Best, No-Fail Chanukah Party Tips
By: Bluma Gordon, Lubicom Marketing Staff
What better way is there to celebrate and relax with family than hosting a Chanukah party? Here are some Chanukah-party hints and how-tos from veteran hosts to ensure a smooth, enjoyable event.
1. The Frying Guide
You’re probably going to be bustling at the stove while frying latkes. If you’re ambitious, you might try a hand at some donuts, too.
Here’s some frying advice from the experts:
A. Chanukah’s no time to fret about healthy fats unless you want flat or heavy-tasting latkes and donuts. Use hearty canola or peanut oil since they have high smoke points.
B. For best results, use a heavy-iron skillet for the latkes and a 5-quart or dutch oven pot for deep-frying donuts.
C. The latkes should fry over medium-high heat, and the oil for your donuts should cook at 350 to 360 degrees. Don’t multitask too much while frying; you’ll want to watch and adjust the flame as your food cooks. If you’re going to be frying donuts, use a candy thermometer to measure the oil’s temperature.
D. Don’t forget to drain your goodies well when they finish cooking! It’s key to soggy-free, crispy Chanukah treats.
E. Do you want guests to come to a house smelling like fried potato pancakes or heavenly sugar cookies? If you don’t want that intense fried-latke smell, close all doors and open the windows while you fry. You can also leave the baking for last and boil cinnamon sticks in water to invite more pleasant smells into the house.
For some more interesting tips take a read of this article.
2. Get a Headstart
Don’t want to be elbow-deep in oil up until the minute your guests ring the doorbell? There are things you can do to avoid frying batches of latkes at the last minute.
A. Good news: Though latkes are admittedly best when served fresh, they can be frozen in advance, too. To freeze latkes, wait until they cool down, line them on a single layer on a baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Rewarm them in the oven on a single layer, and cover well with foil.
B. To get a head start, you can shred the potatoes in advance, submerge them in water, and refrigerate. Just be sure to drain them well before frying, and don’t add the salt until right before you fry.
C. If you don’t want to spend hours cooking eight latkes for every guest in honor of the eight-day festival, you’ll need to supplement latkes with other foods. Satisfying, easy-to-make dishes like lentil soup, salmon, feta-cheese salad, and mac and cheese go well together with latkes.
3. Bring on the Gifts
Gift-giving at the party can promote jealousy and a host of other uncomfortable feelings.
Here are some other gift-giving options:
A. You can ship your gifts in advance. Because the dates of Chanukah coincide with the non-Jewish holiday season, you’ll need to ship out the gifts before the shipping deadline if you want them to arrive on time. Shipping deadlines vary with shipping options, courier services, and retails like Amazon, so you’ll want to check out your options in advance. You can view the complete list of shipping deadlines here.
B. Small craft projects and trinkets are fun to receive and less likely to cause angst among party guests. Wrap the treats in mini gift bags or boxes and put one by each place setting.
4. Chanukah Games and Activities
Add some structure and spice your party with Chanukah spirit with these Chanukah-themed games and activities:
A. Chanukah Pictionary or Taboo: Create and print out a Chanukah-themed version of Pictionary or Taboo. Divide your guests into teams and test their knowledge of Chanukah. Members of the winning team get prizes at the end of the game.
B. Chanukah grab bag: Prepare a grab bag, and ask each guest Chanukah-related riddles and questions. When guests answer the questions right, they get to choose a prize from the grab bag.
C. Make your own donut topping: Add a twist to the traditional Chanukah dessert by serving the donuts plain, while they’re still warm. Set up a buffet table with frostings and toppings, and have guests create their own variations. Encourage parents to help their kids in order to avoid a mess.
5. Easy-Schmeezy Decorating Tips
Not a born decorator? Don’t worry! Tastefully decorating your table can be simple and inexpensive. Here are a few easy steps:
A. Choose one to two colors to create a color theme, and buy theme-colored napkins, tablecloths, and plastics. Buying stunning table runners is an inexpensive way to add a unique touch to the party decor.
B. For low-cost, no-fail centerpieces, fill empty glass vases with theme-colored dreidels, chocolate coins, toy trinkets, and ribbon or confetti. You can also use large theme-colored candles for centerpieces to create an elegant party look.
C. No need to go trooping from store to store to find pretty decor that matches your color theme. Buy one or two spray paint cans to change the color of centerpieces you already own.
6. Simple Donut Alternatives
If you don’t have experience frying donuts or are short on time, there are other easy-bake alternatives. You can make cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and chocolates Chanukah-friendly by using Chanukah-themed cookie cutters and molds. Decorate your cookies or cakes with colored icing or top them with edible spray paint.
If you’re hosting a Chanukah party, you’ll want all the tips you can get. But remember that guests will remember your pleasant, gracious attitude more than the taste of the latkes or party decorations.