Way back when I first started this blog, I wrote a post called “The 10 Things I Want My Shabbat Guests to Know.” At over 10,000 views, it’s my second-most widely read post, and probably at least once a week someone finds my blog by searching Rabbi Google with anxious queries about being invited to Shabbat dinners and not knowing what to do/say/wear.  Of course you can just ask your hosts, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, this may be useful.

Photo credit: Hallie Abrams

So here’s a follow-up post about what to bring when you’re invited to an Orthodox (or any) Shabbat dinner.

1. A Shabbos-friendly toy or game for the kids, where applicable. To me this is your best bet because you win over the parents and kids in one fell swoop AND ensure that the kids will play happily while the adults linger and chat.

* For kids ages 0-3, any non-electric toy or game, like a doll or simple stacking blocks.

* For kids ages 4-7, we love games for Shabbos like:
Magnatiles (these are pricier)
(also great for older kids).

* For older kids, we find these to be timeless:
Card games

2. You can also bring something new for the home – again, non-electric. New hand towels, a nice salad bowl or plate, a vase.

3. I’d say the last option I’d try is food. You just don’t know what the family’s kosher situation is unless you ask them.  You’d have to have a pretty good understanding of kosher, and be familiar with your kosher options where you live.  If you do go with food, make sure it is both kosher and pareve (containing neither meat nor dairy) with a reliable kosher symbol.

4. Flowers are tricky since they can’t be placed in water after sundown – it’s one of the Shabbat rules that Orthodox people follow. So either bring them before sundown, or bring them in a vase.

5. Kosher wine is also a nice option.

What are your ideas and suggestions?