Bar and Bat Mitzvah Parties Change With the Times

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In the world of bar and bat mitzvahs, things are changing. Gone are the days of sheet cakes, fluorescent bulbs and pastel party attire. In their place are desserts straight from the Food Network, hip, flattering lighting and fun, high fashion-inspired formalwear.

We spoke to some of the Baltimore  area’s top professionals to get the lowdown on what’s hot in bar and bat mitzvah parties. Below are the top five trends now sweeping coming- of-age simchas.


Standout outfits

Becoming an adult doesn’t have to mean dressing  “seriously.” On the contrary, one of the hot trends for bat mitzvah girls to wear at their parties now is the above-the-knee “cupcake” skirt. It has a little bit of flair and pleating, much like the wrapper of a cupcake.

Corseted dresses that can be adjusted in back to fit a range of sizes are also popular among bat mitzvahs, Karen Mazer, president of Synchronicity Boutique in Pikesville, said. Jeweled-top dresses and formal wear in teal, any shade of pink and various metallics (particularly rose gold) are among the most-requested and often-bought, she said.

For boys and girls alike, printed fabrics as well as charmeuse and satin “are making a major comeback,” said Mazer, whose store carries sizes 000 to 26w. In boys’ suits, velvet and unexpected colors such as red are rearing their heads.

Because not all party wear is appropriate for a religious ceremony, those looking to wear the same outfit to both synagogue and celebration must choose wisely.

“Even if the event is a  Havdalah service in a country club’s ballroom, we have been asked to remind families that it is the holiness of the ceremony and not the location of the event that must be considered,” Mazer said. “Synchronicity is a one-stop shop, and we are happy to help every woman and young lady find a single dress that … can ‘cover up’ for the service” but also has a removable jacket or outer layer so it can become an “amazing party dress for afterward, eliminating the need to buy two dresses for one event.”

Fun food

Say goodbye to staid sit-down meals. These days, b’nai mitzvah are more likely to be foodies and want a say in the type and taste of the food served at their parties, as well as the way the food is presented.

“We are seeing kids with a more sophisticated palate who are tired of the typical kids’ food,” Kim Fox Koppel, special events coordinator at Innovative Gourmet in Owings Mills, said. “Many of our clients opt to do away with separate food for the adults and kids — everyone enjoys the same good food.”

More bar and bat mitzvah  clients are also asking for interactive food stations rather than the more traditional served dinner or lunch, or buffet. Among the popular options: breakfast for dinner, Southern and Mediterranean.

Clients are also playing up the visual component of the meal. Many request themes, such as Hollywood glam, restaurant-inspired and retro, and still others ask for props to go along with the stations, bringing in a decor company to work with the caterer to design crowd-wowing stations.

“Neon and LED are big this year,” Fox Koppel said. “It’s not just about the food; it’s about how you present the food.”

And whereas a sponge cake with royal icing might have cut it as dessert 25 years ago, these days the meal ender is another  opportunity for the party host to get creative. For bar and bat mitzvah clients,  Innovative Gourmet has done everything from  nitrogen ice cream bars, to grand cupcake displays, to sprinkle-rimmed, candy- and soda-filled cups.

Acrylic  everything

Koheleth wasn’t talking about acrylic when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun,” but he could have been. The shiny resin, hugely popular some four decades ago, is having a renaissance at bar and bat mitzvah celebrations, according to Heidi Hiller, owner and creative director of Innovative Party Planners in Owings Mills. The acrylic craze at these parties has touched everything from signing boards to chairs and tables, from dance floors to gift boxes.

Now, “we are just waiting for the acrylic name bracelet and key chains so popular  in the mid-’70s to make a comeback!” Hiller said.

No-sit seating

A ballroom filled with enough round tables to hold all your guests is a thing of the past. On-trend now is having a variety of seating options, including cocktail seating, with smaller, taller tables placed throughout the party space, as well as lounge furniture, such as leather chairs and sofas. For these increasingly common requests, “we work with the caterer to prepare a menu that utilizes stations for dinner that offer small portions,” Hiller said. “Guests graze more than dine.” As for the friends of the bar or bat mitzvah: “Teens don’t  really sit,” Hiller said.

Non-wearable take-homes

Sorry, but if you loved corny T-shirts of the “I Went to Ben’s Bar Mitzvah And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” variety, you’re out of luck on this score. These days party favors are much more chic than geek. Trending now for bar and bat mitzvah take-homes are “fleece blankets, towels, S’well bottles and other items that don’t need to be sized,” Hiller said.

Ananth Hartmann is a Washington D.C.-based freelance writer.

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