Seating adult guests at tables can always be a bit tricky, but seating (and feeding!) kids at your Bar or Bat Mitzvah can be even more confusing! Here are answers to some common questions I hear.
Do kids need an assigned place to sit?
Not necessarily. Kids aren’t going to sit for long, but there should be a place where they can sit at a table to eat. Lounge furniture is great, but eating pasta on your lap (or even worse, the floor!) while wearing fancy clothes is a recipe for disaster! Assigned tables make kids feel very grown up, but they are just as happy with open seating (open seating = a bunch of tables where kids can sit anywhere they like). If you go with open seating, make sure to have extra seats since it never works out to have kids distribute themselves evenly to every table.
Should some kids sit at adult tables?
If a child is really young, like under the age of 4 or so, they should most likely sit with their parents. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. If the younger child has an older sibling, they might be fine sitting with older kids. The best thing to do is ask their parents and decide on a case by case basis.
If a child is older, like over the age of 16, they may prefer to sit at an adult table and eat an adult meal. But then again, they may prefer to hang out with the younger kids, especially if they have a younger sibling. As with the scenario above, the best thing to do is ask their parents and decide on a case by case basis.
If kids sit at adult tables, do they have to eat an adult meal?
No with the caveat that you should check with your caterer. The child may still go get their food from a kid’s buffet or the caterer will make them a plate with the kid’s meal on it (if kids have a buffet and adults have a plated meal). Different caterers handle this differently, so it is best to talk to your caterer. The caterer will also want to know at which tables kids are sitting.
At what age does a kid stop being considered a “kid” by catering standards?
It depends on the caterer, but usually somewhere are the age of 16. Check your contract or check with your caterer for the final word.
How should I feed the kids?
This is a great place to involve your child in decisions. The vast majority of Bar or Bat Mitzvah parties have buffets for kids, even if adults have plated meals. This allows the kids to eat quickly (which they will) and get back to the party. You certainly can do a plated meal for the kids, but it will change the dynamic of your party from high energy with lots of dancing and games, to lower energy with more mingling and less structure.
What should I feed the kids?
Again, talk to your child. Help them pick the menu for their friends so it includes some of their favorite foods. Keep in mind that many kids have more sophisticated palates than you’d think, especially in the DC-area. I’ve heard from several Mitzvah children that they hate events where the kids are just served fried foods (like chicken fingers and french fries) and have loved events with sushi bars. Also, note that you do not have to have different food for adults and kids, provided that it will be served the same way. So rather than having an adult buffet and a separate kid buffet, why not have one buffet for all of the guests? Or you could do a variety of different types of stations rather than just a traditional buffet. I was just at a Mitzvah where there was a slider station, a make your own taco station and a mac and cheese with fixings station. All were huge hits with both the adults and the kids. When selecting the food, be creative and think about your family and your child’s friends typically eat.