Jewish Hostess Meets Martha Stewart

Jewish Hostess Meets Martha Stewart

By Gabriela Apeloig, Co-founder of Apeloig Collection

In the Jewish tradition, celebrating Shabbat is like inviting a queen to join you in your home for a day. So we spend the day before Shabbat ensuring everything from our homes to our wardrobe will be fit for a queen.

In our family, we take turns hosting Shabbat. Each time my turn comes around, I get excited. I love being able to invite loved ones into our home to celebrate. And of the many opportunities to honor our traditions, setting up the table Friday night before Shabbat is one of my absolute favorites.

For Jewish families, preparing for Shabbat represents thousands of years’ worth of traditions. For me, Shabat also represents just one of the ways that the modern Jewish woman can celebrate tradition in style. So in that spirit, today I’ll share with you some tips for bringing a fresh perspective to the age-old ritual of dressing the table for Shabbat.

Dressing the Table: How to Honor Shabbat In Style

Have a little fun.

No one ever insisted that dressing the table has to be extra formal or uptight. Feel free to create an atmosphere that matches your family. For me, this means informal, yet fun and festive at the same time.

Keep it fresh!

There’s no need to have dress the table the same way Friday after Friday. Shake things up a bit with decorating the table a bit differently each time. Personally, I find this is an exciting way to keep tradition from becoming routine.

Mix it up!

Variety is the spice of life—or sometimes in my case, the spice of Shabbat. I love mixing and matching different vases or pots, and getting different fresh flowers each week. Keep it interesting!

Add personality with placemats.

Using different disposable placemats is a great, inexpensive way to add a little character to my table each Shabbat. I’ve developed such an obsession with my placemats, my family’s begun calling me Martha Szhtewart.

Dress the table on Thursday.

I like to prepare my table on Thursday evening so I can separate my creative time from my cooking time, which I do on Friday. I love getting my kids involved, and leaving myself a little extra time by prepping on Thursday is a great way to achieve this.

Etiquette Time: the “bread drink hand trick.”

I’m always forgetting the dinner etiquette when it comes to setting up the table. One trick that never fails is the break hand trick: b is for bread, d is for drink. Your left hand makes a b to remind you the bread plate goes on the left, while your right hand makes a d to remind you that your drink goes on the right. 

And finally, the essential dining etiquette diagram:

Use this photo as a guide to set up your table for Shabbat. Chances are, no actual queen will be arriving at your home, so there’s no need to be overly formal.  

Meet my table.    

For my latest Shabat hosting, I was inspired in our motto "Tradition Meets Design.” I mixed traditional serving ware with both modern and traditional placemats. For the flower arrangements, I chose to mix traditional Moroccan teapots with traditional silver teapots.

Now it’s your turn! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips and are just as excited as I am about celebrating Shabbat in style.
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