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Dec 12 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Jewish Jewelry

By at 10:16 am

As a true Fashionista I have a real appreciation of  jewelry. Of course it’s a weakness of mine, but add a little Jewish flair and you have me sold. Jewelry with special meaning that connects me to my heritage is something that always stands out to me.

This Roman Glass-Star of David ($52) is so beautiful and different then the other Stars of David you see when it comes jewelry. The beautiful blue triangle looks like a fire opal. and the filigree in the other triangle is so dainty.

This Silver Plated Red Leather Bracelet With Jewish Symbols ($54.95) catches my attention because it’s red, which is my favorite color, and is different form other bracelets I’ve seen. I have to admit that I prefer my Judaica jewelry to be less ostentatious, so this is perfect.

red bracelet
I’ve been wanting a Hamsa necklace for some time now. Not only do I find the designs and different ways to interpret the hand beautiful, but the sentiment is wonderful. My niece went off to college this fall, and I got her a Hamsa necklace for her graduation present. I wanted to be sure she was protected when she was away from home.

When I saw the Diamond Hamsa in White Gold ($336) my first thought was how magnificent this necklace is. The Sapphire in the middle representing the eye is a beautiful touch. It would surely be the piece to pass on from generation to generation.

On a lower budget the Floral Hamsa With Pearls ($62) is a beautiful understated necklace, that can be worn every day.

floral hamsa necklace
I think I’m going on year five of asking my mom to get me a Glass Evil Eye Bracelet ($23), and I still don’t have one. I think I have to remind her again for Hanukkah this year. The evil eye jewelry is meant to do exactly as it sounds. It is meant to ward off the evil eye. These bracelets are the most popular evil eye jewelry. I love it in red, what color would you get?I am helplessly addicted to Etsy when it comes to finding items that stand out. Etsy has no shortage of original gorgeous Judaica jewelry that are works of art, and of course completely unique.

I mean who wouldn’t want these Dreidel Dreidel ($12) earrings?This Agate Necklace and Earring Set ($59) speaks to the uniqueness I love.

agate setFinally, I would like to wish you all a good life with this beautiful Circle of Love With Chai Charm ($75). You add your child(ren)’s name(s) on the circle. It’s a wonderful way to keep your child(ren) close to your heart.

Ladies share this list with your family so they know exactly what to choose from when getting you a gift.

Dec 9 2011

Every Hanukkah Gift Guide Under the Sun

By at 12:00 pm
blue gift with silver ribbon

Presents for the whole family.

Well folks, we did it. We looked Hanukkah gift giving straight in the eye and said, “Yes we can!” We’ve now posted Hanukkah Gift Guides for just about everyone on your list, from Bubbe to the childless aunt. (Sorry, childless uncles. You’re screwed!)

So if you still need to do your Hanukkah shopping, here are our best bets:

For Him (Star Wars t-shirts, a “schoodie”, etc.)

For Her (Kindle Fire, anything but a toaster, etc.)

For the Kids (Fisher Price record player, construction worker costume, etc.)

For Bubbe (Herb garden, mixed CD, etc.)

For Zayde (Pickle of the month club, personalized mug, etc.)

For Your Kids’ Childless Aunt (Hot chocolate maker, 5-pound gummy bear, etc.)

Remember, the first night of Hanukkah is Tuesday, December 20th. Happy shopping! Oh, and if you want to know about the, um, other parts of the holiday, read up here. And learn to make latkes! And doughnuts! And play dreidel!

Dec 8 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for ZAYDE

By at 2:14 pm

grandpa with golf club

Beyond golf paraphernalia.

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. This is the last in a series of Hanukkah gift guides aimed at the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

Buying for Zayde (grandpa) is rarely easy (unless he’s into golf, as there seems to be an endless supply of bizarre golf-themed paraphernalia out there).  Unfortunately (or perhaps quite fortunately), the zayde in our family is not into golf.  However, he was willing to share a number of ideas for Hanukkah gifts that he would like, and together we’ve made a list that should make gift-giving easy and fun.

1. It can be hard to remember family birthdays, especially as the family keeps growing. Zayde might appreciate a small notebook with birthdays and important dates pre-listed, or perhaps a laminated wallet card. (You can design the card at home, and have the lamination done at Staples, Kinkos, or any similar store for about $1.00.)2. If your Zayde is a frequent shul-goer, have the kids decorate a cover for his siddur (prayerbook).  Making a cover using a paper bag is easy and free, and the kids will have a blast with their markers, crayons, and stickers.  (Added bonus for Zayde—he’ll never lose his siddur at services again!)

