Celebrate their coming of age with these fun and festive ideas. From plated dinners to buffets, appetizers to desserts, the best bar and bat mitzvah menus are those that showcase the child's unique sense of fun and adventure. Get inspired by these tips and trends as you create a "mazel moment" that guests will savor.
1. Food with Personality Perhaps the most important aspect of today's bat and bar mitzvahs is personalization -- and catering is no exception. "It's becoming popular to create food stations featuring all of the child's favorite cuisines," says Chef Antonio Cinicola of The Fox Hollow, Woodbury, NY. "It's how your child will share with all the guests what he or she enjoys." Consider putting a deconstructed or gourmet spin on the child's favorite meal to highlight their palette. Culinary themes are another great way to put a personal stamp on the event. For a bar mitzvah with an American comfort food theme, Northern Valley Affairs created a custom-designed menu that included a deconstructed BLT for an appetizer and a cheeseburger look-a-like (pictured) for dessert. All kosher, too!
2. The Fun Factor Above all, have fun: "Kids are the focus of the event and they want to be kids," says Ellen Vaknine of Esprit Events. Festive ideas include DIY drink bars and build-your-own food stations, where guests design their own plates by selecting their favorite mix-ins, choosing their toppings or even snipping their own herbs. Of course, the ever-popular food truck is another great crowd-pleaser. From hot dogs and waffles to smoothies, you can find a truck that serves almost any type of food or drink these days. Branded food stands and carts can also provide a unique theme, such as a personalized Dunkin' Donuts Bar or 7-Eleven stand. This is also a simple way to bring the child's favorite food establishment to the center of the celebration.
3. Action-Packed Receptions Expanded cocktail parties, complete with grab-and-go food, are very much in vogue, notes Chef Antonio of The Fox Hollow. Pass-around starters during cocktail hour and action stations for dinner engage the guests and allow for a nonstop, four-hour event. Desserts can even be butlered onto the dance floor. Finger foods provide another great way to keep the guests' feet moving and tummies full. A few examples of "formal finger foods" offered by The Fox Hollow include a caprese skewer salad on a stick, mini-grilled cheese and tomato soup shooter, along with taco ingredients stuffed into a mini-corn muffin.
4. Mini-Menus Mini-tasting options provide even more opportunity to showcase the child of honor's tastes. The lasting small bites trend gives guests the chance to try a bit of everything with little guilt. Mini drinks are also taking center stage, with bite-size versions of classic favorites being paired with small drinks, such as tacos and mini-margaritas for the adults, and sliders and mini-shakes for the kids. Soda and mocktail bars are another big hit with guests. Plan to feature signature drinks inspired by the child's favorite flavors and colors. Naming the drink with aspin-off of the child's name is another fun way to add a personal touch.
5. Standout Sweets Whether kids and adults eat together or in a separate lounge, everyone loves to come together for a fabulous dessert. Use your dessert buffet to showcase the party theme, a color or color palette, or a current food trend such as retro desserts or desserts on a stick. And you can't go wrong with interactive dessert bars: A flaming S'mores station, make-your-own snow cone, or design-your-own cupcakes are options your guests don't need to be seated to enjoy.
Cigall Goldman is the founder of Mazelmoments.com, an online resource for planning Jewish events.