… “Oh you can’t throw a bat mitzvah for less than $$$.” Trust me, you can. It all depends on what kind of event you want to throw.
Talk to your child about what kind of event would honor all their hard work but also be affordable. This isn’t necessarily about throwing a big party for everyone you know. It’s about honoring this significant religious rite of passage and having your child feel truly celebrated.
6. Your Temple Can Be a Great Resource
A lot of kids end up throwing a party at their temple. This can be a great option for affordability. So definitely check out the cost of having it there. And with some decorations, your temple space really can be transformed.
I actually ended up finding cheaper options than our local temple but every synagogue is different so don’t rule it out as a party space.
And if your temple has a youth director, definitely check in with him or her about different vendor options. Remember, that person plans events all the time so they know the least expensive, most reliable people around!
7. Rein In or Forget the Party Favors
Here’s an earth shattering thought… you don’t have to give anything away at the end of a party. Yup. People skip the favors. Or if you really want to give something away, do something economical. Like a bag of candy, novelty sunglasses or socks. Be warned… your child will likely try to tell you that EVERYONE is giving away hoodies or sweatpants or BMWs. It’s probably not true and even if it is – who cares. (See previous note about not keeping up with the Joneses.)
8. Save Money on Food
There are lots of ways to save money on food. Often a buffet is much less expensive than a sit-down dinner. Or maybe your venue will allow you to get food trucks which can be cheaper and gives a kitchy, fun vibe.
And no, you don’t need the tuna tartar appetizers even if your 13-year-old is insisting that you absolutely do! And here’s another idea. Maybe don’t spend a ton of money on a big dessert chocolate fountain. Buy donuts instead. So inexpensive and they make kids so happy!
9. Save Money on Alcohol for Adults
As for alcoholic drinks, some places will allow you to bring your own so start stocking up at Costco or another warehouse store.
Or if you don’t have a big drinking crowd, pay by consumption instead of by head. That can save a lot of cha-ching! Another option… if your crowd doesn’t care, skip the hard alcohol and just do wine and beer. And remember you don’t have to offer open bar for the entire party. Check out price options for doing only two or three hours. This can be a really good way to go, especially for day parties.
10. Channel Your Inner Martha Stewart and Make Your Own Centerpieces and Decorations
You don’t need to order big lavish centerpieces. Were you really wowed by the centerpieces at the last event you attended? Oh, you can’t remember what they were? Exactly! So make your own. Or if you’re like me, delegate this task to a relative or friend who is dying to help! They can be super simple… bowls of candy? Bowl of sand with a candle in it? If you can log on to Pinterest, you can do this. Just don’t get too complicated. I don’t want to get some distress call because you’ve gotten yourself tangled in a web of ribbon and tissue paper!
As far as other decorations, consider printing out a bunch of photos and hanging them all over the room. Or add some lights. Often a venue will have lots of stuff leftover from previous parties and you can just use those decorations. Way to recycle!
Also, when you looking for a party venue, try to find one with some character so you can keep decorating costs to a minimum.
11. Borrow Formal Wear
When a child is of bar/bat mitzvah age, they are likely on the bar/bat mitvah circuit and going to a lot of parties. For girls, that means they wear a lot of dresses. So see if your child or siblings can borrow something from friends. For example, your bar mitzvah child may want to wear one dress to the service and another to the celebration so try to borrow at least one of those!
12. Don’t Throw a Party – Travel Instead
Okay, I tried to sell this idea to my daughter and failed but lots of people take a family trip instead of throwing a big lavish party. I love love love this idea.
Many families will travel to Israel and have a small service there. And that will be it! Or maybe have the service in the United States and then take a family trip wherever, in lieu of a big party.
A family trip to somewhere amazing can be an experience you hold onto for the rest of your life.
We are still in the planning stage of our oldest daughter’s bat mitzvah. So far I have managed to stay strong and not get sucked into the bar/bat mitzvah party hype! But almost every day, my 13 year old says she MUST have a certain thing for the party and usually that thing is not in the budget.
But I keep reminding her that it will be an amazing day no matter what. No tuna tartar appetizers needed.
Got a great idea for saving money on a bar or bat mitzvah party? Please share!
Photo source: DepositPhotos/lenyvavasha
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