Personalization and technology are overwhelmingly the two biggest influences when planning today's bat and bar mitzvahs.
The trend towards “personalization” encourages flexibility and ingenuity. Families are thinking outside of the box to capture the teen’s personality in elegant and stylish receptions. Celebrations are carefully crafted to reflect the guest of honor’s favorite foods, colors, activities and fashions.
There is also a growing emphasis on integrating the deep meaning behind the celebration. We see an increase in “philanthropy-inspired bat and bar mitzvahs,” with greater focus on highlighting the teen’s mitzvah (service) project, and using the bat/bar mitzvah event as a springboard to be more involved in charitable causes and to give back to the community.
The latest trends in bat and bar mitzvahs are increasingly “state of the art.” Technology is now intertwined in every step of families’ preparation, from rabbis and cantors providing distance tutoring via Skype, to the availability of mobile planning apps and demand for interactive dance floors. Guests may find themselves at entertainment stations employing virtual reality, or at digital graffiti walls creating their own unique art. Even giveaways, like custom LED baseball caps and versatile photo favors, are highly tech-influenced.
New technology also comes into play during the event planning stages. Though many parents are opting for all-inclusive packages rather than selecting each vendor a la carte, others are relying heavily on mobile technology in the form of smartphone apps. Often free, apps allow families to create pages of content for guests and manage online RSVP’s. There are also apps to help with the process of creating a seating chart, or converting event photos from guests’ phones or Instagram into printed products. Easily accessible, apps make everything from planning to preserving memories as simple as touching a screen.
In terms of entertainment, many kids are choosing a “club feel,” complete with over-the-top specialty lighting, cozy upholstered or illuminated furniture, electro/house style music and other chart-topping hits. DJ/emcees and dancers remain the go-to entertainers for most mitzvahs, with live musicians--such as congo drummers or vocalists--performing alongside DJs to get guests on the dance floor.
Guests are doing more than just dancing, though! Entertainment options continue to infiltrate the market, with virtual and interactive games topping the list. Hosts go for interactive acts, and tie in social media components, which is great for guests. Families are also setting up creative activity stations. Among the most popular right now are custom sock stations and bling bars, where guests can decorate iPhone covers, headphones, and more.
For decor, transforming the reception space into a glamorous lounge is popular. Mood lighting is an excellent way to accomplish the look. LED-lit vases and glowing centerpieces are great options, along with illuminated furniture, glow bars and light-up dance floors. Many receptions now feature personalized “cubbies” where friends and family can store their party favors and giveaways.
Traditional themes do still play a role, and many of our experts mentioned that a sports focus is common among boys. Others have seen an increasing interest in the “favorite things” themes.
These are exciting times in bar and bat mitzvahs, with new options, new priorities, and especially new technology available every day. 2014 is destined to be a banner year, and we cannot wait to see what is in store.
Cigall Goldman is co-owner of Mazelmoments.com, an award-winning website dedicated to planning Jewish-inspired events including weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and baby celebrations.