Creative Mishloach Manot

Give a Purim gift that will delight its recipients.

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Purim is filled with fun traditions–from dressing in costume, to raising a racket when Haman’s name is read from the megillah, to the sumptuous meal served on Purim day. But mishloach manot, giving gifts of food to friends, is arguably the most festive of the bunch. What other time of year is one obligated to share edible treats with friends just to add joy and gladness to their day?

The tradition of giving mishloach manot stems from a verse in the Book of Esther that reads, “Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in unwalled towns, made the 14th day of the month of Adar a day of gladness and feasting, a holiday, and of sending portions to one another” (9:19). Over time, this idea evolved into the contemporary practice of delivering baskets filled with hamantaschen and other goodies to friends’ homes. Of course, when it comes to Jewish tradition, even something as fun as giving gifts to friends has laws attached to it.
creative mishloach manotOne must send at least two items of food or drink (ideally things that can be consumed without further preparation) to at least one person in order to fulfill the mitzvah.

Creative Mishloach Manot Ideas

While stuffing a few candy bars, chips, and a soda can into a paper bag technically fulfills the mitzvah of mishloach manot, it misses a larger opportunity to give friends something really special. The ideas below offer suggestions for personalized mishloach manot packages that are sure to delight their recipients. You do not need to include everything listed below in each package–feel free to add or subtract items to meet your tastes, style, and budget.

Hamantaschen are notoriously missing from these baskets, but would of course make a welcome addition to any of them. Another addition that would enhance the baskets, in keeping with a different Purim mitzvah of matanot l’evyonim (gifts to the needy), is a card letting the recipient know a donation was made in their honor to Mazon, or another hunger relief organization.

High Tea

Maple oatmeal scones
Homemade madeleines

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Leah Koenig is a writer and cookbook author whose work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Saveur, CHOW, Food Arts, Tablet, Gastronomica, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. Leah writes a monthly food column for The Forward and a bimonthly column for Saveur.com called “One Ingredient, Many Ways.” She is the former Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning blog, The Jew & The Carrot, and she is a frequent contributor to MyJewishLearning.com, where her recipes are very popular, and highly praised. Her first cookbook, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen, was published by Rizzoli in 2011. The book was named one of the “Best Books of 2011? by Library Journal and The Kitchn called it “a big, beautiful book that is also down-to-earth and completely accessible.”

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Purim is filled with fun traditions–from dressing in costume, to raising a racket when Haman’s name is read from the megillah, to the sumptuous meal served on Purim day. But mishloach manot, giving gifts of food to friends, is arguably the most festive of the bunch. What other time of year is one obligated to share edible treats with friends just to add joy and gladness to their day?

The tradition of giving mishloach manot stems from a verse in the Book of Esther that reads, “Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in unwalled towns, made the 14th day of the month of Adar a day of gladness and feasting, a holiday, and of sending portions to one another” (9:19). Over time, this idea evolved into the contemporary practice of delivering baskets filled with hamantaschen and other goodies to friends’ homes. Of course, when it comes to Jewish tradition, even something as fun as giving gifts to friends has laws attached to it.
creative mishloach manotOne must send at least two items of food or drink (ideally things that can be consumed without further preparation) to at least one person in order to fulfill the mitzvah.

Creative Mishloach Manot Ideas

While stuffing a few candy bars, chips, and a soda can into a paper bag technically fulfills the mitzvah of mishloach manot, it misses a larger opportunity to give friends something really special. The ideas below offer suggestions for personalized mishloach manot packages that are sure to delight their recipients. You do not need to include everything listed below in each package–feel free to add or subtract items to meet your tastes, style, and budget.

Hamantaschen are notoriously missing from these baskets, but would of course make a welcome addition to any of them. Another addition that would enhance the baskets, in keeping with a different Purim mitzvah of matanot l’evyonim (gifts to the needy), is a card letting the recipient know a donation was made in their honor to Mazon, or another hunger relief organization.

High Tea

Maple oatmeal scones
Homemade madeleines
Clementines or small tangerines
Jar of clotted cream
Lemon curd or jam
Tea bags or loose tea
Small teacups
Package idea: Tuck everything inside a teapot

Hiker’s Pack

Homemade granola bars
Homemade trail mix
A few apples and small jar of peanut butter
Kosher jerky (meat or vegan)
A bandana
Package idea: Pack items into a wide-mouth reusable water bottle

Breakfast Basket

Bag of organic pancake mix
Mini bottle of real maple syrup
Small bag of homemade granola
Coffee beans
Assortment of bagels
Container of cream cheese
1 Kirby cucumber, jar of capers, red onion, or cherry tomatoes
Package idea: Arrange everything in a wicker basket

Cheese Lover

Assortment of cheeses (e.g. cheddar, Brie, Stilton, goat chevre)
Water crackers or oat biscuits
Homemade fig bread
Fresh grapes or a few small apples
Shelled walnuts, pecans, or marcona almonds
Half bottle of wine
Package idea: Arrange everything in a galvanized pail

Milk & Cookies

Assortment of cookies–chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, etc.
Individual bottle of milk
Package idea: Arrange in a galvanized pail tied with checkered ribbon

Middle Eastern Goodies

Container of hummus
Homemade muhamarra dip
Pita crackers
Za’atar
Preserved olives
Dried figs and dates
Israeli couscous
Turkish coffee
Package idea: Bundle items inside a colorful piece of fabric

Sports Fan

Bottle of craft beer
Package of Cracker Jack and/or popcorn
A jar of mixed nuts
Pretzels and mustard
Fruit leather
Package idea: Put everything in a bag of your choice, tied with ribbon that matches your friend’s favorite team colors

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