Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 1, 2016

Mitzvah Fair Fun

It’s 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 already have almost all the details nailed down for his, so I don’t need a new photographer, venue, photo booth, watermelon carved head or centerpieces. In fact, I’m reusing centerpieces from my daughter’s luncheon for my son. I hope no one notices. At least the tablecloths will be a different color.


My daughter wanted to go to the mitzvah fair, even though hers was almost two years ago. My son, on the hand, said “do I have to go?” The answer was a definite no. My other partners in crime were Rachel and Robin, who have their own events coming up.

Since vendors always ask about our themes, my daughter thought of some she could share, especially since we the vendors assumed we were there for her bat mitzvah, so we went with it. Only one vendor blinked at this (even though she was much taller than all the vendors), exclaiming, that he couldn’t believe how mature she looked. I said “yeah, she’s tall.” He then said “I can’t believe you’re 13!” to which I responded she was only 12. The guy almost fainted. And my daughter wanted to say “my eyes are up here!”

Her bat mitzvah theme ideas:

  • Remember the Alamo
  • Keeping up with the Kaplans
  • Slutty Saturday
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Abstinence

And then the one we actually told people, rock climbing. Turns out rock climbing is a GREAT way to get the vendors to stop talking to you, because they realize you don’t need a DJ, party starter, dancer or fancy lighting. But they will still try to sell you inflatables, lounge furniture, centerpieces and balloon decorations.


I talked to the hair and make-up people at Jose Eber salon, “where Beverly Hills meets Short Hills.” The stylist pointed to the other woman at the table and said “she’s our best colorist.” Then she asked whether I color my hair. I don’t. She paused. I said “do you think I need to color my hair?” And she paused again. Then she said I could use a gloss. It would look good in pictures and it’s a one-shot deal. She handed me her last goody bag, which had sample products in it and a hair tie (“they’re popular right now!”). The hair products were for colored hair, dry hair, and weakened, damaged hair, none of which I have (though apparently I have dull hair). And she handed me a salon menu with pricing. The gloss is only $30+, a bargain compared to the $500 hair cut with Jose Eber. Their website says they will detail your car on-site while you get your hair done, and on promoted days, they have in-salon entertainment by the top tri-states top DJs, while you get your salon services.

Here’s what else we found at the fair:

Boards

One photo vendor showed us his sign-in board and had other big photo displays too (see the six foot tall Taylor display on the right). He promised us that the sign-in board like Adam’s would not be stuck in the attic after the party. “It would go in the basement?” I asked earnestly. He didn’t think that was too funny.

Another photo vendor accosted us as we looked through his quincinera albums. He took this opportunity to ask us who was doing our video. I said we weren’t having video, which sent him on a rampage guilt trip telling us how photos don’t talk and laugh, and that in 20 years, my daughter was going to be sad that she didn’t have that video of everyone laughing. I thought back to my own bat mitzvah (more than 20 years ago) and don’t regret the lack of video. I think I’ve looked at my photo album twice. He asked, “don’t you want videos of people dancing and singing?” Uh, have you seen my family dance and sing? It’s not pretty. Plus we’re having a luncheon at a synagogue that doesn’t allow electronics on Shabbat, and a party at a rock-climbing gym with no DJ. “Oh. Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?” he said.


lucite invitation

We’re going with invitations we found online. But I was fascinated by all the lucite invitations. Mind you, they’re not my style AT ALL, but I found the ridiculousness of buying thick, plastic invitations that will go into landfill, mind-boggling. Ballpark $12-20 each, plus the shipping box, plus the postage. And Sam’s above would cost more because it’s printed on both sides. I do like that many of my bat mitzvah gifts (more than 20 years ago) were LUCITE. As in lucite jewelry boxes, lucite clip boards, lucite curio boxes – all clear plastic. Times have evolved.

lucite invitations1

The iPhone texting invitation was very thick, and the back had the kid’s faux Apple logo on it. It costs more than an actual iPhone. The invitation on the top right is a mirror, with lucite in back – that costs more because there are two layers. The basketball one is more economical because it’s thinner. I like how you could see through the player. And the blurry VIP passes are invitations you can wear around your neck. Because who doesn’t love to wear an invitation to a party? I bet that VIP part really fools the kids. The vendor had lots of really great paper invitations that would have been my choice. But those aren’t so fun to write about since this isn’t a design blog.