3. Zaydes love their coffee.  What better way for them to show off their nachas at the office or bingo game than with a personalized mug?  We’ve had photo mugs made at Café Press, or you can also show off your little one’s art with this travel mug.  I also found this pre-made mug to be strangely appealing, or maybe it was just the giant pickle at the top of the page?

4. Speaking of pickles, how about a pickle of the month club?  (Or if pickles aren’t Zayde’s thing, how about a nice bottle of schnapps?)

5. If you’re looking for something a bit more seasonal, you might consider a menorah painted by the grandchildren.  (If Bubbe and Zayde already have 7 menorahs, you could also make a small bowl to hold cufflinks, change, buttons, or other tchotchkes.)  I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, but there are a number of national chains and local places where you can take your children to paint ceramic pieces, which are then glazed and fired.  The prices are usually quite affordable, around $10-$40 per piece.  (Also, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids, and keep your own house clean!)

6. Zaydes love pictures, and while a nice 5×7 in a frame is always a good option, the modern Zayde might prefer a range of images loaded on to a thumb drive, which he can then transfer to his computer, smartphone, or digital photo frame.  (You probably won’t be surprised to learn that my daughter wants to give Zayde his pictures on this Hello Kitty thumb drive.) 

7. If Zayde doesn’t already have a tablet computer, you may want to consider getting him one, especially if he lives far away.  My grandmother (who is not terribly computer savvy) has an iPad, and uses it to check email, look at pictures of her great-grandchildren, and read her favorite books in large print.  iPads aren’t cheap, so if you’re looking to spend a little less money, you may want to consider the new Kindle Fire, which retails for $199.

8. While there are many great *things* you can get Zayde, he may already feel as though his life (and home!) are plenty full.  In that case, you may want to consider a few coupons for trips to the playground, ice cream dates, or even computer lessons for Zayde.  Alternately, you may want to make a donation in his name, perhaps to a cause that is especially meaningful to him, or maybe to your local Jewish organization.  If you’re looking for ideas, the American Jewish World Service fights poverty, hunger, and disease around the world, and Facing History and Ourselves combats anti-Semitism and bigotry through educational programs.

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for BUBBE

By at 11:59 am

yetta from the nanny

Yetta, everyone's favorite TV bubbe.

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. Catch up on the other Hanukkah gift guides for the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

Let’s be real: For the woman who makes the best chicken matzah ball soup, who tells the best jokes, who reads the best bedtime stories, and gives the warmest hugs, you gotta do something special. Even if she says, “All I want for Hanukkah is to see my grandchildren,” (ahem) when it comes to Bubbe’s Hanukkah gift, you better bring it.

So here are some presents Bubbe might love:

1. Turn Bubbe’s favorite photograph(s) into a piece of jewelry. Sure, you can use the standard pics of her adorable, perfect, brilliant grandchildren, but why not also find one of those beautiful sepia snapshots of Bubbe’s parents and make a pendant for her to wear as well? If Bubbe isn’t the jewelry wearing type, you can make her another kind of photo gift like a mug or a sweatshirt (that’ll embarrass your teenage daughter but isn’t that part of the fun) or a keychain or even a jigsaw puzzle!

2. Now, ask yourself, what does Bubbe like? Yeah, of course her family is a huge priority, but it’s not the only thing in her life. Does she like dancing? Buy her tickets to the ballet. If Bubbe is into film, buy her the anniversary edition of her favorite movie. Does Bubbe like gardening? Get her a grow-your-own-herb-garden. (People, the herb garden is a win-win because when she uses the basil she grew to season her world famous brisket for Shabbos dinner, you’ll enjoy it, too. ) Hey, know Bubbe best–these are just some suggestions.

3. Child labor laws be damned, put your kids to work and have them design something special for Bubbe. A homemade challah cover is a great gift, and one that Bubbe will appreciate. If Bubbe isn’t the candle-lighting, Manishewitz-sipping, challah-blessing kind, then your kids can decorate an apron or a tote bag, or maybe a motorcycle jacket.  (Hey, after all it’s a new generation of Bubbes!)

4. If Bubbe likes music, buy her a CD of her favorite artist or composer. And if you’re feeling especially creative and have an extensive collection of legally (ahem) downloaded music, you can burn her a compilation of special songs. Mix it up:  Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Ke$ha, Snoop dogg, Joan Baez… make it original.

