It’s a cursed calendar configuration: First Thanksgiving and then, just three days later, Hanukkah. Who can get their gifts lined up while plotting the perfect apple pie? Personally, I think it should be illegal.
But the lunar calendar pays no heed to minor American feast days or my needs. Hanukkah approacheth, whether or not you’re ready for it. (In case you’re wondering, it starts November 28).
To kickstart your shopping, I scoured the internet for this year’s least cringey Hanukkah merch. And I surveyed my colleagues to find out what goodies are on their lists. In time for free shipping, here are 15 gifts we’re considering for our loved ones — or eyeing for ourselves.
For the aspiring plant parent: A mistake-proof houseplant
“When it comes to house plants, the less effort the better,” said Louis Keene, who lives in Los Angeles and started as a staff reporter this spring. “That’s why I’m a fan of this avocado vase. Drop a pit in there, fill the base with water, and watch the miracle of photosynthesis unfold.”
For the one in need of a Judaica upgrade: A chic menorah
We all have a friend who’s still lighting the rhinestone-bedecked menorah she got for her bat mitzvah. A marble menorah like this one from West Elm will stay in style for years. If you’re looking for Judaica to use year round, try these svelte modern candlesticks — and maybe pick up some funky colored candles to accompany them.
For the Shabbos queens and kings: A deluxe board game
Mom of three and marketing director Deena Kuperman plays a lot of games at home — especially on Shabbat. “So I got really excited when I saw this beautiful backgammon set,” she said. This season, put Candy Crush on hold and spring for some IRL entertainment.
For the tween: Some gutzy jewelry
The necklace-layerers in your life will appreciate this addition to the rotation.
For the one who doesn’t want any more stuff: Levain’s signature cookie
Rachel Fishman Feddersen, the Forward’s publisher and CEO, put it plain and simple: “All I need for Hanukkah is two four-packs of these Levain cookies. With their incredibly crisp-tender texture and their wildly over-the-top size, I’d eat one for dinner every night of the holiday.”
For the new parent: A customized Hebrew name print
OK, you could give this gift to anyone — who wouldn’t appreciate an art print of their Hebrew name? This Etsy shop will help you with translation if you’re not so sure of the letters. If the name game isn’t for you, try this equally lovely “Shalom” wall print.
For the one who’s done with WFH: A commute-ready backpack
Sweatpants are out. Accessories to make your commute slightly more bearable are back in. “I’m eyeing the Calpak Kaya laptop backpack,” said Gabby Brooks, marketing associate and expert meme creator. “Mostly because I saw a woman on the subway with one and felt having my own would solve all my problems.” Bonus points: it’s vegan leather.
For the coffee addict: Sufganiyot mug
Hanukkah kitsch is all well and good, but seasonal merch doesn’t need to be limited to latkes and menorahs. This mug pays tribute to the holiday’s most underrated dessert.
For the DIY-er: A powerful printer
Here’s what Jodi Rudoren, our editor-in-chief, has on her list (OK, it’s not exactly her list): “My daughter has proposed as a ‘family present’ a Cricut machine, which is some kind of fancy printer except instead of printing it can cut out designs, and not just from paper but from cardstock, vinyl, fabric, leather, cork, even wood. A ‘family present’ seems here to be defined as something she wants and is suggesting we all could use to make the expenses more palatable, and I have to admit it does seem attractive for my aspirational DIY alter-ego.”
For the post-quarantine cook: A splurge-worthy Dutch oven
You’ve seen them all over Instagram. And if, like our culture writer Mira Fox, you got into baking during the pandemic, you know a Dutch oven oven is essential for the “crispy crust and open texture of a rustic loaf.” Le Creuset offers 20 colors to choose from, but Lodge’s equivalent is just as pretty and far less than half the price.
For the interfaith family: Dreidels demystified
Trust us: your interfaith friends do not need a punny t-shirt reminding them they celebrate more than one holiday each winter. But these pretty dreidels might come in handy. With English instructions carved on each side, they make gameplay a breeze — even if some people on the team don’t know their Gimels from their Nuns.
For the altruist: A charitable gift card
Lauren Markoe, our D.C.-based news editor, is asking for a gift card to Kiva, a non-profit that makes loans to underserved communities around the world. “It’s a gift of funds that the recipient gets to invest in the developing world,” she said. “You pick the project, and you can see what your money helps build — then you can re-invest it in another project.”
For the swag-hound: Food t-shirts
Hanukkah merch can get pretty cringe, but these food label t-shirts are genuinely cute. Celebrating food staples from babka to blintzes, they’ll remind everyone how many calories we’re willing to consume in the name of our faith.
For the home improver: A fearsome drill brush
“Our vintage claw foot tub never really comes clean, and I seem to be incapable of developing the necessary upper body strength for it,” said Chana Pollack, who’s served as the Forward’s archivist for decades and is trying to become more interested in cleaning. “This set of drill-powered cleaning brushes seems the answer to my kvetching.”
For the reader: A Forward-vetted book
Arno Rosenfeld, a doting cat dad who covers antisemitism as a Forward staff reporter, put “Laser Writer II,” Tamara Shopsin’s quirky new novel, on his wishlist after reading about it in the Forward’s books newsletter. (If you’re not already signed up, you should be!) “It’s hard to resist a cover that reminds me of using my grandmother’s iMac in the 1990s,” he said.