BY DAVID COVELL /AJT //
“Honey, he’s only turning 7. This is not his bar mitzvah!”
I had to remind my wife that while we might be in the business of putting on beautiful special events, this birthday is just the midway point (more or less) to our son’s 13th birthday. Still, in the course of overproducing our family celebration, people around the office nicknamed my better half “Phaedra,” after the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” personality who, in a recent episode of the show, went egregiously over-the-top with her own child’s party.
Then, amazingly enough, my wife actually bumped into Phaedra at a clothing store in Vinings on the day before the party. The two started chit-chatting about the show, life around Atlanta and, of course, pulling out all the stops for their kids’ birthdays. In the blink of an eye, they’d spent 45 minutes discussing events (and clothing) and sharing ideas for blowing out an event for a young person without the hefty price tag.
Want in on their wisdom? Here are a few hints:
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— Hire a special event planner. Even if you settle for just a “day-of” planner, it will make all the difference.
Whether you hire a person with 20-plus years of experience or someone new to the Atlanta market, this is the start of creating an event built for success. These professionals help with all the details and will be there to assist on the big day. Hiring a planner will allow you to be a “guest” at your family celebration.
Instead of paying a fortune for an elaborate design package, be aware that you can obtain a festive look by renting colorful linens for the event. Linens are priced by the piece, but will make a tremendous impact on the presentation.
If you have the budget for a more elaborate or sophisticated design schematic, please make sure your designer, caterer and planner have a detailed meeting so that nothing falls “in the cracks.”
— Don’t forget about lighting. Again, this is about creating a mood in the facility your event is held.
Lighting is something that will help in creating the guest experience you’re trying to achieve. Lighting behind the buffets/chef-attended stations and along the walls and corners can be a dramatic addition to your event.
Give thought to the food and beverage for the adults. While some clients are not interested in the quality and presentation of the food, rest assured that their guests will be very focused on the food and service.
Remember that while it may be a kids party, you need to make sure there is appropriate adult food offered and presented in an adult way. Plus, make sure alcoholic beverages are offered for the adults.
Even for my son’s seventh birthday, my one requirement was that there was great food and a Bloody Mary bar for the adults. After all, everyone could appreciate a tasty Bloody Mary on a Sunday afternoon.
— Select your caterer based on reputation and take the time to go meet with them before signing a contract. Catering, which includes service (service, and service!) and cuisine, are the backbone of the event.
Caterers work hard for their clients, and you should work hard in getting to know which caterer is appropriate for your event.
Kids love dessert. While you may not want to have an elaborate spread for the kids (we recommend spending that money on the adults), you should not overlook the desserts.
A “candy bar” with apothecary jars filled with favorite sweets can be a big hit. Let’s face it: The kids are jacked up already, so let’s get them jacked up a little more on sugar; then you can happily send them home to their parents.
Meanwhile, a chef-attended dessert station for the adults is also a nice touch.
Entertainment should be not just about the kids, but about the adults too. A combination of music that is good for all guests will be well-received.
A great DJ that knows how to entertain the kids will be a great way to entertain, and that would be a substantial savings over some of the more expensive entertainment companies that are on the bar mitzvah circuit.
Remember to enjoy the ride! Life goes by quickly, and we need to thank G-d for all of life’s precious moments.
David S. Covell is CEO of Saratoga Event Group and President of Avenue K-Glatt Kosher Events. He also has a background as a Certified Public Accountant in New York and offers consulting in the hospitality industry.