Getting ready for the Seder
What are ways to make your guests feel that they are a part of the evening even if they are not Jewishly knowledgeable?
Invite guests to bring something. This will give them a feeling of ownership and contribution. Anyone can buy matzah or kosher wine. They can make a fruit salad or follow a recipe you give them. They can steam, roast or broil vegetables or potatoes.
Invite them to come a bit early and pitch in by putting the Haggadahs at each plate.
Invite them to bring a thought about how they define “freedom;” it can be serious or whimsical.
How can you engage your children in the Seder prep?
Have you ever heard that anticipation of an event is half the fun? It sure is for kids. There are lots of ways big and small to include children in the preparation for your Seder.
Depending on their ages, they can:
Pick flowers to go on the table
Fill the bowls with salt water
Set the table
Make place cards and decorate them with stickers
Shape the haroset in to a pyramid on the serving plate/bowl
Use fabric paints to decorate pillow cases for Seder pillows that guests (or the kids) will lean on
More fun at the Seder:
Buy Hagadah coloring books from your local Judaica shop, one per child, and let them color during the Seder. They can add comments to the story telling right from their book.
Decorate the table with plastic frogs and bugs
Let the kids act out the story of Moses and the burning bush or Moses meets Pharaoh.
Engaging those without a Jewish education
Type up and put a short paragraph from the haggadah on pieces of paper. Make enough so that you have one on each plate. Then invite your guests to participate by reading what is on their plate. You can number then so you just call out a number and the reading jumps around the table.
Play games like “I’m leaving Egypt”* or “Fun Facts”**
Sing songs like Go Down Moses
*I’m Leaving Egypt Game
The first person says, “I’m leaving Egypt and I’m taking.. they name something that begins with the letter A.” The next person repeats what was said adding an additional item that starts with the letter B. This continues around the table with each repeat becoming more and more challenging to remember.
This is a game my son invented based on the saying in the Haggadah than anyone who adds to the telling is blessed. During the Seder you pause every few passages to see if anyone has anything they wish to add from their own knowledge. For each added “fact” they receive a prize. (I use small chocolates.) The recipient lines up his or her chocolates in front of their plate to see who can get the most. One of the biggest fans of this game is a Catholic friend of mine who now comes with facts carefully memorized. He’s a competitive guy!