Text and styling by Esther Ottensoser
Photography for women’s kiddush by Ruby Studios
Photography for men’s kiddush by Hudi Greenberger
Shabbos Nachamu is the start of simchah season once again. We hope and pray that we should be zocheh to celebrate only simchahs from now on.
Learn how to party-plan your own events with a few simple steps, vendor contacts, and baking tips.
Neighbors, friends, and family often want to send something special to enhance a simchah, and they’re thrilled when they know it’s something that will be enjoyed and appreciated. You’ll find some great ideas for when you’re asked, “What can we send to your simchah?” And if you’re the sender, you can ask the baalei simchah what they’d like in advance so they know what you’re sending.
Homemade baked goods are always a great addition. Of course, there are some simchahs that are more conducive to baking than others. I don’t recommend baking when you’re only three days after birth! But baking for a simchah like a bar or bas mitzvah is usually much more doable. If you have the time to bake with your children, it can add so much fun and excitement to the simchah.
I’ve featured a women’s kiddush and a men’s kiddush here. In both setups, to keep things neat and organized, I used two narrow tables, raising the back one with a bed riser under each leg of the table.
For the Ladies
Nothing says “Hello, summer” quite like fresh strawberries that have been ripened to perfection.
One of my favorite summer activities has always been picking fresh strawberries. There’s nothing like sitting in a sunny strawberry patch with red-stained fingers, dirty knees, and strawberries everywhere you look! Sadly, with the recent infestation issue, this has become an activity of the past. Checking strawberries properly is a real job, but I allow myself to get busy with it on occasion. Consult with your LOR for proper checking guidelines.
Fruity Cakes and Cookies
I love ordering different cutout cookies from Schuck’s Fine Pastries. Aside from being so pretty, they are very light, delicious, and easy to eat at a simchah. I chose the Raspberry Pecan Flowers to match the decor.
Speaking of Schuck’s, what’s a simchah without the world-class Schuck’s Strawberry Shortcake?! This is one cake that’s always polished off. If not by the women, there are always the men who stand at the mechitzah waiting for a piece…
Did you know that you can color-coordinate these cakes to match your decor? And guess what — they’re absolutely delicious. Both of these chocolate cakes, made by Cocoabean,were layered with a decadent mousse and ganache, each one finished off with its own unique flavor (peanut butter and halva).
Cheese Yodels and More
While the Nuttery is famous for its freshly roasted nuts and mouthwatering chocolates, it also carries a full line of beautifully wrapped tarts, mini mousses, and muffins that don’t have to be preordered. I chose a delicious chocolate tart that was decorated with flower cookies and dusted with confectioners’ sugar, as well as the Nuttery’s famous Cheese Yodels — yum!
I picked up a set of three-inch ABC cookie cutters at Amazing Savings. It’s a great set to own, even if just for baking cookies with young children. To make the cookies featured here, you can use any sugar cookie dough recipe. Once the cookies are baked and cooled, dip them into white Cookie Dip and sprinkle them with candied nuts.
Two-Tone Peanut Chews
An oldie but goodie — I love making these peanut chews (recipe featured on Estherodesign.com) and cutting them into all different sizes. Here, they’re cut long and narrow.
To make these long biscotti, you’ll need to use a firm biscotti recipe. Make the dough, form into logs, bake, and cut into long, thin biscotti shapes. Once they’re cool, dip one side of each biscotti into Cookie Dip and then into crushed peppermint.
Stamped Napkins and Candy Boxes
I knew I could count on The Stamp Studio, with its spot-on graphics and superlative taste, to carry out my vision for this tablescape idea. From the logo-stamped napkins to the personalized candy-filled boxes, they pulled together the small details that make a big impression.
These cookies are definitely edible art. I love the way Kookies4You added eyes to the strawberries, giving them so much character! And the details of the strawberry cartons are just so adorable. Using edible print, they even turned the logo created by the Stamp Studio into a cookie.
I love the summery look of hanging flower baskets. Here I used a two-tier steel towel rack I found on Amazon to hang the vases. Tali of Global Flowers put together the sweetest, most cheerful flower arrangements to complement the decor.
Props are easy to rent. Most rentals will deliver the dishes and pick them up again while still dirty. I got white and acrylic platters from Prop2Party.
You can never go wrong with owning a couple of white tablecloths. They’re the perfect blank slates for your creativity. I chose a white fabric called Honeycomb at Stitch n’ Sew. Its width is 110 inches, which is great for making into wide tablecloths.
I wrapped the edges of the tablecloths with a red pompom trim, giving the table a sweet and charming touch. To hold the trim in place, I basted it with a couple of stitches every few inches. Pompom trim is available in many colors.
For the Men
Summery Dips and Salads
Tablecloth by Design
I got this gorgeous branch design embroidered linen at Stitch n’ Sew Fabric Center. It’s also available with pink leaves.
Haute and delicious, Babkatoure is here for you! The flavors I used were chocolate, vanilla, maple-glazed cinnamon, and cinnamon pecan. Babkatoure’s babka comes in the most beautiful boxes, making it great for gifting.
These exotic chummus platters are inexpensive and go very far. The men and boys love it!
I spread store-bought chummus on a platter and topped it with different toppings, which I then drizzled with olive oil. The toppings included fresh veggies, roasted eggplant with pomegranate seeds, spicy olives (available at the deli counter), and Miriam (Pascal) Cohen’s shawarma-roasted cauliflower recipe (featured in issue 749).
Once the poor man’s fish, herring has swum against the current and become a feature at practically every kiddush you attend. With its endless varieties and seasonings, it’s no wonder herring has become so popular!
The Rebbe’s Choice, with its catchy names and delicious herring varieties, has taken the herring trend to a whole new level. Its herring and kichel is available in stores in the Tristate area and via shipping anywhere in the US.
Fork and Bowl definitely takes advantage of nature’s colorful bounty. Aside from the delicious and creative food combinations, the salads are bursting with color, and they come in these bowls with a plastic cover snapped on. Fresh, delicious, and healthy!
Strawberry shortcake: Schuck’s Pastries, www.schuckspastries.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 732-901-2040.
Logo, napkins, and favor boxes: The Stamp Studio, www.thestampstudio.com, email@example.com, 732-281-7088.
Royal icing and fondant cookies: Kookies4You LLC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 248-904-3127
Mirror-glazed cakes: Cocoabean, 848-525-2182
Flower tart and cheese Yodels: The Nuttery, www.thenutteryny.com, 732-705-8822
Tablecloths: Stitch n’ Sew Fabric Center, email@example.com, 732-363-2220
Flowers: Tali’s Global Flowers, located in Howell (6520 US Highway 9), Monsey (249 Route 59, Airmont, NY), and Lakewood (1797 Avenue of the States), 732-366-9288
White Dishes: Prop2party, firstname.lastname@example.org, 848-525-2292
Herring and Flat Kichel: The Rebbe’s Choice, www.rebbeschoice.com, email@example.com, 516-437-7464
Babka: Babkatoure, Babkatoure@gmail.com, 845-521-6846
Salads: Fork and Bowl, firstname.lastname@example.org, 718-216-6931
(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 752)
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