The Easy Chanukah Guide: Recipes, Gifts and Activities For Each Night

Family lighting menorah

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah is coming up – and that means eight beautiful nights celebrating the miracle of the Maccabees, lighting the menorah, and, well, figuring out what to do to build your family’s own special traditions.

If it feels like Chanukah snuck right up on you, or you’re trying out leading a night of celebrating on your own for the first time, this holiday “cheat sheet” supplies parents and kids with a story book to read each night of Chanukah, a gift idea to make or exchange, a recipe to cook together, and more. 

Need a crash course in Chanukah traditions and history? Visit the PJ Library Chanukah hub.


There are so many wonderful Chanukah picture books to choose from! You can view all PJ Library Chanukah  selections in the Books section of our website. Here are eight stories that work well for mixed age groups and that your family will enjoy reading again and again.

Hanukkah Hamster
by Michelle Markel

Meet the Latkes
by Alan Silberberg

A Hanukkah With Mazel
by Joel Stein

Eight Winter Nights
by Laura Melmed

Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas
by Pamela Ehrenberg

Hanukkah Moon
by Deborah DaCosta

Gift Ideas

Chanukah gifts don’t have to be flashy or expensive (although it’s fine if that’s your style). If you’re stuck between a pack of socks or a giant stuffed animal, try one of these suggestions:

Handmade cards
Gifts don’t have to be store bought to be special. Organise a family craft night and create special cards to exchange with each other or mail to friends and family.

LEGO bricks
Did you know that you can make all sorts of amazing things with LEGO and Duplo blocks, including dreidels? They’re a perfect gift for your budding engineers and for a Chanukah build-a-dreidel night.

Plan a future trip together, or login and enjoy a virtual class as a family

Give the kids control
Find little ways that each child can be “head of the household” for a moment. For example, offer each child a chance to plan dinner for a future night. Whatever they say (within reason) goes: waffles and ice cream, breakfast pizza, chips and dip, great aunt Martha’s cod kugel – the possibilities are endless.

A gift that gives
Support a local business, buy handmade, or contribute your time and energy to a local charity.

A tzedakah box
You can decorate a custom tzedakah box as a family, or purchase a special keepsake box from a local maker or artist. Dedicate the new box to a cause near and dear to your child’s heart and save up for a full year.

Games and puzzles
Buy (or borrow) something that you can enjoy together as a family. Or create your own games using the PJ Library Story Blocks printable.

Books Would a PJ Library gift guide be complete without books? 


One Chanukah tradition that’s easy to embrace is eating foods fried in oil to pay homage to the miracle of the oil in the original Chanukah story. The recipes below are fun to make with your family, easy to prep, and put new spins on holiday classics. Some are healthy and some are a little extra indulgent – try a new one each night of Chanukah.
Easy Chicken Stir Fry
Hidden Veggie Latkes
Oven Fried Courgette Sticks
Nutella Pocket
Stained Glass Cookies
Sufganiyot Doughnut Holes
Un-fried Chicken Fingers
Veggie Fried Rice

Activities to Do as a Family

Eight easy to prep and fun activities to try each night of Chanukah.

Upcycle crayons into candles
Share the light with charitable goodie bags
Build a glowing pathway
Make an oil menorah
Go stargazing
Turn aluminum foil into menorah-art
Make salt dough candle holders
Unplug for the night

Related: Printable Chanukah Recipe and Activity Cards


Sharing Chanukah at School