The afikomen: dessert or simply a ploy to keep children -- and some adults -- awake through most of the seder? Most people probably favor the latter, and tend to choose one of two techniques to make finding the half-piece of matzah interesting:
Method No. 1: Hiding the afikomen somewhere in the room/house/neighborhood for the child or children to find it.
Method No. 2: A child steals the afikomen from the leader's place at the table when he or she gets up for rachtzah (washing the hands), hides it somewhere else and gets to bargain back for it. (This only works if a second child doesn't take the matzah from the hiding place of the first.)
In either case, there is usually some prize or reward for finding the afikomen, thus allowing the adults to be able to continue the seder -- and merrily sing "Chad Gadyah."
While most children would probably welcome a monetary gift, you aren't supposed to give money out at the seder. So, if your family chooses method No. 1, go the present route with one of these kitschy, quirky, "isn't that cute," "I wish I got that" items. (Note: if your family chooses afikomen-finding method No. 2, be warned that Sony PSP or Club Libby Lu might come up at the bargaining table.)
"Ma Nishtanah?" just got a whole lot cuter with artist Yitzy Erps' reversible 4 Questions Finger Puppets. Each plush puppet has a seder item on one side, with its year-round equivalent on the other: matzah/bread, maror radish/carrot, cushioned chair/hard chair and karpas/beet.
$12.95. Ages 3 and older. www.judaism.com.
Huggable Hebrew-speaking dolls? And they said it couldn't be done. Language Littles takes bilingual education to a cuddly level with 16-inch Sarah (who is also available in a nonspeaking 32-inch version) and, recently released, kippah-wearing David. Press either hand and hear 25 words and phrases (in American-accented Hebrew) in correct gender agreement. Each doll also comes with a translation booklet and a password to access the game-filled Web site (www.languagelittles.com). Debra Messing's kid has one, shouldn't yours?
$36.99 Ages 3 and older. www.chosencouture.com.
When your kid shouts, "I have boils!" don't panic -- it is just Matzah Ball Bingo. Two to six people can play this educational (shhhh, don't tell the kids) retelling of the Pesach story. No reading required, which means parents can spend the seder at the adult table.
$8.95. Ages 4 and up. www.judaism.com.
Yid Gear offers the latest in Passover couture with its "My Ancestors Went to Egypt and All I Got Was This Lousy Matzah" T-shirt for men and women. We all know matzah looks and tastes like cardboard -- but who knew it could be so funny?
Need a way to infuse your holidays with creativity? One word: Haggadah-rama -- and there are 51 more where that came from. Lynn Gordon and Nina Miller condensed some very cool ideas into the playing card-size 52 Activities for Jewish Holidays. Pick one and make a memory.
"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8). Learn how we all got to the land of Mizrayim in the first place with the recently released on DVD, "Joseph: King of Dreams." Ben Affleck, Maureen McGovern and Mark Hamill come together in this animated musical tale of a man with a dream, a lot of brothers and a really pretty multicolored coat. Includes an on-screen singalong and readalong book.
As strange as your family is, be glad you aren't having seder with the Byrneses and the Fockers. But you can bring Ben Stiller, Barbra Streisand and Bobby DeNiro home for the holiday on the just-released "Meet the Fockers" DVD. Cool extras include more than 60 bloopers and 20 deleted scenes, feature commentary with director Jay Roach, a Fockers' family portrait and a virtual tour of Streisand's Malibu mansion (just kidding).
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