Most Jews know that giving presents at Hanukkah time has more to do with its proximity to Christmas than anything else. Nevertheless, a few presents make this particular holiday extra special. I mean, how many nights in a row can you retell the story of Hanukkah and marvel at the candlelight? I say two tops. I’m all about borrowing a little “holiday spirit” from Christmas.

Still, all the gifts get to me. But not for the altruistic and do-gooding reasons that they should. What bothers me is what EIGHT nights of gifts + four kids means for the influx of chazerai in my house.

What’s a no-nonsense, anti-clutter mom like me supposed to do with a holiday like this? Of course, I have the answer down to a science. Stick with me. I won’t steer you wrong.

A PRACTICAL PARENT’S GUIDE TO HANUKKAH GIFTS

1st Night: Family party! Last night the six of us went to Bubbe and Zaide’s where the kids got all kinds of fantastic toys and what-not from their grandparents and cousins. The kids loved every minute. HOWEVER, it’s beginning to look a little too much  like Christmas. (Not that I have a hate on Christmas, as you’ll note in last year’s highly controversial post.)

2nd Night: Tonight we’ll return to the at-home routine where I always start small. If you go in guns blazing, you’re setting the bar too high. I often get each child a new spinning toothbrush on one of the early nights. That’s right, kids. I said heck-NO to that overpriced licensed Hello Kitty toothbrush at Target last month, but now it’s yours. In our house we’re not above promoting clean teeth in celebration of the miracle of a small band of Jewish soldiers’ unlikely defeat of the Greeks.

3rd Night: New cozy pajamas for everyone. Easy, practical. Done. If you’re feeling zany and generous, you could throw in some slippers.

4th Night: Think of something you would have purchased for the house eventually—holiday or not. This year it’s art supply night! I’m replacing the dried-out, cap-less markers and the used-up coloring books. I’ll also replenish the stickers and other art supplies that are getting low.

5th Night: I thought about other items I want the kids to have for various reasons. I’ll give you an example. My five-year-old daughter, Rebecca, loves to color in her room. Unfortunately, her masterpieces end up in piles around the floor and it drives me bananas. On night #5, Rebecca is getting the “art box” to the right. Adorable, but practical. I’m a sneaky genius.

6th Night: Books—a great choice for any night of Hanukkah.

7th Night: The night of giving back. My husband and I will have a discussion with the kids about where we want to donate money as a family this year. I’m sure 6-week-old Nate will share some great ideas.

8th Night: Out-of-town family night! This is the night we hand over those mysterious packages from aunts, uncles, and out-of-town grandparents. Truthfully, we could spread out those gifts over several different nights, but I like to end with a bang.



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Nina is a freelance writer, advice columnist, essayist, blogger, book reviewer, short story writer, and a co-founder of The Twin Cities Writing Studio. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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