Guest Author - Megan Romer
Game-playing has long been part of the Hanukkah tradition, most prominently in the famous Dreidel (or Dreydl) Game, where players spin a four-sided wooden top to win "gelt" (traditionally money, but most modern families use foil-wrapped chocolate coins). Why not make board games part of your Hanukkah tradition as well?
Here's how we do it: we always play the Dreidel game on the first night of Hanukkah, but for the other seven nights, we play a new board game. Everyone in the family does some research on new board games, and picks out 3 or 4 that they think everyone would like. All of these games are dropped into a hat, and Mom or Dad (or another designee) picks out 7 of these games at random. They are in charge of purchasing these games and wrapping them.
Each night, a game is selected from the wrapped pile and one of the children gets to open it. Then the family plays together - a perfect way to celebrate the holiday, which is traditionally about quiet and reflective familial celebration (as opposed to commercialism and over the top gift-giving). The presents make a lasting impact: the game closet in the house builds up, which provides extra encouragement for families to play more often.
Because we are a multifaith family, games are our only gift during Hanukkah. It's an economical way to allow the family to celebrate both winter holidays. However, this is a tradition that can be incorporated into many different styles of family celebration. Families who enjoy Hanukkah gift-giving can simply add this tradition to the celebration that they already have; families who don't have as much money can use it as a way to save money while expanding the fun of the presents.
In any case, the "Eight Games of Hanukkah" is a really great modern Hanukkah tradition that will bring your family much joy, or nachas. Gut Yontiff!