Hanukkah is extra special to Alison Besikof and her husband—they were married on the last day of Hanukkah two years ago! And this year, they’ll be celebrating for the first time as a family of three in Chicago with their baby daughter Chloe.
Like all of us, this year’s plans will be a much-toned-down version of how they usually celebrate. Alison’s family is used to having a 40-plus person party which, one year, spilled into her apartment hallway. Read more about how her family is adjusting their plans, what traditions she looks forward to sharing with her new daughter, and the non-traditional Hanukkah meal she’ll be preparing (on a smaller scale) this year. Plus, take in all the gorgeous jewel-toned decor throughout her home that perfectly complements her Hanukkah decor and table setting. Plus, her daughter’s colorful nursery is a must-see any time of the year!
Name: Alison Besikof
Location: Bucktown, Chicago, IL
Home Sq. Footage: 2,600
Kids: Chloe, 3 months
Before we take a tour of your beautiful home, can you tell us a little bit more about your family?
I am married to a wonderful man named Brett, and we have a 3-month-old daughter named Chloe. Brett and I have been together for nearly nine years and married for two. In a typical year, we love to travel and see the world. This year, we have focused more on cooking interesting foods and making our home a happy, comfortable place to be.
I am an interior designer and my husband is a realtor, so we knew when we were looking for a home that we wanted a fixer-upper. We spent a few months gutting our townhome to make it just the right home to bring our baby home to. Chloe has been the most incredible addition to our family, and we are beyond in love with her!
Chanukah is special for us. We got married on the last night of Chanukah in 2018, and we lit candles at our wedding using my childhood menorah and included dreidels and gelt in our welcome bags. Our Chanukah this year will just be the three of us and some fun Zooms with family and friends.
When do you start decorating?
Typically a few days before Chanukah, but this year I decorated the day after Thanksgiving.
Does your holiday decor style differ from your home’s everyday style?
My home is decorated with mostly jewel tones and tons of blue throughout, so my Chanukah decor is a perfect complement to our permanent decor.
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What is your favorite piece of holiday decor in your home?
I love our Michael Aram menorah that we got for our engagement from my aunt. It is on display all year round. It is not only beautiful but also meaningful in that it is our first menorah that we received together, rather than using our old childhood pieces.
Where do you typically shop for holiday decor?
Target, Etsy, and Party City.
OK, we have to pause the holiday content for one sec to talk about your daughter’s adorable nursery! What inspired the space you created for her?
I love colorful homes, and I wanted her nursery to feel like a joyful space, full of whimsy and sweetness. I stumbled upon this wallpaper while researching floral wallpapers for a client, and I loved it so much I knew I had to use it. I chose the dark teal curtains instead of the usual pink or purple because I felt it balanced the room nicely and made it slightly less in-your-face girly. I also think nothing in this room screams “baby,” so it can transition nicely to her toddler room and beyond.
I love colorful homes and I wanted her nursery to feel like a joyful space, full of whimsy and sweetness.
My friends and family are super artistic, so we have several touches in the room that were handmade gifts. We have multiple hand-knitted blankets from friends and family. My friend Debra gave us a really beautiful growth chart made from a fallen tree in Minneapolis, which is where I grew up.
Since our family can’t be with us right now due to COVID, I figured it would be nice to show her pics of them daily, so I cut family photos out into leaves that are “growing” off the tree. I intend to add to it over time and have the tree grow around the entry of her room. It’s nice that so many people from our community contributed to her room so if they can’t be physically with us, they’re still here with us.
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What does your family’s celebration typically look like in your home?
We light the candles every night and typically have one or two nights where we eat traditional foods like latkes and donuts. We always make and decorate Chanukah cookies. Usually, we have a huge party with all of our friends. Our largest party had almost 40 people at it! We had people sitting and eating in the hallway of our old apartment.
It sounds funny, but I always serve baked rigatoni at my Chanukah party. It started because it is easy and cheap to feed a huge crowd and has continued because everyone loves it. Even though it is an Italian dish, it is a food I now associate with Chanukah!
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How are you adjusting your celebrations this year?
Sadly, there will be no big party for the first time in 20 years! But we will Zoom with family and friends. I still intend to create a festive environment in our home and have a special dinner as a family. I will make us a tiny pan of baked rigatoni to make it feel festive.
Brett and I are going to make Chanukah cookies and decorate them with Chloe even though she will have no idea what is going on. We will play dreidel and try to make it feel special even though it is just our little family. One of my mother-in-law’s friends got Chloe her own menorah with her name on it, so we will light that with her and start that tradition.
Alison Besikof Is The Everymom…
Peppermint Mocha or Eggnog Latte? Peppermint all the way!
What holiday tradition are you most looking forward to sharing with your daughter? I can’t wait to decorate cookies with her!
Best gift you’ve ever received? My grandparents gave me a diamond heart necklace for my 16th birthday made out of the diamonds from my great grandma’s wedding ring. My mom, grandma, aunt, and cousins all have matching hearts, each containing some family stones.
Holiday movie character you relate to most? Clark Griswold 🙂 He tries so hard to be festive and create a special experience for his family, even if he is a bit of a disaster. I am very clumsy and accident-prone, so I can really relate to him!
What are you most looking forward to in 2021? I am looking forward to continuing to watch my daughter grow and share experiences with her like feeding her solid foods, reading to her, giving her baths, and just being together. If COVID-19 starts to get better, I am looking forward to traveling and spending time out-of-state with family and friends.