Hosting a Hanukkah party is a wonderful way to bring people together for the holidays and share traditions. From crafting fun decorations with the kids to keeping the fried food at its freshest, the ultimate Hanukkah party is just steps away.
One of the most recognizable elements of Hanukkah is the menorah (actually called a hanukiya), a candelabrum with room for nine candles. It represents the miracle that during the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, although they had only enough oil for one night, the menorah stayed lit for eight. Hence, for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah you light an additional candle. Either have the menorah lit before guests arrive, or, if they are there during sundown, call up different guests to help light the candles.
Although decorations aren't strictly necessary, they're festive. Get store bought ones, or, even better, have a fun crafting session with the kids and make your own. Dreidels, menorahs, Hanukkah gelt (gold coins) and Jewish stars are the most common motifs, and blue and white typically dominates. You can make or buy a “Happy Hanukkah” banner, as well as Hanukkah-themed paper plates and napkins, to cut down on cleanup.
One of the most important parts of Hanukkah, and the key to a good Hanukkah party, is the food. The holiday is all about fried food (with latkes being the most famous), but this can be tricky, since it can't be made in advance (fried food gets soggy if it sits out). Be sure to prepare everything else for the party ahead of time. Also, put out some lighter food, light crudités and fruit salad, to complement the fried food. Just before guests are due to arrive, start frying. Make sure your oil is suitably hot so the food gets crispy but doesn't absorb the grease. Blot them on paper towels, and keep the food warm in a 200 degree F oven.
To keep the kids at the party entertained, set up a kids' corner with a coloring and craft station and games. Recruit a teenager to watch over the children. Print out Hanukkah themed coloring sheets, and put out crayons and markers. If you're not afraid of a little mess, you can get even craftier with popsicle sticks, glue and glitter, so kids can construct their own Jewish stars, menorahs, or whatever their imaginations come up with. Put out a few dreidels as well, and teach an older kid the rules (get the rules and more about Hanukkah here).
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