What special activities do you do at your Chanukah party?
Donut decorating. This is such a fun family activity! We set up a whole station with any topping you can think of from nuts, to sprinkles, to a wide variety of glazes and everyone decorates their own donut to the best of their ability. Of course, the kids end up decorating their clothes, faces, and my walls more than the pastries, but it’s still fun. Some years, we have had some really creative outcomes like a Trump donut topped with a lot of orange icing. If you’re interested in doing this, here are two tips: Use mini donuts to curb the sugar intake and line the station table with parchment paper to minimize the mess.
We have a build your own candy menorah contest. All the guests are given an opportunity to make their own menorah out of food. Some years, the winner was a celery menorah, while other years it was a tangy taffy menorah and spaghetti and meatball menorah.
After we are done with the meal, we design family t-shirts. Relatives use markers, paint, glitter, or even spray paint to create their own Chanukah party keepsake. Sometimes some of the guests even show up with last year’s creation, and that always gets a good laugh.
We like to sit and rewatch old family videos. It’s always funny to see how people looked and sounded back in the 80s and 90s. We also look at family photo albums, or these days it’s more digital photos taken from people’s phones.
Walk around the neighborhood and look at people’s menorahs. You have to understand, we grew up in a more traditional home in Syracuse where it was common to walk around and look at people’s X-mas decorations. Of course, I would never do that today, so I replaced the practice with looking at people’s menorahs. Some people have very interesting or fancy ones and some people even decorate their exteriors with Chanukah related paraphernalia. Last year, a family in Marine Park had a giant inflatable white bear on their front lawn. He was wearing a blue yarmulke and spinning a dreidel. My kids loved that!
We play Jewish poker using the golden gelt coins. We used to play with money, but the wives complained, so now we use candy and only the dentist complains.
We blast some Chanukah music and sing and dance together. We also do Chanukah karaoke.
We play Chanukah Jeopardy. I’m usually in charge of researching the Chanukah related trivia questions, and then I assign them dollar points. It was easier when all my guests were young because a typical question would be something like: “Modin: What is the name of the city in which the revolt took place?” or “Shamash”: “What do you call the candle that lights all other candles?” But now that we have yeshivah bachurs in attendance, I need to come up with tricker questions like: “Talmud in tractate Shabbos (21b) ” for “Where is Chanukah mentioned in the Torah?”