Yes, of course, anyone who gives your children Hanukkah presents is super-nice, thoughtful, and should be thanked for being such a good person. That being said, here are eight Hanukkah gifts that should be marked “return to sender.”
1. “Sand art” kit: I’ve said it before and will say it again: anyone who gives your child a sand art kit secretly hates you. They don’t hate your kid–they hate YOU. Because there is no imaginable scenario in which the opening of the box of sand art does not end with you having arguably toxic sand permanently embedded in your floor, clothing, and home generally. On the plus side, now someone no longer hates you in secret!
2. Choking Hazards: That “make your own beaded necklace” kit is a really nice idea. It is not meant to be given to a 1-year-old who happily would eat mouse turds if she found them lying around.
3. Proselytizing Gifts: It’s HANUKKAH. Now is not the time for the non-Jews in your life to give the kids anything overtly/semi-aggressively non-Jewish, like an Advent calendar, a book of Christmas carols, etc. It’s sort of like bringing over freshly baked hot cross buns to the seder.
4. Socks: Sure, you can give socks as gifts. Socks are great. I love socks. In winter months, socks are just swell. But don’t give socks to a kid and expect the kid to be really excited. In the history of gift-giving, no kid has ever plotzed over socks. Unless, of course, the socks look like this.
5. Aspirational Gifts: Unless the child has asked for it, “Tutoring in Mandarin Chinese” and the like are also not going to be received well. Think how you’d feel if you received, unsolicited, a weekend away at fat camp. Gifts like these basically say, “We love you…and would love you even more if you were, like, someone totally different from who you actually are.”
6. Wildly Age-Inappropriate Gifts: The 15-year-old boy is not going to like a stuffed animal–or at least, he will pretend he doesn’t. The baby doesn’t need an iTouch. The 2-year-old doesn’t need Streetwalker Barbie.
8. Anything regifted: Personally, I became an expert on regifting–as a regiftee–when, for my first wedding, I received a Chinese bowl as a gift from my ex-husband’s parents’ “friends.” I know it was a Chinese bowl because it had bits of dried up lo mein inside it: noodles, broccoli, soy sauce, etc. Apparently, it was such a great bowl for Chinese food that the gifter decided to share the joy with the newlyweds. Delicious!
I hear you over there. You’re thinking, “Well, that’s an extreme example and would never happen to me: I would NEVER be caught regifting. I am a stealth regifter!” You think you’re sooooo clever. “Well, my kid got a billion LEGO sets for his birthday, so why don’t I just give one of those to my nephew?” There’s nothing new under the sun, baby. This move is a classic, and always comes out on holidays at least once because there is always some family member you forgot existed until 10 minutes before you were supposed to leave for the holiday party. And I get that, and empathize.
But you’re kidding yourself if you don’t acknowledge that the giftee will hate the gift, will try to take it to the toy store to return it, and then will be told that they haven’t sold those things since 2009, and in fact, they have been recalled because they somehow manage to kill innocent children. Oh well. Happy holidays.