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How to Create a Fabulous Upsherenish Party

How to Create a Fabulous Upsherenish Party


When there’s a party in our family, I’m usually the designated party planner. It’s so easy to throw a birthday or anniversary party when there is a plethora of beautiful websites and party stores with all sorts of decorations and party supplies. But when my grandson Yosef was turning three and his upsherenish was coming up, I was a bit stumped.

What is an upsherenish? It’s an age-old custom to allow a boy’s hair to grow untouched until he’s three years old. On his third Jewish birthday, friends are invited to a haircutting ceremony—called an upsherin or upsherenish in Yiddish, and a chalakah by Sephardic Jews. The child’s peyot (biblically mandated sidelocks) are left intact—the initiation into his first mitzvah. From this point on, a child is taught to wear a kippah and tzitzit, and is slowly trained to recite blessings and the Shema. The world now begins to benefit from the Torah study and mitzvahs of this young child.

Being that this day is such an important milestone for my grandson, I wanted to make it memorable, with tangible and creative ideas that he would treasure. But you can’t exactly walk into a party store and purchase upsherenish decor!

Of course, that meant being creative and coming up with some fun decor ideas that were unique, inexpensive and attractive.

We made the invitations ourselves using the free software program Picmonkey. It’s really easy to use. Just upload your photo, add copy, and send out anywhere that processes photos for multiple prints.

A centerpiece on the table really sets the tone for a party, so the first thing I made were these scissor centerpieces. I simply Googled “oversized plastic scissors” and found these:

I think these are used when people are “cutting” ribbon for an opening ceremony! They were easy to stand in a bowl of flower foam with a wood skewer glued to the back and stuck into the foam. The blue shredded paper makes anything look more festive.

Sheva, from MyShtub, also incorporated scissors into her son’s centerpiece.

I found a paper punch online in the shape of scissors to create confetti which I scattered on the tables.

A name banner was easy to create with colored paper and hand-drawn letters with a gold Sharpie pen.

Yosef sat in a special chair during the ceremony, so I painted an old barstool blue (his favorite color!). The height of the stool worked well for adults to come by and snip without having to bend over.

To keep little ones busy during the party, I created a memory game with matching pictures of Yosef. You could also create a memory game with themes of different mitzvahs.

To emphasize the idea of mitzvahs, the children also decorated tzedakah boxes.

And crowns.

From this day onward Yosef will be wearing tzitzit regularly, so one of my favorite things I created were these tzitzit napkins.

They were made from white paper dinner napkins, cut on the top, with drawn black lines and strings glued to the bottom.

Another way to incorporate the tzitzit idea is to make them into goody bags, like Chana, from Chana’s Art Room, did.

Chana also made these beautiful tzedakah boxes for her guests.

Our dessert table was a hit with the kids, and adults too.

I made about 100 cake pops (!), and there was a make-your-own ice cream sundae station . . .

The cookies were from a bakery in Brooklyn.

Yosef’s guests went home with kosher candy slipped into blue chevron paper bags.

After each guest “snipped,” they wore a sticker.

I got the idea from the sticker you get after you vote!

I ordered them from Vista Print.

Yosef was a lucky boy and received many gifts.

I ordered these blow-up pictures from Staples. They’re called engineer prints, and are very inexpensive.

Thank-you cards were also created on Picmonkey and sent to guests. These emphasized to Yosef the concept of gratitude.

Rita Brownstein is a designer and former art director. She is the author of Jewish Holiday Style and Jewish Weddings (published by Simon & Schuster), and currently blogs at
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Dina Sacramento, California February 3, 2016

Thank you Rita, thank you for this wonderful article. My grandson turns three this October and all of your ideas are so fun! Can't wait to use them. Reply

Rita Conneticut October 1, 2015

Scissor punch Hi Ana,
I found the punch on Amazon...
Good luck!
Rita Reply

Anonymous September 30, 2015

Hi guys,

I am in London trying to organise my son's first hair cut. I loved the scissor shape paper punch. Do you know where I could by one online?


Ana Reply

Rita Connecticut August 24, 2015

Barber shop Hi Shoshana,
What a great idea! Of course the first thing that comes to mind are the old fashioned barbershop poles. You can also carry through the vintage theme with the food...diner food would be fun. Reply

shoshana arnow Houston August 24, 2015

Izzy's Upsherin Hey,
I am planning an upsherin for my oldest boy. We are going to do a barber shop theme and was wondering if you had any fun ideas. Reply

Rita May 12, 2015

Hi Chaya,
My in-laws brought the cookies from a bakery in Flatbush. Sorry, I don't know the name. Reply

Chaya patchogue April 29, 2015

please share the info for the bakery that sells these cookies.
thank you Reply

sivia Israel September 22, 2014

I love all the ideas, they are great and refreshing.

is there any way you can tell me where you bought that puncher? would love to have it for my sons upcoming upsherin... Reply

Anonymous August 5, 2014

Thank you for sharing your ideas, and also the places you got the things from! Reply

Christine New York June 9, 2014

thank you! Thank you, Rita and Rochel, for your comments and ideas! We are really looking forward to the party. Reply

Rita Connecticut June 9, 2014

Gift for three year old Hi Christine,
Any type of gift that you would buy any three year old boy would be great. As far as dressing, you and your daughter can wear a dress or skirt if that would make you more comfortable but there is not dress code.
Enjoy the party! Reply

Rochel Chein for June 8, 2014

To Christine Mazal tov! I'm sure that your presence will enhance the happy occasion - no need to worry, just relax and enjoy! My sons received a wide variety of gifts at their Upsherins, including toys, games, and books. Some gifts were Judaic themed, such as his own charity box. You can find some ideas at or at your local Judaica store, or you can look for a general age-appropriate toy. You and your daughter would be most comfortable wearing skirts or dresses and something with sleeves. Reply

Christine New York June 2, 2014

Guidance for goyim What a wonderful post! My husband, daughter, and I have been invited to an upsherin for my daughter's playgroup friend. We are so honored to take part in this special celebration! However, I'm worried that we'll embarrass our hosts; we are not Jewish, and this is our first upsherin. What type of gift is appropriate for the birthday boy? Is there a general dress code (such as skirts or dresses for my daughter and I)? Please forgive my ignorance - I welcome any guidance you can offer! Thank you! Reply

Rita Connecticut May 12, 2014

Thanks Natalie,
So glad to help! Enjoy. Reply

Natalie Zemmel manchester england February 25, 2014

Wow Wow I loved all your ideas..I'm planning my baby's upsher in July and am definitely going to use lots of your ideas..thank you x Reply

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