Shlomo and Hagar Yekutieli’s tablecloths feature many different designs, including Chanukah and other holiday motifs. (photo from shlomohagar.com)
As Chanukah appears on the horizon, our thoughts inevitably turn to two things: gifts, and fatty foods. If you’ve distributed all the socks, dreidels and menorahs in years past and are all out of ideas, rest assured, there’s more out there. Lots more.
Light it up
Most families are going to need Chanukah candles as the festival approaches, so a gift of decorative candles never has time to get stale. If your pet peeve is Chanukah candles that drip hard-to-remove wax all over your countertops, you’re not alone. A good alternative is Safed Candles’ dripless Chanukah candles at $9.95 for a box of 45 (traditionsjewishgifts.com). Another option: Rite Lite Judaica sells eco-friendly, hand-dipped multicolored beeswax Chanukah candles ($17.99) or regular hand-dipped candles at $15.04 without the eco-friendly label.
Decorate with it
Vancouver couple Shlomo and Hagar Yekutieli manufacture beautiful tablecloths decorated with Jewish motifs, among them menorah designs. Using 100 percent cotton fabric and a combination of vegetable and regular dye, the pair has been crafting cloths from their home for the past 26 years. They have designs for all the Jewish holidays, as well as waterproof sukkah hangings. Prices start at $35 and go up to $180 depending on the size of the table. For information, visit shlomohagar.com or call 604-603-4629.
Just for laughs
Cafepress.com is a website with a variety of cute gift ideas for Chanukah, some of them bordering on ridiculous. There are T-shirts that say “I Wanna be a Maccabee ($22+), baby clothes that ask “Got gelt?” and $23 baseball jerseys with the words “Blowing the shofar can get you only so far.”
Who needs Monopoly on Chanukah when you can play the Maccabee Adventure Game? (amazon.com, $29) In this board game, players must lead a band of Maccabees to find enough oil to light the menorah, trying to avoid the roaming remnants of the Seleucid Empire on the way. The game comes with instructions in Hebrew and English and offers around 45 minutes of entertainment for up to four players age 8 and older.
Chanukah is all about kids, so if you’re stuck for a gift for the special children in your circle, look no further than Eric Kimmel’s Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Scholastic, 1990, scholastic.com, $3.71 paperback). In this story, Hershel of Ostropol gives a Jewish village the gift of celebrating Chanukah by taking care of a series of nasty goblins that haunt the old synagogue, blow out Chanukah candles, throw potato latkes on the floor and break dreidels.
Illustrated by the careful hand of Trina Shart Hyman, the goblins are mesmerizingly hideous and the story of their defeat is at once scary, defiant, courageous and humorous as they are shown to be cowards, easily fooled by Hershel’s tricks. This book is a must for any Jewish kids’ bookshelf, a text that gets pulled out year after year and captivates kids as young as 3 and as old as 8.
A great resource for Chanukah crafts for kids is Crafting Jewish by Rivky Koenig (Mesorah Publications, 2008, artscroll.com, $26.99). Featuring a chapter for each of the Jewish holidays, the Chanukah section has seven crafts and two recipes, as well as ideas for a doughnut and ice cream party where everyone makes his/her own dessert combinations. The crafts are varied and include creating a glowing glass menorah, making dreidel-stamped gift wrap, crafting clay dreidel charm jewelry and building a Chanukah tray made from a large picture frame. The activities are beautifully explained, with a list of needed items, an estimated duration for the craft and a picture on the opposite page showing the finished product as inspiration. If there’s a crafty kid in your house, this book will be well used.
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond, B.C. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net.