Hanukkah Theme Nights: The Solution to Gift Giving Stress

This year, Hanukkah is December 18-26. In preparation, I have the answer to all your Hanukkah problems (well, not all but hopefully the gifting one): Theme Nights.

family stands in front of window looking at a MenorahMost people know the saying “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” and this most definitely applies to Hanukkah. Adam Sandler was right when he called it “Eight Crazy Nights”. Hanukkah is not for the faint of heart. It is eight full days of nonstop holiday celebration.

In the Jewish tradition, Hanukkah was never traditionally known as a major holiday and definitely not one where gifts were given. However, as Jews have become Westernized so has the holiday. Hanukkah falls during the “holiday season” when gifts, cheer and celebration are in plenty, so it is natural that Hanukkah has taken on some of these traditions too. However, no one seemed to consult the parents when deciding that Hanukkah is now a gift giving holiday lasting eight nights.

Not only is eight days of gift giving and cheer is exhausting, but it also creates a lot of stress and pressure. Financial piece aside (because honestly who even needs to sit here and kevetch on that aspect that we can all agree on), thinking of eight nights of gifts is no joke. There is always so much pressure to find the “best” present for each night. And you know what I mean by the “best”. It’s the “Wow thank you so much! I love it! It’s exactly what I wanted” present. But let’s get real for a second:

  1. What kids want changes every week (or day) so how often has your kid ever really said that?
  2. Who has the time or energy to brainstorm and find these “best” gits?

Hanukkah theme nights are simple. The gifts for each night revolve around a certain theme. Everyone’s presents for a given night are related to the specific theme chosen. Growing up, my parents always celebrated Hanukkah by using theme nights. Every present had a number on it and the numbers corresponded to a specific theme/night. Theme nights have several perks:

  1. You don’t have to think as hard about the gifts.
  2. Gifts also include things your kids “need” or you may be getting them anyway.
  3. Themes usually incorporate some of your kids’ wish list items.
  4. It makes present opening a game (who can guess what the theme night is or who can open it first and be the most surprised).

Ideas for Hanukkah Theme Nights

Here are a few Hanukkah theme night favorites and ideas:

Art Night

For those art lovers this is a must! There are so many options for different art activities and supplies. Not to mention, fun posters for bedroom walls is another way to incorporate the art theme.

Self-Care/Beauty Night

I grew up in a family of all girls so we always referred to this one as beauty night. But for those boys and men (and girls) who aren’t into beauty products, a good way to make it more inclusive is by referring to it as a self-care night.

Clothing Night

If you are basing the nights on child’s excitement level, this can be a hit or miss. But I love it! I either go the extremely practical route (like a new winter coat) or completely fun and random.

Book Night

This is definitely a favorite night in my house. Everyone loves getting new books and you can enjoy some quiet as everyone dives into their new stories.

Puzzle/Game Night

Game and puzzle night is a definite crowd pleaser for all ages and gets everyone playing together.

Pajama Night

I typically do the stereotypical Hanukkah pajamas for this night. I love searching Etsy for the silliest and most comfortable matching pairs.

Activity Night

Often, the things we want to give are not items but experiences. Having a night designated for these gifts is a great opportunity. Some ideas include museum trips, cookie decorating, Zoo Lights, Department of Wonder, and cooking classes.

Electronic Night

My kids are too young for this theme, but I know this will be a big hit as they get older! This can range from Robux to a new gaming system to extra minutes on the ipad.

Food Night

My personal favorite of all our Hanukkah theme nights! This is a great one for those who have wanna-be chefs or kids who like getting messy in the kitchen. This can be either a hands on activity gift (cookie making and/or decorating) or a kitchen item gift (kids cookbook, baking mixes, apron).

Pretend Play Night

My kids are at the age where Pretend Play Night is the big winner. They love playing dress up and imagining themselves in exciting new roles. Finding new dress up costumes for them is always fun for me too.

Charity Night

This is a tradition that my family has always done and I love. We choose one night where the kids go to a store to pick out toys that they will donate to other children. I love watching their excitement as the pick out toys and discuss how excited someone will be to play with them.

Which of these Hanukkah theme nights are you looking forward to the most?


 

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Elyssa was born and raised in Houston. Deciding to try out life in the cold weather, Elyssa attended University of Michigan for undergrad and University of Chicago for grad school. After obtaining her LCSW {licensed clinical social worker}, Elyssa decided that she was not cut out for the cold and moved back to Houston in 2012. Shortly after her move, Elyssa met her husband, Paul. Elyssa and Paul have been married for 6 years and have two children – Henry {October 2018} and Josephine {March 2021}. After working in schools, hospitals, and community clinics, Elyssa currently has a private practice where she specializes in working with children, adolescents, young adults, and parents. When she isn’t working or chasing after her kids, Elyssa’s favorite activities can be described as the ultimate mom cliché – baking, working out, and napping. Elyssa is a huge fan of trying new restaurants and dining spots especially if it involves any form of dessert!

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