On A Budget
There are many ways to save
on your bar/bat mitzvah party.
ome childhood incidents
are best kept in the family
— no matter how utterly
Tansy Craft of West Bloomfield
understands this. So before she wrote
down any facts about daughter Lyla's
childhood — facts that would be
broadcast to everyone at Lyla's bat
mitzvah celebration — she checked
with her daughter. A few accounts,
Lyla insisted, had to go. But for the
most part she was a good sport, and
because of that everyone learned a lot
about Lyla — and her mother saved a
lot of money.
The idea was simple and original:
Craft found photos — school pic
tures and family favorites — and used
a photocopy machine to make copies.
She then wrote interesting facts about
Lyla on the backs of the pictures and
placed them in acrylic frames from
the dollar store. Voila. Centerpieces,
used at Lyla's bat mitzvah, were born.
These days, making a bar or bat
mitzvah celebration can be as costly
as a wedding. But it doesn't have to
be this way.
My daughter, Adina, recently
became bat mitzvah. For many rea-
sons, we did not opt for an elaborate
celebration. There were no dinners at
a hotel. Adina did not have her hair
and makeup done for a portrait. I did
not take another job just to pay for
the party. Still, Adina and her friends
had a terrific time.
It required a lot of planning, a lot
of work, a lot of time — and a fair
amount of money (no matter how
frugal you are, you must plan on
Whether you're looking to keep
costs to a minimum or money is not
an issue, .here are some ideas for mak-
ing it through a bar/bat mitzvah cele-
bration without going broke.
SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
A child becomes bar or bat mitzvah
regardless of whether he/she has a
party. When a Jewish bo'y turns 13
and a Jewish girl 12, they become
obligated to all the mitzvot (com-
mandments), and that's all there is to
Still, it's nice to mark the occasion
— and it's nice to remember that this
is all about your child. You may want
to invite each and every one of your
business associates to a black-tie, sit-
down affair, but is this really what
would make your youngster happy?
My daughter wanted a party with
all her girl friends from school and
from the neighborhood. We came up
with a list of 20.
She also wanted a Kiddush lunch.
Fortunately, Adina really wanted a
Kiddush at the congregation where
her teacher, Rabbi Eliezer Cohen,
serves as rabbi. Or Chadash is a small
congregation, but of course everyone
who comes to a Kiddush is starving,
so we had to have a lot of food. We
bought most of it at Sam's Club. We
set it up ourselves. We cleaned it up
When it comes to food preparation,
I know my weakness. It's called bak-
ing. This is where I knew I had to
splurge. But instead of going to the
bakery, I asked around. I learned
about Hadassah Werner of Oak Park,
who makes cakes in her home. I
bought one for the Kiddush and one
for the party. They were works of art
and tasted oh-so-delicious.
(Depending on the size and design
of your cake, expect to pay anywhere
from $20-$100 for a cake from a pri-
I also bought cheese pizzas, bagged,
pre-torn salad, and onion rings and
French fries for the party. Although
I'm sure this was not the first time
these girls had tasted pizza, they acted
like it was the most delicious food
they had ever eaten.
Our party began at 8 p.m. Saturday
night. In addition to the pizza and
the cake, I planned two games (we
only had time for one) and an arts-
and-crafts project. Some time ago I
learned this trick from a friend:
always have a great art project at a
party, because this not only serves to
entertain the children, it can be a
take-home treat. You have to give
your guests some kind of goody bag,
but children this age are way beyond
pencils and cute erasers.
Our party project was making
greeting cards. Check out
Munro/Avanti Crafts in Berkley. It is
filled, top to bottom, with cool craft
supplies. We bought everything from
charms to glitter to stickers, then
placed them in plastic bowls (we had
about 40 different craft items, plus
stamp pads and colored markers).
My husband cut greeting cards
from stock, and we gave each girl
three blank cards, plus envelopes and
a beautiful red bag (also from Munro)
to hold the cards. They went wild
over the project and one parent,
when he picked up his daughter,
The most important factor: What
will really make my child happy?
Left: Lyla Craft and her dad, Neil,
enjoyed her bat mitzvah.