Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sound Seder Hostess Gifts

I've received a fair few frantic notes from Graces invited to seders and wondering about what to bring as hostess gifts. As a fairly devout agnostic with a mildly Christian lineage married to a very reformed Jew, I felt compelled to research the topic rather than give my opinion, which is based on rather limited experience. We think my seders are wonderful, but they would probably not pass muster for the average Rabbi. I polled some of my Jewish Grace pals who run the gamut from strictly Kosher to "of course I eat pork" and this is what I learned.....

Don't bring food as a hostess gift to a seder.

Every family has different traditions--some of the least observant folks embrace Passover fully. Others who are religious throughout the year don't bother with matzoh. There's no way to predict, and rather than committing a gaffe or attempting an in-depth interrogation on your host's level of commitment to avoid leavened bread and grains, separate milk and meat, and steer clear of treyf, bring any of the following:

Flowers--either cut or potted. Tulips, lilies and daffodils are gorgeous right now.

Potted herbs.



Paper cocktail napkins and guest towels.

Linen napkins.

The main thing to remember is that you have been given a wonderful gift--to share in the special tradition of your friend's celebration. Truly, the best gift you can give back is to embrace the evening and enjoy yourself--the prescribed 4 portions of wine per person should help!

In case you want to brush up on the Passover story before the event, I recommend this Hollywood classic--starring Charlton Heston in a pre-NRA role.


Anonymous said...

If the host asks me to bring food to the seder, do I still bring a hostess gift?

Social Grace said...

Strictest etiquette would dictate yes, but in this day and age, I would call it optional. If you do bring something in addition to your meal contribution, it would be something more modest than if you were not contributing to the dinner.
Hope that helps. Happy Passover!