Ask My Readers | Bar & Bat Mitzvah Gifts

Reader Q&AToday’s reader question is one I’m wondering about, too – especially as my kids keep getting older (so sneaky of them!).

Curious your thoughts on bar/bat mitzvah gifts. My list is getting longer of kids I owe gifts to but I’m just never sure what is a good gift and if we go the gift card route, what is an ok amount. 

Can you help this reader out? I’d love to know what people are giving – and receiving for Bar & Bat Mitzvah gifts. And if you let us know what the “common” amount is in your community, it would be helpful to know – even generally – where you live!

Do you have a question about budgeting, couponing, menu planning or anything else? Please send me an email – I love hearing from my readers!


  1. I like to give cufflinks as a Bar Mitzvah present. They come in all different price ranges, depending what they are made of.

  2. We give gift cards – either to Amazon or iTunes. Usually $18. We live out of town, so I don’t know how this would work in other communities.

    We also don’t give gifts to kids unless our kids/ we are invited to the party. If it’s just a kiddush luncheon at shul, we don’t give a gift. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, and maybe I’ll feel different once our kids are of that age. (My oldest is just 5 now.)

  3. I like to give $50 Barnes and Noble gift cards. If I just send cash, it may be put away in savings, but a gift card needs to be spent, and I want kids to enjoy my gift.

    1) It encourages kids to read. I love books, and think everyone should be surrounded by them.
    2) If they aren’t into books, there are journals, nice pens, fancy school supplies, and other items which they can splurge on. Buying a 12 or 13 year old a fancy pen or a journal won’t be appreciated, but if they buy if for themselves, they will love it and use it.
    3) They also carry cool games.

    I remember getting lots of savings bonds, gold cross pens with my name engraved, and other gifts that I didn’t appreciate. I want kids to enjoy my gift. Depending on the community you live in, $50 isn’t a lot as a check, but it is a lot when you walk into a store like B&N.

    • Let me add that this is only for close friends and family. Once we hit Bar/Bat Mitzvah age in school, we’ll go broke giving that much. We’ll probably drop the amount down to $18 or $25, or combine our gifts with other classmates – 5 families can easily put together a $100 gift card.

  4. I give the books GREAT JEWISH MEN or GREAT JEWISH WOMEN, both by the same authors, Robert and Elinor Slater, unless I’ve given the same book to an older sibling.

  5. after 4 children going through the bar/bat mitzvah merry-go-round I”ve come to these conclusions:
    Girls get way, way too much jewelery, ssome of it quite ugly. So let your daughter help pick to give you a comfort level that it will be appreciated and worn. Due to the amount of jewelery these bat mitzvah girls receive a nice big jewelery box is also practical, This year, my 12 yr old got a Nook as a present, which is unique and fun.(for either girls/boys)…and they never seem to appreciate sefarim EXCEPT for boxed sets of Machzorim if you are planning on spending that much. My now 17 yr old was upset that she didn’t get that, which the older two had gotten.
    Boys are difficult to buy for–sometimes just a check will ease the stress. Ive bought a few boys “Yads” for layning, which I happen to think is a nice present if they actually will use it. my motto is don’t kill yourself over it–if you don’t have an “item” to get them which you feel they will appreciate give them money, which they always appreciate.:)

  6. Gator Pam says

    For young teens, I find bar/bas mitzvah to be the perfect age for a lava lamp. It tends to not be something parents buy for their kids anymore, and 12/13 year olds may not wish to spend their allowance or baby sitting money on such a thing. But, it is something different and as long as the bulb is still good when the recipient leaves for college, I have heard they are taken along more often than not.

  7. I like Amazon gift cards. They can use them for almost anything. The amount varies depending on how close you are to the child. You can download them from their website, so they are always available.

  8. If we are close friends or relatives I get their invitation turned into a kaleidoscope at the following website. It’s a beautiful and unique gift.
    For others we give $18 gift cards to Old Navy or somewhere like that.

    • Lauren Rosen Gerofsky says

      I love this idea! It is perfect for a friend’s son , to whom I want to give a meaningful gift, but I cannot afford an expensive gift card or check. Thanks. The whole discussion has been great.

