IMG_1201.JPGYou’re probably looking for great ideas for Hanukkah gifts for your children. And maybe you don’t want to spent $37 on alef-bet blocks like the folks over at Kveller. So, here’s a list of gift ideas bound to keep your children busy for the next year, based on my scientific market research. (I took some notes about what my girls played with a lot this week.)

1. A bag of lentils ($.79, eco-friendly)
This became both a play telephone and a baby during dinner last week. Caution: do not let children open bag and put lentils in nose or ears. Note: Also good for soup.
lentils.jpg

2. Polystyrene (free, not so eco-friendly)
Yesterday, Zoe, my five year old, made a dress, a scarf, and a three dimensional picture of a cow for her best friend out of one long sheet of polystyrene. Caution: should not be eaten, in soup or otherwise.
3. Old baby toys (also free. Potentially annoying.)
Every once in a while I agree to let my children come into the attic with me. There, they spot the baby toys I have stowed away for….well, I have no idea what for. Down come the Playskool Press and Pop toy, the plastic key ring, the Fisher price Rock a stack, the Little Tikes “piano”, and all those things that made Mozart sound crappy. Tip: Do not replace dead batteries. Second tip: First tip will not help with the “piano.”
mozart cube.jpg
4. Your clothes (free, until you have to replace them)
My children have a drawer full of costumes. They prefer to tromp around the house for hours in my Uggs, my shirts, my sweaters, and of course, my bras (as hats.)
5. Boxes and bubble wrap (Free. Sort of)
The only good reason to actually go out and buy presents. 
box.jpg
 Alas, none of these items will be on sale on Black Friday.
More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

As a public school child in the 70’s, my Valentine’s Day often ended in tears. I remember digging into my optimistically large brown paper bag in first grade to find only three envelopes, even though my mother had insisted I fill out mass-produced cards for every child in my class. “No one likes me!” I […]

One of the greatest privileges of being a kindergarten teacher in a Jewish day school is having the opportunity to teach children to recite the four questions. Unlike almost anything else I teach them about Jewish ritual, this is “real work.” The candles will get blessed, kiddush will be recited, and birkat hamazon chanted with […]

I’m not exaggerating. The bane of my Passover existence has been pareve baking. I cook a lot more meat during the holiday than I do the rest of the year, which means a lot more pareve desserts. Which has, up until now, usually meant margarine made from disgusting ingredients such as cottonseed oil. Last year, […]

I’m not a haggadah junkie. I know many Jews whose shelves are overflowing with numerous versions of the Haggadah – from the traditional Maxwell House to the not-so-traditional Santa Cruz – and whose seders are an amalgam of commentaries, poems, and (alas) responsive readings, from these dog-eared, post- it covered books. Maybe it’s because my […]