Some families create gift themes on the individual nights of Hanukkah, such as pajama or movie night.

PLASTIC PRESENTS: Michelle Levine of Houston is getting her sons, ages 12 and 8, five or six gift cards each this year because the shrinking economy has forced her to turn down their requests to eat out and see movies. Giving them $5 or $10 gift cards “will allow me to say ‘yes’ (on their dime) the next time they ask to go out for dinner or to see the new feature hitting theaters,” she said.

GREEN GIFTS: Jodi R.R. Smith, of Marblehead, Mass., is celebrating with her extended family with gifts that include a hemp bicycle shirt, a botanical facial and biodegradable waste bags and all-natural dog treats. .

GIVING BACK: Following the Jewish tradition of giving to the needy, families set aside a night to make a charitable donation. A nice way to do it is to have the children donate the same gift they are getting. Cindy Edelstein, 44, of Pelham, N.Y., is giving her 11-year-old daughter pajamas, and they will also donate a matching pair.

“This way she’ll be reminded of her donation and that she shared some holiday spirit every time she puts on her pink penguin pajamas,” Edelstein said.

AP-ES-12-10-08 1604EST

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