Monday, September 21, 2015

Hotel Guest Gift Bags

I got so many compliments on these out-of-towner hotel guest gift bags!  I ended up with enough supplies to make sure that my local family members got one too.  The key was customizing the bags to our great state: Maryland!  I selected some local favorite foods, added in some tubes of gumballs to represent the Bar Mitzvah boy's chosen entertainment of paintball, and topped it off with a Maryland post card.  I wrapped some duct tape around bottled water to include a drink.

DIY Mitzvah Crafting: Centerpieces, Place Cards, & More!

This time around we went for a non-traditional reception - barbecue, grilled food, paintball, s'mores, and even some deep fried Oreos!  More on that later, though since the most important part is obviously the part where our son becomes a Bar Mitzvah.  Chanting from the Torah is no easy task, especially not when you're only 13 years old, and performing in front of your family and friends!  Chanting from the Torah involves using the Hebrew text of the Torah with no vowels and no musical notations, and for our son, he made it look like no problem!

We figured if we was going to follow in his sister's footsteps, we could at least try actually making the tallit (ritual prayer scarf), as well as tying the tzitzit (ritual fringes found on the four corners of a tallit).  We used this video as instructions for tying the tzitzit:  We thought it would be nice to find a unique way to use the principle of "Hiddur Mitzvah", or beautifying a ritual object, in connection with the themes of sports and paintball.  We used a basic tie dye kit in an unconventional way.  We placed the tallit in a plastic bin that is typically used for under-the-bed storage.  We put the bin on the ground below our deck, which is one story above ground level.  Then we turned our son loose with the squeeze bottles of dye, working from the lightest to the darkest, to create a paintball splatter look.

We also made a special "yad" (Hebrew word for hand, used to describe the pointer that is used to keep your place while chanting from the Torah).  This was very easy, using a kit from:

In keeping with the paintball and sports theme, we made place cards using food-grade plastic tubing from, and gumballs from, which look like paintball ammo.  The label had a sports ball of some kind, along with the guests' names, so that they would know which sports ball table to look for. The labels were purchased from, and printed at home using free clip art found online.

I had more than enough gumballs after purchasing them from a bulk supplier to fill some $1 glass bottles for use on the tables.  I had always wanted to try the popular craft of chalkboard painting on various surfaces, so I also used some of the $1 glass bottles for that.  I glued wooden clothespins onto the caps of the gumball-filled bottles, and onto the necks of the chalkboard painted bottles to hold the sports ball cutouts I purchased from the teacher supply store.
E6000 glue, and clothespins for sign holders

I primed the chalkboard painted bottles by covering them with chalk and rinsing them off (after plenty of time for the paint to cure). The easiest way to prime them was actually to use the chalk on the eraser, and then rub the eraser onto the bottle.

I wrapped twine around the chalkboard painted bottles just to cover the threads of the bottle, and to tie chalk onto, to make it easy for guests to help decorate and leave messages!
I also happened to have some $1 wooden picture frames that I spray painted purple.  I then used what was left of my chalkboard spray paint to paint the glass of the picture frame.  These were great to have for labelling things at the party, and for guests to leave messages on.

Chalkboard vinyl removable labels were great for the gumball filled bottles too.

The silver glass vases were spray painted with a hammered metallic spray paint in case I needed more containers.

More to come soon on this special and fun day!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Candy Theme Ideas

It's a popular theme, but can be done in so many different ways... Here are some great ideas for candy theme decorations...

The first idea comes from none other than a Christmas, Easter, and Halloween decorations website & store (thank you to the creative folks at:

The very same website and blog entry brings this beautiful idea along with instructions:
Lighted Box idea from
Imagine this gorgeous lighted box wrapped in colors that coordinate to your party! I'm already wondering how I could adapt this idea to be a box that people could drop their envelopes into on the gift table... Instructions for making this can be found at:

Lastly, I have another link to a Christmas themed craft with detailed instructions that could easily be adapted to a candy themed Bar or Bat Mitzvah:
This project also looks easy, and extremely affordable! Instead of candies that look like mints, you could use different colors of paints and different colors of cellophane to coordinate to the colors of your Bar or Bat Mitvah! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I just can't say enough good things about BLACK tablecloths. They make the whole room so much more upscale looking. They also really help make your centerpieces stand out a lot more. When this was suggested to me, I thought for sure it would make the room look so much smaller and darker. I was SO wrong! I'm glad I took the great advice. I've seen lots of mitzvah parties that used black tablecloths and they all look great! It works for any theme or color scheme. The party pictured here was a double mitzvah for a stepbrother and stepsister pair. The theme was perfect: The Best of Both Worlds. I'm sure planning parties for pairs presents lots of challenges, and this theme could be adapted to any pair of kids celebrating thei B'nai Mitzvot together. Each table was labelled with one of the kids' interests. Notice also how added up lighting enhanced the decor.
Ask your caterer if they provide black table coverings. You will be thrilled with the look!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning, From The Start

In honor of all my friends who are now getting "on their mark" with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning, I thought I'd back track to "the starting line." The best place to start is by double checking that the date you were given by the synagogue matches the Torah portion that may have also been noted in the official letter. Mistakes happen. I have a friend that introduced her child to the Torah portion in all of the ways I suggested, only to realize that the wrong Torah portion was written in the letter for the correct date of the Mitzvah.

Take your date and plug it in here: - clicking on the button that says "Convert Gregorian to Hebrew Date." Then it will show you the Hebrew date of your Mitzvah as well as the name of the parsha (section or story) from the Torah that will be read on that date.

Next, surf over to the G-dcast Channel on YouTube here: - in the upper right part of the page you will see a search box for the G-dcast Channel videos. Search using the name of the Torah parsha that you just confirmed at Check out the short animated video that you find about your specific Torah parsha and share it with your Bar/Bat Mitzvah child!

Those are the top two tips I have for those of you just starting out! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Questions you'll need to consider...

Most synagogues will provide you with basic information on requirements and honors. Some logistical information might not be covered...
1. Usually all males are required or requested to wear a kippah. Are they required to wear a tallit?
2. If they have an honor such as opening or closing The Ark, saying a blessing (aliyah) before/after a Torah reading, carrying/dressing The Torah, or other honor, are they required to wear a tallit along with a kippah?
3. What honors are non-Jews welcomed to have?
4. Will there be a scheduled time for rehearsal?
5. Will there be a scheduled time for portraits? Are photos or video allowed during the service?
6. If Grandparents are invited to stand or otherwise participate in saying the Shehecheyanu prayer, does this include non-Jewish Grandparents?
7. Is there a requirement to purchase flowers or sponsor a kiddush/oneg?
I guess I'll add to the list as we go! Please feel free to leave your own questions as a comment below and I will add them to the list. Thank you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Organization

Guest list
Hebrew names: child, parents, grandparents & anyone else that may be called up to the Torah for an aliyah
Entertainment contracts
Hotel room block agreement
Kippot contract, contact, receipt info
Venue contract
Venue floor plan
Menu options
Seating charts
Oneg/Kiddush hosting form, if required by synagogue
Kibbudim/Honors/Aliyot request form, if required by synagogue
Synagogue monthly newsletter to use as a guide for when you write the announcement for your child's Mitzvah
Synagogue weekly program, which might also help as a guide for your planning
Contact & pricing info for any entertainment and/or service you might be considering... photographer, videographer, screen printer, airbrush artist, decorator, calligrapher...
Invitation vendors, samples, contracts, proofs, ideas... menu cards, place cards, table numbers, custom program...
Friday night Shabbat Dinner ideas
Sunday Brunch ideas
...maybe more to come....
Your additions to the list are welcome!