How to Throw an Awesome, Stress-Free Jewish Party
You’re faced with the task of throwing a Jewish celebration.
Whether you are making a birthday party, upsherin, or bar/bat-mitzvah, half the fun should be planning the event!
Deciding on the colors or theme, guest list, decor, vendors, and activities makes the days leading up to the event seem like part of the celebration itself.
But how do you make the process flawless and stress-free so that when the event comes, you can actually enjoy the occasion along with your guests?
Of course, I have to say that hiring an event planner (like me) would be the best answer, but my purpose here is to help you prepare for your party, big or small, all on your own.
As parents, we want the party to be well planned as well as fun for our child. Even a small kid’s party requires planning, and the sooner you start the process, the earlier the excitement begins, and the less stress and work there will be on the day of. Did I mention that planning ahead could also save you money?
So where should you start?
Here are the various stages of planning a successful Jewish party for any occasion.
(Approximately six to eight weeks before for a regular party, or six to nine months before for a bar or bat mitzvah)
Step 1: Sit with your child and talk about what theme or color scheme he/she wants. Discuss how many friends he/she would like to invite, and write up a realistic list of fun entertainment he/she would like at his/her party.
Step 2: Pick a date. It’s important to make sure there is nothing going on that day that might interfere with people being able to attend, for example, upcoming school projects or events, holidays, and community events.
Step 3: Do you plan on using a venue other than your home? This is a great time to call them up and reserve a spot.
If you are making a party for little ones, make sure you schedule the event at the best time of day for them, when they are not too hungry or sleepy.
(Five weeks prior)
Step 1: Brainstorm what kinds of food you want for the party. Consider the time of day when deciding on a full course meal or light refreshments. If you want it catered, then call your favorite caterer for a quote and availability.
Step 2: Gather all the e-mails and/or mail addresses for those on your guest list. If you are doing an online invitation, I recommend creating a new email account exclusively for the party, so all the responses go there. It will be easier for you to sort “coming” and “not coming” attendees.
In your invitation, make sure to include: Date, location, time and R.S.V.P information. If your event requires special attire, then make sure to specify so everyone will come prepared.
Step 3: Call your vendor options for the entertainment and decor you will have at the party and book them. If you plan on doing the activities yourself, make a list of everything that will need to be purchased. Some vendors you might want to include are a photographer, invitation designer, DJ, and an event coordinator for either the whole event or for the day-of.
Step 4: If your guest list is larger, most likely you will need to borrow or rent tables, chairs, and linens. Now is the time to call a party rental company to start an order. A lot of times they might need to come measure your space to ensure everything fits. Remember, the earlier you book your vendors and rentals, the less stressful it will be if you have to make last-minute changes.
(Four weeks prior)
Step 1: Mail out the invitations.
Step 2: Purchase your themed supplies and favors you’ll need. If you aren’t using a caterer who will supply the china or paper/plastic goods, then make a list of what you’ll need. Include any bags/plates that’ll be needed for the candy/dessert table. I always like to order more of everything because I’d rather have some extras just in case.
Step 3: If you aren’t hiring a party planner, assign family or friends a task to be responsible for in order to ease some of the stress off you.
(Three weeks prior)
Step 1: Book a photo session for a few days prior to your event. I always recommend that families save a time for pictures before. This way, the pictures can be used to make a sign-in book or a poster with the photo of the person being celebrated.
(Two weeks prior)
Step 1: If you are not hiring a vendor to make centerpieces and other decor items, you should be preparing them at this point. Make a sample centerpiece to help you figure out what you still need. Also, you’ll be able to see how much time you need to make each individual piece. If you’re going to use flowers, order them now.
Step 2: This is a good time to make your banners, food labels, and any menus/signs that you will be placing at your event. The key to an unforgettable party is all in the details.
(One week prior)
Step 1: Make a timeline to send to all your vendors, family members, and friends who are helping, so everyone knows when and where to be.
Step 2: If you’re having assigned seats, plan your seating chart now.
Step 3: Don’t forget to call any guests who have yet to respond.
Step 4: Plan your outfits. If you want to wear something special and new, buy it this week. If you’re sticking to something you already own, then make sure it’s clean and doesn’t have any unexpected moth holes.
(Three days prior)
Step 1: If you didn’t hire a caterer, make your shopping list. Buy the food and start cooking. Are you a busy working mom like I am? Then move this to step five and start preparing the foods you can freeze.
(Two days prior)
Step 1: Make sure you have paid all deposits to the vendors and everything is properly booked.
Step 2: At this point, you shouldn’t have any more party logistics to worry about. If you have family or close friends who came from out of town for the party, then take a break and enjoy being with them.
(One day prior)
Step 1: It’s time to make the desserts unless you ordered them.
Step 2: If you have floral centerpieces to make and you didn’t hire a florist, then buy your fresh flowers and make your centerpieces. With flowers, keep them in a cool place so they stay vibrant.
Step 3: Prepare the checks, or whichever form of payment your vendors take, so you won’t have to excuse yourself from the festivities to take care of it.
(Day of event)
You made it! The day has arrived and with the balanced schedule you used, you were actually able to enjoy the process!
Remember, it’s very difficult to simultaneously tie up loose ends, take pictures, clean the baby’s hands, and greet guests. If you didn’t hire a planner, ask for help from others, and/or hire a sitter. If you didn’t hire a photographer, assign someone to take lots of pictures.
Don’t stress over them being professional or not. Either way, you’ll want to capture the day as much as possible.
Mazal Tov! It’s time to get ready and enjoy the party!
Momprenuer Malke Brookler is the owner and creative director of Detalles by M, a Southern California based event styling, coordinating, decor, and photography business. Malke is a lover of all things pretty, whether it’s creating the perfect event, graphic design, food styling, photography, or dressing up her adorable offspring.