L’Chaim! 8 Updates to a Traditional Hanukkah Celebration


Eight nights of full-on celebration could prove difficult for even the most experienced party pro. Need a hand updating your Hanukkah festivities? Here 8 updates to a traditional Hanukkah Celebration!

1. Update the Food

Update your potato pancakes by trying out new flavors in this Hanukkah favorite. How about sweet potato pancakes, zucchini latkes or carrot latkes? Spice things up by adding curry, or make everyone’s sweet tooth happy by using apples or gingerbread.


Next on the update list: the traditional fried doughnut hole (aka sufganiyot). You can serve doughnut holes stuffed with Nutella, jelly or custard—or, as Brooklyn-raised chef Rachel Klein likes to do, dunked in a sweet cardamom syrup and sprinkled with almonds.

2. Update the Beverages

Don’t ditch the wine entirely, but why not add a signature cocktail to the festivities? Raise a glass (or two) of vodka; it’s the perfect adult beverage to pair with fried Hanukkah foods.


Imagine pairing your carrot and sweet potato latke with an orange-infused vodka. Or try one of the dessert varieties, such as glazed donut or whipped cream-flavored vodka.

3. Update the Lighting

Lighting one candle for each night on a single menorah is one way to go; lighting one candle for each night on multiple menorahs kicks things up a bit. Give each person in the family his or her own menorah to light. You can find menorahs ranging from a fun DIY arts and crafts project to fancy works of art, such as the one below. Update your candles as well by using long tapers, dyed ombre candles or beeswax candles.


4. Update the Gifts

Giving eight separate gifts is still de rigueur with children, but by the time adulthood hits, one big gift usually suffices. Why not get your favorite person a series of eight things? Anything from massages, movie matinees or museum visits is fun and creative.


5. Update the Fashion

Don’t RSVP “no” for your neighbor’s ugly sweater party. Join in the fun with your own Hanukkah sweater. The Tipsy Elves have you covered with an oh-so-ugly dancing menorah and dreidel.

Would you prefer a Santa hat? Try out the Yamaclaus.

Or maybe you’d prefer something that washes off after you wear it? ModernTribe.com has metallic Hanukkah tattoos.

6. Update the Decor

Take your decorating to a whole new level—get free Hanukkah printables from Catch My Party including a welcome sign, banners, cupcake toppers, invites, a menu card and even a coloring sheet for the youngest celebrant.

With the help of Manischewitz (the matzah maker) you can create a Hanukkah House complete with a mezuzah made out of gingerbread.

Or, make a gingerbread Menorah from the kit from Sweet Traditions.


Other tasty decoration ideas include ugly Hanukkah sweater cookies, candy menorahs and dreidels made from marshmallows, pretzels and candy kisses.

7. Update the Games

Need a new spin on the traditional game of dreidel? JOI.org has a great online version, that includes instructions on how to play, graphics and even the sound of the dreidel. And up the


ante from the traditional milk chocolate candy coin to one of the Godiva Truffle samplers. Yum.

Or, skip the spinning and move right to a table game like Apples to Apples or Taboo Jewish Edition.

8. Update the Giving to Others

Yes, Hanukkah is about food and fun, but it’s also part of the traditional season of giving. Create some sacred time with your loved ones by volunteering together at a local hospital on Christmas Day to give others the day off, bring baked goods to your local first responders or make one of your Hanukkah gifts a donation to your favorite charity.



About the Author:
Austin, Texas native Michele Schwartz is the creator and editor-in-chief of the popular website for Jewish/ interfaith couples and wedding planners. She is a professional event planner, specializing in Jewish life cycle events. A well-known speaker at national conferences, Michele inspires event planners, caterers and hospitality professionals to blend Jewish customs with modern trends. 

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