Extraordinary Days Require Exceptional Invitations

Guests Asking About Presents

  • Are guests asking you about gift that the Bar / Bat Mitzvah child would like to get? 
  • It can be a little embarrassing, right? Take the question in a positive way. It shows that they care! But what to answer? What are the gift-giving etiquette rules?
  • Questions about what gift to get for the BM child are particularly common with non Jewish guests, who are unfamiliar with the customs of this religious ceremony. This may be the first BM that they attend.
  • Here are a few ways to answer the question. See what works for you.
  • Is there something the child really wants? Do they prefer getting money bar mitzvah gift? Is she or he saving for a new laptop? clothes? Jewelry? Books? Whatever the kid prefers, say it. If you prefer not to get certain kinds of presents, say it too. When said with tact, people should respect your requests. They, too, would like you to be happy with the present, right?
  • One answer could be: “Your presence is the biggest present you can give”. It is a very polite answer and the easiest escape, but you might stay without a gift then, or with gifts that you don’t like!
  • In one of the BMs, the mother told all the guests: “He loves going to NBA games. He also does not leave his iPod!”. The kid got many gift certificates of TicketsNow and iTunes. He was SO happy! In another BM the answer was that the girl “… is saving money to buy a laptop”. She got lots of checks!
  • Another way to answer the question is to say that Chai (18) or multiples of Chai carry a traditional meaning in Judaism. However, it is better not to imply that a certain fiscal value is expected.
  • The Doc, when asked such questions, talks about the importance of the BM in the child’s life. It is not a normal birthday party. She explains about the religious aspects of it and the intense preparations for the event. Don’t take for granted that people who are not familiar with BMs understand how special it is. Explain to them the kind of event they are invited to. From there on, it is their decision if and how to honor the BM child with a gift.
  • Ask people to think about a present that will be treasured by the BM child and that will make the BM child remember them with a smile. The Doc cherishes and uses to these days two Judaica silver pendants that she received from her mom’s ex-boyfriend!
  • Here is another way to answer this tricky question. Tell them about presents that the BM child has been receiving so far. “So far she received money, tennis accessories and Judaica jewelry. She was so happy about these presents!”
  • Still feeling uncomfortable to answer the question? Express it. People should be able to understand your feelings. Say something like: “Thank you for thinking about this issue. It is nice of you. However, I feel uncomfortable to suggest a present for my own party”. Voila!