Favorite Bat Mitzvah Gift Ideas (2021)
Judith Kaplan Eisenstein, the daughter of Rabbi Mordechai M. Kaplan, was the first girl to become a Bat Mitzvah in 1922 at age 12. Fortunately, it has now become common place for girls to become Bat Mitzvah just like Judith. A Bat Mitzvah is an extremely important day in the life of any Jewish girl. As we discuss the best Bat Mitzvah gift ideas for a 12 or 13 year-old, there are two main questions we will delve into in our discussion. What are appropriate Bat Mitzvah gifts? And if you decide not to give a monetary gift, what is a gift that a Bat Mitzvah would really enjoy?
Psst: If you are looking for gifts for a Bar Mitzvah (boy) and happened to land on this page, check out my post on the best Bar Mitzvah gift ideas instead!
Bat Mitzvah Gift Amount
The most popular gift to give to a girl becoming a Bat Mitzvah is the gift of money. Why? The gift giver’s intention is usually for the Bat Mitzvah to put that money into a high-yield savings account or the stock market and invest in her future.
As a Jewish educator and Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor, I have heard from those who don’t want to give money as a gift. And if you have a really fervent reason not to, I understand, especially because there are a lot of other memorable gifts that you can give. However, speaking from personal experience, I am extremely grateful to the people who did give me cash for my Bat Mitzvah. That money has been able to compound in a savings account since I was thirteen years old, and has helped me to start to build a future for myself. With that in mind, I would argue that money is the most thoughtful gift that you can give.
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Bat Mitzvah Money: How much money do you give?
Bat Mitzvah money is typically given in $18 increments although there are plenty of people who also give $50, $100, $150, etc. Why $18? Seems a bit random, no? Well, not exactly. Judaism has a way of finding meaning in many things, especially numbers.
The word “life” in Hebrew is Chai, so giving money in multiples of $18 is symbolic of giving “chai” or life. The two Hebrew letters in Chai are CHET ( ח ) and YUD ( י ) . CHET is the 8th letter in the Hebrew alphabet and YUD is the 10th, which, when combined, are numerically equivalent to 18. Friends of the Bat Mitzvah girl typically give $18, $36, or $54 dollars. Adults tend to give a little more starting around $54, and then moving to $72, $100+ depending on how many family members are attending. Generally, if you wanted to give $90 you would just round to $100, and if you plan to give $100+, you could either give $108 or start by adding 18 to 100 and give $118, $136, $154, or even $180.
Stocks and Bonds
You can also choose to purchase stocks for the Bat Mitzvah girl instead of giving a check or cash. This way, you know without a doubt that the money will be invested. If you have an idea of what stocks you would like to purchase for the Bat Mitzvah, that’s fantastic; otherwise, you can purchase a Stockpile gift card that can be used to purchase shares or fractions of shares of stocks or ETFs.
U.S. Savings Bonds are another Bat Mitzvah gift idea. You can also gift Israel Bonds which help support the state of Israel and can be redeemed right around the time the Bar Mitzvah might be headed to college. I just want to caution that it can be a bit difficult for people that aren’t living in Israel to figure out how to cash in these Israeli bonds.
Judaica Bat Mitzvah Gifts
Giving the gift of Judaica to a Bat Mitzvah can be an absolutely beautiful gesture, but you want to make sure that you are choosing the gift wisely. You can expect that many other guests will have the same idea and the fact of the matter is that a Bat Mitzvah does not need thirteen challah covers. You’ll need to think critically and determine if the Bat Mitzvah really only needs one piece of this Judaica or if she could do with multiple of these items in her future. A mezuzah, for example, is a great gift because it can be placed on the doorposts of rooms throughout the Bat Mitzvah’s future home.
I break down exactly which Judaica pieces make sense to give a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in my Bar Mitzvah guide, so I will link to that.
With a Bat Mitzvah, you can also choose an item of Judaica based on the designer. For example, Michael Aram is an extraordinary artist whose pieces are very recognizable because they are so beloved. He is actually an Armenian artist, but he has a large Judaica section on his website. He has multiple stunning menorahs in his collections of menorahs and various mezuzot to choose from, both of which can be used throughout the Bat Mitzvah’s life. Kate Spade also has a beautiful collection of Judaica pieces.
Giving the gift of jewelry for a Bat Mitzvah is almost always a good idea. I say almost because you do want to make a point to consider whether or not the Bat Mitzvah would be happy to receive more than one of this kind of jewelry. For example, a Bat Mitzvah might be happy to receive a couple of Star of David necklaces. But, does she need seven of them? I doubt it.
Secular Bat Mitzvah Gifts
Giving a piece of luggage or luggage set as a Bat Mitzvah gift ticks many boxes. It’s a practical gift as the Bat Mitzvah will be able to use it for years to come, but it’s also poignant. As the Bat Mitzvah girl becomes a Jewish adult, she is given an item that she can use as she becomes more independent and attends sleepaway camp, goes off to college, or studies abroad. Currently, Away Luggage is the trendiest on the market. The suitcases are reasonably priced and very durable too. I also love the Delsey Chatelet luggage, but mainly for its looks. And, if you prefer a soft-side luggage, then my personal favorite is the Travelpro Maxlite.
Apple Watch, AirPods
If the Bat Mitzvah girl does not have these Apple products, then I bet she will be over the moon to receive either of these extremely generous gifts.
Polaroid cameras have made an epic comeback in the past few years. The Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Camera is a great gift idea for a Bat Mitzvah girl who loves experiences and hanging out with friends. She can take the polaroids and create a collage wall in her bedroom or put the photos into a scrapbook. It’s a beautiful way to collect memories and absolutely perfect for a girl who loves to be creative and artistic.
Handbag, Custom Sneakers, Clothing, Accessories
Monograming an article of clothing or an accessory like a handbag is a great way to personalize the Bat Mitzvah gift. You could also offer to create some custom sneakers for the Bat Mitzvah which would be a fun, interactive gift.
Tickets to an Event or Experience
It might be difficult to pinpoint an exact date where the Bat Mitzvah is available to see a show, but you can get the Bat Mitzvah a voucher for cooking classes, indoor skydiving, horseback riding, tickets to go on a boat cruise, or a gift card for an Airbnb experience of her choosing.
If you would prefer that the Bat Mitzvah use your monetary gift right away as opposed to potentially saving for spending sometime in the future, then you might prefer to give a gift card to the Bat Mitzvah’s favorite store. Some ideas include Nordstrom, Sephora or Ulta, Visa or American Express, Amazon, Apple, etc. And as I mentioned above, a Stockpile gift card makes an awesome gift!
Mitzvah Project Donation
If you prefer your gift to have be a donation or have some sort of charity component to it, you can donate money to the organization where the Bat Mitzvah girl did her mitzvah project.
Many synagogues ask students to do social action projects as part of their preparation for Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Typically, the service program will let you know what organization the Bat Mitzvah boy has chosen to work with or you can ask the family ahead of time.
Some gift givers wish to donate half of the Bat Mitzvah gift money to charity and the other half to the Bat Mitzvah. So, for example, if you wanted to gift $72, you could give $36 to the Bat Mitzvah girl and $36 directly to the mitzvah project organization.
What do you think are the best Bat Mitzvah gifts? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’re looking for more Bar and Bat Mitzvah content, there are more posts on the BMA blog!