Hanukkah traditions for the whole family

Dec 4, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

As you celebrate the Festival of Lights, find ways to involve the whole family, young and old. From crafts for kids to traditional recipe sharing, make this a Hanukkah to remember.

Hanukkah is a time to celebrate tradition and triumph. This year, gather your entire family together and help young children participate in the traditions of the Festival of Lights.

Make crafts with your children

Crafts are a great way to help kids learn by doing. When kids are still young enough to enjoy the magic of finger paint and popsicle sticks, help them create art to decorate your home for Hanukkah. Make homemade holiday cards to send to your friends and family. Use magazines and paper to make collages that represent your family. If your children are too young for a real menorah, create one using craft materials such as wrapping toilet paper rolls with colored tissue paper to create candles.

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Encourage kids to light a children’s menorah

Don’t worry if you’re not very crafty. There are hundreds of children’s menorahs available in stores and online. Help your child choose a children’s menorah that speaks to her personality. Some are battery operated while others hold traditional candles. If your child is older and will be helping the family light the main menorah, carefully guide her through the blessings and candle lighting. If you use a special candle holder between holidays, let your children retrieve the unlit candles when it’s time to set up the menorah. If you have older kids who are getting ready to leave for school or move out, give them their own menorah to begin their new traditions.

Ask grandparents to share stories

Involve grandparents and senior relatives in your Hanukkah celebrations. As you share quiet time and blessings together, ask grandparents to tell stories of former Hanukkah holidays. Prepare children ahead of time by asking them to have a handful of questions ready. The holidays bring about feelings of nostalgia and fond memories, making it the perfect time to encourage older loved ones to share stories of the past. To involve your kids, ask them to write down some of the stories and facts they learned from grandparents and aunts and uncles.

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Cook traditional Hanukkah food as a family

Do you or your parents have family recipes? Now is the time to share them with your children. Use cooking as a chance to share and talk about tradition. As you cook traditional foods like latke this Hanukkah, talk about the miracle of the oil in the temple that burned for eight nights. Discuss your faith as you cook, leading the conversation with questions about what Hanukkah means to each family member. Get everyone involved, from setting the table to cooking to cleaning up afterwards. Make meal preparation a true team effort.

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