Although many people in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, it is not the only winter holiday that people observe. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, usually occurs sometime in December, although it occasionally begins in late November. (The Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar do not align. Thus, even though Hanukkah has a fixed date in the Jewish calendar, it shifts every year in the Gregorian calendar.)
Because of its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah—which is actually a minor holiday that marks a military victory in Israel in the second century B.C.E. and the subsequent rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem—has taken on outsized importance in the U.S. Many Jewish families have started to decorate their homes for Hanukkah. You may not be ready to put a giant rotating dreidel in your yard, but there are other things you can do. Read on to get some ideas on ways to decorate your house for Hanukkah.
Pick up a roll or two of your favorite Hanukkah wrapping paper and some coordinated ribbon, and wrap your door so it looks like a giant Hanukkah present. Be sure to use easily removable tape so you don’t peel the paint off your door when removing the paper. You can also add personalized doormats in blue, which, along with white, has become a color associated with the holiday, just as red and green are indicative of Christmas. One of the reasons blue and white is associated with Hanukkah is that those are the colors in the Israeli flag. The color silver is also used because it complements the blue and white.
Many families have not just one Hanukkah the term used to describe the special 9-branched menorah used during Hanukkah—but one for each family member. (Fun fact: Odds are at least one of them will be handmade by a child at religious school.) So, make a pleasing arrangement of them somewhere in your home, such as at one end of your dining table. It’s usually customary to do no work while the candles are burning but to have family time during that period. So, after you’ve lit the menorah, you and your family can snuggle under some throw blankets and sing Hanukkah songs or watch a movie together.
It’s easy to find Christmas garlands or wreaths during the holiday season, but Hanukkah greenery—not so much. So indulge your inner crafter and create your own. Start with a bare garland or wreath. Pick up some small wooden dreidels, some silver and blue miniature ball ornaments, foil-wrapped Hanukkah gelt (foil-covered chocolate coins), and a spool of thin wire. Use the wire to attach the other items to the greenery. For extra embellishment, weave some wired ribbon through—try blue with silver edging. You can then wrap your garland around your stair rails or hang a wreath on your (gift-wrapped) door. If you used chocolate coins, it’s best to keep the greenery inside so as not to attract bugs or other critters—plus, the chocolate could melt if it’s in sunlight.
As Hanukkah has become more entrenched in popular culture, it’s become easier to find holiday-themed serving platters and bowls. Of course, you don’t need to purchase everything at once. Instead, add a piece or two every year as your budget allows, or take your family to a ceramic painting store and design your own Hanukkah-themed pottery, be it a platter, a bowl, or even a mug. You can also dress up your table with table cloths, runners, placemats, or napkins decorated with Hanukkah motifs, such as menorahs or dreidels.
Use your Hanukkah platters when you prepare and serve latkes (potato pancakes) or sufganiyot (jelly donuts). While you’re enjoying these Hanukkah treats—don’t forget the hot chocolate!—you and your family can laze abut in matching pajamas.
It’s easy to add other Hanukkah-themed decorative accents around the house. For example, you can change out your everyday couch throw pillows for patterned ones in some combination of blue, white, and silver. Pick up a fleece blanket (or hand-tie your own) in a Hanukkah print and drape it over your couch or favorite armchair.
Display some dreidel-, menorah-, or Star of David–shaped soaps for your bathroom, and arrange some monogrammed hand towels on the racks. However, instead of your initials, have a menorah or dreidel stitched on the towels. Speaking of towels, add some Hanukkah touches to your kitchen with themed dish towels and potholders. And be sure to display on your refrigerator doors any themed artwork your children create.
When it comes to decorating your home for Hanukkah, you can do as much or as little as your wish. Adding even a few festive touches will make an already joyful holiday even more fun to celebrate.