The most important thing when catering for a bar mitzvah is to create a budget and stick to it to ensure everything runs perfectly right from the start. This article discusses a few tips on how to cater to a bar mitzvah on a budget.
- Make Early Preparations
Many people do not always have an idea of the costs involved in a bar mitzvah, especially if they are holding the ceremony for their first child. Do your research beforehand to get a sense of prices for different items and services as it helps you set realistic budgets. Starting early gives you more time to think through your decisions and have everything worked out in advance. Do not wait until the last minute to book your venue or go shopping for items that you may need during the ceremony. The prices could get too high or you may not find the best venue you hoped for because of improper timing.
- Consider Your Guest Count
Not everyone you think of needs to be invited to your bar mitzvah as it can strain your budget. The first people to be invited to a bar mitzvah should be your close family including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. However, you may want to leave out distant relatives, Hebrew classmates, friends, and co-workers off the list unless your child has asked to invite someone specifically or has a special relationship with any of them. Naturally, everyone would want to come to celebrate this special day with your child. However, if you are working on a tight budget, then the guest count should be your top priority as it determines how much money you will spend across the board.
- Choose Buffet Over a Sit-Down Meal
The catering costs for a bar mitzvah can get out of hand if you are going with a multi-course sit-down meal, hors d’oeuvres, or a gourmet dessert table. A buffet-style meal is much more affordable and can be equally fun and delicious. When planned properly, buffet meals cost less per person because they do not require a large standby staff. You can also limit the plate sizes to meet the food portion requirements and offer a wider variety of options than a sit-down meal. This makes it easier to include vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes to accommodate the needs of every guest.
- Get Creative With Party Gifts and Favors
It has always been a trend in the bar mitzvah to send off guests with gifts like custom water bottles, hoodies, and other expensive items. However, no rule says guests are owed anything on their way home. To cut down on costs, you may consider abstaining from giving out party favors. If your child insists on giving their family and friends a token of their appreciation, make it simple with candy or other gifts that can be bought in bulk such as glitter pens, novelty socks, sunglasses, and mini photo frames. You can choose to have a photo booth that delivers instant photos with fun props or set up a candy bar with small bags that guests can fill themselves.
- Have a House Party, if Possible
You can save a lot of money on catering your bar mitzvah by holding the party at home. Venues tend to cost a lot of money especially when photographers, DJs, and other vendors are involved. As long as you have a garden to accommodate the guests on your list, there is no need to hire a venue. You could have the perfect venue if there is some wooden furniture to keep everyone seated, some heating to keep guests warm after dark, and some outdoor lighting for ambiance and visibility. Although you may be tasked with cleaning up after the party, the amount of money saved on renting a venue should make up for the extra effort.
The Jewish custom regarding this celebration has been to welcome the bar mitzvah boy to the world of Jewish adulthood and granting him the responsibilities and opportunities that come with his new status. Food, drinks, and service account for the largest chunk of a bar mitzvah budget and thus should be carefully planned ahead of time to make the event a success.