Hanukkah Gift Giving Guide for 2023
It's the holiday season! Hanukkah 2023 starts at sundown on Thursday, December 7, so now's the perfect time to start your holiday gift shopping if you haven't already. If you're wondering where the Hanukkah gift giving tradition comes from, or what kind of gifts to get for your friends and loved ones, read on for our full holiday gift guide:
Why are gifts given at Hanukkah?
Jews didn't always give presents for Hanukkah, but the tradition comes from a centuries-old custom of giving gifts of money, known as Hanukkah gelt in Yiddish or dmei Hanukkah in Hebrew. It began as giving money to one's religious school teachers as a token of gratitude, and eventually extended to parents and relatives giving small sums of money to children as well, in order to encourage Torah learning.
As mass production of chocolate exploded in the 20th century, many Jewish families started to give treats of chocolate coins instead of actual money. And at around the same time, the practice of giving other kinds of special presents to kids besides money or chocolate also became common, and eventually extended to giving Hanukkah gifts to one's adult loved ones as well.
Today giving Hanukkah gifts is an important and beloved holiday custom for many Jewish families!
What kind of gifts do you give for Hanukkah?
Many personal and family customs have sprung up surrounding Hanukkah gift giving, but here are some of the most common and traditional Hanukkah gifts:
Hanukkah is the holiday with some of the most iconic Judaica and other traditional items associated with its celebrations - from the Hanukkah menorahs and candles to the dreidels, gelt, festive tableware for a scrumptious meal of fried foods, and more. This means wonderful opportunities to gift your family and friends with beautiful holiday essentials that they'll need for a joyous Festival of Lights!
Hanukkah gift giving arose out of a tradition of giving small sums of money to children to encourage Torah learning, and kids are still the most common recipients of presents for the Festival of Lights today! Kids' Hanukkah gifts come in all types, but it's common to give a Jewish gift, such as a Jewish book, Jewish toys, or children’s Judaica or Jewish jewelry. Another classic children’s Hanukkah gift is something practical like clothing or school supplies. And of course, you can’t have a festive holiday without some chocolate, gelt, and other Hanukkah treats!
For the adults and teens in your family, Jewish jewelry has become a cherished and traditional Hanukkah gift. The holidays should be regarded with beauty, and a necklace or ring can be worn often and cherished for years to come. And since in many families Hanukkah has become the biggest gift occasion of the year, jewelry is a substantial and meaningful present that really says “I love you.” You can also make it extra holiday-themed with special Hanukkah jewelry, or a beautiful holiday gift box.
Since Hanukkah is such a fun holiday, and one associated with Jewish pride and longevity, many people enjoy giving and receiving whimsical, humorous, and cool items that express their love of the holiday and their Jewish identity. You can brighten up a friend’s, loved one’s, colleague’s, or neighbor’s holiday with a Hanukkah-themed mug, watch, puzzle, artwork, or a fun holiday t-shirt or hoodie. If you’re at a loss, Hanukkah gift baskets filled with yummy mixed kosher treats from Israel are always well appreciated!
How many gifts do you give for Hanukkah?
That depends on your family custom! It's common to give at least one special gift in honor of the holiday to one's significant other, parents, and other close relatives and friends. On the other hand many parents of young kids have a practice of giving their children a different gift on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.
Many people exchange presents on the first night of Hanukkah, while others do so on the 5th night - because with the way the Hebrew calendar works, the 5th night will never overlap with Shabbat, so traditional prohibitions against giving or receiving gifts don't apply. But it’s also not unusual to give on any night of the eight-day holiday, or even on every night!
What is an appropriate Hanukkah gift?
If you’re still at a loss and need some shopping inspiration, check out these handy gift guides for our tried-and-true top Hanukkah gifts from Israel that your family and friends are sure to love: