Chai Home is a style blog and sourcebook for elegant Jewish living. My aim is to inspire your observance by bringing you the best in Judaica, decor, and crafts available today. New ideas mixed with centuries old traditions will enliven your practice and stimulate yourself, your family, and friends.
I and my village…make that 3 villages! Believe it or not, I now have 3 snowy shtetls in my house…Hanukkah decorations are practically reproducing in my home! I still have the original one in my living room but now I have this, galvanized steel one in my dining room. My mom read my post the other day and couldn’t resist buying a variety of houses from Pottery Barn and Target. She surprised me by bringing them over and in addition to those, I surprised myself by finding a few I bought on clearance last year at Restoration Hardware, which I forgot about. This sideboard usually houses the three menorahs I have in my home but now I split up the menorahs – one in each village, since there isn’t much room for anything else! I crumpled up a white tablecloth to mimic some snow (not very well but it is really to protect my sideboard) and voila! The only thing is that now instead of lighting all the menorahs at once in one place, we now have to go room to room and light all the different ones, each in their own village. I must confess it is somewhat amusing.
Here are some loving pictures I shot of it. Hopefully I’ll have a moment to shoot the 3rd village before I have to take it down for my kiddie Hanukkah party on Saturday.
Long time Chai & Home readers are well familiar with my Snowy Shtetl Hanukkah decor. If you are a new reader, go check it out. Little did I know at the time, the Snowy Shtetl as a concept for Hanukkah decor has really captured the imagination of many of you. I think the idea of little houses at Hanukkah is popular is because it replicates our celebration tradition in miniature. The central mitzvah of Hanukkah is to light the menorah and place it in the window to publicize the miracle. A series of little illuminated houses creates a microcosm of that. Now that Crate and Barrel has discontinued their laser cut wooden village though, I’m getting a lot of email on what to use to create your very own Snowy Shtetl. Here are a few resources to look for if you are thinking of making your own.
Galvanized Steel & Metal Houses
I’m loving steel houses because their grey appearance really replicates the cold, dismal loneliness that the shtetl seems to convey in pictures. The great thing about metal houses is that you can place a teal light in side and illuminate them. My grandfather said they had a dirt floor in the shtetl so I really love how the ones below don’t have a bottom.
Pottery Barn’s Galvanized Village Houses are probably the best quality you can find. They come in 5 styles and start at $29.50.
Wood houses are a little harder to come by. The big craft stores have wooden bird houses for cheap, but they don’t really hit the right tone IMHO. If you are handy with wood, you can actually make your own wooden houses probably pretty easily. The benefit to that is you can paint or stain them any color you wish and with as much detail as you want. See “little wood houses” in Pinterest for inspiration. The drawback of wood is that they aren’t easy to illuminate because they are made of wood, which is highly flammable.
So, I hope the list above helps you get started on your own Snowy Shtetl. If you find other sources, tell us about them by sharing in the comments below.
If you think Hanukkah is that far off you’d be wrong…it is only on the other side of November…early this year starting on Dec 2! Anyway, I know giving gifts at Hanukkah is not everyone’s cup of tea but I was sorting through some Chai & Home product photos the other day and I realized what a cute display of Hanukkah gift wrapping they would make all collected together. Maybe it is a shameless plug, but over the years I’ve developed some of the most unique party supplies for Hanukkah celebrations. Check them out and how they can be used for Hanukkah gift wrapping:
These Hanukkah Sticker Sheets are new this year. They are intended to adorn packages or craft projects. They can even take plain old wrapping paper and make a cohesive, humorous theme.
Hanukkah Coloring Placemats
In addition to keeping little hands busy with coloring, you can use these Hanukkah Coloring Placemats for wrapping small gifts. Here I show them with the Hanukkah Stickers. You can leave them white to have your kid color them before wrapping.
Hanukkah Countdown Bags
I never tire of these Kraft Hanukkah Countdown Bags that and have a distinctive number and saying for each night of Hanukkah. Year after year, they are one of my best selling products.
I also developed Hanukkah Countdown Bags in White. I had to pull them off of the shop last year due to production problems, but I think I’ve sorted that all out and they are back big time this year.
Hanukkah Party Bags
These use to be white, but then I realized they were better in kraft to match the kraft countdown bags above, so they are new this year in that color. These Kraft Hanukkah Party Bags are great for party favors, gelt bags, or an easy wrapping solution for gifts when you have a large group of people you are giving to.
Kitchen Towel Wrap
What is better for wrapping a gift for your favorite balaboosta than to use a kitchen towel that she can also use? Here I used my Challah Kitchen Towel which goes great with the white items above for a Winter white theme.
Nothing in blue? Yeah, that’s been my modus operandi for the past 5 years. Hang onto your hats though…next year I think I might be doing a little blue.