What’s not to love about Hanukkah? We get eight whole nights of celebrating, presents and fun under the cozy glow of the menorah’s dancing candlelight. It’s a time when fried food isn’t merely a delicious indulgence but actually a cultural tradition — and that’s an even better reason to devour sufganiyot and latkes to your heart’s content.
Even more than food and gifts, the holiday is about gathering loved ones for making cherished memories. Keep your group engaged in the party spirit (and off their devices) by making the gathering extra fun and memorable by planning a slate of Hanukkah games. Whether you’re a multigenerational family or a group of friends, our list includes ideas that party people of all ages can get into.
How about a game of dreidel or a limbo contest for the preschoolers? Or a Hanukkah drinking game for the 21-plus crowd? If it sounds like a lot of work to put together some Hanukkah games as part of your holiday gathering, you might be overthinking it. Many of these activities require no supplies — nothing to buy, nothing to DIY and only ordinary accessories like scraps of paper and pencils. All you really need is a little inspiration and a cooperative —or even competitive! — group.
Hanukkah Gelt Challenge
You’ll want to have the camera ready for this game, bound to trigger funny faces in the midst of an awkward pursuit. To play, place an unwrapped chocolate coin on each player’s forehead. The goal is to wiggle, flip or otherwise nudge the candy from there into the player’s mouth. The first one to do it successfully is the winner.
Hanukkah Scavenger Hunt
Get those muscles moving after the latke feast with a scavenger hunt that sends the group searching inside or around the home. Make it a holiday version by creating a list around the theme — such as all-blue items, anything that lights up, or a whole list of items beginning with “H” for Hanukkah.
Hanukkah Drinking Game
Really get the Hanukkah party started with a drinking game. Try it with a dreidel and drink according to where it lands. Or do it throughout the night, drinking at designated opportunities, like when that Adam Sandler song comes on, every time someone opens a present, and when someone in the group snaps a selfie with the menorah. Or buy a Hanukkah-themed drinking game, like this one! (Naturally, this game is for the 21-plus celebrants in the group.)
Latke Counting Game
Here’s one for the preschoolers in the house. Keep the little ones entertained, and practicing basic math while they’re at it, with this homemade game that gets them excited about counting. Kids can pretend to fry up their own latkes, easily made with craft foam or cardboard, while counting the pretend potato pancakes to the tune of a special song.
(Blue and) White Elephant
Just for fun, try the traditional white elephant gift exchange with a Hanukkah spin on the name. For this game, everyone comes with a wrapped gift, and guests take turns unwrapping one that’s still a mystery, or choosing instead to steal one that another guest has already opened and revealed. There are so many variations on this activity; play by any rules you specify. Warning: This game gets competitive, and often rowdy!
Hanukkah Memory Game
This game is great for the younger kids in the group, and helps preschoolers work on their concentration, attention to detail, and taking turns with others. Just print sheets with Hanukkah images like dreidels, gelt, and menorahs on paper or card stock; then cut out the game pieces.
Gift Wrap Challenge
Hanukkah lasts eight nights — and that means wrapping a lot of presents. Test your crew to see who’s become the most skillful wrapper in the game with a fun gift wrap challenge. Designate an item to play with: Make it a simple box, or pick something irregularly shaped to add to the challenge. Whoever wraps it the fastest gets to take it home as a prize.
Try a Jewish take on a matching game with this set of dominoes, which each bearing a symbol of Hanukkah. Younger kids can line up matching dominoes end to end, while parents use the teaching opportunity to explain the holiday’s special objects and traditions.
Hanukkah Cookie Decorating Contest
Prepare for this game by pre-baking a big batch of basic sugar cookies. Store-bought dough is fine: It’s all about the toppings. Set out an array of decorating tools and supplies — icings, candies, stencils, and more — and challenge each member of the group to top a cookie with their best design. Select a judge, and award prizes like best overall, most creative, or funniest cookie. Then everyone digs in (but don’t forget to take pictures first).
Charades is an all-occasion classic, and you can give it a Hanukkah twist by choosing on-theme concepts to act out. Think candles, latkes, presents, and more. Scale the difficulty based on the ages and attention span of the group. Pro tip: If charades isn’t your thing, just spin around a circle when it’s your turn and you’ll be immediately identified as a dreidel, swiftly ending your turn so you can go back to your Manischewitz.
Hanukkah Joke Tellers
“What do you call the speck that falls into the latke pan? An unidentified frying object!” Get the crowd laughing with G-rated, Hanukkah-theme jokes like these. All you need is a sheet of paper to print out a joke teller that kids can fold and manipulate with their hands to reveal the punchlines.
Create your own bingo boards and customize a game that’s super-specific to your family. Maybe there are spots for “dad tells that same story again” or “mom says she ate too many latkes.” The more personalized the details, the more fun your family members will have seeing themselves represented in the game.
Or, if you don’t feel like DIYing, you can purchase this downloadable template.
Ugly Hanukkah Sweater Competition
Hey, when it comes to holiday sweaters, one guest’s “ugly” is another’s epic. Challenge your guests to come in their best (worst) Hanukkah sweaters (like the one featured here), decked out with working lights, sequins, pompoms — the works. Bonus points for DIY innovation. Designate a judge or panel of judges to declare a winner and runners up. Don’t forget the prizes.
Top Latke Chef
Think your latkes are the best in the game? Put your skills to the test alongside other party guests, each of whom comes prepared to whip up a batch of their own special recipe. Those who don’t cook can judge the competition through a taste test. Either way, everyone wins when the place is filled with fresh latkes and their cozy, mouthwatering aroma.
Hanukkah Song Sing-Off
Break into teams and take turns belting renditions of classic Hanukkah songs. There may not be a ton of Hanukkah movies out in the world (womp womp), but there’s no shortage of tunes. Think Light One Candle, I Have a Little Dreidel, Oh Chanukah, Sevivon… and yes, of course, Adam Sandler’s The Chanukah Song.
20 Questions: Famous Jewish People Edition
Write the names of famous Jewish people throughout history — actors, politicians, change-makers and so on — each on its own small piece of paper or card stock. Help each player tape or pin one name to their back, without seeing what’s on it. Throughout the evening, players have to try to figure out who they are by asking strategic questions of the others. See who can do it in 20 questions or less!
Two Truths and a Lie… About Hanukkah
In this game, a player shares three statements derived from Hanukkah memories or traditions — the more outlandish the better. All of the other players try to guess which one of them is false.
How Many Gold Coins?
Fill a vase, jar, bowl or another see-through vessel with gold coins, counting them as you place them inside. The challenge is for each player to guess the number of coins contained in the jar. The closest one to the correct number wins all the coins.
You’ll remember this one from every bar mitzvah you ever attended! Two people each hold the end of a broom handle or length of ribbon, while party guests pass underneath it, bending backward to accommodate as the height gets lower and lower for each pass. The player who goes the lowest without collapsing wins!
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