November 27, 2012
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Bar mitzvah ideas

Save cash on your bash

Community Newspaper Group

If there’s one thing that Jews can agree on, it’s that bar and bat mitzvahs are expensive. From cantor fees to music and mitzvot, the cost of entering adulthood in the Jewish community can run as high as $10,000 or $15,000 for a single-day event. Luckily for today’s parents, it’s now easier than ever to have a great time and impress your guests while staying within a budget.

To help you economize, we’ve compiled a list of ways to save on your child’s big day, from pre-planning to post-party. You’ll come away looking like a mensch and you won’t have to spend money like a macher.

• Trim your guest list

Guest lists can be a source of stress for families, but the easiest way to slash costs is to reduce the number of people you invite in the first place. Mazel Moments, an online resource for planning Jewish events, has a handy bar and bat mitzvah “Guest List Manager” interactive spreadsheet to help you figure out who makes the cut. The site also has a budget management spreadsheet and a vendor manager tool for keeping track of external costs.

• Make your own invitations

Paper invitations can be expensive (so, do a mitzvah and buy invitations where the proceeds go to a good cause). One easy way to reduce this overhead is to print your own invitations. There are tons of companies, such as Download and Print and I Do-It-Yourself that can trim a lot off the cost of printing. Poke around and see what works for you, just make sure to invest in quality card stock.

• Have a double bar (or bat) mitzvah

Many adolescents have bar or bat mitzvahs around the same time of year. Why not coordinate your son or daughter’s party with another kid’s celebration? Having a joint party gives you twice the resources at a fraction of the cost and can reduce stress in planning the event.

Have the party on an off night

Saturday night is always the most expensive time to throw a party, so simply host a simcha on a Sunday night. If you choose to have your party during warm months, you can even take the party outdoors. Most New York City parks, for instance, allow you to host an event outdoors for a minimal fee, usually around $25. Check your city’s park permits for more information. Plus, if you have your party in the great outdoors, you won’t have to worry about controlling rambunctious tweens.

• Trim the fat off of catering costs

The cost of feeding guests can add up, so eliminate elements that people may not notice. Bring your own or borrow cutlery, napkins, and linens. Eliminate waiters and servers and opt for a buffet. You can also offer chicken as a meat course. Keep close tabs on food costs, since they can easily overtake your budget — and read our tips on how to save money on candy!

• Limit the number and value of party favors

Party favors can eat away at your budget. Instead, give away small gifts — $2 iTunes gift cards, for example — or offer people the option to donate the cost of the party favors to a charity of your choice. If you opt for the charity route, your donations may also be tax-deductible, which will save you money in the long run. More parting-gift saving tips can be found here.

• Stick to your budget

If you make a budget for the bar mitzvah, stick to it! The easiest way to overspend is to let small things get in the way of having the party you planned. Be firm with your choices and you’ll have a fun event without breaking the bank!

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Reader Feedback

Lisa Teiger from Fort Greene says:
As an event professional, I would agree with most of your points and commend you for a well written article. However, just wondering why you think that having a buffet "eliminates the need for waiters and servers"? If you are the host/hostess aka parents of the mitzvah celebrant, you want to be able to relax and enjoy your guests - not setup the buffet, and clean up after guests. And of course the buffet will run smoother, faster and more professionally if you still have servers and waiters (who perform similar roles) . Yes, it may require less staff than a plated served to the table meal, but it still depends on the menu you choice as to the final cost.
In addition the food does not cost less on wednesday night than it does on Saturday night, however there might be greater venue availability and room for price negotiation with the venue.
In terms of budget, while we work very hard to stay within a realistic budget set by clients, sometimes clients don't have realistic expectations of what goods and services might cost in todays market. While you might not always go with the most expensive caterer, think carefully before going with the cheapest one either. You certainly wouldn't pick your surgeon based on price. Professional caterers offer services that go beyond just serving you bagels and lox. They have years of experience of how events run, what the things to watch out for are, how to circumvent problems and issues as they arise (and they do) and allow the hosts to be a guest at their own party!
May 20, 2014, 3:17 pm

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