Month: October 2015

Start Your Week With a Pop: Mitzvah Links for the Week of October 26

Start Your Week With A Pop! Mitzvah Links | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VA
A few Mitzvah, Jewish and/or family-related links to start your week with a pop!

Welcome District Mitzvahs! A new blog all about Mitzvahs in the DC-area.

Great questions to ask before you book your venue via Party Favorites.

Have you thought about having lighting at your child’s mitzvah? Here’s a great list of the different lighting options shared by Mitzvah List.

Have a link you’d like featured in a future Start Your Week With A Pop? Contact Brynne!

13 Tips for a Killer Candle Lighting Ceremony

13 Tips for a Killer Candle Lighting Ceremony | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD &VA

There are a ton of ways to honor the special people in your child’s life on his or her Mitzvah day and one of the easiest is a candle lighting ceremony.

What is a candle lighting ceremony?

A candle lighting ceremony is an often included piece in a Mitzvah party. It includes the guest of honor calling up special people to him/her to light a candle. It’s certainly not mandatory, but many families choose to include it in their celebration.

Here are 13 tips (in no particular order) to make your candle lighting ceremony rock!
1. Script it and Practice

Do you really want your 13 year old ad libbing it? Work with your child to craft 2-4 sentences or 4-8 rhyming lines about each guest. You’ll need more than just notes or bullet points to ensure your child doesn’t go “off script” and say something awkward, freeze up or get stage fright. Practicing reading through the script to make sure your child feels comfortable and confident with what they’re going to say.

2. Keep it moving

A candle lighting ceremony can get very long for guests who might be waiting to see if they’ll be called up to light a candle. A script (see #1) and a good DJ will keep things moving along so you can get back to dancing, eating and shmoozing.

3. Involve the kids

Sit the kids on the dance floor so they stay engaged during the ceremony. It can get long and they can get antsy. They’re more likely to behave better if they are in sight of their buddy.

4. Bring extra candles

Candles break easily. Be prepared with at least 2 extra candles, just in case. You can instruct your Event Planner or DJ not to unwrap those candles unless necessary so they can be returned. Or better yet, you can use them for Shabbat next week!

5. Honor the people who can’t be there

The first candle is often a “memory” candle or a way to honor people who cannot attend the celebration due to illness, infirmity or because they are no longer living. This is a special way for your child to connect to the person s/he is named for as well as any treasured family members or close friends who are no longer with us. A moment of silence is appropriate but not necessary.

6. Have a “Shamash” candle

Just like on the Chanukah Menorah, you need a way to light the other candles. Don’t make people futz with matches or a lighter in front of the whole group, have an extra candle for them to use to light their candle and a candle holder. If you don’t want to have an extra candle, you can always use the honor candle (see #5) as the shamash. However, if you’re planning on placing the candles directly into the cake or some other immovable object (see #7), a shamash and candle holder are absolutely necessary.

7. Decide what type of candelabra you will use and what it will go on

You can go simple–putting candles in a cake–or more elaborate–a custom candelabra that fits with the theme or includes your child’s name. Decide a few months out what you’d like to do so you have time to purchase or make the candelabra, if that’s what you want to do. Don’t forget what the item is going on and how that item is getting to where it’s going! Ideally it will be on some sort of table with wheels, so it can easily be rolled to its location. However, if nothing appropriately sized with wheels is available, you’ll need a few people to carry the table. Plan for this!

8. Pick music for each candle and get it to your DJ in advance

While your guests are walking up to light the candle, it’s appropriate for music to play. It’s always fun to include a favorite song of the person being honored or a song that describes your relationship with them. Classics include: “We are family”, the theme song from “Friends” and “Lean on Me”, but you can get creative here! Getting the songs to your DJ well in advance allows him or her to have the music cued to the exact right place, so you get the best lyrics and aren’t listening to the long instrumental intro and never get to the good stuff.

9. Be strategic about the order and who is included

A typical order is:

  1. Relatives (Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, More distant relatives)
  2. Family Friends
  3. Friends of the Mitzvah Child
  4. Immediate Family (Parents, Sibling)

You don’t need to include all of these people, but skipping from maternal grandparents to family friends and then back to cousins, is awkward for everyone. Think through you guest list and if there is anyone who might feel slighted if they aren’t included. You can always call up small groups of people (like all family friends who have Passover Seder together each year) to cover more ground with a single candle.

10. Be careful!

Your 13 year old is playing with fire. Literally. There will be an open flame of some kind. Make sure that all candles are placed back down on the table before the candle lighter gives your child a hug. No hair on fire! You may need to get some sort of candle holder for the express ability to put down the candle.

11. Get a photo of each candle lighting group

Make sure your photographer is ready and poised to take a photo of each group as they light the candle and a quick posed photo after the candle is lit. These photos are of the people who are most special to your child!

12. Decide on 13 vs. 14 candles

Often there is a 14th candle for good luck and that can be the candle that the guest of honor lights. If you’re going to do this, make sure it is clear who is inviting the guest of honor to light the candle. Will it be parents, the DJ, someone else? They should have a script too!

13. Count your many blessings

The party is all about celebrating your child’s accomplishments and the role of all of the special people in his/her life. How lucky are you that there are so many wonderful people to share it with!?!?


