Finding the funny in parenthood before somebody loses an eye...

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Throw a Great Bat Mitzvah On the CHEAP!

As you know, Isabel turned 13 this year.  This means two things:

#1 - I'm the most irritating person in the world.

#2 - Isabel became a Bat Mitzvah!

I was so psyched!  (Not for being the most irritating person in the world - for the Bat Mitzvah thingy.)

Isabel's dad and I aren't religious, so my Ex was 'not really' on board with the whole "Bat Mitzvah" thing.  And by 'not really' I actually mean he was more like, "WTF??! HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST?!"  But I believe traditions and rituals are important.   Especially going to Hebrew School (which I personally HATED) and then growing up and making your own kids go and suffer.  Hating Hebrew School is a time-honored tradition passed down from one pissed off Jew to another and by golly, we were going to celebrate it!

My goals: good booze, good food, great music, intimate, LOW KEY and very, VERY Isabel. 

Enter Megan Ondercin of Megan Ondercin Event Design.  This chick is a party planner extraordinaire.  Actually she was more of a Party "Guardian Angel" who took a look at ALL of my ideas (about 300 photos of everything from eco-friendly logs as centerpieces, to giant school supply arrangements we could donate after the event) and taught me to "focus!" (she had to say that a lot).

With wisdom, savvy and a tremendous amount of patience, Megan got me on track, helped me forge a vision (a Polka Dot vision in teal, green, black board, and silver), and implement a plan to bring it in on budget.

 I am so happy with how it all turned out.

The invitations:  Matte black-board with white type on recycled papers 
in the theme colors and tied together with teal polka dot grosgrain ribbon 

The centerpieces and table settings

These were so awesome!  The centerpieces are bouquets of handmade paper flowers created by "Fold" by Susan Thiedt in Culver City (she works out of Copper Willow).  This artistic genius of a woman hand made 12, 3 ft tall centerpieces comprised of  5 different sized 'flowers' made in complimentary craft papers with all kinds of  teal, green, black, white and silver chevron papers. We 'potted' the centerpieces in galvanized metal french flower market buckets tied with a large teal grosgrain ribbon and stuffed with shredded recycled craft paper.

The best part about these centerpieces is that the girls LOVED them and they all got taken home at the end of the night.  They all still have them in their rooms because they don't die!  You probably need to dust them though...

We also decorated the table with small glass votives shaped like flower pots and these monogrammed mini glass candy jars filled monochromatically (by me and three of my best friends who dedicated a whole evening to filling and labeling the tiny jars) with the blue, teal or green m&m's I had personalized with Isabel's monogram "IJM" and the words "Mazel Tov."  Cheesy?  Perhaps.  But very tasty, and a huge hit with kids and grown-ups.  This was one of the few stupid things I splurged on, but seriously, have you ever seen a prettier m&m? 
My DIY decorating tip to make the table look fancier than you can afford?  I sprinkled the tables with a paper confection I am calling "Haute Confetti"  This is my own creation (yes, I made it by myself, thank you very much...) using a 1-1/2 inch hole punch,  a large scallop edged hole punch and all different kinds of complimentary craft paper I found at Paper Source (I loved the way the silver sparkly paper punched up the teal blue polka dot paper) 

Here is a big pile of confetti I made while watching "Prison Break." Must have spent a total of 6 hours making 300 pieces of confetti.  My hand muscles got a workout.

The dance floor?  Megan and Susan made paper blossoms in the theme colors and hung them from the ceilings over the buffet and the dance floor.  It gave it such a festive but intimate feel (and inspired a conga line...)

And now...the TEEN LOUNGE ...(although Isabel wouldn't let me call it that.)

I rented furniture for the teen area.  I went for basic black sofas and found the poofy ball-shaped pillows myself on  The only things I rented that cost any real money were the two silver ottomans - which provided LOTS of for seating lots of kids (so I got lots of bang for my buck), and the light up kids bar.  The LED coffee tables lit up in teal were pretty cheap and so was the LED lighting behind the sofa and bar.  

Check out the balloons floating around.  They were from Balloon Celebrations in Santa Monica and looked like these incredibly cool floating soap bubbles filled with teal blue and silver confetti with handmade polka dot tails. .  They were so cute and totally eco-friendly.   I only needed 2 dozen to fill up the empty nooks and corners.

We put candy topiaries in the party colors by Favor It Girl in the kid's lounge and bar areas (this one was already picked at by the time we took the photo...needless to say, they didn't last long...) 

As for music?  We had the BEST DJ/MC EVER!  Seriously.  Tre Bates (son of the well-loved Bino Bates of Bino Entertainment and Let the Music Play in Woodland Hills) both DJ'd AND MC'd our party and if it wasn't for him, I would have had NO idea of how to set up the flow for the party.  He was not only filled with energy and kept the kids dancing, but he really put the work in ahead of time finding out our favorite songs, filling out a playlist, and being in charge of timing everything out for the evening.  He was so reasonable and so amazing!  His wife was one of the "dance facilitators" and they kept the kids dancing ALL night.  BEST dance moment?  The mother/daughter dance to "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now!" from Hairspray.  We invited ALL of the moms and daughters to dance to it with us.

Other entertainment included a photo booth by Photo Booth Moment.  They had green screen backgrounds guests could choose and use the props I provided to spice up the photos.  They also brought a scrap book so we could put a copy of every picture in it and the kids could decorate the page with stickers and personal notes.

I found all of the "props" (mustaches, animal faces, paper lips, etc...) on-line and found a ton of stuff on Etsy - my favorite prop?  Chalkboard speech bubbles you can write on.    (You'll be amazed at how much you'll use them after the party.)

And finally...dessert.

We had a dessert table made up of hundreds of the most delicious mini cupcakes you've ever eaten in red velvet, cookies and cream (topped with tiny oreos) and vanilla filled vanilla cupcakes.  It was all made by the cupcake goddess of LA, Hanna Shenin of My Sweet Mini here in LA.  I was able to rent stands from her and she came before the party to set everything up herself.  (Megan made the polka dot strands to decorate behind the table.  Her attention to detail was amazing!)
We served the cupcakes with milk in vintage milk bottles with paper stripey straws from Shop Sweet Lulu.  (pricey shipping, but reasonable and amazing quality!  I'm using the milk bottles at home for birthday parties and playdates.)

Hanna made this extra large cupcake with a big letter "I" on it for the center of the arrangement.  I still have it in my freezer and can't decide if I'm going to share it with Isabel and the kids.


Then we danced...

Me and Grammy "Gangham Style"

  and celebrated...
Me and the Bat Mitzvah girl on the dance floor surrounded by friends and family

There was drinking, eating, dancing, speeches, and a montage I made all by myself (saved $750!) The highlight?  Isabel's friends spelled out "Mazel Tov Isabel!" and each gave a little speech inspired by their letter (one of the girls was the "!" and it was awesome).

But most importantly we all just tried to savor this very, very special occasion.  

My baby.  The woman.  

Somebody please slow down this ride...

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