Tips for Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah with Kids!

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I was raised in an interfaith household with my mom being Jewish and my dad raised Christian, so celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah was always part of my family. Now that I have children of my own, and my husband is Jewish, we celebrate both holidays in our household as well. My husband was quite excited to “marry into Christmas” as it is such a fun holiday to celebrate. But make no mistake, Hanukkah is not the “Jewish Christmas” and has its own fun traditions!

Tips for Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah with Kids! Charleston Moms
My youngest cuddling her Santa and Dreidel puppy!

For new parents or interfaith couples that are still figuring out how to honor both religions with their children, it can be tricky to navigate but doesn’t have to be. The most important thing to consider is what family traditions you want to carry on to your children. It seems like it could be hard for kids to understand, but if that is all they know, they are surprisingly adaptable (especially if presents are involved on both ends!).

Here are some tips and things we do with our family that might be helpful for those families trying to incorporate both holidays this season:

  • Reading books to your children about Christmas and Hanukkah is a great way for kids to learn about the holidays and traditions that go along with them. For Jewish books, the PJ Library is a great program that you can enroll your child in starting at six months. They will send you a free book every month, and around the holidays they always send holiday-themed books that are age-appropriate.
  • Go to celebrations around town that honor both religions in a fun and festive way. We always go to the local Christmas parade and tree lightings as well as the menorah lighting and Hanukkah food festival.

Speaking of food, both holidays have traditions centered around food

  • There are some delicious Jewish foods that are made during Hanukkah. Latkes are potato pancakes that can be topped with sour cream or applesauce traditionally. Chefs have gotten creative with Latkes in recent years and there is some new fun takes on how to make a delicious Latke. Another tasty Jewish food that all kids should love is sufganiyot which are jelly-filled donuts.
  • Christmas has so many traditions around food that are fun for kids. One of our favorites is decorating Christmas cookies to eat or give out to friends, neighbors, teachers, and of course Santa on Christmas Eve! We also always do a big Christmas brunch with our whole family after opening presents.

One aspect of celebrating both holidays is incorporating lights. Christmas lights strung on houses, trees, and light shows are magical to children. Hanukah is called the ”Festival of Lights” because lighting a menorah each of the eight nights is such a symbolic and important part of the holiday.

Tips for Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah with Kids! Charleston Moms
My girls lighting the Menorah on the first night of Hanukkah last year.

Music is another way to celebrate both religions with kids. There are so many popular Christmas songs, but there are also some great Hanukkah songs as well. We always just play a Spotify mix of whichever holiday we are celebrating at that time to enjoy some festive tunes.

Playing holiday-themed games is also a lot of fun for kids. Dreidel is played during Hanukkah which is a huge hit in our house. Who doesn’t love a chocolate coin? For Christmas activities, we usually do a Christmas-themed puzzle or a fun craft like making ornaments for the tree.

The Most Important Hannukah and Christmas Tip:

The most important part of celebrating both holidays is spending time together as a family. In the end, all our children want from us is quality time. Do what is right for your family, and don’t worry about what others think or say. Expose your kids to both religions and holidays and when they are older, they can choose their own path.

Holidays are some of the most magical times for both kids and parents so just have fun with it and make traditions that work for your family!

In general, the spirit of both holidays is a joyful one where people tend to be friendlier, to be more willing to give to others, and to be appreciative of what they have.

That is the message you want to pass along to your children that they will carry on their own throughout their lives.

Tips for Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah with Kids! Charleston Moms
Visiting Santa (my 4-year-old still won’t get in a picture with him without me there too!)

Any other interfaith families out there? How do you honor both holidays? Tell us in the comments below!

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Bayly is a native of Mt. Pleasant and after living in Asheville, NC for college and Atlanta, GA for several years after college, she returned home to Charleston in 2015. She now resides in Mt. Pleasant with her two daughters, Vivi (6), Helena (4), husband Alan and 10 pound rescue pup Charm. Bayly is the owner of Your Happy Nest Nanny & Babysitting Agency, which she founded in 2012 while living in Atlanta. Your Happy Nest now operates out of Atlanta, Augusta, Charleston and Cincinnati. In her spare time, she loves spending time at the beach, seeing live music, trying new restaurants and checking out local Charleston events. She also loves to travel and spent a year living in Taiwan and traveling around Southeast Asia before having kids.