5. If Bubbe doesn’t already have an iPad, you might consider giving her one.  It’s easy and convenient, and a great way for her to check email and connect with family via video chat on Face Time.  And it will give her such nachas when her grandchildren teach her a thing or two about how to use it! (And if she already has one, try out this fashionable iPad sleeve to keep it safe.)

6. Does Bubbe like to read? A gift certificate to might be nice. And if Bubbe is the kind who likes to browse the bookstalls, then pick up a gift certificate to her favorite bookstore.

7. A luxurious article of clothing like an elegant scarf is a decadent gift Bubbe might enjoy. And every time she receives a compliment on it, she’ll be able to say “my family gave it to me for Hanukkah.”

8. There’s a touching story about a young man who sees an old man planting a young sapling.  When he asks the old man “Why plant this tree when you will never live to enjoy the fruits of your labor?” the old man replies, “While that is true, my grandchildren and their grandchildren and their grandchildren will.”  And planting a tree in Israel through the Jewish National Fund in Bubbe’s name is a poignant gift for the future.

Dec 7 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for your Kid’s CHILDLESS AUNT

By at 4:15 pm

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. Catch up on the other Hanukkah gift guides aimed at the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

So your kid(s) have an aunt who is young, childless, and dare we say, hip? For Hanukkah, you’ll probably want to get her something really cool. She is, after all, the “Fun Aunt,” (or the “Crazy Aunt,” depending on what she majored in at college and how far away she’s moved from the rest of the family). As an extremely hip, extremely cool, and extremely childless aunt myself, I’m here to offer you some gift ideas that should definitely help the aunt forgive you for stealing all of the spotlight when you just had to have that cute baby.

1. Lockets. Do you know what I used to think were really cool as a kid and am still kind of in love with? Lockets. I mean, it’s a pretty necklace that also holds a little hidden secret inside! Emily Rosenfeld makes this beautiful double-sided locket ($48) with a tree of life on one side and a dove on the other. You can also always count on Etsy to find unique and antique jewelry, like this 1960s elephant locket ($89) and many, many more.

2. Delicious Treat Maker. I think the best Hanukkah gift I ever received was this hot chocolate maker ($30), which makes the most delicious hot chocolate a chocolate-loving girl could ask for. It heats it to the perfect temperature that is hot but not burn-your-tongue-hot, and if you make a bigger batch, it will continuously keep the remainder at that perfect temperature, and there is a FROTHING button, for goodness sake. I got this about 3 years ago and have used it religiously, year-round, like an addict.

3. Anything from Anthropologie. I have yet to meet a gal who isn’t in love with Anthropologie. Granted it’s usually a very masochistic relationship in which you only allow yourself to go inside the store if you promise to go directly to the sale section (do not pass go, do not spend $200), but nevertheless, it’s love. They have all kinds of great little home décor pieces like these gorgeous monogrammed mugs ($8) and a candle that looks like a book ($28)! (They also have a $200 cookie jar that says “Borsht” on it, and I don’t know, but that’s probably right up somebody’s alley.)

4. Good Old-Fashioned Wristwatch. Some people say that watches have gone in the way of fanny packs because everybody just uses their cell phones nowadays, but I say that’s stupid. Maybe it’s just that I’m writing this on a day that I forgot to bring my phone to work, but I’m calling for a watch comeback—who’s with me? This huge face/tiny strap Fossil watch ($75) looks quite nice, or for something a little different, I fell in love with these Hebrew alphabet watches when I was in Israel, and you can get one here ($99).

5. Cute Gizmos & Gadgets. Who said technology has to be boring and manly and silver? Men, probably. This electronic garden charging station ($25) hides the mess of cords and gives your smart phones and digital doohickies a zen place to chill out (ugh, I’m embarrassed I just wrote that). Or you can go retro with this portable MP3 speaker that looks like an old-timey radio. Neat!

6. The Weirdest Gift on the Block. Sometimes the best part of giving a gift is that second when the recipient unwraps it and burst out into hysterical laughter. Call it a gag, call it chotchkie, call it whatever you want—ain’t nothing wrong with a ridiculous gift. Which brings me to the 5-pound gummy bear ($30). It’s equal to 1400 regular-sized gummy bears, it’s completely edible, and it’s the best conversation piece I’ve ever been lucky enough to display. Another great choice is this Wooly Willy plate ($12), which doubles as a diet plan because you’ll just want to play with your food the whole meal.

