With the inaugural night of Hanukkah in the bag, it’s likely your sharp-witted whippersnapper has already ferreted out the box that contained the new Xbox One or PS4. (Or, if you’re a savvy dad who enjoys instilling a sense of delayed gratification—you’ve wisely hidden it in the dark recesses of your home’s most unsuspecting closet until the eighth crazy night.)
Either way, you’ll need some smaller surprises to offset the gaming console (or other mother-lode, holy-grail gift they’ve been asking for since summer). Look no further than our Brite Lites_Gift City Pop-In Shop, online and in selected stores. It’s stacked to the rafters with awesomely odd items that your oddly awesome offspring will love. Read on for eight of our favorites—most under $30. (After all, Hanukkah is the Festival of ‘Lites.’)
1. A Loyal Companion. If you’ve succumbed to earnest requests for a family dog, a made-in-the-USA leash with military-grade hardware wrapped up next to the Menorah is a nobly sneaky way to break the news. If a canine isn’t in the cards this year—a perfectly preserved praying mantis (or tarantula, or frog skeleton, or beetle) makes a great, low-maintenance pet, too.
Shop: The Evolution Store Praying Mantis – $29 | Found My Animal Ombré Pet Leash – $62
2. A Diamond in the Rough. Kids love collecting rocks—and there’s no radder rock than a geode. No science-interested eight-year-olds bedroom is complete without one; especially one sourced from the renowned Dugway geode bed in western Utah, with origins up to 8 million years ago.
Shop: The Evolution Store Natural Dugway Geode – $12
3. A Brain Teaser. Octopuses (yes, it turns out that’s more correct-er than ‘octopi’) are some of the smartest creatures in the sea. Try a puzzle that transcends the standard two-dimensional variety for your kids—whom we’re sure are some of the smartest creatures on land. Or at least they will be, after learning the fun facts that come packaged with this 15-piece natural wonder.
Shop: The Evolution Store 4D Octopus Siamensis Puzzle – $10
4. A Storage Unit. Kids these days—always fussing with their internetz and i-toons. Give them a pint-size drive that’s as handy in a lightsaber (or nunchuk) fight as it is for storing homework files. These retro models are mostly for your own entertainment; if the Force is not strong with your kiddos, they might enjoy these colorful monster guys more.
Shop: Mimoco 8GB USB Flash Drives ($24.95 each): Master Yoda | Bruce Lee
5. A Carnivore. Household pests (and Jeff Goldblum) beware: This kit contains everything you and your Little Shop of Horrors-loving kid need to grow your own Dionaea muscipula—aka Venus flytrap. Way cooler than the peapods they plant at school. A nice lesson in environmentalism, nurturing, and the food chain. “Feed me, Seymour!”
Shop: The Evolution Store ‘Grow It’ Plant Kit – $12
6. A Fine Specimen. Don’t fret, squeamish types—it’s not a real brain. But the junior mad scientist in your life doesn’t have to know that. While we don’t endorse children utilizing fire, this pink beeswax candle—complete with meandering gyri and sulci—will look darn handsome decorating their bookshelf. We’ll leave any further brain jokes to our product-page writers. Those guys and girls are hilarious:
Shop: The Evolution Store ‘Brain in a Jar’ Candle – $29
7. An Action Figure. No jarring lights. No annoying sounds. No fake plastic muscles. These strong and silent mechanical friends are sculpted from sturdy beech wood, with elastic-band ligaments that never wear out. Inspired by Japanese Shinto Kumi-ki puzzles, you can consider them the original Transformers—the tiny giants fold down to a pocket-size cube when it’s time for a robo-snooze.
Shop: Areaware ‘Cubebot Micro’ Mini Wooden Robot Toy – $8 each
8. A Reference Guide. For musically inclined minors studying at the proverbial school of rock, this letterpress card printed on 100% recycled paper serves as a handy glossary of vital terms. Toss it in a frame to hang next to his or her music stand. Because knowing one’s legendary axes is just as important as being able to name classic cars and ’70s pinups.
Shop: Set Editions Letterpress Cards – $4 each
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Further Viewing: Speaking of robots (and guitars), we’ll leave you with a few Hanukkah-related sights and sounds. Enjoy the turkey and latkes today.
Got a Light? Here’s how students at the Israel Institute of Technology get down during Hanukkah. If you can devise a candle-lighting ceremony one-tenth as impressive as this, your kid will be the coolest in Hebrew school.
Hebrew Hip-Hop. We could detail Old-Testament historical nuances for you, about enchanted oil and Maccabee warriors—or you could get the gist by watching this Hanukkah homage by Jewish rapper Matisyahu. (…Whom we could barely recognize! Note his new streamlined look, left, as compared to the full beard you might be more familiar with at right.)
So Much Fun-ukkah. Despite having heard them approximately infinity times on MTV in our youth (MTV was much different back in our day, kids), Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” parts 1 and 2 remain pretty darn classic as far as the pantheon of holiday songs is concerned.
SHOP ALL: BRITE LITES_GIFT CITY POP-IN SHOP