Five Mistakes to Avoid at Your Hanukkah Party

10 Dec

photo copy 3 Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It’s an occasion my husband and I mark by throwing an annual Hanukkah party, a fun and festive celebration where we eat, drink, light candles and invariably do something wrong.

Here are some of my favorite mistakes:

1. Setting things on fire — Hanukkah is a festival of lights, but it can also be an exercise in not burning down the house. When you light the menorah, make sure that only the candle gets lit and not the wooden frame of a nearby hanging wall mirror.

How to avoid it?  Do not place a lit candle close to any flammable object.

2. Incinerating the latkes — When your spouse warns you not to step away from the stove while you’re frying potato pancakes, listen. You can fill the water pitcher later. One minute too long and your latkes can go from sizzling potato patties to smoldering cow patties.

How to avoid it?  Set the timer:  2 minutes and 45 seconds per side.

3. Starving your guests — If in past years you provided dinner for your guests and this year you decide to switch to “Dreidels and Dessert” don’t be surprised if you find yourself ordering five pizzas half way through your party after friends ask, “Where’s the brisket?”

How to avoid it? If you change your party routine, announce it in bold lettering on the invitation.

4. Unnecessary peeling — If you’re a rookie latke-maker, you might make a mistake of epic proportions, 100 latkes worth to be exact, when you spend hours hand-peeling all of the potatoes.

How to avoid it? Don’t peel the potatoes. Do scrub them well.

5. Overheating your house — Hanukkah generally falls in late November or early December. In many regions, that means the indoor thermostat is jacked up high. It also means that when your fireplace is stoked and your house is filled with people, the temperature will rise so high you can grow orchids in your living room.

How to avoid it?  Turn the thermostat down to a comfortable 68 degrees and open windows as needed.

Wishing all who celebrate a Happy Hanukkah!

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42 Responses to “Five Mistakes to Avoid at Your Hanukkah Party”

  1. Carrie Rubin December 10, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Despite my last name, I’m not Jewish, but in the event I ever do experience Hanukkah, your tips should come in handy. ;)

  2. Laura December 11, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Happy Hanukkah!

  3. Perfecting Motherhood December 11, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    I love how each holiday we celebrate gives us the opportunity to screw up!

  4. The Laughing Mom December 11, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    Happy Hanukkah! I love latkes and have heard they are quite the labor of love. “Where’s the brisket?” Ha! I can hear it and I’m sure I’d be asking for it!

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 11, 2012 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks! Latkes are truly a labor of love. Hours of hovering over the stove. But they’re worth it!

  5. Shalagh Hogan December 11, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    As a party throwing girl,I feel the helpfulness oozing from your past suffering. I hope your party is lovely this year. ANd what sort of potatoes are you using that you don’t peel? Yukons?

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 11, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      Thank you! I don’t know much about cooking but I read that russets are good for latkes because they contain the right amount of starch so that’s what I used and they came out great!

  6. Carl D'Agostino December 11, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Hmmm. Lisa, I think you may find meaning in what I just posted my blog.

  7. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer December 11, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Thanks for the advice. I agree with everything you said, but will also have my fire extinguisher ready.

  8. mysending December 11, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Excellent advice on all accounts! It reminds me of the time when our daughter looked up at her school-made menorah and noticed it was on fire–the teacher had them use bottle caps with plastic inside (are those even around any more?) and the plastic caught on fire…Happy Hanukkah!

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 12, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Ha! The home-made menorahs are the best kind (when they don’t catch on fire). Happy Hanukkah to you too!

  9. Debbie December 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    How fascinating! Many of my friends in high school were Jewish, but I never got invited to their Hanukkah celebrations. I’m a Cradle Catholic, so we did Christmas justice, though. Hope you managed to keep your home cozy and flame-free — Happy Hanukkah!

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 12, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      Ha! I’ve never heard “Cradle Catholic” before. I love the alliteration. Thank you for the Hanukkah wishes.

  10. nursemommylaughs December 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear of your holiday festivity almost-fail. Good thing you had good friends and family to keep the party (and pizza) alive! Tip#54…never sit on a dreidel.

  11. Huffygirl December 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Happy Hanukkah Lisa. Sounds like the latke can easily turn into the festive food from hell. If I ever have the occasion to need them, I’ll call on your seasoned professional expertise.

    Fortunately for me, we Catholics don’t have a universal traditional food for a kitchen klutz like me to turn into a visit from the fire department.

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 12, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks for the Hanukkah wishes. Anytime you want some latke advice I will happily oblige. My husband taught me how to avoid third degree burns by carefully using a spatula in each hand to flip the latkes.

  12. Paprika Furstenburg December 12, 2012 at 4:49 am #

    Happy Hanukkah, Lisa! You’ve got to love a holiday with religiously sanctioned fried foods.

    I made latkes for just the two of us the other night. My house still smells like fried potatoes
    and onions. I’m sure the smell will dissipate by next Hanukkah :)

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 12, 2012 at 8:48 am #

      “religiously sanctioned fried foods.” Paprika you always make me laugh. Happy Hanukkah to you too. Enjoy the holiday and the lingering Eau de latke aroma.

  13. shelleyburbank December 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Your musings are “amusing” as usual! I chuckled through this one. I think you hint to turn down the thermostat is a good one. I always forget to do that and parties become saunas, even in December…in Maine. Happy Hanukkah to you.

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 13, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      Thanks! One of the nice things about throwing parties is that guests provide the warmth! ;)

  14. christinavl December 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Nice! Sounds like our Thanksgiving! Mazel!

  15. Storkhunter December 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    See, and this is why I let everyone else throw the Hannuka parties. My house is a flammable free zone.

  16. earthriderjudyberman December 12, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    I sense you have a lot of stories here that merit a greater reveal. I’d tell you that I can’t recall any screwups around the holidays. But then I might jinx myself. (Or, my amnesia has kicked in over some epic fail.) :-)
    Happy Hanukkah, Lisa, to you and yours.

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Yes, Judy, I do have many stories, though some must remain untold or I will not be forgiven. Happy holidays to you too!

  17. Grown and Flown December 13, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Biggest risk? Not making enough latkes. SO delicious that everyone always wants more….great list.

  18. Posky December 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    I didn’t plan on having a Hanukkah party but these seem like decent tips for everyday life. I probably will have some latkes just for myself though.

    I make no promises about rule number one though.

    • Main Street Musings Blog December 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

      Don’t forget the sour cream and apple sauce– they work well as condiments or, God forbid, burn salve. ;)

  19. Elliot December 15, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Yes, don’t make the guests starve, unless you don’t want them to be repeat visitors!

  20. Daniel Nest February 6, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Setting things on fire is generally quite a useful tip. Could just as well have been on the list of “things not to do when babysitting” or “the dos and don’t’s of visiting an art gallery”.

  21. Jean March 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Would zuchinni latkes fit the bill? My partner’s mother (German) used to make them awhile ago. Just lovely. These were baked, not pan fried.

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