While I didn’t grow up with impromptu, thrown-together Sedarim (plural of Seders), in my adult life . . . well, sometimes that was our only choice. In grad school, my husband and I went to class, took the bus home, hit the grocery store at 5 pm, came home, cooked, and started our Seder at 9 pm. But we had one. (And we took a picture of the table; warms my heart to this day that we pulled it off.)
So my philosophy has always been to do what you can that honors the festival and makes memories with the people you love.
Your Passover Seder Simplified
Are you wondering, “Can I really do a Seder?” Let’s go through the what ifs and think about back-up plans, solutions, work-arounds. Together, let’s think outside the traditional Seder plate.
#1 But I don’t have a Haggadah.
Fortunately, we live in an internet world where there are many choices. Here is one downloadable Haggadah that you can have at your fingertips in minutes. I skimmed it and quite liked how it was organized and laid out. It includes mostly English, with some Hebrew and transliteration. And there are many others.
#2 What if I don’t have a Seder plate?
Put the Seder symbols on a regular plate. Or you can quickly pull together this tuna-can-seder-plate with a little glue. I got this upcycle idea from the incomparable BibleBeltBalabusta.com.
#3 I don’t have time to make or buy all the Seder symbols.
- Parsley – Use anything else green that you have.
- Haroset – In Ashkenazi culture, this is the mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and sweet wine intended to look like mortar. A Sepharic style haroset recipe includes wine, raisins, dates, apricots, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and roasted almonds. OR just chop up some raisins, add a little wine or grape juice, done.
- Horseradish – You can substitute bitter greens, like arugula or endive. Not at all traditional, but in a pinch, you could substitute a lemon wedge – it’s bitter, after all.
- Lamb shank bone – If you can’t get either the lamb shank or chicken neck, a traditional substitution, consider some of the vegetarian options - beets, olives, grapes, unfermented barley. Or just take a piece of cardboard and cut out a bone-looking piece. Remember – you’re going for symbolism.
#4 My kids can’t sit for a long Seder.
Keep it short. One great time saver? Pre-assemble mini-Seder plates to cut down on passing time. We also add a snack of gefilte fish, hard-boiled egg, and red pepper on these plates to keep spirits high.
And don’t forget to open the door for Elijah and search for the Afikoman. The kids will stay awake for those activities!
#5 What do I use for a Miriam’s Cup? An Elijah’s cup?
Just use something you have. If you happen to have a goblet or glass you rarely use, put that on the table as a symbol of what is different, special. We got this goblet at a Greek fair; I liked the water symbolism.
#6 I am too tired to make a big dinner.
So don’t. Make something simple - even scrambled eggs. Get a cooked chicken from the market and cut chunks to put into a can of chicken soup. It’s about marking the evening, not measuring up to someone else’s notions of what a Seder has to be.
For more quick ideas, download our free e-book, Celebrate Passover: How to Plan a Fun, Simple Seder.
Wishing you a Happy Passover! Chag Sameach!