Chanukah…Hannukah…however you spell it, the “Festival of Lights” is nothing but F U N for all families, Jewish or not. So here are some of our tips for celebrating Hannukah at home and in our community. Now bust out the dreidels and get reading!
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Hannukah is celebrated as the “Festival of Lights” because of an ancient story. As it is told, there was a miraculously small amount of menorah oil that burned brightly for eight full nights. Families can celebrate this great feat by lighting their own menorah every night with their own menorah. You can get some absolutely beautiful menorahs that are true works of art from fashionable shops such as Crate and Barrel, or you can find some specifically for kids.
Build Your Own Menorah at the Home Depot
Sign up for the “menorah workshop” event at the Home Depot in Wicker Park. The workshop takes place on 12/6 from 2-4 p.m. Donuts and drinks will be on hand to make the building even more festive!
Get your kids involved in the menorah fun, sans fire, by working with them to create their own menorah. For this easy craft you need the following:
-8 toilet paper rolls
-1 paper towel roll
-5 large pieces of tissue paper (blue, silver, yellow are suggested colors for the candles, and of course orange for the flames)
-Lids of 2 shoe boxes
Cover each tube with the colored tissue paper using scissors to trim of access and tape to cover the tubes. Stand up the candles in the shoe boxes (without the flames added) in the order of 4 short candles, the 1 large candle, and 4 short candles. Each night add orange tissue paper to the candle to signify that it is lit.
THE MENSCH ON A BENCH
Similar to the ever popular Elf on the Shelf, the Mensch can visit your family during Hannukah and watch over your menorah (and your children’s behavior) throughout the holidays. Be sure to give your Mensch a candle to hold on to so that he can not only share the news if everyone in the house has been behaving, but also be a part of the menorah lighting.
Each night it is common to share small gifts and tokens of love with friends and family. Since there are eight nights of giving, it is wise to keep each gift small and at an appropriate price range. My boys love to receive gelt (delicious Hannukah chocolate), cars, puzzles, and other small trinkets. Here are some other great suggestions from two of my favorite places to shop for kids, The Land of Nod and Kiwi Crate.
Giving for Hannukah
One of my favorite elements of The Mensch on a Bench is when the storybook encourages families to be true “mensches” and put others first on a special night of Hannukah. This can include giving gifts to the less fortunate, volunteering as a family through events such as PJ Gives Back , and supporting favorite charities. Here are my favorite charities in Chicago and Chicagoland.
Small boys like mine have fun simply spinning dreidels, but for the older crowd you can even make it into a betting game. Each player should start with 10-15 small game pieces (pennies, raisins, etc.). With each new spin all players put a piece in the pot and a winner is determined by which side the dreidel falls on.
LATKES & OTHER TREATS
I know, I know…Hannukah is all about the latkes. But what are you going to wash them down with? That’s how I came up with this fun and fruity concoction to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Add one drop of blue food coloring to lemonade, as well as some of your favorite fruit snacks. And for the adults, feel free to add a splash or two of vodka (I won’t tell).
Having married into a Jewish family that throws HUGE Hannukah parties, I know my way around a latke or two. Although we have made zucchini latkes, there is absolutely nothing better than this very simple and straightforward recipe we use. Oh, and a tip to get the oily smell out of your house? Simmer a pot of water with sliced lemon over low heat for a few hours.
Latke Cooking Classes
The Kids’ Table is hosting an apple latke class, or you can also sign up your family for other Hannukah cooking classes at either their Wicker Park or Lakeview locations.
Restaurants & Delis
It is nice to take the night off from cooking once in a while during the holidays, and Hannukah is no exception. Some great local businesses to dine with? Max and Benny’s in Northbrook, Kaufman’s in Skokie, and The Original Bagel and Bialy in Buffalo Grove are all approved by my family!
HANNUKAH IN CHICAGOLAND
jBabyChicago Dreidels and Donuts event will be held at Bubbles Academy on 12/5 from 4:30-6 pm. Families with kids under two years of age can enjoy a tot concert, crafts, playtime and snacks.
Celebrate the most delicious part of Hannukah at the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center’s Latke Fest on 12/13. Enjoy latkes, crafts, donuts, and song from 2:30-4:00 and stay around for the community menorah lighting and dreidel scavenger hunt.
Are you a busy family that is on the go during Hannukah? Simply stop into one of my favorite boutiques, Virtu, to light the menorah at sundown, as well as sing some songs, say some blessings, and enjoy some treats. The Virtu menorah was designed by the talented Micki Whelan.