I recently went to a Bat Mitzvah (that’s the girl version of a Bar Mitzvah), and I tend to take notes of the good, the bad and the downright disastrous. Because in just six-and-a-half short years, my son will have his Saturday night, over-the-top affair complete with circus acts, a photo booth and flowing chocolate fountains (all found here on GigMasters, btw). My belief is – it’s never too early to start planning. Or shopping for a bedazzled gown. Or sampling cakes. 

Here were my oy vey moments:

#1: Room You Could Shvitz In

How many people do you plan on having? If small, say, under 75 guests - a one room party is likely adequate. But stuffing nearly 150 people into a single, square-shaped room with a narrow hallway to the bathrooms and a postage-stamp sized dance floor? Better keep a basket of deodorant nearby.

The appetizers were shoved into a corner, and the line snaked across the room. The older guests were complaining about having a diabetic crash because it took too long to nosh. And the heat? My gawd, the heat. Between the hot trays of kosher Chinese hors d’oeuvres and 50 pre-teen girls squashed together to load up their plates with French fries, you could drop.

 

#2: Speaking of Food… 

Who’s the party for? KIDS. Sure, mom and dad have invited all of their friends too, but the main goal should be making sure these children eat (grandma wants meat on them bones!) Some families – as was the case with this party – are GLATT kosher. I won’t lie, I’m not terribly sure the difference between regular and glatt kosher. I just know that the food should still be, well – edible.

Babaganoush? Mushroom-laden lo-mein? Maybe not. For appetizers during the cocktail hour, think small bites: Mini sliders. Cups of French fries with dips. Popcorn chicken bites. Sushi. For a sit-down dinner, stay clear of weird steak cuts (looking at you Salisbury) and fishy fishes. Salmon? Flounder? You know what kids like? PASTA. Hire a great caterer who can help you design a menu to feed your crowd.

 

#3: Music, Makes the People, Come Together… 

So said Madonna. Exercise caution when choosing entertainment. 13 year olds don’t want to hear Larry the Lounge singer belt out Rihanna. Hire an amazing, age-appropriate DJ. The poor guy at this party looked like he popped his hip out while doing the Electric Slide. The kids were  stunned. All I heard was, “What song is that?” “Yo, that ain’t baller” and “Why isn’t he playing Kendrick Lamar?”

You want a young, fresh DJ, maybe with dancers! And fun handouts! Silly glasses, light up sticks – those sorts of things. Kids love tchotchkes.

 

#4: Do Me a Favor 

At the end of the party, the feted boy or girl stands at the exit and hands out a present thanking everyone for attending his or her journey into adulthood. My son is six. There were at least 10 other kids there under the age of 10. Don’t leave them out of getting a favor. “The company didn’t have any smaller sizes!” Uh huh.

The ones who will care the most about not having a parting gift are the 10 and under set. If there’s no tee shirt or sweat pant or whatever else you plan on giving away – GET SOMETHING ELSE. My son cried for 15 minutes that he was left out.  Between this and only eating bread for four hours he was D-O-N-E.

#5: Posterity without Seeing Spots

Many people hire a videographer to get the whole event on DVD. In 30 years, you can look back and see loved one who may have passed on having a great time dancing and talking. It’s priceless. But…

THE LIGHT

In a small room, the videographer had to get thisclose to everyone. Do you know how bright that light is? Like “Carol Anne! Come to the light” bright. Not like heaven, for that is supposed to be soothing. My mother, who is 70, saw spots after this guy asked her to say a few words to the Bat Mitzvah girl. I think she said, “I can’t see! Who are you? How’s my lipstick?” Make sure you talk room size with your photographer and videographer, or check GigMasters reviews.

We got lucky. There was a street fair right outside during the party. With FARM ANIMALS. For an hour, we left, enjoyed funnel cake, a Beatles cover band and fed the cutest little mini horse named Nibbles.

We all get caught up in planning these grand occasions, and sometimes forget that we want our guests to be happy too. Next time there might not be a petting zoo and we’ll be stuck inside eating whitefish salad and swaying to Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years.” 

Please. Don’t do that to me.