Around the House: Host Your Best Chanukah Party Yet

Around the House: Host Your Best Chanukah Party Yet

By Yehudit Garmaise

With Chanukah just days away, now is the time to get our homes ready and organized to “light up the night” with a festive party.

1.   Scrub down your home before welcoming people in. A deeply cleaned home not only provides a more welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for guests, but pre-cleaning always makes after-party clean-up much easier. Clear the usual clutter, such as mail, magazines, newspapers, and childrens’ projects. Scour your kitchen, bathrooms, and all public areas so they look fresh, smell clean, and stay inviting. Straighten up books on bookshelves so they all stand upright, and vacuum not just carpets but corners, under couches, and under cushions. Look around and consider what you can pare down and what you might not want out when guests arrive. Is laundry hanging anywhere? Do you have piles of papers in your dining room? A minimalist look is the most inviting and relaxing space. Mop your floors, vacuum all rugs, and wipe down all counters and cabinets.

 2.   Don’t forget the walls, doors, doorknobs, mirrors, glass, and bathrooms, which are all good things to clean before and after many guests come over to clean and prevent the spread of germs. Walk around your home with a bottle of anti-bacterial cleaner and a few towels, and make sure all your surfaces are clean. With a different towel, spray some wood cleaner on your wooden furniture and make it shine and smell great. Make sure to use glass cleaner on all mirrors, windows, and glass surfaces. Empty all trash cans, and take out the garbage. Wash and change all the sheets and towels, and finish doing all your laundry to make sure nothing smells bad or looks dirty in your home.

  3.   Make a great first impression: Sweep out the area and steps leading up to your front door, throw away any garbage, and put away any mail, toys, and strollers that are usually left out. Make your entryway look clean and inviting. Clean the outside of your door, your doorknob, light switches, and all handles before and after guests arrive.

  4. Invest in a nice coat rack and/or extra hangers for parties. With the temperature dropping, everyone will come bundled up. The many coats, hats, and gloves will create a big mess unless hosts provide a central place or closet with plenty of extra hangers ready for hanging outerwear. Remember to also clean and organize your inside entryway, and create a neat, bordered space for outside shoes and boots for people who want to remove them.

  5.   Prep your bathrooms for extra visitors: Make sure the floors are swept, cleaned, and mopped with something that looks and smells fresh and clean. Put away all personal care products. Stock extra tissues, a full container of new liquid soap, and freshly laundered hand towels. 

  6.      Stock up on a few Chanukah decorations, or better yet, have your kids make a few Chanukah decorations to hang. Local stores sell inexpensive decorations and little projects that children can make to get excited for the coming Chag and maybe teach their friends how to make at the party.

 7.    Plan ahead for children so they have something to do:  Set up a fun craft table in another clean and organized room or more centrally located so adults can keep their eyes on their children. Buy plenty of new markers, Chanukah coloring books, plain white paper, new clay to be used with Chanukah cookie cutters or to make dreidals, and Chanukah crafts or on 13th Avenue. Other fun ideas are to buy plain donuts, and provide frostings, icing, and different sprinkles and have a donut-decorating contest. Kids can also make decorations with one adult leading the craft table. Get little prizes for games, and make the night exciting for kids, as well. Maybe even hire a kids’ entertainer, such as a creator of balloon animals, a bubble entertainer, a magician, or a “weird scientist.” See here for previous BoroPark24 Chanukah craft and game ideas for families and parties.

 8.    Plan ahead for ladies and babies: Clean and straighten one bedroom or other room in your room and dedicate it to women who need space to feed babies, and change their diapers. Put a comfortable chair or rocking chair in the room. 

 9.   Create a simple and fun Chanukah tablescape for your dining room. Lay down a special white tablecloth decorated with menorahs, dreidels, magen davids, and other Chanukah images. Put out all the Chanukah-themed serving ware you have collected over the years, and maybe pick up a few more things to make your home look more festive. Chanukah-themed salad serving pieces, serving platters, and dessert plates all add to the fun.

 10.  Set up chairs for sitting in gathering in your clean, tidy, and clutter-free living room.

 11.  Keep your Shabbos urn full and on, and put out disposable hot cups, instant coffee, tea, and hot chocolate with sugar and fun, flavored creamers and whipped cream, so people can serve themselves. Put plates of Chanukah-themed cookies, donuts, and chocolate gelt and stacks of Chanukah-themed paper plates and napkins around the home, so people can nosh.

 12.  Stay focused on listening to and entertaining your guests, don’t worry about the inevitable messes. Guests can’t relax and have a good time when hosts run around with towels and spray bottles or start running the vacuum while parties are still in swing. Homes are going to get dirty during parties in unexpected ways. Take precautions by covering things to protect them, but also accept that you will need cleaning help before you light candles for the next night of Chanukah.

13.   Turn up the Chanukah songs, ask a friend or two to prepare special Chanukah d’var Torahs for when the time is right, make a new kind of latke, such as with slices of pastrami in them, split up Tehillim so everyone can quickly complete the sefer together, have fun, and celebrate Yidden’s triumph over our enemies throughout history, with Hashem’s help.

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