Hanukkah Gift-Giving Etiquette

Introduction

Hannukah, or Chanukah, is one of the staples of the Jewish calendar. This eight-day celebration marks the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Typically starting in December, the Festival of Lights is always celebrated on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar.

Eating foods cooked in oil, spinning the dreidel, and lighting the Menorah are all traditional parts of the festival. But how does Hanukkah gift-giving work, and what’s the Hanukkah gift-giving etiquette if you’ve been invited to one of these celebrations?

Here’s what you need to know.

History of Hanukkah/Gift-Giving Tradition

The Hanukkah gifts tradition is a relatively new tradition that, in America, can be traced back to the 1950s.

However, the origin of the Hanukkah gelt is an old custom originating in Europe and the Middle East. Although gelt most commonly consists of chocolate coins, this tradition originates from the ancient Jews, who made their own coins.

It’s a symbol of their independence gained through the brutal ancient wars and the contributions of the Jews to their own endurance.

Nobody is quite sure where the Hanukkah gifts tradition comes from. Still, most scholars agree that American Jews started giving gifts to children post-Holocaust to avoid making them feel sad about missing out on Christmas.

How Hanukkah Gift Giving Works

Some more conservative Jewish communities prefer to avoid giving gifts and, instead, prefer to give money. They see the giving of gelt to be more authentically Jewish, but many Jews also choose to offer traditional Hanukkah gifts that support the holiday.

There’s no ceremony for giving gifts. Instead, appropriate Hanukkah gifts are usually small, thoughtful, and often food-related.

Typical Hanukkah gifts, such as dreidels, board games, and fancy meats, are designed to show togetherness and bonding among Jews.

In other words, you’re unlikely to find a new TV or iPhone forming part of the Hannukah festival in most Jewish households.

Hanukkah Gift-Giving Etiquette

So, what are the dos and don’ts for traditional Hanukkah gifts for adults and children? Let’s walk through Hanukkah gift-giving etiquette to make sure that your gifts are received well at the next Festival of Lights.

Dos

  • Be Small and Thoughtful – Lavish gifts were never part of the Hannukah tradition. Think board games, books, and little keepsakes.
  • Adopt Modern Twists – Appropriate Hanukkah gifts can put a spin on the traditional. For example, why not share some jelly donuts to symbolize sufganiyah, a spin on the traditional donut eaten in Israel?
  • Fancy Food Items – Hanukkah traditions gifts often revolve around food. Consider bringing some gourmet food items to the celebrations.
  • Family Traditions – Many Jews have their own family traditions when it comes to Chanukah gifts. Traditional gift-giving rules always vary depending on the household.

Don’ts

  • Christmas – Don’t give gifts associated with Christmas. Likewise, don’t wrap up your gifts in Christmas wrapping paper.
  • Avoid Green and Red – These are the colors associated with Christmas. Opt for white and blue instead.
  • Don’t Gift Non-Kosher Food – While not all Jewish families eat only Kosher food, it’s best to either ask or stick with Kosher.
  • Don’t Gift on Christmas Day – Honor the Jewish calendar and only give your gifts during the eight-day window of Chanukah.

Traditional Hannukah Gifts

Figuring out what is a traditional Hanukkah gift, and which day to gift it can be difficult for those new to the holiday. Remember, the golden rule is that the holiday is about spending time with family rather than breaking the bank.

If you’re struggling for inspiration, here are some great gift-giving ideas.

Day One

Start Hanukkah with traditional gifts. The beginning of Hanukkah is an exciting time when everyone gets into the spirit of the holidays.

Little dreidels, gelt, or a menorah is the perfect way to begin. Playing the dreidel game is how many Jewish families start the holiday.

Day Two

Puzzles and games are a great way for families to come together. Invest in a large jigsaw that the whole family can participate in. Purchase some old childhood classics, such as Monopoly, Clue, and Candy Land. These gift ideas are a great way to spend an evening.

Day Three

Day three is a good time to bring some books. Traditional Hanukkah gifts are often highly personalized to the receiver’s tastes.

Affordable books are easy to find. Go bargain hunting at Goodwill or look around online.

Day Four

Teach the joy of sharing by purchasing a gift that the whole family can enjoy. At the halfway point, you should still be focusing on family time.

Some budget ideas could include buying a movie or taking the family out to dinner. Sites like Groupon are a great way to find discount places to visit.

Day Five

Hold a pajama night and watch a movie together with the family. Pajamas are both fun and practical. Shop around with discount retailers to get some rock bottom deals.

Day Six

Dedicate day six to a night of charity. Set aside some money to donate to families, whether they are Jewish or non-Jewish. You could even give out gelt to some of the children in your local neighborhood.

Charitable giving demonstrates the joy of giving and is a good way of teaching an important lesson.

Day Seven

Create a gift box filled with personalized gifts. It could be anything from foods to cosmetic items or even art supplies. Let Unboxme help you out with creating the perfect gift basket for the family this Hanukkah.

Day Eight

Upon the final night of Hanukkah, the last candle is lit, and the menorah will proudly display eight little flames.

For day eight of Hanukkah, consider some handmade gifts. Show how much time and effort you are dedicating to your family with something that you made.

Head on over to Pinterest or Etsy for some inspiration for handmade gifts.

Find the Perfect Gift with Unboxme

Hanukkah gift-giving etiquette can be intimidating if you’ve never experienced the Festival of Lights before. Just remember that it’s not about how much you spend but the time you spend together.

This is what this Jewish holiday is all about. Incorporate some modern and traditional Hannukah gifts into the spirit of the season with the help of Unboxme.

Get thoughtful custom gift boxes that are sure to put smiles on faces and build your box with Unboxme now.