In writing the Passover e-guide, “Celebrate Passover: How to Plan a Fun, Simple Seder,” I had a series of personal “aha” moments.
Specifically, I reminded myself what huge timesavers checklists can be. There are three of them in the e-book that I can’t believe I waited so many years to create.
#1 – Seder shopping list
In years past, I’d make a Seder shopping list each year, looking through the Haggadah, seeing if I had any old menus and to-dos stuck in my “holiday” drawer. Now, I don’t have to recreate it every year. How did that never occur to me before?!
It doesn’t include the ingredients you’ll need for the meals you’re planning, but it means you (probably) won’t forget that you’re out of wine. Has that ever happened to you?
We special order our wine, because – for nostalgia – we buy the wine we used at our wedding: Manischewitz Cream Red Concord. And most grocery stores where we live don’t carry it. We buy a case at a time, so there’s always plenty, right? Until there isn’t.
Tip: after you make this year’s list, tuck it somewhere safe, so you won’t have to go through the same exercise next year.
#2 – What to cook ahead?
For me, this is a short list of the few things that I should prepare a day ahead, like roasting the egg, making the charoset, and roasting the lamb shank or chicken neck. It’s good to know that those bits are finished and don’t need to occupy counter or oven space the next day.
Of course, if you’re planning a huge gathering, you’re probably a pro at cooking ahead and freezing. That’s never been a strength of mine, though it has been a joke in our family, since we saw “Steel Magnolias.” In the movie Annelle (played by Darryl Hannah) says, “It’s in the ‘Freezes Beautifully’ section of my cookbook, and I want to make something that freezes beautifully.”
#3 – Setting the Seder table
This checklist has definitely added sanity to my Seder prep. It’s a big list of all the little steps required to set the Seder table. Nothing here is complicated. You just don’t want to get to the dip-the-parsley part and realize there’s no salt water ready to dip it into.
Hit pause for a sec: I know we’re talking about speeding up prep, but I also like to involve the kids. Yes, I know. That can slow things down.
If you have children who can follow your checklist, they can do some of the set-up for you. In the process, it’s easy to start a dialogue about what you’re gathering. “What are the pillows for?” “Who gets that big goblet?”
If the helpers are your kids or know your home well, they can also be your run-and-fetch-it crew. Like gathering the pillows. Or the pink tie-dyed Afikomen cover in a drawer in the spare room.
On the other hand, if you just need them out from under foot, arm them with materials to make place cards for the table.
Please share your tips for a smoother, saner Seder. (Hmm. That sounds like the title of a book that we’d all want to read!)
Get 35% off Passover Seder Steps Follow-Along from amazon.com through 4/14/14. If you’re an Amazon prime member, shipping is fast and free.
Next week: How to engage your kids at the Seder.