I’ve hardly written anything about our bar mitzva preparations, and it’s just a week away now!
Here are our basic plans: we’ll be having a meal on Friday night for family and any guests who are coming from out of town. That will be around 25 people, so not a major crowd. Then Shabbos (Sabbath) morning, ds12 will be called to read the Torah at a local synagogue, and we’ll be having a kiddush/ dessert reception for everyone. (I can’t even guess at numbers for this.)
Following that, we’ll be having a meal for family, ds12’s classmates, and close friends – this will be around 50 – 60 people. Then later on, we’ll have the third meal for our family and out of town guests, so again, about 25 people.
Since we’re doing all the cooking and baking ourselves, as well as setup, etc, this has been a busy week and next week will be even busier! Here’s what we did this week:
- Dh took ds to Haifa to buy a suit (they bought a hat over a month ago on a trip to Bnei Brak, along with his tefillin).
- Dh designed the invitations and printed them out, and they were given to classmates this week. (Everyone else will get an email invite or verbal notice.)
- Yesterday I bought almost all of the paper goods for the meals and reception.
- Dd15 and dd17 did almost all of the baking for the kiddush/reception. It doesn’t seem like so much to me, but we were told that fifteen cakes is usually enough.
This includes (all pans are equal to 2 9 x 13 pan unless otherwise noted): 2 dark chocolate cakes, 2 carrot cakes, 2 chocolate chip crumb cakes (loaf pans), 4 lemon pound cakes (loaf pans), 1 marble cake, 1 raspberry bars, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, coconut snowballs, chocolate dipped shortbread cookies, and fudge crinkles. In the works tonight are: checkboard cake, 3 lay orange cake with buttercream frosting and topped with homemade orange marmalade, lemon bars, and maybe shortcake if someone will go out to buy some more round pans at the store tonight!
I would like to have a couple of fancy frosted cakes in addition to the platters to dress up the tables, but the logisitics are a little challenging. We only have a fridge sized freezer, but thankfully a neighbor has offered us her fridge sized freezer, so tomorrow I’m hoping to take all of the baked goods over since I’m maxed out for space at this point – and I haven’t even started cooking any food for the three meals!
The fancy cakes have to carefully stored and take a good bit of space, or have to be assembled a short time before they are served. Since we’ll have about three hours on Friday afternoon to get all of the food for the entire weekend to the hall, pick up electric hotplates to use to heat the food on Shabbos, set up all the tables, heat the food, accompany our guests to the homes of their hosts – and we don’t have a car! – it’s going to be a busy three hours. On Shabbos morning we have to be at shul by 8:30 am in order to hear the reading of the Torah by ds12, then will go straight there to set up the kiddush, followed by immediate cleanup and then setup for the meal. I’m not seeing where the extra time to put together a three layer cake is going to happen, and it would be such a shame to put the time into making it now, and having it get smushed in the freezer.
Dd17 enjoys baking really nice looking cakes, and just about every day we have a conversation in which she suggests making something beautiful and time consuming, and I veto it and remind her the point is to keep it simple so we don’t get stressed out. I was trying to explain the logistics to a couple of the kids tonight, so they could see the big picture that I’m looking at of everything that has to be done, to understand why I keep rejecting certain suggestions – but I think that they won’t really understand what I’m talking about until we’re in the middle of giving baths to the littles, haircut to ds, ironing everyone’s clothes, getting our house clean, in addition to everything else, that they’ll start to realize what I was talking about. I also love when things look super nice, and if I had a better set up that would allow me to prepare and store things in advance, I would do more along these lines.
I’d like to serve some kind of kugel, vegetable platters and dips in addition to the desserts, but particularly the dips will complicate the cleanup, and whatever I end up adding will be because I found lots of extra time and energy that I hadn’t budgeted for something else! Not so likely, but not impossible, either.
Then there’s the three Shabbos meals, for which everything will be cooked towards the end of the week, so that it will be fresh. It’s nice that we rented a place that we can use for not just the kiddush, but will be able to have all of meals in one place. This wasn’t part of the original plan, but we decided on this a couple of weeks ago. It will really help us keep things simple since I won’t have to juggle between hosting and serving in our home for two meals, and then in another place for the main bar mitzva meal.
Also, we’re not going to have more than three guests staying in our home for the weekend, and they’re all people we’re comfortable with and can be relaxed around. There aren’t many people coming from outside of Karmiel, but we are deeply grateful to everyone of them for being willing to make the effort to share our celebration with us.
As far as our budget, I might be wildly unrealistic about this because I haven’t bought the food for the weekend meals yet, but I’m hoping to keep the food expenses within our usual monthly food budget of 2000 shekels or close to it (this obviously means being super frugal with our usual expenditures). So far just about all of the baking supplies have been purchased and it’s looking optimistic. I’ll keep track of all of my receipts so I can give you an accurate idea later on of how much our self-catered bar mitzva was.