Don’t look now but Chanukah is barely a month away. Amazing Savings has their elaborate display of Chanukah tableware and crafts, and Costco has constant deliveries of blue and silver boxes of chocolates. Even if Chanukah planning is not at the forefront of anyone’s mind just yet, now is a great time to start getting a head start on prep. We consulted Rena Soclof, a professional party planner, to help Simcha Link readers start thinking about Chanukah fun.
Chanukah Parties and Meals
Before trying to plan the most elaborate or creative Chanukah get together your family has ever seen, Soclof stressed the importance of delegating. “I’m a big believer in taking stress off of yourself,” she said. Everyone will come and be happy so it is critical to accept help. “If people offer, allow them to bring something.” She also suggested allowing yourself the luxury of ordering one or two items for the event. If dietary needs or budget do not allow for ordering take-out, Soclof reminded readers to keep the menu simple. “Now is not the time to start experimenting with lots of new and fancy recipes that will take more time and cause more stress,” Soclof said, mentioning the importance of the host being relaxed at the party. “A stressed-out host carries over to guests who will pick up on the cues,” she said. “This can taint the feel of the get together.”
If someone wants a theme for their party, dreidels and menorahs are always a classic go-to, with plenty of plates, napkins and pre-made centerpieces available to complement this theme. For a different type of motif, Soclof suggested looking for a subtle undertone woven throughout the party. If you’re looking for subtlety, take a well-known part of the holiday—like the menorah—and isolate one part of it, like fire or flames, and use that throughout your party. “The benefit to this type of theme is that it translates differently for different people, allowing everyone to take their own message and connection,” Soclof said.
In addition to making your house festive in any way your family enjoys, Soclof added the idea of having a family-made activity as part of Chanukah. “One of my favorite ideas is to have a basket for memories, where everyone writes their Chanukah memories or something special about the holiday and places their card in a basket,” said Soclof. These cards can later be strung together or hung up. As an added detail, the cards can be in a shape related to the holiday. If doing this as an activity at a party, Soclof suggests having guests write their memory at the beginning of the party and reading them together at the end, so they can talk about the memories together. “This is an unbelievable memory to have,” she said, recounting many memory cards she has personally saved and treasured.
As much as we want to avoid making Chanukah about gifts, presents have become part of the eight days for many families. But as the saying goes: “It’s the thought that counts,” and Chanukah gifts are no exception. “Even though Chanukah is still a few weeks away, now is a perfect time to start listening to people and figuring out what they would enjoy,” suggested Soclof. “Giving a real gift takes thought over money, so take note of what people are looking at or what they may need over the coming months and let that help guide your gift choices.”
By Jenny Gans