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Jewess » Guest Post: Tips to De-Stress the Seder and Other Passover Etiquette

Guest Post: Tips to De-Stress the Seder and Other Passover Etiquette

by Guest

lisa-friedman.jpgBy Lisa Friedman, co-creator of

Prior to starting, Lisa was a Private Wealth Management Advisor and Banker. In addition to banking, Lisa’s responsibilities included corporate gift buying as she developed a knack for finding unique gifts for people with incredibly discerning tastes. In August of December 2007, Lisa decided to team up with Alexis Stein to co-create, to share her tastes and expertise on etiquette, gift buying, and unique ideas! Lisa currently lives in California with her husband, two dogs, and a baby boy on the way.

While Passover is a joyous time when we celebrate our freedom and independence, it can also be a stressful time for those preparing a seder, and even for those attending one. From being a host and worrying about if there is enough food to how long will it take to clean everything up, to being a guest and deciding what to wear to what to bring (especially when the host says, “bring nothing”). Over the past few years, having been both a seder host and guest several times, I have compiled a list of tips that help me “not stress” over the Passover seder and allow me to remember why this is such an important, and enjoyable, holiday.

1. Hosts, Have Guests Contribute
The last Seder I hosted was for 16 people and needless to say I was quite overwhelmed. I needed help cooking and was certainly going to need help cleaning, and I did not know how to handle the situation. I contemplated calling the local deli to prepare parts of the meal or assigning my guests parts of the meal to make. What I decided was to be honest with my guests, and when they asked, “What can I bring,” to not say, “Just yourself.” When you get your guests to help out with the meal, it makes the cooking and preparing much less stressful!

2. Hosts, Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help with Clean-Up
The cleaning part…UGH! This is the worst, but don’t let it be. I suggest either cleaning up after each course with the help of a few of your closest relatives or friends, or paying a cleaning service to come and clean. Trust me, after cooking all day long, the last thing you want to do is stay up all night cleaning!

3. Guests, Bring Something Helpful and Useful
What I hated the most as being a hostess was being stuck with all these boxes of store-bought macaroons and fruit jelly slices. Who needs more than one box? They are not even good! Instead, bring something unique and practical that your host can actually use. Here are some of my favorite gift ideas:
1) Kosher for Passover desserts that actually taste good (click here for a list of my favorites) .
2) A recipe book your host can use for the rest of the week, such as Susie Fishbein’s Passover By Design.
3) Passover note cards that your host can send out to friends and family (no need for her to run to Hallmark this year!)
4) A Matzah Plate (she will need it all week long and can use it at the seder).
5) Fun Passover-themed toys for the kids. My favorite is the dancing matzah man.

4. Guests, Dress Nicely.
Your host has spent at least the last 24 hours preparing for this meal, the least you can do is show her a little respect. Wear anything that looks like you have gotten dressed up for the occasion. And NO jeans!

5. Guests, Be Punctual and Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
Arrive on time, not ten minutes early or ten minutes late. If you arrive too late, you’ll hold everyone up, and if you arrive too early you are just a nuisance, as your host will probably be embarrassed that the preparations are not done, and will feel obligated to entertain you as she’s scurrying around to finish. (Hosts can avoid this situation by having the table set at least an hour before guests are supposed to arrive, and by having your hair and makeup done after least a half hour before.)
Guests should also be conscious about not staying too late. Your host will be tired after all that prep and overwhelmed about cleaning up after you leave. The appropriate time to leave is shortly after the seder is wrapped up, after you’ve asked if you can help with cleaning up. Look out for clues that your host wants you to go, such as yawning or “thank you for coming,” or clearing off the table. Hosts should feel free to drop these hints if guests show no signs of leaving the table.

Happy Pesach!

One Response to “Guest Post: Tips to De-Stress the Seder and Other Passover Etiquette”

  1. I love the gift ideas–very thoughtful!

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    Jewess is a blog about Jewish women's issues, and is part of the Canonist network of religion blogs.

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