12 Passover Entertaining Ideas for the Whole Family
Passover is one of the oldest holidays, and it's among the most sacred in the Jewish community. It's a weeklong celebration of one of the cornerstone tales of the Jewish faith, recognizing the Israelites' departure from ancient Egypt. The first references to Passover are found in the Hebrew Bible's books of Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Exodus. There, you'll read how Israelites fled Egypt, a story which explains why Matzo became a Passover staple—in their haste, Israelites didn't have time to allow bread to actually rise.
There are many traditions and rituals that take place during Passover, but most are focused around the seder, which is the traditional meal. It can last for several hours, so many families do their best to enjoy the meal and each other's company during the time. The holiday lasts for seven days, occurring in mid-spring, and the seder takes place after sundown on the night before Passover begins. There's plenty of singing, praying, and storytelling at this event—as well as symbolic presentations, like the seder plate, which contains five fundamental items that symbolize an element of the tale of Exodus. Kosher wine is an important element of the meal, with four glasses prescribed for every adult. Each symbolize one the four stages of the Exodus: freedom, deliverance, redemption, and release. An extra goblet that's left out for the prophet Elijah in order to celebrate the promise of the upcoming year.
During Passover, gather around a festive table with a delicate but sophisticated palette of soft pink, gray, and a shimmer of gold. Prepare your family's favorite recipes and some new ones to round out the menu. You can prepare these projects in the days and weeks before Passover, and serve your holiday guests in style with the following ideas.
Matzo Place Cards
For a start, pipe your guests' names in chocolate on matzo. Tuck them into napkins, and use them in lieu of place cards—it's a great way to use up extra matzo you may have leftover from preparing the main meal.
The Seder Plate
If you're expecting numerous guests for the holiday dinner and have only one seder plate, create one or two extras so everyone around the table can participate. Arrange five elegant saucers or small bowls on a large plate that matches them, and then use the small dishes to display each of the symbolic foods.
Make a personalized matzo cover and a bag for the afikomen (the symbolic broken piece of matzo that is hidden during the meal) from monogrammed handkerchiefs.
Bookmark Place Cards
Why is this place card different from all other place cards? Because it can also serve as a bookmark in the Haggadah at your seder. Former Living assistant managing editor Paulie Dibner, who came up with this clever idea, likes to create hers with watercolor paper. Start by decorating a full piece with stripes of watered-down craft paints or watercolors; when dry, cut it into bookmarks. Punch a hole at the top of each, loop a ribbon through, and write a guest’s name on the front. (Optional: Make one for Elijah.)
Giftable Wine Bottles
Surprise a hostess during Passover with a bottle of kosher wine in custom gift wrap. Cut a piece of decorative paper large enough to wrap around the bottle, overlapping the ends slightly; secure it with double-sided tape. Use our template for a matching tag, or let a note double as wrapping paper: Scrawl a supersize message, then tie with ribbon. Crepe paper is another bottle-hugging option: Cut a piece slightly larger than the bottle, with the grain running vertically, and secure it with double-sided tape. Cinch at the neck with ribbon.
This delicate centerpiece is a beautiful counterpart to an arrangement of spring florals. Bathe your family and friends in soothing candlelight by arranging a few of these lamp chimneys around your seder table.
If you're setting your Passover seder table in haste, this tri-fold napkin setting is as simple as can be. You can use a single sheet of construction paper to create place cards for your guests to adorn these simple place settings.
Wine is an integral part of the Passover seder—why not serve your choice of kosher Hechsher wine in these personalized beauties? We fashioned semicircles on each of these to give a cheeky glass-half-full impression. Rinse them after crafting and they're ready for a fresh pour.
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You'll likely have the ingredients to make this matzo house already—and if you're planning on hosting children at the table, this project is a great way to keep them entertained throughout the evening.
With a serrated knife, cut the following matzo sheets: Two 4-by-5-inch rectangles (sides of the house), two 4-by-6-inch rectangles (front and back pieces), and two 3 1/2-by-5-inch rectangles (roof pieces). Make a peaked roof by removing the corners from the front and back pieces. Pipe chocolate hazelnut spread along all edges of front and back pieces. Place front piece on an upside-down paper plate; use a small object, such as a soup can, to hold it upright. Then, pipe spread onto the top and bottom edges of a side piece and adhere it to one side of the house. Remove the soup can, and adhere other pieces with chocolate hazelnut spread in similar manner. Place roof pieces and pipe chocolate hazelnut spread where they meet at the top. Using the serrated knife, cut out windows and doors. Adhere to house with chocolate hazelnut spread; pipe on window panes and other details. Decorate the roof with sliced almonds "shingles," and use whole almonds and shredded coconut for the walkway.
Carafe Place Settings
In addition to displaying the main seder plate, incorporate some of the symbolic foods of Passover into individual place settings. (Carafes of wine can double as place-card holders.) With everything in reach, guests will have what they need during the reading of the Haggadah, keeping the passing of the seder plate—and the risk of spills at the table—to a minimum.
If you plan to ask guests to read from the Haggadah, consider incorporating the book of prayers and stories into every setting. We covered each book in a sheet of decorative paper and a layer of blue vellum to coordinate with the dishes. Then we used silk cord to bundle it with the napkin. Self-adhesive labels let the books double as place cards.