Hanukkah is long over (there’s been an entire government insurrection since then!), but I wanted to travel back in time and post a few of my favorite photos taken over the eight nights. It’s what I would normally do after the holidays and I’m not going to let some domestic terrorists steal my memories of the holidays. But perhaps most importantly, I was quite proud of my gift-giving skills this year and wanted a chance to show off.

As my kids get older, the prospect of wowing them with a gift gets slimmer and slimmer. Remember when you could wow your toddler a ball or a wooden car? Those were the days. This year, with an 8yo and an 11yo, I had to give it a lot more thought. I surprised them I think. Because along with being hard to impress, they also have the ability to appreciate a well thought out gift. You know that moment when you receive a gift and think— wow, this person really GETS me. I got to give that gift to my girls.

It doesn’t really matter what the occasion is (Hanukkah, Christmas, a birthday, Valentine’s Day or just because), this post is to give fellow parents of hard-to-shop-for tweens some ideas.

Night One:

Harlow has been absolutely OBSESSED with Hamilton since she saw the musical on Disney + this summer. So, for the first night, I got Harlow the Hamilton t-shirt she’s been coveting along with some Hamilton stickers. Mazzy, like most tweens, is currently obsessed with playing Among Us, so I got her Among Us plushies and Among Us stickers. Thanks to the whole VSCO phase last year, I found out that you can get a huge pack of stickers with pretty much any theme on Amazon for about $5-10. Then your kids can stick them on water bottles, laptops, walls, furniture, etc. Older kids LOVE them. In Harlow’s case, she used them in place of Hamilton figurine dolls (which don’t exist!) to act out all the songs.

She knows most of the songs by heart, mind you. You have to see the video. It’s beyond impressive. As for the adults, Mike got the Guinness World Records book for 2021 and I got a Herstory Museum puzzle.

Night Two:

On the second night, we did a Zoom Family Hanukkah party with Grammy and Sammy, my sister’s family and my stepbrother’s family. We played dreidel together and lit the menorah. A word of caution: Lighting the candles over zoom is very dangerous! Not one but two people almost caught on fire on the call! Uncle Mikey got his hair singed and Harlow burned the plastic bag holding her Hamilton stickers when she tried to show everyone her present from the day before.

Giftwise, Harlow got a Merida doll (we watched the movie together recently and she loved it) and Mazzy got some of those viral rainbow bath bombs.

Day Three:

On the third day of Hanukkah, we went to the house. Mazzy got a Cinemood, which is a mini portable projector to use in the attic room. That’s our compromise because I won’t allow a TV up there.

Harlow loves biographies, so got her the Strong Girls collection of Ordinary People Who Save the World. The collection includes Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Sacagawea and Jane Goodall. Harlow was able to name them all just from the cartoon picture.

I also added on Marie Curie (one of Harlow’s favorites) and Anne Frank because I thought this book would be a kid-appropriate way to introduce both my girls to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Day Four:

On the fourth day of Hanukkah, I took no pictures, but I assure you, menorah lighting and gift giving happened despite the lack of photo documentation. Mazzy got “12 Days of Glow” which is a box of rainbow colored face masks she wanted from Target and Harlow got a cake decorating kit which included a  variety of frosting tools and a much needed cake turntable to decorate like a pro.

Day Five:

Harlow is dressed up as a student at Hogwarts because it was theme day at her school and they had to dress up as their favorite character. She got a Play-Doh slime variety pack, because that’s what she told Santa she wanted on our Zoom call. Slime was Mazzy’s thing all last year and Harlow was newly interested. I figured Santa could always get more slime and it didn’t hurt to contribute to her collection. If I’ve learned anything from Mazzy, it’s that you can never have too much slime.

Earlier that day, Mazzy accidentally opened a bag from Grammy which contained a Harry Potter themed game of Clue. She was convinced that I had wrapped Grammy’s gift and was giving it to her again. But, nope! I had an entirely different gift planned and gave her with a collection of clay kits to make mini foods like tacos, sushi and rainbow cake.

She was so surprised. Those kits were one of the biggest hits of Hanukkah.

Day Six:

On the sixth night of Hanukkah, Mike decided we were going to get fancy. I wore sequins and Mike wore a tux for the occasion. He also cooked up a storm!

For gifts, I got Harlow Mickey Mouse earrings (she just got to take out her starter earrings for the first time on Dec 31st!) and Mazzy got a tween journal from All of Me which is a guided journal with weekly lessons, daily questions and free writing space for topics such as social media, friendship, physical activity and mindfulness. (Use the code mommyshorts for 20% off your order!)

That night I got my second gift— watching Mike wash the dishes in a tux!

Day Seven:

On the seventh night of Hanukkah, menorah lighting got a little overshadowed by the snow storm, but then I gave my best gifts of the entire holiday. I think most of us know about Harlow’s doughnut obsession, so I got her a mini doughnut making machine so that she could bake her own.

Mazzy did not think I could possibly beat Harlow’s gift, but she was in for a big surprise. I got her a customized Frankie pillow. She LOVED it. Now Frankie #2 lives in Mazzy’s bed so that she can sleep with her every night. (If you buy a pillow, please know it takes a couple weeks to make and this pillow is the 16″ size.)

Day Eight:

On the last night of Hanukkah, we were pretty much gifted out, but I had one last present for each of them. Mazzy got three books that she wanted from her school book fair. I thought she was going to be disappointed, but when she opened it, she yelled, “YAY! BOOKS!!!” and then plopped on the couch to start reading The Witch Boy. She got also got Thirteen and The Hate U Give, two books recommended by her new head of school.

Harlow got a book too— Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, a beautiful book about two kids who spearheaded an initiative to get a playground built in their building courtyard, written by Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris. To accompany her book, I got Harlow a Kamala Harris action figure.

Harlow promptly raised Kamala up and shouted, “Without Trump in my path, nothing can stop me!” Let’s hope Harlow, Let’s hope. The day we are finally rid of that turd in the White House will get a holiday all of its own.

All in all, we had a FABULOUS eight days. I think the kids were really surprised and delighted by all the great presents they got; Mazzy especially. She might think she’s way cooler than me (and she’s right), but she also got to find out that I see her, I know her and I can figure out what small tokens will make her happy.

One final note— this is the first year that my girls made it clear that they prefer Hanukkah to Christmas. Even though we celebrate both, I think they understand that this is the holiday that’s really ours.