This year, I will be attending my first Hanukkah celebration. I’m excited to be joining in on a close friend's traditions and to learn more about their Jewish heritage and what Hanukkah is all about. In an effort to be a respectful guest, I want to bring her a gift to show my appreciation for being invited, but also recognize the holiday as a friend.
In 2021, Hanukkah falls from November 28th and ends on December 6th. If you are a non-Hanukkah celebrating person, here’s some facts about the holiday.
- The date of Hanukkah starts on a different day every year. Next year, Hanukkah will start on December 18th and end on December 26th.
- It is an 8-day Jewish festival to celebrate the victory of the Maccabees - Jewish freedom fighters - over the occupation of Seleucidian Greeks in the year 139 BC.
- The eight candles represent the eight days of light that was given by the oil in the Temple menorah. It was thought to only have enough light for one day, but instead burned for eight days.
- To celebrate Hanukkah, a candle is lit on the ceremonial menorah each night for eight days, lighting a new candle per day. At the time of lighting, a blessing or prayer is recited.
Gifts to Give Your Hanukkah Celebrating Friends and Family
So what can you bring as a gift as an invited guest to a Hanukkah celebration? Check out the following suggestions to find the perfect gift for your host.
Hanukkah Gelt - Chocolate coins:
Gelt is a reference to money given as a present during Hanukkah. It;s normally given during the game of Dreidel. In modern times, chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil are now given as gifts and are a yummy treat to eat!
Where to find Hanukkah gelt in the Treasure Valley:
- Winco - bulk section
- See’s Candy - Boise Towne Square Mall, Boise
- Lee’s Candies - Vista Ave., Boise
A traditional breaded loaf, this bread is eaten during times of Jewish ceremony and is steeped in history and symbolism. It’s symbols include representing the wheel of seasons, or an upward spiral towards progress.
Where to find Challah bread in the Treasure Valley:
- Challah Bread Home - 208.805.9734
- Great Harvest Bread Co.
A hanukkah party is sure to include plenty of yummy dishes. Some of these could be Latkes (fried potato pancake), beef brisket, Kugel (egg noodle casserole), Matzo ball soup (dumplings), and so much more. Giving the gift of gorgeous serveware is a great way to show your host you care about their hard work in the kitchen!
Kosher Gift Basket:
An item becomes kosher when it meets the requirements set forth by Jewish law. A fun gift item would be to fill a basket with food and snacks that have been designated in accordance with these laws.
Many named brand stores can make these for you, but consider looking to a local flower or gift shop to create a custom basket for you using locally made kosher items.
Tokens of Friendship:
If you’re looking for a less faith-centered gift, a token of your friendship is another nice gift to give your Hanukkah host. These could be framed pictures of you together, friendship jewelry, books, or any other memento to celebrate a shared memory.
The menorah is lit each night during the eight days of Hanukkah. There is one candle in the middle, used to light the other eight candles, and four spots for candles on either side. Idaho has a smaller Jewish population, so these candles can be harder to find than in other states. When buying, be sure to buy 5/16” diameter tapered candles. They can be a variety of colors, or the classic white. You should also try to get a pack of at least 40, to help them light up for the entire eight days.
Where to buy Menorah candles in the Treasure Valley:
*check availability online
- A local synagogue
- Chabad Jewish Center
- Ahavath Beth Israel synagogue
- Fred Meyers
- Dollar Tree
- Bed Bath & Beyond
Additional Welcomed Gifts For Any Hanukkah Host:
- Hanukkah Cookie Cutters
- Kitchen gadgets
- Flower Bouquet - Blue and White
An Important Reminder When Gifting
As someone who is not Jewish, and also going to my first Hanukkah celebration, I was curious if there were any DON’TS when it comes to gifts for my hosts and behaviours at the gathering..
My friend shared some important insight when I asked what a guest shouldn’t give as a Hanukkah gift.
“Anything Christmassy. It may seem obvious, but it can be annoying when someone shows up with a gift and says that the store wasn’t selling Hanukkah stuff. It can be like salt in the wound. It’s ok if it isn’t Hanukkah themed. A simple card can be far more intentional and respectful.”
So, while some people of the Jewish faith might also celebrate Christmas, it is important to give gifts in a way that celebrates the holiday's differences.
Did we miss something?
It’s an important goal to celebrate our differences as best we can. As someone who is not Jewish, I recognize that I may have some of the information, history, or gift ideas wrong. Or there may be more ideas, or businesses that our readers can support when looking for Hanukkah gifts.
Please email any additions or corrections you have for the blog to firstname.lastname@example.org
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