Let’s talk about Passover Seder

In 2019, we invited a lot of our friends (most of whom are not Jewish) to what we loosely called FriendSeder. We made a homemade Haggadah with just the highlights and everyone participated. It was lots of fun, and meaningful to everyone. We did the food potluck style with mixed results. Needless to say, we couldn’t repeat it in 2020 or 2021, but we want to try again this year. I’m guessing there will be between 20 and 30 people (which we can accommodate, but spread out). I need help figuring out a simple menu where I can make things ahead of time. Also need recommendations for what food to assign to others. (My friends all want to help.) I’m rusty on planning for this many people. Please share any and all ideas. Thanks.

  • Posted by: drbabs
  • March 15, 2022


Nancy March 16, 2022
Just a bit more thinking about dividing up the potluck requests.
For making sides and desserts, you can decide by who volunteers to cook or what you know of their baking and cooking capacity.
If someone volunteers to do a main or soup (possible but not likely) think if you want them to cook in your kitchen. If yes, invite them to bring the ingredients and cook with you a day or two in advance. Some of my friends have done this and it works, if you're comfortable doing it. If not, not.
For roughly equal cost to all the guests, I would go for (approx):
1) drinks....per guest, bring 1 bottle of wine or 2 bottles of grape juice, buyer's choice. You'll need a minimum of 13 bottles for group of 20, 19 bottles for group of 30.
2) side dishes, desserts and matzah...per guest, bring 1 side dish or dessert, and all the matzah (usually pretty inexpensive).
If your local costs makes this allocation unfair, adjust as needed...it was a rough division from afar.
Also, you as hosts may want to buy (as back up) more than minimum drinks and matzah. On both, you can use extra afterward for the household. And some liquor stores allow refunds or exchanges on unopened bottles.
MMH March 15, 2022
Agree with Nancy. My secret weapon for our large Seder - using slow cookers set to low to keep dishes warm.
drbabs March 15, 2022
What do you usually make that holds up well like that?
MMH March 15, 2022
It’s really not any different than any large gathering which is how we ended up doing this. Just look at your menu & decide what you can move to your oven from a slow cooker. One of our family members did it with mashed potatoes for thanksgiving & thats how we started using slow cookers for large gatherings. In reality, now we serve lots of things at room temperature - like roasted veggies. Just look at your menu for Seder & move things to a slow cooker which can stay warm that way. It also helps with guests who are transporting items & with clean up as well. We have a really great time. Our Seder incorporates people from all over the world who bring their traditional dishes. 2 years ago we had a charosets recipe from the Caribbean.
drbabs March 16, 2022
Nancy March 15, 2022
Been there, done that. Though for the past 2 years on Zoom.
Probably host and hostess should do
* main dishes (why - expensive and difficult to cook right & carry; minimum one each meat and vegan/GF for those who want those options)
* soup (why - difficult to carry)
* seder plate fixings (why - fussy, easier done in home where meal takes place).
* serving and cleaning up - hire one or two people for such a crowd (why - meal moves along, host and hostess can stay in dining room & enjoy the event and their guests)
Ask the guests to bring things you as hosts cannot provide or that are easier to transport:
* green salads and/or vegetables,
* white vegetables like mushroom, fennel, or the like
* roasted root vegetable or starch side,
* orange or red vegetables (squash, sweet potato, roasted red peppers), * desserts - fruit, Mandelbrot, cake or cookies if you have bakers interested.
If you have not yet run out of guests to assign your potluck consider these
* wine and grape juice for those who don't drink. Need 16 oz for each person, thus about 10 quarts (12 bottles of wine) for 20 people or 16 bottles of wine for 30. Divide up into affordable/easy-to-carry amounts, like 2-3 bottles per person.
* boxes of matzah. Again here, have regular and GF options (see online merchants if your local stores don't have them). I would get minimum of 5 boxes - they come shrink-wrapped as a promo in many stores.
Have I left stuff out or made errors - probably. Please forgive. But a good start,
Happy Purim (sooner) and Passover (later),
Nancy March 15, 2022
Correcting one error - the wine/grape juice for 20 should be about 13 bottles at 750 ml or 25 oz, about 19 bottles for 30 people.
Correcting one omission - some people serve a hard boiled egg and/or gefilte fish at the beginning of the meal proper. It adds a lot of work for so many people, but if you usually serve one or both, go for it, but I would then cut down a bit on mains and/or sides...both for pacing your guests' capacity to eat and making the meal easier to serve.
drbabs March 15, 2022
Nancy, thank you. This is really helpful.
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