  9. Lauren Rosen Gerofsky says

    In our religious school, where every classmate is invited to attend every other’s celebration, parents have chosen to combine our monies. We purchase a leaf on our synagogue’s tree of life in honor of each family and we give the Bar or Bat Mitzvah a mezuzah. It saves money and the idea has been well recieved by parents and kiddos.

  10. Anonymous says

    My kids are past BM age but when they were invited to their classmates BM I organized (along with another mother) a class gift that each family could choose to participate in. We collected a set amount from each family (I don’t remember exactly how much but probably $180) and gave the choice of a GC to a jewelry store, seforim store, or silver store. This way the kids could pick out their own gifts and know it’s from their classmates. If someone did not participate unfortunately they did not get anything at their simcha since we did not publicize who did and did not participate. All the “rules” were told upfront.
    As far as me giving gifts to my friends kids, I personally love cash! I’m in NY and people generally have a party. So I give $75-$100. My kids also received about the same with some giving more and some givIng less. When my kids received gifts they appreciated cash most instead of the jewelry or seforim that they really don’t appreciate. I put the money in a mutual fund that I explained will hopefully “grow” till when they are older and want to maybe buy a car or a house as down payment. I also let them decide how much they want to use then to buy something special with. I’ve also put any holiday or birthday money they receive into this account and they have a sizable amount in their accounts.

  11. Anonymous says

    My kids are also past this stage of life. My son’s classes collected for each boy, and each boy received some set of sefarim. My boys, and I presume the others, were thrilled to receive a set of sefarim and they continue to use them. I used to give sefarim, but I saw with my kids that there were many duplicates. I switched to cash until my sons went to yeshiva. That’s when I heard the stories from my sons about boys who spent their Bar Mitzvah money in disappointing (to me, anyway) ways. I started giving $25 savings bonds–I figured seven years of maturity would help in more ways than one. The government recently changed the way you buy savings bonds, and this is no longer an option for me. I’m back to checks, but I give a much smaller amount. I’d like to add that when my oldest son got married, he still had all his bar mitzvah savings bonds. He was shocked when he cashed them in and saw what they were worth! It was a tremendous help to someone committed to learning full time & paying rent in Yerushalayim. Just sayin.

  12. In Houston, I got all the girls in my daughters’ class 2 books: the KBD Kids in the Kitchen plus a mother-daughter journal, and my daughter inscribed the books with a personal note. Here in Israel, it is AWESOME: we paid a lump sum at the beginning of the year (I think it was 400 NIS) and all the girls get a standard gift.

  13. Shulammis says

    Just finished this stage of life–our youngest daughter had her Bas Mitzvah last week! I agree with most of what’s already been written here. We also have a class gift–usually a set of Mikraos Gedolos (The Five Chumashim with lots of basic commentaries)–which each child’s family contributes to and gets. Since my daughter has been attending Bas Mitzvah parties all year, we stocked up on several kinds of gifts throughout the year, taking advantage of Groupon-type offers, other sales (you can find a really nice art-supply set for $10!) and our trip to Israel, where I bought a lot of beautiful and inexpensive necklaces (which are valued by their recipients because they come from Israel, even when they get other jewelry). In general, I try to spend no more than $20 on any Bar or Bas Mitzvah gift, though I’ll make an exception for a close friend of my child’s or our family. Other nice ideas are Tzedakah boxes, any holiday object that relates to the time of year the child is born (my oldest son, born 10 days before Rosh Hashana, received two Shofars!), and anything personalized. My youngest daughter’s favorite gifts included a lava lamp (just like you said, Pam!), a framed photo of herself with the girl who gave the gift (dressed up for Purim), and a beautiful beaded frame enclosing her invitation and chosen to match the invitation colors. One other thing–ask the child’s parents what gifts they would most like–you’ll be surprised at the answers, and you’ll know you’re giving something they’ll really appreciate!

  14. For Bat Mitzvahs, I have been giving “The Women’s Siddur” – that seems to be well received. Or for either boy or girl, we’ve given the Chait Hagaddah (it’s a beautifully illustrated hagaddah that is very vivid…it really brings the images of Pesach and Mitzrayim to life for me ) – we’ve gotten good feedback on both these gifts, so I keep on giving them to others!

    I also would consider giving a chin-up bar to a yeshiva bochur (the kind that hook onto a doorway) as many of them will spend so many hours over a gemara that they need the exercise and will enjoy it (hopefully!). I have heard of others doing this (which is where I got the idea…).

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