Why is Most Hanukkah Sh*t So Ugly: A Roundtable

Alma recently brought you a collection of chic AF Hanukkah goods. And sure, that stuff was cute. But let’s face it: The majority of the Hanukkah stuff out there is actually ugly AF.

I knew if anyone could commiserate, it was my two old friends Lindi and Hannah. Though we’re spread across the country, we share a few common threads: a love of Target, pretty good taste, and opinions for days. I invited them to complain with me about ugly Hanukkah crap one Friday night over wine (Shabbat Shalom!), and well, buckle up, y’all. It’s about to get celebratory.

And whiny.


OK, let’s start with The Target Overalls.

target hanukkah overalls 

Hannah: How does Target, who is so good at getting it right, get it so horribly wrong with Jewish holiday items? Literally everything is royal blue. Are there no Jewesses to consult on the design team? It’s so frustrating. I wander the holiday section at Target for HOURS lustfully looking at the Christmas stuff — and then I get to the Hanukkah aisle end cap. End crap, I call it! Just kidding. Target, please hire me.

Daci: Like, why hasn’t Minneapolis-raised, Target-contributing Jew Nate Berkus helped them out? I am sure he wouldn’t approve.

Lindi: My mother has this same fabric as a Hanukkah tablecloth. That tells you all you need to know about these bad boys.

Daci: I get that it’s supposed to be an “ugly Christmas sweater” alternative, but here’s the thing: Christmas has tacky, but it also has traditional. It has modern. It has quirky. Our only options are tacky, or straight up old world Judaica.

Lindi: Right. And usually even when something is tacky, it is — at its core — cute, but in a tacky way. You’re quirky, but cute.

Hannah: Like Zooey Deschanel. Zooey would not be caught dead in these overalls.


Speaking of something meant to be worn in the home:

oy vey apron 

Hannah: I feel bad — we’re really going to rail on Target here, and I value them as one of my best friends.

Daci: We get it! Our ancestors said oy! I don’t think I’ve ever said oy, tbh.

Lindi: I’m actually wearing, for the occasion of this call, my mother’s ‘90s Hanukkah sweater that says Oy to the World.

Daci: Oh God, this trend is never going to die, is it?

Lindi: I would maybe wear this apron as a joke.

Hannah: But that’s the thing — I don’t think Target meant it to be a joke. But as Jews, because of our inclination to err on the side of funny, we now have no choice. It’s like, be in on the joke—

Lindi: —or be killed.

Daci: That… was dark. But maybe true?


Moving on, let’s address the horrors that await when one simply types “Hanukkah” into the Etsy search bar!

etsy hanukkah


Hannah: “Happy Holidays you filthy schmuck” makes me feel weird, but I do appreciate the reference.

Lindi: Yeah, changing it to schmuck makes it feel like a slur.

Hannah: It went from good fun to antagonistic real fast.

Daci: Can we talk about “Let me cradle your dreidel”??

Hannah: Ugh. In 2017 I don’t need any allusion to any type of sexual act. Anyway, let’s talk about this one bright spot! That dress! This dress is very Fran Drescher.

Daci: Ooh, body-con! Though I would like to point out the potential hazards of a body-con dress at your annual Vodkas and Latkes party.

Hannah: Etsy highlight is easily this body-con Fran Drescher ensemble. I totally hear your concern for the body-con look at an event centered around the consumption of alcohol and fried complex carbohydrates. Let me be clear — the adoration of this dress is less about actually wanting to put it on my body and more about my love and adoration of the American Jewish woman’s True North: Fran Drescher.

Lindi: It reminds me of the sparkly dress my mother wore every year for Purim.

Daci: Pause. Why do you have so many Jewish hand-me-downs?

Lindi: Huh. I don’t know.

Hannah: L’dor v’dor or something.

Lindi: Honestly everything out there feels like it’s being produced for our mothers in 1994.

Daci: Vintage is having a moment.

Hannah: Half of this stuff is just outdated rap references. “This is how we Jew it.” “This is how I roll.” “Let’s get lit” is more modern, I suppose, but… why?

Lindi: A lot of those records were produced by Jews…


Let’s discuss a ritual item we don’t hate:

west elm menorah

Daci: I’ve been waiting to see this year’s token West Elm menorah. How many mid-century menorahs can they come up with? I guess just enough to make one per year.

Hannah: LOL West Elm with your Hanukkah tab that’s just your white and silver shit recategorized. YOU AREN’T FOOLING ANYONE. Shoutout to my own personal menorah’s designer Jonathan Adler, though. His collection is beautiful and original and very cool… for a ritual object.


In the “on the right track but not quite there” category…

 hanukkah soup bowls 

Hannah: Wouldn’t you be delighted to spoon your matzah ball soup out of a bowl with a picture of my grandmother’s dreidel awaiting your gaze?

Daci: Here’s the problem — all of the Hanukkah stuff is so literal. Everything has to have a dreidel, a menorah, or a Jewish star.

Lindi and Hannah (and anyone who’s ever shopped for Hanukkah goods *in spirit*): YES.

Daci: Christmas gets snowflakes! And plaid! And wreaths!

Hannah: Why are wreaths for Christmas? They’re dead branches in a circle with the option of an attached sparkly thing. Why does Christmas have a monopoly on all things generically winter?

Lindi: I think we’re just forcing Hanukkah decorations to be a thing because of the circumstances of the season.

Hannah: That’s true. Maybe we are forcing it. Just kidding. We are 100% definitely forcing it.

Lindi: But fuck it. In a world where everything is shitty, let’s force it and celebrate a holiday that is actually not that important.

Daci and Hannah: Amen.

Lindi: So what do we want? We don’t want re-categorized blue and white shit—

Daci: —and we don’t want super-literal dreidels and menorahs.

Lindi: Are we just complaining to complain?

Hannah: That would be very on-brand…


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