Tips for a successful Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Frazzled over planning a Bar/Bat Mitzvah? Let SOS help by giving you some
ideas that have proven wildly successful over the years.
The Cocktail Hour
Usually there is a cocktail hour prior to the party. Often the cocktail hour is held outside of the main room in the
foyer. Sometimes the adults would like to be alone, allowing the kids to go into the main room. If this is the case,
be prepared to keep the kids busy with games and dancing. Otherwise, if everyone is together in the foyer, there
are numerous ways of entertaining the kids. A small stage set-up with karaoke is a great way to keep them
occupied. You may also want to consider hiring a face painter or balloonist. We have also seen inflatables
brought in early in the evening for the kids to play with, but be advised you must have an ending time for these,
otherwise you will be competing with the inflatables as the evening goes on.
As the guests enter the room, this is the prime opportunity for making a big impression. Upbeat music, lights
going, dancers/party prompters on the dance floor urging the guests to join in, is a great combination to start the
evening. After a few minutes, we introduce the Mitzvah, usually alone without the family, with some high-energy
music that is related to the theme. For instance "Rock & Roll Part 2" or "Get Ready For This" for a sports theme,
a Broadway song for a performing arts theme, "Dance To The Music" for a music theme are just a few
suggestions. The Mitzvah may simply walk into the room waving to the guests, or you might try something like a
motorcycle entrance, or maybe have the Mitzvah carried in by family members, or simply escorted by dancers.
Crank up the energy by having everyone clapping their hands and cheering for the Mitzvah!
The traditional Jewish dance called the Hora is the next item on the list immediately after the introduction. We
suggest playing the "Hora Medley” which is an upbeat, hand-clapping favorite. We’ll do an announcement
something like, "Ladies and Gentlemen we would like to start (Mitzvah’s name) special night off right, so we’d like
to invite everyone onto the dance floor for the Hora." We start the song, crank up the lights, and watch the fun
begin. Also, at this time, you may want to have several strong guests hoist the Mitzvah up on a chair that is
paraded around within the circle. We’ll also give a little guidance if the guests are unsure of what exactly to do.
We’ll have them form a circle or circles, holding the person’s hand next to them. We may also need to let them
know which direction to move - "Outside circle to the left, inside circle to the right", etc. If you have purchased
giveaways, now is a great time to pass some of them out to assist with the overall energy level.
After the Hora, we may follow it with a few more dance songs, depending on the your wishes, but usually we
prepare for the traditional prayers or blessings. The Motzi is the blessing over the Challah or bread. Sometimes
you may want to have a Havdalah service. This is a traditional prayer and singing that signifies the end of
Shabbot, the holy day. It is done a short while after sundown. Typically, the Mitzvah will do the prayer(s) alone or
with family members or a friend or cousin.
During the meal, we typically try to play more of the adults requests. Motown, oldies, show tunes, Sinatra, etc.,
usually work well. However, be prepared for some complaints from the kids. We simply reassure them that their
requests will be played very soon. In our area, the most popular way of serving the meal is a plated meal for the
adults and a buffet for the kids. The end result is that the kids are done with their meal in 10-20 minutes and the
adults are still eating while the kids are anxious to do something "fun".
1st Activity For The Kids
Because we try to allow the adult guests at our parties as much "adult time" as they can have, we normally will do
a game or two and possibly a few dances after the kids finish eating while the adults are continuing their meal.
While upbeat, high-energy can and does work, we try to keep a somewhat more subdued level of energy on the
dance floor so the adults can have a nice meal and have conversation with their friends and/or family members.
Therefore, a favorite in our area is the limbo. Everyone is familiar with the limbo so I won’t mention any more on it.
Other favorites like Coke & Pepsi are also a big hit at anytime for the kids but, early on keep in mind that the
more energy and noise the activity makes, the less time the adults have to enjoy their meal and adult
The candlelighting ceremony is a traditional activity done at most Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. While it may differ in some
areas, it typically involves the Mitzvah calling up 13 or 14 individuals or groups of individuals that have been
important in their Jewish life. Normally the Great Grandparents are first, followed by Grandparents, Aunts and
Uncles, cousins, teachers, close friends of the family, school and/or Hebrew school friends, siblings and then
Many times the Mitzvah will also light a candle for him/herself. We will make an announcement like, "Ladies and
Gentlemen at this time we are going to have our traditional candlelighting ceremony, so if we can ask for
undivided attention, and welcome to the microphone, (Mitzvah’s name)!" From there, the Mitzvah will begin the
candlelighting. Next they usually read a short paragraph, poem, or limerick about the person(s) that they are
asking to come up and a light a candle. Many times you will want specific songs played as the individual(s) come
up to light the candle. For instance, the Mitzvah may be talking about his or her favorite cousins and how they’ve
always enjoyed surfing together. Then as they begin to walk up to light their candle, we’ll start a song like, "Surfin’
Safari" by the Beach Boys. For a group of Aunts, Uncles and Cousins we might play a song like, "We Are Family."
This part of coordinating the event may, and many times does, take more time on your part. Ask SOS for
assistance in coming up with 13 or 14 specific songs about a number of different topics.
The Rest of The Event
How do you get the testosterone-ridden boys to mingle with the sweet girls, while at the same time you want Mom,
Dad, the Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents on the dance floor too? Interaction is the key! Interactive dances and
games are the sure way to involve everyone. Time-honored interactives and follow-alongs like the "Stroll", the
"Electric Slide", "YMCA", and "Macerana" are always enjoyed by all ages. Newer ones like "The Perculator", "Cha
Cha Slide", and "Cotton Eyed Joe" go over just as well.
Remember, the number one tip to a great event is to have lots of party people attend! And the number one tip to
keep sane when planning any type of event is to relax and realize you can't make fun happen - just be prepared
and let it happen!
|Before the Event:
SOS offers in person consultation with you before your Bar/Bat
Mitzvah so that we can get to know you and fine tune what kind of
celebration you want. Also, we are always available on the phone at
215-788-9199 or via e-mail.