| 936 Sundays |

Kislev: Chanukah Prep

Let’s go!

To the dollar store! There’s so much fun to be had there. A few ideas:

1 Secret Gift Exchange: Gift-giving doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. Everybody picks a name of another family member for whom they’ll buy a secret gift. The gift is chosen based on the meaning of the person’s name. For example, Sara might get a princess crown, Binyamin might get a wolf mask. Each gift is presented, and everyone guesses who it belongs to.

2 The Right and Left Story Game: This one takes some preparation, but is lots of fun for all ages. Buy a bunch of funny, silly, and wacky items and wrap them. I like using a combination of noisemakers and silly accessories. Make sure you buy enough gifts so that there’s one per person.

Now, get pencil and paper and write the Chanukah story, using the words “right” and “left” many times. For example: Alexander the Great got right off his horse and left it right behind him… etc. Everyone takes a wrapped package in hand as you dramatically read the story. Upon hearing the word “right,” everyone passes his gift to the right. Upon hearing the word “left,” everyone passes his gift to the left. And finally, upon hearing “The End,” everyone opens his package. Get ready for lots of laughter.

Getting crafty…

Love the look of those professional “Kiddush” cookies? Have fun making them with your family for your Chanukah party. For the uninitiated:

Make sugar cookies, cut them into Chanukah shapes, and bake them. Roll out fondant (sold in your kosher grocery) into thin circles. Use the cookie cutters to cut the fondant into the same shapes as the cookies. Wet the cookies with a little water or corn syrup, and stick the fondant shapes on top. (Turn the cookies upside down if you want a flatter surface.)

Some decorating ideas:

1 Roll your uncut fondant over a bumpy texture for a nice design. Specialty baking shops sell plastic textured sheets for this purpose, but first take a look around your home. You’ll be surprised at the textured surfaces you’ll find.

2 Add edible pearls. Poke holes in the fondant, put a drop of water in each hole and stick the pearls in.

3 Decorate the fondant with royal icing, or use icing instead of fondant. Use a squeeze tube to outline the cookie with icing. Then put some icing in a bowl and add water, until it’s a paint-like consistency. Use the watered-down icing to fill in the middle of the cookie. Allow the cookies to dry overnight at room temperature.

Let’s play…

Any budding actors/actresses in your home? Let’s rev up those acting skills with some family improv (from the word improvise) time.

A few sample exercises:
  1. Stop and Go: Two actors begin building a scene, using a lot of movement and hand gestures. The moderator screams “Stop” when the two actors are in an interesting position. The actors must freeze in that position. When the moderator yells “Go,” the actors must immediately continue, but with a completely new scene to match their frozen position. Keep it going until the team is stuck without any new ideas.
  1. And, But, and Yes: This Improv challenge is played in two rounds. The first round may seem boring but don’t skip it! It provides a hilarious contrast to the second round. The teams are given a topic such as, “My Dream Vacation” or “A Scary Monster.” The first person begins by making an introductory statement such as, “Let’s go to China for our dream vacation.” During the first round, the partner’s response must begin with “No,” (No, let’s go to Florida) or with “Yes, but” (Yes, but let’s stop in Japan first). The team keeps the conversation going back and forth for as long as they can. The first round will be over pretty quickly. In the second round, the person starts with the same statement, but this time every response must begin with, “Yes, and” (Yes, and let’s do handstands on the Great Wall). Watch those dream vacations quickly get out of hand!
  2. Suitcases: Each team gets a suitcase with interesting objects and funny articles of clothing. They must use them all to create a spontaneous skit.
  3. Gripes: Here’s the opportunity your teenagers have been waiting for — it’s griping time! First, everybody chooses a gripe. Gripes can be homework, having to wake up early, people who leave the ketchup bottle messy… etc. Now it’s time for a warm-up. One person acts as the conductor. When the conductor raises his hands, everyone begins making noise. When he lowers his hands, everyone is quiet. Try faster and slower, louder and quieter. Once everyone is synchronized, the “symphony” can begin. When the conductor points to you, state your gripe. When he gives the signal to stop, you must stop immediately. If pointed to again, you must begin your griping from the exact word (or syllable!) from which you left off. The conductor may also point to more than one person at a time or even the whole “orchestra.” He chooses when to end the symphony.

Take it over the top: The audience votes on a winning team following each Improv challenge.


Do Try this at Home!

Your home must be past the toddler stage for this one. Place a big bowl or interesting vase as a centerpiece on your table. Look through your toys and games for that fun, interactive, but forgotten toy — Jenga blocks, little Lego, Mad Gab cards, a puzzle — anything with lots of cards or pieces. Every week or so, refill your table centerpiece with a new toy or game. There’s no need for any special announcements — bored hands will gravitate there. Bring on the popcorn!

Ooky Recipe Corner

Finger Paint

Mix together in a saucepan:

2 T sugar

⅓ cup cornstarch


2 cups water

Stir the mixture over low heat until thick. Remove mixture from heat and cool. Add ¼ cup clear dishwashing liquid. Put in small cups or yogurt containers. Add a few drops of food coloring to each one.

Take it over the top: Cover your table either with butcher paper or poster boards and let your children paint away!

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 618)

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