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Bar and bat mitzvah party ideas

To theme or not to theme

Community Newspaper Group

OK, we get it. When applied to a party, the word theme sounds about as cool as Snookie in a Snuggie holding a Shake Weight while reciting Shakespeare. Or, about as lame as us making that last sentence into a tongue-twister (we’re sorry). But, really, what’s in a theme? Would that which we call a theme by any other name smell as cheesy? What if, instead of a theme, an event planner opted for something called a design concept? It’s a term modern planners like to use to describe a concept for a chic soiree that all elements of a party can be designed around. Sounds more sophisticated and complex, right? Kind of like a Shakespearean play. And, what if a planner used Shakespeare as her design concept? She could, then, by definition of the term, deck out an entire venue to look like a “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” use Hamlet skulls as centerpieces, have a dessert buffet filled with Much Ado About muffins, and — hold up, wait a minute — this sounds an awful lot like a theme! And it is. Because, face it, much like the nucleus of a cell, the planets orbiting the sun, or Snooki circling a jar of pickles, many great things in life need to center around something. And parties are no exception. So, let’s breakdown the five biggest party themes this year in hopes of inspiring some design concepts of your own for your upcoming bar or bat mitzvah bash.

1) The too-cool-for-a-theme party

Let’s start off with this tricky minx. Typically, if a party doesn’t follow some kind of apparent theme, “it’s very popular nowadays to throw what appears to be a dance party at an adult nightclub,” says Maya Kalman, the founder and CEO of SWANK Productions, a New York-based event planning company.

And — although controversial because of the popularity of shows like “The Jersey Shore,” “The Real Housewives” franchise, and the fact that “even restaurant design has started to take its cues from hotel bars and lounges with their lighting, seating areas, types of furniture, chandeliers, and props — kids have a desire to have these kinds of parties,” she adds.

Parties of this kind tend to focus more on music and venue, choosing locales that are hip, sleek, and artistic — like Glasshouse at the Chelsea Arts Tower.

“Nightclub parties have been very popular, and I think they’re going to continue to have a future surge because to a 12- or 13-year-old, nothing at that age is more exciting than actually getting into a bar where you’d typically need to get carded,” says Kalman.

2) The foodie theme

Moving on to a trend that seems way more refined than dancing at a place where the cast members of “The Jersey Shore” may wash up, is interactive cooking or foodie parties. At these shindigs the quality of cuisine is the name of the game.

“Parties that are revolving around chefs and cooking seem to be rocking hot lately,” explains Mark Cheplowitz, president of Wizard of Ahs, an event-planning company in New York. “And these are food themes where guests actually get their hands dirty and participate in making the food.”

It’s due to the popularity of shows like Bravo’s “Top Chef” that Cheplowitz credits this palate-pleasing trend.

“There’s a lot more kids watching the Food Network and cooking channels, so I’m getting more requests to do themes like ‘Iron Chef’ meets Mongolian barbeque, and making the whole thing a theatrical presentation with the usual suspects like the DJs, the dancer, and the games.”

3) You are the theme

“Most people want to do a party that reflects themselves,” says Loretta Lester of Party Poopers, a New York party planning company. “Say, if they like tennis, everything’s going to be centered around a tennis ball.”

But you can be way more creative than that.

“One girl we had as a client wasn’t into music. She didn’t even want a DJ. But she was really into math and solving things, so we created a murder mystery that ran throughout the evening,” explains Lester’s associate Marla Mase.

Lester piggybacks: “Another kid we had as a client was really connected to Israel and really liked the idea of the basic training done in the Israeli army. So, for her party, they went to the park and played fun games that taught team-building.”

4) The destination bar or bat mitzvah

Believe it or not, because of the state of the economy, “more and more families are opting away from traditionally large parties in favor of flying a few dozen of their closest friends to a unique, tropical, or ancient destination for the mitzvah celebration,” says Olivia Bondarsky, who is the lead event planner at High Style Events. “Why have a ‘Hawaiian-themed Mitzvah’ when you can actually go to Hawaii? Destination mitzvahs could actually be more affordable option. We recommend linking up with a local event planner who has a network of event planners in popular destinations areas, that way a local event planner, in whatever destination you choose, can save a family time, energy, and travel costs when considering a destination mitzvah.”

5) The movie theme

This theme seems like an oldie, but because new movies are always being released and creating new trends, it’s an ever-changing trend that’s always fresh and popular.

“This year, I’d recommend people look to the two Snow White movies, which have so much opportunity for fun with the red apple, poison, mirrors, and the seven dwarfs,” suggests Kalman. “I’d also recommend that people look to the new Batman movie, ‘The Avengers,’ and Dr. Seuss. ‘The Lorax,’ for instance, would be a great theme for someone who is environmental or eco-chic and wanted to do a fun party that was also green.” And don’t forget all the creative possibilities available for a Hunger Games–themed fete!

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Reader Feedback

Eden from Tarzana says:
I want a them that would catch everyones eye. I want a them that you can incorporate it with almost everything. I want a theme that you can make games with. Something that everyone would love.
Nov. 1, 2013, 12:14 am

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