Enjoy these ideas for 8 nights of Hanukkah gifts – focused on kids, and keeping it sensible! If you loved this, check out the felt menorah pattern too! This post contains affiliate links.
I love having something for my kids to unwrap every night of Hanukkah. Because it’s less of a structured holiday, it not only lends structure and excitement, it’s something for the kids to anticipate for months!
While we usually spend some time with family for other chagim, Hanukkah is spent going to school most days and pretty much at home. And while we have Chanukah parties, latke baking sessions, and more, we need to be real: the kids love gifts.
It’s important to remember: gift giving for kids is central to Chanukah in an authentic way. Originally, it was “gelt” – cash prizes – given as an incentive for Torah study, to combat the efforts to get rid of it. Today, kids are more inclined to be incentivized by toys. We avoid “good kid vs. bad kid” references like the plague, but they can be told that their efforts throughout the year are being rewarded.
And while gift giving to everyone else and their third cousin might be adopted from the over commercialization of the holiday season, there’s nothing like sending a little token of gratitude to make another’s day, if you can afford it.
The problem is, when you think about buying your kid a new LEGO set or doll outfit or whatever it is that they’re into these days… it gets to simply be too much! And if you have a larger family, it’s totally prohibitive.
I’ve always been frugal and taken a “spend less, save more” approach. However, having a gift for my kids for each night is very important to me. That’s why I wanted to share a more sensible approach to 8 nights of Hanukkah gifts.
These are examples of things we’ve given, planned out in “8 nights” for you. The point is: your kids can unwrap something every night, without it being eight nights of expensive toys. Overlap with things they actually need – but make it special. Gift treats and consumables. Budget $1 for some nights.
A good strategy is to plan a budget for each child and spread it out over the eight nights.
Of course, shopping sales and bargain stores or bargain sections in stores can help.
For reference, my kids are ages nine, six, and two.
Your tweens and teens may need you to take a different approach. But I figure I’ll share what works for us to have 8 nights of Hanukkah gifts, and you can tweak as needed.
8 Nights of Hanukkah Gifts: What to give each night
First, I start off with a sample plan. If some of these don’t work for your kids, pivot. I have LOADS more ideas below. Swap around the nights to be those that work best for you.
Night One: The biggie. Make it clear to kids that it’s the biggie to set expectations for other nights. It can be a $10 item that’s high on their wishlist (Top Trumps, Pokemon Cards, a new doll outfit) or as big as a new gaming console. The idea is that this is the main gift you’re giving them, according to your own budget.
We’ve switched off doing this on night one and night eight. The advantage of doing it on night eight is that this doesn’t set the expectations too high. However, if your kids know that there’s one Big Gift and the rest are just fun little surprises, they may already be anticipating it and this can be a great way to kick off Chanukah.
For that reason, I do the biggie on the first night.
Shop for this one when all the sales happen – you’ll probably save on average 30-40% if you shop sales!
You can find loads of ideas for the biggie by age in my gift guides I’ve created over the years.
Night Two: Socks. By socks I mean special socks, such as favorite character socks.
Night Three: Treats. Chocolate coins or candy filled dreidels. See “special nights” note below.
Night Four: Pajamas. Cozy or character PJs – especially if you don’t usually buy those are a great gift. And consider that it’s only the extra that they cost that you’re really spending on the gift.
Night Five: Another toy. I do think it’s nice to do another toy night, but maybe a smaller one. Some ideas for this night, depending on your budget: puzzles – Jixelz are cool too, Smart Games, a Dollar Tree item.
Night Six: A book. I usually go for a Jewish book that I really want them to have. For example, one year I got them Let’s Stay Safe.
Night Seven: Gelt. This is based on the ages of kids and what’s appropriate. It can be $1, $5, $100 – depending on your budget. With smaller “gelt” gifts, you can give gift cards, such as to a local ice cream store, where a few dollars goes further.
Night Eight: A family gift. This can be a game, a music CD/new DVD, a building toy, or something else in any budget (it can also be a swingset or a trampoline). If gifting a game or CD, you can follow it up with a family game night or dance party.
Nights that are excluded or get special treatment
Some nights either don’t need a gift or get specific gifts that make sense. Here are some examples.
Friday Night – Gift Shabbat party for the next day, such as a candy-filled dreidel, dreidel jewel pops, dreidel oodles…
The night before school vacation – Gift an activity or craft kit (this can literally be dollar store item/s) to be done the next day.
Party Nights – nights that we have family parties where I know the kids will get gifts I don’t give them something from me. They already know this and expect it. So you can see that we don’t even go through all items on the list above every Chanukah!
A DIY Night – Make one night for gifting something you made. Or, do it as a family gift exchange night. This will work if you’re a creative family, obviously, and isn’t for everyone.
Family gift exchange night – Whether you DIY or buy it, you can give each kid a small budget (max $5) and have them each buy or get supplies to DIY a gift for another sibling (assigned by you or picked out of a bowl.)
More sensible gift ideas that fit every budget
Here are some more ideas that you can swap out with some of the above.
Fuzzy slippers – bonus points if it has a favorite character
Clothing: either a licensed t-shirt with their favorite characters, a hoodie of the same, or a cozy one if they’re big fans of cozy…
Art Supplies – especially a “level up” from their current stash.
Jewelry or hair accessories for girls. Again, this is Dollar Tree-able for very young kids, and at most can cost a few bucks at Target.
A watch – bonus points for analog! If you can get away with it.
Fun school supplies – especially for kids who are old enough that the teachers don’t pool supplies and aren’t too specific.
Fun throw pillows for their beds. Totally sensible.
Or any other piece of bedroom decor, such as a poster, a new desk lamp, an alarm clock…
Second hand! I bought my son a second hand leftie mitt at the thrift store for a few dollars.
More non-toy 8 Nights of Hanukkah Gift Ideas for kids
This list includes non-toy gift ideas that aren’t necessarily cheap but are fabulous for if you want to be more sensible and don’t just want to stock up on toys.
Hanukkah supplies: a personalized Menorah, a fun dreidel…
Experiences and trips – this can be gifted as family gift night – even if it’s a vacation you’ll want to take anyway! Double dip!
A new hobby – either lessons for one, a starter kit, supplies plus a book… however you want to gift it!
A STEM membership such as KiwiCo or MEL Science.
Piggy banks or other age-appropriate financial education gifts (bonus: stick some gelt in this!)
Their own luggage (if you go away a lot) or sleeping bag.
Ride ons, bikes, sports equipment such as a new mitt. You might call this toys, but since it’s to some degree a “necessity” if the child doesn’t have a stand-in, you can once again double dip, buying something the child needs anyway as a gift.
Do you do 8 nights of Hanukkah gifts? What tips or ideas do you have to make it more doable? Comment below!