This is the year of toned-down holiday parties. The year of socially distant holiday parties. The year where you may be skipping a party altogether. Even though we are far apart, there is no reason why you can’t have a holiday party on a budget with your few close ones or virtually with those far away.
There is no reason why you can’t have a Chanukah party with just your immediate family. As a mother, I think it’s important to create holiday cheer inside my home that is not dependent on other people. Although I would like to have extended family to celebrate with us, we can’t. That doesn’t mean that my kids and I have to lose out on a party. If there are traditions and rituals that you love, then you have to make them happen. You have to create the fun and cheer by yourself. That is why I will be making a holiday party for just my immediate family this year: just me, my husband, and my kids.
Despite the coziness of the event, I still need to make this holiday party on a budget. If you are one of the lucky ones who can have guests this year (looking at you, Australia!), then you can use these tips to make a real, large holiday party on a budget.
How to Make an Awesome Chanukah Holiday Party
Make Traditional Foods for the Chanukah Party:
Make Fried Foods. Although we seem to have latched onto the doughnut part of the fried foods. There is a custom to enjoy fried foods on Chanukah because of the miracle done with oil. So make some fried foods to serve.
Dairy foods. There is also a custom to serve dairy foods on Chanukah (read here why) so serve up some dairy at your party!
Have Chanukah Entertainment!
These are our new favorite crafts! This is a great activity that you can do with kids of many ages. Younger kids can do easier designs, and the older ones can get more intricate and detailed.
Pin the Light on the Menorah
Use this menorah craft (which you probably made from my 56 Things to do on Chanukah) to play a game of pin the light on the menorah!
This can be an activity or something you do ahead of time and use as a centerpiece, but I honestly couldn’t leave this out once I found it. How creative?!
Full honesty alert: this is probably not something I will be doing this year as it seems way beyond me! But if you love these types of things or have kids who love doing these things, please try it and let me know how it went!
Decorate Chanukah Cookies
Nothing says Chanukah like taking something made for Christmas and making it Jewish! I love this way of decorating cookies from Pioneer Woman. I have a few Chanukah cookie cutters that I use to make dreidel and menorah cookies. This way of decorating is really easy for even very little kids, and it’s a super activity that ends with delicious cookies. What could be bad?
Play Chanukah Charades over Zoom
You can play any game you want, but the game of charades lends itself very well to zoom or another virtual meeting. Have family members or friends join in from all over and enjoy the Holiday Party all together even if you are far apart.
Make a Festive Chanukah Holiday Party Table
This project is supposed to be used for Chanukah wrapping paper, but what if you did this for a Chanukah tablecloth instead? Then, as you fry, your food kids can decorate the tablecloth or just a large piece of paper (you can use as a runner) to make it festive.
Sprinkle the Table with Chocolate coins or Gelt.
Have you ever seen anything as cute as this?! Of course, it’s probably easier and cheaper to just buy regular chocolate coins, but this one is for the super creative, overachieving ones among us. Take the coins and put them on the table to give your table a bit of a festive feel.
While we love celebrating and throwing parties (even by ourselves!), money will always be an issue.
If you are having a large party and you need some ways to cut costs and make your holiday party on a budget, here are some ways to make a party on a budget and still have a beautiful, fun, and festive holiday party:
9 Ways to Make a Chanukah or Holiday Party on a Budget:
- Serve soup. Starting a meal with a nice soup is an excellent way to fill up on something cheap and festive. You want your family and guests to fill up on the more inexpensive items first so that you can skimp on the more expensive stuff. Don’t get carried away and make a fancy, expensive soup with lots of ingredients! A simple cream of potato or zucchini soup is a fitting start to an elegant meal but a very cheap and filling dish. Soup can also be quickly frozen as leftovers.
- Serve bread and dips. A yummy (homemade) bread or rolls is a good, filling way to start the meal. You can elevate any plain bread recipe with the addition of some roasted garlic or herbs. A simple tahini or hummus dip (can be homemade) to dip the bread in will get the meal started.
- Lighten up the sides. Many traditional side dishes are based on pretty cheap items- sweet potatoes, potatoes, stuffing, etc. Cut down on the margarine, butter, salt, and oil to make the vegetables less heavy. The cost savings may be minimal, but the lighter version will be easier to swallow and encourage guests to eat more of these vegetables. Light lettuce or tomato salad is another easy, cheap side dish.
- Shop around for the turkey and other main dishes. While it is not exactly practical to shop around for the best deal on each ingredient- especially if you are cooking all week! – pick the most expensive or most used ingredient and find a deal on that. For thanksgiving, this will probably be Turkey. If you save $1 a pound on a ten-pound turkey, you will save $10. That is worth driving a little extra for! Also, keep an eye out for grocery stores offering coupons or deals on other more expensive ingredients like nuts throughout the week.
- Cut down on drinks. Soda, punch, and juice add expenses to your meal budget. Consider serving water or homemade lemonade, or sumac juice to cut down on costs and make your meal a little healthier. Some lemon slices or fresh mint in a pitcher of water make a festive addition to your table with minimal cost.
- Sweet potato vs. pecan? While it may not be worth it for you to cut down on all expensive ingredients or dishes (Thanksgiving is one time a year, after all!), it may be worth it to cut down on the more expensive dishes on the menu. For example, you can serve a smaller piece of pecan pie next to a larger slice of sweet potato pie. The more expensive the ingredient- the more sparingly you should use it.
- Cook in advance. You can’t do everything in one day, and homemade food takes time to cook. So if you want to save money and not buy food, cook in advance and freeze. The guests won’t know the difference, and you will be happier and calmer.
- DIY Decorations. One of the best mom hacks around is to use your kids to create a really fun decorated house and take the pressure off you! When the kids are decorating, you can get away with decorations of, how do I say this? Less than picture-perfect. Have your kids do any of the millions of holiday crafts to decorate the house and table.
- Leftovers! It goes without saying (but we are saying it anyway)- save leftovers. Take the time after your exhausting day to properly pack up and fridge or freeze leftovers. Don’t leave all food to be eaten the next day. Instead, freeze some dishes to keep for those days when supper is just not happening. Instead of ordering pizza, pull some leftovers out, and you will be grateful you took the time to freeze it.
Chanukah, Channuka, Channukah, Hannukah, Hannuka, Hanuka…. No matter how you spell it you can celebrate! Check out all the things you can do this Chanukah here.