Dinosaur Bar Mitzvah

Ethan Lipson’s dinosaur-themed bar mitzvah last August featured an animatronic dinosaur.

Are bar mitzvah hype men still a thing, or have they been irrelevant since 2005? What about music; is a DJ still the preference over a live band? Is awkward preteen dancing still required? (Well, some things never change.) 

Just as engagement rings and wedding ceremonies get modernized, so too do other milestone celebrations shift and change — including bar and bat mitzvahs.

Jody Stachel, founder of events13, said a popular trend is a theme accompanied by a child’s personal logo. “Logo development, along with invitation design, are the most requested for the overall look of the event.”

Customization is also the name of the game for Alyssa Belanger, owner of The Event Genies. “I am finding that more and more clients want to set themselves apart from the traditional bar and bat mitzvah parties. These kids are going to mitzvahs once or twice a week for months straight, so parents are eager to change it and create a more customized experience.”

Sometimes customization means simply reinventing older traditions. 

“I think there are many trends that haven’t disappeared but have been updated,” Belanger said. “For example, the traditional candle lighting ceremony doesn’t fit into everyone’s vision of the perfect event. Many families have a less formal celebration and want to incorporate a more creative option. Some of the new trends are sand ceremonies, a cup of life ceremony with wine or even building a plant by calling up honored guests to place the ingredients together to create a keepsake.”

For the fun factor, entertainment is still very important, but technology keeps it fresh. 

“The entertainment is the most important component of celebrations, and it needs to be a priority within your budget,” said Stachel. Some modern ways to entertain include “video mapping, animated gobos, interactive dancefloors, light tech light controls and oversized TV screens that scan the entire backdrop.”

 If cutting-edge technology isn’t an option, Belanger has some alternate suggestions. “There are certainly the go-to trends that include a DJ, kids’ names in balloons or large marquee letters. Photo booths are a big hit and provide a nice keepsake to bring home. Interactive games and flip books are definitely a fun addition to any party.”

For teens or families who wish to do something truly unique, Stachel says to try incorporating it into a “designed dance or an unusual grand entrance.”

But keeping up with trends can tax parents and caregivers. When asked what the No. 1 thing is that people don’t anticipate when planning a celebration, Stachel said it’s the way individual pieces will impact a total budget.

Belanger said it’s the time commitment. “The number one thing people don’t anticipate is how much work goes into the planning. So many people are working full-time jobs and try to juggle the planning of a bar or bat mitzvah. It’s hard to do it all, not to mention if you don’t have help the day of,  you’re so busy making sure the event runs smoothly that you miss out on being present. It is so seldom to have all the people you love in one place at the same time and it’s so important to relish in that moment.”

So how can parents choose which trends to invest in?

“My advice for anyone planning any event is to choose three things that are nonnegotiable and to spend the bulk of your money on those,” said Belanger. “What three experiences or aspects of a mitzvah most represent your child and family? Spend time with your family talking about what you imagine the day looking like.”

Stachel also recommended identifying what was most important. “Make your guest list and create a budget that everyone agrees on,” she said. “Look only at venues that can accommodate your guests and can include the adult bar and any activities!” JN

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