Hanukkah Party - Festival of Lights Theme
Every Hanukkah, our neighbours brighten up their home with a Festival of Lights party. It is the highlight of the eight day celebration and a holiday tradition that has inspired many followers.
On the last night of Hanukkah, the Green family invites friends and family to bring a menorah and share in the lighting together. It is beautiful to see so many menorahs, each holding memories, and each glowing with warmth.
The Green's Hanukkah decorations go beyond the menorah to include other candles. The party theme is supported by lots of candles on tables and surfaces throughout their home. While candles flicker at most winter holiday celebrations, several of theirs are handmade creations. I'll share their beautiful candle recipe with you.
For a glittery presentation, buy some clear glasses and goblets at an inexpensive party shop. Fill a small paper plate with glue and another plate with silver glitter. Dip the rims of the glasses in the glue and then in the glitter. Let dry completely then fill the glasses half-full with water tinted with a few drops of blue food colouring. Float a tea light candle in the water and you have a simply yet beautiful decoration. You can make these for other holidays too, changing the look by simply changing the colour of the glitter and water.
We always gather at sundown so the menorah lighting is the first thing we do. It is the main event so great care is taken to do the two Hanukkah blessings and light the candles with the shamash starting on the left. When finished, one menorah is put on the dining room windowsill, one on the kitchen table, and the rest all around the house. The kids love watching the candles burn all the way down, trying to guess which one will last the longest.
The Green's plan several Hanukkah themed crafts that are enjoyed by both kids and adults. My favourite is the hand print menorah, a craft done every year. You trace both of your child's hands onto blue construction paper, overlapping the thumbs to make the shamash candle in the middle. Cut it out and glue it onto a piece of thick white paper. To make the flames, use a gold glitter crayon. I always put my child's name and the date on the back and put it away to save. It is fun seeing how their hands have grown from year to year.
Another project is making a felt menorah. This is especially good for younger children because they can participate in the ritual of candle lighting without real candles. To make one, cut a 2 by 1 foot piece of felt (the banner) in any colour but blue or white. Cut nine small rectangles from white felt for the candles and nine small flames from yellow felt. Cut eight squares slightly larger than the candles from blue felt. These are the candleholders. Cut one larger rectangle from blue felt for the shamash candleholder. Place the banner on a flat surface and start gluing, beginning with the candleholders on the bottom, then the candles. Be sure to put the larger candleholder in the middle for the shamash. For the flames, glue a small piece of Velcro above each candle, and a small piece of Velcro on each flame. Lastly, fold over the top of the banner about 1 ½ inches from the edge and glue it down. Insert a wooden dowel and tie a cord from one end of the dowel to the other. Now you can hang your felt menorah. Kids “light” the menorah each night by sticking a flame atop a candle.
Once the holiday art projects are complete, it's time to eat. Of course, the Green's traditional party food includes potato latkes. They are in the kitchen all day making hundreds of them (they freeze the leftovers and enjoy them later.) There is applesauce and sour cream on hand for complimenting the latkes. A huge pan of chicken soup with matzo balls is also served. Mrs. Green hand makes the matzo balls and includes carrots, celery and chicken in the broth. By this time I'm pretty full, but that doesn't stop me. Hey, holiday foods don't have any calories, do they? A delectable chicken fricassee is next. It's served with fresh challah bread for soaking up the juices. I really should stop here, but I don't. Everyone needs their veggies so I'll have mine. Peas and mushrooms are passed around, as are glazed carrots.
I'm absolutely stuffed when I'm reminded of what my youngest son always says, pointing to an area on his belly, this spot here is just for dessert. Sufganiot (I love to say that) – home made round doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar - are served warm with ice cream. We are all too full to move after this, so we sit around and talk about the wonderful eight days we've just had. Small gift bags filled with Hanukkah gifts are given to the children to take home.
Every year, celebrating the Festival of Lights with the Green family is a memory to treasure. I hope maybe you'll try it in your neighbourhood.