Happy Adar! Here are some tips to make sure that “venahfoch hoo” does not refer to your wallet.
(1) Make your own mishloach manot – Why spend ₪ 80 on a basket with ₪ 7 worth of food when you can make something special yourself? Making a mishloach manot can be a five minute process that saves hundreds of shekels. And for those with patience and ability, home cooked foods are always a big hit.
(2) For those with a large list of mishloach manot to give – regift ASAP. I have some friends who live in a community where they are expected to give literally dozens of mishloach manot, and will receive the same as well. One friend told me that one year he decided that if he would just wait until 10 AM to start giving his mishloach manot, he could regift the mishloach manot he already received. This method not only saves money, but cuts down on wasted food to be thrown out before Pesach. There were still some close friends that he gave nicer mishloach manot to, but when it comes to mishloach manot given en masse, it is better not to go broke.
(3) Make your own costume – I have always felt that buying an already made costume is a bit unimaginative. I don’t mean to make every item from scratch, but you can take a raw or simple costume and use your imagination to make it look nicer. Last year I was dressed as a leprechaun and while I bought a bow tie (₪ 10), I designed the hat myself using green shelving paper (₪ 3) and a hat (₪ 15), while wearing my own green shirt. Sadly, I found out that most Israelis don’t know what a leprechaun is (I kept being asked if I was from ale yarok).
Oh, and a note to teenage Israelis – when you buy a costume, you are supposed to add clothing. Dressing like a devil/tramp, an angel/tramp, an astronaut/tramp, a construction worker/tramp, a witch/tramp and a bunny/tramp is all the same thing – dressing like a tramp. I am not asking you to wear a burka, but some pants would be a good start. And for the men – dressing like a bum is not dressing up if that is how you dress year-round.
(4) Finally, don’t let the other mitzvot make you skimp on the most important one – matanat leevyonim. I aim to spend roughly an equal amount on matanat leevyonim as I do for all the other expenses for Purim combined. And although there is not mitzvah of matanat leevyonim the day after, the mitzvah of tzedakah always exists. Consider saving some of your mishloach manot food that you’re not going to eat anyways and give it to someone who really needs it.
PS – Below is my recipe for Jonny’s Irish Cream. It’s good, parve, and is a great idea for the shehakol in your mishloach manot.
1 container of non-dairy creamer (about 4/5 of a pint)
1 cup of vodka
6-8 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
This recipe makes approximately 1 liter of Irish Creme.
When preparing be sure to use an electronic mixer – otherwise there will be little egg bits which are not too nice. If you do not have an electronic mixer, then pour the finished product through a strainer in order to remove the little egg bits.