Friday, January 9, 2015

Throwback Thursdays: The Simchat Bat Parties

I have officially begun my quest to organize our family photos. They have been neglected on various digital devices for nearly 8 years. Y'all the digital mess is way worse than I thought!

The fun part was that I got to take a trip back in time to our baby's naming ceremony. I am also patiently waiting on the mail, which should contain the letter that instructs us to pick three potential dates for our eldest daughter's bat mitzvah. It won't actually occur until 2018, but it is a strange marker of time none-the-less. Since I ALREADY have bat mitzvahs on the brain, it seems like a good time to look back on both girls' simchat bat.
Unlike a bris, or circumcision, on the eighth day for boys, there are no explicit rituals for a girl. The level or formality and size is truly up to the parents to decided. Many people simply go to services to receive a blessing and announce her name. Our first daughter was born prematurely, and we experienced a huge outpouring of love from family, colleagues, and friends. We were so excited she was well and touched that we did it on the bigger side. I also sort of just wanted it on the bigger side! It wasn't over the top though.

It was actually a lovely and low-key event for having so many people--about 150. These picks are from a book I completed long ago. The invitations were sent as an insert along with her birth announcements. We held it at local restaurant. I tried to do it at the synagogue, but with the cost of the caterer, rentals, and floral to dress it up, it was actually less money to take 150 people out. They closed for the morning and we treated our guests to a phenomenal brunch. There was no music other than the Rabbi's guitar, and there were only the flowers the restaurant provided. We did splurge on a few details: we had cute pink napkins with her name and birth-date on them as well as pink cookies with her monogram as a give away. We started two nice traditions on that day. The rabbi suggested that we have a blessing bowl. People wrote notes and well wishes for our N and dropped them in the bowl.The idea is to read them on her bat mitzvah day (can't believe we will know that date soon). We also all wore pink, much to the grandfather's dismay. We loved these ideas so much that we carried them forward for the next time.

I also learned somethings that I didn't want to carry forward to the next event. Even though the restaurant gave us an incredible deaal on food, our conversation on alcohol was a little murky. I negotiated juices, coffee, and teas into the price. We had new parent brain, but we are both lawyers. We told them to offer only those drinks but that if someone specifically asked for an alcoholic beverage to serve it to them discretely. Due to my poor planning, a landslide effect, and servers natural desire to up-sale, we ended up with a doozy of bar bill for 10 am. It was as if every man, woman, and child had two drinks (which means some people had several, as no children were actually drinking)! Mimosas and bloody marys were to be expected, but somebody did a shot!!!!! There was also beer on the bill. Thankfully my parents had given a gift earmarked for the event and my in-laws were generous in other areas, so we didn't go broke. It was still a shockingly expensive day.

Two years later I found myself planning another simchat bat. I was better prepared. I called a restaurant without even investigating other options. To differentiate the girls' events we used another placed and served lunch this time. We offered champagne on trays as people walked in and when it was gone it was supposed to be gone. Ironically, my FIL (who is a regular on our local finer restaurant scene) ordered a bottle of wine for the family table. Erroneously assuming he was the host, they served him and a few tables followed suit. The bill was still much better than before. My mistake that time was that service was a bit slow. There was a choice of salads. In the future I would serve one salad with a choice of entree so that salads were ready to go down. Live and learn. This time we still had 150 people, but we didn't feel obligated to include a lot of my in-laws friends (my husband is from here and many are a regular part of our lives). We added several families we met in playgroups and a ton of two year olds!

This time the family joined us up front which was really special.

We kept the blessing bowl and added it to a candy buffet with "life is sweet" signage and adorable bags with her monogram and that saying. I know these were de rigour for awhile and might be passe' now, but it was totally cutting edge in 2007. My jars made the rounds of people wanting to borrow them after this event! We had matching table numbers and place cards all made on my 2006 issued Mountaincow, all with the moninker "life is sweet."
Our cousins even came in pink shirts this time (so fun--it was catching).

I didn't have great detail shots because I was so busy those days but in addition to what you see here I have lots of pictures of the people who made it so special that I am now pulling together. Hopefully this TTT will keep me on track!

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