It’s truly an honor to attend a bar or bat mitzvah of a young boy or girl celebrating their spiritual transition into adulthood. Supporting and celebrating your loved one through this exciting time is the easy part. Knowing how to buy just the right bar mitzvah gift is another story. If this is your first Bar Mitzvah, you may not even be sure where to start. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list to cover all your questions about finding the best bar mitzvah gift for your friend or family member.
In this guide, we’ll also go through the basic traditions of the bar mitzvah, popular gifts, greeting card messages and how much to spend on a gift. Overall, it all comes down to your relationship with the child, the wishes of the family and finding ways to celebrate their passion. Sort through our guide of gift ideas before you head off for the big day.
What is a Bar Mitzvah?
Twelve and 13-year-old children in the Jewish faith celebrate their bar mitzvah—or bat mitzvah for girls—to make their rite of passage in a traditional ceremony. Here, the girl or boy reads from the Torah, a tradition known as getting an Aliyah. After the ceremony, family and friends will gather for a celebration either at their home, an event center or a local restaurant.
How Much Should You Spend on a Bar or Bat Mitzvah Gift?
As the case with all birthday presents, the cost of the gift typically comes down to your relationship to the child and their family. Closer relatives may take this opportunity to spend several hundred dollars on a special gift, for example. On the whole, however, it is recommended that you spend about 1.5 times the amount on a bar mitzvah gift as you would a traditional birthday present. Typically, this can range from anywhere between $20 and $75 depending on your budget.
Note: if you’re giving money as a bar mitzvah gift, this tradition follows a more specific pattern. Bar mitzvah money gifts are often given in increments of 18. In Jewish numerology, 18 represents “chai” or life. Guests, for example, will give $54, $72 or $90 instead of rounded amounts.
The hosts of the event may also specify if guests should bring traditional gifts. Take the lead from the formality of the party and how close you are with the newly bar mitzvahed child.
Traditional Bar Mitzvah Gifts
Judaica, or traditional Jewish options used in ritual, are commonly gifted items to a child for their bar mitzvah. The message behind the gift says that you plan to support their spiritual growth as they enter this new phase of their life. As a family member or close friend, this is the chance to buy an item the child will keep in their home for the rest of their lives.
Judaica gifts include both ritual-related presents or traditional gifts with Judaica-inspired design. If you’re going the more traditional route and purchasing something like a Kiddush cup or a Tallit, check with the birthday boy or girl’s parents before picking out your present. If you are close to the family, consider speaking with their parents before the big event in case your gift is something they can wear or use during their ceremony.
Judaica gift ideas for Bar Mitzvahs include:
- Tallit & Tefillin set with Tallit clips
- Hebrew-English Torah
- Tzedakah box
- Kippah or Yarmulke
Jewelry Bat and Bar Mitzvah Gifts
This is a great time of life to gift a young teen with jewelry, especially something that will hold symbolic significance for this special day. Consider pieces of jewelry that incorporate traditional Judaica or Hebrew phrases. Star of David and Tree of Life gifts are also a popular choice. These gifts are also an opportunity to personalize your choice to the child’s preference, sense of style and favorite colors. Charm bracelets, for example, allow a girl to continue to personalize the piece with hand-picked charms in the years to come as she celebrates other life milestones.
Jewelry gifts ideas include:
- Tree of life necklace
- Star of David necklace, bracelet or ring
- Charm bracelets with multiple Judaica-related charms
- Prayer bracelet: a leather or metal bracelet adorned with a Jewish prayer
- Wristwatch with Hebrew letters
Photo and Decorative Gifts
Commemorate the ceremony and celebration by gifting a personalized frame or decorative items for their home or bedroom. Frame things like images from the event, a signed guestbook page, and other significant documents from the event. Personalize the frame with the child’s name, the date of their celebration and a special message or prayer. Consider additional unique ways to personalize gifts with photos or saying such as in jewelry boxes—especially if you’re also giving personalized jewelry—mugs, journals or even phone cases. These little reminders can weave themselves into their daily routines as they return to school.
Photo and decorative gift ideas include:
- Photo keepsake box
- Framed or mounted photograph with personalized frame
- Etched wall plaque with their name and date
- Bookmark or bookends
- Personalized backpack, travel bag or suitcase
- Photo throw blanket or pillows
- Desk calendar or school planner
Attending a Bat or Bar Mitzvah is an excellent time to celebrate a child’s passions and skills. One of my more common category of gifts include items that both educate and inspire them to further pursue knowledge, an excitement for art, or their love of travel and culture. You can also take this opportunity to further their knowledge of the Jewish faith, culture, and traditions. Explore books, travel, and even class ideas that will help them deepen their passion for learning. Lastly, think about what the birthday boy or girl may enjoy at school. Personalized school supplies can be helpful during this time at the start of their high school education.
