Here are some Chanukah songs and activities kids can do with their parents each night to make each night different and filled with celebration of the themes of Chanukah. These don't have to be done in order - choose based on your family's preferences, schedule, and idea of fun.
Night 1: Chanukah festival
Start the holiday with a bang! Have potato latkes, sing Chanukah songs, of course light Chanukah menorah candles in the window, and talk about the story of Chanukah. This is a traditional Chanukah celebration so invite family and friends. A gift exchange makes the night even more festive. Note that gifts are not necessary for Chanukah, and certainly not for all eight nights. However, you can modify the idea of gifts. See the nights to come.
Night 2: Decorate and celebrate
This is the night to make Chanukah decorations. There are many options here depending on the materials you have, you can make Jewish symbols, Chanukah menorahs, dreidels, tape Chanukah gelt around the room and windows, and write Chanukah greetings in English and Hebrew. Put them in the windows, and around the rooms that your family will be celebrating Chanukah in together. Even coloring pages about Chanukah colored and cut out make great Chanukah decorations. You can also use this time together to make Chanukah cards for friends, family and others.
Night 3: Family Movie Night
Choose a family movie to watch together, cuddled up on the couch after the candles are lit. There are some Chanukah themed movies you could choose or try a musical.
Night 4: Baking together
This is a great time to think of others. Bake and decorate cookies or cupcakes together. Keep some and give some away to friends, neighbors, etc. The mitzvah of giving can never be over-emphasized. It feels good to work together cooking, and to know that you've made someone else happy as well.
Night 5: Special gift exchange
This is not a typical gift exchange night. Each family member is assigned one other family member. Everyone makes that person a card with one "coupon" naming something special he or she pledges do for that person. This gives each family member a chance to think of ways to make another person in the family happy, and also to receive the same kindness designed especially for them. You can give examples (clean your room, do the dishes when it's your turn, take you to lunch, teach you to draw, etc.) to get them thinking. Help the youngest write what he or she would like to say, or let a picture do the talking!
Night 6: Music Night
Let everyone pick songs they like to share with others. Have a Karaoke or dance show, play Name That Tune, or teach and sing favorites. It's up to you, but should be a musical night of fun.
Night 7: Night Out
This night is reserved for helping others. Whether your family gathers together donations of gently used clothing or toys or goes together to a senior center to play bingo or visit with people who need some company, service is the overall theme Some families take the money they would have spent on presents for this night and purchase or make a donation for a cause of their choosing.
Night 8: Family Game Night
While the Chanukah candles are burning, play dreidel! Dreidel is a traditional Chanukah game. You can make it more fun by using chocolate gelt or M&M candies for the tokens. Dreidel is fun to play with any age, and even an approximate spin of the dreidel can be counted, so if little fingers are not adept at the spinning, it's still okay! If you prefer, add or substitute other family game favorites. Have popcorn or cookies for munchies while you play. Just enjoy being together.
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.