Congrats on getting an invite to a Passover seder! You may have guessed that a Passover seder isn't quite like a regular dinner party — and you'd be right. The seder, which is the Hebrew word for "order," is a ceremonial event marked with storytelling, food, songs, prayers, and, oh yeah, rules — lots and lots of rules.
In brief, leavened and fermented foods are out, so are foods made with wheat, oats, barley, rye, and spelt. And, even if you're following the rules and you were planning on making a batch of homemade chocolate caramel matzah brittle, let us stop you right there: Some Jews choose not to eat foods made in a non-Kosher kitchen or items made with non-Kosher-for-Passover ingredients.
Bottom line: You might be better off buying something versus making something yourself. Whether you're a Passover pro or a total newbie, here are some thoughtful presents that will not only help the seder go more smoothly, but will also meet Passover's rigorous food standards.
1. Kosher Wine
Seders call for each adult to drink four cups of wine throughout the meal. If there are a large number of guests who plan on observing that tradition, well, that's a lot of wine. Bringing a bottle or two will always be appreciated. Just be sure it's Passover-friendly (Kosher!). If you have any doubts, ask a salesperson for help.
2. Nuts or Dried Fruit
Oh! Nuts is an online store that specializes in Kosher foods and snacks. They have a terrific selection of nuts and dried fruit to choose from. You can buy items by the pound or spring for a ready-made gift basket. This way, as the holiday rolls along and your hosts need something to snack on, they've got a holiday-approved nosh. Note: Some Ashkenazi Jews refrain from eating peanuts during Passover, but they're technically legumes anyway!
Go shopping: Gift Baskets at Oh! Nuts
3. A Passover-Themed Cookbook
If your host is the kind of person who's always looking for new dishes to impress a crowd, gift them with a Passover cookbook.
- New York Times Passover Cookbook: More Than 200 Holiday Recipes from Top Chefs and Writers, $27
- A Taste of Pesach: Trusted Favorites, Simple Preparation, Magnificent Results
- Matzo: 35 Recipes for Passover and All Year Long, $13
- Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen: A Kosher Cookbook of Beloved Recipes and Modern Twists, $17
4. Passover Candies
Every Jewish child looks forward to chocolate-covered marshmallows, while all the adults get stoked for those jelly fruit slices. Even if your host has already bought a box or two of each, there's no such thing as too many candies during the week of Passover. Again, just be sure the box is marked Kosher for Passover.
If you're looking to bring a candy that your host might not have had before, we can't recommend this Matzah Crunch enough. It's made in New York's Lower East Side and it tastes as though charoset and magic had a baby. Buy six bags and keep five for yourself.
Buy It: Matzah Crunch, $12 for 8-ounce bag at Roni-Sue's Chocolates
5. Flowers in a Pot or Vase
If your go-to hostess gift is a wrapped-up bouquet of flowers, you might want to tweak the idea for Passover seder. Between cleaning the house, preparing the food, and welcoming guests, the host might already be stretched thin. By showing up with the flowers already arranged in a vase or pot, you'll not only streamline the evening, but you'll also brighten the room.
More on Shopping for Flowers
6. Passover Cookies
Despite being limited by the whole unleavened bread thing, there are plenty of cookies that are Kosher for Passover (just be sure to check!). The real crowd-pleaser, though, is the classic coconut macaroon. Again, you might want to skip making them yourself if you're not Kosher at home. Supermarkets sell these guys in iconic cardboard tubes, but you can find gourmet ones at Jewish bakeries or online.
Buy: Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons, $12 for 10 ounces at Oh! Nuts
What do you like to give hosts as a gift for having you over for Seder? Tell us in the comments!