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Every year I find myself in a similar predicament. Much like Santa, I’ve made my list and checked it twice (I sort of leave off the naughty or nice part) and head out shopping. We like to give our kids a small gift each night. One night we give them board games and turn that night into a games night. One night we give them all sorts of dreidels and spend the evening playing dreidel. Every once in awhile when we feel really creative, we make up a family treasure hunt or game and play that too. But I also buy them STUFF.

Stuff can be defined as anything with small pieces (my husband’s biggest pet peeve). With many small children (ages 10, 9, 6, 4 and almost 2), we’ve got the Fisher Price, the Lego, the Playmobil, the books, the dolls. We have some very accommodating and generous grandparents that keep our kids well-supplied as well. We are over-saturated with toys.

And here the dilemma begins. I would like some small gifts. I grew up that way. I enjoy giving on Chanukah. But how much is too much?

Enter my friend Rena with her family tradition. One night, instead of gifts, her family sits down and decides which tzedakah will get that night’s gift money. Parents and children discuss the merits of various charities and the value of giving is incorporated along with the joys of getting.

I’m not sure my kids are old enough to truly understand that impact of tzedakah, but I am so excited about starting this tradition in our family this year.

What about you? How do you give appropriately and thoughtfully?