We are sort of always in the process of refining our holiday traditions. What felt manageable for a family of three isn't necessarily sustainable when you add another kid, and when the first one starts getting attached to certain aspects of different celebrations you sometimes have to do a little hustlin' to make things work.
While I dearly love Hanukkah and all it entails (fried foods, especially), eight nights of gifts for four people felt overwhelming financially and ethically, and when it came to ideas I (the gift-giving engineer of the family) wasn't sure I had the wherewithall to come up with 24 presents, however small. Throw in the fact that George's birthday falls on the 7th night and Nathan's just a couple of weeks later, and the gifting can get pretty intense. To curb the consumerism and lighten my own load, I floated past Nathan the idea of eight nights of family gifts, and he agreed that it would be fun to try. I also set a budget of $100, which still seemed a little much to me, but when broken down, actually amounts to a VERY reasonable $3.13 per person per night.
It was challenging and so much fun finding things we'd all enjoy and in the end, my frugality meant that we could splurge on two gifts; I spent $40 on nights one through six.
With a broader focus than just things to open and play with, I found myself with an abundance of ideas. Experiential gifts like museum tickets, a few new cutters and the ingredients to make cookies (similarly: a large terra cotta saucer "pizza stone" -- a trick learned from bowtie wearer extraordinaire Alton Brown -- and pizza fixings), and a homemade family portrait were all ideas I pocketed for another year when Zelda can better get in on the action. That said, I think there's a little something for each of us in every night's surprise, and I'm excited about what I hope will be a new tradition for our family. To see what we'll be opening this Hanukkah, check back before the holiday begins. I'll do a rundown with sources.