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The snow outside is piling up, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil says it will be another six weeks of winter, and the walk to the children’s bus stop necessitates ten minutes of bundling up with every wool, knitted, puffed item possible. I didn’t always dread winter. There was a time when I looked forward to a snowy white one, but lately, my appreciation for changes in the seasons have waned in direct proportion to the difficulties of keeping my children occupied while housebound for months on end.

But there is warmth in my heart, knowing that by the time this article is printed, it will almost be Purim. Yes, it is true. Purim is coming, hoorah, hoorah! My kids have already begun poring over colorful pictures of the story of the Megillah, and I have already begun to fend off inquiries into what exactly we will be giving for mishloach manot this year.


Mishloach manot seems to take up a large chunk of the time dedicated to the celebration of Purim, unfairly eclipsing the other three mitzvot: of Megillah, seudah and tzeddakah. That’s because once we get excited about the Yom Tov, our thoughts turn to how to prepare for it and our creative attributes, if we have any, begin to work.

If you don’t have any creative attributes, that’s perfectly fine. We are all given special talents and there isn’t a single person who has everything. I truly believe that G-d has leveled the playing field by giving each and every one of His special creations specific talents and abilities. I, for example, have been blessed with abundant organizational skills but not so much with the artistic touch.

So, when it comes time to decide on what to give for mishloach manot, I am at a clear disadvantage.

It was a long road to acceptance of my limitations. Months in advance I would begin searching for deals and bargains so I could make towering packages worthy of some undefined stamp of approval. I spent hours and ridiculous amounts of money making these packages – and not enjoying one minute of the process.

One year, I came to a mind-blowing realization: nobody cares. I will never get that elusive stamp of approval, because nobody is giving it out. Once the package gets through the front door, and the obligatory, “OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute,” is said, the package gets dumped on the dining room table and ripped apart by eager hands, immediately becoming indistinguishable from the dozens already there. My recipients couldn’t even ooh and aah over my creation if they wanted to. The package simply doesn’t exist anymore.

After I reached my epiphany, I made a resolution: less is more. I will find the cheapest mishloach manot, and make as many as I possibly can, without fear of busting my budget.

I now make two sets of mishloach manot, one for my children to give out that consists of a toy and two small foods – each a different brocha and wrapped with a ribbon – and one set for myself and my husband that consists of a package of cookies and a small bottle of alcohol, wrapped in a ribbon. Each package costs less than $2, and I make about a hundred of them. My family distributes them with abandon to anyone we know, and even people that we don’t, never worrying if we have enough, because I can always make more.

I assure you, much fun is had by all.

If any of our recipients don’t like our simple mishloach manot, they are welcome to recycle it, but, so far, no complaints.

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Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, Choices, A Life Worth Living (featured on Dansdeals and Jew In The City) and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, Sing While You Work. The books are available at Pnina is available for speaking engagements and personal consulting. Contact her at [email protected].