As Thanksgiving wraps up another delicious year, the Jewish community moves full steam ahead into Chanukah preparations. With any event, there are ways to streamline a process and make things run smoothly. “Hosting is a wonderful thing and can be fun,” said Rena Soclof, event planner and owner of Rena Soclof Events. “If you’re stressed, people can sense that. But if you give off a calm feeling, your guests will feel warm and welcome and the event is set for success.”
Soclof offered tips to The Jewish Link readers to help ensure a smooth and successful Chanukah party, with some added creativity as well. “For any event, of any size, the most important thing to do is to stay organized,” she said. A fan of checklists and to-do lists, Soclof likes to map out her game plan for any entertainment, complete with what foods to make on specific days, what can be prepared in advance and what can be delegated to other family members. “It’s all about staying organized and delegating. Allow people to help,” Soclof said, explaining that the benefits are twofold. For one, the burden should never fall on only one person, so this helps the host. In addition, it lets guests feel involved, which gives more of a cohesive feel to the eventual get together.
Many people try to find a theme for their Chanukah parties, and that can be elaborate or simple. “Chanukah itself is a theme,” Soclof explained, so something as subtle as an accent color can pull the event together. Some people use blue and silver as a color scheme for Chanukah, while other people use gold; both metallic colors match versions of Chanukah chocolate coins that can be used. Once a color is chosen, it can guide napkin color choices, napkin rings, accents or other details. “It doesn’t need to be overwhelming,” she reminded readers, “just a subtle theme woven throughout the decor.”
Centerpieces also brighten up a table and don’t have to be expensive. Dollar-store finds make great, eye-catching pieces and can be as simple as a glass bowl or vase filled with colored balls, or small votive holder loaded up with Chanukah gelt coins. Even color-themed candy in the middle of the table works to bring the look together.
While color and decorations are important, Soclof reminded readers to add an activity component to their gatherings. “The game itself doesn’t have to be long, but it does get everyone involved,” she explained. As an added bonus, try to somehow tie the game into the holiday theme. For Thanksgiving, Soclof did a “thankful activity” where she placed markers and leaf-shaped papers on the table and guests had the opportunity to write a memory of something for which they are thankful. She saves them from year to year and her family and friends enjoy looking back on these sentiments. She suggested a similar idea can be done for Chanukah, where dreidel shapes are placed on the table, possibly in a color that matches or accents the decor.
Above all, Soclof reminds hosts and hostesses, “Don’t get so hung up on the really small stuff that you can’t enjoy your party.” This mantra is what carries her through the events she makes for herself as well. “Allow yourself to enjoy the time and the people, because holiday gatherings are important. This is what we look back on and know these people are in our lives.”
While there is no wrong or right way to run an event, the expert advice of Rena Soclof Events should help make this time of year as smooth and as enjoyable as possible.
By Jenny Gans