Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | October 7, 2013

The Ultimate Bar/Bat Mitzvah Fair

I thought we were done with bar/bat mitzvah fairs for a little while (see past posts here and here), but then a Facebook ad popped up with one organized by Mitzvah Market, which features the over-the-top bar/bat mitzvahs I often quote from in this blog. Fortunately my pal Rachel was free and we brought along our daughters so they could experience it too. And yes, we did find several vendors we’re thinking of using, so it wasn’t just entertainment.

Let me walk you through what happens at a mitzvah fair. The vendors hungrily eye you up and then pounce on you with a series of questions:

–What’s your theme?

–What’s your date:

–What’s your venue?

–Do you have entertainment yet?

That’s just a start.

In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki room...

In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki room…

The entertainment vendors are like used car salesmen. Decked out in black suits and shiny ties, they are ready with the patter, smartly engaging the kids instantly with favors and questions. Even if you tell them (as I did) that you already have your entertainment lined up (uh, it’s a cheap DJ), they still won’t let you out of their grip until they’ve given you their spiel and handed you a shiny folder with information, perhaps a give-away hat, and a CD sampler of today’s favorite music. That last item will be quite handy, because I have no idea what today’s music is unless I go to an actual bar/bat mitzvah and hear it. Or I go to our school’s Jubilee, where the kids dance to today’s latest music, much of which I’d never heard before. I know you won’t believe this, but I’m just not hip and trendy.

eat your face

Eat your face

Okay, so I’ve tempted you with some shiny colorful photos. Now’s time for the game. Let’s pick out WHAT THE KAPLANS ARE DOING FOR THEIR BAT MIZVAH PARTY, using the photos here.

Let’s start with the question: What’s your theme?

Aside from my friend Karen at tennis, I think we’re the only modern bat mitzvah family that HAS NO PARTY THEME, aside from “reading from the Torah,” “leading services,” and “becoming a Jewish adult.” But even I know that those are not great party themes. Dori suggested we just tell the vendors our theme is COWS. I love my girl.

You see the lollipops up there? They come from Make it Snappy (oddly, I can’t find a website for them on Google, and the website they list on Mitzvah Market is a dead link. That is NOT a good sign Make it Snappy – very unprofessional). You can get these edible imprints at your party – or use them to make cute seat placement cards (which totally sucks (get it?) if your tables change at the last minute and you have a chocolate lollipop saying they’re supposed to sit at another table). But I digress. You can hire them to come to your event for $1,450 (3 hours) or $1,750 (4 hours). They are kosher/dairy. They have many other types of chocolate favors with your picture/words on it but I can’t point you to them because they have no website. And yes, the entire thing is edible. In fact, Zachary ate one last night by licking my face off first. Let’s not go there.

Wax hands. Not sure of the point.

Wax hands. Not sure of the point.

And then there’s the wax hands, also from Make it Snappy. What says Bar/Bat Mitzvah party favor more than WAX HANDS from Wacky Wax? Okay you guessed it. We’re not having them. Sorry folks for spoiling it. (By the way, the cost is $1,100 for 3 hours, $1,350 for 4 hours). What the hell do you do with a wax hand sculpture? They’re not even attractive. In fact, they’re downright creepy. Dori wanted to make one with her middle finger extended. That’s my girl!

Cake for rent!

Cake for rent!

We saw some AMAZING cakes. The Alice in Wonder one above, the Harry Potter and shopping bag ones below, are from Gina Marie Cake Company. If you were to order the Alice in Wonderland cake for your event, it would cost about $3,500 and would feed 800 people! But – you can RENT the cake above, which isn’t a real cake, but it a fondant masterpiece on top of cake forms, with spray on top of it to keep it in place, for $600. Gina Marie said that the kids don’t eat the cake anyway, so you can rent a cake for the candle lighting, and just serve a regular sheet cake. No one will be the wiser, and it’s much cheaper. Have you ever heard of this? I think it’s part bizarre and part brilliant. Gina Marie has lots more decorate cakes you can rent, and if she doesn’t have design you want, she might make one for you. You can see more of her work here. She doesn’t have a kosher bakery, but she can rent one out if you need.

let them eat cake

let them eat cake

The cake in the photo above, top left, is from Carlo’s Bakery – perhaps the least friendly vendor at the party. The three people were just sitting there with no smiles, no engaging questions or explanations, no offer for us to eat their samples. Perhaps it’s because they’re not Jews and were as overwhelmed as we were. The cake they brought, which was adorable, would cost about $800. By the way, a Carlo’s Bakery just opened in our town of Westfield, so if you are from out of town and were waiting for a reason to visit, there it is. The adorable Minnie Mouse cake and cake pop/stand are from Cake & Co.

fake cake

fake cake

You can take this rental cake above and customize it, since everything is on sticks. The shoe on top comes off – you can put a different shoe or different item up there.

