When Hanukkah is around the corner, it’s time to stock up on all your favorite foods, gather with family in the evenings, and enjoy the holiday. If you’ve decided to host Hanukkah this year and you’re not quite sure where to begin, we’re here to help. With these fun and unique meals, decorations, and activities, you’ll ensure that your first time hosting this celebration will be a smashing success.
Food that every Hanukkah celebration needs
If your guest list is more than you can accommodate for a sit-down dinner, a Hanukkah buffet is your best option. A buffet allows your guests to enjoy all of your delectable offerings while still letting them mingle. By balancing traditional fare with a few interesting twists on the classics, you can put your personal stamp on this holiday celebration.
These super crispy potato latkes will have your guests fighting for seconds. And the best part? This finger food can be fried early the day of your party and then crisped on a baking sheet right before you’re ready to serve them.
Set up an array of traditional toppings like applesauce and sour cream, and then dress them up with some of these more inventive toppings:
- Pomegranate seeds, honey, fresh rosemary leaves, and flaky sea salt
- Sliced apple dressed with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh chives
- Ricotta, orange marmalade, ground cinnamon, and flaky sea salt
- Melted white cheddar, mango chutney, and fresh lime juice
Traditional foods like latkes and braided challah are terrific, but your Hanukkah celebration shouldn’t begin and end with them. Round things out with a few other dishes that will keep your guests both satiated and hungry for more.
Add a few inventive main courses and side dishes, such as Israeli couscous with feta cheese and cilantro, tender beef brisket, or chicken tagine. And, don’t forget sufganiyot, or jelly donuts, as these fried dough treats are one of the sweetest parts of any Hanukkah celebration. Whip up a batch of homemade sugar cookies in cut-out shapes of stars and dreidels for an extra festive touch.
Let’s get this Hanukkah celebration started
Traditional Hanukkah colors are silver, blue, and white, so make sure to incorporate them into your party decor. These colors also evoke feelings of a winter wonderland, so you can even keep some of your decorations up all winter long.
Toss in a few dreidels for good measure and, of course, the focal point of your Hanukkah celebration: the menorah. Choose a menorah that suits your personality and your decorating style. After all, it’s likely to become a part of your annual tradition for years to come.
You can opt for table linens in shades of blue, white, or silver, or you can reduce your post-party clean-up by picking up some festive disposable plates, cups, napkins, and utensils.
Of course, every Hanukkah celebration always includes a round or two of the dreidel game. One of the best things about the dreidel game is that a large number of people can play at once, so you can get all of your friends and family involved. Pick up a few small gifts to give out to the winners as prizes to add a touch of friendly competition (and, of course, don’t forget the gelt).
To avoid your guests feeling obligated to buy gifts for everyone in attendance, suggest a ‘grab bag’ gift swap. Set a price range, say $20-$25, and instruct each guest to pick up one gift in that price range. You can randomly select gifts from the gift pile or organize a White Elephant Gift Exchange, which turns gift-giving into a fun-filled game.
Lighting the menorah
Setting up the menorah properly is arguably the most important part of a successful Hanukkah celebration. If you’re hosting on one of the actual nights of Hanukkah, you need to carve aside some time for a sundown candle lighting service with all of your guests. Take care to add the candles from right to left (but light them from left to right), with each one being lit by the shamash. While this ceremony often includes a blessing, encourage your family to incorporate their own traditions.
Hosting a Hanukkah celebration with friends and family is one of the highlights of the holiday season. By following our simple guide for the best recipes, decorations, and fun-filled activities, you can host a Hanukkah celebration your friends will always remember. Happy Hanukkah!
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