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The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot

The practice of giving each other presents on Purim is much older than the modern custom of exchanging presents at Hanukka. Of course, the presents exchanged are traditionally those of food, which makes Purim more like the American Halloween. (Especially when you add costumes!)

Our family typically makes up 40 to 50 mishloach manot offerings. We usually receive mishloach manot from about 25 to 30 families that we know.

What Do We Include in our Mishloach Manot?

Being kitchen-oriented, we bake cookies, sweet breads, and other goodies for our friends. Among the goodies we usually prepare are:

Recipes for these can be found on our Purim goodies page.

Does everyone do this much cooking?

No way! We are probably unique in our community for the amount of baking that we do. Most people we know make one or two things (often hamantaschen and brownies), then add a few purchased things, some fruit or nuts, and some candy.

How Do We Deliver our Mishloach Manot?

For Purim only, I buy heavy-duty paper plates like Chinet to put our goodies on. Most of the baked goods are wrapped in plastic baggies; stuff like caramel popcorn goes into "zip-lock" baggies. All this wrapping and bagging is quite a family enterprise.

We assemble our plates with the various stuff, then shove the whole thing into a big "zip-lock" bag. We usually prepare two categories of plates, but last year started preparing a third:

And You Drive Around Town Delivering Plates?

Yes, that's it. We take our list of everybody we've made a plate for, map out the best route, and get in the car. We often run into other people we know making the same rounds, in which case we can trade on the road.

One of the orthodox congregations in our town sets up tables with bags and boxes labeled for each community member. Each family goes to the synagogue and distributes their family's offerings to the appropriate bags. Then they divide the town up into various routes and deliver the whole community's gifts at one time.

Another fairly recent innovation in the mishloach manot department is for a synagogue organization (often the Sisterhood) to sell and deliver baskets. You can order baskets for as many families as you choose, then the Sisterhood collates the orders and prepares the baskets. There are several sizes of baskets available depending on how many people choose to honor a particular family.