Light up Chanukah with Eight Themed Nights

By Lauren Klein, Assistant Vice President, Funder Services, The Associated

As Chanukah quickly approaches, we all have a lot on our minds…What night are we going to have our family get-together? When am I going to send the holiday cards? (Should I even send cards this year?) What am I going to get the kids for Chanukah? Does my son really need another gaming system or my daughter another pair of UGG boots? More importantly, how can we make the holiday more meaningful for all of us.

This year, in addition to gift giving, why not create engaging theme nights for your family? Here are eight suggestions:

1. Family History Night.
Encourage your kids to select a story recording method that works for them, such as an iPhone or video camera. Have them record an interview with another family member using the starter questions below:

  • What life experiences most formed who you are?
  • What are the values that motivate you to be charitable?
  • What are you passionate about?

2. Night of Gratitude.
Ask everyone to take a moment to think about the best gift they have ever received:

  • Was it a tangible gift or an experience?
  • Who gave it to you?
  • What made it so special?

3. Charitable Giving Night.
Designate this night to give to others. Go to a toy store together and have each child select a toy to donate to a local drive, such as Jewish Community Services’ Toy Chest

4. Movie Night with a Message.
Watch a movie together with a life lesson, like “Freedom Writers,” and talk about its key messages. Who are the people in your life that motivate you to succeed? How do we sometimes give in to attitudes and behaviors that we know are not “healthy” just because everyone else is doing it?

5. Night of Volunteering.
Participate in a hands-on volunteering activity as a family to demonstrate the gift of time. Jewish Volunteer Connection, a program of The Associated, can help identify the right placement for you and your family.

6. Book Night.
Read books about giving, such as Mitzvah Magic by Danny Siegel or The Power of Half by Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen.

7. Night of the Tzedakah Box
Pull out the crayons, stickers, scissors and glue for a make-your-own tzedakah box activity. As you decorate, talk about tzedakah, and why it’s important to give. Make the tzedakah box the centerpiece on the table, and invite guests to give – a quarter, a dollar, or more – to a collective tzedakah pool.

8. Light up Chanukah… for a Cause
Ask each guest to suggest an organization or cause to support and explain why it’s important to them. Consider purchasing Chanukah for a Cause candles that support our troops or breast cancer research. Don’t focus on the amount of money; it’s about the discussion and the feeling of giving together as a family.

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