7. Charitable Donation. It’s always a lovely gesture to donate to an important charity in the honor of a loved one. You know, “tis the season,” blah blah blah. It’s especially nice if you choose a charity that the honoree feels strongly about. You may want to look into 826 National, a nonprofit that offers inventive programming to under-resourced students across America in order to help explore creativity and improve writing skills. It can also be hard to stuff our faces with potato latkes knowing that millions of adults and children are going hungry everyday, so donating to an organization like Feeding America is never a bad idea.

8. Boring Gift Card. Yes, gift cards are really boring, but in the end, they’re one of the most useful gifts you can give, and it eliminates a lot of the guessing game. I’d say it’s safe to go with a card to iTunes or a bookstore (which are pretty much total entertainment superstores these days, so it’s not limiting anyone to those ancient paper objects that you actually have to hold and smell and turn the crisp pages of). To spruce things up, wrap the card in a giant box and throw in a LOT of Hanukkah gelt. Voila!

**Note: If you came here looking for gift ideas for that other kind of childless aunt—you know, the kind that has a lot of cats and a great collection of plastic bags—a membership to this Cheese of the Month Club should do it.**

Dec 6 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for KIDS

By at 3:15 pm

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. This is the third installment in a series of Hanukkah gift guides aimed at the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

Eight nights of Hanukkah–and, as your children will doubtlessly remind you, eight opportunities to get them gifts! Here are some ideas for your wee ones.

1.      Pretend and play doctor set: Let’s get over the whole “playing doctor” connotation and simply acknowledge that one of the best things you can give a kid is the opportunity to engage in pretend play. And pretending to be a doctor–whether helping teddy bears get over that stomach virus, or mending a doll’s broken leg–is a heck of a lot more fun than playing lawyer (which largely consists of revising documents, billing hours and slamming pretend phones down in disgust).

2.      My Own Hanukkah Set (With Latkes!): Perhaps you feel ill at ease about entrusting your child with matches–as well you should. This set allows your kid to “light” their own menorah, and even flip their own latkes. It’s also a great “dress rehearsal” item to help them practice the blessings and songs of the holiday.

3.       Construction worker girl costume: Face it – your daughter has enough princess gear to successfully rule Monaco, preside over a polo match or two and attend more balls than she’ll see in her lifetime. Mix it up a little! Combine this costume with her first trip to Home Depot (did you know that they give classes for little kids for free?) and a tool kit, and you won’t have to call the plumber anymore.

4.      Fisher Price Record Player. Seriously! Forget the kids for a second. I want this present. You know how sad it is that my kids had no idea what a “tape” is? I mean, honestly. Well, I refuse to let my childhood become Colonial Williamsburg to these kids, and you should too. I bet this gift will fascinate kids now as much as it did back in the day. You know, when I rode my horse to school.

5.      Personalized kids’ book: Little kids have a megalomaniac streak a mile wide. It’s healthy, don’t worry –they’re developing their ego and getting to know who they are as well as the world around them. So imagine how thrilled they will be when they get a storybook that features them! This particular book is a Hanukkah story, but other books are available as well – you send in your kid’s name, and the book is tailored to mention your child at various points in the story. It also comes with a bear. Not bad!

6.      Kids’ camera: This is a good idea for a few reasons. Not only will your child genuinely enjoy becoming your paparazzi (and you’ll enjoy the ego boost), but also, I guarantee that at least one of these downloadable pictures taken from a childs-eye perspective will be hilarious. I personally liked the one of our old dog’s rear end.

7.      My first easel/desk: This is a really nice gift, and encourages both creativity and independence, as it provides kids with a space to do their own work. Maybe they can learn from a young age to keep their workspace clean and organized. You know, the way I never did. Sigh.

8.       Let’s use Hanukkah as a chance to give something to others too–and this is a gift that children can participate in as well. The Gift of Life Foundation is a bone marrow registry where you can get involved just by swabbing your cheek. If you take your kids with you while you do it, and explain why you’re doing it and how it can help, they’ll take away something pretty amazing. (For more on Gift of Life, check out Mayim Bialik’s post about a 2-year-old boy named Ezra.)

Dec 5 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for HER

By at 4:08 pm

This is NOT on the Hanukkah gift list.

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. This is the second installment in a series of Hanukkah gift guides aimed at the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

Imagine: It’s the first night of Hanukkah. The latkes are crackling in the frying pan. Y’all are gathered around the menorah, and with a crack and a hiss, the match ignites and the shamash glows. The room is bathed in the golden light of the hanukiah (menorah) while your family chants the ancient blessings over the candles.

After a succulent dinner–brisket, perchance?–it’s time to open presents. The kids go first . And then it’s her turn. She reads the card. She unties the blue ribbon. She peels back the layers of silver and white wrapping paper. She opens the box, and takes out… a shiny new toaster.

