Shopping Siren has fond childhood memories of Hanukkah: eating homemade potato pancakes with applesauce, playing dreidel for candy, lighting a new candle on the menorah every night. I wasn’t raised Jewish, but my 8-year-old best friend was and I loved spending Hanukkah with her. (Actually, one of her parents was Christian, the other Jewish, so she celebrated both religions’ holidays. We played dreidel at the foot of her Christmas tree.)

So with Hanukkah right around the corner — the eight-day festival of lights begins at sundown next Friday — I decided to relive part of my childhood with a shopping trip. Elegant menorahs! Adorable dreidels! Yummy chocolate coins in shiny foil wrappers! Yay!

Um. 

However.

I encountered a slight problem. 

Turns out the Hanukkah offerings around the Twin Cities? Limited. Severely limited. So limited that I lost count of the number of stores I went to looking for something (anything!) for the holiday. 

I did have some hope at Craft-Mania in Auburn, which had a sign on its door offering half-off prices on Christmas and Hanukkah party decorations. Score! Hanukkah items and a good sale. But while the store was fully stocked for Christmas — garland, fake trees and a Santa Claus around every corner — I couldn’t find even one kitschy dreidel in its aisles. The Craft-Mania associate said they never received their Hanukkah merchandise this year.

Oy.

Eventually, after much searching, I had some luck: Candy without the dreidel. Candles without the menorah. Latke mix. But, really, Twin Cities? Really? Maybe next year you could try a menorah or two.

• Manischewitz potato pancake mix, 6 oz., Shaw’s $3.49 ($2 with Shaw’s card)

Sure, you could make latkes from scratch, but this mix takes a fraction of the time. These latkes are kosher, they still need to be fried in oil (a tradition for Hanukkah) and they taste delicious. Pair with low-cal applesauce or live it up with sour cream. And all that valuable time you saved with a mix? Means more time to go for gimel in dreidel. (Trust me, that’s a good thing.)

• Promised Land Chanukah Candles, 44 count, Shaw’s, $1.59 (59 cents with Shaw’s card)

Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of a single day’s worth of menorah oil that lasted for eight days. But no one says your eight days of light must come from plain old oil or boring candles. These little candles are colorful, twisty and made in Israel. Fun, cool and illuminating — really, what more could you want in candles? 

• Glicks milk chocolate or dark chocolate coins, Shaw’s, 49 cents (24 cents with Shaw’s card)

When I was a kid we got foil-wrapped chocolate coins as gelt (money) or we played dreidel for them. Somehow, though, I remember there being a lot more than the four coins per Glicks’ pack. But then we didn’t have the choice between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. So there’s the trade-off. Personally I’d rather have fewer coins and dark chocolate. Actually, that’s pretty much my philosophy of life.

• Gedilla Chanukah surprise, Shaw’s, $1.39 (99 cents with Shaw’s card)

Triangular box vaguely shaped like a dreidel, with no clue as to its contents. Well, maybe a tiny clue. The box says the surprise is “100 percent yummy.” 

Best find: Hanukkah cards, Dollar Tree, 50 cents

Half a dozen
individual Hanukkah cards to choose from, including one with cartoon
bunnies wearing yarmulkes. Bunnies! Yarmulkes! How much cuter could you get? Some cards spell it “Hanukkah;” some spell
it “Chanukah.” At least none features a Christmas tree. (See “Think
twice.”) 

Think twice: Box of holiday cards, Kohl’s, $2.69 to $8.99 (at 55 percent off)

In an attempt to be religiously inclusive this holiday season, many mass-manufactured card sets say something like “wishing you joy this season” or “happy holidays.” Nice. Lovely. Good idea. But when those cards feature a Christmas tree? Not so much for Hanukkah. 

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who want to know where all the plush, squeaky dreidels have gone) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]

Chocolate coins from Glicks


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