Party Trends in NY & CT bar & bat mitzvahs
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by Judy Antell August 26, 2008

Planning a bar or bat mitzvah party can be fun, but it can also cause a lot of stress.  If your child’s birthday is early in the season, you can pretty much start with a clean slate, but you don’t know how the event will turn out.  If your kid’s date is late, you’ll have to take into consideration what the rest of her friends did so you don’t throw the same party that 40 other teens in the neighborhood already had.  Even if your child’s date is right in the middle, there are plenty of other things to worry about.

   This is where it is helpful to listen to the party planners, DJs and caterers.  They have a wealth of knowledge, experience and suggestions that can make your party special.  Audrey Wyman, owner of Coordinated Celebrations, Inc., in Scarsdale, says Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties are challenging because kids have gone to so many: “Unless you capture their attention, they go wild at a country club or mansion.”  Her style is to start out conservatively, and offer different options for customizing a party.  She notes that a trend is to have just one party rather than separate parties for kids and adults.

   Scott Bragin, owner of Rhythm of the Night Entertainment, says the separate kids parties are still quite popular; he is often booked for them. Bragin is a DJ who arranges live musicians, motivators, party favors and specialized lighting for parties.

   Craig Pellis, the owner of Silver Spoon Catering, says a popular option is different food stations instead of standard buffets. He often has what he calls “action stations,” where food is made to order:  a crepe station, for example, where there are different fillings; an Italian station with customized sauces; or a “Lower East Side” station with corned beef, turkey and other meats. 

   Both Pellis and Wyman cite the increased sophistication of young attendees.  Wyman says more and more kids want sushi bars: “They eat in all these fabulous restaurants with their families,” and have well-developed palates.  Pellis notes that they want the best of both worlds: “They want what the adults are getting and they want the fun food, too.”

   Wyman pointed to a new trend towards decorations, including centerpieces, that can be reused or recycled.  She has arranged parties in temples that don’t allow flowers that die, and she says this idea of not being wasteful teaches children that life isn’t about materialism.  Wyman encourages families to choose plants that can be replanted into a temple’s garden, echoing the lifecycle.

   Pellis says theme parties are particularly popular; at one musically themed party, he served food on actual records, noting that some kids didn’t even know what records were.
   But they do know clubs.  Bragin says a popular theme is setting up a Bar/Bat Mitzvah party as a nightclub, with a red carpet entrance, a bouncer and VIP passes that partygoers have to earn by answering trivia questions about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child. Robert Moschetta, owner of Entertainment & Sounds Unlimited, echoed the club theme and added that multimedia has become a big part of the parties.  “Plasma screens and video projection are huge,” he says.  And the latest innovation is bringing in Wii games.  “We set up multiple screens in the cocktail hour, and kids play tennis or bowl.”

   Some kids in Westchester don’t just want to be entertained — they want to be the entertainment. According to Rock Mitzvah cofounder Jim Weingast, “Instead of playing Coke & Pepsi, the kids rock out with our band.”  The celebrant usually plays a set, and invites his friends to join in.  But like the kids who want both kid and adult food, some parties have it both ways: a DJ with the typical party games plus Rock Mitzvah to offer alternative entertainment.

   Moschetta cautions that, “Party planning doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s an evolution.”  So don’t feel you have to have everything set in stone immediately.
   If you are looking to be trendy, some of the recent popular choices have been miniature food, food served out of shot glasses or off porcelain spoons, a plasma screen with a photomontage, and “uplighting” or lights under linen to create atmosphere.  But remember, trends change quickly and this week’s hot item can be next month’s dust heap. Macarena, anyone?

• Coordinated Celebrations, Inc., 914-7232239;
• Rhythm of the Night Entertainment, 800-450-4994;
• Silver Spoon Catering and Events, 914-241-0955;
• Rock Mitzvah, 914-419-3610;
• Entertainment & Sounds Unlimited, 914-633-43330;