Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, is one of the most important holidays for people of Jewish faith. From lighting the menorah for eight nights to stuffing our faces with latkes and kugel, it is definitely one of the best times of the year. If you’re hosting a Hanukkah party this year—we’re here to help.
Once you have decided on a guest list, date, time, and a way to spell Hanukkah (it can be tricky!) you have the basics to plan the perfect Hanukkah party. Don’t know where to start? Look no further than these Hanukkah party ideas.
Here are some Hanukkah party ideas for hosting this year.
Step 1: Food
Can we all agree that one of the most important parts for any type of party is the food?! When you’re hosting a Hanukkah party, the star of the show is definitely latkes, or potato pancakes. When preparing the potato latkes, make sure to keep an eye on the pan since you’ll be frying them in a lot of oil.
Latkes are best served hot, so you’ll probably want to heat them up while guests arrive. You won’t want to leave an open flame plus hot, splattering oil unattended, so instead of cooking alone, bring the party to the kitchen.
Rather than serving a large sit-down meal, prepare a buffet table ahead of time and plan to refill the Hanukkah food stations once you’ve finished cooking each round. Set up a display of toppings at the buffet table so everyone can customize their own dish. You can serve traditional toppings like sour cream and applesauce, or you can also experiment with jams, chutney and even caviar.
If you’re watching your carb intake this year, try some healthier alternatives like sweet potato or carrot latkes. Another option is to serve the latkes with a salad or side of fresh vegetables to soak up some of the grease. Rather than frying the latkes, you can make them slightly healthier by baking them as a low-fat alternative. Baking the latkes will also free up your time, so you can pop the pan in the oven and spend the evening chatting with guests.
The traditional dessert for Hanukkah is sufganiyot, or jelly donuts. Big surprise: they’re also fried in oil. Hanukkah is a holiday that is centered around oil afterall! You can pair this tasty treat with sugar cookies in Hanukkah shapes like stars and dreidels.
Step 2: Hanukkah Music
Turn on some holiday music like Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song and "I Had a Little Dreidel." If you would rather have live music for the evening, consider booking a string quartet, klezmer band, violinist, or accordion player to put you in the Old World mood. Live music will be a unique Hanukkah party idea your guests will love.
Pro Tip: For more Hanukkah song inspiration to play during your celebration, check out this playlist.
Step 3: Décor
The traditional colors for the holiday are blue, white, and silver, so try to incorporate these shades into your Hanukkah decorations. What’s great about these colors is that they are also perfect for a beautiful winter theme, so you can keep most of these decorations up all winter long.
Consider getting some colorful dreidels, funny sweaters, and of course, you can’t forget a beautiful menorah. To save time after the party, look into getting Hanukkah themed disposable plates, cups, and utensils. Not only are they fun and festive, but it saves you the stress of post-party cleanup.
Step 4: Games
No Hanukkah party is complete without a round or two of the dreidel game. You can find instructions on how to play here. Any number of people can play at once, but you may want to divide the crowd into two or three different groups so everyone has a better chance to win. You’ll also want to have pennies or a sweet treat like M&Ms on hand as a prize for the winners.
Step 5: Gifts
Hanukkah is a gift-giving occasion, but buying presents for each person can be difficult if you’re celebrating with a large group. Opt for a small goodie bag with a dreidel and chocolate gelt for everyone to bring home. You can also have guests bring a gift for more of a traditional ‘grab bag’ style gift swap.
Step 6: Lighting the Menorah
If your party falls during one of the eight nights of Hanukkah, set a timer for sundown and light the candle with all of your guests. Hanukkah candles should be lit from right to left, each one being lit by the shamash. Traditionally, a blessing is said during the lighting of each night. The menorah symbolizes the one-day supply of oil that miraculously lasted for eight days and nights, so this step is the most important, and what the entire holiday is centered around.
Now you’re ready to host and have a Happy Hanukkah with your friends and family. If you’re celebrating virtually, download a Hanukkah Zoom background from one of these holiday Zoom backgrounds.
Find more Hanukkah party ideas and inspiration from The Bash.