Big red chairs

Big red chairs

I couldn’t stop thinking of Lily Tomlin when I saw this enormous blow up red chair. I had to sit in it – and get my picture. I wish they took it further back so you could see the whole thing, because you really don’t get much of an effect with a close-up of me, no matter how attractive I am. I think lots of companies rent these out, but this was EK Productions. Wacky Wax also has big chairs, including one with a cow print. That would perfect for our cow theme!

The candlelighting puzzle

The candlelighting puzzle

You see the photo puzzle up there? I was taking a photo and the vendor said “are you interested in photo puzzles?” and I said “no.” I know, then why was I taking the picture? To post on the blog of course! But I couldn’t tell her that. Photo puzzles are one way to do candle lightings, without the candles. Your special person comes up and puts a puzzle piece on the board. Underneath might be a picture of your precious child as a young one, magically transformed into a 13 year old who plays soccer after reading books while posed with a pumpkin on the front steps. It might be a little embarrassing though, if the special person doesn’t know where to put the puzzle piece, and all 150 people end up all watching the person struggle, like you do on Survivor when they have to solve a puzzle. But on Survivor, they’re in it for immunity or reward. Grandma is just in it for the glory of getting a special honor. When you’re done with the party, your child can hang it in her room to do the puzzle all by herself when she’s high on drugs as a teen. Or she can bring it to her babysitting gig as something the kids can do for 10 minutes of entertainment (if that long). Or you can frame it and hang it on your living room wall. I loved their store name: It Could Be Verse.

This company also will write your candle lighting poem for you. Here are some samples. They’re kind of painful to read, which is why (spoiler alert!) we’re not doing a candle lighting at our bat mitvah. Which reminds me of a 2nd cousin, whose business it was to write bar/bat mitzvah kids’ speeches. I’ll stop there.

The spray paint artist

The spray paint artist

Spray paint art is a cool thing to have as entertainment and a favor. Here bar mitzvah boy Ari (not pictured, except as one of the cartoon heads in the backdrop) had this backdrop painted ahead of time for the party.

Painting a graffiti t-shirt

Painting a graffiti t-shirt

Here the graffiti artists is creating a cool t-shirt design. He can design cool visors, cool stuffed penguins, cool sweatshirts and other cool stuff. Spray painter here is through Make it Snappy and costs $850 for 3 hours and $1,100 for 4 hours. that includes t-shirts and/or hats. You can reach them at 917-567-7383. Tell them I want a cut if you book through me. I’ll take it in chocolate lollipops.

Lounge furniture with party accessories. May the force be with you.

Lounge furniture with party accessories. May the force be with you.

Lounge furniture is all the rage. And it’s a plastic/vinyl, which is great because it’s easy to wipe barf off of. Did I just say that? Anyway, all the DJ total entertainment companies rent lounge furniture, with tables that light up from the inside, and funky couches. This one was High Energy, The girls were just happy to get the light sabers, er Styrofoam things with lights, and hats/glasses.

centerpieces

centerpieces

I don’t have a card for the centerpiece place, but Rachel’s comment was, “do people actually have dresses as centerpieces?” Rachel has obviously never read the spotlights on Mitzvah Market or she would know that indeed they DO.

Photos with the green screen

Photos with the green screen

We used up a lot of photo paper and ink that day. The top photo is of course a green screen, since we were in suburban New Jersey in the daytime, and not Times Square at night. I won’t bother giving a plug for the company, since they wisely put their logo on the photo itself.  You can put your own bar/bat mitzvah logo on the photos – because branding your bar/bat mitzvah is common these days. Yes, for the uninitiated (who don’t read Mitzvah Market in their spare times), people brand their 13 year old’s event, and that logo is well used and well loved, appearing on photos, t-shirts/sweatshirts, bags, napkins, monogram lighting, sign-in boards, seating cards and just about anything else you could slap it on. By the way, we don’t have a logo for Dori’s bat mitzvah. If we get one, you have my permission to shoot me.

the photo booth. The guy with me is my new boyfriend, er, the entertainment company manager.

the photo booth. The guy with me is my new boyfriend, er, the entertainment company sales guy or manager who posed with me perhaps to make me feel young and sexy, so I’d want to use his company for our total party entertainment. It didn’t work.

Tons of different types of photo booth/photo strip technology. Some allow you to “spray paint” on it (below), and then they print the picture with your writing on it.

