Move over, Wii: Piatas, puppets and puzzles are here

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Every holiday season there is a go-to, must-have present: a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Tickle-Me-Elmo, a Wii, this year’s Webkins.

While Jewish-themed gifts don’t usually trigger a massive rush on the local toy store, local Judaica shops in the Bay Area have plenty of gifts to get kids in the Chanukah spirit — from traditional Judaica to some truly offbeat offerings.

As always, the standard menorah and dreidel are top gift picks, but this year there also are new board games, plush dreidels, finger puppets and craft kits.

Along with Chanukah puzzles ($19.95) and musical menorahs ($20), this year Afikomen in Berkeley also has Chanukah piñatas ($24.95-$29.95) for those interested in a multicultural holiday. The piñatas come shaped like a dreidel or Star of David.

After the piñata’s been whacked, you can continue the Latin theme with “Hanukkah Moon” ($7.95), Deborah Da Costa’s colorful children’s book teaching the story of Chanukah from a Latin American perspective. The book is a popular choice at the Contemporary Jewish Museum gift shop this year.

Jill Bloomfield’s “Jewish Holidays Cookbook” ($19.99) is another hit children’s book at the CJM. The book goes over easy recipes for creating kugel and braiding challah, and is geared for children ages 8 and older. Store director Kevin Grenon says cookbooks and other family activities have been some of the most popular gifts this year.

“I think people are focused more on the home and the family this holiday season,” Grenon says. “Chanukah is always a time when families reconnect, and I think reconnecting with tradition is even more important these days.”

One way for families to reconnect this holiday season is to play the one of the new Jewish-themed, family-friendly games.

Alef-Bet Judaica in Los Gatos has a new dreidel board game called “The Big Winner” ($22). Owner Nurit Sabadosh says the game is perfect for families because a lot of people can play and it involves group effort.

Sabadosh says she’s been concentrating on less expensive gifts for children this year, and has seen a rise in craft kits. Alef-Bet has a wooden dreidel crafting kit and canvas holiday painting kits ($3-$12). There are also plush Chanukah sets, which include soft, stuffed candles and dreidels ($15-$37).

There’s a interesting spin on a traditional game at Dayenu Judaica in San Francisco this year — Dreidel Roulette ($22). Dayenu co-owner Eva-Lynne Leibman also mentions the Apples to Apples Junior Jewish Version ($28.75) as a popular gift item. The game of comparisons features start cards such as “misunderstood,” with options such as “Hebrew school,” “Kabbalah” and “Jewish mothers.”

Bob and bob in Los Altos has a kit this year that’s good — and delicious — for the whole family: the Chanukah Cookie Kit ($10), which includes sugar cookie mix, frosting, cookie cutters and edible watercolors to paint the finished product.

The store also carries children’s ceramic menorahs, including a Susan Fischer Weis piece called “Friends” ($30). The menorah features a line of children holding hands, with a dreidel in the middle for the shamash.

The Rodef Sholom Sisterhood Gift Shop at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael has an eclectic mix of dancing dreidels, singing holiday yo-yos and swirly Chanukah joke glasses ($2).

The store also has a Chanukah stamp set, Chanukah bingo kits and holiday-themed finger puppets for children ($10).

Manager Sharon Gordon says she looked for fun but inexpensive items for children — which seems to be a universal sentiment shared by local storeowners this year.

Chanukah: Where To Shop

Afikomen (Berkeley)

(510) 655-1977

Alef-Bet Judaica (Los Gatos)

(408) 370-1818

bob and bob (Los Altos)

(650) 947-7010

Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco)

(415) 655-7800

Dayenu Judaica (San Francisco)

(415) 563-6563

Rodef Sholom Sisterhood Gift Shop (San Rafael)

(415) 444-8098