Planning an event can be stressful, exhausting, wallet draining, and full of anxiety. However, it can also be exciting, exhilarating, energizing and euphoric. Now, before you think I've completely lost it, let me enlighten and explain.
We are just beginning to plan Bat Mitzvah #2. We have 6 months to plan, research, commit, create, invite and shop. Our daughter has 20+ weeks of preparation which includes learning her Torah and Haftorah portion and writing her D'var Torah (commentary about the Torah portion). She can't seem to land on a party theme, which is OK. She is determined to support an organization that rescues animals, which is more than OK... and much more important than a party theme. She is her own, authentic person. She knows what's important to her and where her comfort zone is. When she becomes a Bat Mitzvah, the celebration will be all about her, not about a fantasy that we have.
So, first piece of advice. If you want to reduce the amount of stress in your life when planning a Mitzvah or any event, for that matter, remember to focus on why you are celebrating in the first place. Keep in mind the wishes, desires and hopes of the celebrant. Honor as much of their input as possible within your budget and within reason.
Assuming you have a date with your synagogue or temple, the next important step is to decide what kind of celebration you want and where it'll be held. There are a multitude of considerations ranging from out-of-town guests, budget, weather, kids vs. adults, budget, style (formal vs. casual), dietary restrictions, theme, did I mention budget?
So, let's start with the place. How do you find the right venue for your Simcha (happy event)? For starters, you can search by geographic location and type (hotel vs. country club vs. sports complex). Also, don't rule out word-of-mouth. Remember, ASK your son/daughter what kind of party they want. If you are looking at hotel ballrooms and they want laser tag, your stress meter will overload. Once that is clear, decide if you want to look on your own first and then bring your daughter along or if you want to drag her to see each and every venue. Depending on your child, you can make that decision.
To date, I have called two rec centers, visited three hotels, and browsed the web. If you don't want to rent tables, chairs, linens, serving staff, etc., then I suggest you book a venue that does it all for you like a hotel or your synagogue facility. Often restaurants will have private party rooms that will accommodate you also.
The next post will offer criteria on how to evaluate and make the final venue selection.