Growing up as someone who did not celebrate Christmas, I was always jealous of the big-ticket gifts: Where was the bow-wrapped puppy under our tree? Wait, where was our tree?
But while Christmas may have the dramatic, one-night-only reveal that Hanukkah does not, the slow clap of gifts—one each night, night after night, a never-ending gift parade—makes the Festival of Lights excellent fodder for thematic gifts: smaller present "teams" that, when assembled, are more powerful than the sum of the parts (like the Maccabees, right?).
Give a loved one who has recently relocated a fork one night and, by night eight, when they've got a complete table setting or two, it'll all make sense. Or, for someone too frazzled to treat themselves, treat them to a candle that'll make their house smell like a classy hotel and, the next night, to a jar of homemade hand salve.
From our editorial team, we've got 10 sets of themed gifts in groups of 8, for the neat freak to the letter-writer to the expert baker:
Give the gift of all the things a loved one has been meaning to buy for a neater, easier life but has never gotten around to. (And buy some for yourself, too, while you're at it?)
Don't be shy about getting someone who loves to bake even more baking supplies—it's likely that they treat others to the gift of quality ingredients and speciality equipment but have been making do with the basics themselves.
It just so happens that all the essentials you need to serve a meal—and live as a person who eats at home—amount to 8 items (generally). So for the person who needs an upgrade, or who just moved, or who owns nothing of this sort, give them one item each night: The first night they might be confused, but soon they'll catch on—with joy!
Here is a selection from our Shop, but pick out the items that suit your recipient:
Pick a topic (The Civil War?), a time period (late 20th century?), a genre (thriller?), an author (Stephen King?), or a place (Mexico?), then stick with it.
Here, a thoughtful (if a tad esoteric) gift for a reader and history buff: Give 8 days of books by and about the French expats of the Lost Generation. They'll have their own mini library that transports them to the wine-soaked romance and torment of Paris in the 1920s, peaking with Ernest Hemingway's memoir A Moveable Feast.
Whether you’re buying for someone who’s never made a pot of pasta before or someone who can cook carbonara with their eyes closed, you won’t miss with these Italian pantry staples.
These are the things, the frills—candles, bubbles, soft things—that tend to not survive budgetary cuts. For the person who works a little too hard in your life, get all of the above, and make them more thoughtful with an I.O.U. that goes the extra mile.
And make these:
For the person who can never put down the broom (and will never let you help wash dishes after a dinner party), why not stoke their tendencies with tools that'll make cleaning (even more) fun for them?
The tchotchkes and doo-dads that make a space feel complete but not cluttered can take years to collect. So give a loved one a head start with some treasures that might not win on the the function front but that will make your giftee happy all the same.
Did you know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Cue eye roll. Cue contradictory evidence. Regardless of whether breakfast's gravity is phooey, no day starts off worse when you begin it with a little act of self-nourishment. Make that happen for a friend or loved one.
For the person in your life who'd rather read the newspaper in print than on their phone, or who knows the joy of receiving an actual letter in the mail, deck out their desk with a smartly-designed pencil case, a pen that makes the thoughts flow freely, and, of course, cat-themed sticky notes.
What's your family's approach to the eight nights of Hanukkah? Do you have a big gift on night eight or smaller gifts along the way? Share your traditions in the comments below!