By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
As a general rule, it is best to prepare things before the Seder begins–even if it is completely permitted to prepare them on Shabbos itself. The MishnahBerurah (472:1)) explains that this is in order not to have delays within the Seder.
___1. Prepare the Haggados that you and those present will be using.
___2. Prepare the matzos. This includes three whole shemurahmatzos and the cover. If a piece is broken, you can burn the edge on the gas stove and it is still considered as a whole matzah. Also prepare enough shemurahmatzah for all the guests who will be present at the Seder.
___3. Prepare the children’s nosh. There is a relatively little-known mitzvah to give the children nosh on the first night of Pesach. The Gemara states that the reason is “so that they will not fall asleep and will ask.” The ShulchanAruch adds, “so that they will see a difference and ask.” Some do it immediately before the Seder (Rav Shulchan Aruch and Kaf HaChaim) or immediately after Kiddush (ChasamSofer).
___4. Prepare enough salad leaves for each person. Generally speaking, two leaves are enough per person–one for marror and one for korech. Ideally, one should purchase from a company that adequately pre-inspects it. If not, make sure to check it yourself. Prepare enough for two days and refrigerate if you have the room.
___5. If one uses chrein, it should be ground and covered during the day. Prepare enough for two days. If one forgot to grind it, it may be done with a shinui, using the back of a spoon.
___6. It is preferable to prepare the charoses during the day as well. Prepare enough for two days.
___7. The salt water should be prepared ahead of time as well. Even though the MishnahBerurah (473:21) rules that salt water may be prepared on Shabbos, we prepare it earlier for two reasons: a) so as not to delay the Seder; and b) to fulfill the view of the ChayeiAdam (Klal 130). Prepare enough for two days.
___8. Enough wine (or grape juice) should be prepared for everyone present to drink the 4 cups of wine. Prepare enough for two days.
___9. The wine bechers or glasses should be prepared.
___10. The meat that will be used to represent the zeroa should be cooked, then roasted.
___11. The egg should be cooked then roasted over the flame.
___12. Enough karpas should be prepared for everyone present at the Seder. Prepare enough for two days.
___13. The Seder plate should be prepared in advance.
___14. The table should be set for the first night by daytime. The second Seder may only be set after nightfall.
___15. The pillows should be prepared in advance.
___16. The kittels should be prepared in advance. It is a good idea to have one for each night.
___17. Prepare the Siddur for the father to bless the children as soon as he comes home. v