Chanukah 2014 starts on the evening of Tuesday, December 16, and ends on Wednesday, December 24.
It's a rabbinic holiday that came later in our history, so there can't be a prohibition on work. You can fry food, go to the office for a full day's work, turn the lights on and off like a madman, and even do your laundry. And yes, even though sunset happens early in the day, you can wait until you come home from work to light the menorah.
However, there is a custom for women to not "work" for the first half hour that the Hanukah candles burn (the minimum length of time the candles have to burn - be careful with the cheap candles!). In this case, "not work" basically means, "Mom, sit down and take a load off. You work so hard. Take a break from dishes and paperwork and enjoy the beauty of the chanukiah."
Honestly, anyone who wants to have a half-hour meditation break over the candles is welcome to do so. Sounds like a great custom to me!
The only caution: don't "use" the candles. Make sure there is another source of light present. You don't want the Chanukah candles to be the only fire/light source in a room to guide your way, read by, light a cigarette on, whatever. Their sole purpose is to "publicize the miracle" of the oil not running out in the Beis HaMikdash. We'll talk more about lighting the candles soon.