Mishloach Manot… Oh how I love you so! Mishloach Manot… Oh how I dread you so! What!? Isn’t Tu B’shvat around the corner? Yes, I know my friends. It’s called jumping on to the next project as a way to avoid the one that lies ahead of you (literally) and/or childish disappointment at the fact that I can’t find figs when I want to put them on my Tu B’Shvat table (but, of course, since they are not out until the end of summer, and wouldn’t I know that, having three fig trees in my backyard?). In any event… insanity… I shall move on…
One of the four mitzvot of Purim is Mishloach Manot: make a gift that consists of two ready to eat foods (which would require two different blessings). Women give to women and men give to men and the gift is sent via a messenger.
On the one hand creating Mishloach Manot is such a great opportunity for us to use our creativity and beautify a mitzvah. All of you here at Jewish Latin Princess know I enjoy that very much. But, the
dark little secret reality is that as much as I am a very creative person, I also have a very practical (boring?) side.
I love a beautiful and creative Mishloach Manot– don’t get me wrong. I love receiving one and marveling at the thought and effort that went into it and I certainly love creating one myself.
However, when the numbers of recipients get larger, k”h, the mitzvah starts digging into the Purim budget, part of which includes other Purim mitzvot, among which is matanot la’evyionim (feeding at least two needy people). In addition to that, time, just as money, is a resource which we budget and sometimes, we don’t have the time budget to make seventy five plus creative mishloach manot.
So I’ve treaded different paths, depending on the year- the money budget, the time budget, the kids, the nursing, the flu, ear infections, and all sorts of things…yes? I’ll tell you…
I’ve sometimes cut down on the elaborate packaging because when you’re making close to a 100 of these packages, all the bells and whizzles of packaging and decor start adding up and I need to be cognizant of the fact that there has to be money left over also for matanot la’evyionim (as well as for the Purim seuda, another Purim mitzvah). And well, you all know about the time budget thing.
So, this means, store bought, ready to eat foods, inside simple, inexpensive packaging- a.k.a. baggies which the kids decorate with colorful sharpies. They actually love doing this! In fact, they much prefer it over mommy busy preparing a hundred fancy packages all over the house and that nobody can even touch! haha. Ok I’ll be honest, in my almost ten years of marriage I’ve never created 100 fancy mishloach manot. My
boring practical side has won E V E R Y time. ;-)
But, some years, I have taken the more creative, perhaps fancier route, for only a small number of the mishloach manot. Then, I’ve then taken the simpler route (described above) for the majority of the packages, including those my kids would give to their friends.
During the past two years, I took yet another route. I took the money that I would spend on Mishloach Manot and sent it to an organization who in turn provides Mishloat Manot to Jewish people in need (I arranged this with them ahead of time). I then took a family picture with all the kids dressed up and made a card which we send to everyone to whom we would have sent Mishloach Manot. In the card we say that in their honor we’ve sent Mishloach Manot to Jewish people via the organization of our choice, wish them a Happy Purim and sometimes list the four mitzvot of Purim and the appropriate times that year. I still prepare one Mishloach Manot for me and one for my husband to give out so that we’re able to perform the mitzvah and the ones for my kids to give out to friends (“simple style” as described above).
I’m not in any way suggesting that there is a right or wrong, a better way, or a worse way, to go about your Mishloach Manot. I’m just sharing what I’ve tried in the past and what has worked for our family at different times.
Which route am I going to take this year? I’m still debating. A part of me wants to go all out creative, especially because I’d be good blog content, while a part of me wants to stay practical, because well I need time to create good content. ;-) (Oh, the irony!) So, we’ll see.
Either way, it’s always nice and beautiful and ultimately, you have to do what’s the right thing for your family at the time, without loosing sight of the mitzvot that need to get done, of course.
But because we are all about beautifying mitzvot here at Jewish Latin Princess, I can’t help but share with you some of the ideas out there that have caught my fancy… in case you’re already like me, in the hunt for inspiration. Wow, that was kind of a long introduction… Here we go.I really like the idea of these cookies, filled with candy and also tied up in candy. My kids like it too!
A healthy option is a jarred salad or fruit salad. Be mindful to include foods that require at least two brachot (blessings). You could have the salad have almonds, tuna, feta cheese, or eggs as the picture below. In the case of a fruit salad, be sure to add fruits from the trees as well as some from a bush like strawberries.
I love the cake pop idea. You cold mix whip cream or marshmallow fluff with the layers of cake or add fruits, or chocolate chips. The possibilities for these mini triffles/cake pops to work as Mishloat Manot are quite endless. And I do love the fact that they make some great graggers as well, as Chana showed us here.
What could be easier and more enjoyable than a smore’s kit. The packaging on this one is really cute!
I love the soup and roll idea, and I thought it would be a good balance between practical (a.k.a. easy), pretty, and creative, but after reading Sheva’s experience here, I can see how it could turn into chaos.
These ice cream cones! So so cute! Cookies are cut out as ice cream scoops and you could put other foods with other berachot in between each cake (“ice cream scoop”) layer, like marshmallow or whip cream. You could add sprinkles, chocolate chips…
Anyone wants to guess what I’m leaning towards. ;-)Do you go all out with your mishloach manot or do you keep it simple? Or are you somewhere in the middle?