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What It All Looked Like: The Last Bar Mitzvah Post. Probably.

I know, right? You’ve had it with the bar mitzvah stuff, haven’t you.

If you want to read about the service and how we felt, read THIS.

This is the part of the show where I vomit pictures and thank people.

Two years ago, when we learned Tech’s bar mitzvah was going to be on June 23, 2012, he immediately announced he knew he wanted a science theme. Once I embraced my inner geek wrapped my brain around the whole science thing, I got excited as it was an opportunity to be creative! Tech told us added that he also wanted things to feel summery, so green became our inspiration color.

You know, like perfectly new grass. And laboratory slime.

Thanks to Rishona Beck Myers, my old summer camp buddy, for helping me with the invitations. Rish is a serious event planner down in the Philadelphia area, and I was so lucky to have her help me with Tech’s invitations. If you are down the Philly way and you are looking for some help with any kind of event, check out RM Creative Events Management, Inc. I had to futz with Tech’s real invitation by taking off his name which was in big letters across the bottom, but you get the gist of what it looked like.

We found lime-colored kippot from And, I’m telling you, those yarmulkes lit up the sanctuary!

The evening party was held at Irondequoit Country Club. Stacey and Tara did a great job helping to make sure everything went off without a hitch. To help make the room feel more science-y as compared to other nights of the week, I contacted Tooters to get plastic test tubes, which I filled with green m&m’s, and everyone got one at his or her place setting. I got the cork stoppers from Lake Charles Manufacturing.

I have to brag a little. The test tubes cost $13 for 100, so I bought 300. We had enough leftover so the bartender was able to make appletinis for the adults, which was super fun way to get everyone into the science mood! Please note, the cool plastic rack which I got from Tooters, too.

Don’t they look yummy?!

But we needed more science! Luckily, my friend Dina (a professor at the University of Rochester) told me about VWR Labshop. They hooked me up with all my flasks. These Erlenmeyer flasks were on the tables as centerpieces on the kids’ tables. Notice, this was the Platinum table.

The flasks were great outside,too — filled with colorful liquid, at the bar!

I found a garage sale where someone was selling beakers. I bought six for $2. Why didn’t I buy the other 12 beakers for $4? They make such fun barware!

Doesn’t my ginger ale with lime look fancy?

Oh, wait. You should look at my hair. Please, please look at my hair. Because it will never look like that again. I have to thank Dew Point and Humidity and Rochester Weather for being really cooperative. Thanks, you guys. But also, I heart Michael Livernash, the owner of Isobel. He is genius with color. And I have to thank the folks at Scott Miller, specifically my beloved Mary Kay Rox for giving me the best cut ever. (And I say that every time. Even though she’s been doin’ me for 13 years now. Oooh, that sounds naughty.) Thanks also to Kay for the fabulous finish. Because I never do that. Ever. (And that sounds naughty, too!)

I have to thank my friends at our local J.Crew for providing me with all those awesome shirt boxes last September. Sure, they looked at us like we were crazy, but we were able to get some great decor out of them. It’s hard to get a sense from this picture, but with the magic of PVC and spray-painted styrofoam balls, Lance Rightmyer of ViaComp was able to create portable structures which flanked the dance floor.

Lance also made these cool vinyl decals for the windows.

I have to hand it to my husband for making TechSupport’s Periodic Table of Cookies.

They forgot to put out the pink and green smiley face cookies. Ooops.

We could have spent $1,000 on special order cookies each featuring each different element from the Periodic table, but we decided that was crazy. And even though the staff didn’t quite understand how to put the cookies on the platform so it was truly representative of the different kinds of elements, whatever. It looked great. The yummy cookies from Cheryl’s came in pink, green, blue and yellow and plain chocolate. Frankly, people were stoked about the portable Abbott’s Ice Cream sundae bar, where my father made good on a 13-year bet and ate real ice cream for the first time since 1988.

Photo by Bert Maloff

When it came to getting people to their tables, I was a little stumped. I originally planned for the test tubes to serve as seating cards, but the stoooopid stickers kept coming off! Thank goodness for the Internet! I Googled chemistry inspired bar mitzvah,” and found Angela from Invites & More. Angela could tell I was desperate sent me the exact template she used for the Chemistry bar mitzvah. For free. Seriously? Who does that? If you are looking for great ideas, Angela is your girl. And if you live in New Jersey, you are ever luckier. Look at Angela Shafer’s Facebook page. Angela can make anything. Below are the name badges I created by using Angela’s template. This is the palette from the kids’ tables…

…and we used the reverse palette for the adults! Some people actually wore them!

