As recorded in the Talmud, it is a (rabbinic) mitzvah to light the menorah every evening of Chanukah, adding another flame each night. Additional observances include chanting Hallel every morning, and adding special passages to the thrice-daily Silent Prayer and the Grace After Meals.

Looking to expand your Chanukah observance beyond the bare-bones basics? Here are 8 deeply meaningful Chanukah traditions for you and your family to personalize.

1. Sing Special (or Silly) Songs

After lighting the menorah, many have the custom to sing Hebrew songs. A classic is the ancient Haneirot Halalu text (which extolls the sanctity of the menorah and how it commemorates the miracles of days gone by) and the (relatively) modern Maoz Tzur, “Rock of the Ages” (in which we praise G‑d for the salvations of the past and ask that He bring the ultimate miracle, the coming of Moshiach).

Transitioning from sacred to silly, contemporary Chanukah favorites include English and Hebrew songs about the dreidel (Chanukah top), a heartwarming classic about the joys of the holiday, and more.

Browse Chanukah Songs

2. Give (All Kinds of) Chanukah Gelt

There is a time-honored Jewish custom to give (small) gifts of cash (gelt in Yiddish) to children as a reward for diligently studying Torah, since this act was forbidden by the Syrian Greeks during the events leading up to the Chanukah miracle.

(In the common era, the original silver or gold coins have given birth to an entirely new product: foil-wrapped chocolate coins, a delicious Chanukah treat. Of course, bona fide cash is the traditional method, more useful and probably more appreciated (except on Shabbat). Note, if you plan on distributing chocolate gelt after or together with a meat meal, make sure you get the pareve variety.)

Read Several Reasons for Chanukah Gelt

3. Play Dreidel

On Chanukah it is customary to play with a four-sided spinning top—dreidel in Yiddish; sevivon in Hebrew. A Hebrew letter is embossed or printed on each of the dreidel's four sides, creating an acronym for the phrase: Nes gadol hayah sham, “A great miracle happened there,” a reference to the Chanukah miracle that transpired in the Land of Israel. Each player begins with a pile of coins (or candies etc.), and at each turn they either gain or lose some of their stash based on which letter faces up when the dreidel stops spinning.

Read: How to Play Dreidel

4. Attend a Giant Menorah Lighting

Since the 1970s, more and more communities around the world have begun hosting giant menorah lightings. Often attended by dignitaries and featuring Chanukah entertainment and refreshments, these public lightings are a great way to express your Jewish pride.

Not sure where to find your nearest public celebration? Use our directory or contact your closest Chabad center for more info.

(Note: Even if you participate at a public lighting, you must still light the menorah at home.)

Read: What to Expect at a Public Menorah Lighting

5. Women, Relax!

That’s right, the Code of Jewish law tells us that it is a time-honored tradition for women not to perform work or household tasks while the candles are burning. This is a perfect time to watch the candles burn and contemplate the miracles G‑d has performed for our ancestors and continues to do for us—“in those days [and] at this time.”

Read: Why Don’t Women Work While the Candles Burn?

6. Share the Light

Chanukah is a time for family and friends, but what about those who have neither family nor friends at their side, particularly those in hospitals and nursing homes? Grab some menorahs, Chanukah treats, and handmade greeting cards, and make your way to a facility near you. If you have small children, bring them along; if you don’t, go anyway. The smiles on the faces you encounter will make it all worthwhile.

(Smart tip: Keep a menorah kit in your handbag or trunk. If you meet a fellow Jew in need of a menorah, you can hand him or her an unexpected Chanukah gift.)

Read: When I Took the Kids to the Nursing Home for Chanukah

7. Host a Dairy Chanukah Party

Unlike other holidays, when eating a festive meal is part and parcel of the holiday observance, we are not obligated to feast on Chanukah. Nonetheless, the Code of Jewish Law describes such a meal as being “a bit of a mitzvah,” especially when we use the opportunity to sing songs of praise. It is customary to serve dairy on Chanukah to commemorate the miracle of Judith, who made the Greek general thirsty with cheese before getting him drunk and killing him.

Plan a Chanukah Party

8. Eat Fried Foods: Doughnuts and Latkes

Amazing that we made it all the way to tip number 8 without mentioning that on Chanukah it is customary to eat foods fried in oil, reminiscent of the oil in the Temple menorah burning for eight days instead of just one.

The oldest iteration of this custom involved dough fried in oil, something like a precursor to the modern jelly doughnut, which is indeed very common in Israel today. These doughnuts are known as sufganiyot in Hebrew and ponchikes in Yiddish.

More common in many Ashkenazi homes is the crispy potato latke (pancake), served with a dollop of applesauce or sour cream. Perhaps not as common as it once was, but certainly delicious, is the cheese latke, which combines both of Chanukah’s favorite fares: oil and dairy.

15 Festive Recipes to Make this Chanukah