I am in the throws of planning a Bar Mitzvah and have made a commitment to make this one as green as possible. For those who do not know a lot about a bar mitzvah, the amount of detail involved is similar to a wedding. It is a ritual in Judaism when a boy reaches the age of 13 (and a girl, the age of 12), that he has come of age to observe the commandments of the Torah. Today the ritual has been expanded to include a religious service led by the child and a party or reception afterwards. For a 101 on bar mitzvahs, read here.
Each bar mitzvah (this being my third), I try to do something different.
First Son’s Bar Mitzvah, Clever, Not So Green.
The first son’s theme was puzzle pieces reflecting the various pieces of his life. I cut out 200 plus puzzle pieces, strung them on a white ribbon as a necklace. Each puzzle piece identified how the guest was part of my son’s life whether the guest was family or friends from his soccer team or nursery school.
Second Son, Getting There but Made Carbon Footprint Faux Pas.
The second son had a DVD invitation which featured a montage of his life. Since his bar mitzvah project was both the Nike Recycle-a Shoe program that I discussed in this article and recycling electronic media through GreenDisk ( see my GreenDisk article), we decided to enclose a self-addresses envelope to return the DVDs for recycling. I did receive many of the DVDs back. In reflection, my carbon creative footprint was huge. Not only did I create a product that could have ultimately ended up in the trash, I requested that they re-mail the DVDs back to me! What was I thinking?
Third Time Around, Let’s Go Paperless.
This go around I have been looking at my own carbon footprint in preparing for this party. The most obvious change that I could make was to go paperless with my invitations. Not only would it save me money, but it would lessen my footprint from taking down a few trees in the name of invitations that either are thrown out or recycled. No more DVDs for me. (Although, I have to admit, it was a pretty clever invitation.)
I started to research what was available online that would accomplish my needs for the bar mitzvah. I am fortunate that I have a lot of cousins; however, many are from out of town. They all fly in for the weekend, and we literally go from one meal to the other. So, yes there is a lot of partying the whole weekend. Quality time with your relatives.
I needed a program that would allow me to give everyone notice of all the weekend events. I could have used a WordPress blog template but I wanted something a little more private and finally found three sources to use: Myevent.com, E-vite, and Pingg. Both Pingg and E-vite are free. Other e-vite type alternatives are listed on Evite Alternatives, which includes among many MyPunchbowl, Renkoo, and Socializr.
Since I have five different events planned, Pingg and E-vite do not work for me. With these two services, I would have to send out a separate invitation for each event. On the other hand, I could create an easy website with Myevent.com of all of my events, upload photos and a video montage of his life. It would make my life and my guests lives easier as well. Read on about all the great features that Myevent.com contains to make this special website for my son.
What Makes MyEvent.com Special?
This website provides templates for weddings, bar mitzvahs, or any event from reunions to corporate events. I chose one of the templates and altered its colors for my taste. In a matter of hours I was able to customize my website with all of the various basic features. I am no techie, so if I can do it so can you.
You can have a flash intro and your choice of music to play as your guest browse through the website. Your welcome page can include pictures, text, and video uploads from YouTube or Google. My son’s page contained another montage of his life which I uploaded through google video along with a welcome letter.
In addition to the welcome letter, you can include a poll. Many people think my son looks like one of my other children or me, so I included a poll as to whom he resembles the most. I included the “milkman” to be funny but it is actually receiving the most votes.You can also include a quiz about your child’s interest which is fun for his classmates. He chose 4 different items about himself.
There is even a page for you to upload pictures of your family and friends. Uploading was very easy. All I had to do was to click the particular picture on my computer and click the word “submit.” The picture instanly appeared on my site.
My favorite section was the details of event sections. I entered all the different events on this page, attached a map for directions, as well as a picture of the venue. My guests could easily scan all the event of the weekend. Forget about printing those direction cards!
The site also contains the option of RSVP-ing by email to the broadcast you send out or to the website only. A link to the website is included in your broadcast of the invitation. I chose the website RSVP but I still receive notifications through my email so I can track visitors through another type of software (excel). All my events are listed on the RSVP so if you are an out of town guest or family, you would rsvp to those events specifically for you.
The website tracks your guests’ RSVPs for each event. I am using excel so I can have an instant number of guests attending each event without hand counting the guests. There is even a message board so people can leave messages. Unfortunately, they can not upload their own pictures with their messages.
Similar to any other website, there is a contact page. Your guests can easily contact you with questions. If the website does not have a template for a page you want for your site, then you can create your own additional pages. Don’t like a template page like polls, then remove it from your website.
The second part of the website is the planning part where you can upload an excel guest list by emailing the company or entering in the names by hand. Make sure you follow the format that they suggest.
I can view at anytime, a report as to who has RSVPed as well as edit RSVPs. Some of my guests RSVPed twice to the same events.
Invitations can be sent out by each event or a broadcast can be sent out for all of the parties. I chose the broadcast method because I thought it was too cumbersome to send out invitations for each event. The only problem I had with this is that the email did not include all the names of the family members that I invited. It was just a single email to the email recipient. If every family member had their own email then this would not be a problem. I had to send out another broadcast to those guests whose whole family was invited.
Want More Features?
If these features are not enough, you can upgrade to the premium features which include a blog, a feed for the blog, budget tool, and increased number of photos to upload, a message board, and other features. In addition, you can create your own header and send it to the company who will upload it for you. Still not satisfied with the website designs, the company can create one for you for an additional charge.
Not sure that this concept is for you? No problem, There is a free 7 day trial so you can play around with the site to see if it meets your expectations. Check out some of the websites created on the site.
What has my experience been so far? Terrific. The customer service has been wonderful to deal with. I can email or call them with any questions. My guests love the site. Some think I created it all by myself ( yeah, in my sleep.)
The basic monthly price is $9.95 and the upgraded website is $14.95 a month. So, have an upcoming party, reunion, business event, baby shower, wedding or bar mitzvah? Consider using MyEvent.com. Convenience wrapped up in one paperless green site sure to tread lighter on Mother Earth, the orginal party girl.
So, what is your favorite way to make and/or send invitations that are kinder to the Earth?
Photo by permission of Fiona Wilkerson