Ok, last bar mitzvah post (for now!)… but the others have been popular so apparently there’s a hunger for planning info…and/or people are just nosy and like to see what others are doing.
I get it!
This one focuses on decorations and how we tried to make the Kiddush lunch and evening party personal.
You can buy services for just about anything you want when planning a bash. In an effort to save money, I didn’t hire a party planner, or anyone to do flowers, décor, or favors. While I’m not crafty, I have some creative vision and enjoyed putting the party together on my own. The down side is the time and energy self-service entails. I was busy researching and ordering online, and borrowing or gathering items around the house for many weeks leading up to the event. The last two weeks required a lot of schlepping. But to me, it was all worth it. (Wilson may have another story.)
If you’re interested in personalizing your party it might help to make a list of all the things your kid (or whomever is your guest of honor) loves. Jacob is a sports fanatic so that was an easy place to start.
Kiddush lunch personalizing:
I tried to stay basic for the lunch: white tablecloths—you can do paper or linens, depending on your budget—because they’re bright, classic, and everything goes with white. I bought plastic plates and cutlery from PartyCity.com (they have great color variety) in chocolate-brown and had a roll of burlap ribbon and hardware store twine to accessorize. I bought hydrangea plants from Home Depot for each table, and took some home to plant and gave others to friends who helped after the party.
Another way we cut corners was doing dessert ourselves, instead of including it in the catering package. (I could have skipped it altogether but I love sweets too much.) I got a “J” cookie cutter and made 5-dozen sugar cookies the week before the bar mitzvah and froze them so they stayed fresh. When several wonderful friends offered to help, I had them bake their favorite treats, which I displayed on my own platters and baskets from home. The wide variety of homemade desserts was a huge hit with guests.
Since I had already endured the arduous task of gathering photos for the video montage, I also made a photo book of Jacob for guests to sign.
Think about who your kid (or party focus) is and bring that into the room. My kid’s obsessed with sports so we took the sports team pennants hanging in his bedroom and hung them across one wall of the party space, punctuated by holiday lights. Maybe your kid is a big reader so you could use a pile of favorite books as centerpieces, or instruments for a music fan. Bringing items from your home (in good condition) can add ambiance and connection to a generic space.
I went to an event-planning warehouse and bought fake wheatgrass and natural wood boxes, which I accessorized with our own sports balls as centerpieces. I had several of the football, soccer, and baseballs autographed by Jacob’s team members and the kids were excited to find their names at the party. The centerpieces turned out well and it was all reusable stuff.
When we didn’t have enough centerpieces for small high top tables we used some of Jacob’s trophies with candle votives.
We used a ton of candles all over the room, which adds light and movement, and creates a cozy atmosphere. I also stole an idea from my friend, Jen, and repurposed pasta sauce jars to hold candles outside the club, which is a very Martha Stewart-y move if you have outdoor space.
Over the fireplace mantle in the middle of the room, we used family photos in frames from my living room. Photos are a great, easy and inexpensive way to personalize a room. You can use the frames you have at home or buy basic ones at Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond and pop in pix from every year. Everyone loves adorable baby pictures and those awkward school shots.
I picked three of my favorite photos of Jacob—one with his brothers— and two with a sports theme and ordered framed stretch canvases to decorate the walls. The canvaslifestyle.com site was easy to use and now I have art to hang in his room or the basement.
We took bringing home into the space so seriously, we took Jacob’s bedroom door off the hinges and had everyone sign the back of it. It looks really cool in his room and brings back memories of the weekend.
Try to gather ideas in advance if you can, so you have time to shop around for the best deals. I knew I wanted the custom M&M’s so I waited until the site had a holiday discount. I found coupons online and researched which companies had free shipping. I kept an eye out for Groupon-type promos and got a great deal on the photo canvases. Although it can be a time suck, online research inspires creativity.
I could not have pulled the room together if it weren’t for the help of my friends and family—especially my enthusiastic mother. Many stayed up late stuffing favor bags, while others balanced on ladders to hang lights and photos. Wilson gallantly loaded and unloaded the minivan countless times. It was a group effort that made “do-it-yourself” possible, and a lot more fun. Shout out to my crew—thanks ladies!
Hope you’ll be back for more in 2016!
Please ask questions and/or share your decorating ideas in the comments.