Jewish Journal

The sky’s the limit

by Julie Bien

Posted on Apr. 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Neon colors, 3-D displays and professional sets sparkle thanks to Party Planners USA in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Party Planners USA

Neon colors, 3-D displays and professional sets sparkle thanks to Party Planners USA in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Party Planners USA

Preparing for the complete bar or bat mitzvah experience — the ceremony, the food, the entertainment — can feel like a three-ring circus. So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that carnivals are one of the hottest themes these days as kids prepare for the biggest party they’ve thrown in their 13 years on the planet.

No matter what theme for a reception that you choose, be sure to make the most of it. In other words, don’t settle for a Big Top — make it bigger and better.

“When it comes down to it,” said Linda Vogel, owner of Dream Makers in Pasadena (dreammakersparties.com), “no matter what the theme is, it’s immersive. Going all out, whether it be Hawaiian-themed, -Hollywood-themed or casino-themed, is the biggest trend right now.”

These days, a popular way to do that is by taking a theme and applying it to everything from the invitations to the food at the reception, advised Allyson Levine, event coordinator at Bob Gail Special Events in Los Angeles (bobgail.com).

 “A major trend is keeping the reception theme completely immersive and cohesive. For instance, if the kid chooses a vintage carnival theme, a theme that’s very popular this year, we want to appeal to all five senses from start to finish,” Levine said. “We’ll erect a full circus tent to hold the event, serve corn dogs and funnel cake out of carnival carts, have real carnival games for the kids to play and [have] circus performers. 

“We can take practically any venue, and turn it from a blank canvas into the perfectly unique experience each family aims for.”

According to Joel Macht, owner of Spotlight LA in Simi Valley (spotlightla.com), an event-planning company that focuses on new media and technology, interactive media visuals and décor are finally gaining widespread popularity after nearly a decade of existing on the fringes.

“It’s taking an experience, like an awards show, and making every moment at hand have an aural, visual and interactive component: entrances, parent dances — everything. We have a visual jockey mixing with the disc jockey,” Macht said.

Immersive is in, says Dream Makers in Pasadena. Photo courtesy of Dream Makers

One of the largest trends this year is a “lounge and club” theme, he explained. That involves creating a space that feels like the glamorous clubs celebrities frequent: plush, modular seating, mood lighting and, of course, a DJ and dance floor.

“Our visual and aural artists work to synergize a seamless experience for the bar or bat mitzvah and make sure the event utilizes technology in a way that reallyimmersive sets it apart,” Macht said.

The party maestro pointed out that one theme that’s popular is the “no theme” reception — one that aims to capture the personality of the young man or woman who’s coming of age. It’s all about taking the bar or bat mitzvah’s interests and tastes in décor and music, and creating an environment that is unmistakably the child’s personal “brand.”

“People want something that’s really special and unique and an experience that’s very intimate and meaningful,” Macht said. “For us, as a company, no matter the cost of the reception, we want the families to know that this is a celebration, and that we approach it with respect and compassion, and understand the importance of this event. We want to celebrate with them, as part of the community.”

Laurie Camacho, owner of Party Planners USA in Los Angeles (partyplannersusa.com), said there are ways to make any party theme exceptional.

Technology meets mitzvah with Spotlight LA in Simi Valley. Photo courtesy of Spotlight LA

“A lot of what’s big now is neon and that craze of everything being in 3-D. We’re still doing a lot of casinos, carnivals, circuses and club themes, but we try to make it look totally different by using professional sets and scenes,” Camacho said. “Even when we do a table design, we can make it so it looks 3-D when you look down. The first thing clients ask for is the wow factor.”

According to Camacho, people are spending $10,000 to $50,000 for something spectacular. Before you hyperventilate, take a deep breath.

“We help them make this event as amazing as we can with any budget. We just try to keep the cost/expectation ratio realistic,” Camacho said. “We’ve done everything from renting out penthouses, warehouses and soundstages to creating a very special space at the child’s synagogue. Wherever it is, we don’t want to take away from the religious aspect of the ceremony.” 

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