Duby’s Top 10 Passover Planning Tips
How to make your Passover preparations smoother and less stressful.
Passover. For some, this holiday conjures an image of anxiety, terror, and cold sweats. There is so much to do!
It doesn’t have to be this way! Hopefully some of my tips can help make your Passover preparations smoother and for you to enjoy the holiday as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by it.
Here are my top 10 tips to help you get yourself more organized.
1. Don’t Wing It, Plan It
Passover is never “early” or “late.” It is always the 15th of Nissan, exactly 4 weeks after Purim.
Planning is imperative. Think of your house as your corporation and you are its CEO. You are in charge. Just like a big company would plan out their functions, so too you want to work on “Project Passover.”
When you have a plan in place, things will go much smoother.
As the CEO, it’s your job to delegate all the tasks with you being the supervisor. The more you delegate the better off you will be. From hiring a cleaning lady, sending a spouse or teenager on shopping trips, even if you think the job is small and easy, the less on your plate the better.
How to Pesach Clean with Little Kids:
Ages 5 and Under: Ship them out!!!! Hire a babysitter, volunteer your spouse and send them off to the playground / zoo / library / pizza shop. While they are out this is when you work on the playroom / play areas and kid bedrooms.
Starting Rosh Chodesh Nissan have only Kosher L’pesach snacks in the house. (Chips, macaroons, lady fingers etc).
Ages 6 and Over: Balaboostas in Training: Start giving them small jobs. Give them a spray bottle and a rag and have them wipe down various toys / surfaces. Keep your expectations low, and only give them jobs that it’s ok if it’s not done 100% to satisfaction. In the kitchen these little soldiers can do peeling, juicing, cracking nuts or other introductory jobs, similar to a Sous Chef. Know what kind of job your child can or cannot handle, and let them feel important too! (Consult my book for more suggestions on cleaning with small children)
3. Passover Cleaning vs. Spring Cleaning
Imagine sitting down to a beautiful Seder – the house is sparkling clean, the chandeliers are glistening, the windows are sparkling… and you’re falling asleep. Chandeliers and windows, while lovely to have them sparkle and shine, are not imperative to Passover cleaning. We love a perfectly clean house for Yom Tov, but they are not a priority.
Passover cleaning is any place that there’s a good chance that food was brought in. If you know there was NO food brought there, then it doesn’t have to be cleaned. Drapes, window treatments, chandeliers, do not have to be cleaned, and their dusting and cleaning can be pushed off if needed.
4. Poor Man’s Bread or Bread that Makes Us Poor?
Passover is an expensive holiday. Matzah is far from cheap, cases of wine to be bought, fruits and vegetables… the list goes on and on.
For starters, Matzah does NOT have to be the mainstay of your meal. You need Matzah for the Sedarim and for Hamotzei and that’s all. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are much cheaper.
Spread out your Passover shopping so you are not attacked with a big bill all in one week. You can purchase non-perishable items and store them, leaving the perishables for the week of Passover.
Buying a kosher l’Pesach jar of applesauce will be much more expensive than simmering a pot of apples and making your own.
Don’t just browse the aisles in the grocery store. Create your menu, make your shopping list and stick to it! Cross reference your lists from the previous Passover so you know how much you really need and use.
Keep in mind: “Is this something I really need, or is this a luxury item?” This will help curb any impulse buys.
Join together with a family member or neighbor and split cases of food items. You will save on the price and still have as many as you need.
5. Don’t Buy an Entire Kitchen Your First Year
There is a big difference between what you NEED for Passover and what you WANT. Build up your Passvoer kitchen appliances slowly. Start with just the few crucial items the first year and each year buy a few more things.
6. Your Best Friend Is Your List
From a Cleaning List to a detailed Shopping Lists, from Last Minute Reminders to Menus, lists will save your life. Don’t let the mental to-do list overwhelm you - get it all down on paper and rest assured that nothing will be forgotten. Keep everything in a folder or a binder, and you will feel a lot more together in no time.
7. Passover Doesn’t Have to Be Pinterest Worthy: Simplify
While half the world believes that everything has to be over the top thanks to Pinterest, the other half of the world is recognizing the wonder and ease of simplifying. I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan a new and fancy dish here and there or come up with a cool centerpiece.
The fact remains that Passover doesn’t have to be gourmet. Allow the concept of “simplify” to permeate other aspects of the holiday as well. You can cook everything in advance and freeze, or spread out the cooking over Yom Tov. Some people will prep their dishes and freeze them raw, so they’re able to pull things out before the meal and cook it fresh. Figure out a system that works for you so you feel less stressed.
8. Leave the Bitterness to the Marror (Feeling Resentful)
My next two tips are similar, like two sides of a coin. They are about how our attitude and perspective can shape our entire Yom Tov experience. Dr. Wayne Dyer has a popular quote: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
The last thing we want is to have a chip on our shoulder when it comes to our traditions. Our family, especially our children WILL pick up on the resentment and negativity. They will come to see the holiday as a drag, something we hate instead of love and anticipate. If you do feel resentful about the amount of work that goes into Yom Tov preparations, then something needs to change ASAP.
There isn’t a magical pill that will help you suddenly see Yom Tov as a breeze, but perhaps a small first step is to begin to shift your thinking from “yet another thing I have to do” to a place of “we have an opportunity here.” The goal isn’t the perfect gourmet meals, or how spotless the house is. Let’s try and remember what’s really important about Passvoer: the Seders with your family and loved ones, enjoying this precious time together.
9. Creating Fun while Creating Traditions:
Once you’ve removed any feelings of resentment and negativity about the holiday, it’s now time to infuse your Yom Tov with fun!
My mother in law makes a Pesach Orange Soup. She’s been making it for years. It’s just not Passover without this soup. All the married children make this soup now because it’s a tradition. You may think, who cares, it’s just soup … or it’s just your Bubby’s potato kugel recipe, or the annual Chol Hamoed trip to the park. Au contraire! These are exactly the things that make Passover special.
When there is fun, there is joy. Here are some ideas to get you in the mood:
- Putting music on when cleaning makes it into a Dusting Dance Party
- Giving out prizes (to yourself as well) for accomplishing specific tasks
- Slurpee runs at the end of the day
- Special new toy for the holiday
- Write down funny memories that happened over Yom Tov
- Create photo contests with friends or family members: “Funniest items found during Pesach Cleaning.”
You can make any job you’re doing into a game. You just need a little creativity. Think of yourself as a camp counselor cheering on her bunk!
10. When All is Done, Get It In Writing
Passover is over and the last thing you want to do is look at one more list, let alone go through it. But this is so crucial! When Passover ends, while the dishes are being washed and put away, take out your shopping lists and menus and write everything down. Write down what worked, what didn’t work. If you ordered too much Matzah or not enough. This can and will potentially save you lots of money because you’ll know how much your family really needs for Yom Tov.
Write down that the trip to the zoo didn’t work or the trip to the museum did work. Write down that new trick you came up with to help the kids enjoy the Seder. Write down that your washing cup cracked and you will need a new one for next year.
Imagine pulling out your Pesach binder and seeing all this information ready for you from last year. Your plans will be so much easier and smoother when half the mental work is already completed.
Good Luck, Happy Cleaning and a Kosher & Frelichen Passover!