Barmitzvah gifts

We are planning the next barmitzvah, thank God. March 2011. We’ve done two. Got some experience. We also know that seventh grade is filled with barmitzvah invitations for all the other kids in the class. 30 kids in the class adds up to a lot of $$ for individual gifts.

The schools have a great plan. Every parent of a barmitzvah boy that wants to join pays a certain amount. All the boys who are part of the program get ONE gift from the whole class – it’s a set of books that probably differs from year to year. But they all get the same thing. The parents don’t go to the poorhouse*, AND the barmitzvah bochur doesn’t get 17 sets of Mishna Brurah.

*well, no poorhouse from spending on gifts, anyway. Spending on barmitzvah dinners and tefillin etc, well, that’s another story. We plan on simple and small like we did for the others. Perfect and personal.

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  1. batya from NJ says:

    The joint class gift is the way to go for the boys & their classmates. I organized that at my son’s school for his Bar Mitzvah 2+ years ago & although it surely isn’t easy being on the organizing end of things (with the countless phone calls to all the parents etc) but it was worthwhile in the end. In fact, my daughter’s bat mitzvah will be at the end of this school year & she is the oldest in her grade so I’m afraid I will have to organize the Bat Mitzvah grade gift once again (woo hoo, time to do the “lucky me” dance ;)!!

    Anyhow, mazal tov & yes, it’s a no-brainer to join in with the rest of the class. In fact, when i organized my son’s gift, I gave 3 options: 1-a judaica package from the local judaica store (but i can’t recall specifics right now), 2- a gift certificate to the local silver judaica store (which is no longer in existance) & 3-ANY amount of money that the parents wish to contribute ($100 or $150 was the suggested amount if i remember correctly) which was then given to the bar mitzvah boy as his so-called “class gift”. My reasoning for that was b/c I was aiming for 100% grade participation & this seemed like the most likely way to achieve my goal. My thought process was that even if a family was only able to contribute a minimal amount, at least the kid would feel like he got some kind of a gift from his classmates b/c most parents who participated in this program would generally not give any separate gifts to boys who didn’t participate. One amazing thing that I must add about my community though was that several parents came forward & offered to subsidize several families who were unable to participate which then allowed for 100% participation which was truly special. This was actually the highest level of charity-giving possible b/c the families who offered to subsidize did so anonymously & didn’t have any idea which children were being subsidized!!

  2. They do something like that here as well for the bar and bat mitzvah kids. You can pay $100 and buy your child an Israel bond, and then your name is added to a list. Once you’ve bought into this, you are not expected to give a gift at any bar or bat mitzvah for your child’s class. I love this idea!

  3. Mark says:

    Our school does the same thing. Collect money from everyone at the start of the year, then each kid upon attaining Bat/Bar Mitzvah may choose one of the gifts from a list they have. It’s a great idea and it works out rather well.

    BTW, how much is a set of tefillin nowadays? (I am considering getting a new set)

    • batya from NJ says:

      @Mark, when we bought them for my son 2+ years ago the price range was $ 600, $800, or $1000 depending on the added hiddurim that we wanted if i remember correctly but i’m sure every sofer-scribe has their own price range…

  4. T says:

    Awww! wish I was with you planninf this one too!!!
    love and hugs to the whole gang from the tittly-t-patatoes clan!!!

  5. Rifki says:

    Our boys’ yeshiva does the same. Each family of a kid in 7th grade pays 200 NIS towards the bar mitzvah present, and each bar mitzvah boy gets to choose one of three options — camping gear, bookstore voucher or clothing shoppe voucher. However, the buying power of the yeshiva favours choosing the camping gear, because you get about double the value of goods, but at least there’s still an option.

    We participate, but the boys still like to give a gift to their close friends, so they each came up with an idea that didn’t cost too much AND would be long-lasting. Using their own allowance, they each spent less than $10 per present — one took photos of his friends and got them made into dog tags, and the other is giving personalized tzedakah boxes in the shape of tefillin.

  6. Miriyummy says:

    I have four daughters which equals roughly about 25 Bat Mitzvah parties, many of which we, as friends of the parents, attended as well. That’s a lot of gift certificates to Tower Records! My step-son is now 12 and the “season” starts all over again next month. I wish this kind of gift program was in effect in his school, maybe I should have a chat with the PTA…

    But in the meantime, spending money on presents is so much nicer than other things that take a chunk out of my bank account. Mazal tov on your upcoming simcha!

    • batya from NJ says:

      Miriyummy, I should that this class gift idea doesn’t extend to parents that are also invited to the Simcha. This is just for the boys in the class/grade & if the parents are also invited, they should give a separate gift from the 2 of them to the bar mitzvah boy in addition to the class gift that they have participated in for their son.

      • Miriyummy says:

        I didn’t think it would apply to the parents as well. My step-son (Shy-Boy) has about 30 boys in his class. While he will be going to 30 different parties, we’ll probably be invited to only one or two (and another 10 or so from our social circle). Of course the parents give a (better) gift, I was just wishfully thinking that the gift pool idea would fly with his class. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will.

  7. Miriyummy says:

    Oops, need an Edit Comments button: 25 Bat Mitzvah parties per daughter, 100 in total.

  8. chana says:

    we had a similiar arrangement when i was bat mitzvah. i think i was a wonderful idea. even then i thought it was a relief, not having to worry what to get and will they like this gift and i want to give something special to this one but….
    with this arrangement it was all out of our hands and it was WONDERFUL.
    I hope it works for you

  9. Pearl says:

    My kids’ school also has such a program for bar and bat mitzvah gifts. Each year, a small group of mothers volunteers to run the program, ie. send out flyers, collect the money, buy and wrap the gifts and prepare them for presentation by the principal at the classes’ banquets. Although it was seemingly costly — about $300 — that was to cover about 30 kids’ gifts and the banquet. The boys and girls don’t get the same seforim every year: they do get packages to choose from. I even, together with my kids, opted for a package that offered seforim and a $100 Israel bond.

    I’ve gone through the program with 2 kids so far. One more to go…

  10. Brenda Mommy says:

    My kids are far away from this milestone yet (oldest is 6 and twin boys are 4 months) but we were hoping that the classic trip to Israel to have the Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel would be our route (my husband is Israeli and all his extended family is there) Then we would most likely make some kind of local party for the friends and family who could not make the trip. Guess I should start saving now…

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