How to Be the Best Aunt Ever
Whether or not you've got kids of your own, here's how to score big with the other youngsters in your family. Activity and gift ideas to make you the most popular aunt ever.
Lace up your hiking boots or dust off your bike and take it outside. Younger kids and tweens love to explore, so leave the heart rate monitor at home and just see where your adventure leads you. If your niece or nephew is in those hard-to-reach teenage years, sign up for a charity run together. And remember, don’t chat through the whole outing. You don’t always have to talk to be close with a teenager. Sometimes just being there is enough.
Photo Credit: Potterybarnkids.com
A personalized step stool or beanbag chair, a name plaque, an engraved mug, or customized t-shirt (available from a local artist or from a major chain like Pottery Barn Kids, as shown) is a gift that tells a child, “You’re unique.” Younger kids especially like seeing their name on objects—it feeds the “it’s mine” phase! These types of keepsakes can also help bridge the gap between a child and an aunt who might live far away—each time he looks at the gift, he’ll be reminded of you and he’ll know you think he’s great.
One mother to four boys indulges her own inner girl by bringing nail polish to family gatherings. She and her nieces sneak away to give each other mini-manis and get in some serious girl talk at the same time. (This works in reverse, too; if you want to be the best uncle, take your nephew to a local sporting event or mini-golfing. It’s male bonding at its best!)
If you travel frequently for work, send your niece or nephew a postcard from every place you visit. Have him or her track your travels on a map at home, and send a small token—some coins, a new phrase, letterhead from the hotel—from the foreign lands you visit. Bonus points if you mail the package with lots of bubble-wrap. There’s no greater gift to a kid than packaging!
Have your niece or nephew spend the night at your place and whip up some fun foods. This is a time to throw all the rules out the window. Let your young friend choose what’s on the menu, ignore the messy kitchen, and go ahead and eat cake for dinner. It’ll be a sweet treat for both of you.
Live near your nephew? Take him sightseeing in his own town. Go to a local museum or a restaurant that is famous for serving regional food and learn a little about the history of your city. Who knows? Maybe you’ll stumble upon a place that becomes part of your own personal history.
Know your sister won’t shell out for the designer jeans or the iPod? If you’re in a position to be extravagant, go for it. Especially if you don’t have any children of your own, you’re entitled to spoil your niece or nephew a bit. Just make sure you clear it with the parents so you don’t create any bad feelings.
Even if you live half a world away, you can be as close to your niece or nephew as if you lived next door. We’re surrounded by technology—take advantage of it! Send your niece or nephew emails, e-cards, jokes, and videos. Call or text him or her often. Whatever you do, don’t let your physical distance turn into emotional distance—keep the communication lines open.
Photo Credit: Daisy Romwall, Wikimedia Commons
The bottom line is this: When it comes to being an awesome aunt, you’re better off spending time than money. So, if you want to be the best aunt this holiday season—or better yet, get the lifetime achievement award—remember to listen, spend time, give affection, and build trust. These are the best gifts you could ever give a child.
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