Mommy Blog Expert: HANUKKAH 2009 - Memorable Gifts for the Festival of Lights for Every Family Member & Friend

Thursday, December 10, 2009

HANUKKAH 2009 - Memorable Gifts for the Festival of Lights for Every Family Member & Friend

by Janis Brett Elspas
MommyBlogExpert's Hanukkah
December 11 - 19, 2009 - Memorable Gifts for the Festival of Lights features the most brilliant ideas imaginable for kids, families, parents, relatives, and friends.  From a custom-made look alike doll that bears uncanny resemblance to a child's parent, to a clever Yiddish baby book, to a Hanukkah dog sweater, to a kosher Festival of Lights Cheesecake that can be air shipped to you, to even "giving" a goat or donkey as a gift, chances are you'll find some ideal gifts here to enhance the holiday for everyone on your Hanukkah gift list.  Pictured is a favorite family piece, a 14" handmade dimensional ceramic menorah, limited edition, by artist Branah Layah, private collection.

Hanukkah, which starts at sundown on Friday, December 11th this year and runs through Saturday, December 19th, is also known as the Festival of Lights.  This Jewish holiday lasting eight days that usually falls in December (though not always) has historically been thought to be the people of Israel's equivalent to Christmas -- both among non-Jews and even some Jews themselves.  This is particularly noticeable in the U.S. where cultures and religions have blended and the holidays have become much more commercialized than in other parts of the world.

But, the most observed holiday in Judaism, really has nothing to do with Christmas.  Hanukkah can be best understood and more fully appreciated by reflecting upon its roots.  Original homemade Hanukkah Gingerbread House made by the author of this blog is pictured at right. 

In modern times, Jews continue celebrating the multi-day holiday every year with generations of families coming together to light the menorah for eight nights.  It is traditional to eat potato latke pancakes and jelly donuts (Sufganiot, in Hebrew), pass out chocolate gold coins known as Hanukkah gelt to children, and to play a special game with a top called a dreidel.   

You might ask, "How did this festive holiday originate and what do latkes have to do with a candelabra, chocolate coins, and dreidel, anyway?"  American Girl's Miniature Menorah and Gold Coins, private collection, pictured above.

The historic event upon which Hanukkah is based occurred more than two thousand years ago, when a last bottle of sanctified oil that the Jews found was miraculously enough to burn not one day, but eight days in the menorah after the Jews returned to reclaim the temple that had been captured and destroyed by the Greeks. 

Today, Jews remember that famous oil around the world in several ways: by lighting a menorah each of the eight nights and by eating fried foods like crunchy potato pancakes and delectable jelly donuts.  Holiday celebrants also play a game using pennies (or gold chocolate coins) and a 4-sided dreidel that is spun around with different Hebrew letters on each of its sides: Nes, Gadol, Hyah, Sham, which roughly translates as, "A great miracle happened there."  

In modern times the colors most associated with Hanukkah are blue and white, reflecting the color scheme of the official flag of Israel since 1948 when the country declared statehood.  Gold and silver are often incorporated into the holiday to add to the festivity.  The handpainted wood dreidel &amp and Stand  above shows Noah's Ark (a dreidel depicting a well known Chagall wedding scene is also available).  Both made in Israel, $26.  Noah's Ark dreidel pictured is from
Like many of you I really enjoy receive and sending greeting cards at this time of year.  Admittedly, I'm partial to dogs, but this animated Hanukkah Ojolie musical ecard just stole my heart.  Set to a beautiful violin serenade, this electronic greeting depicts a cat spinning a dreidel while the lights of the menorah burn brightly in the background. Send this card to loved ones this holiday, and you are bound make a memory that will last a long time, if not a lifetime.  You've got to see this to believe it, so here's a free preview of this card from

For certain, this holiday is not just kid stuff -- it's for every Jewish man, woman, child, young and old, and the family pet to enjoy.  This showcase is filled with some of the most extraordinary and meaningful gift ideas around for just about every human and animal on your list.  Hanukkah Pup Dog Sweater, $26.95,  is a beautifully blue knit canine sweater with silver metallic embroidered star, and fluffy white trim at the neck and bottom.  A darling white double pom pom tie accents the top edge.  Mention MommyBlogExpert, and get 10% off through the end of the year, plus free shipping.  Exclusively from Pet Flys

Especially for Baby
ChocoBouquet Baby "Cupcakes" in Giftbox, $19.95.  Four darling blue/white "cupcakes" washcloths for baby in a festive cupcake bakery box with chocolates tucked inside. From

For Toddlers 
Yiddish for Babies by Janet Peer, $12.99. A really cute baby picture Yiddish word book that will make both kids and adults chuckle.  Published by Simon & Schuster and available at and at fine booksellers.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's indepth review on this book soon.

