In Judaism, Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights. During this eight day-long celebration, families and friends of all ages come together to light the Chanukiah, exchange gifts, and play games. This week (plus one!) is not only perfect for getting into the holiday spirit, but it also leaves ample opportunities for a festive Hanukkah party—and of course, for choosing the perfect invitation to match.
From the delicious foods to the long-standing traditions, there are so many ways to embrace this fun and meaningful holiday with those close to you. The hardest part about throwing a Hanukkah party? Deciding which traditions you might not have time to fit in!
That’s why we’re here to help you plan the best celebration possible. Read on for some unique and memorable Hanukkah party ideas to kick off the holiday season!
What is Hanukkah?
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, is celebrated each winter to commemorate an against-all-odds battle victory. Around 200 B.C. in Judea (an area encompassing modern-day Israel and Palestine), a small band of Jews called the Maccabees rebelled against the state’s ancient Greek rulers for forbidding them to practice their religion freely. Miraculously, the Jews won—and were able to reclaim their Holy Temple. In fact, Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew, in reference to the rededication of the ancient Jews’ place of worship.
As legend has it, when the Jews returned to their temple, they found that only one night’s worth of olive oil remained to light their menorah. But amazingly, the flames stayed bright for eight whole days. This is why the holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights.
When is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month, Kislev. This typically places the holiday sometime between November and December in the Gregorian calendar.
What are some Hanukkah traditions?
If there’s one thing Hanukkah isn’t short of, it’s traditions (and candles, but we’ll get to that in a moment.)
Hanukkah is a holiday that incorporates some of the most well-known traditions in the Jewish faith. Some popular ways people celebrate the Festival of Lights include:
— Lighting the Chanukiah each night
— Playing dreidel
— Reciting the Hanukkah blessings
— Eating fried foods, like latkes and sufganiyot
— Exchanging presents
With each tradition, you’ll have the chance to center a fun Hanukkah party around the night’s events. Of course, if you’re planning to commemorate each of the eight nights of Hanukkah with its own get-together, you’ll need plenty of ideas to stay busy the entire celebration. So let’s take a look at some unique Hanukkah party ideas to help you get started.
“Hanukkah Doves” by Hello!Lucky for Paperless Post.
First night of Hanukkah: cookies and candles party
If there’s one night to go all-out with your Hanukkah gathering, it’s the first one. This is when you shine up your Chanukiah (and peel off any old wax you may have left on from last year) and kick off the holiday traditions with friends and family.
For the first night of Hanukkah, you’ll want to start with candle lighting. When you light the candles, everyone will gather around and recite or sing the three Hanukkah blessings. On each following night, you only recite the first two. It’s important that you let the candles burn out on their own—and of course, you should never leave a lit Chanukiah (or any other candle, for that matter) unattended or in reach of small children.
In addition to lighting the candles and reciting blessings, another great way to ring in the first night of Hanukkah is with cookies! Some delicious and festive Hanukkah cookie ideas you may want to try include:
— Iced sugar cookies – Sugar cookies are easy to customize for the upcoming holiday. Try cutting and icing these confections into fun shapes, like the Chanukiah, dreidel, and the blue and white color scheme.
— Hamantaschen cookies – While hamantaschen cookies are typically baked during the Purim holiday in the spring, it’s possible to put a Hanukkah twist on this classic Jewish baked good. Cut your cookies into festive shapes, like the dreidel, to reveal the delicious jam inside.
— Red velvet rugelach cookies – Rugelach cookies are a traditional Hanukkah food, and are a staple in Jewish holiday cooking. This red velvet recipe gives a decadent, wintery spin on a fan favorite.
Cookies and candles party invitation
If you’re planning a cookies and candles party for the first night of Hanukkah, this is a great opportunity to get creative with your invitations! Here’s an example of how you can word your invitations for this event:
Please join the Goldbergs for
Cookies and Candles
Bring a dozen of your favorite holiday cookies as we light candles for the first night of Hanukkah!
We will have a sitter to keep the kids entertained so the whole family can enjoy the evening.
Saturday, November 28th | 5 – 9 p.m.
1038 East Tremont Avenue.
“Let There Be Latkes” by Paperless Post.
Second night of Hanukkah: lights, latkes, and libations party
Get ready for the ultimate Hanukkah treat. For the second night of Hanukkah, try utilizing the three Ls for your get-together: lights, latkes, and libations!
