Hosting a Passover Seder? Use This Checklist to Prepare

Running your own sederSederסֵדֶר"Order;" ritual dinner that includes the retelling of the story of the Israelite's Exodus from Egypt; plural: s'darim. for the first time, whether virtually or in person? There’s no need to be overwhelmed. Use this handy checklist to help you prepare.


Whether you’re connecting with loved ones who cannot be present with you physically or streaming a seder hosted by a congregation, or both, technology has never been more important to Jewish practice.

Make sure your device is fully charged before the seder and, if possible, test your microphone, speakers, and webcam before the start of your seder – and if you have any cords, make sure they are positioned so you won’t trip on them! 

Bring up the email with the login links or screen names of your seder companions so you have it ready to go.

Ritual Items

Feather, wooden spoon, and paper bag

One of the many fun customs associated with Passover is searching for, collecting, and destroying any chametzchameitzחָמֵץFoods not eaten during Passover. Chameitz typically includes leavened bread or any food that contains wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt, unless production has been supervised to ensure that it has not leavened. in the house. Children are particularly enthusiastic about this “search and destroy” mission.

Look any place in the house where chametz was used during the year, or designate one family member to hide 10 pieces of chametz (a Kabbalistic tradition) throughout the house (just remember where you put them). Before the search, recite this blessing. Use the feather to sweep all the crumbs into the spoon and deposit them in the paper bag. The next morning, make one final search and then burn or discard the bag and its contents.  

Prepare for the chametz search by watching this Bimbam Video: 



Put a pillow on each chair at the seder table to encourage everyone to comfortably recline. This custom is observed in the spirit of celebrating our freedom. Pillows also soften the impact of sitting for several hours on metal folding chairs.


Each person will need a Passover Haggadah HaggadahהַגָּדָהLiterally, “telling.” This is the Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover seder. Plural: Haggadot.  to use during the seder. Most Reform Jewish Haggadot (plural of Haggadah) include egalitarian language and beautiful illustrations. Here are Haggadot ideas for seders hosting young children, including a few you can download right at home. 

Seder plate

seder plateSeder plateקְעָרָה שֶׁל פֶּסַח A plate that holds ritual foods used throughout the Pesach (Passover) seder. Each item on a seder plate is a symbol of the Exodus story and helps participants at the seder retell the story each year.  is an important item for your seder. Watch this video to learn what ritual foods are placed on the seder plate. There are also vegetarian and vegan options for your seder plate. 

Matzah holder

Three ceremonial pieces of matzah are placed in a special holder or on a plate for the seder, and the middle one is broken in half and used for the afikomanafikomanאֲפִיקוֹמָן"Dessert" (Greek); matzah is the official "dessert" of the Passover seder meal. During the seder, the children traditionally "steal"and hide the afikoman, and it must be redeemed by the seder leader. . Stack matzah on pretty plates or make a decorative matzah holder.

Three kiddush cups and wine glasses

Use kiddush cups Kiddush cupגָּבִיעַ לְקִדּוּשׁCup used for blessing wine on Shabbat, festivals and other events, i.e., weddings. for the seder leader, for the cup of ElijahElijah's cupכּוֹס אֵלִיָּהוּA special cup used during the Passover seder to symbolize Elijah, who symbolizes the coming of the Messianic age. , and for Miriam’s CupMiriam's cup or cup of Miriamכּוֹס מִרְיָםA contemporary item added by some to the Pesach (Passover) seder. Often placed next to Elijah’s cup, Miriam’s cup highlights the role of Miriam and women in the Exodus story. The cup is filled with water to honor and remember that Miriam’s well sustained the people of Israel in the desert after the Exodus. , which honors Moses’ sister Miriam, who played a vital role in the history of our people. Pour wine for everyone else into regular wine glasses.

Candles and candlesticks

The blessing over the festival candles is recited as the seder begins. On the first night of Passover the Shehecheyanu is also recited.

Afikoman holder

The afikoman can be wrapped in a paper or cloth dinner napkin. A quick and inexpensive way to hide more than one afikoman for the kids (see below) is to use mailing envelopes with each child’s name written on the front.

Pitcher or two-handled cup, big bowl, and dish towel (or hand wipes)

These supplies are used for the ritual hand washing (and drying) during the seder. If you prefer, individual, premoistened towelettes, such as Wash ‘n Dries can be used.

