In our family we celebrate Hanukkah with very little gift-giving except to the kids. We’ve even cut way back on their gifts in recent years — to things they’ll love but can also really use.
Gift-giving at Hanukkah parties is more difficult to control. At our annual celebration with my brother’s family, we have tried limiting presents to $15 or under. More recently, we tried limiting them to books. Though I’m crazy about books, that still involved quite a bit of spending — of money and natural resources.
This year, I have a new idea (which I have yet to suggest to my brother — so I don’t know whether or not it will fly): a freecycle style exchange.
If you don’t know what freecycle is, it’s a grassroots movement consisting of local groups that use the internet to exchange stuff for free.
Anyway, my idea is for everyone at the party to bring one or two nice things in good condition that he or she has no use for any more. We’ll lay them all out on a table and let everyone choose something new. The things won’t literally be new, of course, but they’ll be new to the people who bring them home and, I hope, appreciated just as much.