Every year, I try to set a majestic and unique seder table. There is something magical about that first Pesach (Passover) meal: the anticipation, the new dishes and the silver wine goblets.
Over the years, I have tried all types of tablecloths and seder themes. There are a few helpful tips that I have incorporated into my seder planning that have stuck and I’d love to share these tips with you.
(1) Focus the attention on the center of the table, placing heavy boxes or books under the tablecloth or sturdy bases to create platforms for elevating the unique symbols of the seder table: the seder plate, the matzo plate and the Kos shel Eliyahu (Elijah’s Cup).
(2) Use a beautiful, but practical tablecloth, anticipating plenty of wine stains from the four cups of wine. There were a number of years that I opted for dark color disposable microfiber tablecloths. This year, I plan to use a length of leatherette fabric as a tablecloth.
(3) Set each place with a large charger, a kiddush cup, a napkin, a glass, a haggadah and an optional place card. Since we drink two cups of wine and recite a good portion of the Haggadah before we even begin the food portion of the meal, the charger contains much of the spilled wine. I don’t bring out the plates and cutlery until the meal portion of the seder is about to begin. If necessary, I rinse the chargers before beginning the meal. Once the meal is over, the chargers remain for the last two cups of wine.
(4) Prepare bundles of cutlery wrapped in a napkin and tied with a ribbon for each guest. I bring those out with the plates right before the meal portion begins. That way, I don’t need to rewash the plates and cutlery from the spilled wine and the crumbled matzo before the meal.
(5) Prepare the seder plate items in advance, storing them in plastic zipper bags before and after each seder.
(6) Set up a small side table for setting up the matzo and the maror (bitter herbs) with charoses (clay-like fruit and nut paste) before, during and after the seder. Don selects the matzos from the side table for each part of the seder and he hands out the maror, charoses and korech (matzo and maror sandwich) portions from this table. The side table helps keep everything organized and keeps the matzo crumbs and maror/charoses fall-out to a minimum.
(7) Keep the seder whimsical, but focused. I try to set the table with items reminiscent of the seder story. We have ten plague masks and jumping frogs. We ask each guest to share at least one Dvar Torah (Torah comment). The whimsy and the profound entertain and educate all of our seder guests, young and old.
Wishing you a Chag Kasher V’Sameach (a kosher and happy holiday), one filled with joy, sweetness, whimsy and profound meaning. May each of you be blessed to emerge from this Pesach renewed and reinvigorated.
Warmest regards, Tzippy