Planning a Channukah party requires agility, skill, cunning, a sharp eye and nerves of steel. Oh, wait, no, that’s being a secret agent. All a Hanuka party requires is fried foods, people, and fun. And the best part is, there are eight nights! You can have family parties, friend parties and parties that happen at someone else’s house where you don’t have to clean up (though it would be nice if you helped a little bit, I mean, they fed you and gave you little plastic dreidels to take home, it’s the least you can do).
You can make latkes, or better yet, have your friends make them with/for you. You can do this by inviting a few over early enough to start helping you, maybe so early that you get “accidentally” distracted when it’s time to open the door and greet guests while simultaneously abandoning your post in the kitchen. This way your friends end up cooking and you end up socializing and eating. Knowing how to outsource is the first step to becoming a great party hostess.
You want to get some jelly donuts, because they’re staples of the holiday, but you also want to make sure there are alternatives like chips and guac that your gluten and dairy challenged friends can enjoy. After all, this is a Jewish holiday, so celiac and lactose intolerance are bound to rear their heads, genetically speaking. Fresca and booze are also in order, unless this is a family gathering, in which case hide the liquor from uncle Moishe because we all know how his stories get weird when he’s had a bit too much.
Now that you’ve fed and watered your camel like that guy in the old testament (there’s a story in there about camels and stuff, right?), you can remind yourself that Harnuky is a post-biblical holiday and get out the dreidels. I’m not going to go into the rules of the game right now because I can never remember them and will probably just do a whole separate post on rules and strategy. However, the point of the game is that you gamble for chocolate coins. I don’t know about you, but if all the money in Vegas was really chocolate, I’d be there a lot more. Also, it’s the only time you can take chocolate from small children in a fair-and-square context. You’ll probably have to give them most of it back after the game because they’ll be cranky and making whiny noises, but since you’re the adult and it’s your house, you know where you keep your stash anyway so whatever. They can have a few chocolate coins, you’ll be gorging yourself on the rest of the bag after everyone goes home anyway.
Finally, don’t be that person who buys a ton of plastic plates and silverware and hauls endless trash bags outside the next morning. I’ll tell you something right now: if you serve everything on regular plates with real cutlery and cups, you’ll save enough money to buy some fun party drinking-glass markers and still have enough left over to round out your dinnerware set at IKEA. Or at least get the paper kind that biodegrades easily. Just because you’re enjoying an evening of grease soaked gambling and merriment, it doesn’t mean you have to give the planet a coronary too.
Also, learn how to spell Hernorkey. Since it’s a Hebrew word, you’re basically transliterating, so while some people go with “Hanuka” and others with the more sophisticated “Channukah,” I invite you to take your own liberties with the spelling. Why not throw in a Q or a J? While you’re at it, why not get out the Scrabble and win at it with your special spelling skills (and amazing alliterative abilities)? Everyone’s gotten over the whole dreidel thing by now, anyway. By the way, the spell check on Microsoft Word doesn’t have a clue what a dreidel is, it just gives me four conjugations of “deride” and throws in “dreaded” for good measure. So I guess that’s the lesson here: don’t deride or dread Chernukahhh. Embrace it with friends, family, and random folks that people from the first two categories brought along with them. Just watch out for pyromaniac party-crashers; it is a fire-heavy holiday.
*I am obligated to mention that this genius series title was thought up by my friend Ari. He has no tumblr or twitter to link to and really, he just likes attention, so here it is. I mentioned you, Ari, can I go now?