If you’re still wondering what to do for the holidays, make this year’s Hanukkah a memorable one by inviting friends old and new over for a Hanukkah cocktail party.
“Throwing a Hanukkah party is really just an excuse to get family and friends together around the holidays and enjoy each other’s company in the warm glow of the candles,” says Leah Koenig, author of the cookbook Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen. “Hanukkah is one of the least formal Jewish holidays. There aren’t a lot of set traditions, aside from eating fried foods and lighting a menorah, so there is a lot of room to play and get creative.”
We asked Leah—who helped us come up with an of-the-moment Hanukkah cocktail party menu that honors the holiday’s traditions while introducing fresh flavors—about how she celebrates the Feast of Dedication. Below are three of her suggestions.
Make It BYOM (Bring Your Own Menorah)
Skip the Hanukkah gift exchange. Instead, Leah says, “I like to ask my guests to bring over their menorahs if they have them, so everyone can light them together. Having five or six menorahs glowing in the window together is so, so beautiful.”
Fill Your Home with the Scents of the Season
To give guests a particularly warm welcome, Leah has another secret up her sleeve. “Another trick I love to use when entertaining at home, particularly when making and serving fried foods, is to keep a saucepan simmering on the stove that is filled with water, halved apples and limes, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. It helps keep the house smelling fresh,” she tells us.
Keep the Bubbly Flowing
To complement the menu, which at Hanukkah is typically composed of lots of fried foods, Leah recommends serving sparkling. “I would definitely make sure to have lots of Champagne or sparkling wine on hand—the bubbles make a wonderful, effervescent companion to fried food.”
Do you have any Hanukkah traditions? Share them with us below!