This year, Invite friends and relatives over to celebrate a happy Chanukah. Many Chanukah traditions can be expanded to include a whole crowd of partygoers, and they are easy to set up.
Latkes (potato pancakes): Latkes are quite easy to make, but do yourself a favor and make them ahead of time. You can even freeze them and reheat them for the party. It takes a while to fry up enough of those coveted, sizzling potato pancakes for a party, and you don't want to be slaving over a hot pan of oil instead of having fun with the guests. Be sure to have sour cream and applesauce on hand as toppings for the latkes. You can serve anything you wish with them, including cold cuts, tuna salad, green salad or Israeli salad (diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, diced onions, lemon juice and salt).
Sufganiot (jelly doughnuts): As with the latkes, sufganiot will also need to be fried in oil. If possible, prepare these ahead of time, and kids will be thrilled with them.
Lighting the Chanukah Menorah: A menorah is a branched candelabra with eight short candles and one tall candle that will be used to light them. Using the tall candle (not another candle in the lower holes), light one candle per night in the lower holes. Chabad.org has additional directions for lighting the menorah, along with the required blessings.
The Chanukah menorah should be placed near a window so the light can be seen from outside. It's nice to have all guests sing the blessings together and then sing a Chanukah song or two for getting in the spirit.
Playing Dreidel: Kids love this game. Have plenty of dreidels on hand, plus something to use as tokens: Pennies, chocolate gelt, beans or M&Ms can all work. The game is played by taking turns spinning a dreidel, which has four sides, each one printed with a different Hebrew letter. Tokens are earned based on the letter facing up when the dreidel lands after it spins. Depending on the letter, players will either pass without doing anything (Nun), take the whole pot (Gimel), take half the pot (Hay) or add a token to the pot (Shin). Nun, Gimel, Hay and Shin represent a sentence in Hebrew: Nes gadol hayah sham, which means "A great miracle happened there."
Gifts can be given to each person. But a gift exchange is a great alternative for saving money and ensuring that everyone receives a present. Have some chocolate Chanukah gelt (money) on hand for everyone as party favors.
Singing Chanukah Songs
Traditional favorites include "Chanukah O Chanukah," "I Had a Little Dreidel," "Chanukah Chanukah," "Sivivon" and "I am a Latke" (by Debbie Friedman).
Chanukah is a happy holiday, and reason to celebrate. Enjoy!
Along with the most commonly celebrated holidays of Christmas and Chanukah, parents and older family members might find themselves besieged with questions from kids about the story of Chanukah and Christmas. Here's a quick guide to fielding those questions.
After several years working with international students and living in a city that has such a wealthy of diversity, not only do I get to participate in all the exciting events and opportunities for Christmas but I also get to witness first hand some other holidays as well as how other cultures may celebrate Christmas.
In different places in the world, specific cultural flavor has been added to Chanukah traditions. Chanukah's theme celebrates Jewish survival against great odds. Chanukah is eight days long and is mostly celebrated in the home, with candle lighting, special holiday foods, songs and playing dreidel.