Dinner Description Glow Up
One of the many things I love about my job is getting to read through the descriptions of the Shabbat dinners that hosts create with OneTable. I feel like I could curl up with a warm cup of coffee and read through each dinner’s description as a little vignette of #FridayNightMagic happening at Shabbat tables around the country. The intention and creativity that goes into creating a OneTable Shabbat dinner description is nothing short of inspiring.
Sometimes, writing a dinner description is hard. It can feel like just another thing on the checklist. But we hope that writing a dinner description can be a moment of reflection, light, gratitude, or acknowledgement that brings extra meaning to Friday nights. Whether you’re Shabbating for the first time (or the first time in a long time) and need some inspiration to make it feel meaningful, or you’re Shabbating every week and need a way to make each dinner distinct, here are some of my favorite ways to glow up a dinner description.
What is Shabbat?
Shabbat is what you need it to be. A chance to unplug, a chance to connect, a chance to treat yourself to delicious home-cooked food or (finally!) takeout you didn’t have to make yourself. Shabbat can be an opportunity to go outside, or to escape the heat. It can be a chance to have hard, important conversations or a chance to focus on gratitude and hope. It can be a chance to slow down and breathe, or a chance to let loose and celebrate. What do you need from Shabbat this week?
Here are some ideas to mix it up:
Journal it out. Treat your dinner description as a mini journaling exercise. Pick a prompt from the list below and riff. Especially if you’re #SoloShabbating, no one will see your description but you + your Field Manager, so feel free to share your thoughts.
Use a guide. The OneTable team regularly puts out new Shabbat guides to help you design intentional discussion. From celebrating Pride to discussing death over dinner, find new ways to bring a little extra meaning to your table.
Shabbat prompts to get you writing:
- Why does Shabbat feel important to you right now, with everything going on?
- What vibe are you going for? How do you want to close out your week and tune into the weekend?
- How do you plan to incorporate (or experiment with) ritual?
- How are you navigating the virtual space, the outdoor space, or making your everyday space feel special?
- If you’re hosting for others, how do you want your guests to feel before the meal? During? After?
- How are you using Nourishment?
- What makes this Shabbat, and not just dinner together, or another work Zoom call?
- What has been especially beautiful or challenging about this week?
- Is there a theme you’d like to discuss, or frame your dinner with?
- What does Shabbat mean to you?
Shabbat quotes to get you thinking:
Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. — Abraham Joshua Heschel
If we ever forget the power of pausing, we need only remember the lesson of our heart. The heart operates in two phases: systole where it pumps blood to the vital organs and diastole where it relaxes. Most people think that systole is where the action is and the more time in systole the better. But diastole – the relaxation phase – is where the coronary blood vessels fill and supply life sustaining oxygen to the heart muscle itself. Pausing, it turns out, is what sustains the heart. — Vivek Murthy
An artist cannot be continually wielding his brush. He must stop at times in his painting to freshen his vision of the object, the meaning of which he wishes to express on his canvas… Having done so, we take ourselves to our painting with clarified vision and renewed energy. — Mordechai Kaplan
Becoming efficient is a way of saying “I’m going to conquer time before it conquers me.” To slow down, to stop fighting time, to actually feel it — this is an act of giving in… With work quelled, space opens up in which to be with others, or in solitude with the self — or both. — Katrina Onstad
Our leisure is often as scheduled and hectic as our work—and is, consequently, just as stressful. Sabbath, with its myriad proscriptions, offers what might be the only authentic form of leisure: the act and fulfillment of doing absolutely nothing productive. — Menachem Kaiser
Ending your week with good wine, good friends, and good food is just good for you. — Jessica Minnen, OneTable’s Rabbi & Shabbat aficionado