Toddlers, Chanukah and Gifts...

Eliza - posted on 11/25/2009 ( 6 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 2 yrs, 10m and we are going to my Dad's for Chanukah. This is the first year she really understands gift, but I want her to understand the meaning of Chanukah. I asked my mom, sister and dad to chi in on ONE present for my daughter, and I am only giniving her one gift. Am I doing the right thing? Not to mention; her dad is a gentile and she spends Xmas with him and her birthday is in January. I don't want her to get spoiled. Any tips or advice would be great!!!

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Reay - posted on 12/02/2009

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These are all great suggestions! My mother grew up Episcipalian before she converted to marry my dad, but we always celebrated both Xmas and Hann., still do. I always received a small gift, like a storybook, or a piece of clothing, each night of Hann., and larger stuff on XMas. Since I married a Jewish man who never celebrated Xmas, we split the difference. My kids receive smallish gifts each night of Han., as well as gifts from our Jewish family members, with a larger gift on the last night. Most of the presents are brought by Santa at Xmas. This is the first year I've been working with my kids on donating stuff they don't want to charity. It's gone very well and I hope to continue it through birthday season!

We've also just joined PJ Library, a service that sends monthly religious themed books, for free, to Jewish children all over the state of Georgia. We've received a bunch of good Hann. books which have been fun to share.

Shirley - posted on 11/29/2009

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I come from an israeli family so we give money. I know they don't understand money at this age but we put the money in a bank account to save for later and then buy a really cheap token present. They will appreaciate the money later when they need it at the age of 16 or 18 when they want to buy a car ha ha. I think at this age just celebrating with family and having fun is the thing the love the most :) I also like the idea of books. Our Jessica (21 m) is obsessed with books and we too buy jewish holiday books and then spend time singing holiday songs. The other great book ( i'm know if you have it where you live but i'm sure you do) is the leap frog tag books. It is an inteactive book that has a wand and the kids put the wand on the pictures or the words and the book gets read for them by the wand. There are many different books available and the wand holds 4 books at a time. Other people can add to the series, you down load it on to you computer and then on to the wand. They are all educational books ie alphabet, opposites, colours, shapes etc. As they grow the books address their age needs. Hours of fun! Jess loves it!!!

Michelle - posted on 11/28/2009

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It is so hard for the little ones to not want presents! I think its more important to balance everything out by starting with charity. I taught my 4 year old son that there are many children who cant afford new toys so if he gives them the ones he doesnt need, they will have Hanukkah presents. We also go through all of the clothes that dont fit. This year at his school, they had both a food drive and a book drive which provided more opportunites for us to give back. I let my son pick all the stuff to give away and I dont make him give anything he doesnt want to. It makes room for new things while helping out the community. I would suggest finding any organizations that are looking for donations and start teaching her about charity.
Also, at Dylans Candy Bar, they have a paper menorah. Each night you put one of the candles up and when you life it, there is a chocolate coin inside. It is a huge hit!

Kelli - posted on 11/27/2009

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You don't say if you are raising her Jewish, but my little ones (3-1/2 and 5) have many books about the holidays and there seem to be scores of them available for Hanukkah. We read them year-round, as they request them, but they obviously get read more as the holiday gets closer. Our newest favorite is Grandma's Latkes. The books certainly help them get the meaning and history.

Gift-giving is different for all families, so I would look at how your family did it as you were growing up, keeping and changing traditions as you like. Nothing is written in stone year-to-year, especially at this age, since this is the time you really start to establish your own traditions. We have a small gift (maybe 2) for each child every night, whether it is from us or grandparents or friends, and generally one big gift on the last night. We make room for these new things by going through their old stuff (clothes, toys, books) and donating them to charities. It usually ends up even, although last year we gave away more. Every night has menorah-lighting, a dreidel game and gelt, and finished up by reading some of those stories before bed.

As far as Dad goes and his family goes, I would ask them to take it easy and make the presents all the more special by just having a few gifts between them. Christmas tends to be an overloaded holiday and gifts are given to excess (I grew up Catholic).

Even though our birthdays aren't near the winter holidays, we always keep birthdays very special with a great party, lots of friends and family and a few presents. Now would be a great time to start asking attendees to bring a small gift for your daughter and one for donation. (I even suggest that they consider what they usually spend for birthday presents and split it, or go in with another attendee - one getting a present for your daughter, one to donate - if friends are unsure.) It's a special occasion, not a budget-breaker. Take lots of pictures, save something special (like a themed napkin or a mylar balloon - something that was particular to that party) and put them in a little photo album or scrapbook for her to take out and look at. She'll grow out of the toys and clothes, but not the memories.

This is a reallyyyy long response - sorry! - but there was a lot of things to consider!

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