September 21, 2012
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Bar and bat mitzvah party ideas

Light my fire

for The Brooklyn Paper

Using a blowtorch to light the candles during your kid’s candle lighting ceremony is a sure-fire ways to grab your guests’ attention. Yet unless your 12 or 13-year-old is a skilled welder, utilizing this method can erupt a volcano’s-worth of trouble. So, we suggest you engage your guests the old-fashioned way — by being engaging.

“People tend to get bogged down and worried about candle lighting because they’ve seen candle lighting ceremonies go on and on,” says Michael Sage Schindler, celebration director of LSNY Events. “I was once at a bar mitzvah for two kids at the South Street Seaport where the candle lighting lasted about 50 minutes. They had so much to say even though the ships’ air horns were going the entire time, so you couldn’t even hear them. By the time it was over, I think everyone in that room wanted to go outside and jump off the pier.”

Don’t extinguish the flickering flame of your party prematurely.

Here’s a few ways to utilize the candle lighting in a way that sparks a party inferno:

A roast

Try having everyone who’s going to be called up for the candle lighting write something funny about the honoree — or the other way around.

“This will always capture peoples’ attention,” says Schindler. “Instead of just saying ‘Uncle John we really appreciate coming to your house every year, we always have fun in your pool’ try ‘Uncle John, remember when you dove into your pool and you came out but your hair and trunks were still in the pool?’ If a candle lighting is really funny, it can actually become the highlight of the party.”

Utilizing video screens

When you have video screens, it’s nice to have a photo — along with their name and relationship to the honoree — appear on the screen as they’re coming up on stage.

“That way everybody now knows who this person is and there’s a frame of reference when guests see that person later on at the party,” says Schindler. And based on what they found out during the candle lighting — thanks to the video screen — people can easily start conversations with that person who would have otherwise been a stranger. “It’s like they know them already, because you’ve created a more intimate connection between your guests.”

Award shows

Instead of writing a cutesy poem where every last line rhymes —which seems forced and causes people to zone out — Schindler suggests making 12 or 13 different statues and thinking up awards for the people you plan to call up to the stage — the funnier or more accurate, the better. For instance, you could create an award for “Best Supporting Actor,” which can be an award for the honoree’s best friend, mother, or father. Another thing you can do to spice up the ceremony is to have a little fun with the nominees. For example, if you create an award meant for the youngest member of your family, like “Brightest new star” and use your 89-year-old great uncle Saul as one of the nominees — all your guests will have a good chuckle.

“Part of the fun is creating the categories and choosing nominees,” says Schindler.

‘American Idol’

If your kid isn’t interested in performing, ask them if they want to be an “American Idol”-like judge of the people who are going to come up and give a speech about them during the candle lighting.

“A lot of people don’t feel comfortable with their ability to perform, but everyone feels comfortable with their ability to comment,” says Schindler. “That way someone who’s shy is still the star of the show by making the comments everyone else wants to make like ‘Well, that was a good speech, Aunt Ida, but it was a little boring.’ ”

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Reader Feedback

Michael Sage Schindler from Bergen County says:
American Idol is a group activity game that we usually play during the party, but for more reserved kids who don't like to stand up in front of everyone and speak, the AI idea works really well to allow your son/daughter's personality to come out and draw in your guests.

PS: The South Street Seaport Mitzvah Elyse alludes to in this article actually took place. However because of constraints in the article she was unable to mention I was brought in to the event well after all the entertainment and production was finished by the planner. The event planner brought me only to host/MC the event. I say this because I would have never let the two celebrants put together a candlelighting like this had they hired us as their entertainment.

If you want some more ideas or are looking to really make a fresh, exciting and powerful experience for your family and guests, please contact me, I'd love to hear from you.

Michael Sage Schindler
917 204-9690
Sept. 29, 2012, 11:34 am
Michael from Schindler says:
Great things happen when you're willing to take a chance on your family.

Michael Sage Schindler
Oct. 5, 2012, 11:45 am
jillthepoemlady from NYC says:
It is important to keep the candle lighting short and sweet. Seek the services of a professional if you are struggling.

Need a poem, but haven't the time
The Poem Lady can create the perfect rhyme
Birthdays, bar mitzvahs or any shower
Let her make you the toast of the hour

All the best,

jill -the poem lady
Jan. 5, 2013, 8:01 pm

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