How to choose the perfect menorah

Dec 7, 2012 at 4:46 p.m. ET

The celebration of Hanukkah with your family is steeped in tradition, and taking center stage is the menorah. Choosing a menorah is a fun way to carry forward this annual tradition, but how do you find the menorah that is best for your family? With everything available from creative to elegant, there is a menorah that’s just right for you.

Family celebrating Hannukah with menorah

Step 1: How will you be using your menorah?

One of the most important things to consider in choosing your menorah is where and how it will be used. Some families have a collection of menorahs that they bring out each year, while others prefer to have one traditional menorah that they light as a family. If you have more than one menorah in your home, you can use several different kinds as holiday decor and have one traditional menorah that your family lights together each night.

Step 2: Traditional, modern or whimsical?

What is the mood you want to set for the celebration of Hanukkah in your home? The only limit to the design of your menorah is your imagination. While many families have a menorah that has been handed down as a family heirloom, they also have others displayed throughout their home. Traditionally models are usually made of metal, be it polished and shiny or a matte finish. Bronze, brass, silver plate and aluminum are common materials used to make a traditional menorah.

Many modern versions have appeared in recent years, however, with some big-name designers getting in on the act. Even the most modern of home decor can be enhanced with the curves and lines of a modern menorah.

Children might enjoy a menorah of their own that celebrates a favorite activity of theirs—soccer, ballet or karate, for example. More whimsical varieties may include dolls, bears, cartoon characters or anything else you can imagine. Including some whimsical menorahs in your family’s traditions helps the children really get into the season with you.

Step 3: Oil, candles or electricity?

Traditionally, menorahs have used oil or candles. Oil-based models are often preferred by Orthodox Jewish families and have a more direct connection to the story of Hanukkah. Depending on where you plan to use your menorah, be aware that oil sometimes leaks or spills. You may want to include a tray underneath to catch any drips.

Most people choose dripless candles for their menorahs, making it easier to keep the menorah clean. These candles burn the same as regular candles, but without wax that drips everywhere. Depending on the type of menorah you choose, you can buy candles of varying widths, lengths and colors.

If you would like to display a menorah on a windowsill or on a mantel, consider an electric model so you don’t need to worry about open flames. Many families enjoy using electric versions to light their windows and make everything feel festive, while keeping the traditional oil or candle version for the nightly ritual.

Step 4: Just have fun with it

Involving your family in traditions of your faith and celebrating together is what Hanukkah is all about. Menorahs are symbols of the season, but they don’t have to be traditional to become favorite family heirlooms.

More on Hanukkah celebrations

How to host the ultimate Hanukkah party
Delicious Hanukkah recipes
Share the spirit of Hanukkah