A Guide to Preparing the Shiva Home

Shiva planning requires attention to detail, which can be difficult when done in the short period of time that shiva planning allows. A shiva coordinator, or family representative can assist with the preparations and ensure that all necessary items are purchased, or borrowed, for the shiva. To ease the process, shiva.com has created a comprehensive list of items that may be needed leading up to and throughout the shiva.

Food & Related Items

Food related items may be prepared and presented in the kitchen and, if more room is needed, the dining room. The food and beverage stations are often kept separate, but it is recommended that both are easily accessible by the mourners and those who are making a shiva call. Depending on the size of the group of visitors, the food may be set up in a buffet style across a long table.  It is always advisable to verify the preferences of location of food and beverage set up with the mourning family.

  • Hard boiled eggs for seudat havara'ah (a dozen is recommended)
  • Organize the first meal for family when returning from cemetery
  • Plan for three meals per day of shiva for each member of mourning family
  • Consider catering or individual food platters for shiva visiting hours
  • Hot water served in coffee urn
  • Decaffeinated coffee served in coffee urn
  • Decaffeinated tea bags
  • Milk (non-fat, whole)
  • Sugar and sweetener
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Cold drinks (water, soda, tea, etc.)
  • Ice, served in an ice bucket with tongs
  • Disposable plates
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Hot and cold cups
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Containers for leftovers, as well as plastic wrap, foil and Ziploc bags
  • Service Providers (wait staff, food servers to assist)

Non-food Related Items

When opening the shiva home to the community for individuals to make a shiva call there are more visitors to the home in a short period of time than usual. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that there are sufficient household supplies and certain basics available should the need arise. Individuals making a shiva call are often restricted to the entrance way of the home and certain designated living areas (e.g., family room, living room, kitchen and dining room and bathrooms).

It is important to prepare and have these items on hand before the shiva begins, although many may not be used immediately. Depending on the preferences of the family and the level of observance, some items may not be applicable. There are many customs and traditions the family can consider observing when preparing the shiva home.

  • Toilet paper for bathrooms
  • Paper hand towels for bathrooms
  • Paper towels for kitchen
  • Kleenex tissues
  • Large garbage bags
  • A cooler or large ice bucket
  • Notifying Door Man, Guard Gate about times and handling of shiva
  • Prepare a note for the front door (leave it unlocked or cracked during shiva)
  • A coat rack for guests, depending on the season
  • Sheets or pillowcases to cover mirrors, if desired
  • Post-it notes to mark meat and dairy cabinets, if necessary
  • Pitcher, bowl, hand towels and small bin for front door, if desired
  • Sign-in book and pen, if desired
  • Kippot, if desired
  • Low sitting chairs, if desired
  • Prayer books for minyan service
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