8 Ideas For Hanukkah Get Togethers

During the winter months you might be tempted to build a blanket fort and hibernate with your family. With days getting shorter; colder temperatures rolling in; and winter holiday celebrations, recitals, and school closings all happening, it can feel overwhelming to try to plan a social outing.

kids drinking hot chocolate with golden retreiver on the couch
There’s also nothing wrong with inviting a friend over for hot cocoa and conversation.

Happily, Hanukkah offers not one but eight chances to socialize, share the holiday’s message of being a light in the darkness, and make some wonderful memories -- all without too much planning, cost, or prep.

The list below features eight fun ideas for social gatherings with other families. If you need more suggestions, you can also visit Eight Ideas for Hanukkah Nights (and none of them are presents) and Eight More Ideas for Hanukkah Nights.

Craft Away

Host a maker’s night with another family or two. Hands-on projects are great ice-breakers when you’re spending time with friends for the first time outside of a more formal gathering. The kids will have a chance to exercise their creativity or Hebrew, and you’ll be able to clear out some of your extra craft supplies.

Embrace the Jewish value of bal taschit, not wasting needlessly, by turning your old crayons into beautiful candles.

You can pick a project to all tackle together, lay out a bunch of craft supplies and see what happens, or focus on making gifts for family and friends. Here are some quick ideas for easy (and fun) projects:

Need more ideas? Head over to 12 Hanukkah Activities We Love. And don’t worry, absolutely none of them involve glitter.

Play Dreidel till You Drop

Put together the most epic dreidel tournament of all time or kick off a game night with a fast and furious round of dreidel. Winner gets to pick the next game that all guests will play.

Need a quick guide to playing dreidel? My Jewish Learning has you covered.

And if you want an entirely new spin (get it?) on playing dreidel, build your own dreidels out of LEGO bricks! Here are some other dreidel variations and activities to try:

A New Spin on Dreidel For Your Family via ReformJudaism.org
Put a Spin On It! 5 Creative Ways to Play with Dreidels via Red Tricycle

Watch Something Jewish

If you’re looking for a low-key night with friends that doesn’t require a lot of planning, organize a movie night.

Movie popcorn in red and white striped popcorn bowl
Just make sure the salt is kosher!

Pop some popcorn, plop down some blankets and pillows, and stay in to watch something with a Jewish theme. Or call a babysitter, set the kids up with the latest episode of Shaboom!, and have a parents’ night out to attend a Jewish film festival or see the latest and greatest hit made by a Jewish filmmaker.

Make a Lot of Latkes

Hanukkah is the time for latkes. Hold a latke cook-off with other families, attend a cooking class together, or try a new recipe.

Try this recipe for Hidden Veggie Latkes

If you’re not feeling up to grating potatoes, go the semi-homemade route with frozen items or takeout from your local kosher restaurant. Then set up a toppings bar and settle the age-old debate: apple sauce or sour cream?

Host a “Shabba-Nukkah”

When one night of Hanukkah coincides with Shabbat, use it as an opportunity to host your first Shabbat.

Lighting the candles feels so magic every Friday.

Go potluck, order pizza, or make an easy chicken dish. Set the kids up with some Hanukkah stories and dreidels while the grown-ups catch up over sufganiyot, delicious jelly donuts, as the candles glow.

Not sure which candles to light first? Check out this guide from kosher.com.

Do Some Hanukkah Themed Experiments

The Hanukkah story has some great lessons for kids: standing up for what’s right, having faith, being brave, working together...But Hanukkah is also a perfect opportunity to encourage some STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) interest as well: How bright do candles burn? How did oil lamps work? What’s the difference between olive oil and canola?

How long does a candle usually burn for once lit?

Gather some friends for an oil tasting, design and build a Hanukkah story scene with LEGO bricks, and of course, figure out how a dreidel spins.

Build a Glowing Pathway

Bring some light to your neighborhood or home with a special glow-in-the-dark path that leads right to your menorah.

Where does this glowing pathway lead?

Older kids can tackle this project almost entirely on their own, while younger children will need just a little bit of supervision from a parent. Each family can work together to customize the rocks in their pathway with stencils, adornments like jewels or stickers, and different colors of paint.

Take a Walk

If it’s not too cold out, head outdoors and take a look at all of the holiday lights in your neighborhood. Does anyone else have a menorah in the window? How many? Which holiday displays do you like best? Why?

woman with two girls in winter jackets and hats holding sparklers

You can take this idea even further by hosting a neighborhood “progressive dinner.” At these events, participants go house to house to try a different dish, beverage, or dessert while getting to know their neighbors.

Check out the
2018 Quick Guide to Celebrating Hanukkah With Kids