The More The Merrier: Your Guide to Planning Big Shabbat Dinners

You love hosting Shabbat, clearly. You’ve been thinking you want to host a BASS (Big A** Splashy Shabbat)! Maybe you want to share it with your people, the folks you love and the folks you don’t know yet but you know you will love. Hosting a big dinner with OneTable is a friggin awesome opportunity to position yourself as a community leader and gather great people around a singular purpose, creating vibrant community and exciting IRL social networking. Need some more reasons?

  • Unplug from the week
  • Get to know people on a whole new level
  • Expand your network
  • Create memories
  • Connect with nature
  • Mark the end of your week with a celebration
  • You love food, community, and ritual
  • You adore Shabbat and want everyone to love it!
  • Extra Nourishment! If your dinner is Open or Host Approval, you can up to $300 Nourishment ($10 per person for up to 30 people)

Shabbat is a great vehicle for community connection and if we’re being real, you’ve probably been dreaming up something like this anyway! Let us support you in making it happen.

Here’s our A-Z checklist for smooth, stress-free Shabbat planning.

PLANNING TIMELINE 

1 month out:

  • Set the intention
    • What are your goals for this event? 
    • Who is this gathering for? Who are you inviting?
    • Do you have programmatic goals? Do you want to bring in a facilitator to help lead?
    • Do you have a co-host?
  • Select date for dinner
  • Set location and time of dinner
  • Select food: catered, potluck, BYOD (bring your own dinner), etc. 
  • Reach out to your OneTable Field Manager to discuss dinner / content you would like to bring to the table. 
Someone writing a checklist with a black pen

2-3 weeks out: 

  • Post your dinner on the OneTable platform
    • Accessibility and inclusion are key parts of hospitality. How are you preparing your dinner to be inclusive of all guests at your table? Some things to consider: 
      • Location: What is parking like? Are there stairs or an elevator? Etc. 
      • Things to ask your guests about in email communications before your dinner:
  • Do you or your plus one have any food allergies?
  • Are there any accommodations I can make for you or your plus one?
  • What do you or your plus one need to fully participate?
    • TL;DR: remember that every single person has different needs. Being considerate and making small changes can go a long way. Click here for more.
  • Send out the invite!
  • Spread the word: see the moment you send out your invite as the launch of your event. Share it out with friends + guests to advertise, post it in your local OneTable Facebook group and event pages in your city, and share it on social media.
  • Finalize your food plan!
  • Make decisions around how the space will look and feel — decor, table setting, seating.

1 week out:

  • Create a run-of-show for yourself and any other co-hosts/facilitators/MVPs
  • Create supply and to-do lists
  • Send out last reminders to RSVP
Someone typing on a computer screen

Week of:

  • Select Nourishment by 11:59pm Tuesday at the latest (or while posting your dinner!)
  • Make final tweaks to the run-of-show
    • Timeline and assignments of tasks/pickups
  • Send a pre-event email with important information! What will your guests want to know to feel welcomed, taken care of, and excited about being at your event?
    • Connect with unregistered guests to confirm their attendance
    • Do you have a waiting list? How do you want to manage expectations around the list? “If you’re unable to make it, please let me know at least 24 hours before the event, as we have a waiting list.”
    • Some questions to think about:
      • How will your guests arrive at the event (how to get into the physical space, but also what’s the common mode of transportation)? Are there public transit stops nearby? What’s the bathroom setup? Do they need to prepare anything or bring anything along? Do they need to sign in or bring an ID to get into the space? Is there a hard start/stop time? Who should they call/text if they’re going to be late? What else makes you feel welcomed and comfortable as a guest?
  • Create a menu (keep in mind people’s dietary restrictions)
  • Create a shopping list or contact local restaurants to cater from

Day before:

  • Prep any food that can be prepared or made in advance
    • Salads without the dressing, cookie dough to be baked during the dinner, mix the batch cocktail, and start making the challah if you’re that ambitious.
    • If you’re ordering delivery, schedule it for delivery 30 minutes before your dinner starts.
    • Organize supplies for your dinner
      • Cups, plates, napkins, cutlery, etc. 
      • Ritual items (kiddush cup, challah cover, etc.) 
      • Flowers, tablescape items, etc. 
  • Put white wine and nonalcoholic beverages in the fridge

Day of/as you’re welcoming guests:

  • Put nametags + a welcome sign at the door/entrance, let people know they’re in the right place, and have someone at the door welcoming guests if that’ll help guests feel welcome.
  • Consider how your guests will spend their time if they arrive early, set out snacks for them to graze around, or think of an activity for them to dive into before your critical mass of guestshas arrived.
    • Leave something undone. Your guests can help you put the finishing touches to the event, so long as they have something to do and feel like they’re in the right place at the right time
  • How will guests meet new people or get to know each other throughout your event? Set them upfor success by giving them tools that make breaking the ice a bit easier.
  • GAME FACE ON! Congrats — you’re an all-star host. Shabbat Shalom ✨✨
People hanging out outside talking around a table

Follow Up

Pat yourself on the back. You did it. We’ve found that a quick post-dinner note works wonders. Send along a recipe from the night if guests loved it, or share some photos. Encourage your guests to sign up as OneTable hosts themselves to pay it forward!

OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable. The OneTable community is funded to support people (21-39ish), not in undergraduate studies, and without an existing weekly Shabbat practice, looking to find and share this powerful experience.

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