THREE TO FOUR YEARS BEFORE
Confirm minimum number of years of Hebrew school attendance required to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah at your synagogue. Enroll asap.
Find a local synagogue
If having ceremony independently of a temple, contact a freelance rabbi or tutor. View list
Pick date and time
Decide the architecture of the event
Decide if hiring event planner. If yes, read reviews of and hire
Determine preliminary budget
Create preliminary guest list
Join the MitzvahMaven Support Network
Read reviews of, solicit bids from, then book party location(s)
Read reviews of, solicit bids from, then book caterer
Read reviews of, solicit bids from, then book musicians and/ or DJ
Begin any redecorating or landscaping projects if hosting Shabbat dinner or Sunday brunch at home
Shop for mom's outfit(s) (you'll be shopping in the right season, one year early) Synagogue and evening dress gallery
Confirm the dates of any synagogue-sponsored Bar/Bat Mitzvah orientation sessions
Confirm when your child's study sessions begin
Schedule your family to attend as many Shabbat services this year as possible
Order and mail save-the-date cards or magnets
Decide if creating bar or bat mitzvah website
Hire party entertainment
Read reviews of, solicit bids from, then book photographer
Decide if using motif, theme and/or color scheme for party.
Read reviews of then book florist and/or event decorator/designer
Ask trusted friend or relative to be your Mitzvah Maid
10 TO 8 MONTHS BEFORE
Confirm which prayers and Torah/ Haftorah portion(s) your child will learn
Decide how/if to weave a party theme/motif/color scheme into party
Begin browsing invitations
6 MONTHS BEFORE
Confirm your child's mitzvah project is selected and on track. Decide if/how it will be mentioned on the invitations
Print and post the Torah/Haftorah portion and prayers progress tracker on your refrigerator
Reserve any rental items
Gather and confirm all guests' mailing addresses
5 MONTHS BEFORE
Finalize guest list
Create or order invitations, response cards, thank you cards, driving instructions cards and all other invitation enclosures
4 MONTHS BEFORE
Assemble and weigh all invitation enclosures, then order or create personalized bar/bat mitzvah postage stamps
If using a calligrapher, give guest list
Confirm child is beginning to write D'var Torah speech
If doing photo montage or video, select all photos, then begin to create it now or hire a videography/montage professional
3 MONTHS BEFORE
Mail invitations. Pat self on back for completing huge milestone!
Buy outfits and all accessories for bar/bat mitzvah child, spouse and siblings
Order party favors
Order yarmulkes for guests and designer, heirloom tallis for your child
Book day-of-event hair and makeup appointments
2 MONTHS BEFORE
Meet with officiating rabbi to discuss child's progress and family's participation in worship services
Confirm child has learned all prayers and is nearly done learning to chant without vowels
Confirm rehearsal schedule and other details such as aliyot and incorporating family heirlooms into the service.
Assign bimah aliyot (worship service honoraria) to family members and others. Get participants' Hebrew names, then give completed list to rabbi. Select poetry readings or other tasks for honorees not having aliyot.
Order challah and/or cake.
If creating party chronology, give one copy to your spouse, one to your DJ/ master of ceremonies, one to your mitzvah maid.
Make final arrangements with all vendors.
Create tentative seating chart
Book tasting with caterer and finalize menu, beverage and alcohol selections.
If necessary, hire transportation service to transport guests from ceremony to party.
Order party favors and dancefloor prizes and giveaways
Create or order table centerpieces and other decor
Break in any new shoes
1 MONTH BEFORE
Confirm child has mastered all prayers and can chant Torah portion without vowels. To alleviate stage fright, have run-through in front of one or more family members
Confirm child has written and (rabbi has approved) final draft of speech.
Meet with cantor to review and rehearse family's participation in service
Plan party room layout and seating with caterer, planner or site manager
Give written venue directions, arrival time and specific instructions to all vendors
Give photographer list of specific photos
Give videographer list of specific shots
Give DJ and/or musicians party chronology, list of must-plays and must-nots
Create day-of-event cell phone contact list for all vendors; give Mitzvah Maid extra copy
Have tailor alter clothing
2 WEEKS BEFORE
Call guests who haven't RSVP'd. Not sure? Read Bar/Bat Mitzvah RSVP etiquette questions
Give caterer final head count. Tradition is to deduct four from your actual number.
Dry clean or polish any heirlooms you're incorporating into the service
Create or order welcome baskets for hotel guests
1 WEEK BEFORE
Attend final rehearsal with clergy in the synagogue
Have photographer take family photos in the synagogue. Alternatively, do this the day of the event or the week after
Person by person, confirm that every outfit for your immediate family is complete (i.e., hemmed, tailored, cleaned) from socks to headbands. Do a mental jewelry and accessories run-through, too.
Write or print out place cards. Give to caterer in advance of service
Get cashier's checks for outstanding payments to vendors due on event day Go to beauty and wellness appointments: hair, makeup, nails, teeth whitening, massage.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Charge your cell phone
Confirm delivery of gift baskets to hotel
Get a good night's sleep
Take a quiet moment to thank God (and anyone else!) for the good fortune and blessing of having a child reach Bar/Bat Mitzvah age
DAY OF EVENT
Make promise with yourself that no matter what goes wrong (and something will) you'll minimize its importance and stay focused on this profound, miraculous and wonderful day. Share the same thought with your child.
Take candles for candlelighting
Take extra cards that give directions to the party location
Take extra copy of seating chart
Take tallis/tallitot, yarmulkes
Take outstanding payments for vendors
Take list of vendors' cell phone numbers
Take emergency kit (needles, thread, tampons, headache medicine)
1 WEEK AFTER EVENT
Thank vendors who did a great job by reviewing them at the eMitz Vendor Quick Search.
Share your insights with the rest of the eMitz community at Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Lessons Learned. Help the eMitz community by becoming a member of the MitzvahMaven Support Network
Make a record of all gifts
Have your child write 25% of all thank you cards each week for the next 4 weeks
Send the rabbi, cantor and tutor thank you notes