Fun Family Activities for Hanukkah, From Dreidel to DIY Menorahs

Jewish Family Celebrating HanukkahHanukkah (חֲנֻכָּה), also known as “The Festival of Lights,” means much more than exchanging Hanukkah gifts and lighting candles eight nights in a row. It’s a celebration that brings families together to share and enjoy age-old customs that have been passed down from one generation to the next. So start some new and exciting traditions with your loved ones this holiday season; try out these fun family activities for Hanukkah!

DIY Menorah

ballet menorah for chanukah
Gather everyone ’round the kitchen table and have each family member create their own menorah out of any supplies you have lying around the house: food (apples are a great option), glass bottles, clay, Play-Doh or paper towel tubes. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your creative juices flowing!

Playing Dreidel

Play a Traditional Game of Dreidel: The traditional game of dreidel is probably one of the most well-known Hanukkah activities to play with the family! There are four Hebrew letters on the dreidel to go along with the game, including “nun,” “gimmel,” “hey” and “shin,” each with a different meaning. Not sure how to play dreidel? NYC’s Temple Emanu-el has a great how to play dreidel article to help you learn and start having some fun!

Dreidel Spinning Contest: Add a “spin” to the traditional dreidel game! As a fun change of pace, hold a contest to see who in the family can whirl a dreidel and make it spin the longest.

Hanukkah Gelt (Chocolate Coin) Scavenger Hunt

What is Hanukkah without the gelt?  Have fun with Hanukkah chocolates! Before your guests arrive, hide those delicious little chocolate coins throughout the house.  After dinner, break everyone up into teams and search for them. Whoever finds the most coins wins a prize, in addition to the chocolate.

Hanukkah Bake-Off

Find some Hanukkah-themed cookie cutters and whip up some yummy holiday desserts with your kids. Put your own personal touch on the cookies by decorating them with blue and white icing and sprinkles. Or, try making these sweet edible dreidels featured on Celebrations.com!

Make-Your-Own Hanukkah Magnets

Hanukkah magnets not only make the perfect kitchen decorations for the holiday season, but are also fun to make with the family! Set out some wooden craft sticks, children’s paint, glue and glitter, and have your kids make the Star of David by gluing the sticks together and decorating them.  Stick an old magnet behind the star and display the kids’ art on the fridge.  Menorah magnets are another fun option and feel free to be creative with the materials used!

Hanukkah Garland

Give the little ones some scissors and multicolored construction paper, and ask them to cut out some Stars of David and dreidels. (The adults can help out too!) When they’re all done, string the shapes together and hang up the garland across the living room window for some festive Hanukkah décor!

Festival of Lights Potluck

Ask your family members to each bring their own traditional Hanukkah food so everyone can join in the deliciousness of the holiday!  To spice things up a bit more, try to put a modern twist on classic traditions. Need some inspiration? Why not try sweet potato latkes this year? For jelly doughnuts, perhaps try using different kinds of jellies?

Hanukkah Family Sing-Alongs

Gather everyone around the menorah and sing Hanukkah favorites like “I Have A Little Dreidel” and “Oh Chanukah! Oh Chanukah!”  If you have singers or musician in the group, make sure they bring their musical instruments to take the lead!

Pass the Hanukkah Candle

Light a large candle and have the elders of the family pass it among each other, one by one. Each time someone receives the candle, they have to tell their favorite Hanukkah story to the youngsters.

Which Hanukkah traditions will you be passing on to your kids this year?

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