Mishloach Manot: the “Sending of portions” for Purim

This year Purim begins March 6th. A Purim custom that I have seen consistently observed in the more traditional movements of Judaism is the practice of giving food gifts, Mishloach Manot, to friends and acquaintances. It’s sort of the reverse of Halloween. Instead of getting goodies, you give them.

Like any new behavior it can feel confusing or awkward at first. But once it becomes a family ritual you’ll look forward to this delightful practice. What you do really depends on your personal preference. Do you like to bake some goodies, shop for baskets, make interesting containers? Or do you prefer to put an orange and some cookies on a plastic plate and tie it up with some cellophane and a ribbon?  Do you want to be quick about it or do you want to make an afternoon of creating with your children, friends or neighbors? It’s up to you.

Some ideas for your basket:
Fruit is always a good idea. It’s beautiful, healthful and easy. The same is true for nuts. Whole walnuts are packaged in their own handsome shell.
Bake some hamentashen – or any cookie that you like.

Come up with your own creations. Here’s a Butterfly Snack bag that is cute and you can put any cracker, chip, fruit or candy in the “wings”.

You could have a theme! 
When it comes to what options you have for your gift basket, the sky is the limit. Take a look at Kosheronabudget.com where they have a list of 101 ideas!

Check out these suggestions:

Popcorn Purim: basket of various flavors of gourmet popcorn & popcorn-flavored jelly bellies.
Health Nut: all healthy/organic snacks (Clif Bars, LaraBar, dried fruit, etc.)
Alice in Wonderland: bottle of liquid with “drink me” sign, food labeled with “eat me” signs
Prisoners: bread & water in white bag with black vertical stripes (for prisoner bars)

For your container, you can use recyclable paper plates or good old paper lunch bags. Decorate them with crayons, markers, stickers or paper flowers.

Want to Read about Purim?
PJ Library has Purim books for all ages of kids.
For adults try Purim 101 from My Jewish Learning.

Now you are ready to drive or walk around town dropping off your gifts. If no one is home just leave your basket with a quick note “Happy Purim from Jane, Matty, Sally and Sammy”.