I usually give books for Hanukkah. Certain ungrateful children are prone to whine, “We want real presents!” Fine. Here are some suggestions for last-minute gifts designed to bring out the best in each child.
For the privileged hellion
If you really loved your adorable demon child, you’d buy him the vintage red tricycle belonging to little Damien in The Omen. The priceless mom-murdering prop from the 1976 film is up for auction at Bonhams in the UK. Sure, the estimate is £12,000-£15,000 (in the neighborhood of $20K) but do you want your kid not to be the first on the block with a possessed trike?
For the Sigmund Freud-to-be
From a German manufacturer (of course) come these not-at-all-tacky psychiatric plush toys. Kroko the paranoid crocodile, Dub the depressed turtle, Lilo the obsessive-compulsive hippo, and Dolly the delusional sheep (with a plush wolf inside her) all await your child’s ministrations.
For the progeny of mid-century design-obsessed hipsters
Alexander Girard Alphabet Blocks will help force any child into the box created by his parents’ rigid aesthetic sensibilities. This gift is beautiful and tactile and will allow parents to lecture the child about fonts, typographic frameworks, and folk art opulence until his ears bleed.
For the rebel
My First Bacon.
For the too-cool-for-school teen
Teach her where Bubbe and the Park Slope Parents Mailing List came from by way of a fabulous filigree necklace shaped like a Brooklyn brownstone.
For the little frequent flier
Does your family jet off regularly to see the mishpocha in far-off states? Are you anxious about sending little Joshua through those radiation-emitting backscatters? Get him these timely underpants with “READ THE 4TH AMENDMENT, PERVERTS” emblazoned on the crotch.
For David Amrams in training
Conductor, composer, French horn player, flutist, Amram can do it all. And so can your child, if you give her this bathtub flute kit. The kid fills the brightly colored plastic flutes with water up to the graduated lines on their sides, then starts tootling away. The flutes come with color-coded sheet music printed on laminated cards that stick to a wet tile wall. If these don’t turn your child into a conductor-in-residence at the Philharmonic by age 7, you have failed.
For the kid who will be a doctor when she grows up, knock wood
The You Explore It: Human Body science kit includes a model of the human body, tweezers, forceps, and 21 squishy, squeezable internal organs (you’ll love the bladder!), bones, and muscles. Have the child practice on the plastic model, then on Uncle Murray at the seder in April.
For the itty-bitty Helena Rubenstein or Estée Lauder
Who doesn’t want a cosmetics mogul in the family? Scientific Explorer’s Perfumery will allow any child to craft different intoxicating scents, learn the science behind their creation, then sell them to classmates at a hefty profit with the promise of eternal youth and beauty.
For the doll-obsessed
Let’s assume our young collector already has Rebecca Rubin, the 1914 Lower East Side Jewish American Girl doll that sells for a mere $95. But does she have Rebecca’s Shabbat accessories (teeny challah, samovar, tea, and candlesticks) for $68, her Hanukkah set (itty-bitty menorah, wooden dreidl, and gelt) for $22, her schoolbag (eensy-weensy bagel, rugelach, pickles, and “you’re a grand old flag” sheet music) for $36, or her Coney Island souvenirs (infinitesimal postcards, Steeplechase Park flyer, music box that plays “over the waves” and admission token) for $32? How much money do you have? For a Lower East Side immigrant child, Rebecca has a lot of stuff. (The Rebecca books are quite good! But I know, I promised. No books. Feh.)
For the would-be comedian
Let’s be honest. Don’t we all need a remote-controlled fart machine?
For the animal lover/humanitarian
Yes, honey, we know you want a pony. You can’t have a pony. You can, however, have a llama. A llama from Heifer International that will not live in our house in Bloomfield Hills but rather go directly to a poor family in Bolivia so they can start a farm and sell wool and their children can have an education. And we will talk about gratitude and tzedakah and we will eat some latkes and make an online donation to Mazon, the Jewish charity that fights hunger. And fine, you can have this little toy llama. There is an awesome book that goes with it, Llama Llama Red Pajama, but I’m not even going to mention it. Chag Sameach.
Marjorie Ingall is a columnist for Tablet Magazine, and author of Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do to Raise Successful, Creative, Empathetic, Independent Children.
Marjorie Ingall is a former columnist for Tablet, the author of Mamaleh Knows Best, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review.