Educational Bar and Bat Mitzvah gift ideas:
- Books about the Jewish faith and culture
- E-Reader with pre-uploaded books
- Haggadah for Passover
- Torah or Bible with study notes
- Books that explore their favorite subject or passion
- Set of music lessons
- Local summer camp membership
- Framed work of classic or modern art
- School or desk organizer
- Goal-oriented planner for school
- Cookbook with traditional Jewish meals
Games and Technology
Most teens have a favorite piece of technology on their wish list for playing the newest video game, streaming music, or chatting with their friends. Speak with the children’s parents before purchasing a pricey item, especially if they have preferences on what types of technology their kids engage with. A great piece of technology can have educational value, however, especially when used to explore their favorite books, music, and favorite subject. You can also purchase an accessory to their favorite gadgets such as high-quality headphones or a new book for their e-reader.
Game and Technology Bat and Bar Mitzvah gift ideas:
- Handheld video game console
- Speakers for their TV or computer
- Camera with a guide for new photographers
- Video games that encourage positive cognitive development
- DIY electronic building set or coding program
Building memories with children in your life can be far more valuable than buying material items. Chat with the honoree’s parents about what type of outing, show, or class they would enjoy taking either with you, their family, or their friends. If you’re a close family member, this could be a great opportunity to spend some time after the celebration to catch up and do something fun together. The gift of time and experience creates endless memories beyond the big day itself. You can also supply them with a gift set that encourages an activity such as a set of board games for a game night, a movie night-in kit, or a set of books paired with a local museum membership.
Experiential Bat and Bar Mitzvah gift ideas:
- Local theatre tickets
- Philharmonic or dance concert tickets
- Adventure outing at a ropes course or boating area
- Tuition for a local dance, art, or technology enrichment course
- A day out to see a movie and get ice cream
- Kid’s cooking class
- Planned trip to a local historical site
Bar Mitzvah Gifts If You Can’t Attend
Do you still send a gift if you can’t attend the Bar or Bat Mitzvah? Depending on your relation to the family, gifts and cards are still acceptable and welcomed even if you’re too far or unavailable to celebrate on the date itself. The most standard gift when you can’t attend the celebration is gifts of money in increments of $18, as mentioned earlier in our post. You can also consider sending gift cards or certificates in increments of $18 as well. Pulling from the other categories above, choose an appropriate amount at a business that offers gift cards. Education institutions, retail stores, or technology brands are great places to start.
Gift cards and membership ideas for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs:
- Video game or tech brand
- Local bakery
- Local book or toy store
- Online music or streaming service gift card
- Online membership to learning program
- Membership to major museum
- Monthly box service that sends food, decorative or educational items
Writing a Bar Mitzvah Card
Every gift for the bar mitzvah, whether you’re able to attend or sending a gift from afar, should include a personalized greeting card. This also many an excellent way to express your excitement for the gift you chose or add any personalized significance as to why you chose the gift you did.
There are also several standard greetings inside bar and bat mitzvah greeting cards. Consider a few phrases to get you started before adding your own personalized touch.
- Mazel tov! We look forward to celebrating this momentous day alongside you and your family.
- We are honored to spend this great day filled with blessings at your bat mitzvah. Congratulations!
- Wishing you many blessings on this great time of wisdom as your transition into this next phase of life. Mazel tov on your bar mitzvah!
You can also consider adding:
- A personal story about your relationship
- Specific wishes for their celebration and spiritual journey
- Short stories from your own bar or bat mitzvah
- Note about your gift and why you chose this particular item or experience
- If you are a young friend, an invitation to spend time together soon
- Gratitude for your invitation to their celebration and ceremony
Once you’ve found the ideal gift for the special boy or girl, prepare for the big celebration itself. If the ceremony is held on Shabbat and the family is particularly conservative, you may consider sending the gift to the family’s home as opposed to bringing it to the ceremony. Otherwise, families will often designate an area for gifts depending on the layout of the venue.
Are you planning a Bat or Bar Mitzvah for your own child? The Pavilion at Chimera Golf Course is experienced in throwing personalized gatherings. With their own designated event planner and a full Kosher menu, we guide families from start to finish to plan the day to their unique vision.