Rookie moves: 5 tips for hosting your first seder with ease

    Passover is fast approaching, and with it comes a lot of cleaning, shopping, and prepping for the holiday. In years past, you might have gone to your parents, in-laws, or your local Chabad or Hillel, but now it’s time to host one on your own.

    Putting together a normal dinner party on an ordinary night sounds daunting. But preparing for an entire Passover Seder, complete with kosher-for-Passover food, lots of wine, and Haggadahs for everybody? Now that does sound intimidating.

    A few years ago, I hosted my first Seder with my husband. We had 20 people in total sitting around the table. It was madness leading up to it; I spent so many hours preparing. But I enjoyed it so much that I have made it my mission to host at least one big Seder every year. I converted to Judaism just a few years ago; today, I’m an experienced Passover hostess, and I can help you host your own Seder too.

    While you may be worried about doing it for the first time, I can tell you that you will pull it off and it will be incredible. Here are some ways to lessen your anxiety about it, and ensure everyone has an enjoyable time — including you!

    1Sign up for OneTable

    OneTable is an organization that encourages young people to host Shabbat dinners. As long as your guests sign up on the platform, you’ll receive a stipend to shop for groceries. Since the first night of Passover is on Shabbat this year, they are helping out hosts with all the fixings for a fabulous Seder. Don’t miss out on this!

    2Go shopping early

    Going to the kosher supermarket at 1 p.m. on the day of Passover is a nightmare. They may be out of what you need, and you’ll be scrambling at the last minute to find it. Come on… where are you going to find a shank bone so late? Be smart, and start your shopping as early as possible. Pre-order that coveted shank bone. Grab matzoh boxes at your local Costco a few weeks ahead of time, and stock up on other non-perishables you can store in your pantry.

    3Don’t make too many dishes

    The point of the Seder is to learn the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, celebrate our freedom, eat traditional foods, and spend time with family and friends. You don’t have to make a perfect five-course dinner. Focus on a few dishes you know you can make well, and make a lot of each, instead of trying to come up with 10 different side dishes. People will remember the experience more than the food anyway.

    4Hire a cleaning person

    A cleaning person is an extra cost, but having one at your side is going to save you a lot of time and stress. If you can, hire someone to help you with pre-Passover cleaning as well, serving, clearing and cleaning up after your seder.

    5Rest before the seder

    get some rest

    Instead of working right up until the meal, set up your table and cook all your food at least a day early so you can rest the day of the seder. You’ll be up late, and you want to make sure you don’t pass out after your first cup of wine.

    Remember, Passover is fun! It doesn’t have to be a burden. Keep that in mind when you’re preparing for your own very first Seder. Good luck, and chag sameach!

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    Kylie Ora Lobell is Jewess in Chief at Jewess, a Jewish women’s website, as well as a freelance writer for Aish, Chabad, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and The Forward.