Hanukkah is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to plan another celebration for beloved family and friends. From delicious recipes to family-friendly Hanukkah crafts, we’ve got plenty of ideas to help you create a memorable and special holiday for all ages.
Rise to the Occasion by Making Bread
Bread-making can seem intimidating, but with a little bit of practice, it can be a fun and rewarding activity to do at home. Plus, the delicious results will make your efforts worthwhile! For Hanukkah, you can get the whole family involved in baking delectable babka or challah that will make the holiday extra-special. Let everyone take turns measuring, mixing and kneading, then watch the dough rise, take in the irresistible fragrance as the bread bakes, and enjoy your finished product together.
- Babka: This classic sweet yeast bread originated in Eastern Europe. The dough is split open and spread with a filling, traditionally cinnamon or chocolate. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might make your babka with other fillings such as cream cheese, hazelnut spread, nuts, apricots or pumpkin spice. Babka looks impressive, yet it’s surprisingly easy to make, so it’s a wonderful treat for Hanukkah (or just about any day!). If you need a recipe, check out this decadent Chocolate Babka to get started.
- Challah: A loaf of challah graces the table on most Jewish holidays or the Sabbath meal. This light, egg-rich bread is typically baked in a braided loaf shape, but for Hanukkah you might try our recipe for menorah-shaped challah, or shape your dough into a Star of David for added holiday cheer. Challah bread can be topped with sesame or poppy seeds, stuffed with savory fillings (like pesto or spinach), or studded with olives or garlic. Sweet fillings are fun and delicious too, such as chocolate chips, apples or cinnamon sugar. Challah is delicious as is, but it also makes amazing French toast, bread pudding, sandwiches and croutons. For help getting started, check out our step-by-step guide, How to Make Challah, which details exactly how to make a delicious apple-honey challah.
Fun and Games
These lighthearted games will light up the room with smiles. In addition to the traditional dreidel, try these ideas with the family:
- Dreidel Scattergories: You’ll need a dreidel, a timer, and paper and pencils for each player. Spin the dreidel. Players have two minutes to jot down words that begin with the letter the dreidel lands on (N, G, H or S). Let each player choose a category, such as animals, famous people, etc.; the player with the longest list when the timer goes off is the winner.
- Paper Plate Hat Art: In this Pin the Tail on the Donkey-inspired game, the worse the outcome, the more fun! Have each player hold a paper plate on their head with one hand. With their other hand, everyone must reach up and draw a picture of a dreidel, Star of David, menorah or the words “Happy Hanukkah.” Enjoy giggling at the hilarious results. You can award a prize for the most accurate, or the worst or funniest artwork!
- Latke Flip: You’ll need a cork beverage coaster as your “latke.” Place an empty, clean frying pan on a table (or other surface that’s at an appropriate height for kids). Each player takes turns trying to flip the “latke” from a spatula into the frying pan...blindfolded! For each round, you can make it harder by moving the frying pan farther away.
Festival of Lights Tin-can Luminaries: This is a great craft for the whole family. It can be made with recycled cans you may already have at home.
- First, wash your tin cans thoroughly, being careful around any sharp edges. If necessary, smooth out the edges with heavy-duty steel wool or sandpaper.
- Using blue and white, or any other colors you desire, paint the outsides of the cans. Let dry completely.
- On a sheet of paper, draw outlines of Hanukkah symbols such as the Star of David, a dreidel, or one of the four Hebrew letters found on the sides of dreidels (nun, gimel, hei, shin). Mark out evenly spaced dots along the outline. Tape your pattern onto a can.
- Using a very small, sharp bit, have an adult drill holes through the dots. If you want to add handles, drill two extra holes just beneath the can’s opening.
- Place votive candles or tea lights (real or battery-powered) inside each can to see your drilled pattern beautifully illuminated.
- Place the finished luminaries in a window, on a mantel or table setting, or use them to line a walkway or light a front stoop.
Upcycled Hanukkah Menorah: This DIY menorah is made with recycled jars, blue glass beads or stones, and a few pieces of wood. It can be customized to suit your tastes and makes a fantastic centerpiece for a table or mantel. Plus, it’s simple enough for kids of all ages to enjoy! To learn how, check out this video or read our step-by-step article for more details.
Need more more ideas for how to celebrate Hanukkah? Check out our Hanukkah page to see more recipe and décor inspiration, Hanukkah traditions, and to shop everything you need for your celebration. Chag urim sameach!