This year, every birthday, graduation, holiday or other milestone has required you to get creative in your celebrations. Since traditional gatherings have been put on hold in many places, you may be looking for new ideas on how to make this Hanukkah special. In spirit of the holiday, as well as the ongoing need to keep family members engaged and entertained as we stay home, give these fun ideas a try.
Rise to the occasion: make bread!
Many of us have taken up bread making during the pandemic. It’s a process, it takes some practice but the results make the effort worthwhile. For Hanukkah, make baking bread a family affair as you create delectable babka and/or challah. Let everyone take turns measuring, mixing and kneading. Together, watch the dough rise, enjoy the irresistible fragrance as the bread bakes and revel in your finished product.
- Babka: This classic sweet yeast bread originated in Eastern Europe. The dough is split open and spread with a traditionally cinnamon or chocolate filling. 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 is surprisingly easy, making it a wonderful treat for Hanukkah (or just about any day!). Use your family recipe, if you have one, or search online for a new favorite.
- Challah: A loaf or two of challah grace 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 look for instructions on how to shape your dough into a menorah or 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.
Fun and games
These lighthearted games will light up the room with smiles. In addition to the traditional dreidel, here are a few more games to try with the family:
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 time 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 the other hand, each player 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/funniest!
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 further away.
Festival of Lights tin-can luminaries
This is a great craft for the whole family. Start saving your tin cans now!
- Wash tin cans thoroughly, being careful around any sharp edges. If necessary, smooth out 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.
- You can place them on a mantel, table-setting, use them to line a walkway or light up a front stoop.
No matter what your celebration looks like this year, you can safely enjoy eight nights of Hanukkah warmth, wonder and light!