Reader Question | How to Save Money on Chanukah Gifts When Black Friday is *During* Chanukah?


Dear Mara,

Every year, since I started reading KOAB, I’ve paid close attention to your Black Friday posts. I’ve scored a lot of great deals – mostly online (yes, you’ve totally convinced me to stay home, in my PJs, and shop the online deals.) My gifts have always arrived in plenty of time to make for a happy and frugal Chanukah.

But then this year, with the whole Thanksgivukkah thing happening, I’ve suddenly realized that Black Friday will occur DURING Chanukah. What am I going to do about Chanukah gifts? Am I doomed to overpay by buying them before Black Friday?

Help! What should my game plan be?


Julie (not my real name)

Dear Julie (not your real name),

I know, right?! I mean, how could the retail fairies let this happen?

I admit to having moped around a bit, but then I picked myself up by my deal-seeking bootstraps and put together this four-part plan. Hope it’ll help you, too.

#1. Make a list

I do this every year, but this year, it’s even more important to be organized. I start with the people I want to buy gifts for (generally my kids and my parents). Then I look at our budget and figure out a total dollar amount we can afford to spend.

{As far as our budget goes, you may remember that we have a “family gift sink fund“, into which we contribute $25 per month. That gives us $300 per year to cover birthdays, Chanukah and miscellaneous gift-giving occasions. That’s not a lot of money for three kids, two parents and five grandparents, so we obviously need to get creative.}

The other piece of information I want on this list is how many nights we plan to give gifts. Typically our kids open a little something every night. But some of those nights’ gifts come from their grandparents, so we don’t have to buy 8 gifts x 3 kids.  I know many KOAB readers don’t do one-gift-per-night, so just tweak this piece of the list per your family’s traditions.

#2. Check my gift closet.

A gift closet is such a great way to save money on all your gift-giving occasions. I stock my gift closet throughout the year, whenever I come across great clearance finds and sales.

Then when we have friends’ birthday parties to attend or need a quick hostess gift, I just reach into the closet and pull out the perfect present.

A few weeks ago, Target had a big mark-down on MLB (baseball) pajama pants. I grabbed PJ bottoms for my boys at 90% off (less than $5 per pair) and immediately put them away in the gift closet. One night of Chanukah, done and done.

If push came to shove, I could probably do all of Chanukah from our gift closet, but since there have been a few requested items, I plan on using Strategies #3 & #4 to fill out our  “supply”.

Gift Closet Tip: Learn from my mistake. Start a secret gift closet, so the items intended for your own little ones won’t be discovered by said littles when they go rifling thru the closet (in my case, a book case in the storage room) to pick out gifts for their friends’ birthdays.

#3. Shop My List from Clearance & Online Sales

Over the next six weeks, stores will begin marking down prices in anticipation of the big “holiday season”. I plan to take advantage of these sales when I see them to snap up items on my List (#1).

If you have items on your List that you need some help with, feel free to leave a comment on this post or shoot me an email. I can’t promise I can find everything, but I’ll definitely keep my eyes open!

#4. Shop the Black Friday Sales at Amazon (& Be Grateful for Amazon Prime)

When all else fails, there’s always Black Friday. Take a look at the calendar. The last night of Chanukah is Wednesday, December 4th. Black Friday is November 29th. Cyber Monday is December 2nd.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, anything I order up until December 2nd should be to me in time for the last candle of Chanukah. If I’m worried about delivery time, I can pay $3.99 to get one-day shipping (one of those Prime benefits), but I don’t think it’ll be necessary.

Plus, as you may remember from years’ past, Amazon starts their “Black Friday” deals a good week before Thanksgiving – which means, I may not even need to wait for things to come down to the wire.

Now, Amazon is far from the only store participating in Black Friday – so you can certainly plan to head out at the crack of dawn to snatch up the in-store deals as well. I’ll be sharing Black Friday Ad Previews on the blog over the coming weeks so you can be prepared. Between you and me, though, I’d rather shop in my PJs at home — and given the “tight” time frame, I know that my Amazon Prime membership is the best way to ensure that I get my online purchases in time for the last nights of Chanukah.

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, I strongly suggest signing up for a FREE one-month trial. Now, be smart about the timing — I recommend waiting until at least the end of October, so that your Black Friday purchases will be included in the free two-day shipping. But really and truly, if you order from Amazon with any degree of regularity (guilty as charged), you may want to go ahead and “splurge” for the year-long membership. It more than pays for itself at our house (especially since we don’t have cable – our kids’ TV programming all comes from the free Amazon Prime selections.)

Image Credit: CardsByTamar, Etsy


  1. I love my Amazon Prime it is truly amazing

  2. 2 more suggestions:

    First (this applies to both suggestions), buy a couple of small presents to give the 1st few nights, then
    a) shop online during black Friday at places you can buy online and pick up in store, or
    b) shop online, give the recipient a photo/printout of a gift that has been purchased for them but has not yet arrived.
    Happy shopping & Chag Sameach!

    • Lauren Rosen Gerofsky says

      When my boys were smaller, they sometimes got cards from their aunt, my parents and even my husband and me, with a picture of the gift item that was on its way. They never minded and there was a “second happy day” when the gifts actually arrived!

  3. Depending on what you want to get people, you can also try shopping garage/rummage sales and thrift shops. Last week I went to a swap meet that happens occasionally in a nearby area. I found a K’nex roller coaster set for my child who’s been asking for exactly that. It was listed at $15 but I asked and got it for $10 rather than the $60 or more it would have been new.

  4. Looking for:
    -hard drive
    -toys for an almost one yr old (blocks etc)
    Thanks for your great help!
    I love taking advantage of great stuff you post!!!

  5. galileegirl says

    What about giving gift cards that can be spent during Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales? The amount on the card can go a lot farther on marked down items.

  6. Of course there are always items and ‘experience gifts’ that you can get on groupon, living social, eversave, and other such discount sites throughout the year. If I recall correctly, Amazon started having some pretty amazing pre-thanksgiving sales in early November last year, so make your list, keep checking, and of course, be flexible in case you see something else on sale that would be a good fit.

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