Some folks are still looking for a cheap turkey to repurpose as a Hanukkah menorah, so here’s one for a buck. If your once-in-a-lifetime Hanukkah/Thanksgiving needs will be satisfied with a cheap plastic Menurkey, get thee to a Dollar Tree before all the $1 solar-powered turkeys are gone. Then, pimp that bird with a jumbo craft stick and super-glued birthday candleholders. I added glow-in-the-dark bday candles and a mini Avery label kippah (yarmulke), too. Solar-power is a bonus: Talmud Tom flaps and nods (davens, really) his way through the day and, depending on the wattage at candlelighting time, on into the night, too. (See also my $7 Michael’s Craft store Menurkey.)
This project is a bit too fiddly for young children to make, but finished, it’s a kid-magnet.
The solar-power feature is a plus or a minus, depending on your interpretation of (and interest in) the rule about a menorah and “work.” Lights from a Hanukkah menorah are supposed to provide illumination, but not in order to facilitate “work.” (Work is not prohibited elsewhere in the house.) But, what if the lit menorah actually triggers work as worked by the menorah itself? What if that sensor makes the menorah flap and nod throughout the whole blessings and candle-burning time? The Talmud doesn’t say anything about solar-powered menorahs (even ones that are not shaped like cartoon turkeys), so you’ll have to appeal to your Authority of Choice on this one. The question may seem wacky to some, but it makes a great teachable moment for older kids, and I’m certainly including this menorah in my Kosher Menorah Quiz for the school’s Chanukah program.
- 9 candleholders (they come in a pack of glow-in-the-dark candles at Party City, 99 cents)
- jumbo craft stick (tongue depressor size)
- wood biscuit or something to glue to craft stick to elevate Shamash candle
- brown paint to match turkey body
- birthday candles
- hex nut or some other firm spacer to distance the craft stick from the bird. You don’t want lit candles touching your plastic turkey.
- small dot label (Avery) or see alternatives below.
- Superglue, as instant as possible. I used Loctite Super Glue Professional Liquid
Here’s what I did:
• Superglue 9 birthday candleholders to a jumbo craft stick, elevating the shamash on a biscuit of wood. See photo below.
• Paint stick and holders with brown paint. (First, I sprayed with brown indoor/outdoor paint and then, troubled by the color mismatch between paint and turkey, I brushed on a coat of mixed acrylic. But that’s just me.)
• Superglue a hex nut to the middle back of the bird, at desired height.
• Superglue the stick to the hex nut.
• Make a kippah. Mine is a small dot label from Avery. Cut one slice to the middle, then pull ends toward each other to make a gently conical disk. Decorate with metallic Sharpie. Or, just cut a wee circle from the sticky edge of a Post-It. Or, shoot, just take a one-hold punch to a Post-It, open the punch to retrieve the single circle and use that.
SAFETY FIRST: Never leave any lit menorah unattended. Always place a menorah on a nonflammable surface to catch any stray drips or fallen candles. If you are concerned about the safety of this or any menorah I’ve written about, do not make it. Try an LED tealight version (here and here) or flameless LEGO versions instead!