Preparing for Hanukkiah is almost as exciting as the holiday itself. Serving holiday foods, playing dreidel and retelling the history of Hanukkah lifts spirits in the dark of winter and reminds Jews everywhere of their heritage.
- Add any additional traditions of your own for the holiday, such as the creation of a dreidel pinata.
- Give tzedakah (charity) to the organization of your choice, and encourage your children to pitch in, too.
- Prepare your hanukkiah (the menorah specific to Hanukkah) for the upcoming holiday by cleaning off any residual wax and polishing it. Purchase a hanukkiah from any Jewish gift store or online if you do not have one.
- Encourage your children to make their own hanukkiot (the plural of hanukkiah), to add their light to the family's.
- Purchase special Hanukkah candles for your hanukkiot. If you have an oil-burning one, buy the appropriate oil and wicks.
- Make sure you know the blessings to recite over the hanukkiah, and teach them to your children. Find the blessings by consulting Jewish Web sites, Jewish holiday books or your rabbi.
- Cook Hanukkah favorites such as latkes (potato pancakes) with applesauce and sour cream, and sufganiot (jelly doughnuts).
- Review the story and rituals of Hanukkah, and teach your children about the holiday's history. Stress where the symbols came from (i.e., the candles or oil of the hanukkiah represent the oil that lasted eight days in the temple).
- Encourage your children to decorate indoors for Hanukkah, by creating their own dreidels or drawing pictures of hanukkiot to put up around the house. Place a hanukkiah in the window for all to see as they approach the house.
- Decorate outdoors, if you wish, by putting up blue and white twinkling lights.
- Play dreidel with your family with gelt (chocolate coins), peanuts or pennies.
- Purchase gifts for family and friends according to your personal tradition. Some families give gifts all eight nights, and some combine the gifts and give everything on the first or last night. Whatever your preference, buy gifts in advance to avoid crowds and getting caught without enough presents.
- Enjoy the holiday when it arrives, and make sure it is as much a time for family unity as a celebration of the historical occasion.
- hannukiot: the plural of hannukiah
- hanukkiah: the menorah specific to Hanukkah
Do not leave burning candles unattended