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Hosting a Hanukkah Party

Hanukkah is probably the most festive of all Jewish holidays. It’s a time when families gather for fun and food, to light candles and give presents, and to remember the miracle of the Macabees. For kids and adults alike, it’s a magical holiday and is best spent with those you love.

If you enjoy throwing parties, Hanukkah is probably your favorite Jewish holiday because it provides prime opportunity to invite friends and family to celebrate with you, including both Jews and non-Jews. Though some of your neighbors or acquaintances may not have the same religious beliefs as you, they can still enjoy the traditions of this holiday, which generally takes place in December (sometimes late November).

Hanukkah Decorations

Decorating for a Hanukkah party is something the whole family can do together. There are several items that are a must but – otherwise – you can use your imagination when it comes to decorating.

The menorah, of course, will be the centerpiece of the party. This is usually placed on its own table. Many people, however, collect menorahs and put out more than one, especially those that are unusual or are family heirlooms. These can all go on the same table or can be used as decorations throughout the house. They’re usually great conversation pieces and also represent the essence of the holiday.

The colors that most often represent Hanukkah are blue, white, and silver. Most party supply stores sell pre-made Hanukkah decorations or you can make your own with construction paper or other similar supplies. Let your children make paper dreidels or other symbols of the holiday and hang them from the ceiling. Or for a more formal look, purchase a few bouquets or white flowers and place them in silver or blue vases. Also, you can bring the outside in by gathering branches and spray painting them silver and combining them with the flower arrangements.

Another must for Hanukkah is chocolate gelt. These are coins made of chocolate that are generally wrapped in gold or silver. Scattered on the tables, they make great sparkly decorations. And don’t forget to give each child a few before they go home.


One food is a standard Hanukkah staple that can’t be missed. Latkes – potato pancakes – are the centerpiece of any holiday party so be sure to have enough on hand to feed your guests. You can keep them warm on a hot plate but be sure to keep replenishing the supply because they’ll no doubt disappear quickly. Serve them with the standard sour cream and applesauce.

Many Jewish families also make ornate cookies for their Hanukkah holiday celebrations. These can be quite elaborate. Made in shapes pertinent to the holiday and the Jewish faith, they can be painted by mixing egg white and food coloring to make edible paint.
If you’re having a buffet-style party, which allows guests to drop in and out as they please, it’s best to include finger foods like cheese and crackers, vegetables and dip, small meatballs, or others things that don’t demand a fork and knife. A sizeable sweets table is also desirable and can include not only your cookie creations but also Jewish apple cake, brownies, candy, and other favorites.

For the Kids

The children in most families love the traditions associated with holidays, including Hanukkah. So, be sure to light the candles when the kids are present – including non-Jewish children – and take some time to explain the story of the miracle of Hanukkah. If you have a simple picture book about the holiday, gather the children around and read it to them. Also teach them to play the dreidel game and talk about other traditions you and your family have shared during Hanukkahs past and present.