8 Ways to Shine New Light on Your Hanukkah Traditions


It’s almost time to put on that yarmulke… because Hanukkah starts tonight! In our home, we celebrate Hanukkah as well as the holiday season. Here are 8 Hanukkah hacks (it had to be 8, right?!) to infuse some new traditions into your family.

1. Create a Hanukkah pocket calendar

Similar to an advent calendar, create an 8-pocket calendar where you can tuck a treat into each pocket. You can also tuck in instructions such as “call a family member living far away” or “game night” to bring the family together more on these magical evenings. BONUS: make it nine pockets to represent the Shamash, the candle that lights the others, and place a very special instruction card/treat in that one.

2. Label your gift tags

Each night I have the presents ramp up for the kids, with the biggest on the last night. However, on those first few nights, when it’s little trinkets, I can’t remember what I wrapped! Label those presents with a 1 through 8 so you know which night to give a certain present. 

3. Theme the 8 nights

Make each night a theme! Perhaps you have homemade gifts one night, or the next night kids have to give gifts to the parents. You can also designate one night where all those “necessities” like socks and underwear are gifted. Yeah, the kids want that one to be DONE already!

4. Have a Giving Night

To get kids to understand the spirit of giving and mitzvot (good deeds), choose one night where you donate presents, your time, or make a donation instead of receiving presents.

5. Read a Hanukkah Story

Read a Hanukkah book together. Light the Menorah is one of my favorites for toddlers since it’s a board book, and interactive. It tells the story simply and is fun for the kids. 

6. Teach friends about Hanukkah

People who don’t celebrate maybe don’t know why we celebrate Hanukkah! Share the story! I recently was asked to explain Hanukkah to my daughter’s preschool class. They loved the Light the Menorah book, and learning about the menorah and dreidel game. They asked great questions and now understand a little more about the Festival of Lights.

7. Spice up your recipes

Tradition is important to me and I have always made the same potato latkes (with a side of applesauce – hold the sour cream!). This year, I am going to experiment a little and spice up my latkes with new ingredients. I found some great recipes online, adding some carrots and parsnips for a sweet take on latkes. I think I may even try a sweet potato recipe this year with a little brown sugar. 

8. Embrace or begin a new tradition

A few years ago we learned about Mensch on a Bench, the Hanukkah response to Elf on a Shelf. Our Mensch, Mordechai, keeps watch over our menorah. We also really like our blue Star of David Mickey-shaped string of lights that we hang up. This year, I want to make a Hanukkah Gingerbread house! These are fun, simple activities that can easily turn into traditions, plus the kids love helping me decorate our home with seasonal decorations that include Hanukkah.

No matter how you celebrate Hanukkah, may this year’s Festival of Lights be bright and enjoyable for your family. How do you celebrate Hanukkah?


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