Graffiti art on your picture

Graffiti art on your picture

mark up your own photos

mark up your own photos

Some booths let you add on special characters and other fun things. You can print the photo, email it, or add it to social media sites. The kids would spend the entire evening doctoring up one photo, given our experience at this event.

Custom pillows with invitations scanned on in fabric. Mostly $55.

Custom pillows with invitations scanned on in fabric. Mostly $55.

The lovely woman from Sew Many Gifts from makes pillows with your invitation scanned in on fabric. They would make a nice gift in fact! And that fabric on the left is no longer available. It sold out immediately.

Invitations - plant a tree in Israel with each.

Invitations – plant a tree in Israel with each.

We saw a lot of invitation vendors, with gorgeous invitations (I’m a sucker for great ones). Jewish National Fund has a deal where you can donate a tree for every invitation/family invited. It costs about $5 plus the invitation. They work with four invitation companies, but if you don’t find one from there you like, call them and they can authorize you to use the wording once you’ve made your donation. I love this idea. Partner invitation companies include Checkerboard Ltd., Lemon Tree Stationery and Mosaica Studios. Interested in more info: call 800-700-1312 and ask for Roslyn.

The very popular clothing favors.

The very popular clothing favors.

Not much to say about the t-shirt/sweatshirt/party favor vendors. But there are a lot of them out there! You can use your logo!

the candy bar

the candy bar

Loved the adorable candy bar vendor – Candy Couture by Rebecca.

more lounge furniture

more lounge furniture

the balloon bar mitzvah boy

the balloon bar mitzvah boy

We loved the adorable balloon decorations from Total Party. I didn’t realize until looking at the brochure that the owner’s name is Dori! She made the bar mitzvah boy above in about an hour. She comes onsite to make/install everything. The balloons were different than most I’ve seen.

more balloon creations

more balloon creations

Bar mitzvah invitation art

Bar mitzvah invitation art

Invitation art – by It Could be Verse (see puzzle above).

party at Blue Man Group

party at Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group could have been the simplest concept at the entire vendor showcase. Rent out a section of seats, or get a private show for 150+. With group prices, you’re paying about $78 a ticket, and you have a fun show to share. Then maybe everyone goes out for New York cheesecake?

Pac Man

Pac Man

The kids loved playing each other in Pac Man, from another total party company that has everything you could ever want or need at a party. Including Pac Man. We had to drag the girls away.

more Pac Man

more Pac Man

chocolate pasta

The host (Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel) made a chocolate pasta bar, which you can get for free if you mention that you were at the showcase when booking your event. The bar was very cute, with pretty bowls of candy and fruit. The chocolate pasta is made with cocoa. When mixed together in a chocolate bowl, with candy, berries, gummy bears, sprinkles, whipped cream, etc., it was DISGUSTING. But Dori liked it. The hotel, by the way, was lovely. Great design inside – we stayed there for a Girl Scout sleepover, and it was very nice.

Coke toys

The spray paint people also make these toy Coke toys/purses at parties. I’ll have to see if I have the info in my packed bag, but they toys were very cute and the type you’d want to buy at the store. I’m not sure how they’d have time to make one for every kid at a party, but…

glasses

I just wanted to show how cool and hip my daughter and I are.

photo bobblehead

photo bobblehead

Below, you can get bobble heads made up at the party.

Here’s my FTC blogger disclosure: anything I got at the party showcase I got for free. I am not being paid to write about any of these vendors. Though if any of them would now like to advertise on Jersey Kids, I would welcome your cash and we can do an ad or sponsored post. I also write brochures, website copy and even bar/bat mitzvah candle lighting ceremonies if you pay me enough.

Okay, you made it to the end. Please vote on what you THINK we’ll do at our party, and what you WANT us to do at our party.

 


Responses

  1. Okay, from an experienced mom I can tell you that most clothing from other Bar/Bat Mitzvahs get worn for a few months and then get put in the donation bin. Of course, WE are still wearing the sweatpants from OUR kids but that’s it. On the other hand, photos from the green screen are kept…as goofy as some of them are. I don’t see you renting furniture but no matter what you choose to do will be fun. I have tons of candy jars if you would like to use them. Candy bars are always a hit. Looks like you are having fun at these expos..the few I went to were pretty understated. Must be that NJ/NY thing 🙂

  2. Janet – Dori is still wearing the PJ bottoms too! I think Zack’s are still big. Dori doesn’t want a candy bar (what?????) so that’s one thing to cross off the list. We have some other ideas in mind though. It makes life easier that I won’t have to horde more candy than I normally do during the year!

  3. […] hard to believe that after going to so many mitzvah fairs for my daughter, I waited until 4 months before my son’s to hit the circuit. Granted, we […]


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