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Organizing a Hanukkah Party for Kids

Hanukkah is a joyous holiday. It’s a time to mark miracles and to spend time with family and friends celebrating the joys of the season. And it’s a great holiday for kids. They love the mystique of lighting the menorah and the fun of spinning the dreidel, and they enjoy eating the foods of the holiday, especially that which they only get once a year.
While most kids love all the family celebrations, sometimes it’s fun to give them their own party – one where they can invite all their friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish. It gives them a chance to celebrate their faith and let others know about their beliefs. And it can be just as fun as a birthday party…maybe more!

Invitations

Sit down with your child to make an invitation list. Chances are they’ve already thought about who they’d like to invite. However, depending on the size of your home or the party venue, you may need to do some trimming. It’s a nice idea to include non-Jewish friends as it gives them an opportunity to learn about your child’s beliefs and about the traditions that go along with the holiday.
Also think about your planned activities and advise the children to dress accordingly. If you’re going to be baking Hanukkah cookies or doing some other sort of cooking activity, you don’t want them to dress up in their party finest.

Decorations

Blue and white are the traditional colors of Hanukkah and there are usually plenty of Hanukkah decorations available at your local party store. Or you can have your own kids craft a few decorations of their own or you can plan a decoration-making activity that includes your guests. For example, they can make construction paper dreidels and decorate them with the symbols for Nun, Gimel, Hei, and Shin. While you’re at it, talk to the children about the significance of the dreidel or teach them a dreidel song.
Of course, you’ll want to have at least one menorah for the children to light but you can put out many if you have a collection. Be careful with any candles, however, when there are kids present.

Activities

The activities you include at a Hanukkah party will depend largely on the age of the children you’ve invited. Spinning the dreidel is a must, of course, and you’ll want to have lots of chocolate gelt on hand for the game. Kids will love the friendly competition and, at the end, they get to take what they won with them. Of course, you can have some additional gelt on hand just in case someone winds up with nothing.

If you and your family make Hanukkah cookies, you can have the kids at your party paint them with edible paint. Choose traditional shapes like menorahs and dreidels. Mix up several colors of the paint (egg yolk, water, and food coloring), provide plenty of brushes, and be sure to have some aprons available.

Older kids can try their hand at making latkes. Show them how to grate the potatoes and onions, crack the eggs, and do all the non-cooking tasks. (Choose a simple recipe.) And the best part of this activity is eating them afterward!

When it’s time for something a little quieter and less messy, have the children sit in a circle and tell them the story of Hanukkah, either in your own words or using a story book. Books about Hanukkah are available in a variety of levels so you’re sure to be able to find one that suits the age group you are entertaining.

While you’re telling the story, you can incorporate the lighting of the Menorah. Some of the children present may already know the prayers and songs associated with the lighting, but if there are non-Jewish children at the party, teach them parts of the songs and/or provide them with translation of the prayers so they feel a part of the ceremony


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