In the days leading up to Hanukkah, many of us are scrambling to get gifts together, find enough gelt to go around, and figuring out who’s sitting at the kids’ table this year. But, let’s face it. The one thing we’re ALL doing is counting down the minutes until it’s time to devour a plate of potato latkes.

Latkes are a staple of the Hanukkah meal, and the ways to prepare them are as numerous as the stuff to slather or sprinkle on top. The brisket too offers a myriad of preparation options. This year, you could present the traditional fare in the traditional way, or you could spice it up with some creative ingredients and preparations. Here’s how.

All About the Latke

Straight up, applesauce chaser—that’s our personal fave. But we have enough room in our lives, and on our plate, for a few exciting new variations of the potato pancake. Like the Yukon gold potato and Jerusalem artichoke latke with apple-horseradish mayonnaise and taramasalata. Part of the Hanukkah cocktail party menu created by Chef Todd Aarons of Tierra Sur at Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, CA for Epicurious, these latkes can also take parsnip or celery root in place of the sunchokes.

Looking for a sweet option to the typical latke? Nigella Lawson’s apple latkes incorporate the apple (along with Greek yogurt) right into the pancake. On top? A good pour of maple syrup.

If you’re making traditional potato pancakes, you’ll want to make sure you prepare enough for leftovers the next day, so you can have this corned beef sandwich on a latke. And this waffle latke with chicken. And most definitely this latke grilled cheese.

The Meat Course

Break out the brisket, the classic Hanukkah main course. It’s a staple, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a yawner. This year, make a showstopper by adding pomegranate. “The acidity of the pomegranate juice is a perfect foil for the richness of the beef,” said Real Simple. Micah Wexler of Wexler’s Deli in downtown L.A. agrees. His brisket features a double shot of pomegranate—as a glaze and a topping—plus a pine nut gremolata that we frankly want to eat with a spoon.

If you’re really set on doing things differently while still capturing the traditional flavors, try another of Chef Todd Aarons’ Hanukkah cocktail party foods, the pulled brisket sliders. Up your Hanukkah cred even further by swapping out the dinner rolls for homemade challah rolls.

Everything Else

With your leftover rolls, call friends and family together for a Hanukkah brunch starring this challah French toast, courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa herself.

It isn’t Hanukkah without something fried (see: potato pancake), and another traditional element is the doughnut. Usually these are filled with jelly, but this year do something creative and make these doughnuts in cardamom syrup.

The addition of cardamom gives the doughnuts a spicy sweetness. Plus cardamom is good for you, aiding in digestion and used to treat everything from the common cold to bronchitis. So, see— eating fried, sugared dough can even be good for you!

Will one of these be gracing your Hanukkah menu this year?