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Hanukkah Party Ideas

Family Holiday Ideas For Hanukkah

The celebration of Hanukkah is a time Jewish families look forward to all year. Penny Warner, author of The Best Party Book: 1001 Creative Ideas for Fun Parties (Meadowbrook Press, 1992), has some great suggestions for celebrating the eight-day Festival of Lights.

  • Your invitations should bring out the holiday spirit. Cut out a menorah from yellow paper and write party details on the back of it. You can also make Star of David invitations with blue and white construction paper. Simply cut out one white triangle and one blue triangle, weave the triangles into an authentic star shape, glue them together and write your party details on the edges.
  • Party decorations can be a lot of work, but Warner recommends keeping them simple and traditional. Decorate your home or party room with blue and white, the traditional Jewish colors. You can find blue and white crepe paper, cups, plates and other decorations at a party supply store or a store that sells Jewish merchandise. Write Hebrew phrases, such as "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham," which means "A great miracle happened there," or "Shalom," which means "peace," on streamers and hang them from the ceiling and walls. Light a menorah and place it in a front window to greet your guests. Play traditional Hebrew music, like "Ma'oz Tzur."
  • When the guests arrive, keep them busy with popular Hanukkah activities, such as spinning the dreidel. This game of chance can be played with the whole family, but children especially enjoy it. It's easy to make a four-sided dreidel with clay, or you can purchase one at a toy store. Each side of the dreidel has a letter on it that tells you what to do. If you spin the dreidel and land on "N" you get nothing from the kitty, "G" you get everything, "H" you get half, "S" you put half of your money in the kitty. The kitty is the pot or center, which is filled with pennies or candies.
  • During all the fun, serve traditional foods, such as potato latkes or blintzes. Have guests bring a favorite recipe from a Jewish cookbook and do a recipe exchange.
  • Easy party favors include dreidels, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, candles or menorahs, blue and white items such as stationery or dishware.

How to Make a Menorah Candle Necklace

During Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, a candle is lit each night for eight days. This commemorates a night long ago when the Maccabees had enough oil for one night that miraculously lasted for eight days. The Menorah is the centerpiece of the celebration when friends and families gather for this winter holiday.

Penny Warner suggests a new way to enjoy the timeless tradition of the Menorah. "You will love wearing this Menorah candle necklace during Hanukkah," she says. "Add one charm each day, just as you light a candle each night."

A Menorah candle necklace is simple to make and requires minimal adult supervision. The materials required are already in the kitchen and kids will love the excitement this simple, affordable idea will bring to the celebration.

You'll need:

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 3/4 cups water
Ribbon or chain
Paper clips
Tin foil
Cookie sheet
Oven, preheated at 250 degrees F
Acrylic paints and paintbrushes or permanent markers

Here's what to do:

1. Make baker's clay by combining the flour, salt and water and kneading it until well mixed.

2. Make eight candle charms with the baker's clay. Stick a paper clip into the top of each charm so it can later be attached to the necklace.

3. Place the baker's clay charms onto a tin-foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for one to two hours (until firm). Allow to cool.

4. Paint or color the charms.

5. Slip one charm onto the ribbon or chain necklace each day of the holiday until you have all eight charms on at the last day.

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