December 13, 2013
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Bar mitzvah budget and money-saving tips

Save cash on your bash

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If there’s one thing that Jews can agree on, it’s that bar and bat mitzvahs are expensive. From cantor fees to music and mitzvot, the cost of entering adulthood in the Jewish community can run as high as $10,000 or $15,000 for a single-day event. Luckily for today’s parents, it’s now easier than ever to have a great time and impress your guests while staying within a budget.

To help you economize, we’ve compiled a list of ways to save on your child’s big day, from pre-planning to post-party. You’ll come away looking like a mensch and you won’t have to spend money like a macher.

• Trim your guest list

Guest lists can be a source of stress for families, but the easiest way to slash costs is to reduce the number of people you invite in the first place.

If you need practical advice about who you should and should not invite, we’ve got you covered.

Mazel Moments, an online resource for planning Jewish events, also has a handy bar and bat mitzvah “Guest List Manager” interactive spreadsheet to help you figure out who makes the cut. The site also has a budget management spreadsheet and a vendor manager tool for keeping track of external costs.

• Make your own invitations

Paper invitations can be expensive (so, do a mitzvah and buy invitations where the proceeds go to a good cause). One easy way to reduce this overhead is to print your own invitations. There are tons of companies, such as Download and Print and I Do-It-Yourself that can trim a lot off the cost of printing. Poke around and see what works for you, just make sure to invest in quality card stock.

• Have a double bar (or bat) mitzvah

Many adolescents have bar or bat mitzvahs around the same time of year. Why not coordinate your son or daughter’s party with another kid’s celebration? Having a joint party gives you twice the resources at a fraction of the cost and can reduce stress in planning the event. Our writer, Cantor Matt Axelrod offers advice on how to pull a double bar mitzvah off.

Have the party on an off night

Saturday night is always the most expensive time to throw a party, so simply host a simcha on a Sunday night. If you choose to have your party during warm months, you can even take the party outdoors. Most New York City parks, for instance, allow you to host an event outdoors for a minimal fee, usually around $25. Check your city’s park permits for more information. Plus, if you have your party in the great outdoors, you won’t have to worry about controlling rambunctious tweens.

• Trim the fat off of catering costs

The cost of feeding guests can add up, so eliminate elements that people may not notice. Bring your own or borrow cutlery, napkins, and linens. Eliminate waiters and servers and opt for a buffet. You can also offer chicken as a meat course. Keep close tabs on food costs, since they can easily overtake your budget — and read our tips on how to save money on candy!

• Limit the number and value of party favors

Party favors can eat away at your budget. Instead, give away small gifts — $2 iTunes gift cards, for example — or offer people the option to donate the cost of the party favors to a charity of your choice. If you opt for the charity route, your donations may also be tax-deductible, which will save you money in the long run. More parting-gift saving tips can be found here.

• Stick to your budget

If you make a budget for the bar mitzvah, stick to it! The easiest way to overspend is to let small things get in the way of having the party you planned. Be firm with your choices and you’ll have a fun event without breaking the bank!

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