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.