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Hanukkah is the Celebration of Lights

Hanukkah is about miracles-the miracles that occur when people have the spirit and the strength to believe and fight for what is right and just. On the first night of Hanukkah, gather the family together and tell the story about the miracles of Chanukah with your family.

  Search for Hidden Treasure...
Not only is this a holiday to celebrate a miracle, it is a time to have fun with the children in your life. Part of that fun includes giving out chocolate coins - aka gelt. Instead of just giving it out, play a game of hide and seek with it. Take the time to hide the coins in various locations in your home. Then, watch your children race around the house frantically as they cheer after finding their hidden treasure.

Whirling and Twirling the Dreidel
Playing with the dreidel is a traditional Hanukkah game played in Jewish homes all over the world. The dreidel is a small top with four sides. This game is great for children of all ages. For added fun, create your own dreidel and make it a keepsake to pull out every year during the holidays. First off, you will need to purchase eraser or modeling clay from your local craft store. Then, have the kids shape it into a top. Once done, either allow it to dry or follow the baking instructions found on the packaging. After it is solid, paint the initials of the Hebrew letters which appear on the four corners of a dreidel. They spell out: Nes (N-miracle), Gadol (G-great), Haya (H-happened) and Sham (S-there). Typically, children play for chocolate gelt coins, but they can also add up "Points" to this game. Grab a piece of paper and keep track of how many points each person receives during the game. The person that achieves 100 points first wins!

Lotsa Latkes
We eat latkes on Hanukkah to remind us of the oil which miraculously burned for eight days instead of just one night. After the menorah is lit and wrapping paper covers your floors with toys everywhere, it's time to eat the latkes! Hanukkah would never be the same without this traditional dish. Add a new and fun twist to an old favorite while making latkes. When having a Hanukkah party you can play a game out of making this delicious dish. Separate everyone into two teams and then have each group create their own version of latkes. You can mix in ingredients such as spinach and feta cheese or possibly cherries and almonds. Be adventurous and try adding sweet potatoes, zucchini or carrots. After the latkes are done, everyone can taste the different variations and offer prizes for the best and worst tasting latkes. Make sure to leave room for another traditional dish - brisket, which always goes well with potatoes!

Personalize Gifts...
Whether you want to put your personal touch on gift giving or involve your children in a fun project, start with the wrapping paper. Take a raw potato and cut it in half and then carve out fun designs such as: stars, dreidels, menorahs or the recipient's initials on each side of the potato. Then, pick colors such as blue and white - the traditional Hanukkah colors and stamp your paper to create ornate wrapping paper. It can be elegant or whimsical. It's great fun in preparing for the holiday.

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights
The biggest symbol for Hanukkah is the menorah, which holds nine candles - eight to designate each day of Hanukkah and the ninth (or shammas) which is used to light the others. Menorahs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Decorate your own menorah and use it as a table centerpiece or decoration for the mantel. Take any plain menorah and then purchase charms or beads from your local craft store. You can make the decorations as elaborate or simple as you would like. Possibly, you want the menorah to match with the colors in your home; or, you want to have an elegant menorah with black and silver beads. Then take jewelry wire and string the charms and beads wrapping the decorated wire around the arms of the menorah. When finished, you will have a fantastic decoration and something to light at sundown for the eight nights of Hanukkah.
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