Though commonly considered to be a typically Christian custom, occasionally frowned upon as ‘goyish’, gift-giving among adults during the winter holiday season was an invention of the more or less secular bourgeois classes of the 19th century CE. The newly evolving upper middle class cherished the idea of being able to afford the luxury of exchanging gifts. Before then, many cultures knew customary gift-giving to children during the winter season, often in connection with winter solstice celebrations. Customarily, those gifts for children included sweet treats and a (often hand- & homemade) toy. Most people were rather poor, and prior to Georg Wertheim, department stores with lower prices, more choices and easier return policies than specialized retailers were unheard of . (Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, a German Jewish merchant opened what is considered to be the first real department store.)

According to my experience, the hairier sex is more reluctant to shopping for gifts than their fairer counterparts. and some of them will try to delegate those ‘duties’ by having their mother, girlfriend or secretary obtain the gifts for them. Others will dig out ‘principles’ by which they may not buy gifts for somebody just because of a certain holiday or private occasion. Gentlemen, face it, while you’re trying to pull off your most innocently adoring face when telling us that we’d deserve a gift not only once a year just because it was a holiday, the words “cheap <insert expletive of choice>” form in the back of our heads. Those words go straight to our hearts. Our little big sensitive hearts. And they hurt. Oh yes, they hurt. And we will use them against you when you least expect it – the latest when choosing the text for your obituary.

There are a few good reasons though to give gifts on Chanukah:

  1. unlike of an anniversary of any kind, people in your environment will more likely remind you of the upcoming event, hence you will not forget a gift quite as easily;

  2. apart from the Sabbath, even the religiously observant may carry stuff on Chanukah;

  3. the smile on your beloved ones’ faces when they receive a thoughtfully chosen or diligently made token of affection.

I’d like to provide the y-chromosome owners among the readers with a few tips on what to watch out for when trying to find a gift for the lady of their hearts:

The gift idea …

… is good, because …

… but you’ll be darned if …


…as a former exegesis professor of mine once put it, “Gentlemen, the flowers you give your wife or girlfriend are of a much higher value than the money you spend on them”.

… she’s allergic to flowers.

… she claims to be allergic to flowers.

… you bought the same kind of flowers for your mother.

… the flowers are the wrong colour / stem length for her vases.

… they’re faded.

… she knows they’re the favourite kind of your ex-girlfriend.

… your mother / ex-girlfriend chose the flowers for you.

… she hugs trees and will start mourning the flowers.


… as the abovementioned professor said, “Gentlemen, women of all times and of all cultures have decorated themselves with jewellery, be it diamonds or simple stone beads. Neither you nor I will ever be able to change that.”

… she’s allergic to the metal you’ve chosen.

… she claims to be allergic to the metal you’ve chosen.

… her best friend got the same item – half a year earlier.

… the very design is worn by a celebrity she doesn’t like.

… you’ve picked a style, because your mother liked it.

… you’ve picked a style, because you like it on your mother.

… you boast about how little you actually paid wholesale.

… it came as a freebie out of a chewing-gum vending machine or with a first order from some catalogue – any catalogue.


… it can display how much attention you pay to her likes and dislikes and will get her those out-of-the-line luxuries.

… you’ve picked the wrong fragrance.

… you’ve picked the wrong bottle content (e.g. 50ml instead of 90ml).

… you’ve bought a knock-off version from a street vendor, hoping she won’t notice the difference.

… her ex-boyfriend gives her the perfume plus matching shower gel, deodorant, bodylotion, and lipgloss.

… you’ve picked a fragrance, because you saw the miniature in her bathroom, unaware of that she only liked the design of the bottle.


… this way you can signalize you’re also interested in her intellect.

… it’s the local Yellow Pages.

… the title of the book had been on your mind when buying it as she’d mentioned it before – while reading passages from it out for you before going to bed.

… it’s a self-help book on break-ups.


… it’s a way of showing you enjoy being physically attracted to her.

… it’s the wrong size – no matter if it’s too big or too small.

