Do you really need an excuse to give gifts! Well for those of you who are too frugal to give gifts for no good reason whatsoever… here goes:The word “Chanukah” comes from the same word as “chinuch (education).” The Greeks wanted to make us forget the holy Torah, thus when they were defeated it was necessary to start reeducating the (Jewish people, and especially the) children.
When giving Chanukah gelt (money), we also try to educate the children about the importance of giving charity with their own money.
Maimonides writes that it is important to use incentives in order to educate a child (until he/she is old enough to independently understand the importance and beauty of the Torah and mitzvos). On Chanukah, the holiday which is dedicated to education, we tell the children: “Here is some Chanukah gelt (money), an incentive for you to study Torah properly.”
When giving Chanukah gelt, we also try to educate the children about the importance of giving charity with their own money.Source: http://www.askmoses.com/article.html?h=104&o=19338