Hanukkah is coming, which means it's time to plan fun activities for your kids to keep them happy and entertained all eight nights!
We’re bringing you our favorite Hanukkah games and activities that are fun for the whole family. Build Jewish pride and holiday joy in your little ones in creative, interactive ways that will build memories for years to come!
Of course, we have to start off with the classic Hanukkah game, dreidel!
Legend says that during the Greek occupation of the Holy Land which outlawed Torah learning (and led to the rebellion from which we get our Hanukkah origins), Jewish children learned in secret and would pull out a spinning top if a Greek soldier passed by, to give the illusion of simply playing.
The dreidel has been a classic game played till this day – and is a festive, interactive way to keep your whole family entertained this Hanukkah season. And, it will help your little ones practice their math skills, too!
Teach your kids about the rededication of the Temple and the miracle of the menorah oil while they build a fun 3D puzzle model of the Temple itself. Or, DIY it by taking a photo of your own local synagogue and having it made into a puzzle.
3. Board Games
Some Medieval European Jewish communities had a custom of playing card games or board games such as chess throughout the night of Christmas Eve, in order to stay vigilant in case of pogroms. Board games have thus for some people eventually become associated with the entire winter holiday season. Today, in happier circumstances, this tradition makes for a fun Hanukkah family activity!
Get ready for board game night with our gorgeous game set made out of deluxe olive wood from the Land of Israel and crafted by Israeli artisans, with carved wood game pieces included for chess, checkers, and backgammon.
4. Maccabee Hide-and-Seek
Your kids can build forts and “caves” around the house using sheets, couch cushions, etc. and then play hide-and-seek in them. For a twist, everyone can have one “freebie” – if they are playing dreidel when they’re discovered, they get another chance to hide.
5. Hanukkah-themed Charades
6. Hands-On Tic-Tac-Toe
7. 20 Questions: Famous Jewish People Edition
Write names of famous Jewish people throughout history – actors, politicians, Biblical figures, etc. – on small pieces of paper. Tape or pin one name to each player’s back, without them seeing what it is; throughout the evening, players have to try to figure out who they are by asking strategic questions of the others. See who can do it in 20 questions or less!
8. Treasure & Scavenger Hunts
Set up a gelt treasure hunt for your kids, or organize a Hanukkah-themed scavenger hunt. Create a list of holiday related items for your kids to look for – such as all-blue items, anything that lights up, or a set list of things beginning with “H” for Hanukkah.
9. Top Latke Chef
With so many latke recipes and variations out there, how do you choose the best one for your family or to serve at your holiday party? Why not have everyone make their own version, and delegate a judge or judges to choose the best one! And if your kids are old enough to participate, a contest is a perfect way to get them excited about cooking and about Jewish food.
10. Forbidden Hanukkah Word
Before your Hanukkah party or family dinner, choose a forbidden word. It’ll be most fun and challenging if it’s a common holiday-related word like “Hanukkah,” “menorah,” “light,” “latke,” etc. Everyone gets five items at the beginning of the evening – such as safety pins or rubber bands they can wear – and whenever they’re caught saying the forbidden word, they must take off/surrender one of their items. The person with the most items at the end of the night wins!
Don’t forget a fun prize like extra treats or a special Hanukkah toy or gift.
11. Modified Dreidel Games
12. Dreidel Scattergories
Have each letter of the dreidel stand for a category (for example Hanukkah songs, Hanukkah foods, things that light up, etc.). When a player spins, they must shout out a word in the category of the letter the dreidel lands on. It gets harder (and more fun!) as you go because you can’t repeat what was previously said!
13. Hanukkah Crafts
14. Put on a Hanukkah Play
Have your kids put on a Hanukkah play for the rest of the family and guests – whether to act out the story of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple, Judith slaying the Syrian-Greek general Holofernes, or their own made-up modern story involving a Hanukkah miracle.