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Help! Gift ideas to Jewish parents in law

I am invited to my future parents in law's Hanukah dinner this Friday. I am not Jewish so I have no idea what I should bring to the dinner plus this is my very first Hanukah dinner. I already asked my fiance and all he said was, 'uhhh, I don't know, how about some fruits?' I guess I could simply bring flowers or a fruit basket but I want to get them something more interesting(must be kosher) that has a holiday theme.

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  1. traditional for Chanukah is food cooked in oil - potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly donuts (sufganiyot) chief among them. But anything else fried would be good too.

    Really, though, anything you bring should be ok. If you go to an appetizing store (Russ & Daughters, Barney Greengrass, etc) you can get some "traditional" Jewish foods, be it lox or chopped liver or whatever, sure to impress. I wouldn't worry too much about it though.

    1. Can't go wrong with a nice bottle of wine. If it's not a kosher wine, they can always save it and drink it after the holidays.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ajs228

        if theyre kosher, and youre bringing wine, better make it kosher wine - they cant drink it even after the holiday.

      2. Potato pancakes, smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and caviar. A nice bottle of Champagne to top it off. I couldn't think of a better way to start a hannukah meal.

        2 Replies
        1. re: wazup1999

          If they are kosher, they can't have real caviar from sturgeon. They can have "kosher" caviar made from salmon roe though.

          1. re: pescatarian

            Most supermarkets carry the kosher Romanoff-brand whitefish caviar in small jars by the tuna. Look for the symbol on it that looks like a U in a circle, that means it's kosher. It's not very expensive and a nice little gift. THank you.

        2. With the exception of latkes and sufganiyot (donuts), there really are not any other foods that are specifically related to Chanukah, and items like chocolate covered Chanukah "gelt" (coins) are for kids.

          I recommend that you bring a bottle of wine. It must, of course, be kosher. But that's no problem because there are many fine kosher wines available.

          1. I would suggest a nice bottle of wine. Find out if they keep Kosher. If they don't it may not be imperative that the wine be Kosher.

            The other thing I can suggest is jelly donuts from a good bakery (and by good, I don't mean expensive). The donuts should be fried, big and fluffy and not too sparse on the filling.

            Bringing latkes is a nice idea but they generally don't reheat well and your future mother in-law may be making her own.

            My parents had a Hanukkah dinner last Saturday. Fresh latkes, my mothers brisket and poached pears for dessert. I could eat a dozen of those latkas with sour cream or applesauce.

            1. Go to russ and daughters. They have an amazing selection of dried fruits that would be a lovely gift. I'm sure the in-laws will recognize the extra thought of a gift from R&D.

              1. Russ and daughter it is then.
                I just checked their website and I think I will get dried fruits and nuts as you suggested. I know that they like them.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Monica

                  Then wonder over to Katz's deli a few doors away and see if there is a nice dessert to bring as well, rugellah, honey cake, marble cake, angel food cake, or go for the gusto and try for a nice rich chocolate cake.

                2. Is there anywhere you can get rugaluch? They would be nice to bring also.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pescatarian

                    whole foods makes really good rugaluch, so try there. I come from a strictly Jewish family, any gift to the mother in law will be appreciated as a thoughtful gesture. Lox is always a winner in my house.

                  2. Definitely do not show up with latkes! That would be weird (though well-meaning).

                    Your post says they keep kosher, so if you take wine or food be sure it is kosher.

                    You could score some extra points, though, with a gift that demonstrates your interest in Jewish culture. One possibility, if there is a good Judaica shop near you (and judging from your profile and the fact that you post to New York area boards, I bet there is): get a nice dreidel. That's the top that is used in the traditional Hanukkah game. There are some artful versions of dreidels out there. That would be a future-in-laws pleaser--they might even kvell over such a thoughtful gift!

                    E.g., maybe something like this: http://www.jewishsource.com/itemdy00....

                    Another possibility, depending on their tastes, is the CD "Festival of Light." If they are open to sort of hipper reinterpretations of Jewish holiday music, this would be cool. (If they are older and like their music more traditional, however, they might not like it.) I'm sure you could find it in NYC.


                    1. Because it is used to celebrate the sweetness of life, I bring special jars of honey as a hostess gift when invited to a Jewish home.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BostonZest

                        Boston Zest, that's lovely. As you describe, I bring honey cake for the same sentiment.

                      2. BostonZest --

                        That's a great idea.

