Hanukkah gift baskets and other ideas
The holiday of Hanukkah, or Chanukah, commemorates the Jewish rededication of the Second Holy Temple, which they liberated from the control of the Syrian-Greeks during the Maccabean Revolt in the late 2nd century BC. While Jews generally do not consider it to be a very important holiday, it does attract a significant amount of attention because it is so close to Christmas. Thus, the giving of Hanukkah gifts has become an increasingly widespread practice, even though it is not traditionally a part of the observance.
Giving Hanukkah Gifts
Traditionally, the only people who received Hanukkah gifts were children. Beginning in about the 17th century, grandparents and parents would give their young sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters coins. These coins may be chocolate coins or actual legal tender and are known as "gelt."
Hanukkah is celebrated over eight days and nights, and the custom of concluding each night's candle kindling and prayer ceremony with a gift exchange was introduced in the 19th centurays. Today, Hanukkah gifts are very much like your average Christmas gift, with family members submitting "wish lists" of things they want in advance of the holiday, with the offerings presented to each family member in Hanukkah gift wrap. However, because the holiday extends over a period of eight days and nights, individual gifts tend to be modest, and it has become common practice to set aside one of the nights for charitable service or donations in lieu of gift-giving.
Jewish families may send Hanukkah gift baskets to one another, though these are also appreciated as a gesture from a secular family to a Jewish friend. Gift baskets are typically accompanied by Hanukkah greeting cards, which are widely available (though you may not find quite as much variety as you would if you were shopping for Christmas cards).
Food is also an important part of a Hanukkah celebration. Traditionally, Jewish people eat fried foods such as potato latkes to celebrate the holiday, to commemorate the important role oil played in the cleansing of the temple after the Jewish people recovered it from the Syrian-Greeks. Even household pets get in on the action, and are typically fed specially made Chanukah dog treats.