Put on your Yarmulke, it’s time for Hanukkah! Anyone who knows Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song”, will know that I stole my opening line for this post from it. I just can’t help it. You know when you get a song stuck in your brain and can’t get it out? “The Boys” and I have been singing this song for days. We even went as far as listening to it on the way to drop Zach at school this morning. With tomorrow at sundown being the official start of the holiday, it really is “Time For Hanukkah”. To get myself into the holiday spirit, I decided to create a Hanukkah Gift Calendar.
I probably should start by giving you a little background information about me before we start getting all crafty. I’m what you would refer to as a mutt! You know what a mutt is, right? A dog that’s mixed with all different breeds. Well, that’s me, minus the dog part of course. I went into a little bit more detail about my family background in this post here, but in short, my mom is Jewish and my dad is not. My dad really doesn’t practice any religion. He is Puerto Rican which makes me, what I like to refer to as, a Jew Rican…Jewish and Puerto Rican mix. Then I went and married me a Catholic Italian boy and things got even more complicated. Sounds crazy but I literally get to celebrate almost every holiday imaginable and eat some amazing food along the way. It’s kind of awesome!
Even though my mom is Jewish, I grew up celebrating only Christmas in my house. Patrick celebrated Christmas in his home as well, so it was only natural that we continued celebrating Christmas with our own son, Zach. Although we don’t celebrate Hanukkah, I still make sure to put up some decorations and try my best to do some Hanukkah activities. “Try” is definitely the key word here. I put out a menorah, but if I’m being honest, I find myself forgetting a few days here and there to light the candles. I do make potato pancakes every year, but always have these big ideas to make a full traditional Hanukkah meal only to fall short year after year.
This year I want to do better! The first step to fixing any problem you have is admitting that you have the problem to begin with. This post is me admitting I have a problem and that I need to do a better job of celebrating my Jewish heritage. I need to start making it a point to create some Hanukkah traditions for my family. Are you going to help hold me accountable?!
The craft I made this morning is a great starting point to creating some Hanukkah traditions in my house. Similar to a Christmas Advent Calendar, a Hanukkah Gift Calendar is used to give little treats for each of the 8 nights of Hanukkah. I chose to fill my calendar with gelt, which are the chocolate coins you see wrapped in gold foil paper. My goal is to light the Menorah with Zachary each night and then let him take his treat from the Hanukkah calendar. Dreidels and gift cards would also fit nicely in the pockets of the calendar if you wanted to add some more variety. Since Zach will be getting a ton of gifts from Santa on Christmas, he’s getting just candy inside his calendar. Our only child is spoiled enough!
So what do you need to make this Hanukkah Gift Calendar?
Felt (I used 4 colors), pen, ruler, scissors, yarn, hot glue gun, Dreidel Template
Begin by cutting a 14 inch by 17 inch rectangle out of felt. I chose light blue because the color went with my other holiday decor. You can choose to pick your own color or copy mine…I don’t mind.
Using template 1, cut out 8 dreidel bottoms. I went with a darker blue for a contrast against the light blue background.
Take template 2 and cut out 8 dreidel tops. I cut out 4 green and 4 red tops and alternated them on my calendar. Again, be creative here or follow my picture if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Once everything is cut out, arrange all the pieces on your 14 inch by 17 inch rectangle the way you want it to look. You can make two lines like I did or randomly glue the dreidels on the rectangle. Here’s my permission to go crazy with your design!
Once you settle on a design, it’s time to start gluing. Begin by putting glue on the square dreidel top.
Place the dreidel top back in place and press down gently so it sticks.
Next, take the corresponding dreidel bottom and glue around the edges leaving the top free of any glue.
Gently place the dreidel bottom directly below the dreidel top and press down to attach.
Continue doing this with the remaining dreidels.
Once all the dreidels are glued down, it’s time to write the numbers on them. Simply use the hot glue gun to write the number on the front of the dreidel. Do one at a time so the glue doesn’t dry on you.
Take the yarn, and carefully place it over the hot glue you wrote the number with.
Take your scissors and cut off the extra yarn.
Continue the same process for the remaining numbers.
Flip the Hanukkah Gift Calendar over and hot glue a piece of yarn to the back.
Can you believe that you’re finished! I used a command hook to hang the calendar in my Hanukkah corner. Once I hung it up and added candy into it, I noticed the extra weight started folding the calendar away from the wall. I ended up putting a command sticker in each of the four corners of the calendar to keep it flush to the wall and my problem was solved.
A Couple of Tips:
Thinking back to my days as an Elementary school teacher, I can easily see recreating this Hanukkah Gift Calendar with construction paper and glue sticks. Read a picture book about Hanukkah with your students and then make the calendar as your activity to tie it all together.
Celebrate Christmas? Why not take this same concept and create an Advent calendar? Cut the tip off the bottom of the dreidel to make a square shape instead. Leave off the dreidel tops too.
Make sure to cut out 25 squares. Next, number each square and then fill with candy. Easy peasy.
I’m excited to use this Hanukkah Gift Calendar with Zach and start this new tradition. Check us out on Facebook where I’ll be posting pictures of us lighting the menorah and using our calendar each night. It’s time for Hanukkah!
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