Why do we spend so much money on Chanukah? How can we manage to celebrate the holiday and continue to rejoice when it’s over?
Lack of Planning: Let’s start with a small tip- the holiday of Chanukah falls out on the same date every year. Amazing, right? So why are we always surprised when we suddenly find our children at home with us instead of at school? Chanukah, like all other vacation for kids, requires financial planning: budget. Create a budget in advance and plan activities accordingly. Try it this year- and you’ll see the results in your bank account exactly 8 days later.
Surrender to Pressure: There is no commandment to go to special shows on Chanukah. A family evening filled with laughter, games and other forms of entertainment can be just as great an experience and even more meaningful. We all know that our kids want to go to the festival ‘like everyone else’ and they can become a nuisance when told no. It’s much simpler to give into the pressure just so they don’t misbehave. It also reduces guilty feelings about inadequate parenting. The truth? There is no reason to pay hundreds of shekel on a ticket, and more on gas, parking and snacks for one activity.
Going to a Show: Most shows have an official price, as well as a list of discounts next to it that can be applied through credit card companies, club memberships, employee discounts, or other means. You should also check with your family and friends to see if they can help you get these discounted tickets. There are also show producers who give free tickets to those that need them- it’s worth it to check. For grandiose shows that are more expensive, you can find the more modest, cheaper productions that are of no less quality, for even 19.90 NIS per ticket. The complaints of the children, “but everyone is going” have turned into a discussion of social pressure and wise consumption. Also, remember to take food and drink from the house. Prices of food at the venue can skyrocket.
Boredom Brings to the Mall: Many families see shopping at the mall as a kind of default- it’s a good way to relieve boredom. In the summer, people flee to the air condition, and in the winter it’s more pleasant than walking in the streets. This, ladies and gentleman, is a budgetary disaster. There is nothing wrong with going shopping at the mall, but there should be a set goal. Know exactly what you need, go and buy purposefully, and don’t get dragged into walking around the tempting shops.
Chanukah Gelt: You give your children money for Chanukah, and they run to buy the first game that catches their eye. Give them the tools and teach them how to manage properly- explain to them that the money they are receiving is a present. They can buy what they want, but it’s worth thinking about what they can do with the money and making a list of priorities. For example: encourage them to determine how much money they want to use now, and how much they could save for the future, which game will give them good value for the cost, and which will not- and let them take responsibility for managing their Chanukah money, as suitable for the age and abilities of the child, of course.
“What are we doing today?” Give your children some of the responsibility for deciding how to entertain themselves- reduce the boredom with some freedom. Teach them to get used to turning to themselves for the answer to the question, “What are we doing today?” Parents will help them organize, but the children are responsible for finding relevant things to do. The role play must begin before the start of the vacation: sit with your kids, explain to them what you’re going to do, have each kid make a list for himself of different things he wants to do over the course of the vacation. We parents will accompany the process and help give advice.
Tip to close: Chanukah always ends exactly 8 days after it begins. Eight-day planning is definitely a doable task! Just ask the Hasmoneans.