Mishloach Manot Madness

With Purim coming up at the end of the week, I started thinking about Mishloach Manot. Although I know it's coming, and I should prepare in advance, I don’t actually do much until about a week before. I find I work best under pressure. Nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing.

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I’m taking you on a brief stroll down memory lane of some of my favorite Mishloach Manot I’ve put together over the years, all within a week.

For those who may not be familiar (for those who are, skip ahead to the pictures and themes), Purim is a Jewish holiday marked by exchanging gifts of food and drinks known as mishloach manot, eating a celebratory meal known as a se'udat Purim, and public "reading of the megillah" the Scroll of Esther, usually in synagogue.

The commandment of Mishloach Manot, giving gifts on Purim, comes from a verse in the Book of Esther after the Jewish people have been saved from annihilation, “They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.” Mishloach Manot gives us the opportunity to spread a little non-essential but much-appreciated delight.

The actual requirement is sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person. But sometimes we get a little carried away…

While we participated in community wide initiatives with their own packages through the schools and synagogue, and sent fundraising cards to those out of town (or sometimes in town), my kids always wanted to make a few of their own for friends or family, and those who are not a part of our direct school or community. They start asking me what the theme will be and often chime in with their own suggestions. Sometimes it has something to do with their costumes, but often not. I have always had fun putting together these festive packages. What started out as 20-30, over the years it has turned into an assembly factory making 120-150 Mishloach Manot at a time.

There are always a few families whose Mishloach are put together with such creativity and care. It's something we look forward to receiving each year and inspire us to do more.

Making them is great, but delivering them is another story. After one year where we spent all day in our cars, we decided to just stay put at home and have packages ready for whomever showed up at our door. If heading out for a festive meal, we would leave a box outside with a note to please take one.

Here are some of our favorite themes and please excuse the early phone photography:

Wishing you an EGGcellent Purim

This might be my all-time favorite. Everyone loves a package that comes with REAL food, vs candy. And, our family loves eggs so it was only natural that since this Jewish holiday, fell out on a Sunday, what better than a Sunday morning breakfast delivery of fresh eggs, complete with a frying pan and fresh diced veggies to mix into your omelette. My local produce market Julio's Fruit Boutique prepared these for me.

To execute:

Frying pan – Ikea
Liquid egg or egg whites – mini single serve container
World of Goodies provided all the candy - chicken laying egg gumballs, chocolate covered eggs and gummy sunny side up eggs.
Custom Chocolate Bar wrapper to look like toast
1/2 Dozen Egg Carton filled with - ketchup packets, salt & pepper
Dinosaur Egg Oatmeal

Since a Sunday morning breakfast wouldn't be complete without the newspaper, I ordered the early edition of the New York Post and wrote our own special edition “Purim Post” message.

The biggest challenge was not amassing the items, or assembling (which we needed to manage with the perishable refrigerated items…thankful for below freezing weather and an unheated garage that year), it was getting up early enough to deliver them!

Fiesta Purim

Wishing We Were South of the Border for this Fiesta (I wouldn’t mind a Punta Mita Purim 2021 either). This one was a lot of fun to source and put together. We used sombreros as the container to fit all the Mexican themed goodies, the chin string made a great handle. The sombreros also doubled as props for the kids to wear for a fun photo card. They could also double as a costume for someone who needed something festive at the last minute.

To execute:

Sombreros and Mini Sombreros (we made both kids and adult size) from Oriental trading, which is a great source for all themed items.
Mini maracas also from Oriental Trading
Nacho chip snack size bags
Fresh avocado (or you can use a packet of guacamole)
Taco seasoning
Corona beer
Mini Jose Cuervo
Fresh lime
Mini salsa
Mini salt packet
Margarita flavor Jelly Beans

Wishing you an “Appy” Purim

When the iPad was still relatively new and exciting, we decided to make a mishloach manot to represent some of our favorite apps. I brainstormed with my insanely creative friend, founder of The Rosepops (and a Mishloach Manot Queen herself). The key was the container. We found a “candy box” with a clear window. A candy box insert with sections.

Each app had a candy to represent in each section.