Loveable Lookalike Doll, $44.99, is an eye-opening mother's invention that all parents of young children ought to know about.  The soft personalized doll (made with digital photo you provide) comes with re-recordable voice chip and includes a special custom message t-shirt.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's in-depth product review on this item soon.  Available from  ENTER MommyBlogExpert's holiday giveaway of a Loveable Lookalike DIY Doll HERE

For Older Kids
Handstand Kids - Chinese Cookbook Kit by Yvette Garfield, $24.99, is the answer to Sunday night tradition:  Chinese takeout for the family.  The kit includes the cookbook, an intro to Mandarin, and a pair of kid-size chopsticks, wrapped up in a clever red takeout book.  Ages 3 and up. Watch for MommyBlogExpert's in-depth product review on this item soon.  Information at

Kristen's Fairy House DVD, $19.95, is a whimsical award-winning color video based on the first book in the popular Fairy House Series by Tracy & Barry Kane -- a fantasy and the inspiration and information needed to build a real fairy house with your child.  Read about one of the other books from the series, FairyHouses... Everywhere, in MommyBlogExpert's 2009 Thanksgiving Gift Showcase hereAges 4 and up.  Published by Light-Beams Publishing and distributed to the trade by IPG.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's in-depth review of this book soon.  Available direct to consumers at select retail stores and at

This Designer Mogen David Star Hanukkah Girl's Skirt, $42, is much more stunning than the picture lets on, so this beautifully made, tiered feminine Hanukkah-themed boutique skirt would be perfect to wear to any party.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's in-depth product review on this item soon.  Available in toddler and little girls sizes.  From

The Sisters 8 Book Series by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and family, $4.99 each, is ideal for this holiday because the series is based on Octuplets (eight babies born from the same mother at the same time) who are eight years old.  Chapter book suitable for Grades 4-6, depending on reading skills.  For details see the publisher's website  for information and a free paper doll download based on the series.  Watch MommyBlogExpert for an in-depth review on this book series soon.

For Tweens & Teens
HexBug Nano, $9.99 each, from Innovation First International, is a tiny gift that will go over big this Hanukkah, especially with boys who love electronics.  This micro robotic creature is battery powered and comes with its own unique code inside the box to register and play online too. Hexbug Nano is available nationally at ToysRUs and Radio Shack.

Customized Sterling Silver Hanukkah Bracelet, $53.51/bracelet shown, incl shipping, comes with 5 charms: menorah, present, lucky penny, dreidel, and Star of David or you can choose to have it made with any others from the massive holiday offerings or 100s of other unique charms. Charms also available individually for less than $5 each.  From the Charm Factory   WIN Charm Factory merchandise with MommyBlogExpert's Holiday Sweepstakes, now through January 4, 2010, ENTER HERE Also, watch for several more in-depth product reviews of their other novel theme bracelets and charms soon.  

Bijoux in a Box DIY Earrings Craft Project Box Set, $22, would be fun for a slumber party.  Comes gift boxed ready to give, with directions and everything needed to make 4 pairs of really cool pierced earrings, including a variety of supplies: rich enamel drops, shells, and silver mini-charms and drops as well silver plated earwires and rubber "earnuts." Watch for MommyBlogExpert's in-depth product review on this after my girls and I try it to make some new earrings.  Also, watch for MommyBlogExpert's holiday giveaway of this item soon.  From

This Real Live Goat, $50, is a great way to give and help children living in poverty throughout the world while teaching tweens and teens the power of helping others.  Your loved one gets a really cute card that says "I bought this Goat for You." And, no kid-ding, this gift also will supply an invaluable resource rural communities can use, providing a lasting solution to poverty and hunger in 100+ countries. This present might pop up again in the conversation during the Passover seder next year when everyone is singing Had Gad Yah (My Father Bought Me a Goat).  From non-profit OxFam America

