Welcome to Post #3 in my Bar Mitzvah on a Budget: Is it Possible series. Today, I’m going to cover what we did for Seudah Shlishit.
If this is your first time here, you can read about the total budget for my son’s recent Bar Mitzvah here, and see how we served Friday night dinner to 40 people at my home here.
In case you are wondering why I’m not writing a separate post about Shabbat lunch, it’s because, as I mentioned before, we decided to have this meal catered at our shul. Since the in-house shul caterer was already catering our kiddush after davening, it was relatively inexpensive to have our lunch there as well. Although I could have done it myself at home and saved about $400, I don’t regret the decision for a moment. I was able to enjoy shul and the kiddush, since I wasn’t stressing about getting home to serve 55 people lunch. (While we only hosted only our out of town guests for dinner on Friday night, at Shabbat lunch we also invited some local family.)
We got home from shul/lunch around 2 and had four hours until the next “event” — Seudah Shlishit. We decided to invite some of our local friends as well as our out of town guests to enjoy the meal with us.
Menu for Seudah Shlishit
As I mentioned earlier, I really didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking the week of the Bar Mitzvah, so I had to come up with a simple menu plan. I choose a combination of items that could be prepared in advance plus a few that I purchased the week of the Bar Mitzvah. I also said “yes, thank you!” to any of my local friends who offered to bring something to our meal.
Our total budget was $275, and for serving 80 people, I’d say we did great!
- 100 bagels ($90) – ordered in advance, purchased that Friday
- challah rolls ($5) – made in advance from this recipe and frozen
- 4 cheese trays from Costco ($40) – purchased the week before
- lox trays from Costco ($40) – also purchased the week before
- 8 blocks of cream cheese from Costco ($12) – purchased the week before… I have 5 blocks left!
- “Nosh” ($15) – Penguins (the kosher version of Goldfish, sold at Aldis), pretzels, nacho chips and nuts – put out on the tables in small bowls)
- Egg salad, made with 3 dozen eggs ($1.50 – yay for cheap eggs!) – I boiled the eggs on Thursday and prepped the egg salad on Friday (we had left overs for Sunday morning brunch)
- Crunchy cole slaw salad – brought by a friend
- Rice & lentil salad – brought by a friend
- Green salad – brought by a friend
- Sesame noodles – brought by a friend
- Quinoa salad – brought by a friend
- Cut-up veggies & dip – brought by a friend
- Fruit platter – brought by a friend
- Dessert table (@ $25): Cookie bars, brownies, pumpkin spice coffee cake, lemon squares, blueberry buckle
- Drinks ($15): Water, lemonade, assorted 2-liters of soda, hot tea & coffee
Note that even though we were 80 people, I think each dish brought by a friend was made to serve 10-12. With so many dishes to choose from, they definitely stretch much further!
As you can see, the only things I actually cooked, beside the egg salad, were desserts. And these are super easy to make ahead and freeze. I doubled, and in some cases tripled, the recipes. The good news is that we have lots of leftovers – so I don’t have to make Shabbat dessert this month! (Fortunately I made all the desserts pareve.)
I took them out of the freezer on Friday before Shabbat and by seudah shlishit, they were perfect. Really easy way to save yourself work the week before a big simcha.
How We Set Up to Accommodate 80 people
We called the Seudah Shlishit an “open house” and set the start time for 6 pm. I was pretty nervous about fitting everyone in my home – especially since it was raining that morning, which meant no outside seating.
We got lucky, though, and by 1 o’clock, the weather cleared up and it ended up being a beautiful day. (Don’t get me started, though, on how there was only 6% chance of rain that day and yet it rained all morning. Good thing I had put rain ponchos in our out of town guests’ baskets!)
We set up 5 folding tables in my living room (which, as you may remember, was cleared out of the other furniture), each with 8 chairs around them — for a total of 40 seats. In the adjacent dining room, we set 10 seats around the table. And outside, on our back porch, we set up another table with 8 seats.
All together, we had a total of 58 seats for roughly 80 guests, but it worked out just fine. Not everyone arrived at the same time, nor did they all sit down at once. Plus, since many of our guests were children, they were happy to run around and play outside instead of sitting down to eat.
By the way, as I mentioned in my Friday night dinner post, we had borrowed the tables & chairs from a local gamach (Cleveland people: Let me know if you want the number, we were very happy with them!)
As for serving the food, I set up different “stations”. In the living room, we set up a buffet table with the bagels (served in a large basket from Michael’s – on sale 50% off, of course!), cheese, cream cheese, lox and egg salad.
On each seating table, we put out small bowls of the “nosh” — I think the little ones appreciate these.
We moved my kitchen table into our dining room and set it up as a buffet with the salads my friends so kindly brought. And then set up a card table in my kitchen for the dessert buffet. I used counters in my kitchen for drinks – cold and hot.
Like with our Shabbat dinner, I purchased paper goods in a combination of places: Costco (dinner and dessert plates, napkins, silverware and cups), white paper disposable table cloths from the Webstaurant store, and hot cups and lids from a local restaurant supply store. Total cost: Approximately $35
This came after Seudah Shlishit, obviously, but it was such a highlight of the Bar Mitzvah that I just wanted to share the idea – in case any of you want to do something similar.
Most of our local friends left around mincha/maariv time, but since our family and out of town friends had davened mincha right after lunch, we were able to stay home. About 40 of us stuck around through the end of Shabbat (the guys davened Maariv at our house), and then we ended a most special day with a “musical Havdalah / kumzitz”.
One of our dear friends is a talented musician (check out his website!), and he sang and played guitar for nearly an hour. We cleared out all the tables from the living room and the kids used this space to dance and sing together. It was truly wonderful.
Music has an uncanny ability to intensity whatever emotions you may already be feeling — so, of course we were all happy after my son’s Bar Mitzvah, but that hour of singing and dancing brought us to another level!