Elise Hay always had a strong sense of order, but during her decade-long career in corporate communications, she began organizing in earnest to stay sane.
Last summer, Hay, who lives in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood, turned her wellness strategy into a business, launching Organized Sanctuaries to help others create calm and simplified spaces. Her clientele spans empty nesters looking to downsize to young families with barely enough time to pick toys up off the floor, let alone organize the pantry.
“Being surrounded by physical clutter creates emotional clutter,” Hay says. “It doesn’t do our space — and our lives — justice.” Hay finds this ethos wholly applicable to Passover, when it’s all too easy to find yourself caught up in the production of being the consummate host. “The right organization allows you to streamline the process of actually getting to the table. When hosting feels manageable, it allows you to slow down a bit and enjoy the time as it’s meant to be spent.”
Here are a few tips from Hay to help feel present this Passover, whether you’re cooking for a group of three or 30.
If you’re hosting a crowd — especially for multiple meals — consider foods that can anchor a variety of recipes. A big batch of quinoa, for example, can be used in a pilaf for the seder meal or served as a breakfast bowl topped with fried egg and pesto.
In the week leading up to the meal, do a mental run-through and prepare everything you can in advance, from scooping the charoset into serving bowls to making the saltwater to folding napkins. Advanced prep will help you avoid running around when you should be enjoying the company of friends and family.
Leave Time for Self-Care
Set aside time for yourself, whether it’s for meditation or a walk around the neighborhood. If you’ve planned ahead well, you shouldn’t feel rushed or panicked day-of. That sense of calm will translate into the atmosphere of the gathering.
Keep track of what you bought and what you used, especially if you’re a first-time host. Note which items you’ll need to buy next year, and the quantity. (How many jars of horseradish did you actually use? Did you run out of matzoh?) Keeping a list for next year can help you avoid overbuying — and over-cluttering your pantry — next year.