Stylish Teen Girls Cotton Sleeping Bag,$105, like two of the many styles ahown here, are among the hottest trends for teen girls and their friends right now.  Available in an amazing choice of beautful fabric styles such as the Taffy Candy and Taffy Flip Flops designs pictured here, these are 100% cotton, generously sized at 72 inches in length and each comes with an attached fluffy pillow and matching carrying bag.  For an additional charge these can also be personalized with a name.  From Artistic Sensations

Jchoice Giftcard, $ price varies, as featured on the ground-breaking website allows non-profits to market themselves to pre-teens and teens who experience giving through educational and social networking.  An outgrowth of the traditional community fundraising and service many kids participate in to celebrate their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, this works similar to a gift registry.   Anyone who wants to can register with and choose the cause(s) that he/she designates for family and friends to donate to in lieu of gifts.  For more information about how to give time and money through this new social network visit

Zum Tov Bow Bar, $6.25, by Indigo Wild.  Your boy or girl teen will be sullen no more, when when you pamper them with this aromatherapy gift that smells almost like the Garden of Eden.  Kosher scented in almond and orange, this 3 ounce bar is made with 100% saponified food grade olive, coconut, and palm oils, in a goat's milk base with herbs, pure essential oils and natural colorings.  Perfect for Hanukkah, in a swirling blue and white bar presented with organdy bow.  Indigo Wild's handmade products are  available at over 2,000 retail stores nationwide, including high end natural grocery stores such as Whole Foods.  Watch for a MommyBlogExpert holiday giveaway of Indigo Wild products soon.  From

For Big Girls, Especially the Young at Heart 

The Uncommon Yarmulke, by Cathy Perlmutter, $15.95, is a stunning book that just about everyone who appreciates Judaica will likely enjoy, whether or not they are crafty and/or sew.   What you see on the cover is just a window into a how-to title of ideas and patterns that will change the way you look at the yarmulke (kippah, in Hebrew) skullcap that is traditionally worn by many Jewish men in all branches of the faith.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's indepth book review later, once I've tried out some of the great projects hidden in the pages of this craft book.  From

Small Runaway Eco-Chic Backpack in MultiColor, $74, is a small, one strapped very lady like backpack with side zipper that is so beautiful it can also be used as a handbag.  One of the popular styles in Rebagz's Juicy Hand Woven collection of bags, this backpack is hand woven using recycled juice packs so each bag is  an original, ecologically friendly piece of functional art. Size 15" by 10" by 4" with strap drop length 31" to 36.5Multi-colored with black trim and lining style is pictured, also available in silver.  From Rebagz

YoYo Retractable LipGloss Minis, $2.99, is a really awesome sparkling lip gloss that will always be accessible thanks to its unique retractable 2-1/2 foot long cord. Perfect for jeans pockets, school bags, and grownup women's handbags, this is likely to banish digging for your lip gloss. Comes in four fun and fab flavors -- Kissable Kiwi, Girly Green Apple, Cha-Cha Chocolate, and Big Bounce Bubblegum. From YOYO LipGloss , at select retailers nationwide, by calling 800-YOYO-LIP, and at

Poule de Luxe Vanilla Lemon Pie Solid Fragrance, $18, smells almost good enough to eat.  Surprise that favorite big girl on your list with this lip stick sized .17 oz/5 g scent that's made in France, and she'll be smelling practically like the real thing.  Best of all, this is not a liquid so she can pop it in her carry on bag and breeze right through the security screening process at the airport. WIN a Poule de Luxe solid fragrance by entering MommyBlogExpert's Holiday Giveaway, now through January 4, 2010. From Crazy Libellule and the Poppies

Hanukkah Sock Grams, $11.95/pair, are a thoughtful gift of novelty socks that will keep the feet of the person who receives them festively cozy all winter.  All the giver has to do is choose from a great selection of socks, add a personalized greeting to the order, and then they'll beautifully package and wrap your gift and ship it in their distinctive shiny blue foil envelope direct to the recipient.  A wide array of choices for socks for Hanukkah and many others for practically any occasion throughout the year that you can think of.  In addition to ladies, styles for kids and men are also offered.  From Sock Grams