Afikoman prizes

For most kids, the seder’s high point is searching for the afikoman. Why not hide more than one afikoman and award fun prizes to every child at your seder? The prizes can be Passover candy, crafts or small toys, like scented markers, Legos, sculpting clay, travel-sized games, or joke books.

Ritual Foods and Drinks

Kosher-for-Passover wine and grape juice

During the seder, we drink wine in a formalized ritual. It is considered a mitzvahmitzvahמִצְוָהLiterally, “commandment." A sacred obligation. Jewish tradition says the Torah contains 613 mitzvot Mitzvot refer to both religious and ethical obligations.  to drink four cups of wine at the seder. Grape juice may be substituted for wine. The kosher for Passover wine selection today is a far cry from the sweet red wines that were once a mainstay of Passover.


Regular matzot (plural of matzah) specially baked for Passover are widely available and are used at the seder and throughout the week of Passover. While some stores have matzah available year-round, you do want to make sure your Passover matzah is marked as “kosher for Passover.” Any kosher for Passover matzah is fine – it doesn’t need to be fancy! Some families have a tradition of using shmurah, “guarded,” matzah for the seder, but this is entirely optional.

Parsley, celery, or other greens (karpas)

Used to represent spring, the karpas is dipped into salt water to remember the Israelites’ tears. Some families follow the karpas ritual by serving a variety of vegetables and dips as a first course. Artichokes and other vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and boiled potatoes may be introduced at this point in the seder.

Horseradish (maror)

This is the bitter herb eaten before the meal to remind us of the Israelites’ suffering as slaves. Use red or white horseradish for the meal, but raw horseradish root is more visual on the seder plate. Use this recipe for grating your own horseradish.

Shankbone or beet

A roasted shankbone (z’roa) is included on the seder plate to symbolize the festival offerings (chagigah) – including the first-born lamb sacrificed as the Passover offering – that were brought to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. The lamb’s blood was smeared on the Israelites’ doorposts to protect them from the 10th plague – the death of the firstborn. The bone is called zeroa (forearm) reminding us of God’s arm that stretched out to save us. Because many have not included lamb as a Passover dish since TalmudicTalmudתַּלְמוּדThe Jewish legal work that comprises the Mishnah and the Gemara. There are two works of Talmud: The Palestinian Talmud was compiled between 200-450 C.E. in the land of Israel and is also called the Jerusalem Talmud or Talmud Yerushalmi. The Babylonian Talmud or Talmud Bavli was compiled in Babylonia between 200-550 C.E.    times, many families use chicken or beef bones instead. Many supermarkets give these away at no cost at Passover. A beet, which “bleeds” when cut, may also be used and is a great substitute at a vegetarian seder.

Charoset ingredients

Apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and sweet red wine are ingredients you’ll need for an Ashkenazi-style charosetcharosetחֲרֹסֶתA mixture of fruits, nuts, spices and wine eaten as part of the Passover seder. Its color and consistency reminds us of the bricks and mortar used by the Israelite slaves. . Dried fruits are called for in many Sephardic charoset recipes, as well as in Israeli Charoset, Turkish Charoset, and Panamanian Jaroset. Or, try one of these international nut-free charoset recipes for something new.


  • Many seder meals begin with hard-boiled eggs, and a roasted egg (beitzah) is included on the seder plate to symbolize the festival offerings (chagigah) that were brought to the ancient Temple. Eggs are also a sign of spring and the renewal of life at this season. For a vegan substitution, you can add a flower to your seder plate as a symbol of spring.

An orange

Many Jews include a whole orange on their seder plate to symbolize inclusiveness.

Kosher salt

This ingredient is used to make the salt water for dipping, symbolizing the tears of the Israelites.

Seder Extras

Clear plastic tablecloth protector

The sign of a spirited seder is spilled red wine!  Use a washable tablecloth or a protective cover.

Egg platter

For those whose tradition includes serving hard boiled eggs, egg plates are widely available.

Crumb sweeper

After the meal has been served, before you finish the seder, kids especially enjoy sweeping up the matzah crumbs.


Planning your seder dinner menu? Get recipes and cooking tips from a pro.

What's New

You’re Invited to Remember

Growing up, I saw Yizkor as a mysterious event on Yom Kippur afternoon. The grownups would return to temple in the afternoon, while my sister and I stayed home. There was no explanation, just an understanding that this was a thing our parents and grandparents did, and we did not.