Hanukkah Party Ideas
Let the Festival of Lights live up to its name by burning lots of candles. Save a special place for your menorah, and light candles around the seating area, bar area and entryway.
Chocolate gelt wrapped in gold or silver foil makes a pretty and pretty tasty addition to your Hanukkah table. Sprinkle the gelt down your table like a runner, or place a few coins on each folded napkin instead of using a napkin holder.
The traditional colors of Hanukkah — silver, blue and white — create a dazzling table. Winter flowers like tulips, narcissus and hyacinths lend the right color and style for any type of gathering. Crisp white flowers in a silver bowl bring a touch of elegance to a bright blue tablecloth, while blue flowers on a white tablecloth add a more informal burst of color.
Keep the height of your centerpiece in mind when planning your holiday table. Large, high centerpieces are difficult to see and chat around, so these arrangements are better suited for mantles and buffet tables.
Make dining table arrangements shorter and less dense, even breaking up flowers into several smaller arrangements, or placing a small bud vase with a single flower at each place setting.
Can't remember all the menorah minutia? Here's a quick primer.
- On the first night of Hanukkah, place one candle in the holder on the far right of the menorah. Then place the shamash candle in the holder set off from the other eight. Light the shamash candle with a match and use it to light the other candle.
- Each subsequent night, add one candle to the left of the original candle and light each of these candles using the shamash candle. Although the candles are placed on the menorah from right to left, they are lit from left to right. In other words, the new candle is always lit first.
- The menorah is traditionally lit at nightfall, but it can be lit later in the evening. It must, however, remain lit for at least 30 minutes after it gets dark. It is forbidden to blow out the candles on your menorah. Instead, let the candles burn down completely and add fresh candles each night.
- A final reminder if you're buying a new menorah: Menorahs come in many different styles and sizes, but tradition dictates that eight of the branches should be the same height, with one candle at a different height to hold the shamash candle.
Make Your Own Beeswax Candles
Mind your own beeswax this Hanukkah by making your own candles for the menorah. If this brings back memories of dipping wicks into coffee cans filled with melted crayons, think again.
Craft stores and online retailers sell candle kits as well as primed wicks and sheets of beeswax you can roll into beeswax candles. The sheets come in a natural soft yellow and a variety of other colors.
Just roll the beeswax around the wick to the desired thickness; thickness depends on the size of the candle holders in your menorah. Cut off the wick below your candle and trim the wick above the candle to about a half inch. If your beeswax is too stiff to roll easily, warm it either with your fingers or a hair dryer.
Play the Dreidel Game
You know the song; now dreidel you shall play. Think dreidel is just for kids? Play for cash instead of gelt for added grown-up appeal and then spin it right round, baby, right round.
How to play: Before each spin, each player puts a coin into the pot. The symbol that lands face up determines the number of coins that player has to put in or take out of the pot. (See the Key to Dreidel Symbols below.)
When a player loses all of their coins, they're out of the game. The game ends when there are no more coins in the pot. The player with the most coins at that point wins.
Key to Dreidel Symbols
- Nun (or nicht): do nothing
- Gimel (or gut): take the entire pot
- Hey (or halb):take half the pot (round up if there is an odd number of coins in the pot)
- Shin (or schlecht): put in what you originally bet
Foods that have been fried or baked in oil are central to the Hanukkah feast, as the oil represents the oil found in the Temple of Jerusalem.
That means delicious, decadent treats like latkes and doughnuts, as well as hearty chicken dishes, braised lamb and brisket.
Kosher wine has come a long way from sweet, grape-juice-like wines made from Concord grapes. Today's kosher wines embody a whole range of flavors and are made from a variety of grapes, both red and white.
Be sure to check the label to find out if a wine is kosher; it should be clearly marked. Also, don't assume that a wine is kosher just because it comes from Israel. Israeli vineyards are increasingly producing non-kosher wines.