Hanukkah begins on December 7. With the early start to the holiday, be sure to plan ahead to make it extra special. Here are eight ways to change up some Festival of Lights’ classics.

Zucchini Latkes

Latkes are arguably the most well-known (and delicious) tradition of Hanukkah. They are pancakes made from shredded potatoes. To shake things up a bit, try using zucchini instead. This makes for a lighter, fresher latke. You can pair them with an herbed yogurt dipping sauce to mimic the sour cream served with traditional latkes.

Apple Pie Sufganiyot

Hebrew for donuts, sufganiyot, are the traditional Hanukkah dessert because they are fried in oil. Jelly-filled ones are the most common, but with Hanukkah being a fall holiday this year, make an apple pie filling for your Hanukkah dessert.

Embrace Technology

While you get out your menorahs to light candles, get out your iPad or laptop and set up some time to virtually light candles and sing the prayers with extended family. These connections with people you can’t see on a regular basis because of distance or COVID concerns will make the holiday brighter.

Tzedakah Night

Many families celebrate Hanukkah by giving gifts each night. One night, instead of presents, choose a cause your family cares about and give back. This is a great opportunity to talk about why taking care of others matters and what is important to each member of your family.

Topsy Turvy

This year when you play dreidel (a small top with Hebrew letters that is a traditional Hanukkah game), make it a little different. You change up the prizes or the number of turns people get. You could really make it silly with the winner receiving a bag of rocks or leaves from the yard instead of chocolates and coins.

Turkey Day Tie-In

Since Hanukkah begins just three days after Thanksgiving, extend the attitude of being grateful to the Festival of Lights. As you light each candle, have family members share something for which they are thankful.

Do a Gift Swap “Harry Hanukkah” Style

We are all familiar with the idea of Secret Santa – you exchange names and then give gifts to a person without them knowing who you are, only to reveal your identity at the end. Why not borrow this idea and make it work for Hanukkah? Each night of Hanukkah, you could exchange notes or small gifts “Harry Hanukkah” style and see if you can guess who your gifter is.

Make a New Family Tradition

Hanukkah has been around for thousands of years, so there’s been plenty of time for traditions to be formed and passed down. This year, take the time to create something new that is special for your family. It could be something simple you say or do after you light the candles. It could be decorating your home. It could be a holiday meal you’ve wanted to try making. The sky’s the limit!

All About Hanukkah

  • Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday, also referred to as the Festival of Lights, that commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple.
  • It is eight nights long with a candle being lit each night to mimic the miracle of the oil in the eternal light at the Temple.
  • Hanukkah always begins on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually falls in November or December on our calendar.
  • Many foods – including latkes and donuts – are fried in oil as a symbol of the holiday.
  • Judah Maccabee is known as the hero of the Hanukkah story.
  • Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting candles in a menorah each night, playing dreidel and giving gifts.

Hanukkah Meals

Leave the cooking to the pros!


Order a holiday meal kit to serve six people available through Dec. 12 for pickup on Dec. 7-15 from 3-5 p.m.

Breadwinner Café & Bakery

Their Hanukkah menu includes challah, breads, latkes, matzo ball soup and more.

The General Muir

The General Muir has breakfast and brunch platters, including a Bagel & Schmear Platter, as well as latkes, matzoh ball soup, pastries, cookies, cakes and more.

Goldbergs Fine Foods

Order catering from their Catering Menu, Brunch Catering Menu or Kiddush Menu.

Whole Foods Market

Order meals online by Dec. 22; all holiday orders must be placed a minimum of 48 hours ahead of pickup date and time. Choose from a Hanukkah meal for pickup on Dec. 6-12.

– Tali Benjamin

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