Once inside, people saw the centerpieces made by Jimmy from Kittleberger Florist. Jimmy understood our theme immediately and suggested we use green table runners which gave us major impact. He also had an idea for how to integrate live flowers in a minimalistic way, which was tricky as my son didn’t want flowers. Jimmy nailed it with these funky, masculine orange whatever-they-ares. People couldn’t tell if they were real or not! They were!

Jimmy popped one giant purple allium in each rock-filled flask. Talk about pop!

The Bar Mitzvah Boys & Turner Music Productions kept everyone hopping. The party started at 6:30 pm and people were still on the dance floor at 11:30 pm! Our dancer, Eva, was one of Tech’s former babysitters!

And the Lord said: “Let them dance!”

Bar Mitzvah Boys also provided us with a Photobooth and captured  some hilarious candids!

There were really 4 pictures per strip, but you get the idea.

Our friend David from Proforma made sure the kids had great-looking bags to hold all their crap giveaways. He delivered the box filled with green drawstring backpacks featuring Tech’s logo right to my door. Whaaat? He did! Okay, he lives one neighborhood away, but still! That is service, people!

Bags hung on the backs of all the kids’ chairs for even more color!

I used Einvites thank you notes to coordinate with Tech’s invitations. Interested? Check out the post, I wrote about them HERE.

Hopefully you can appreciate how awesome the decor was. Our photographers from Kracke Photography did a nice job helping us to capture some very special memories.

The day felt wonderful spiritually, and everything looked beautiful, and tasted delicious, too.

Who could ask for more?

“Best weekend of our lives!” Hubby said.

I can’t disagree.

Ever plan a huge bash? What went right? What went wrong?

79 thoughts on “What It All Looked Like: The Last Bar Mitzvah Post. Probably.

  1. The proof is in the pudding. It was obvious to all the thought and effort put in to make this a special day that everyone who attended will appreciate and remember. Renee, when you commit yourself to something you go all the way. [That sounds naughty].

    1. I do try to go all the way. I felt great about the weekend. I wished my mom hadn’t broken her foot. That was a bummer! And I wish we had someone watching the candy bar! Duh! What were we thinking! Thanks for taking that pic of my dad!

  2. Your attention to detail was off the charts – everything flowed beautifuly. It was an amazing weekend – Thanks! We will still be talking about how great the weekend was for years & years.

  3. This is absolutely incredible – the details, the organization, the planning, your hair. Holy crap, I am virtually speechless. Sort of.

    I bow down, in awe. What an EVENT – gosh, is there anything you can’t do?

    1. Um, apparently write a book. I think I’m going to stick to blogging and freelancing for now. That thing just isn’t coming.

      But that you for your gushing. It helps, you know. Because I’m sucking it up in the other area right now. 😉

  4. Holy periodic table of elements. This post did special things to me, Renee. I know you know what I’m talking about. I am SO blown away.

    So much so that i’m not even going to make fun of the ginger ale. Besides, I’m too distracted by the perfection that is your hair.

    And the J Crew boxes?! GENIUS.

    1. Jules, did you not know that I don’t drink? I don’t. I’m missing a enzyme of something that breaks down alcohol. Or something like that. All I know is that alcohol does not make me happy the way it does for some people. It makes me pee. And cry. So I’m good with my CA Ginger Ale. But I’m the perfect designated driver. Just saying.

      Thank you for complimenting my J.Crew find. I have to go buy all of those folks cookies. Like tomorrow! 😉

      1. Ah hah. I did not know the abstinence was more than just general preference, but can I still tease you? Hmm. Maybe I won’t. I’m liking this DD idea… I knew we were a match made in heaven. I’ll even help with the cookies.

  5. I was already in awe of you, Renee, but I can’t even imagine all the planning and work that went into that evening. And yes, the hair looks fabulous, but so does the rest of you.

  6. The whole weekend was superb. You and Mark and Tech thought of everything. GREEN is a lovely color. The creative decorations were awesome.Thanks for sharing all these wonderful colorful photo’s.

  7. You’re Superwoman! Seriously — the whole thing was gorgeous and very clever! Kudos!! As for planning such things, I don’t think we invited 100 to our wedding, but daughter and now-husband planned their 200-guest reception with an exclusive good-ol’-boy theme in mind. Since you had beakers and flasks and test tubes, I don’t have to tell you how many days they (and friends) spent washing, drying and plastic-wrapping 200 Mason jar *drinking glasses,* the empty wine bottles soon filled with tea or lemonade for each table, and the small unused waste cans they then painted and adorned with a huge sunflower each, for holding a table’s popcorn. Oh, and so much more. Not much went wrong, so they’ve decided against a do-over! Anyway, I’ll bet Tech was thrilled by the day.

