Does a dip, such as jelly, peanut butter, or hummus, count as one of the two food portions necessary for the mitzvah?

The Talmud (Megilla 7b) relates that Mari bar Mar sent Rabbah a bag of ginger and a bag of pepper. The Bnei Yisachar deduces from this that even foods that aren’t normally eaten alone count as portions of food with regard to mishloach manot.1 The Butshatsher Rov writes that one serving of mustard, i.e., the amount an individual would generally consume in a meal, counts as a portion.2

Does a bagel with lox count as two foods?

The halachic authorities discuss whether a piece of bread or fish, fried with a coating of egg, would be considered two separate food items.3 It follows that two foods, simply placed together, would certainly be counted as two foods.

Does a baked good, plus sachets of coffee, cream, and sweetener, count as two portions?

The sachets don’t count as a portion since they are not considered food. A packet of potato powder, however, would be okay, since it is considered an actual food item (even if a little preparation is required to make it edible). Coffee is primarily a drink and therefore the coffee powder is not valid as a portion of food.4

As a fundraiser, we deliver mishloach manot to people on a list, on behalf of the participants. Does this count toward the mitzvah?

According to some authorities, a shared mishloach manot isn’t valid, but Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach permitted it.5 It remains advisable to send some mishloach manot independent of the list.

I ordered mishloach manot from a non-Jewish company to be delivered to my friend on Purim day. Have I fulfilled the mitzvah?

The issue here is whether or not the individual who is trying to fulfill his obligation ever actually owned this gift if he simply paid for it.

Truthfully, the above concern also applies when you order from a Jewish vendor:

It is true that, according to halacha, change of ownership is effected by lifting the article (or other forms of halachic acquisition), and payment alone is not sufficient. However, payment does affect an acquisition to the extent that the individual is morally forbidden from backing out of the deal.

Regarding a rabbinic prohibition, this level of acquisition suffices.6 Plausibly, since mishloach manot is a rabbinic obligation, this level of ownership would suffice and render the goods yours, and enable you to fulfill your obligation of mishloach manot.

Does hosting a guest for a meal on Purim day count as mishloach manot?

The Talmud relates that the brothers Abaye and Chanina were very poor and would exchange their meals with each other in order to do this mitzvah.7

Some authorities explain that their arrangement was that one year Abaye would send a meal to Chanina, and Abaye would be a guest at Chanina’s Purim feast. The following year, Chanina would send a meal to Abaye, and Chanina would join Abaye for the Purim meal. In this way, both would fulfill their obligation; one by sending food, the other by hosting.8 From this we see that hosting a guest would be a fulfillment of one’s obligation.

I have guests at my Purim meal who haven’t performed the mitzvah of mishloach manot yet. Is there any point in having guests exchange plates?

Contemporary halachic authorities write that a student in yeshiva may fulfill the mitzva of mishloach manot by exchanging his meal with a fellow student.9 The same would apply to our instance.