We all can use a little gift-giving aid with Chanukah around the corner.
At the heart of gift giving is a reminder that a gift is more than a present. It’s an opportunity to say thank you and I love you and to put a piece of yourself into the thought behind it.
Here are some ideas to get you started before Chanukah starts Tuesday night, Dec. 12.
Gift giving is easy at Learning Express (learningexpress.com/stores/atlanta-buckhead), a customer-service-focused toy store (locations in Buckhead, East Cobb, Alpharetta and Woodstock) filled with a universe of gifts for all ages.
Kids will love the Chanukah selection of stickers, books, dreidels and more. Other options range from Blankie Tails fish-tail blankets that are perfect for snuggling to Mad Matter kits, in which you mold clay into bricks for building, to Creativity for Kids kits with rock painting to Rainbow Loom kits for making all sorts of bling. Enjoy this one stop shop with a complimentary gift wrap.
The Book Festival of the Marcus JCC featured an array of fantastic books that could make wonderful gifts. Two nonfiction options are Jeff Rossen’s “Rossen to the Rescue: Secrets to Avoiding Scams, Everyday Dangers, and Major Catastrophes,” which can help you dodge chaos amid the holidays and year-round, and Rafi Kohan’s “The Arena: Inside the Tailgating, Ticket Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport,” which examines stadiums across the country.
A Dog’s Life
From the people who brought you the Mensch on a Bench (www.themenschonabench.com), which was a World Baseball Classic sensation, comes the Dreidel Dog, an adorable, dreidel-spotted, cuddly Dalmatian that kids can adopt. A secret pocket in his bandanna provides a place for a kid to store a real dreidel. It’s available at retailers such as Target, Michaels and Amazon for $19.99.
Sleepy time is a gift for parents, and the Baby Oasis Sound Machine (www.soundoasis.com) helps your baby fall quickly into a deep sleep with soothing sounds. The uninterrupted, eight-hour tracks of soothing sounds serve as lullabies that will guide anyone to sleep. Proven to help babies and children, these recordings provide a sound environment for sleep.
Draw to Learn
Doodle and draw a with Magic Sketch (www.magicsketch.com), the no-mess, versatile erase board that comes with tools, patterns, stencils and more for countless hours of fun on the go. I had the pleasure of featuring this toy on a toy tour, and I love the liquid crystals that make drawings appear to light up. The included battery lasts seven years.
Take it with you everywhere, and your kids will reinforce math and writing skills while learning to draw. The stencil package teaches basic skills and math tables. It’s great as a boredom buster for ages 4 and up. The deluxe kit is available online and at smarter retailers. The $29.95 kit is a creative toy that grows with your child.
The Polaroid Pop (www.polaroid.com/pop) makes it fun, quick and easy to snap, record, edit, print and share all your special moments via Bluetooth connectivity to the Polaroid app or the built-in instant printer. The Pop produces a 3.5-by-4.25-inch print with a classic white border. Go ahead and make your pictures pop. Include the Polaroid Pop suggested printing paper for a picture-perfect gift.
A Giraffe named Sophie (www.sophiethegiraffe-usa.com) has become a phenomenon and a must-have for little ones. Now a bedtime bath routine will help get your little one into relaxation mode. The Sophie Bath Set has everything kids need to make a splash at home and on the go. It comes with a water-squirting Sophie floating bath toy and two small boats.
EcoHome (www.ecohomeatlanta.com) in the heart of Buckhead is a home furnishings and gift boutique offering luxury, sustainable products. Focused on eco-friendly and healthy gifts, it offers organic baby products, nontoxic pet gifts, the latest kitchen gadgets and cookbooks, beautiful glassware, and all-natural personal care products. Discover finds such as throw blankets, slate serving trays and recycled gifts. An eco-gift concierge service includes corporate gift delivery.
Hundreds of thousands of home cooks regularly turn to food blogger Miriam Pascal (overtimecook.com) to find recipes that are wholesome yet elegant, adventurous yet doable, and fun. Her latest cookbook, “Real Life Kosher Cooking” from Mesorah Publications ($34.99), features more than 160 recipes home cooks will want to make again and again. Each recipe is beautifully photographed and has easy-to-follow instructions. The categories include Breakfast and Breads, Salads and Spreads, Appetizers and Snacks, Soups and Stews, Meat and Poultry, Dairy and Meatless Mains, and Desserts.
A fine bottle of kosher wine or premium spirits is an option for many adult friends and relatives. Tower Beer, Wine & Spirits (www.TowerWineSpirits.com), for example, offers such kosher classics as Rashi and Barkan, as well as popular vodkas including Absolut and Chopin. Sign up for the Tower Card list for monthly discounts. You can order online and pick up the bottles in store and enjoy Tower’s curbside service at locations in Buckhead and Doraville.
ModernTribe.com, the online Jewish gift store founded by Atlantan Jennie Rivlin Roberts and sold last year to Texas cookbook author and food blogger Amy Kritzer, has aimed for headlines this year with what it calls the most expensive yarmulke ever made, a hand-crafted leather kippah decorated with white gold and 873 diamonds totaling 2.75 carats.
But if you’re not in the market for a $36,000 skullcap, the store has plenty of creative ideas for innovative minds, spirits and style. From fun bagel-and-lox earrings to Emoji dreidels to handmade silver menorahs, ModernTribe has cool products to fit your Jewish lifestyle.
Bananagrams (www.bananagrams.com) is one of the friendliest, fastest and easiest games for the entire family to play. The banana pouch is filled with tiled letters for on-the-go fun. See who can assemble words the quickest. Play this fabulous game one time and you’ll be hooked for life.
Create a tranquil environment for your little one at bedtime with Slumber Buddies (available at www.swaddleme.com), a clever, room-enhancing toy that casts a ceiling of stars. A calming display makes it fun to go to sleep. Kids will love the choices, including an elephant, a butterfly, a lamb, a bumblebee and a hippo.
Art to Jewelry
Mia van Beek, the owner of Formia Design (www.formiadesign.com), is a certified master goldsmith. Through a labor-intensive process using hand tools in her Virginia studio, she captures the treasured details of a child’s original artwork and converts it into jewelry, guaranteed to be a huge hit and last a lifetime. Send the image of your child’s drawing, and van Beek will create a one-of-a-kind piece, from necklaces to charms and keychains. She uses only solid precious metals and genuine gemstones in her pieces, which can be ready in under two weeks.
Passion for Fashion
Rhinestones can colorfully spell out anything you like on hoodies, T-shirts and stylish apparel. Teens especially love personalized gifts, which can reflect a recipient’s love of a sport, city or even ZIP code. Get creative and add an infant’s name on a onesie. Enjoy the endless possibilities online at Just Jen (www.justjen.com).
Frecklebox.com has a wonderful selection of personalized gifts for kids, from storybooks to puzzles and placemats. The coloring and activity books feature your child’s name on the cover and throughout. The latest Frecklebox books put your child into “The Hug Book” and “Colorful Counting Book.”
Don’t Forget Pets
Share the magic of Chanukah with your furry friends. Up Country (www.upcountryinc.com) offers Chanukah ribbon collars, leads and harnesses in a wide variety of lengths and in three widths. Made in America, these ribbon collars are stain- and fray-resistant and machine-washable, so your pets can partake in all the festivities.
Robyn Spizman Gerson (www.robynspizman.com) is the New York Times best-selling author of “When Words Matter Most.” She is also a communications professional and a well-known, seasoned media personality, having appeared often on “Atlanta and Company” and on NBC’s “Today” show.