    1. Holy crow. Yes, it sounds like you understand EXACTLY what goes into this kind of a theme. So my question is: What the heck did you do with all of those Mason jars? Did people take them home as gifts? Because i have a boatload of Erlenmeyer flasks on sale on Craigslist. 😉

      So glad everything went right! Yay!

  8. Renee, I almost felt like I was there – and what a cool party! It looks like so much fun! I definitely would have worn a name tag. And yes, your hair looks fabulous. You look so happy.

    1. Hi KJ!

      I have a feeling my dude is going to end up in chemistry. Possibly a chemical engineer. Who knows, really. But he loves chemistry and he loves to figure things out and solve problems creatively. He should totally call you. It was really fun. I’m glad we have some photos to capture the weekend! 😉

  9. I don’t know anything about Bar Mitzvah events but that is out of this world, Renee! The test tubes, everything and you look fabulous, especially your gorgeous hair. I bet that was the best BM ever.

    1. We went all out, that’s for sure. At least, I felt like a lot of the stuff we can use again. The test tubes, I’m sure we’ll use at future parties. And the beakers are awesome. We are already using them as drinking glasses!

      The flasks…um…I might just have to donate those to a school-at-risk. Seriously, there are too many of them.


      I’ll probably keep some for floral arrangements and to give as gifts!

  10. Dang, girl, I’m super-duper impressed! We used to do a big bash for new year’s every year for 10 years – caesar salad, twice baked potatoes, tenderloin, etc. (all prepared ourselves) for about 70 people. It was elaborate and fun, but we wanted to mix it up a bit and switched to a Christmas party last year. But it was NOWHERE NEAR the caliber of this shindig! Thanks for the incredible pics and ideas – I loved it!
    Oh, and btw, I TOTALLY noticed the awesomeness of your hair that day. Immediately. You and hubs looked totally hip!

    1. Thanks, Dawn. Someone recently asked us if we were doing our Halloween Party this year. (We like to have a Halloween Party once in a while. I looked at Hubs and just kind of slumped into myself.

      I’d like someone to invite us somewhere for a while.

      I need to recover.

      For 12 months of so. 😉

  11. Renee, this looks AMAZING! Wow, the work you put in shows girl. Love the theme for Tech Support and how much fun it looks like all had.

    Plus, that picture of you! You look HOT!

    Congrats one the bar mitzvah of the century!

  12. Wow! Everything looked AMAZING!!! (Including you!) I’ve been planning my oldest daughter’s wedding since June. She’s getting married June 15, 2013. This is the week right after her board exams and right before her rotations, so she needs lots of help. She’s having a bird and nature themed wedding, but once I direct her to these pics, she might change her mind! (Her minor in undergrad was chemistry!) So very creative you are!

    1. I love the bird theme. Omigosh! She’s leaving your nest! *weep* Well, I hope you are a better event planner than I was. This shizzy almost killed me. Our very Big BangbBar Mitzvah is what we have been calling it of late. It sure was fun.

      Especially now that all that is left to do is make the photo album.

  13. Wow! I am beyond impressed with this bash! You should go into the party-planning business, it all looks just that great. And so do you. Look great, I mean.

    1. Oh Lord, no! That is the meanest thing to say. I hated planning this hoshizzle the whole way. Put me in front of a classroom and let me be a superstar in my own world. This was so hard. And so public. And i had a budget. Can you imagine? How mean is that? 😉

  14. Seriously. All these comments and no one mentioned what REALLY matters…

    Your hair.

    Simply fabulous.

    p.s. But seriously, I love love love the science theme and am only slightly worried that my family of four is going to make some major faux pas at our friends’ daughter’s Bat Mitzvah over Labor Day weekend. I haven’t been to one since I was thirteen. And although I read your posts about Tech Support’s event, hers will be a daytime party. Not sure what we should all wear. Or how much money to give when there are FOUR of us going. I hate being lame. And yet I am.

    1. Just don’t kneel. 😉

      Daytime in temple is easy: cover the shoulders. So if it is nice weather, you can wear a pencil skirt and a tank with a cardigan. Or if it is hot, you could wear a sundress and a sweater and take the sweater off at the party. Hubby should wear a light suit, if he has one. Or khaki pants and a blue blazer. Kids are just cute.

      Give $118 and write something lovely about the child.

