November 27, 2013

Hanukkah Fun Roundup

Growing up, I didn't get to celebrate Christmas.  Both of my parents are Jewish, so obviously we were raised Jewish...a fact that I never minded and actually enjoyed...except for one day a year.  Christmas was always such a depressing day for me as I sat around the house bored to death because nothing was open and all my friends were busy, all the while envisioning everyone else having the most amazing day of the entire year as they were spoiled with gifts, fun, and festivities.
So when Josh and I got married and I was officially supposed to celebrate Christmas, I was elated!  Truth be told, I'm still elated.  I love Christmas...and all things Christmas...probably as much, if not more than, all those folks that grew up celebrating!  Some may even say I go overboard with all the Christmas stuff.
But, of course, we still play homage to my Jewish roots.  As much as I love Christmas, it is still important to me that the boys grow up with Jewish traditions as well.  We do all of the Jewish holidays throughout the year, and obviously do Hanukkah when it rolls around.  The problem, though, is that I find Christmas getting the more glamorous treatment while Hanukkah just fades into blah-dom.  Sure, the boys love getting their eight days of presents, but for the most part, that's the extent of the Hanukkah fun.
Well, with Hanukkah kicking off tonight, I am determined to change that this year.  I have scoured the web and my own brain and come up with some ideas to make Hanukkah just as fun and exciting as the other December holiday!
1.  Make a fun menorrah, like this one:
                       Aunt Peaches: Rhinestone Rhinoceros Menorah
Or when in doubt, I always find that food makes things more fun, so how about a cupcake version?  Or marshmallow version?
Cupcake Menorah Marshmellow Menorah. Use frosting (glue), graham crackers (base), and candy corn (candles).

2.  Play dreidel.  Duh, an obvious winner, right?!?

3.  And again proving that food always makes things more fun, how about making some marshmallow/hershey kiss dreidels to go along with it!
                                                cute Hannukah playdate/party ideas - mashmallow dreidels, individual applesauces, menorah cupcakes w/ twix candles, paper decorations
4.  Host a latke-palooza or vodka and latkes party.  We did the latter a few years ago, and it was a blast.  Offer up several kinds of latkes and various toppings for a fun latke bar!  We did ours with a blind gift exchange so everyone left with something.
                                              Celebrating with a Latke Buffet Bar.  Love this idea for a Hanukkah party - Different kinds of latkes and different toppings.  We love potato latkes with smoked salmon & sour cream and Apple latkes with cinnamon sour cream!
5.  Don't want to host a party?  Fair enough, but at least let the kiddos help you make basic, traditional latkes.  You can even cheat a bit and use frozen shredded hash browns and then they're actually really easy to make.  Serve with applesauce (add to the fun by making your own!) and sour cream, and call it a snack!
6.  Build your own donuts.  Hanukkah is the celebration of oil, and therefore, traditional foods include anything fried.  Donuts, then, often take center stage.  But why not take it up a notch and let the kiddos create their own donut creations (again are we sensing the theme that food makes everything more fun!?!).  Or better yet, why not take a field trip?  At least locally, donut shops have become very trendy with many of the non-chain ones offering the customer the opportunity to "create your own" by selecting your type of donut and it's toppings (ie: O's Donuts in Norfolk).
Of course, there are several other Star of David and menorrah crafts out there...many involving popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, or handprints.  I'm sure they would be fun too, but the above ideas just seemed a bit jazzier to me (probably because they involve food....).  Anyone else have any fun Hanukkah-celebrating ideas?

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