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A Very Jewcy Gift (and Anti-Gift) Guide

Well, now that it’s almost Hanukkah, I’m pretty sure most of us are going through a very similar (and strange) phenomena: you spend all fall lusting after a few choice tchotchkes, and when Hanukkah rolls around, you seem to get the exact opposite of what you lovingly scribbled onto your Holiday wish-lists. Not only that, this feels as if it happens EVERY year! It’s like your out-of-touch Bubbe is somehow controlling the currents of gift-giving, and you are trapped in a never ending vortex of scratchy wool sweaters and socks. Rest easy, because that ends here. Below, I’ve included 2 very important lists: the top 10 gifts you want, and the top 10 gifts you get instead. Hear that, Bubbe? Take notes.


  • 10. Let’s start with some Judaica, after all, it is Hanukkah. Check this Menorah Cork, an easy way to turn any bottle of wine into a way to celebrate the season. Order it from ModernTribe for only $14!



  • 9. Don’t let the name fool you: Stories for Children by Isaac Bashevis Singer is most definitely not for children. This book of short stories is biting, racy and ghoulish, and I distinctly remember reading it as a child and wondering why my parents would even let me peek at the thing! Sure, there are plenty of Jewish authors releasing new fiction for both adults and children, but why not take the time to familiarize yourself with the real thing? Amazon has it for as low as $6.98.





  • 7. American designer Steven Alan‘s "don’t go out without a sweater"-sweater is a lot more handsome than what you got from your Aunt Fraide last Hanukkah, and since Alan generally uses rich fabrics, I doubt it’ll itch as much either. I especially like this grey chunky knit sweater for men.



  • 6. If you’re like me, and you live in a wintry climate, the search for a good pair of boots feels never ending. After trying a lot of different options, I think the shoe of my childhood is probably the best. We called them ‘duck boots’, but L.L. Bean‘s Bean Boots are the perfect winter shoe. These shearling-lined 10" babies are definitely on my list. On their site, L.L. Bean has a whole range of styles and colors for both men and women.



  • 5. A year-long subscription to National Geographic costs $15, and includes something you’ll never find between the pages of GQ, Rolling Stone, Golf or Brides: a lifetime of endless knowledge. Duh!



  • 4. Sick of getting Archie comics from your little brother? This year, hope someone gets you the mesmerizing Trotsky: A Graphic Biography. Rick Geary’s graphic novel takes a new approach to the Soviet Revolution of the 20th century, propelled by Geary’s cheeky and dynamic visual style that really shakes up history. Pick your copy up at Amazon.



  • 3. I really like Teroforma‘s Whisky Stones ($20), meant to keep your drink cold without dealing with the trouble of melted ice. This may have something to do with my resolution to drink more straight whiskey, but I’m sure you could find several other uses for them…



  • 2. I’m putting this one at #2, so I don’t look greedy: money. It’s the perfect gift, though best given from a family member. Just write me a check! Don’t bother with the cheesy or sentimental card, because I probably will end up tearing it in half just to get to the delicious cash inside.



  • 1. The ultimate gift, according to this Jewcer, is definitely a membership to The Pig Next Door’s Bacon of the Month Club. What’s that, you say? Well, let me tell you: once a month the fine smokers over at TPND will deliver a package of premium bacon (from "bacon artisans) right to your door. You don’t even have to leave the house! Though it’s a little pricier, I would go with The Pig’s Heirloom, touted as the "sustainable" option. Plus, your bacon comes with a welcome kit! Who doesn’t want a Pig Next Door Coffee mug? One package per month for 6 months starts at a I-will-pay-that-for-bacon $149 + shipping.





  • 10. A gift certificate for under $20–really? You’re going to get me a gift certificate to somewhere, but not put enough cash on the card for me to get anything that actually costs $20? So, in essence, you’re forcing me to spend money? That’s it, you’ve discovered the perfect holiday gift. You are a genius.



  • 9. An item of clothing that is identical to an item of clothing you are giving or have already given to one of my siblings. Sure, I know it’s cute…when you’re under the age of 6! Since I’m well past that, this gift is just plain creepy. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that across the board, matching outfits aren’t ever cute. In fact, I would venture to say that if they were made illegal, I doubt there would be many appeals–except for the one you file, you pervert.



  • 8. A one-page-a-day desk calendar, a la this, this or this. I didn’t really like these daily calendars before sustainability became a real public concern, but now that it is, at least I can throw my hands up in disgust and say "this calendar just isn’t green enough" when I return it to the store after the holidays are done. Next time you think about getting me a daily calendar, please remember that each day I tear off a page, another rain forest is destroyed.



  • 7. I feel sort of bad for including this one, but though your heart may be in the right place, your head most certainly isn’t–so please, this year, skip ‘planting’ that Jewish National Fund tree in my honor. I know Israel needs your tree desperately, but that certificate is just going to end up in the giant teetering pile of papers on my desk, and I’d rather you save your money…or better yet, go to Israel and plant an actual tree. How’s that sound? And you know what? I’ll go with you. We’ll go plant a tree, and it’ll be a fun trip. OK? Now that is a good gift.



  • 6. Sure, a non-Jew might find it strange that my house is without a tree come Christmas, but the absence of holiday foliage is most definitely not an invitation to get me a Hanukkah bush. What the hell is that? I know the Torah pretty well, and I can tell you with full assurance, there is absolutely no mention of this so-called ‘Hanukkah bush’. Thanks for the offer, but I’m gonna stick with my Menorah.



  • 5. Now, I’m not a single lady these days, but when I was, my mom thought it would be hilarious to get me a JDate membership as a Hanukkah gift. As you might imagine, I didn’t find it quite as funny as she did.



  • 4. "Wow, Zaide, I’m so glad you thought of me when you were at the RadioShack outlet in Boca! This is the gosh-darned cutest beeper I ever done see…um, yes, I can use this to keep track of all my gentlemen callers."



  • 3. Stationery. When is the last time you found yourself wondering where your monogrammed set of beige envelopes were? I am just ecstatic each year when a different relative inevitably hands me a box of stationery while making a crack about writing more often. Also? Not sustainable. See #8.



  • 2. A ‘coupon’ or ‘IOU‘ for some sort of service that you can offer me. Really, you sat down and used crayons and construction paper to promise that you’d give me 100 hugs or a foot massage? I’ll pass. No, really, I’ll pass. No! Get away from me! Help!



  • 1. I just couldn’t make a list like this without ending with a classic: socks. Yes, I know we all have feet, and we all need socks to keep our feet warm, but getting me socks (year after year) is just unimaginative. You can do better: Knit me some socks, paper mache me some socks, make me socks out of recycled newspaper…anything! Just don’t hand me the same pair of brown gold-toes you gave me last year, and I won’t kvetch any longer. Do we have a deal?




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