How to Choose an Appropriate Bar or Bat Mitzvah Gift

Three Parts:Deciding on a BudgetConsidering Traditional GiftsGiving a Personalized Gift

In the Jewish faith, a bar or bat mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony. Boys become a bar mitzvah at the age of thirteen, while girls become a bat mitzvah at the age of twelve. In its simplest terms, becoming a bar or bat mitzvah means the child has become an adult, and they're now obligated to observe the Jewish commandments.[1] Families often have parties to celebrate this event, and these parties are often colloquially called the bar or bat mitzvah. Guests get the honor of watching the bar or bat mitzvah reaffirm their faith, and bringing a special and appropriate gift is important.

Part 1
Deciding on a Budget

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    Consider who was invited to the celebration. Maybe your entire family has a relationship with the bar or bat mitzvah, and you are all attending the party. In this case, you may want to bring a bigger gift than if only one person was invited. In other words, bring a gift that is worthy and large enough to be from everyone that was invited to the party.[2]
    • If your entire family was invited, that also means the hosts are paying more for everyone to be there. Keep that in mind! A gift is a way to say “thank you” for a great event.
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    Reflect on your relationship with the host. If you have known the bar or bat mitzvah since they were a baby and have watched them transition from child to adult, you may want to give a bigger gift than if you only know them a little bit. “Bigger” can mean anything from more expensive to more heartfelt. You would probably give your very best friend a better gift than you’d give a casual classmate or acquaintance, and this is no different.[3]
    • Regardless if you spend $100 or $10, it’s the thought that counts. You are helping to celebrate their transition into adulthood, and that day will be incredibly special for them whether you shell out a lot of money or not.
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    Consider giving money in multiples of “chai.” The Hebrew letters for the word “chai,” which means life, are equal to 18. Because of this, 18 is a significant and special number in the Jewish tradition. Often times, guests will give the bar or bat mitzvah money in some increment of 18— $18, $36, $54, $72, and so on! If you’d like, you can give cash, check or a gift card in a multiple of chai.[4]
    • You’re certainly not obligated to give in increments of 18. If you want to give a pre-loaded gift card in another amount, do it! If you’d rather give them a $50 bill, that works too. Any and all gifts will be appreciated.

Part 2
Considering Traditional Gifts

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    Give a Jewish-themed gift. Jewish jewelry is a common gift for bar or bat mitzvahs. You can find pieces with “chai” or the Jewish star on it, and you can search in your price range.[5] There are several websites that specialize in Jewish gifts, so you can search around to find a gift that you think the recipient would love. Just keep in mind that they will be receiving a lot of stuff at their party, so don’t bombard them with trinkets just for the sake of it![6] Find something you truly think they’d like, or opt for money instead.
    • Many times, friends of different faiths may not feel comfortable giving a Jewish gift, simply because they’re unfamiliar with the traditions and customs. Your gift doesn’t have to be faith-related at all.
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    Consider giving a practical gift. A gift card to purchase a video game may be a fun gift, but something related to academics may be more practical for their future. Many times guests will contribute money for a college fund or other academic endeavor. You can also give money or items that can be used for travel, which makes for an invaluable learning experience for the child.[7]
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    Remember that the party is the real gift for the child. It may not seem normal to give a child an ultra-practical gift or money for far-off college tuition bills. However, the bar or bat mitzvah celebration is the child’s ultimate gift after years of preparation. They are the center of attention amongst all their friends and family, and your support is a present in itself. This Jewish tradition marks the beginning of the bar or bat mitzvah’s adult life, and money and practical gifts are ways to start them off on the right foot.[8]

Part 3
Giving a Personalized Gift

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    Ask the child’s parents about their interests. If you’re completely stumped about what to get the bar or bat mitzvah, consider asking their parents.[9] That way, you can still surprise the guest of honor while ensuring that you’re giving them something they would truly like. Consider asking for gift ideas when you send or call in your RSVP.
    • This can also be helpful to make sure that the child doesn’t get dozens of the exact same thing.
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    Buy something related to a hobby or interest of the child. Whether they’re into athletics, drama, stamp collecting, or animals, get them something that shows you’ve taken note of their passions. If they’re an avid sports fan, maybe you could get them a jersey from their favorite team. If they’re a fashionista, consider getting them a gift card to their favorite boutique. Remember, this is a religious celebration but it is still their birthday. Get them anything you think they’d enjoy!
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    Give the bar or bat mitzvah something with a story or lesson behind it. This is the first day of their adult life, and you can use your gift as a way to impart some adult wisdom. Consider giving them something that has been significant in your own life. Do you have a favorite book that had a big impact on you? Give them a copy, with a letter explaining why you chose it and what it meant to you. Maybe you have a favorite Jewish recipe, and you could provide them with the recipe and cookware.
    • By giving the child a meaningful gift, you are also showing them that they are growing up, and you recognize that!

Article Info

Categories: Bar or Bat Mitzvah | Gift Giving