                        1. Friday night is the Sabbath dinner and it has been a big tradition to have flowers for the Sabbath. I think if you really want to go over the top, either have a centerpiece delivered or bring a beautiful bouquet. Personally, I would think someone bringing food to my house would be strange. A nice kosher box of fancy choclates would be a hit at my house as well. Hopefully, you know your in laws well enough to know what might appeal. If your husband has any female relatives, you might want to ask for advice from one of them. Good Luck!

                          1. If they are strictly kosher, food gifts that come from "kosher style" restaurants and delis would be considered "trayf" and not welcomed into the home.

                            Any food you buy (baked goods, dairy, fish, or meat) to bring to a strictly kosher home must be certified kosher. Just because something is pareve (neutral), dairy, or from a Jewish specialty store or deli does not guarantee that it's kosher.

                            Your first lesson in Kashruth!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: FlavoursGal

                              FlavoursGal is absolutely right. If you feel compelled to bring a food item, being inherently kosher, say, a tray of carp as oppposed to a tray of catfish (just an example, not a suggestion), it must also come from a strictly kosher establishment.

                              For my kosher keeping friends, Katz' on the Lower East Side is not kosher, since its open on the sabbath.

                              Bringing a dessert is also problematic, since if you don't know what the menu will be, you won't be sure if its a fleischig (meat) or milcheig (dairy) meal. Sabbath dinner is usually fleischig, which brings a whole other level of dietary restrictions to anything to be consumed within 6 hours of the meat course.

                              1. re: MaspethMaven

                                Katz's in not only open on Shabbat but also serves Reubens (pastrami with cheese). Definitely not kosher.

                            2. I'd go with the flowers as well, and perhaps a box of kosher chocolates. To me, chocolate is much safer than wine, which can be hit or miss even when it's not kosher. The gesture will be appreciated, and trust me, if this gathering is anything like those that I experienced growing up, there will already be insane amounts of food to go around.

                              In other words, go light on lunch.

                              Also, I think that unless the family is fanatically religious, anything you bring that attempts to recognize their traditions will be appreciated. After all, they're welcoming you into your family, and a wedding is cause for celebration whether or not the bride knows all "the rules."

                              1. Take a look at this website for all things Jewish. I dated a Jewish person and studied this site to understand the culture and religion. This site can help understanding of the 'laws', history, food, gift protocol, etc.

                                As far as the food goes, I personally find it boring, the flavours lacking and textures unappealing. My friends always warn me about the food when I have to attend a naming ceremony or a bar/baht mitzvah. They haven't been wrong yet, even when the events were quite high end.

                                If you know they drink wine, check the Napa wineries. There are a lot of Jewish-owned wineries, some producing kosher wines. I don't find the kosher wines that remarkable, but they are a step above the stuff normally found in the grocery store.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                  Actually, there is ONE winery in the Napa Valley producing kosher wines, Hagafen.
                                  You should also understand that there are different "levels" of kosher, even where wine is concerned. Strictly orthodox practitioners may require that wine be mevushal, or "boiled" during the process of winemaking.

                                2. As far as flowers go, if they are quite observant, they might not feel comfortable putting the flowers in water or cutting them. That's considered "work" once Shabbat begins, but you could offer to do it because you are not Jewish.

                                  I personally like the flowers delivered ahead of time idea, or kosher wine. Honey sounds nice too!

                                  1. Well, Monica, I hope this has shown you a clear example of why it said of our people, 'Ask two Jews a question and get three answers". Have a wonderful time and enjoy your blended holiday.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lucyis

                                      lol, absolutely lucyis!

                                      "Why does a Jew answer a question with a question?"

                                      "Nu, so why shouldn't a Jew answer a question with a question?"

                                      I think it's inherent to our culture. Anyway, something packaged, like chocolate, with the kosher symbol, sounds wonderful. Same for kosher wine. And flowers sound lovely too. Whatever you get, it will show you care & are being a good guest. Go, have fun!

                                    2. Whatever gift you take, the elephant in the room is going to be religious difference if they are observant Jews and you are not and are either marrying or are already married to their child. Are you sure you want to start out by taking a gift that points up that difference? I am reminded of young friends many years ago, she being Polish Catholic and he being Jewish. On his first visit to her family's home, her brother asked the Jewish boyfriend to step into another room. This was done with some apprehension, but what was waiting was not a get-away-from-my-sister talk but a table spread with bagels and lox and a bottle of Manishevitz wine. "More subtle is the sovereignty of love...".