Like any celebration, there are many things to consider when planning a bar or bat mitzvah. Choosing the party’s details – from the size of the festivities to the venue, theme and food – can be overwhelming, but the celebration can offer an opportunity to create a unique atmosphere through creative planning. One Westchester family, the DeMarcos, recently marked this important rite of passage for their son Ben and shared how they planned and celebrated the occasion.
The DeMarcos of Mt. Kisco – Deena, Jonathan, Ben, 13, and Sammy, 10 – held an uncommon and special celebration with Ben’s 13th birthday and bar mitzvah falling on the very same day. The religious ceremony was held at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester in Croton on Hudson. A party followed that same Saturday afternoon with family and friends enjoying games, food and music at Grand Prix New York/Spins Bowl in Mt. Kisco.
Centering the bar or bat mitzvah festivities around a theme can simplify the planning. Ben chose a superhero/video game theme for his party. The logos of superheroes Flash, Ironman, Spiderman and Superman identified the party tables. Deena further decorated the tables by creating customized centerpieces using Spins bowling pins, black and white checkered balloons and blue balloons.
Then she added some personalized games to the tables, which the kids and parents alike enjoyed. She created Tic-Tac-Toe boards with playing pieces that included Ben’s bar mitzvah date and his initials, a Jenga game also with the date, and decks of playing cards depicting some of Ben’s favorite pictures.
The choices of venue for making an event fun and memorable are many and varied. Deena asked her son what he wanted to do for his special day and Ben said he wanted to go bowling with his friends. Deena chose the Grand Prix New York/Spins Bowl on North Bedford Road in Mt. Kisco because it offers several activities — indoor racing, bowling and an arcade — to engage the children throughout the party. She said Ben loves all the activities at Grand Prix New York/Spins Bowl, especially the go-kart racing.
Deena worked with a Spins event manager who helped her vision of the party “come to life.” The event manager made recommendations for activities, entertainment and food, and oversaw the festivities to make sure all things ran according to plan. The Spins staff set up the party room in a private bowling alley using the decorations that Deena had made along with the party favors. Deena praised the staff at Spins and said that they were “wonderful to work with.”
The party got underway with a cocktail hour in the bowling alley for the adults and on the race track for the kids and any adults who wanted to also go-kart race. The main festivities followed with an assorted menu of snacks, finger foods and dishes that were agreeable to the children and adults alike. Dessert included a sundae bar, brownies and cookies personalized with Ben’s bar mitzvah logo. A candle lighting ceremony rounded out the party.
For party favors Ben gave his friends portable cell phone chargers, along with personalized decks of playing cards that reflected the superhero/video game theme. At the beginning of the party, Ben had the DJ give out T-shirts for his friends to wear during the festivities.
Other service providers for the event included a DJ. He asked what songs or type of music Ben likes and then created a playlist that appealed to both the children and adults. And no bar mitzvah would be complete without a professional photographer. Donna Mueller Photography captured all the fun at the party as well as the ceremony at the temple.
Among the many steps to consider in achieving the perfect celebration is one simple one: focus on customizing aspects of the event in order to personalize the day. For a successful celebration, Deena suggests building the party on “what your child enjoys doing and then going from there.” Ben’s celebration was a kids’ party with activities that the children enjoyed and that their parents embraced making for a memorable bar mitzvah celebration.
Henrietta Toth writes middle-grade nonfiction and contributes to Westchester Family.