Tuesday, November 26, 2013

10 Ways To Have A Fun, Yet Frugal Hanukkah

I don't get it,” said one of my son's friends. “How come I usually see a menorah at your house along with Christmas lights and Santa decorations on your lawn?” Gather around, my friends, and welcome to the wonderful world of Interfaith Families!

This year, we won't have that overlapping of religious traditions, but we will be celebrating Chanukah at the same time we're celebrating Thanksgiving. In our family, the kids get books the first night of Chanukah (prompting my husband to call it The Literary Holiday) and the rest of their gifts come for Christmas. Since my hubby is Jewish, he's in charge of choosing the tomes, wrapping them, etc. Then, each of the eight nights of The Festival Of Lights, he says the prayers as we screw in a light bulb. Honestly, after all the extended malarkey of the Yule, I welcome the simplicity of Chanukah!

For us, giving books keeps the cost of the holiday down and reminds the children of the value of education.  Still, we're a one-income family and don't have a lot of money, so I've come up with these suggestions to have a fun, yet frugal Chanukah: 

  1. First , resist the urge to succumb to the pressure of having Chanukah compete with Christmas. According to my husband, this is a minor Jewish holiday, so keep it in perspective. Focus on the love and togetherness instead of how much money is spent. Start traditions like “A Night In Front Of The Menorah” where you read books to each other or listen to music while enjoying each others company.  In other words, give the technology a rest.
  2.  Make a Family Collage to help kids remember loved ones who have passed. Purchase a large, inexpensive frame (Ikea has some great ones) and print out photos; add stickers, ribbon, etc. Tell stories of your loved ones as you make the collage. Or make a Memory Tree by writing the names of loved ones on card stock, punching a hole through the card, and adding a ribbon. Hang from any tall plant in the house.
  3. Re-gift what you have. Is there a gift card for a store you don't go to that someone else would
    appreciate? Does one child have toys they've outgrown that they can give to another?
  4. Agree to make a small donation to a worthy cause in lieu of gifts - what a mitzvah!
  5. Shop clearance, online sales, thrift stores, and at the local dollar store. Also look in Big Lots, Amazing Savings, and even drug stores.  A gift is whatever a person might want, not what retailers tell you to buy.   
  6. Check out websites that offer free Chanukah gift and decoration printables like:
       - Examiner.com (http://www.examiner.com/article/free-hanukkah-printable-coloring-pages-activities-word-searches)
       - DLTK-Kids.com(http://www.dltk-kids.com/world/jewish/hanukah.htm)
       - Torahtots.com  (http://torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/chanfng.htm)
  7. Make gifts from items found in nature. Sea shells make lovely jewelry, spoon rests, or loose change holders. Family Crafts (http://familycrafts.about.com/od/naturecrafts) shows some great gifts you can make from twigs, seeds, sticks, and more!
  8. Make a Coupon Book good for things like “taking out the garbage on an extra cold night,” "doing one load of laundry," or "getting up to feed the cat."  People appreciate someone else doing their less-than-favorite jobs.
  9. Look for free, local Chanukah celebrations in your neighborhood.  Even if you're not associated with a temple, these events are often open to the general public.  Check your local newspaper or JCC for details.  
  10. Go to your local library and rent some Chanukah-related movies.  My favorites include:  Lambchop's Chanukah And Passover Surprise, Chanukah On Planet Matzah Ball, and Eight Crazy Nights.  
May your Chanukah be filled with happiness and peace!


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