For Men of All Ages
Penacho Azteca Reposado Tequila, about $25-30, is certified kosher.  Part of Tequila Rack's hand-picked collection of Mexico's finest 100% agave micro tequila brands, this would be a welcome gift to any man who appreciates really good tequila.  Perfect as a host/hostess gift, too, for making really superb margaritas at a holiday bash.  Find out how to plan/host a tequila tasting party here.  Sold at off-premise retailers and fine liquor stores, see store locator here

This Handmade Menorah Men's Tie with Steven Harris label, $12.95, will be a real conversation starter at any Hanukkah gathering.  The seven-branch menorah is reminiscent of that which once stood in the temple thousands of years ago, but is updated for wearing today with the phrase "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem" inside a Mogen David star just above the menorah.  Framed by a dark, midnight blue textured background, this brightly colored tie also integrates the remains of the temple's walls that still stand in the Holy City into its unique design.  Don't miss MommyBlogExpert's Holiday Giveaway to win another cool novelty tie from this company, contest now through January 4, 2010.  From ABC Neckties

CEIVA Pro 80 Digital Photo Frame, $179, comes with 1-year PicturePlan photo delivery service included.  This is the new gadget to consider for the man on your list, allowing him to connect this frame via Wi-Fi, broadband, or telephone line.  Then, he can send pictures directly to the frame from anywhere in the world - camera phone, iPhone, Facebook or from Picasa and invite others to send photos too.  A great way for hubbie to email pictures home from a business trip for the family.  Available online at The CEIVA Store and Amazon, as well as at selected retail store chains such as Best Buy and Samy's Camera, and others.  WIN one of these free, by entering the MommyBlogExpert holiday giveaway through January 4, 2010.

Latkes, Dreidels, Menorahs &
Holiday Foods & Drinks

What would Hanukkah be without Latkes?  Whether you make this crispy or soggy, out of the box or homemade, these gift ideas will bring the holiday to a new level.
Year of the Latke Jewish Zodiac T-shirt, $24/adult, $20/youth, is a fun gift for young and old that features a 1950s vibe logo.  The coolest graphic I've ever seen celebrating that scrumptious fried potato treat we all look forward to.  A partial quote from the text of this shirt says it all, "Working class with a grating exterior, you're a real softie on the inside..."  This design also available as a coffee cup.  BTW, this company produces an astounding offering of Jewish Zodiac products so it's worth a visit to their site to check it out.  From

Got Latkes Apron, Potholders, and Baby Bib, $3.99 - $17.99, from the originator of Hanukkah kitsch, Davida.  This company has the widest selection of latke merchandise I've seen and the line is quite collectible (I should know, some of Davida's items for other holidays are in my personal collection).  For sure this assortment of latke gifts will make every laugh and will be the talk of your Hanukkah party.  Clever, reasonably priced, and best of all these aprons, potholders, and other items in the latke line are proudly made in America.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's in-depth product review on the entire collection.  Available nationwide at Judaic shops, select markets and retail stores, and online direct from
Get 'em While They're Hot - Latkes Platter, $28.50, is a new take on an old tradition handpainted on Ceramic by Our Name is Mud. Now imagine those sizzling potato delicacies on this serving plate when your guests pass the food around the table.  I know I'm hungry, already, aren't you?  From

Giant Menorah Cookie, $35.50, is another delightful kosher find this year, that will be remembered long after the last crumb is enjoyed by those who receive this sweet gift.  Measuring 9-10 inches, this delicious sugar cookie definitely makes my personal wish list of memorable gifts.  From
Jay Strongwater Menorah with Swarovski Crystals, $1,200, Corzine & Co., is at upper edge of the luxe spectrum. A stunning menorah brightly accented with colors that represent the vibrancy of life. Cream/brown/green magnolia bud motif with Hand-set Swarovski® crystals. Handcrafted in USA.
8 x 7 x 5 inches.  Pictures available showing the artistic beauty of this Judaica piece from all angles can be viewed online.  From 
Hanukkah Cheesecake, $40, is kosher and baked fresh by Eli's Cheesecake, famous for their awesome dessert specialties in more flavors than you can probably imagine.  Available for a limited time for U.S. customer home delivery, just for Hanukkah, they're offering an out of this world special edition featuring Eli's Original Plain Cheesecake topped with clouds of creamy mousse, festive blue chocolate decorations, and an edible Happy Hanukkah message.  Uncut, serves 16, packed in dry ice and delivered fresh via air express to you.

