Hosting a Passover Seder? Use this Checklist to Prepare!

Haggadah Section: Introduction

Hosting a Passover Seder? Use This Checklist to Prepare

Running your own  seder  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.


  Feather, wooden spoon, and paper bag

One of the many fun customs associated with Passover is searching for, collecting, and destroying any  chametz  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 during the  seder . 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  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  plate 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  afikoman . Stack  matzah  on pretty plates or make a decorative  matzah  holder.

  Three kiddush cups and wine glasses

Use kiddush cups for the  seder  leader, for the cup of Elijah, and for Miriam’s Cup, 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.


  Kosher-for-Passover wine and grape juice

During the  seder , we drink wine in a formalized ritual. It is considered a  mitzvah  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 Talmudic 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  charoset . 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.


  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.


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Passover Guide

Hosting your first Passover Seder? Not sure what food to serve? Curious to
know more about the holiday? Explore our Passover 101 Guide for answers
to all of your questions.

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