      They’ll be bawling over your words and be so happy that you got the 18 in there. (It means “to life” in gemitryia).

      Also, if you blow it, you can blame it on your Jewish blogging friend. 😉

  15. WOW. That is beautiful, and creative, and unique, and spectacular!!! And I’m just talking about the way your boobs look in that dress! Kidding.

    Really, those are some fantastic ideas that you made come to fruition to make that an unbelievable and unforgettable day for your son, I’m sure. Good job mom!! So gorgeous and amazing.

  16. My favorite post of yours ever because, oh my goodness-how much do I love seeing these pictures. And what a CLEVER idea!!! I’m going to put this on FB and tag my event planning friend Amy in Minnepeapolis. You’ll see in a minute.

    1. It was a very Big Bang Bar Mitzvah. I guess that means I have a little Wallowitz. Which is creepy. 😉

      It was fun collecting all the stuff. Cannot believe you will have to do FOUR if these. Whaaat? I did not dig the planning. I’m so obsessive!


      It all worked out. It really did!

  17. WOW Renee!

    This is amazing! And intimidating! And then more amazing!

    Congrats to all of you on a totally and completely CREATIVE and beautiful event that captured exactly what your boy wanted! Perfection, indeed!

    Also? Fabulous hair! Fabulous!

    1. What about my rack? You didn’t say anything about the “girls”? They are practically crying for attention!

      Just kidding. The party was wonderful, yes yes yes.

      But you know that it was about so much more than the party, right? 😉

      I know you know these things.

  18. I love the Yarmulkes! We had a Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house a couple months back (who’s Jewish… I’d assume that’s obvious), who broke out a HUGE bag of clever Yarmulkes. There was much fighting over them.

    1. Ewwwww! You wore other people’s kippot? I call that the cootie bin! 😉 Just kidding.

      Kind of.

      But not really.

      Promise me that you’ll never do that if you ever go to a temple.


      You are just asking for trouble.

        1. Never use a yarmulke (also called a kippah) from a PUBLIC bin.

          You can shout all you want.

          But don’t come crying to me when you get lice.

          It happens.

          That’s why we provide them for our guests.

          So they don’t have to go a-dipping in the cootie bin.

  19. Gosh! This is so fantabulously impressive that I don’t know where to start with effusive event-planning envy/worship. The one thing I absolutely can’t get over, though, is how gorgeous your hair looks!

    (No, really, I’m blown away by the creativity here. Wow!)

  20. I’m a bit late to this party and after reading this I’m feeling slightly fatigued! Absolutely AWEmazing! No detail was overlooked and the appletinis in the test tubes were brilliant!

  21. With a name like Tech of course it’s a science theme! Wish I’d read this (and your earlier post about gifts from non-Jews) YESTERDAY when I was preparing to attend a bar mitzvah celebration for a friend who converted many years ago, and now at age 60 finally became a man. I think you would have put me in the proper frame of mind. Honestly, what do you give a really, really late bloomer? Not sure if the Jewish community knew either. In the end I brought a salad to the potluck.

    Looks like you son’s bar mitzvah was a beautiful event in every sense. Congratulations. Thanks also for supplying the proper word for a skullcap. Love the lime green. Mazel tov.

  22. Okay, for real life…I had no idea a bar mitzvah was anything like that! (Excuse my total ignorance)
    But…shut the front door! My kid would have LOVED that. You are absolutely the coolest mom ever. Wicked decorations, absolutely amazing.I am super impressed.

    1. Now you know why I was going insane. They aren’t all like this. And ours wasn’t as fancy as some. And the fantastic weather made it extra awesome.

      But seriously.

      It was like planning a wedding alone.

      Because your kid can’t do any of the planning.

      And you are planning an event ASSUMING that your kid is going to be amazing, even if he/she sucks it up. It’s a lot of stress.

      It was a great day. Best day of my life, actually.

  23. Holy Cow. This is absolutely incredible!!!! You are truly inspirational to us mothers who are making themselves crazy trying to pull a bar mitzvah together and nail all of the details! I am wondering if you can let me know which size cork stoppers go with the 6″ test tubes… I think this might be something that would work really well for me. Thanks so much!

  24. Omg! I cannot believe how intricately you carried out this theme! Gorgeous to the last detail! I just did a Broadway theme (that seems so overdone now!) but that was her interest. My firstborn (now a nuclear engineer) would have loved this Science theme but I never thought of it and just did boring computers. My favorite part was the table names. I put people I didn’t like at “The Virus” table…. Lol. Great job, Mom!!

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