Being Jewish is kind of tough this time of year. Folks are putting up their lights, stringing popcorn and cranberries, and decorating trees. Those of us who don't celebrate Christmas start to feel a wee bit left out in the cold. Yes, some families give out presents on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, but the truth is that it's not a major holiday on the Jewish calendar.
That said, there is no reason you and your kids can't create some wonderful, edible crafts to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Here are some suggestions to help make your holiday feel even more special.
Martha Stewart provides simple instructions (and a fun video) for turning Hershey Kisses, pretzel sticks, melted chocolate, and marshmallows into an edible version of the iconic Hanukkah top.
If your kids aren't fans of white chocolate, the dreidels can be made with blue candy melts, or dark or milk chocolate instead.
The other most-recognizable symbol of Hanukkah is, of course, the menorah. Hampton Road Parents shares how to make a menorah out of just bread and vegetables. However, if you find the task of cutting out the menorah from the bread too daunting, The Daily Meal suggests using a small baguette instead.
You can also make an easy and tasty menorah out of sweets. My friend Abbie's mother once lost their menorah, so she improvised by sticking candles in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
Cupcakes, like these from Dove Chocolate Discoveries, make an easy and sweet edible menorah. To make the shamash, or helper candle, a little higher than the rest, just make a bigger cupcake or put it on a stand so that it maintains its place of honor.
Yes, of course you can make and decorate sugar cookies using Hanukkah cookie cutters. But you can also use holiday cookie cutters to cut out sweet potatoes, polenta, or even butternut squash. Here is an adaptation of my mom's version of sweet potato cutouts:
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cut the potatoes, squash, or polenta crosswise into ½ inch thick slices.
- Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil, or the oil of your choice.
- Brush both sides of the slices with the oil, place them on the cookie sheet, and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and fresh or dried rosemary.
- Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and use cookie cutters to cut shapes from the slices.
- Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the slices are cooked through.
Note that the cookies pictured above are not traditional Stars of David, but they're still festive and delicious! (You can find Stars of David cookie cutters here.)
Chocolate gelt, or Hanukkah coins, is one of kids' favorite holiday treats, no question. The Daily Meal suggests making your own kid-friendly variation by dipping Oreos or Nilla Wafers in chocolate, then using edible paint to give them a golden coating. If you want to make a slightly healthier version, use a dried apricot round instead of cookies!
Making edible Hanukkah crafts is a wonderful way to get your children involved in the holiday, not to mention a lovely opportunity for some quality time together during this busy season. May you and your family have a joyous celebration—Chag Hanukkah Sameach (Happy Hanukkah)!