To execute:

Box and insert - from Uline
Temple Run - gold coins from World of Goodies
Angry Birds cookies (customized cookies are always a favorite; there are so many local companies who make custom themed cookies)
iMessage icon mini chocolate bars from WHCandy with a text bubble wrapper
Emojis - smiley face chocolates
Fruit Ninja - fruit candy from World of Goodies
Individual Starbucks Via C packet for the Starbucks App
Cut The Rope - lollipops
Flashlight - tealight

Tooth Fairy Theme

Inspired by my kids dental and orthodontic situations (I had one in a palate expander; one was losing teeth and the other had incoming molars).

To Execute:

Dental bags (lined with paper bibs both from Smile makers)
Gummy teeth
Candy floss
Real dental floss
Toothbrush
Tooth Fairy Chocolate Bar (aka my daughter in her costume) with imprinted, personalized wrappers

FAMILY BAKERY

Last time Purim fell out on a Friday, I decided it would be a good idea to bake 80 babkas and challahs, package them inside bakery boxes and then deliver them all over town. Not sure what I was thinking doing that all on my own with one small oven.

It only took about 72 hours straight of mixing, rolling, braiding and baking. My husband made me swear to never do that again lol. Our kitchen was a bakery and my one oven was working overtime. It's actually a miracle that it didn't break!

To execute:

Bakery boxes from Uline
I went to my local bakery, Butterflake, for the paper that goes inside the box and red and white string
I had cute stickers made up from @thewritegiftbyjen that read, The Schechter Family Bakery.

HOME SWEET HOME & GIVING BACK

A few years ago, we were mid construction building a new home, and while I’ve seen some creative construction themed packages (think hard hat, caution tape, etc.) I decided to take a different approach. I thought it would be fun to give out cookie bar dough and have it been ready to be baked. Because everyone knows nothing smells like home like freshly baking cookies in the oven. These were wrapped up and packaged with an oven mitt and a card that explained that a donation was made to Habitat For Humanity in honor of Purim.

Some others that I have done in the past include:

  • Grocery shopping theme: a mini shopping cart filled with all mini groceries complete with a receipt paper card
  • Olympics theme: go for the Gold in honor of the Olympics, packed in a box of wheaties
  • Monopoly theme: All candy and food items inside a gift box designed to look like Monopoly packaging (with more chocolate money inside)
  • London Calling theme: All things Anglo, a red phone booth that had tea and biscuits inside
  • Carnival theme: that year we rented a helium tank and gave everyone balloons along with their cotton candy
  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame theme: peanuts and crackerjacks and “beer here”.
  • Fancy theme: an ice bucket filled with champagne and chocolate roses
  • Warm & Cozy theme: a mug filled with hot chocolate, teas and all accoutrement

I have seen lots of creativity over the years with themes like, Target, a Japanese garden complete with candy sushi, UPS, Amazon, TV and Movie including Breaking Bad (using candy meth), Keeping Up With the Kardashians, St Patrick's Day, Pirates, Movie Night, Airplane Travel (inside a barf bag lol), different pets, Under the Sea with Swedish fish and water, a doctor, ice cream sundae… and the list goes on and on.

I have a friend who likes to pick a color and theme the Mishloach around it: Orange You Glad It's Purim, Wishing You A Grape Purim (filled with all things purple and grape flavor), Are you Red-y for Purim - filled with all things red (could even do are you Red-Y for shabbat when it falls on a Friday). There is so much fun to be had and so much creativity out there.

I have no doubt that this year will bring a slew of Quarantine and Covid related themes. I can't wait to see.

Some of my favorite sources for packing it all up are:

Oriental Trading
Nashville Wraps
Uline
Amazon Prime
Minimus is a great site for when you only want individual sizes
Between Carpools is a great resource for ideas and inspiration.

We had a lot of fun with it over the years. While they started asking me what we’re doing this year…with a week to go, the truth is I still don't know…maybe this will be the year that I just sit it out…if my kids allow it….

Let me know what you make! If you like any of these ideas, take a pic of your version, share it on Instagram and tag me!

For more Jewish holiday ideas, here's how we celebrate Shabbat.

Happy Purim to all who celebrate!

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