How to Decorate Your Passover Seder Table
When Jewish people honor their freedom from slavery in Egypt during Passover, they share an evening full of prayers, blessings, and rituals—all anchored around a meal. "During a Passover Seder, loved ones gather around a beautifully decorated family dining table," says Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., of Access to Culture, which makes it unique among the religion's other celebrations. "It's the one Jewish holiday where the service doesn't occur in the formal setting of a synagogue or temple." Create a meaningful, beautiful table with these must-haves.
A Full Seder Plate
The main element of the celebration is the Seder plate, a divided platter that sits in the center of the table holding six symbolic foods: zeroh, a shank bone (which doesn't get eaten); charoset, a combination of apples, nuts, and wine; maror and chazeret, two servings of bitter herbs; beitzah, a hard-boiled egg; and karpas, a vegetable—usually parsley, celery, or potato. You'll also need to set out a platter for three pieces of matzoh used during the service and display a symbolic cup of wine (which remains full in honor of the prophet Elijah).
Thoughtful Place Settings
Since Seder groups vary in size, you may want to accommodate bigger guest lists with single-serving Seder plates prepared in advance with the symbolic items. "For large gatherings of 20 to 40 people, many hosts pre-set an individual six-inch Seder plate on top of the ten-inch dinner plate at each place setting, so when guests are seated there isn't a wait," says Schweitzer. "Each Seder plate has five of the six main Seder dish components." Place settings should also include cup for wine, which is poured four times during the meal; this can be a decorative silver kiddush cup or a more traditional wine glass.
The colors, styles, and themes you choose for your tablescape are up to you, says Schweitzer: "Creativity and personal style rule the table design." Some families opt for paper goods or plasticware to make cleanup easier; others combine family heirloom Seder plates with their own china or stoneware. Fresh flowers make a popular centerpiece and color schemes can vary—consider springtime pink and green, sophisticated black and white; high-contrast blue and cream. One tip: The focus will be on the food and the religious service, so keep your table uncluttered and simple.