Sukkot, called “the time of our rejoicing,” hardly feels like the time to be pent up at home. But if G‑d wishes us to rejoice at home, then rejoice we shall. Here are our tips to help you create an over-the-top joyous Sukkot at home, one to remember fondly long after the pandemic has been relegated to the dusty annals of history.

1. Build a Sukkah

Sukkot (which means “shelters”) gets its name from the foliage-covered shelters in which we spend much of our time during this 7-day festival. Built under the open sky in your yard or on your balcony, the sukkah is a COVID-safe mitzvah. Even if in past years you have perhaps relied on the sukkah of your rabbi, synagogue, or friends, this is the time to build one of your own, where you can safely celebrate in style.

And if you are not able to build a sukkah of your own, see if a friend can leave their sukkah open (and empty) for you to use some time during the holiday—especially on the first night.

Read: How to Build a COVID-Safe Sukkah

2. Get Your Own Lulav and Etrog

The second mitzvah unique to Sukkot is gathering the Four Kindslulav (palm frond), hadasim (myrtles), aravot (willows), and etrog (citron)—saying a short blessing, and waving them in all six directions.

The pandemic can make borrowing a set from someone else more challenging than usual. So what are you waiting for? Call your local Judaica shop and purchase a set of your own (you can pay anywhere from $36 and $360 for a set, depending on your preference and means). Once you have a set, be sure that you (and your family members) use it every day of the holiday besides for Shabbat.

If you are unable to get a set, arrange with a friend (or your local Chabad rabbi) to borrow theirs.

Read: How to Select the Best Lulav and Etrog

3. Cook Up a Storm

Referred to as “the time of our rejoicing,” Sukkot is celebrated by enjoying fine wine and meat (all kosher, of course). Bake up some fluffy challahs (to dip in honey), cook Miriam’s signature brisket, and prepare for some delicious feasts in the sukkah.

Note that no preparation may be done for the second night or day until after night has fallen after the first day.

You aren’t in the habit of making small quantities? Great. Pack up the surplus and drop off your delicious delights on the doorsteps of fellow quarantiners.

Explore: Sukkot Recipes For Every Palate

4. Invite Metaphysical Guests

This year, chances are that you will celebrate with just your immediate family. Yet know that you are never alone—and certainly not when in the sukkah. The Zohar teaches us that every day of the festival we are visited by the seven ushpizin: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and King David. So no matter how many servings of fish are consumed, your sukkah is crowded with visitors of the very highest caliber.

Read: The Ushpizin

5. Light Festive Candles

Like Shabbat and other holidays, the first two nights of Sukkot are celebrated in the warm glow of holiday candles (married women light at least two, and single girls light one). If you are in a male-only household, one of the guys should light candles for everyone. (Note that on the second night they may only be lit from a pre-existing flame, after night has fallen.)

Print the Appropriate Blessings in Advance | When to Light in My Area

6. Pray at Home

Art by Rivka Korf Studio
Art by Rivka Korf Studio

The Sukkot prayers follow the standard holiday procedure, with the addition of Hoshaanot, in which we traditionally circle the Torahs in the synagogue while holding the Four Kinds as part of the morning services.

With the exception of Kaddish, the Barechu call to prayer, the repetition of the Amidah, and the Torah reading, you can pray anywhere in the world, including your home.

So make sure you have a siddur handy (Sukkot services are all in the standard siddur) and a place set aside to serve as your ad hoc shul. If you are with others, pray together. Even though you don’t make a minyan, you can say the words and sing the songs together. It’s laudable to read through the Torah reading of the day, which you can also find in the Siddur.

The special Hoshaanot may be conducted at home alone. Instead of circling the Torah scroll, some suggest circling a Tanach placed on a table.1

Read: Hoshaanot, Winding and Willows

7. Sing and Dance

Even if it is just with your close family—and even if you are alone—don’t feel inhibited to grace your Sukkot table with song and dance. Fill the space between courses with Torah thoughts, Sukkot melodies, and even dancing.

Bonus: Music is contagious, so if you live in a neighborhood where others are in their sukkahs as well, you can start a “sukkah song chain,” whereby each sukkah joins along with its neighbors, until the entire street is filled with mellifluous Sukkot spirit.

On the intermediate days of Sukkot, play some Jewish music and take your in-sukkah joy to another level!

Stream: Sukkot Dance Music

8. Make Your Own Sukkah Party

With mitzvot you can experience with all five senses, Sukkot is a favorite for many children. Afraid the kids will be missing the Sukkot activities at your synagogue? Make your own party at home! Some suggested activities include Sukkot crafts, storytelling—and of course eating!

Tips for timing: Plan the party for the daytime so that it can include waving the lulav, and during the intermediate days, when crafting and playing music is allowed.

Known as Simchat Beit Hashoevah, these Sukkot celebrations (which may include singing, dancing, sharing Torah thoughts, feasting, or any combination thereof) are an integral part of the holiday observance.

Print: A Full Program for Each of the Seven Days

9. Join an Online Celebration

With the pandemic, like so much of our lives, many of these celebrations have moved online, so (during the intermediate days, when this is allowed) watch out for exciting events to join via the gift of wireless technology.

10. Share With Others

Art by Rivka Korf Studio
Art by Rivka Korf Studio

Do you know people who do not have a lulav and etrog, or are unable to build a sukkah? You can safely share yours. Leave the lulav and etrog on a table outside (or in your sukkah!).

You can also advise them of when your sukkah will be empty and free for them to safely enjoy, and assign your friends time slots when the sukkah is reserved just for them. Leave out some prepackaged treats, and you’ve gifted them with a Sukkot celebration to remember.

Print to Leave on Table: Sukkah Blessings | Lulav Blessing

And of course, let’s not forget that Sukkot streams right into the uber-joyous holiday of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Keep your dancing shoes on; things are about to get even more exciting!