Making the sukkah beautiful
I built my first sukkah three years ago. It was your typical sukkah in a kit — a metal pole and tarp structure, stark white and generic. As I decorated it, I realized that no matter how many plastic fruits and vegetables I hung from the sides and ceiling, they seemed to get lost in the space. The big white tarps were just too visually dominant.
This year, I was honored to decorate a sukkah in an outside plaza adjacent to the new home of the Jewish Journal, as well as the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and Bet Tzedek Legal Services. All three organizations will share the sukkah throughout the week of Sukkot. Based on my earlier experience, I approached this sukkah with a strategy: to create dramatic, simple and inexpensive decorative elements that would break up all that whiteness. After all, no one has ever sung, “I’m Dreaming of a White Sukkot.”
Even if you don’t incorporate these specific projects in your own sukkah, I hope that the ideas inspire you to get creative. Let’s think outside the big white box.
(For more on the value of beauty in Judaism and on Sukkot, read David Suissa’s column here)
PINGPONG BALL GRAPES
I started by covering much of the white tarp with curtain panels from IKEA. At $9.99 for two panels, they were a low-cost decorating solution, so I bought seven pairs. For curtain tiebacks, I decided to make my own grapes out of pingpong balls, which are available at the 99 Cents Only store.
BRANCHES WITH DICTIONARY PAGE ROSES
I love hanging branches over the dining table. They add such drama while staying within the harvest theme. Before hanging the branches from the ceiling, I attached paper roses made from dictionary pages.
Paper leaves strung together and suspended from the ceiling create a magical effect, and they complement the hanging branches so well. I’ve also used this technique with silk rose petals at various events.
To decorate the sukkah, kids often make garlands out of construction paper loops. Here is an idea that takes that simple technique and turbo charges it. These aren’t just garlands — they’re modern art pieces.
PALM LEAF STARBURSTS
I found bunches of long palm leaves at IKEA and thought they would make stylish starbursts to accentuate the sukkah entrance. They also would make beautiful room decorations when Sukkot is over.
Decorating and crafts expert Jonathan Fong hosts the Web series “Style With a Smile” and DisneyFamily.com’s “He Made, She Made.” He also recently designed the new offices of the Jewish Journal. You can find more of his inspirational ideas at jonathanfongstyle.com.