Thoughtful Hanukah Gift Ideas


When asked to write a Hanukah article, I wondered how I could help out my readers. I don’t know about you, but I really struggle to come up with good gifts to give. I have a lot of friends and family.  I would love to show my appreciation with something meaningful or thoughtful just for them, but I wrack my brain and nothing comes to mind. So, to help myself, and hopefully some of you, I asked my Instagram followers to tell me about meaningful gifts they’ve given or received Even if it was not for Hanukah, a meaningful gift for any occasion might be a good Hanukah gift. too! Enjoy! 


Elliot Levy @el_cuisine26 


The Hanukah that we got engaged, my fiancé (at the time) and I agreed to not go big on Hanukah presents because her birthday is the next month. We agreed on a small sum that we would spend on our gifts for each other. We planned to exchange presents at her parents’ Hanukah party. My wife (fiancé at the time) loves perfumes, diffusers, and flowers. When it was time to exchange gifts at the party, I surprised her with a really nice gardenia- scented diffuser that was shaped like a gardenia. She loved it because she knew I had put thought into it and gave her something that she really liked. 


 Shortly after, she gave me my Hanukah present. At the time I was the kosher chef at Rutgers University. I was up at the crack of dawn cooking and recording videos on Instagram of me cooking bulk meals for the college students. She did research and put a lot of effort into her gift for me. She got me a chef coat that was meant for an executive chef, and she had it custom made to my exact liking and even had my Instagram handle embroidered into it. It was the perfect gift. I loved it so much and wore it in all my videos onwards. 


Before my wife started working at her current job at SBH, she was working in a shop that sold furs. She always dreamed of having a fur of her own. After presents, dinner, and dessert (at her parents’ party) I told her, “Aleen, I know we agreed to stick to a certain budget and I know that you are a rule breaker, so now it’s my turn to break the rules,” and I handed her a giant box. She was so excited wondering what could be in this huge box. And lo and behold, inside was a beautiful brand-new mink jacket. She was so happy. It was very meaningful because we both put our hearts into the gifts and really thought it out. Items were exchanged that we both loved. She gave me a gift that said she supported me in my business dreams and I gave her something she had always wanted. 


Shelly Shmool @byshelly 


The most thoughtful gifts I’ve gotten have required people’s time. Or, the gift is a demonstration that I’ve been “heard.” Both types came to me last year. I had been complaining about paying so much for professional photos all the time. I myself am a professional photographer and I really value good photos. As a gift, my family and my friends all chipped in for a family shoot for me. It was so meaningful because I really didn’t expect it. I thought I was just venting to friends! Also, the photos are useful and I’m not a fan of useless gifts. Because I am a photographer, I’m never the friend that gets gifted pictures. Another great gift came after I had my second baby. At the end of the summer, my baby nurse took off. There was a point when my husband was out of the house and I felt like I was drowning. My friend came and took over the baby and I laid down with Sue (my two year old at the time) to go to sleep. When I got up, I saw my friend had gotten the baby down for a nap and had cleaned half my house! It was so helpful and needed at that moment. The way I see it, giving your time can one hundred percent be considered a gift. 


Fanette Royzen 


I once gifted my grandma with a toilet a few years ago because she pretty much has everything and she happened to need a new one. I knew hers was acting up. Also, this year I gave her a mattress as a gift because hers was old. I believe in being a practical gift giver! 


Also (when I’m not gifting appliances and furniture) for small gifts, I love sending personalized gifts. Any gift with someone’s name embossed, printed, or embroidered on it makes it all the more special. I find that my friends and family really enjoy and appreciate my custom gifts! 


Dale Levenson 


I always love doing beautiful photo albums for my grandparents. I don’t order from Snapfish or Shutterfly, I like to order more professional ones. It’s not very creative, but they always love it! Last year my son got his grandpa for grab bag so I made the gift for him. I basically did a montage of the past two years and added captions for some of the pictures. It was well-received! 


Terry Nigri 


This is a funny one. My friend loves Ida Levy from @kitchenaccomplished, a community Instagram blogger, so we reached out to her. Ida was so sweet, she agreed to go along with our idea! She made a personalized video (also known as a cameo) wishing my friend a happy Hanukah! When it was time to exchange gifts at our annual Hanukah party, we played the video on a large screen tv and filmed my friend’s reaction. She couldn’t believe it. She was starstruck hearing Ida say her name and talk to her. We were all laughing over her genuine shock and awe. It’s a really great memory for all of us. We still laugh when we talk about it. 


Debbie Gross 


I’ve got one! My bubby had a lot of costume jewelry, and when she passed the family had to decide what to do with the pieces. We decided to keep the ones we always saw her wearing, which were her favorites. I took a gold ring that she wore very often and I loved wearing it. But it always left a green mark on my finger because it wasn’t real gold. A boy I was dating at the time brought it to a jeweler (without me knowing) and had the ring dipped it in real gold. It’s one of the favorite gifts I’ve ever received. It was just so thoughtful. It was so meaningful for me that  this little ring that I used to see on my bubby’s hand all the time was given a “new lease on life” and was now a pleasure to wear. 


Korin Kogan 


My family went away for Passover and I couldn’t come (or that’s what I told them) but I wound up meeting them there for the second half of the holiday! I’m not sure if it classifies as a gift but they were so happy, so that’s what came to mind! When it comes to babies I typically send custom gifts with the new baby’s name on it. I recently sent my friend a diaper bag and bib with the baby’s name and also included a matching pacifier clip. She loved it! 


Violet Bernknopf 


I have back problems, herniated disc, etc., and my family gave me a back massager that you can put on a chair. I use it so much! It was the best gift I ever got. It’s like getting a deep tissue massage at home. It’s not fancy, but practical and appreciated! 


Lisa Barnathan 


I’m always telling my mother-in-law she should join me for yoga, because I love it and it helps me so much with my back pain. For Hanukah one year she had me in secret Maccabee and she gifted me a Lululemon yoga mat with a case! 


Wow, so many good ideas! I love the idea of giving your time as a gift. After I had my first baby I was completely overwhelmed. My friend Natalie came over for a visit and realized I could really use some help. She organized my whole room and the baby’s things. I still talk about it nine years later. It was definitely a great gift. The past few years I’ve been making my father and my husband’s grandmother photo calendars for their desks. They absolutely love them. As a photographer, I always recommend photo gifts. I always like them, and think others would enjoy them, too. Pictures never go out of style. In fact, they get more valuable as time passes and they bring back good memories. In fact, I think I’m going to gift more than a couple of photo calendars this year. If you’re a friend or family member of mine, look out! This Hanukah you’re getting some photo gifts! (And yes, I have professional photos of most of my friends and family because I’m the one who takes and stores them!) 


I hope everyone has a light and joyous holiday! 

Until next month,  

Frieda Schweky