Dec 12 2012
My favorite holiday memories revolve around my mother’s Hanukkah parties.
Three generations of Americans, Israelis, and Russians gathered in our small home by moonlight, their stories and voices and accents braiding together.
Old Hanukkah tapes would play, the almost-twangy music filling the spaces between food and loud and food and talk and food and fun.
Latkes were eaten, sufganiyot were devoured, and more than a few dreidels were spun.
My memories of these parties are golden, and their lesson equally bright: Hanukkah is meant to be a celebration. A fun one.
Today, my husband Jason and I are ready to create our own version of my mother’s parties for our (adult!) friends, with a twist.
Enter: The Vodka Latke Party. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 5 2012
It is almost that time of year… Hanukkah! At my house we are hosting our annual Latke Party. Everyone is required to contribute to the party and we all sit together prepping and mixing the ingredients that make up my delicious latkes. I then spend 90% of the rest of the party acting as fry-master, missing out on a lot of the party itself (but I guess that’s how it goes).
This year, I thought it might be fun to incorporate some different photo options that family and friends might be able to do for themselves to help capture the evening, so that both myself and my daughter can look back in the years to come and remember her first official Latke Party! Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 23 2011
The minute I walked into my son Zack’s school Hanukkah party I began tallying the ways in which it was poorly suited for an autistic kid. My autistic kid, anyway.
Obstacle number one for Benjamin, Zack’s big brother: The table at the entrance, full of shiny made-in-China Hanukkah paraphernalia which Benjamin immediately started groping, much to the dismay of the bubbes from the affiliated synagogue hawking the stuff. Right after that I carefully steered my sugar-obsessed and impulse control-challenged child past the very tempting and very open cups of icing at the cookie decorating station. Then we hit the actual party, which was basically a bunch of tiny maniacs zooming across the athletic field (that’s right, an outdoor party in December—gotta love Florida living), throwing back latkes and diving into the foam pit to the beat of the blaring music.
Great, I thought to myself. A whole hour until my husband Moshe would arrive, which meant a whole hour chasing Benjamin up and down the field, hoping he wouldn’t get lost or freak out when he heard his least favorite noise de jour, i.e., someone speaking into the microphone.
The thing is, as hard as these kinds of events are for Benjamin (and as hard as it is for me to manage him at these events), we have to keep on attending. Not only because it’s unfair to make Zack to miss out, but because exposing Benjamin to new and over stimulating situations is the only way he’s going to get used to them.
For a while that evening I was very conscious of how all of his hard work, practicing at various birthday parties and field trips and big Shabbat meals, has paid off. Yes, I was on edge and resentful of the other parents who didn’t know how lucky they were to be able to casually chat with one another as their regular kids romped around. But Benjamin seemed to be enjoying the playground, not to mention the endless supply of Fruit By The Foot. It could be worse, right? Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 13 2011
Growing up, entertaining was always such a fun part of the winter holidays. My mother invited family and friends over on Christmas Eve to eat shrimp cocktail, lasagna, and cookies while playing board games. (In case you haven’t read my previous posts, I converted to Judaism a while back.) As my brothers and I grew older it was almost more fun than Christmas morning. Being Jewish hasn’t lessened my desire to host friends in our home and having a family of my own has fueled a strong desire to establish new holiday traditions.
But learning about Judaism (and how, what and why we celebrate things) can be a process. For example, I’m four years in and I’d rather pluck out my armpit hair one by one than deal with the stress of hosting my own Passover seder. The High Holidays don’t exactly elicit “let’s get drunk and eat fun-shaped cookies while playing Jenga” kind of feelings. And while a Purim costume party does sound like fun, I think Hanukkah is the easiest time to celebrate with non-Jewish friends and family.
(Disclaimer: I’m assuming since you’re reading this blog that you probably pee when you laugh and have sticky fingerprints on your refrigerator door, so the following advice is aimed at a kid-friendly party. Feel free to jazz it up if you have the luxury of a babysitter and an alcohol tolerance.)
1. What’s blue and white with light all over? Set the mood for a fun night (afternoon) of Hanukkah celebration. Play The Maccabeats “Candlelight” on repeat or check out Kveller’s top 10 list for some inspiration. Find a blue plastic tablecloth (reuse it next year) and some white napkins. Blue cake plates optional (if you’re super fancy you might be able to find Hanukkah plates but really, blue will do.) If your kiddos are old enough to craft you could make these adorable tissue paper lanterns. Lastly, pull out your menorah and a few dreidels. (Note: vacuuming the carpet and wiping the fingerprints off the fridge are optional but you might want to move the clean laundry waiting to be folded from the couch into your bedroom and close the door.) Read the rest of this entry →