February 22, 2019

Last-Minute Hanukkah Gifts

You can’t bear the thought of going to the mall at this time of year — just finding a parking spot is a competitive sport. But Hanukkah is here. And your shopping list? Let’s just say it is a work in progress.

Don’t fret. We’ve got you covered with great finds from local retailers that should satisfy your entire crew, including the family pet. Happy Hanukkah!

Musical lovers will enjoy immersing themselves in “DEAR EVAN HANSEN: THROUGH THE WINDOW” ($50), the official behind-the-scenes book about the Tony Award-winning Broadway show starring former Harvard-Westlake student Ben Platt. Get it now, before the production comes to town next fall at the Ahmanson Theatre. Children’s Book World, 10580 1/2 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 559-2665. childrensbookworld.com.

Inspired by the success of the live game nights they host at the Hollywood Improv, Barry McLaughlin and Jason Lautenschleger created GAME NIGHT IN A CAN. Each can contains 30 games for players, ages 8 and older. And there’s no fancy equipment required — just pen, paper and a sense of humor. A tree is planted for every can sold. $24.99 at Miracle Mile Toys, 5464 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 389-1733. gamenightinacan.com

Nothing says Hanukkah to a dog like a little brisket mixed in with the kibble — and maybe his very own menorah. The plush HAPPY HANNUKAH MENORAH DOG TOY ($7.99) is one of several holiday-themed gifts for dogs and cats available at Petco. Tossing it to your pooch also will help you work off some of those guilty gelt calories. Selection varies. Multiple locations. petco.com

Just when you thought you would never buy another fidget spinner, here comes the irresistible DREIDEL SPINNER ($6) in Hanukkah blue. It’s a very 2017 twist on the classic four-sided dreidel, complete with a nun, gimel, hey and shin, as well as the logo for the Museum of Tolerance, where you can grab one in the gift shop. 9786 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 772-2505. museumoftolerance.com

The colorful YOEE BABY toy started with the simple idea of tickling a tot with a feather. Colorado-based mom Jillian Lakritz, who is Jewish, and designer Bill Donavan took that idea and turned it into a BPA-free first toy for baby available in five designs: puppy, kitty, fox, lion and monkey. $25 at Huzzah!, 2010 Lincoln Blvd., Venice. (310) 452-2900. huzzahtoys.com

Fidget spinner was invented to stop Palestinian kids from throwing rocks at Israelis

Fidget spinners are the latest toy sensation. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Do we have Palestinian rock throwers to thank for the fidget spinner?

The inventor of the ubiquitous stress-reducing toy says she came up with the idea during a trip to Israel in the 1980s, during the First Intifada, as a way to distract the “young boys throwing rocks at police officers.”

Catherine Hettinger told CNN Money last week that she first brainstormed the gadget while visiting her sister in the Jewish state and hearing about the clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli security.

She first considered designing a “soft rock that kids could throw,” according to CNN Money.

“It started as a way of promoting peace,” Hettinger said.

But soon after, upon returning home to Orlando, Florida, Hettinger put together the first fidget spinner — a propeller-like toy that spins around a center bearing.

Hettinger secured a patent for the device in 1997, but sales languished for over a decade, and Hasbro declined to market it. Hettinger did not have the money to pay the $400 fee to renew her patent in 2005.

It was not until last year that the fidget spinner became a sensation, appearing everywhere from office cubicles to elementary school classrooms. Some tout the toy as a stress reliever, but others find them disruptive and distracting.