My kids and I visited Eli's factory outside of Chicago several years ago and we were lucky enough not only to see how the best cheesecakes in the world are made, but we got to sample some because a slice of cake was included in the admission price for their fun, old-fashioned tour.  Take my word for it, these cheesecakes are better than any you've tasted before.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's report from the Eli's Cheesecake Factory Tour soon.  From Eli's Cheesecake

President Brie Cheese Log, $6.99, is a creamy and rich-tasting cheese by the makers of Rondele.  Now available in an 8 inch cylinder shape weighing 6 ounces, this has thin edible rind, making it easy to slice into rounds for crackers.  Both adults and kids that I have served this to love it, so I consider this an equally perfect idea for elegant entertaining and to pop in children's lunch boxes.  I can't wait to try this sliced on top of our potato latkes during Hanukkah.  Watch for MommyBlogExpert's indepth product review on the President Brie Log Kit we recently received from this tasty cheesemaker soon.

Gourmet Hanukkah Candy Apples by Mrs. Prindables, $26.95, clearly are not just for Halloween. Why not give these a try to make a memorable conclusion to your holiday celebration?  This giant elegant caramel apple, weighing up to 1.5 pounds, is festively presented with a porcelain dreidel attached to a big blue bow and is available in all 8 signature apple flavors. Shown in Triple Chocolate here.  Just think of the oohs and aahs you'll be hearing when you bring out a tray with some of these works of art for dessert.  Serves 8-10.  From Mrs. Prindables

Milk Chocolate Coins and Dark Chocolate Bars from Divine, prices vary, are at Whole Foods and also available at select stores in the U.S. and  online Kosher certified by Triangle-K, this gourmet chocolate is made with the finest Fair Trade cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo, a co-op of smallholder farmers in Ghana.  
When I opened the beautifully packed box they sent, loaded with two generous bags of gold milk chocolate "gelt" for Hanukkah and two of their large Divine 70% Dark Chocolate 3.5 ounce bars, the smell and taste of both chocolate types from their extensive line was heavenly.  As I read the brochure included in the package, I was even happier to find out that this is a chocolate company with a very big heart -- because the local cocoa farmers not only get a fair deal for their cocoa, but also premiums to invest in their communities, and a share of Divine ChocolateUSA profits. 

Now, that you've got some unforgettable ideas, hurry up've got eights days of memorable gifts to shop for.  A gentle reminder:  don't forget to buy Hanukkah candles like I did last year, when you are picking up gifts for everyone.

Readers:  Would love to get your reactions to my best gift idea picks for Hanukkah, so please post a comment and let me know what you think.

Wishing You and Yours
8 Joyous Days and Nights of Hanukkah!!!!!!!
Menorah Challah Bread, baked at home by MommyBlogExpert

FTC Disclosure:  For this holiday gift showcase, Mommy Blog Expert received the products and/or services from companies mentioned for test, review and/or to giveaway to this blog's readers.  Exceptions:  No products and/or services were provided by Chocobouquet, HandstandKids, Artistic Sensations,, and Mrs. Prindables. Additional items identified as private collection were purchased.  MommyBlogExpert was neither paid nor received other compensation from any company mentioned in this post.


MommyBlogExpert said...

This book looks really wonderful. I will have to look into it as soon I can. Thanks for your suggestion!

Seth Front said...

Great collection of Judaica for Chanukah - you ARE the expert!

Rebecca said...

this is probably one of the BEST hannukkah blogs i have seen. Seth Front is truly right- you ARE the expert

Shantel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shantel said...

I agree, this is a fantastic Chanukah blog! I also think is a great way to encourage youth to donate to different causes around the world!

Lizzie said...

Lighting Hanukkah candles, playing dreidels, eating delicious food, listening Hanukkah songs these are some of the process of celebrating Hanukkah. Hope you all have enjoyed it well.

robywilliam said...

Awesome Hannukkah blog.....i have ever seen in my whole life. You give me good ideas of diwali corporate gift items which i distribute every year in employees of company on the occasion of Diwali festival. Thanks a lot.