We never received Hanukkah gifts growing up. I'm still surprised when my parents walk in with gifts for their beloved grandchildren during this time of year. In Israel, we weren't alone. Gift giving for Hanukkah was simply not a tradition. Perhaps double allowance, in the tradition of gelt, but not gifts.
Certainly, now that we live in the United States and are as Americanized as can be, our children receive their eight-nights-worth of gifts, but I still struggle with the origin of this ridiculously commercialized holiday tradition and how I fell into its trap.
As far as I can tell, gifts for children came from gelt for children. Gelt for children came from gelt for teachers, who were otherwise reluctant to receive pay for teaching Torah. The connection between the holiday and teaching has to do with the similar roots of Chanukah and Hinukh (trust me on this one!), the Hebrew word for education. Apparently, giving coins to their teachers, without receiving some for themselves, became a chore over time, so children began to receive their own gelt for Hanukkah. There are many families who continue to provide gelt, rather than gifts. One popular custom is matching dollars to candles (sans Shamash).
But here we are, knocking on 2018's door, and frantically shopping for the perfect gifts for the kids, the husband, the parents, the self. We put together a not-at-all-inclusive guide of some of the things we love this season. We encourage you to visit our Pinterest page for additional ideas, and PLEASE share some of your favorite gift items (to receive and to give).
One final note. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to curate this type of list, and to be able to consider whether to provide our children with one night of gifts, eight nights, or somewhere in between. It’s important to us, for the health of our children and the promotion of our values, to instill in our children a sense of community and of giving. We therefore encourage our children to participate in Toys for Tots, we volunteer as a family around the holidays, and we actively seek out the less fortunate so our kids do not lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday season, of spending time together, and of being kind.
Here is our "best of" gifts...for a longer list by category make sure to visit our Pinterest.
Click on the photo to purchase (some affiliate links included):
For the whole family to enjoy:
For the Animal Lover:
For the young superhero
For the budding artist
For the future engineer
For the trendsetter/Fashionista
For the sports enthusiast
For the tech geek
For the cook
For the perfect host or hostess
For the modern Jew-ish
For the foodie