By: Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
Arriving hot on the heels of Tisha B’av, Shabbat Nachamu is all about starting over.
“Nachamu” means comfort, and on this Shabbat we move from mourning to consolation, from the sadness of our past to the optimism of our future.
What better time to get together and celebrate?
Whether you’re opening your home for a two-hour workshop or hosting a crowd for the whole Shabbat, make the most of this special weekend with these 11 no-sweat tips and tricks.
1. Do a cheat clean
Is there a little voice in your head telling you that before you have guests you must rent a carpet cleaner, hire a home organizer, and arrange your book collection according to color?
For the sake of your sanity, ignore it. Instead, do a cheat clean.
Remember, as a kid, when you used to throw all your junk into a closet and call it “cleaning your room?” Take a cue from that kid, and do the exact same thing now.
To quickly hide clutter, designate one room in your house (even the garage works) as the place to throw all your random stuff into. Toss all your clutter (toys, magazines, that pile of mail you keep meaning to sort) into storage bins or even cardboard Amazon boxes. Deposit the bins into your garage — and out of your guests’ purview!
Tackle kitchen clutter by storing dirty dishes inside your oven or a gigantic stockpot.
Aaaand…your house looks awesome!
(Really. You’ll hire that personal organizer after the weekend is over…)
2. Make extra
If you’ve ever hosted, you know this tip: make more than you think you’ll need.
If you’re faced with too many leftovers, you can always freeze them, send them home with your guests, or find a place to donate them.
3. Stick with the tried-and-true
Scratch the culinary fantasies of boeuf bourguignon or tiramisu trifle. When you’re hosting a crowd on short notice, the last thing you need is an unexpected kitchen fail.
Fall back on your personal list of go-to recipes for easy, no-fail favorites that you can get on the table quickly and efficiently.
4. Space out the snacks
If it’s a shiur or workshop you’re hosting, try placing food in different areas of your home. This will not only prevent a claustrophobia-inducing crowd hovering over the sushi platter, but also encourage your guests to move around and get to know each other.
5. Master the beverage bar
Having drinks easily accessible will save you from spending the evening scrambling for cups or pouring drinks.
A well-stocked beverage bar includes ample glasses (or plastic cups), drink dispensers or pitchers, straws, stirrers, and plenty of ice.
Depending on your crowd, you might offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, or even fresh fruit for garnishing.
Try these standout recipes for your beverage bar:
• Reva Yaffe’s Lime ‘n Wine Cocktail
• Faigy Grossman’s Champagne Punch
• Wissotzky Tea’s Nana Mint Iced Ginger & Citrus Cooler
• Sharon Shriqui’s Raspberry Punch
6. Assemble THIS hostess station
For overnight guests, Rivki Rabinowitz’s Hostess Station gives you all the inside info on creating the ultimate make-yourself-at-home spread.
7. Break out the crockpot(s)
I once read about a study that showed that a researcher who handed someone a warm cup of coffee (rather than an iced one) was perceived as a warmer person. Hot food, in other words, is always a winner.
We all know a crockpot is a blessing on Shabbat, so make good use of yours when having company! Whether it’s Chayie Schlisselfeld’s Slow Cooker Yapchick on Friday night or Brynie Greisman’s Chocolate Caramel Fudge Cake for a late-afternoon treat, serving something warm will have everyone feeling the warm fuzzies.
8. Don’t make minis
Resist the urge to think small.
Steer clear of tapas, petit fours, hors d’oeuvres, or any other hard-to-spell word that connotes mini foods. While tiny finger food can be really fun, you don’t want to find yourself up all night spooning white chocolate mousse into microscopic dessert shooters.
In other words, say ‘no’ to cookies and ‘yes’ to sheet pan desserts, like Bonnie Klein’s Chocolate Bark or Hannah Kaminsky’s Butterscotch Blondies.
9. Accept help
If your guest offers to bring something, accept it graciously. Your guest will be thrilled to contribute, and you’ll be grateful to have one less thing to take care of.
10. Don’t apologize for your home
We all have some idealized version in our minds of what our house should look like, but the truth is, your guests are probably not bothered by the scuff marks on the walls or the clutter in your bathroom.
Whatever the state of your house, when the guests walk through the door, just embrace it! When you’re confident and happy, everyone around you will be, too.
11. Take part in the festivities
It’s so easy to get caught up in hosting; the food prep, serving, and cleaning up can occupy every minute of your time.
But don’t forget to enjoy what’s going on around you — whether it’s lively conversation, an inspirational shiur, or a shared laugh, take the time to engage with the beautiful things going on. After all, it’s happening in your own home!