With Hanukkah right around the corner, it’s hard not to feel a little bummed about yet another holiday that will be altered by the pandemic. While we will certainly miss having large holiday parties with those outside our pod, we can take comfort in knowing that Hanukkah pairs well with smaller-scale festivities, like baking, decorating, and getting cozy at home with your family.
From dancing around the kitchen to watching Hanukkah-themed TV shows, there are so many ways to have an especially fun (and safe!) Hanukkah this season. And after such a challenging year, we could all use a little light — check out our 13 best recommendations for safely enjoying Hanukkah at home.
1. Light the menorah as a family every night. Lighting the candles and saying the blessings is the quintessential Hanukkah tradition that will not be lost this year. Remembering the strength of the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil reminds us that we can and will persevere — even though the hardest of times. (If you’re still looking for a menorah, check out this outstanding list from our partner site, Alma).
2. Rock out to these Hanukkah bops. From Adam Sandler’s iconic “The Hanukkah Song” to the yearly a cappella tribute by the Maccabeats, there are so many tunes for you and your kids to enjoy. Have a Hanukkah dance party, or listen to some of our smoother favorites like Leslie Odom Jr.’s rendition of “Maoz Tzur,” or Idina Menzel’s version of the Ladino Hanukkah song, “Ocho Kandelikas.” Some other Hanukkah highlights through the years include a Star Wars parody, the classic “Oh Hanukkah,” as well as this all-encompassing Hanukkah playlist.
3. Watch Hanukkah episodes of kids TV. Curl up on the couch and watch amazing episodes of diverse Jewish shows like Elena of Avalor, Phineas & Ferb, and even the new Netflix teen hit Dash & Lily.
4. Focus on giving. If you want to celebrate Hanukkah in a way that’s not centered on presents, a good tip to to focus on helping others — especially at a time when so many are in need. Your kids can gather old toys to donate, “adopt” an animal via the World Wildlife Federation, or choose another charity to donate to as a family.
5. Read Hanukkah books together. There countless Hanukkah books for kids of all ages. From Elmo’s Little Dreidel to Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas, there are so many educational and festive books for you to read with your kids. Plus, if you’re looking for suggestions for an older age group, we have those, too.
6. Make a craft together. There are SO many Hanukkah-themed crafts out there — from making your own funky menorah out of swim noodles or citrus fruits, to making a Hanukkah sun catcher or Lego dreidel. One of my favorite new ideas is making homemade candles out of paper and adding tea lights for a DIY menorah. See more of our creative ideas here.
7. Decorate your home. With all of us spending more time in our homes this winter, this is THE year to make home a festive space to welcome Hanukkah! Check out all of our ideas for indoor and outdoor decorations, from mini-menorah string lights to a Hanukkah sign.
8. Have a photoshoot in your Hanukkah outfits. Holiday photos are always a great way to commemorate the sweet times, and what better fun indoor activity than to have a photoshoot in your Hanukkah best? If you’re looking for comfy and festive attire recommendations, we have found the best Hanukkah pajamas and Hanukkah sweaters for your entire family.
9. Make latkes. Latkes are the tried-and-true Hanukkah treat, and making them together is a great way to teach your kids a classic Ashkenazi recipe. (It’s also the perfect way to teach your littles some kitchen safety tips, as frying latkes can be tricky business!) Here are some of our favorite latke recipes.
10. Bake Hanukkah cookies. Cookies are not only for Christmas! You can create Hanukkah themed sugar cookies with these fun cookie cutters, and ice your cookies with these expert steps courtesy of our pals at The Nosher. If you’re looking for a more decadent cookie, check out this delicious recipe for peanut butter kiss cookies.
11. Learn how to make sufganiyot. Many American Jews have little experience making sufganiyot, or Hanukkah donuts, from scratch. This recipe from The Nosher will teach you how to fry, fill, and bake the best sufganiyot around.
12. Cozy up with gelt hot chocolate bombs. This Instagram reel by Rebecca Lowin shows an incredible recipe for a delectable hot chocolate recipe made from Hanukkah gelt! This is perfect for those cold December nights to come.
13. Design an aesthetic Hanukkah candy plate. Also by Rebecca Lowin, this mesmerizing video shows a bright blue and white candy-filled plate. Candy reels like these on Instagram provide the best inspo for a beautiful and festive treat.
14. Make homemade gifts for your loved ones. DIY presents are heartfelt and inexpensive ways to show your loved ones you are thinking of them. You can cut paper snowflakes as wintry room decorations, make string bracelets, or draw and paint homemade cards to send to your family and friends. Check out these beautiful stained glass window art kits for an extra special activity.
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