Growing up in the 1970’s Hanukkah was not a big deal. We lit the chanukiyah, said the blessings, and opened our gifts.
That was it.
There were no parties or family gatherings centered around the eight day festival. That was reserved for more important holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Passover, where there was a lot of shopping, cleaning and food preparation involved or if we were the guests that year, traveling in the car.
The tide has turned. In fact, this minor festival is over-emphasized because if it’s proximity to Christmas (except this year-the first night is on Thanksgiving Day). There was nothing Hanukkah related when I was a child, and just a few things for my older daughter. More choices became available by the time my twins arrived, thanks to online shopping.
For Jewish parents in need of a gift, there are many Hanukkah toys that you can buy your child that reflect the fun and traditions of this special eight day celebration.
Eight Nights of Gifts
Jewish kids revel in the fact that for eight nights in a row, they get presents. Because Jewish holidays start at sundown, it is a great incentive to get all of the homework finished before they can say the blessing over the chanukiayh and open their gift!
To make gift giving easier, I have used theme nights. While it was a stretch with my teenager some nights, it worked out really well. Some of my themed nights in the past have been:
Another theme has been Jewish night. My kids receive a Hanukkah gift that is related to the holiday or to Judaism. Because there are so many options, parents can have ore than one night of Hanukkah themed gifts.
KidKraft Hanukkah Wooden Play Set
I sent my twins to Jewish preschool and I have worked there for almost a decade there. One of the most popular toys with all of the children are the wooden holiday play sets like this one. They are special because they are only taken out for a few weeks, and then not seen again for another year.
It is important for Jewish parents to have play sets like this to help instill a love for the traditions of the holidays. You can play and teach them the important parts of the holiday at the same time. No need to worry about fire when you practice the blessing with this wooden chanukiyah.
KidKraft Wooden Chanukah Set from Amazon
Also included is a dreidel to play the dreidel game, another fun Hanukkah tradition. Six coins or gelt are also included. Last, there are two potato latkes (pancakes) and a frying pan. All of these play things are steeped in Jewish tradition. They all store neatly in a drawstring bag that comes with the set.
More Gift Ideas for the Kinderlach
(That’s “children” in Yiddish!)
When my daughter was young, I used to tape the PBS Hanukkah specials that aired once a year because most were not available on VHS. Now there are wonderful DVDs for children to watch, like the Shalom Sesame series. A meaningful gift for young children would be this Hanukkah special.
Stores have loads of Christmas themed bears, snowmen dressed in red and green and an assortment of Rankin Bass and Disney holiday plush, but there is little, if any choices, for Hanukkah. But now there is! This Hanukkah bear is wearing a kippah and is wishing your child a Happy Hanukkah.
For girls who love American Girl dolls, here is a Hanukkah outfit for Rebecca.
Hanukkah Gifts for Tweens
What a great way to spend time around the dinner table during the holiday season! The question cards from Melissa & Doug are durable and come in a tin to protect them in storage from season to season. Imagine the generations sitting around the table and asking and answering questions. This not only will test who paid attention in Hebrew School, but it will add a layer of meaning to your gathering and create beautiful memories that will be cherished.
The questions are open ended and there can be many different correct answers!
Once kids get to be about seven or eight years old, there are very few Hanukkah themed gifts that you can give them that are not babyish. Games, puzzles, and other Judaic themed items make wonderful gifts that are more meaningful to older children.
This Rabbi’s Challenge is a game of Nim. Although it has been played in various versions for centuries, the one with which we re familiar came from a Harvard professor in 1901. This game is for children (or adults) who think logically and are up for a challenge.
This version used Stars of David, making it a perfect Hanukkah gift!
Hanukkah Craft Kits
When I take out our Hanukkah decorations box, one of the things I love to look at are my children’s art projects from when they were little. Although I do not save much, these items I treasure because they are a reminder of their preschool years, when I thought I would never see them get into first grade because they had me running around because they were so active!
Coloring is not just for preschoolers! This Shalom coloring book, paired with a box of colored pencils and crayons, is perfect for older tweens and teens. This and other Jewish themed coloring books are available on Amazon.
Featured image from Microsoft Office and edited by the author in picmonkey.com