Although one should not have a meal before hearing the Megillah, one is permitted to eat items that are not considered meal-type items. One should therefore not eat bread or items made from the five grains which one would say Mezonos on. All other foods may be eaten in any quantity before the reading of the Megillah.
There is an ancient custom to give three silver coins to Tzedakah before Purim. This is in commemoration for the Half-Shekel that was given by every Jew at this time of year when the Bais HaMikdash stood.
Usually, most shuls have silver coins that individuals acquire by giving the monetary equivalent and then giving the silver coins to maintain this custom. It is not necessary to actually pick up the silver coins to fulfil this custom. Because there is usually a large gathering of people around the basket, it would be preferable to donate online instead.
One of the Mitzvos of Purim is to give gifts to the poor. To fulfill this Mitzvah, every adult must give a meal or the monetary value of a meal to two poor individuals. The Mitzvah is to specifically do this during Purim day.
Practically speaking, one may give as little as $5 for each poor individual for a total of ten dollars.
I will be distributing money to those in need on Purim. The best way to get me money is to do so through the shul website and put Purim in the memo of the donation.
This Mitzvah can only be fulfilled Purim day. You can give me money to distribute before Purim as I will only distribute it on Purim day.
Mishloach Manos – one fulfills their obligation by giving two food items to ONE person. It is a wonderful opportunity to show people we are thinking about them. I strongly encourage you to take the time to think about who such people may be. This Mitzvah can only be fulfilled on Purim day.
One is obligated to have a festive meal on Purim day. One should make every effort to have a nice meal Friday night. To do so, one should try to eat their Purim meal before Halachic midday, 12:19 PM in Baltimore. If that does not work, ideally, before 3:45 PM. If that does not work then one can eat their Purim Seudah at any time before Shabbos begins. Nonetheless, one should also have a Friday night Shabbos meal.