Start Your Week With A Pop: Mitzvah Links for the Week of October 19

Start Your Week With A Pop! Mitzvah Links | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VA
A few Mitzvah, Jewish and/or family-related links to start your week with a pop!

An unexpected Bat Mitzvah via the New York Times.

3 unique ways to display escort cards via Party Favorites.

An event timeline is crucial to a well executed event. Here are some examples by Mitzvah List.

How to add a charitable component to your special event in the DC-area. While this United With Love article focuses on weddings, there are some ideas that can be easily adapted for mitzvahs.

Have a link you’d like featured in a future Start Your Week With A Pop? Contact Brynne.

Start Your Week With A Pop: Mitzvah Links for the Week of October 12

Start Your Week With A Pop! Mitzvah Links | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VA
After a great weekend with a rockin’ Bar Mitzvah party, here are a few Mitzvah, Jewish and/or family-related links to start your week with a pop!

An amazing resource for Jewish speeches, both writing your own and hiring someone to do it for you!

So many non-Jews deserve thanks for making our temples run so smoothly. I can think of a few!

Another reason why you should hire a planner from my pal Heidi at Innovative Party Planners.

Some advice from a college student about making the Mitzvah experience meaningful via Kveller.


Have a link you’d like featured in a future Start Your Week With A Pop? Contact Brynne!


6 Reasons Why Mitzvah Catering is So Expensive

6 Reasons Why Mitzvah Catering is so Expensive | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VAA long time ago I read a blog post about the Olive Garden Rule and it stuck with me. I wish I could remember where I found it, but it’s the easiest to understand reason why Mitzvah catering costs will likely be your highest event expense, especially in the DC-area.

Let’s walk through 6 typical catering expenses.


Imagine with me for a minute… You’re going to a moderately priced sit down restaurant, say, the Olive Garden. You go in expecting a nice meal. You’ll have one of everything! You order an appetizer ($10 for a delicious sampler platter with a few different options), salad ($6), main dish ($17.50 for chicken carbonara), dessert ($6.25 for a slice of cake). You have a glass of the house wine ($5) and a soda ($2.50), plus a coffee with your dessert ($2.50). Nothing too crazy or extravagant, right? Well that adds up to $49.75. Multiply that number by 100 guests and you’re already at $4,975 for just the food!

However, not only do you have the cost of the food itself and preparing it, but you likely have the cost of transporting or delivering that food to your event venue (unless you’re having your event at a restaurant, hotel or other place with an onsite caterer).


Don’t forget the tax! For our example meal, the tax on $4,975 in DC is 10%. That’s almost $500 in tax alone!


Many places have an 18-20% gratuity that is part of the fee that you pay. Again, on our example meal, that’s nearly $1,000.


You’re going to need someone to serve that food. Even if you’re planning on having a buffet meal (which requires less staffing) you’ll need a few waiters to put out the food, keep an eye on the buffet to refill food and clean up the dirty dishes. You’ll need a bartender who is TIPS certified (trained in responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol) because you do not want the liability if someone drinks too much and there are problems. A reputable caterer will have a TIPS certified bartender. Unlike at the Olive Garden, where the staffing fee is shared among many diners, you’re paying for it all by yourself. Say you have 5 waiters/bartenders total for a buffet meal. They’ll work for a minimum of 6 hours (1 hour set up, 1 hour breakdown plus a typical 4 hour party) and cost $15/hour each (and that’s a low figure for the DC area). That adds up to $450 in staffing fees.

Rental Items

Now what if your party is at the synagogue social hall or at a community center or some other place that doesn’t have an onsite caterer? You need to put that food on something and eat it with something and put your drink in something. Say you want to go with the most basic china, glassware and utensils. You don’t need anything particularly fancy, right? For plates you’re looking at a cost of $1 each and you’ll need 3-4 plates per person (appetizer, salad, dinner and dessert). For glasses, you’ll need a minimum of 4 glasses per person (water, wine and 2 other beverages is the standard) at $1 each. Then you’ll need utensils (a minimum of a salad fork, dinner fork, knife and dessert fork) at about $.50 each. Serving coffee? Coffee cups and plates, plus spoons will be another $3 or so). That’s another $13 per person and I haven’t included the prices for renting chafing dishes for the buffet or plates for passed or stationary hors d’oeuvres or table linens or napkins.

Food and Beverage Minimum

So you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’ll just have my event at a place with a onsite food service like a restaurant or hotel. I can save money that way!” Nope. At a restaurant or hotel you’ll run into food and beverage minimums. If you’re using space at a restaurant or hotel, it means someone else can’t and your party is their main source of money for the night. Reasonable right? However, that means that the venue needs to make a certain amount of revenue from your party to offset the income that they would make if you weren’t there (for a restaurant) or to keep a giant kitchen and building running (for a hotel). If your event is during prime time (think: Saturday night) that number can be pretty high.

In Summary

Let’s add up the lower end priced catering example we went through above.

Olive Garden meal ($4,975) + Tax ($500) + Gratuity ($1,000) + Labor ($450) + Rental Items ($130) = $7,055 for an estimated 100 people. Add in more people and your costs will go up even further.

Please understand that this is not a comprehensive estimate and does not include items that I’ve found my clients want such as open bar, several entree or dessert options, different food options for kids and more. This article is simply meant to serve as a realistic starting point for understanding catering costs and creating your budget.

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