dragon popcorn

I gobbled down some New Jersey sloppy Joe’s at one booth, that also had chocolate dipped pretzels and chocolate covered strawberries. Those were good, but the fun vendor had Dragon Popcorn, pictured above. It’s sweet, colorful popcorn whose dyes probably give you cancer. It’s mixed in a bowl with liquid nitrogen, and served in a paper cone. Yes, it’s super cold. Some might say it’s frozen, with smoke coming out your mouth. And it was pretty tasty for the first few bites. You can’t eat much more than that. Rachel is modeling the happy expression of someone getting Dragon Popcorn. I asked the vendor how much this costs at a party, and he said it starts at $10/person. We are passing on that, but I did check out the Franco Vitella catering website (do you think they’re Jewish?), as they have some good looking/unique foods.

chocolate lipstick

One of those was chocolate lipsticks, which they sometimes serve at parties for people who like make-up (or something). I thought it was pretty funky and took one home, not sure what I’d do with it. Then I got a better look at it and realized how phallic it was, especially in chocolate. I won’t let my daughter have hers anymore, because I don’t want her licking or biting it.


We stopped by the Lucky Strike booth, where we found out that for $20,000-25,000, we could get a Saturday night party in Palisades for 100 people, “all in except for the DJ.” Yes, that includes top shelf liquor, but not the bus we’d need to transport everyone there. I had to look up Palisades – it’s a mall in Nyack, New York, which is not far from the Tappen Zee Bridge.

We also talked to Vegas, NJ, a party venue that offers b’nai mitzvah families a “Vegas Strip Menu.” Their next open house food tasting and showcase is April 27. As Rachel told them, that’s Passover. Why have a food tasting during Passover? Well, said the rep, we could come and not taste the food, just listen to the DJs. That’s no fun!

Lounge lizard

lounge lizard

my 12 year old

There’s something about lounge furniture that fascinates me. I have no idea why. But we had to test out the furniture and take a few of their pens (you can use the tips for texting). The part-owner male with diamond stud earrings on each ear came over to talk to me as I asked about pricing. You see our rock climbing facility has couches, but they’re pretty nasty. Even my son asked if I was getting them covered. I probably should, but it’s not like covering up the couches will make the place look better. Probably I’ll just rent some tables and chairs, which we’ll need anyway, and the kids can sit on the ugly couches. So it turns out that a medium VIP package which seats about 38 kids with some lounge tables and ottomans, runs $1,750. He said he could get creative with the rock climbing theme and use some slate colored throws on the couches (included in the VIP package), or maybe create some table tops to put over actual boulders, to go with the theme. Or maybe he could customize a table to look like a rock climbing wall, with the various toe rests on there. I said it might be tough put a drink down on that table. I politely refused to give him my contact information. “I’ll call you,” I said, after he mentioned that custom rental furniture (built just for you!) goes for $3,000-$6,000. This business is his passion, even though he owns several businesses.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

mirror photo booth

We can’t skip a photo booth, especially one that’s a giant mirror. This high tech photo booth has the camera inside/behind the mirror. You push the button to get it started, then it takes 3 photos, including one of you screaming (yeah, that was fun – not. I don’t need kids screaming even more than usual). You can then write on the mirror with your finger and it prints on the photo. Rental starts at $1,500. I have to say I wasn’t impressed with the photo quality, which maybe isn’t surprising since the photo is taken from behind a two-way mirror. And the writing was weird. It appeared on my leg. It should have read, “I have to pee.”

mitzvah fair


air brush.jpg


The only swag vendor was the airbrush guy, part of the mirror photo booth company. The line was super long, even if only 4 people were waiting. Works of art take time. I sent my kid over to get a hat, but it was taking too long. She wanted a hat that said “Malisha.” I’m not sure if I spelled that correctly. Robin waited, though. And she scored a Sofia hat and possible future vendor to use, and she ROCKED the look.


I’ll leave you with the DAK football themed logo invitation. I’m not into football, but I am into the initials DAK.






  1. So it’s confirmed Zack is my son and Dori is your daughter

  2. Before I even read the text, I knew that you’d have Something Funny to say about that “chocolate lipstick.” Whoa, that was freakish.
    I feel anxious just reading this post. No Lucite, no custom furniture, no monogrammed anything. But we will have bagels. Does that count?

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