By Jenny Muschel
Sukkot has always been my favorite holiday. Growing up in an apartment building, we never had a sukkah of our own, so we would always make the four-hour journey to my aunt and uncle. Even today, after years of not being in my aunt’s sukkah, I could still pick it out of a lineup purely from the smell of it.
There was always evergreen s’chach, hanging fresh seasonal fruit as the decor and a combination of real art and photography, along with family-made artwork. A perfect combination that made the sukkah feel like home.
When you walked into the sukkah it felt effortless and homey, but if you would dissect what’s going on, you would uncover layers of hard work from a variety of family members.
Here are Seven Tips and Tricks for the Seven Days of Sukkot to help enhance your sukkah:
1. Having something real is a must. Whether it be s’chach, seasonal fruit, or an ode to the sheva minim, there is nothing that can replace the real thing. How much more tactile and interesting is a squash gourd than a plastic etrog? Real things speak to your senses, especially smell, which sets the tone for the whole experience.
2. Easy on the tinsel! I’m actually tempted to say don’t hang anything with tinsel. I know some love it, and it can be done in a nice way, but go easy with it and go in with a plan for where it will be used. Just like you don’t want your house to look like everything came from the dollar store, so too your sukkah!
3. Think about color. Start with a color scheme, whether it be monotonous, complementary, or analogous. Having a scheme planned in mind is a great place to start. My aunt’s sukkah always had a fall vibe, between the orange hanging pumpkins, yellow gourds, and beaded red cranberries draped from the center like fabric (which my grandparents used to bead themselves).
4. Rhythm and repetition: Having three or more of any one particular element, or a series of a particular form will add interest, and a sense of place- both attributes you want your family and guests to experience. This can be accomplished by the way the lights are draped. Or multiples of a a particular item hanging equidistant from each other throughout the entire sukkah.
5. Lighting. Would you want to eat at a restaurant with a harsh fluorescent light shining in your eyes?! Sounds like a take-out joint. Lighting can affect the vibe of any space, and there are some beautiful options out there these days that can add the perfect warm touch! When buying bulbs, look for warmer colors…think 2700–3000 Kelvin rather than 5000 Kelvin.
6. Something homemade. It is supposed to feel like a temporary home! What’s a home without something personal or homemade? Bonus points if the kids made it. They will feel proud to have helped be a part of the sukkah decor. Just don’t overdo the arts and crafts projects!
7. Add the extra touch: When setting the table, use chargers, napkin holders, a real tablecloth, and/or a floral centerpiece. All these little extra details go a long way in the overall tone of the sukkah, making it very inviting, and will elevate the setting.
Just as my childhood Sukkot memories are still embedded in my heart decades later, with attention to detail and care, you can create lasting memories for your family and guests.