Chances are that you are planning your pidyon haben (firstborn redemption ceremony) after you've already hosted your son's circumcision. Although you might not be holding this event at the same time of day and the menu might be different, draw on your previous experience to see how you can make your pidyon haben a memorable and special event.

A pidyon haben can be held anywhere: at home, at the synagogue, or at a local kosher establishment. (A quiet place where mother and baby can have some privacy before, after, and during the celebration is a plus.) A light meal is traditionally served to the guests in attendance. Close family and friends are invited, but by no means is it as lavish an affair as a bar mitzvah.

The rabbi should also be invited to ensure that the proceedings proceed smoothly.

  • Calculate the 31st day after your child's birth (click here for help with this).
  • Draw up a list of participants. Make sure that you have a minyan in attendance.
  • Don't forget to let people know about it a few days in advance so that they can plan accordingly. Let them know if kids are invited.
  • Know your crowd. The pidyon haben must take place before sundown. If calling the ceremony for late afternoon, and the crowd is the type to show up late, call it for an earlier time so that you don't end up running late.
  • Find out of you have a friend or relative who is a kohen (priest). If you have one, see if he is available for the time you plan to hold your pidyon haben. If you cannot find one, ask your rabbi to help you out.
  • Arrange five real silver dollars (click here for more info). Often a "seasoned" kohen will have a set to sell/lend to you.
  • If you are using wait staff, make sure that they know to serve the bread first, and that the rest of the meal will be eaten after a brief ritual.

Things to bring along:

  • Large silver tray
  • Pillow to pad the tray
  • Kiddush cup
  • Wine (or grape juice) and corkscrew
  • Silver coins
  • Garlic and sugar cube packets to distribute
  • Jewelry to drape over the little celebrant
  • A prayer book with the procedure or our PDF of the texts
  • Grace after Meals booklets for the amount of planned participants
  • Diapers and other baby paraphernalia
  • Candles and candlesticks to place on the tables