Also, I guess this goes without saying but I should probably mention it anyway. Make sure your husband is on board. If he's not, don't try and push it. It'll make things awkward as well as God tells us not to lead. Like all things, pray and ask God to give your husband wisdom and wait. It's best to do things as your husband leads. If he's not for it, then maybe it's not the right timing.
If you're not in the habit of eating together on a regular basis, start with that and do the best you can with work schedules and everything. Get the children used to sitting down and then commit to staying home on Saturdays. If those things are already fairly well in place, then it's time to start planning your first Shabbat (Sabbath Dinner).
Items You'll Need (this is flexible though...use your own creativity):
A Special Tablecloth-one that you'll only use for Sabbath Dinners
Cloth Napkins-they put everyone in the fancy mood; although they're not totally necessary
Wine glasses-even if you choose not to serve wine, everyone loves a nice drink in a wine glass. Look for some special cups for your kids too. I got some old mini wine glasses from my grandmother who passed away and my kids love them. Check thrift stores. (Jenny, you should be good at this-I want to know what you find!)
Candlesticks-I recently got some awesome candlesticks for Christmas but for years we used these pittily little ones from Ross. It doesn't matter. You just need any old candlesticks and two white candles.
A Bread Basket-anything will do
A Challah Recipe-I'm going to give you one next time with step by step instructions and pics.
China-This is optional. I use my china quite a bit because it's fun. When else are you going to use it? However, I didn't start that way (remember start slowly) and I don't do it all the time. It's whatever I feel I can pull off well. That is key to this dinner. Do what you can do well. I use our everyday dishes often too so don't feel bad about it.
An outline of your liturgy-check out this article that I also linked to in my last post. But know this...this is your table and your Sabbath Dinner. You can feel free to do whatever you want.
Fresh Flowers-if possible, it makes the table look nice. Or you can go with some kind of simple centerpiece. Sometimes I just stick a candle in the middle of the table when I simply have no time or a lack of creativity.
Once all of these items are dialed in, plan your first meal. Stick with something simple and a dish that everyone likes. You want this dinner to be sweet. You don't want it to be a battle. For a long time we let all food rules slide on Saturday nights since our two oldest boys were quite picky eaters. During the week they had to eat a certain amount of different things including vegetables. But if they only wanted bread on Saturdays, then we didn't force it. That was what we did. You may not choose to do that. However, know that the mood should be light. And then try and have something for dessert. It can be as simple as ice cream. We don't have dessert every night but we ALWAYS have it on Saturday. It makes the evening special. When we have company over, I usually make a nice dessert. When it's just our family, I just make sure there's something. As my boys get older, it'll be more worth it to make a big dessert but for now, it's just not worth my time when they're happy with a popsicle. But again do as you please.
Now you're ready!! Next time I'll show you how to make a Challah bread. I'm also planning to talk about tips to making your Sabbath Dinner easier, how to help your children love Shabbat and how to be hospitable with your dinners. Also, as a side note, as you get better with these dinners, you'll be able to see how you can incorporate yearly holiday traditions into your meal as well like Advent and the lead up to Easter. It all pairs together very nicely giving you a great foundation to build on. I'll talk about our experiences with that too. But all of that is what's to come. I wanted to conclude with a quote I read this morning from the Femina blog. By the way, if you don't read it, you're missing out. It's always so excellent. I thought this was just wonderful and really beautifully illustrates why we would even want to put forth this effort to bless our family.
"A valiant wife looks at her duties and assumes them with grace and dignity, and a brave heart. She does not faint or lose heart at the prospect of hard work over the course of many years. She sees the long-term impact of what she is doing and sets herself to the tasks that God has given her, like bringing up children, lodging strangers, washing the feet of the saints, and all those other things that fall neatly into the category of good works.
A valiant woman is one of the means that God uses to remake the world. She is the glory of the man. She takes what he gives her and glorifies it. He gives her a house, and she glorifies it and makes it into a home. He gives her a table, and she glorifies it with food, nurturing and feeding the faces around it. A husband makes love to his wife, and she mysteriously glorifies it, and a child is born. This is what God has made women to do. A valiant woman glorifies and beautifies. And it overflows." Nancy WilsonAnd that my friends, is why we do what we do.