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How to host the ultimate Hanukkah party

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

A festive fried fete

This Hanukkah, gather your friends and family for an unforgettable party. Celebrate the holiday of lights in style!
Donuts for Hanukkah

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.

Menorah

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.

Read about some unique Hanukkah family traditions >>

Decorations

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.

Get inspiration for fun, homemade Hanukkah decorations >>

Food

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.

Get a head start on menu planning with these Hanukkah recipes >>

dreidKids corner

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).

Print Hanukkah-themed coloring sheets >>

More on Hanukkah

Hanukkah table decorating
Delicious Hanukkah recipes
Hanukkah activities for kids

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