Daughter Turning 12 Or 13 Over The Holiday Season? 3 Tips Planning A Fun, Yet Meaningful Bat Mitzvah Party

Posted on: 28 November 2016

If your family follows orthodox or conservative Judaism, then your daughter's bat mitzvah should take place when she is 12 years old. If your family is a member of the reform Jewish religion, then according to the laws of your religion, her bat mitzvah should occur when she is 13. While her bat mitzvah party should be a lot of fun, it should also be a very meaningful celebration that celebrates the many great lessons your child has learned already and the many more life lessons to come. Read on for some tips on how to keep your daughter's bat mitzvah celebration fun for her and your guests but also keep it educational to remind her of what an important religious milestone the event is. 

1. Limit You Help with Her Bat Mitzvah Speech 

As you know, one of the most important events of your daughter's bat mitzvah celebration will be the time she delivers her speech. Make sure she begins preparing it well in advance, so she has time to create a well-written speech she is proud of. While, as a parent, you likely want to help her as much as you can with such an important speech, make sure to allow her free reign on the ideas she expresses in her speech. 

While helping her with spelling, pronunciation, and grammar in her written speech is fine, don't nix any ideas she has, especially her life lesson that she learned from the Torah. Also, don't suggest an idea for the life lesson, because it is her time to think about all she has learned and put the puzzle pieces together herself. While working on her speech with little help will be challenging for her, in the end, she will feel more proud of it when she knows it was filled with all of her own ideas. 

2. Make Pre-party Preparation Meaningful

As a parent, it can be all-too-easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the party on the "big day" and let your daughter spend party preparation time relaxing or focused on helping with small tasks, such as blowing up balloons and hanging streamers. Instead, recruit enough help and start decorating in advance, so your daughter can focus on the most meaningful steps of preparation. 

For example, chabad.org recommends that parents allow their daughters to not just separate the challah bread before the bar mitzvah party, but also prepare the dough and bake it. While your experience baking bread may lead to creating a loaf that is more pleasing to guests' eyes, your daughter's sense of pride when breaking that challah bread dough that she created from scratch for the first time is more important than the appearance of it. 

It is also great to allow your daughter to choose a service activity she can engage in before party preparation even begins that will make the day even more special. Provide her with several options that she can pick from, such as helping out at a local food bank, visiting the elderly at a nursing home, or volunteering at a local animal shelter for a couple of hours. 

2. Book Your Bat Mitzvah Party Venue with Shabbat in Mind

You should have your daughter light her first official shabbat candle at her bat mitzvah, and it will be much more meaningful for her if the traditional shabbat rules are not broken to accommodate the fact that you booked the party venue on the wrong day or time due to calling the party venue at the last minute and finding out that they are all booked up for Friday evenings. That candle must be lit on a Friday evening about 18 minutes before sunset and allowed to burn for 2-3 hours before naturally burning out. 

Some party venues don't allow candles to be lit inside of them at all, so be sure to ask the owner of the venue you plan to book for your daughter's bat mitzvah party if candles are allowed. If not, you want to find a different venue or ask for a special exception due to the fact that it will just be one candle that is lit and watched closely by everyone. 

There is no official rule regarding what activities you can perform at your daughter's bat mitzvah before she lights her candle, but after it is lit, any activity that is traditionally performed on a weekday needs to be avoided and everyone should relax and have a good time. Typically, the candle lighting is one of the first party activities. Also remember that the candle should not be moved at all once it is lit, so have your daughter light it in a place where it can stay for the duration of the party. 

Before party day, let your daughter pick out a beautiful candlestick and, after it burns out, place it in a special case that she can keep and cherish for many years. 

If you are planning your daughter's bat mitzvah party, then remember these tips for making the celebration truly meaningful and not just a day where she "goes through the motions." This will make the day a more memorable experience and one she can look back on with pride later in life.