You can absolutely spell Passover without “stress.” But between time constraints and the need to be Kosher (and gluten, peanut and fat free), it’s easy to forget that. Let some pros help you remember.
How to decorate:
They are usually the first things guests notice, making them a fundamental element in setting the mood for any event. Nicole Meyer, owner of Nibbles by Nic, and Risa Borsykowsky, owner of the Jewish Gift Place, suggested paying attention to details that are symbolic:
- Buy blue swirls to hang from the ceiling to symbolize the Red Sea.
- Place plastic jumping frogs on the table for the Ten Plagues.
- Individual Seder plates are a fun alternative to larger ones, because guests will have the essentials at their finger tips rather than reaching for the center of the table.
- Place a bitter herb in the napkin ring of guests for a “fresh” start to the meal.
- Since the table is filled with other décor, low and small flower arrangements are key. Lilies, violets, carnations, irises and cherry blossoms are traditional flowers of Passover.
What to serve:
Don’t let dietary restrictions interfere with creativity. Kosher recipes are on the menu but each community has its own customs. Accommodating everyone is simpler than one might think, even if the host wants to put some creative twists on a traditional Seder.
- Borsykowsky suggested making red jello to symbolize blood and using mini marshmallows to throw at each other for hail.
- Steal some recipes from Matzo: 35 Recipes for Passover and All Year Long. You do not expect spanakopita, pizza, gratin, nachos to work with matzo, but “these recipes are insanely good and total party pleasers,” according to Alexandra Pearson who works closely with David Kirschner, acclaimed chef and the book’s author.
- “Just because a wine is Kosher, does not mean it is Kosher for Passover,” Genna Cappellini of Zachy’s Wine & Liquor Inc. said. During Passover only, Biblical law forbids Jews to eat chametz, which is any food product that is made from or has come in contact with wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt. Be sure to purchase certified Kosher for Passover wines.
How to entertain:
Seders can be long—just ask Alan Zweibel, who recently wrote a whole book about it. But traditionalists need not heed the Long Island native’s advice to cut the four questions. A few fun add-ons can keep the evening entertaining.
- Place a Miriam’s Cup alongside Elijah’s Cup to honor Miriam, the sister of Moses. Near the end of the Seder, pass the Miriam’s Cup around the table for everyone to dip their fingers to taste the water and make a wish for the coming year.
- Borsykowsky said her guests look forward to music the most. Passover parody songs are cleverly written to tunes that everybody knows, so everybody sings alone. Some good ideas for parody music include famous hits like “A Whole New World,” “YMCA” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
- Give everyone a musical instrument like egg shakers or tambourines to play along with the songs to add some more excitement.
You tell us: What are your favorite Passover hosting tips and recipes?