Uh uh. Please please PLEASE don’t let this happen to her!

Ok, so what does she want?

The best Hanukkah gifts for Her, directly from the women who want them:

1.      The Kindle Fire seems to be a popular choice with the ladies.  The sleek interface is a convenient alternative to schlepping around a book when you’re on the go.  And for women who commute on public transportation, the Kindle Fire makes an interesting travel companion.  If she already has a Kindle, the new iPhone 4s or a great DSLR camera seems like popular alternatives.

2.      And on that note, a gift certificate to is always welcome–especially if someone bought her the Kindle Fire.  (Hint hint.)

3.      Let’s take her craving for a power nap and some down time and kick it up a notch.  Why not send her off on a spa day?  She’ll come home glowing.

4.      And if you want to get her something sparkly, I have one word for you:  Tiffany’s.

5.      But if your budget is limited, why not offer her a service? Significant Others can score a lot of points with a cute coupon book with messages like “A cuddle coupon. Good for 2 hours of cuddling with the coupon-issuer in one of the following locations: in front of a roaring fire, on a porch swing, on a cozy couch or in a bed. TV is prohibited. Radio is permitted.” (le sigh) Grandparents, extended family and close friends could also offer (free) babysitting services so that Mom and Dad can actually use that, um, “cuddle coupon.”  (Ahem.)

6. Do something original:  Find a first edition of her favorite book.  Find a photograph with meaning and have it framed. If she paints, get her art supplies.  If she likes to write, buy her a beautiful journal and a cool pen.  If she’s into music, concert tickets are a great choice.  If she likes basketball, baseball, soccer, rugby, whatever, then she won’t turn down tickets to see her favorite team.

7. Disclaimer: The following gift should not come from her parents.  Or Aunt Esther and Uncle Bob: While she probably knows just how sexy and desirable she is, a little reminder never hurt.  Yummy scented body lotions from Bath and Body Works will leave her feeling pampered.  A cute camisole or bra and panty set from Victoria’s Secret is almost always appreciated.  And if you want to give her something with a little more, um, shall we say, oomph then I suggest you check out Good Vibes. ‘Nuff said.

8.      Gandhi was on to something when he said “be the change you wish to see in the world.”  So, if she’s passionate about something–whether it’s ending world hunger, or the whole Occupy movement, or saving the spotted owls, then making a donation in her name is another thoughtful gift, and one that will touch her altruistic side.  So while world peace seems a bit out of reach,  Tikkun Olamhealing the worldis a step in the right direction.

Dec 2 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for HIM

By at 11:51 am

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. This is the first in a series of Hanukkah gift guides aimed at the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

For the guy in your life who refuses to give you a wishlist and asks only that you pull out your slutty honeymoon lingerie for eight nights instead. Sorry, honey!

1. Calling all geeky Jews, this t-shirt is for you! Festivals of Lightsabers $20 via Busted Tees.

2.  Is his heart in Israel? Then let him wear his heart on his sleeve with Vintage Map Cufflinks, $119 via Anne Holman Jewelry Design. Custom cufflinks might include Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or any significant place in his life.

3. Keep him from losing his hat for the millionth time this winter and invest in a Scarf + Hood $42 via Schoodie {scoo d-ee}. It’s like hat and a scarf got together and had a baby.

4. 8 nights on the rocks: $70 via Etsy Vital. Choose this set of 8 high quality screen-printed glasses or customize your order, pick your poison.

5.  Husbands don’t ask for much, so why not humor his sex drive with some Saucy Little Love Coupons: $12 via Etsy NeatThings.  Call me a Hanukkah Hooker if you may, but a $12 present leaves a lot more money to spend on myself this year. Note: don’t leave these on your bedside table for your kids (or your Rabbi) to find.  For a less X-rated more customized version, try these via Everyday Grace or just write your own on the back of some toilet paper (trust me, as long as you’re offering he won’t care what its written on!).

6. Pamper your man with this Pure Badger Brush $55 via The Art of Shaving. His smooth face will make up for all of the badgers that were hand plucked to make this lovely brush.

7.  The Manly Tzedakah Box $35 via Brookstone. Spare change can’t make its way to the charity if it’s scattered all over the house, so why not give your man an organized way to count his blessings?

8.  Movember TOMs: $58. November may be over but this is a worthy cause for any month. All of the proceeds from this limited edition shoe go to the Movember Foundation to raise awareness for cancers affecting men and with every pair of shoes you purchase TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. WINNING!


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