Hanukkah isn’t traditionally a big decorating holiday, but we could all use a little extra cheer in our living spaces right now. While decorating for Christmas in an elegant, sophisticated way is super easy, decorating for Hanukkah is not. ‘Tis the season to go on the scavenger hunt to find the single Hanukkah end-cap display.
Unfortunately, most Hanukkah decorations are cheesy, overwhelmed with plastic party goods, bright blue glitter, and really awful puns. Hanukkah stuff is so literal while Christmas decor gets snowflakes, plaid, and even snow. Don’t get me started on plastic dreidel string lights, but the word tacky comes to mind.
Traditional Hanukkah decorations are a mix of blue and white with metallic accents. Central decor themes include menorahs (a candelabra with nine candles), dreidels (a spinning top), gelt (chocolate gold coins), Star of David (six-pointed star), sufganiyot (filled donuts!), and latkes (potato pancakes served with sour cream or applesauce).
Hanukkah, the eight-day wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrates a miracle of the Temple lantern only having enough for one night but stayed lit for eight.
Now, a rant about why I’m here in the first place. A few weeks ago, Joanna sent me an Instagram post with a Hanukkah candle and a caption that read, “I’m always so disappointed in the lack of Hanukkah decor and gifts. I wanted to make sure we made something cute for all of our friends out there.” I was honored that Joanna thought of me, her best Jewish friend in the world, but also because I’ve had the same complaint for years.
I responded to Joanna’s message with a diatribe about the (lack of) Hanukkah display at Michael’s, simply a lonely end-cap between aisles of holly jolly Christmas Santas and dangling ornaments. Meanwhile, the 42 packs of candles for menorahs, the central element of Hanukkah, were on the bottom row as if placed by a merchandiser who had no idea what they were for. I guess I should appreciate that they were even there at all.
For many people, Christmas is a secular holiday, not related to religion, but instead a celebration of winter, ornaments, and a heavy load of nostalgia. I know there are also many Jewish families in the US that celebrate Christmas or have a Hanukkah bush, too. It’s a day to spend with families and that’s a beautiful thing.
I’m not a grinch, I’m just a Jewish girl who wishes there were more aesthetically pleasing Hanukkah decorations.
Hanukkah decor feels like an afterthought; a forgotten celebration that an estimated 5.5 million and 8 million Americans celebrate every year. Though Hanukkah is not a religiously significant holiday, Hanukkah is still celebrated by Jews every year. It’s also a major commercial opportunity, particularly in North America, largely because it falls near or overlaps with Christmas. All December, the consumer anthem “get it by Christmas” is plastered all over every website, as if it’s the only thing that matters for the entire month. Don’t we want to educate our children about other religions and holidays besides the Christian ones?
Jews want cute Hanukkah decorations, too. I want modern menorahs. I want dreidels that aren’t a primary color. I want subtle touches of Judaica that look like they’re from a magazine spread, not from the basement of a dusty synagogue. There is no reason Hanukkah can’t be approached with the same design flair as any other holiday.
Hanukkah Decorations For Modern Jews
As I rambled to Joanna, she asked if I would write about this and show a few examples of Hanukkah decor that I don’t hate. I scoured the internet high and low for stylish Hanukkah menorahs, dreidels, and decorations in case one Jojotastic reader feels the same way I do.
A wiener menorah is absolutely on brand for Jojotastic, so I would be remiss if I didn’t include it. Jonathan Adler used his whimsical design sense to create a collection of menorahs befit for the modern Jew. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Canaan Menorah, crafted from solid black and white marble with brass accents.
This dark blue tablescape with a modern silver menorah paired with a chic little acrylic menorah looks like a nice place to eat latkes. The dreidel napkins could be used year after year for the festival of lights.
This is the kind of menorah I wouldn’t mind displaying all year in my home. Featuring zigzag candle holders in polished nickel, this menorah from Crate and Barrel is set on an elegant white marble base.
I’m…. obsessed with this RachaelPots Handmade Ceramic Menorah. Made in Brooklyn, NY, these nine little bottles are a subtle nod to the jug of oil from the Hanukkah story.
I love the tradition of adding a new dreidel to your collection year after year to sit around with your friends and family to play together. Or you can play with a different dreidel each night.
This modern dreidel, created in collaboration with the Jewish Museum in New York, is crafted in solid walnut with cutouts of Hebrew letters and includes a brass stand for display.
Modern Hanukkah decorations and dinnerware
Deep shades of blue and ivory dinner plates and platters with botanical and geometric designs pay homage to centuries of tradition. I can see this collection used as a festive addition to Hanukkah celebrations and then for Shabbat dinners or family meals throughout the season.
Dreidels come together to form little snowflakes on these subtle Hanukkah porcelain plates from Crate and Barrel. It works.
I’m obsessed with this reusable luxe felt ball pom pom Hanukkah garland. Drape it over a pine garland on your mantle for decor that feels festive and cute.