When we BM parents were growing up, a very common bar or Bat Mitzvah present was a fountain pen. Hence the joke went, when the bar mitzvah boy got up to speak to the synagogue, he would say, “Today I am a fountain pen.” But times have changed, and perhaps the line can be adapted to read “today I am an ipod”. Bar Mitzvah presents fall into 3 general categories – we like to call it the 3 M’s: Money, Meaningful, and “Much Appreciated”.
Money Bar Mitzvah Gifts
You can never go wrong with money presents, in Jewish tradition if you’re going to give money, a meaningful number is 18 because in Hebrew it has the same numerical value as the word Chai,meaning “ life”. People often give Jewish money gifts in multiples of 18 – $36, $54, $90. Included in the money category is gift certificates which can also be in multiples of 18. Most adults give money as a gift. Children, when invited separately, will usually buy a present that they feel their friend would like. Family members usually give bigger amounts of money than casual friends. It is wise to place the cash in a birthday card and present it when entering the party room or hall. If there is a welcoming line with family and the birthday boy or girl you can give it then, if not, there should be a table or basket set up for gifts. Give all gifts at the reception, not at the Temple/synagogue/shul.
Meaningful Bar Mitzvah Gifts
Since the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is really a celebration of Jewish adulthood, some people choose to give gifts connected to the landmark moment. Judaica is a nice option – for you can get a nice kiddish cup for boys or candle sticks for girls. If the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is close to a festival you can get Judaica connected to the festival like Machzorim prayer books for the high holy days or a menorah at Chanukah time. Jewelry is a wonderful gift, and can be meaningful for boys and for girls. Alef Bet Jewelry has a Bat Mitzvah line which is worth looking at http://alefbet.com/. Jewelry Designer Emily Rosenfeld told us that Bar and Bat Mitzvah favorites are Yads, Key Chains and Panels. She has a new boys jewelry line which is popular also http://www.emilyrosenfeld.com/ . Jewish related books are also popular meaningful gifts.
“Much Appreciated” Bar Mitzvah Gifts
If you just want to go with someone fun that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child will definitely appreciate, then you may want to go for games – computer, electronic, sports equipment, camping gear, something hobby related or vouchers to popular stores. It is a good idea to enclose a exchange receipt.
Our readers suggest:
Some of our readers have shared some more fantastic ideas.
Debbie L – Great “Much Appreciated” gifts can be match/concert/season tickets
Joanne - iTunes gift cards were the easiest to use quickly, gender neutral, and fun. (Joanne also runs a wonderful Bar/Bat Mitzvah service making cool kippot – check it out http://www.maybe-sew.com/)
Clara – One family bought my oldest son a Kodak Playsport waterproof video camera. That was a hit!
Dalit – My son was very excited about some of the Jewish books that he received for his bar mitzvah.
Sarah – Money, money and money. We live in Israel and that is what you give. Mind you, I have seen people give camping equipment which is also very popular. I particularly love those little gas things that you can scramble eggs on and make hot water on.
Ilana – I have bought a few Bat Mitzvah girls identity necklaces or bracelets!
Miriam – Best present my daughter received for her Batmitzvah was a huge rucksack/camping backpack which she takes on all her school.
Ester – My son got a huge backpack and a water bottle backpack too. Those have been very handy. But we also really like the books and book store gift cards, and of course, the cash. Best of all was a new computer!
Janice – My nephew got so many rucksacks and camping equipment he thought people were trying to tell him something!
Gillian Kay – It’s a good idea to make a book list, so he/she gets the books he/she wants, not 10 of the same. Gift cards for shops like Fox and Gap go down well.
Debbie B – I have a friend whose daughter was an avid reader, so three of her friends got together, pooled their money and got her an e-reader with a very large gift card and a list of all of the classics that she should load onto it. Clever, right?
The nice people from Ultimate Affair Weddings told us – The new Sony camera , with a few photo albums, Kinda pricey gift but I have seen that a few times in the last few months. Thumb Drives is another one. Journals, Mont Blanc Pen Set, Waterman Pens.
And now – a gift to you:
Check out this surprise for you from AlefBet Jewelry http://www.alefbet.com/ They told us “We have jewelry! Use coupon happyholidays2011 and take 15% off entire order!”
Do you have any more great Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift suggestions? Please tell us in the comment box below.