Categorized | Holiday

Chanukah Perfectly Organized

Posted on 18 July 2010

Your C.H.A.G. Chanukah Guide courtesy of the Yom Tov Planning Center


Serving latkas and applesauce? Add a few extra special touches to traditional Chanukah foods.

Courtesy of

Some examples:

  • Latkas on a bed of kale
  • Jelly donuts on a tiered cake tray
  • Chanukah chocolate gelt spread all over the table
  • blue and white almonds in a small gift bag sitting at each place setting

It just makes the cuisine so much more exciting! More examples of food related decorating ideas under “Aesthetics”.


I’m posting the 3 week countdown to Chanukah that was originally in my Chanukah Perfectly Organized download. I’ve decided to put it all here on this webpage for your convenience.

When I first thought of writing about how to organize Chanukah I thought, “Why would people need advice on getting organized for Chanukah?” It’s no big deal! It is not one of the heavy-duty holidays like Pesach that require endless amounts of preparation.

I realized though that if you are not prepared for Chanukah, the familiar of stress and “rush, rush, rush” apply. Who wants to realize erev Shabbos that you do not have the extra-long Chanukah candles to burn the halachic requirement of 30 minutes after candle lighting? And who wants to run to the jam-packed grocery store before Chanukah looking for 1 small jar of oil (no I’m not talking about ancient Maccabean times)?

When we are not conscious about the upcoming holidays and when they fall out during the daily calendar, we can really get lost.

So if this has ever happened to you, like it has with me, (“Honey, I thought you bought wicks?”) let me assist you in planning it all out.

I don’t want you to feel disappointed the way I have in the past. We want our family to experience a kind of feeling on Chanukah, and if we don’t do the necessary preliminary planning, the disappointment is really permeable.

As I write this, we are 3 weeks away from Chanukah. Utilize these 3 weeks to their maximum potential; transforming your mental vision of what a memorable Chanukah is to a real practical one!

Here’s what you need to do every week before Chanukah in order to be prepared.

3 weeks before

  • Buy all of your candle lighting needs- menorahs for children and guests, oil or candles, extra long wicks or candles for Shabbos Chanukah (this year there are 2 Shabbosim so you need 2 extra long for the 1st Shabbos, and 9 extra long for the 2nd Shabbos)
  • Courtesy of Oriental Trading

    Begin thinking about how you want to decorate your house for Chanukah. (Think dreidels, olive oil, blue and white, Star of David, look below at Aesthetics for more ideas.

  • Plan your Chanukah meals and Grocery List- will you host a dinner party? Get together with friends? Will you make your own Chanukah cookies? Have your students over? Create your grocery shopping list based on your meals.
  • This year I gave a lot of candles
    Create a Chanukah gift list- think about who you want to give to, what you want to get them, how much you’d like to spend. And here’s a great place to start, a list of Chanukah Gift ideas for you as well as a gift checklist and budget planning form.
  • Shop online! Sometimes websites do not ship out on time, so if you are going to order from the web, do it now!

2 weeks before

  • Begin Grocery shopping for Chanukah- place your bakery (jelly donut) order, plan your recipes for festive foods like latkes, sour cream, and applesauce, and stock up on holiday candy (should you choose to eat them such as chocolate coins)
  • Continue to shop for gifts
  • Purchase what you will use to decorate your home (olive branches, streamers, tinsel)

1 week before

  • Wrap gifts. Set up a gift station.
  • Last minute grocery shop for perishables
  • Pick up bakery orders
  • Set up your Chanukah menorahs with their trays, oil, candles, wicks, glass cups, foil
  • Decorate your house! (Take a picture of what it looks like decorated so you can remember for next year. When Chanukah ends, pack your decorations after Chanukah slowly. Take time to label boxes and wrap fragile items carefully)

4 Steps to an even better Chanukah next year: (to do right after Chanukah ends)

  • Shop post Chanukah sales for decorations, gifts, menorahs, dreidels, candles, wicks, and oils.
  • Make a list of what worked and what did not. Maybe your latke recipe was too oily and you couldn’t keep them hot and fresh while the company was there. Or perhaps you loved the way you decorated your Chanukah table. Write it down. You can keep your list in the Chanukah decorations box.
  • Keep a gift list throughout the year and buy gifts whenever you see them on sale. Wrap and mark them as soon as you get home. This way, no one can try to peek at his or her gift.
  • Note the recipes you loved using and those you would love to use next year. Keep them in your Chanukah notebook, also near the decorations if you wish.

Enjoy Chanukah!


When I implement chanukah decorations in my home, I start by thinking about what is significant on Chanukah.

Olive oil, latkas, applesauce, chocolate coins, dreidels, menorahs, jelly donuts, and presents.