While the “lights” part is fairly straightforward (it is the Festival of Lights, after all), this is a chance to get creative with your decor. In addition to using the Chanukiah as your centerpiece for the evening, you can also illuminate the room with string lights, lanterns, or even the traditional oil lamps that date back to the very first Hanukkah celebration.
Next, you can celebrate with a delicious feast of latkes, the fried potato dish that’s a must-serve at any Hanukkah celebration. Hanukkah really would not be complete without this fried food. Here’s what you’ll need:
— 1 ½ pounds of potatoes (for a batch of 12 latkes)
— ½ a yellow onion
— 1 large egg
— 2 tablespoons matzo meal
— 1 teaspoon kosher salt
— ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
— 1 cup of canola oil or chicken schmaltz for frying
— Applesauce and sour cream for serving
It never hurts to have a few drinks on hand to help wash down your potato latkes. Make sure to grab plenty of wine and maybe even a little vodka for some drinks with a kick. Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’re ready for a vodka and latke party!
Vodka and latke party invitations
Here’s how you can word the invitations for your vodka and latke party:
Let there be latkes!
Molly & Leo
Invite you to a
Latke & Libations Party
Friday, November the 29th at 5:30 p.m.
7 Eccles St.
(For even more mouth-watering Hanukkah recipes, check out these ideas and recipes from Food Network star Molly Yeh!)
“Lumina” by Kelly Wearstler by Paperless Post.
Third night of Hanukkah: gelt, games, and gabs party
So we’ve moved onto the third night of Hanukkah—what is there to do? Well, why not liven up this portion of the holiday with a little friendly competition. Here’s what you’ll need:
— Dreidel – Dreidel is perhaps the most well known game related to the Hanukkah holiday. During this game, you’ll spin a top and use gelt to bet on which symbol it will land on. For rules on how to play dreidel, click here.
— Gelt – Gelt is both the Hebrew and Yiddish word for money. When it comes to Hanukkah, gelt often refers to the chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil paper that are used to play traditional holiday games (or, you know, snack on).
— Hanukkah scavenger hunt – Although Passover tends to be the big holiday where guests search for a hidden treasure (the afikoman), it may also be fun to incorporate a scavenger hunt on the third night of Hanukkah. Hide blue and silver colored items, gelt, or items that start with the letter “H” and let your guests get to work!
Once you’ve chosen your favorite Hanukkah games, it’s time to send out the invitations for your third night of Hanukkah party! Here’s an example of what you can say:
You are invited for
An afternoon of
Gelt, Games & Gab
Friday, November 30th at 4 p.m.
1038 East Tremont Ave.
Other Hanukkah party ideas
After the third night of Hanukkah, you still have five days of celebration left. In order to fill this time period with festivities, here are a few other unique Hanukkah party ideas to get the ball rolling! Plus, we’ve provided wording examples for your Hanukkah invitations:
“Blue Dreidel” by Paperless Post.
Dinner, donuts, and dreidel
Spend the night spinning dreidel, noshing on donuts, and sitting down to a delicious feast with this party idea:
Join us for a Hanukkah celebration!
Dinner, donuts & dreidel!
Friday, December 20th at 5:30 p.m.
1038 East Tremont Ave.
RSVP – potluck welcome, not expected
Get the kids involved with a hands-on cookie decorating party! Here’s what your guests will need to know:
Jefferson Elementary’s 2nd Grade
Join us for cookie decorating and fun! Wear your Hanukkah sweaters for a festive celebration before break.
Sunday, December 15
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
In Mrs. Fischel’s classroom
“Happy Challadays” by Paperless Post.
What better way to celebrate the holiday than by making it a challah day? Invite friends and family over to break delicious traditional bread with this fun Hanukkah invitation:
Celebrate Hanukkah with the Kleins at their first-night nosh
Friday November 28th at 7:30 PM
1038 East Tremont Ave.
Celebrate Hanukkah the modern way with Paperless Post
Hanukkah may be eight days long, but that’s still not enough time to rely on snail mail invitations. Fortunately, Paperless Post is here to modernize your party planning process and deliver your holiday invitations instantly.
With Paperless Post, you can choose from hundreds of stylish Hanukkah invitations. Customizable wording options and a digital RSVP tracker are always included to keep everything organized. Start planning your Hanukkah party today, with Paperless Post!