A special Chanukah doesn’t mean more toys in the closet. Here’s how I make each night special.

Who doesn’t love presents? For me, giving presents is even more fun than getting them. (Except my Nespresso machines, of course. I’m up to three and they were all gifts. Read about how I make the most of my Nespresso here.) And I especially love giving presents to my kids. 

Chanukah Gifts
I love searching for just the right thing. And I love the reactions when they open the packages and their eyes light up.

What I don’t love is accumulating “stuff.” There’s a limit to how many new things a child needs at one time. And after they outgrow the toy stage, those things tend to get more expensive too. So, while we do give our kids a nice Chanukah present, we also like to have gifts that are more about having fun as a family.

One night of Chanukah is activity night. Each child receives a gift that is an activity to be done that night. Because my kids are not very close in age, their interests are not the same. They each get their own activity but they are all done at the same time, around the table with Chanukah treats nearby. Some activities we’ve had over the years are: play-doh sets, origami kits, cross-stitch sets, and science experiments.

Another night of Chanukah is book night. Just like it sounds, every child gets a new book. These have bonus value in that they get swapped around.

And Friday night is game night. A new family game and/or a new 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is unwrapped before candlelighting on Friday to be played with after the seudah. (If you’re looking for game ideas, see our post about classic games and our post about contemporary games.)

For me, Chanukah is the ultimate family time. No pressure of YomTov cooking and cleaning. Just lots of relaxed fun and togetherness. And that’s the greatest gift of all.


*See how Renee Muller kickstarts her Chanukah Festivites!


  1. Thank you for the beautiful ideas. I really like the perspective. My kids are really excited about puzzles now so your Friday night idea caught my eye. Just wanted to mention that there may be halachic issues with doing large puzzles that will be kept on Shabbos (i.e. not taking apart and put together again like a 20-pc puzzle). Please ask your Rav.

  2. A – we’ve looked into it and it was determined to be ok. We take apart our puzzles when they’re done. We’d have run out of wall space years ago! You do need to be careful about “borer”, though.


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