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What to bring to a Chanukah Party

  • m

I am attending my first Chanukah Party and was wondering what would be appropriate to bring as a host/hostess gift. I don't know if this will be a kosher event, since they aren't that strict. I don't want to bring flowers because I have allergies. If anyone could suggest something nice, I'd greatly appreciate it.

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  1. A bottle of wine (you could always buy kosher wine if you think they'd prefer it) usually goes over well.

    1. how much do you want to spend? do you want to bring something that relates to the holiday? and were you thinking more along the lines of something to be enjoyed at the party, or for the hostess to enjoy after?

      2 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        i just had a thought...since oil is particularly symbolic for this holiday, how about a nice bottle of Israeli olive oil?

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Great idea on the olive oil!! Maybe some nice macaroons...or rugelach from a reputable bakery. Shalom, Adam

      2. I'm invited to an annual Chanukah party and many years ago I brought homemade chocolate chip cookies. I'm no longer allowed to show up without them.

          1. I second a nice wine and a bottle of olive oil (I don't know that the bottle need to be Israeli).

            But if you're going baked goods, may I recommend the fried goods of doughnuts? These are, like latkes, part of the celebration of oil and all things fried.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Lizard

              Filled jelly doughnuts (aka sufganiyot) have become very popular in the States in recent years. If you live in a large city, some Dunkin' Donuts stores have kosher certifications. I usually bring the jelly Munchkins to kids' parties.

              Cheese-based foods are also traditional. If you live near a fabulous cheesecake bakery or can make your own, that's another option.

              And having the bottle of wine or olive oil be Israeli is a nice touch.

              1. re: rockycat

                All great suggestions, however I'd ask about the kosher before bringing any food. We're not that strict either but have family that are, so our parties sometimes have to be kosher when they otherwise wouldn't. Also people often have different standards at home than out. A bottle of wine is always a safe bet (if nothing else they can regift if they can't use it).

                1. re: ddelicious

                  I agree. You can't go wrong bringing certified Kosher food or Kosher wine to a Jewish holiday party. Or, bring a non-food item like flowers, dreidls, etc. I like the olive oil from Israel idea, personally.

            2. You can bring beautiful Chanukah candles to use for lighting the chanukiah.

              Or like other people said- jelly donuts. A lot of kosher bakeries make them special around the holiday and don't have them year round. I've also seen beautifully decorated and kosher certified Chanukah cookies.

              1. Hey Mrs. T and all the responders here - I am writing a story for The Associated Press on this very subject - what to bring to a hanukkah party! Would love to hear from you Mrs. T, would you email me at bharpaz@ap.org? And I loved all the replies put up here - totally perfect - wine, donuts, candles, chocolate were all on my list - I'd love to quote any of you who would be willing to share first and last names and hometown and your ideas for the story! By the way Mrs. T - couple other ideas off my list - if kids will be there, bring some dreidels and a roll of pennies; and/or call ahead and ask hostess if you can supply the applesauce for the latkes! Make a nice homemade sauce or buy a beautiful gourmet applesauce for the table...

                5 Replies
                1. re: bharpaz

                  re: the kids, if there will be any there, i'm sure they'd also greatly appreciate some chocolate gelt :)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I think the adults would enjoy the gelt too!

                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      I like the idea of bringing the gelt too. I'd go with a dessert, but I wouldn't bring the donuts, because I would think if it is a hanukah party the host would be serving these already. They'd probably have gelt too, but many people think, you can never have too much chocolate. (I do, but that's another story, I wonder if they have white chocolate gelt? Something different to think about...)

                      1. re: michele cindy

                        Trader Joe's had gelt that was packaged like the regular kind but were coins of the world. I didn't look to see if it had a hechsher on it, but it looked really cool.

                  2. re: bharpaz

                    I was thinking applesauce, too. For several years my contribution to an annual Hanukkah gathering has been this extremely popular and well-liked variant on applesauce. It's a recipe I learned from a friend, but I believe it originates in a Mollie Katzen cookbook. The flavor is quite extraordinary, but it's quite simple to make.

                    Here's the formula:

                    Three apples
                    Three pears
                    One pineapple
                    One cinnamon stick
                    (I sometimes add a bit of maple syrup or a couple of whole cloves to the mix., but my friend who gave me the recipe is a purist about it and insists on not deviating from the original formula.)

                    Peel all the fruit, cut into chunks (remove central core from pineapple), add cinnamon stick. Put into a pot and cook until applesauce consistency is attained. Will the pineapple take longer to dissolve than the pears and apples? Yes, it probably will. Resolve that issue with a potato masher.

                    Remove cinnmon stick and cloves, if present, before serving.

                    People love this and it smells great while it is cooking.

                  3. If you've got a kosher market nearby, or one that stocks Israeli goods, try to get a six-pack of Crembo. These are essentially Israeli moon pies: cookie base, marshmallow fluff (in different flavors) piled high, all covered in chocolate. Because they're rather delicate they often only get imported in cooler months, which is the Chanukah connection for my kids. Unlike moon pies, they're kosher.

                    Another thought: Jewish-themed wine charms from yontifications. There's a Jewish holiday set, though at $36 maybe more than you'd like to spend.

                    I like the idea of nice Chanukah candles like the ones from the Safed Candle Company because they are the type of indulgence that I'll tell myself is too expensive, but which I love to use when I do get them.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Kochav

                      This is off-topic, but re the expensive Safed candles...Our Bed, Bath, and Beyond carries them during December. They deep-discount them after X-mas and you also get those 20% off coupons. I usually stock up for just a coupla dollars a box. Right now I have a 3 year supply in my sideboard. I also buy very cheap lights for my sukkah then. Gotta love the post-holiday clearances.

                      Hidur mitzvah is great, but couple that with saving loads of money? Sebabah!

                      1. re: rockycat

                        Just an observation: hanukkah menorahs come in all different sizes. It would be a shame to buy candles only to find they aren't the right size. It could make for an awkward moment. I'd leave the candle supplying to the menorah owner and bring something like wine and/or olive oil for the host/hostess and a bunch of gold foil-covered (kosher) chocolate coins for the kids. Dreidls are a nice touch too, particularly if you can find some that are more interesting than the standard issue plastic ones. If you're a proficient cook, a gourmet recipe of root vegetable latkes might be a funky gift to add to the foods already being served. I made some once that were a mix of colourful roots, served with a celery root remoulade. Yum!

                        1. re: rockycat

                          American Greetings has them for cheap right now! I need to go to the Kosher Market by me, I am now craving Krembo!!!!

                          1. re: rockycat

                            Ooooh, excellent to know about the BBB deal! I do love those candles, even though they don't quite fit all our menorahs. Aluminum foil is the duct tape of the Chanukah world! BBB also used to sell foil-wrapped chocolate maccabees, but I've not seen those for many years.

                            To bring this back on topic, another chowish idea that would work if the hosting family doesn't keep strictly kosher (and OP, I think it's fine to ask if the host family observes kashrut). Get a bag of stick pretzels, the type that are maybe 2-3 inches long. Also get some chocolate (white, dark, and/or milk) and some yellow, white, and blue teeny candy sprinkles (the kind that look like miniature ball bearings). Melt the chocolate. Put the pretzels in the chocolate, making sure that they are covered with the chocolate. Using a fork, carefully remove three of the chocolate-covered pretzels and arrange them into an equilateral triangle on top of a piece of wax paper. Remove another three pretzels, and form them into another inverted triangle atop the first triangle, making a Jewish star. Sprinkle with the sprinkles, and let cool. We would make these in both white and dark chocolate varieties, then wrap an assortment up in colored cellophane.

                            1. re: Kochav

                              I think that's a lovely idea! And tasty too.

                              1. re: Kochav

                                Melt the bottom of the candles with a lighter before trying to stick them in the Chanukiah.
                                It's a tradition at my old shul to make chocolate-pretzels into a Chanukiah and also chocolate-shaped symbols such as sevivon (dreidels) and gelt. Chocolate gelt is always welcome - no matter the age.

                                1. re: TampaAurora

                                  I once made chocolate gelt by melting chocolate and pouring it into gelt molds. It was different than the usual foil wrapped type.

                          2. I was told that olives are also a traditional gift for a Chanukah party host. Costco sells a large and fairly attractive glass jar filled with different types of olives.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: territoronto

                              Never ever heard of this. Olive Oil maybe.
                              You can never go wrong with chocolate. That's my motto.

                            2. MrsT, look like you're in/around NYC, no? If you can make it to the W. Village, there's a wonderful olive oil shop called Olivier & Co. on Bleeker St. It's expensive, but the tins (very attractive) make lovely presents.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: cimui

                                This month's Hadassah magazine (not yet available on line) did an article on olive oil, highlighting their favorites and including a recipe for olive oil cookies. I don't have it with me, but I remember them liking the Pereg, Halutza, and Peace brands. There were at least 2 others that I don't recall. The Peace olive oil is a joint Israeli-Palestinian venture, if that appeals to you.

                              2. I would ask the hostess if it is a Kosher household. If not, there are so many options you can have. A Jewish Apple cake is always welcome. For something festive, especially if the host/hostess has children, I would get a nice fancy box--blue or silver and fill it with chocolate gelt coins and dreidles and a book about Chanuakah. If no kids, white and blue flowers (as is the colors of this holiday), any nice dessert if fine--some home made ruggelah or hammintashin (my spelling is off on this stuff). Nice bottle of wine! There are even sites in which you can plant a celebratory tree in Isreal in someone's honor--its $25 bucks--how can you go wrong with that?

                                1 Reply
                                1. No idea what your budget is, but a really unique Chanukah gift is a reproduction of an ancient oil lamp to go along with a bottle of (olive) lamp oil. Here are some pretty authentic reproductions: http://www.victorie-inc.us/olive_oil_...
                                  EDIT: Ooops! This page has some that are less expensive but equally as authentic: http://www.victorie-inc.us/oliveoilla...

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Noooo, I hate to disagree, but no oil lamps or menorahs etc. Well, just personally speaking I would not know where to put or what to do with something like that. Something edible is always nice.

                                    1. re: ddelicious

                                      I used to put oil in mine and burn it. Then I gave it to a friend who was quite taken with it. It was 2,000 years old. But they are fun. Patio, bedroom, kitchen counter, bathroom. Wherever. Show me some food that's 2,000 years old and still good!

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        The grain in the storerooms at Masada! Not *quite* 2,000 years old, but almost. Still perfectly good from what the tour guides say. :-)

                                        1. re: rockycat

                                          Depends on whether you like stale bread fresh from the oven! '-)

                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                          Wow, the reproduction was 2000 years old? Now that would be a great gift.

                                          1. re: ddelicious

                                            Guess I left myself open to the literal minded with that one. Mine was an original I acquired when I lived in Turkey. I gave it to a friend who was a nun. Later I wished I hadn't because when she left her order, they order kept it! Ah, well. I can always buy a reproduction. ;-)

                                    2. To be festive why don't you make Chanukah cookies like you would make Christmas ones. Buy cookie cutters in the shapes of menorahs, dredils and the Star of David. Decorate them with blue, white and silver frosting, sugars, sprinkles, etc. You can put them in a pretty tin or box with ribbon. If you want to be really festive hang dredils from the ribbon.

                                      1 Reply