Q: My family and I are invited to a Hanukkah dinner this year. We are not Jewish and are not sure of the etiquette. Help!

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Q: My family and I are invited to a Hanukkah dinner this year. We are not Jewish and are not sure of the etiquette. Help!

A: These truths should be (although frequently are not) self-evident:

• Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas.

• Guests have a responsibility to prepare for parties as much as the hosts do.

While Hanukkah is a joyous, home-based, family holiday that has evolved to include gift-giving, it is a distinctly Jewish celebration.

“Since Hanukkah happens to fall around Christmas, the gift aspect gets blown all out of proportion and runs the risk of becoming altogether too materialistic,” warns Rabbi Janine Schloss, director of education at Temple Beth Am in Seattle.

During Hanukkah, which begins Dec. 25 this year, you can expect candles on the menorah. A candle is lighted in the evening through Hanukkah as a blessing is recited.

Traditional foods include potato latkes, applesauce and brisket. Spinning the dreidel (a four-sided top) for “Hanukkah gelt” (gold-wrapped chocolate coins) is another part of the celebration.

Your host might appreciate gifts of chocolate, gourmet applesauce, candles, books or board games.

Susan Landon, a Mercer Island resident who frequently hosts events, offers some don’ts for Hanukkah guests:

• Don’t ask the hosts or their children if they wish they could have a Hanukkah bush or stockings.

• Don’t blow out the candles.

• Don’t fuss about how latkes don’t fit into your diet.

Jerri Lane, director of marketing at The Westin Seattle and the mother of three, reminds us, “As an observant Jew, Christmas is a daunting challenge, as the whole world is lit up with Christmas carols, trees and lights.”

Surely it behooves any guest to honor the beliefs of her host by learning what it is they are celebrating. For more on the origins and meaning of Hanukkah, Rabbi Schloss recommends the Web site www.MyJewishLearning.com.

“Hanukkah is all about being proud to be different and to share your differences and allow others to share their differences with you,” Schloss said.

Finally, Lane advises, “Have fun, eat lots, sing loud and give thanks for all your many blessings.”

Mary Mitchell is a Seattle-based corporate trainer and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette.” E-mail questions to Mary@themitchell.org. Sorry, no personal replies.