The Sukkah—a hut we erect each fall to commemorate the similar huts the Israelites built while wandering the desert—must meet some very specific height, width, and composition requirements. It must have at least three walls, which can be made from any material, so long as it can withstand the elements. The roof covering—called the s’chach in Hebrew—must be made from something that comes from the earth. Bamboo sticks seem to hold up nicely, and palm leaves, pine branches, and wood are also considered acceptable materials.

Of course, building your Sukkah from scratch can be a fun bonding activity and rewarding learning experience. But if you are like me, and prefer when things come with a more specific instruction manual, I encourage you to purchase a Sukkah kit online, which will provide you with all of the necessary materials to build your own Sukkah. The best part? You can store the materials in your basement and bring them out each fall for an annual tradition.

There are many different companies that will deliver the kits right to your doorstep, but first you need to decide what kind of materials you prefer. I like building a Sukkah with tarp walls and a sturdy, metal frame, because it will hold up particularly well in the rain. If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional and visually stimulating, opt for a wood frame sukkah. I like Sukkah Kits for these standard varieties.

created at: 2012-09-12Craving something a bit fancier? Try Sukkah Soul, which boasts cedar and linen sukkot.

Of course, a Sukkah is nothing more than three empty walls if you don’t fill it with your own personal touch. Here are some particularly unusual—albeit surprisingly professional-looking—ways to make your Sukkah look fabulous:

If you have some CDs lying around, embrace your creative side and make these disks into some beautiful decorations. You can buy beads and gems at your local craft store to embellish these shiny adornments, and then string them to hang all over your Sukkah.

For an eco-friendly twist on Sukkah decorating, I recommend getting a bunch of recycled 2 liter soda bottles, cutting them in half horizontally, and decorating them collage-style (either with cut-up magazines or paper mâché, whichever you prefer). You can place battery-operated candles or flameless tea lights at the bottom of the bottles and then string the bottles to hang from your s’chach. And voila—makeshift mood lighting!

I hope you’re inspired to bite the bullet this year and finally build your own Sukkah—it’s much easier than you’d think! And, of course, you deserve some bragging rights over your friends for your newfound creative prowess. Let me know how the process goes for you!

*Sukkah image is from Designer Sukkahs by Oorah (no longer available)