When you incorporate what is natural to Chanukah, the decor does not look overdone. Your decorations are definitely thought out, and in a way that compliments that spirit of the day. For example, in this picture above. You are giving presents anyway, just including them at your table setting with a matching table runner.

Let me know which ones you use and send in a picture!

Dreidel Cake

I’ve made a regular Duncan Hines yellow or strawberry cake in a 9x 13 pan. Cut the cake into a draidel form. Ice the cake all over with white frosting. Then, put a stencil over the middle of the cake with the letter “Gimmel” in Hebrew. Cut out the Gimmel out of construction paper, it doesn’t matter since you will be removing it. Sprinkle colored rainbow sprinkles all over the icing. Remove the stencil and your Gimmel will really stand out.

The cake is really beautiful and fun to look at.

    Supplies Needed:

  • 1 9×13 pan
  • Duncan Hines yellow or strawberry cake
  • White frosting
  • Rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 piece of paper
  • scissors

Try this: Feel free to experiment with the colors. Use a light blue frosting with chocolate sprinkles. The colors can be a theme for your Chanukah Décor.

Hint: You can cut nearly perfect slices of cake with dental floss.

Chanukah Table centerpiece

This picture, from Better Homes and Gardens, is really a Thanksgiving centerpiece, and it can work for Chanukah too. Get three plates of different sizes and cover them with leaves. Stack clear glasses filled with something festive- in our case, how about blue and white Jordan almonds, or gold coins?

Stack the plates on top of the clear filled glasses and sit a wrapped present on top.


You can also make Martha Stewart’s stacked favor centerpiece.

The trick to making it look beautiful is using solid colors, not heavily patterned paper.

Sticking to a basic color scheme help keeps the look clean and classy.

Here’s another example of how to keep the look clean using a table runner made of wrapping paper!

Because Chanukah includes gift giving as a primary activity of the yom tov, why not wrap all presents in the same wrapping paper and use that same paper in your table setting scheme.

First select your color scheme and a piece to work from, such as the dreidel cake (brown and blue).

Then you can add things of those same colors or complimentary colors piece by piece. For example, white dishes, silverware of different patterns but same color scheme look well together even though they may be from different sets.

Party Favors

If you are having a sit down dinner, you can make party favors with chocolate coins. Put chocolate coins in a clear cellophane bag and fold a piece of card stock over the bag with your guest’s name printed on it.


Hang paper dreidels from a ceiling fixture or from the front porch of your house.

Olive branch arrangement

Of course, this picture is not of olive branches, rather maple leaves. I want you to understand the idea though and how you can use it as chanukah decorations too.

You can put this arrangement anywhere in the room, or make several of them and scatter them all throughout your home. Go to Michaels or a craft store near you and purchase faux olive branches. Place the branches in a tall vase, use what you have. If you are putting several groupings near each other, make the groupings look uniform by choosing vases that have one underlying similarity- their color is the same, material (i.e., all glass or terracotta), height. That way it will not look like a scattered mishmash.

Latkas and Jelly Donuts

However you make your Latkas and whether or not you serve jelly donuts, take a few extra minutes to serve them spectacularly. Kale laid down on a plate makes anything look fancier. Just wash and check the kale for bugs, and place your latkas on top. Do the same with your jelly donuts. The greenery accentuates the food, making it look so much more appetizing.

The Outside of your House

You can also make your own “Chanukah House” like the one in Baltimore. I can’t tell you how to do that one though! He’s got trains running, charachters spinning around, real looking fire on the menorah.


For Chanukah, I’m going to change the G in the CHAG formula to Guests and Gifts!

How to set up a gift wrapping station

  • work with a flat surface
  • keep all gifts and wrapping paper together, so as you are putting recently purchased gifts away, you will see if you have your needed gift wrapping supplies
  • Keep child gifts separate from adult gifts
  • be sure to keep scissors, tape, ribbon, pens, and cards here too.

Extra Gift Shopping Tips

  • Don’t forget your children’s teachers!
  • Organizing Tip-When you shop, carry along an accordion check file to keep gift slips separated by names.
  • Find ways to shop easier. Does it make sense to avoid the stores if you dislike waiting in long lines? Or would you rather not pay shipping and handling? Can you splurge on in-store gift wrapping? Decide what is worth the trouble for you to get gift shopping done as seamlessly as possible.

For activities to do each night of Chanukah, click here.

Hard to find Jewish resources on the web

One Response to “Chanukah Perfectly Organized”


  1. […] Chanukah Perfectly Organized | Jewish Life Organized (Take a picture of what it looks like decorated so you can remember for next year. When Chanukah ends, pack your decorations after Chanukah slowly. Take time to label boxes and wrap fragile items carefully) . Your decorations are definitely thought out and in a way that compliments that spirit of the day. For example, in this picture above. You are giving presents anyway, just including them at your table setting with a matching table runner. […]

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