… it’s neon yellow.

… it’s second-hand.


… you show empathy for a girl’s love of shoes.

… they’re Canadian boots.


… it can symbolize that you’re considering commitment.

… she doesn’t do dishes as a matter of principle / not to ruin her nails and / or spray tan, hence only uses disposable stuff.

… you end up doing the washing-up.


… she always complains about icy feet.

… she views this as a way of you avoiding to rub her feet.

… you view this as a way of you avoiding to rub her feet.

P.S.: Should you happen to be an overworked business guy like my bf, be aware that the greatest gift no spectacular diamond choker or brandname handbag could equal to is some quality time together. (Hab’ dich lieb, Levje.)

P.P.S.: Please excuse the format of the table; I had to copy & paste each row individually and use eye measure to align their widths…

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  • Just don’t give the poor woman chocolates. How can she feel interest in converstations she can’t hear or see? The new comment section is like silence.

    Time is the best. Then you might actually find out what she likes.

  • Hey JM, I still want to know, have you ever considered writing your own blog?

  • The magical combination of two bottles of wine and coming home to an internet connection and the always fascinating smorgasbord of Jewliciousness makes it hard not to comment, even in a stupor.

    First off, Sarah, kudos in general, I’ve been meaning to tell you that your comments are ALWAYS very well-balanced and fair. I like that. I also wonder if you are a Libra…actually maybe more of a Virgo.
    Anyway, keep it up, because you have a lot of interesting stuff to back up what you say, even if it’s in Latin and I can’t read it.
    ck, you came back from vacation, but I think you still need some rest..or something. You’re a little..I don’t know..but you’re not rested or tranquil. I don’t know what advice to give you. But figure out what you need. You’re agitated. And sorry if I said that in public. I say it with affection 🙂
    T_M- I liked that Israel thing. I personally would like more slice of life stuff about Israel. Not all of us are lucky enough to have been there yet. Human interest helps forge more of a bond, and that’s easier for a lot of us to take in than a lot of political stuff.

    Funny stuff in my life: my 8 yr. old son is aware of my conversion and I’m trying to do what i can to give him a background in this, because I have not ever raised him with the religion I grew up with. So he got a dreidel in school yesterday and I asked him about it. He said he tried to tell the teacher the story of the Macabees, and she didn’t let him finish it. So I asked if anyone else knew about Hannukah, and he said another girl “was the only other Jewish person” meaning himself! Now, he has told me for the past few years that he doesn’t believe in God, but he has a lot of interest in Judaism and he’s really smart. Of course he’s going to have to choose, but that’s the only religion he’s exposed to. (in any depth.) We were in the supermarket and he likes to look and see if he can find stuff with a kosher symbol–so he’ll throw stuff in the cart and say in a loud voice in front of crowds of people:”Don’t you want that? It’s kosher! C’mon, you’re turning Jewish!” He also told me seriously at the breakfast table: “Hey Mommy, did you ever notice that all the people we know who are really smart and really funny are Jewish?” He’s such a cutie pie.
    Ok, I realize I haven’t said much–but maybe it’s the season, and I just wanted to tell everyone that Jewlicious and all the comments have been such an education for me– you all are really an awesome group. Thanks everybody and especially ck and his cute nose for this site. And Muffti, who I have not forgotten, and would totally pester as a man, forget anything intellectual, if he were on the same coast. (Mwuahhh…)

    Oh, and about this post–very cute. Gift-giving is always nice, and life is short, so let’s all be generous.

    Jewlicious kisses to everyone from Giyoret!!XOXOXOXOXOXO

  • Awwwww, Giyoret 🙂 If you believe in zodiacs, then I’m sorry to tell I’m supposed to be aries, ascendant taurus.

  • Tangible things have gotten easy to offer someone: they are imported. It is stuff that cannot be imported that is so expensive. A square foot of US real estate, health care and education. These are services, not tangible things. Services that have to be delivered in person, not on the phone from overseas.

    Therefore, there is one kind of ring nobody can afford. It’s a big problem.