Inexpensive kids Hanukkah gifts

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It doesn't have to cost a lot to make Hanukkah magic for kids
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Inexpensive kids Hanukkah gifts that you don't need to spend a lot for

It used to be that Hanukkah wasn't about gifts at all. But it was probably inevitable that with the proximity to Christmas, presents would become a part of the holiday in the U.S.

But with eight nights of gifts, times each child, buying kids Hanukkah gifts can quickly get expensive. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make each night of the holiday special without competing with Christmas.

Here are some ideas for keeping Hanukkah costs down and still having something to unwrap each night.

Celebrate the fan

If your child has a favorite sports team, consider looking for small gifts that feature the team name, logo or colors. A team shirt is an obvious choice, but there are less expensive alternatives like stickers, school supplies with the team logo, tiny stuffed bears wearing team colors and posters of favorite players.

Dollar stores are a great place to find these kinds of team gifts, like calendars, stickers and school supplies featuring team logos. Think outside of the box and shop at stores that specialize in personalized gifts that team kids' names with their favorite sport. Bookends, step stools and pillowcases are lots of fun and will be used over and over again.

Think creative

Art gifts are a wonderful way to keep costs under control. Local arts and crafts stores and online craft catalogs usually have sets of paints, pastels and other art sets for under $10. 

An even less expensive alternative is to use the 8 nights to build a complete set of art supplies for your child.  So one night could be the drawing pad, another a set of sketching pencils, a third night a set of water colors, etc. By the end of Hanukkah, your child has the tools to create their own masterpieces, and you still have money in your bank account.

Feed curiosity

Hanukkah is about miracles, so why not help your children discover the miracles all around them?  Science and nature gifts are a perfect choice for the eight nights.

Depending on your child's age, anything from a bug collection jar (around $5 at most toy stores) to a magnifying glass to star chart can become the start of a lifetime fascination. You can even create your own kitchen science kits with simple tools like coffee filters and M&M's (to do basic chromotography) or sugar, salt and some jars to in which to grow crystals.

Grow your own miracles

Gardens are another way to share wonder at Hanukkah. Seed packets, child-sized garden tools, and simple books on gardening, plus a plastic seed tray to get things growing are all good ideas for affordable kids Hanukkah gifts.

Giving your child a "deed" to their own plot of land in the yard for their garden is a gift that costs only the paper you use to print it...but that sense of ownership can yield rewards far beyond whatever grows there.

Create traditions

When my kids were really little, we read a Hanukkah book about the gifts a little girl got each and every year.  One night was chocolate gelt and a new book.  Another was a cozy new pair of pajamas

From the eight gifts in the book, those two stuck and became traditions in our family. To this day, on one night the kids get a paperback book and a bag of gelt. On another, they get P.J.'s or warm sleep pants. Neither of these nights are expensive, especially since I can buy the gifts well in advance during sales.

You could adopt these traditions or create some of your own. Maybe one night you all make ice cream sundaes or go out for hot cocoa and a walk to window shop. Or you could allow kids to pick out food or treats for pets and then share them at a local shelter, and make that visit an annual Hanukkah gift.

Remember, Hanukkah is not about the gifts

No matter what you choose to do, it's wise to remember (and to remind the kids) that Hanukkah isn't really about the presents. It's about keeping the faith and believing in the power of miracles. If you make sure that message is clear, even the smallest gifts will be perfect when they're shared by the light of the Hanukkah candles.

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