How to Celebrate a Hanukkah They Will Love More Than Christmas

Updated on September 19, 2019
Chantelle Porter profile image

To celebrate Hanukkah, my family has developed many traditions that embrace our heritage and create a sense of community.

Hanukkah | Source
Make treat boxes for a countdown calendar
Make treat boxes for a countdown calendar

Build Anticipation for the Big Day

Create a homemade calendar countdown. Buy small gift boxes at the craft store, wrap them in festive blue wrapping paper, attach a number on the outside (sticker or label, your choice) and fill them with a wide variety of treats. Some of the treats I have used in the past are:

  • Blue saltwater taffy
  • Blue gummy bears
  • Blue and silver Hershey's kisses
  • Straws with big blue polka dots
  • Blue Tootsie Roll midgees
  • Blue, white or silver jordan almonds
  • Blue gumballs
  • Blue lollipops
  • Blue jelly beans
  • Cookies from Modern bite available at modern Tribe
  • White chocolate covered mini Oreos with blue sprinkles
  • White chocolate covered pretzels with sprinkles
  • Hanukkah stickers
  • Hanukkah temporary tattoos
  • Gelt for grown-ups from Veruca Chocolates

The key to building anticipation is to not have too much in the box. I usually start my countdown two weeks in advance of the beginning of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah lawn decorations
Hanukkah lawn decorations | Source

Decorate Inside and Out

Unless you live in a large metropolitan area with a significant Jewish population, your choice of decorations will be limited. So what we decided to do was make our own (see photo above).

How to Decorate Outdoors

My husband and son went to Home Depot, bought two pieces of plywood and dowels. Since we don't have a saw, Home Depot did the large straight cuts and then my husband used a hand saw to cut the triangular sections of the dreidels. They put them together with wood glue and wood screws and then painted them. Not only does it make our yard look more festive but it creates such wonderful loving memories that we will cherish for years to come.

How to Decorate Indoors

There are so many ways to decorate indoors, but I'll just mention a few.

  • Coat small dreidels with a layer of glue, sprinkle with glitter, let dry and display in a clear glass container as a centerpiece.
  • Spray paint pinecones with different shades of blue, white and silver. Attach them to ribbon with a hot glue gun and let them dangle off your staircase.
  • Wrap white or blue twinkling lights around your windows (inside and out).
  • Change your outdoor lightbulbs to the blue ones that are available at the hardware store.

Send Out a Holiday Newsletter

With so many families being interfaith, or simply not religious, sending out holiday cards can feel like walking through a minefield. We send out a homemade holiday newsletter. On one side we put pictures from the past year as well as art done by my son, memorabilia from the year and scrapbooking decorations. We scan our design and then use it to print out a newsletter. I know many people feel they are impersonal, so I always attach a personal short note to each letter. It's just another great way to get everyone involved in the holiday.

Tree of Life
Tree of Life | Source

The Great Christmas Tree and Gift Debates

Since my husband was raised Jewish, he never had a Christmas tree as a child. While I am perfectly happy celebrating Hanukkah without any kind of tree, he was not. It was something that he always wanted and it never passed. So in the spirit of compromise, we have a "Tree of Life."

Our Tree of Life

We cut down a small bush from our yard, sometimes we spray it silver, and then decorate it with blue, silver and white. While many people would not be happy with this solution, please remember the practice of bringing in evergreens was originally a pagan tradition—not Christian. People adopt symbols for their own uses all the time and for us, that is our tree of life.

How We Handle Gifts

We also do not give out gifts on each day of Hanukkah. We felt that it was simply too long to celebrate. So while we each have our own menorahs and we light the candles each night, we actually save the gifts and the big feast for the last day of the holiday. For us it just simply has the greatest impact that way.

When it comes to gifting we have a very simple rule: No money or gift cards allowed. It's too impersonal and requires no effort or thought. Gifts are all about effort and thought. Spend as little or as much as you like, but make it meaningful.

3 Hanukkah Recipes

While I love to try new recipes and switch up the holiday, my family does not. So our feast includes their favorite foods: brisket, potato pancakes and donuts. Brisket, while delicious, is also easy to cook. Here are the recipes I use:

Easy Barbecued Beef Brisket


  • 7 pound beef brisket
  • 1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce


  1. Set crockpot on high.
  2. Cover the brisket with water.
  3. Cook for about 6 1/2 hours.
  4. Check for tenderness. Cook longer if needed.
  5. Drain off the water and slice when cooled.
  6. Cover with barbecue sauce and broil until the sauce is bubbly and serve.

