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8 Chanukah Traditions We’re Starting with our Son

Chanukah begins this Saturday evening and though we still have a few gifts left to buy, we are otherwise ready to celebrate the festival of lights. Technically Chanukah isn’t nearly as big of a religious holiday as Christmas is for Christians, but because it falls around the same time of the year, most families who are not on the orthodox end of the spectrum tend to celebrate it as though it is a bigger holiday. I mean, if you’re not doing Santa, you may as well make up for it with something!

Since it’s Eli’s first Chanukah, we have a great opportunity to begin our own traditions, ones that we can use with his future siblings, too. My husband grew up with a specific set of Chanukah traditions, so we have decided to steal some ideas from his childhood/adulthood and merge them with others that we want for our child.

I’m sure our traditions will evolve as our family grows and grows up, but for now, these are the 8 Chanukah traditions we’re starting with our son for his first Chanukah.

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  • 8 presents 1 of 8
    8 presents
    Well, let's say at least 8 presents. My husband remembers that he usually got a few more than 8 presents and on the last night they got to open up what was left over after opening 1 present each night for the first 7 nights. By no means will these all be big gifts, because we're not made of money, but we'll have at least one per night.
  • 1 big gift 2 of 8
    1 big gift
    Most of Eli's gifts are between 5 and 20 dollars (think a rubber ducky and board books), but he gets one big gift. This is how my husband and I have celebrated and how his family did it, so we're carrying on this one. I'm sure Eli will be beyond excited with his new deluxe baby gate!
  • The big gift goes to Nana’s 3 of 8
    The big gift goes to Nana's
    We do one dinner at my in-laws house and that's the night we'll open big gifts. Every other night Eli will get to pick which present to open, but on this particular night, it'll be the big gift (this year we'll also bring a toy so he can play with something that night since he might not be as excited about his baby gate as we are).
  • Make (at least) 1 donation 4 of 8
    Make (at least) 1 donation
    This is a brand new one for us that we just decided upon. Our child is blessed that his parents can give him 8 gifts in a year; we realize that this is a luxury and that many children don't have that. In the future we'll let Eli pick out a gift to donate to a shelter or a toy drive, but this year since he's too little to do that, I donated a pair of pajamas to the Carter's pajama drive. Eli loves the fleece ones with monkey feet, so hopefully another child will also enjoy their pair as well.
    Buy these at Carters.com and drop off a pair of jammies at Carter's locations now until December 19th to donate to the Pajama Program.
  • Eat dinner at home every night of Chanukah 5 of 8
    Eat dinner at home every night of Chanukah
    This one might change when the baby is older and busier, but we want to be able to spend time together each night of Chanukah, as a family, to discuss the holiday and what it means to us. (Note that I did not say I would cook every night...)
  • Light the Candles Every Night 6 of 8
    Light the Candles Every Night
    This one goes with the last one. We also want to be home, or at Nana's house, so we can light the candles each night and say Chanukah prayers. In the past my husband and I have not been so great with actually lighting them each night, so we want to make an effort to be better and consistent for our child(ren).
  • Read the story of Chanukah at least once each year 7 of 8
    Read the story of Chanukah at least once each year
    My husband's parents have an old book that they used to read at Chanukah each year, so we'll be using that to share the story of Chanukah with our kids. Even when they're older and roll their eyes at hearing it, like my husband and his siblings tend to.
  • Dreidel! 8 of 8
    Dreidel!
    Dreidel is traditionally a game for kids, played with Chanukah gelt, or chocolate candy coins. We always play informal games at the dinner table since my MIL always puts dreidels and gelt on the table, but we're hoping to make it a game that our kids and our nieces play together each year at Chanukah.

What traditions do you have for your children for the holidays?

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