How to Set the Table for Hanukkah
Celebrate the Festival of Lights with menorah, traditional colors, and gelt bags.
Every year the celebration of Hanukkah begins at sundown on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which falls in either November or December. "Hanukkah is the holiday of lights, which symbolizes the Jews reclaiming their temple from King Antiochus and the oil that they burned. The oil was only intended to last one night but it lasted for eight nights, making it a miracle," says Seri Kertzner, chief party officer at Little Miss Party Planner.
Hanukkah begins on the evening of December 22 and ends on the evening of December 30 in 2019, with community festivals and parties to commemorate the miracle from the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in Second Century BCE. Family gatherings and dinner parties are another way to celebrate Hanukkah with the people close to you. So, we asked Kertzner for some tips on how to set the table for eight nights of togetherness.
The Essential Element
"With every Hanukkah candle we light, we highlight the most important message of all: that we must always work to find light in the darkness," says Kertzner. "And we must always work to keep the light of religious freedom burning for all people, for all time." This is why the Menorah is so essential to your table setting for Hanukkah. Traditional menorahs have seven branches but you can find menorahs that are designed specifically for Chanukah. These menorahs, called the hanukkiyah, have nine branches with eight candles to commemorate the eight days of light and a central candle that lights all the others. She sets the Michael Aram Tree Of Life Menorah that she received as a wedding gift for the centerpiece but also recommends the menorahs from Jonathan Adler.
Lots of Light
In addition to a menorah for your table setting, Kertzner suggests adding candles to the table for a beautiful glow. "Tea lights are nice so that you don't have anything too tall set up and your guests can see each other across the table," she says. "A fun way to build these into the table is to add a paper flag to each of the chocolate coin bags and write each guest's name on it and then use as place card settings so every guest knows where to sit at the table." Lighting the evening by candlelight is one of the ways to celebrate the Festival of Lights at home with family and friends, and the candle glow is perfect for any holiday table setting.
Picking Your Color Palette
What colors should you have for the table settings? "You can go with traditional Hanukkah colors, which are blue, white, gold, and silver. Or, you can mix it up and make it funky," Kertzner says. "I once set the table with a bold and bright palette of pink, white, black, and silver." Once you've decided on your color palette, you can coordinate your tableware, florals, and candles to go along with it. Handmade décor, like a do-it-yourself menorah, also add a personal touch to the table setting and can provide an opportunity for discussion about the meaning of Hanukkah.
Once you have the big details of your table setting figured out, you also need to plan for the smaller details. Details like place cards, linen napkins, and pretty napkin rings play a role in making the table both beautiful and functional for your guests. "A couple of other elements that are nice to have on the table are the following: Water pitcher—one with lemon, one without lemon—so your guests can refill their glasses throughout the meal; salt and pepper shakers; and fresh flowers," Kertzner suggests. You also should consider whether adults or kids are sitting at the table. A table setting for adults can include linen napkins and fine china dishes, while a kids' table should be fun and shatter-proof.