Potato Pancakes


  • 3 pounds potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • olive oil (for frying)


  1. Wash the potatoes. I don't peel mine because it's healthier to eat the skins. Peeling them won't affect the recipe.
  2. Grate the potatoes in a food processor.
  3. Salt the potatoes and set them to drain in a colander for about 1 hour. Then squeeze the excess liquid out by hand.
  4. Mix in the eggs and flour.
  5. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until very hot.
  6. Drop potato mixture by heaping tablespoons into oil.
  7. Use a pancake turner to flatten them out.
  8. Fry to golden brown on both sides (about 3 minutes per side).
  9. Drain on paper towels.
  10. Serve immediately with a choice of applesauce, sour cream and ketchup.

Chocolate Sufganiyot
Chocolate Sufganiyot | Source

Chocolate Eclair Sufganiyot

My husband loves eclairs, and we all love chocolate, so this is our traditional Hanukkah sweet. I hope you enjoy it.


  • 2 packets yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
  • 4 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 box vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces chocolate chips


  1. Heat milk to 115 degrees and sprinkle with yeast.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs.
  4. Mix in the flour.
  5. Put the dough in a greased bowl and let rise for about 1.5 hours.
  6. After the dough has risen, roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut into three-inch circles.
  7. Let rise for another 30 minutes.
  8. Heat the oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
  9. Make vanilla pudding according to the directions on the box.
  10. Once the donuts are cool and the pudding has set, fill the donuts with the pudding.
  11. Ice with ganache.
  12. To make the ganache, bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Pour the chocolate chips in a bowl, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir. The longer it sits the thicker it becomes.
  13. Frost your donuts and enjoy.

Don't Forget the Most Important Ingredient

Family and friends. Our family celebration of Hanukkah is on the eighth day, but we celebrate with friends the other seven nights. Ordinarily one night will be reserved for a cookie swap. We may play boards games. My son is a bit too old for dreidel, so we usually play Apples to Apples: Jewish Edition or Settlers of Canaan. Ordinarily we will have a movie night. One of our favorites is Defiance, which ties in somewhat with the theme of Hanukkah.

Most importantly, we are embracing our heritage and creating a sense of community that defeats the need to celebrate Christmas.

No Hanukkah would be complete without Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song. Happy Hanukkah!

Many children feel they are missing out by not celebrating Christmas. Do you feel this way as an adult?

See results

© 2015 Chantelle Porter


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Chantelle Porter profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for stopping by. Glad you liked the dreidels my husband and son worked so hard on them. Belated Happy Hanukkah!

    • anglnwu profile image


      4 years ago

      My husband (he is Jewish) and I just made a big batch of latkes last night, some for our neighbors, but most of them for us. I love Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, always funny ( i'm used to the SNL one). Love your huge dreidel decoration:))

    • Chantelle Porter profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks. My husband will be so pleased you liked the dreidels. He worked really hard on them.

    • peeples profile image


      4 years ago from South Carolina

      I love this hub. I've been trying to embrace a bit of my Jewish heritage over the last couple of years, but being raised with the Christmas elements and showing my kids those things, making the switch is hard and gradual. These are some great ideas for me. I bookmarked this for next year. The dreidels your husband made are adorable. I doubt I'd find any decorations down here in the south so this is a great idea! And replacing our multi colored lights with blue would still keep the kids happy (and me) without losing the lights. Really great article!

    • Chantelle Porter profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      4 years ago from Washington KS

      What a fun, fascinating hub!! Thanks so much for sharing you holiday with us.

    • Chantelle Porter profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      They are so good but I must confess. I like mine with ketchup! I know not very traditional.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks for sharing what you do for your holiday! The recipes sound great, too. I really must make some potato pancakes. My mother was famous for those.

    • Chantelle Porter profile imageAUTHOR

      Chantelle Porter 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks. we really enjoy our tree and I only make the brisket for holidays. It's really fattening. Ha ha.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      4 years ago from south Florida

      I like your idea of a Hanukkah 'Tree of Life" and the brisket recipe looks delish!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)