Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aunt Needs Christmas Gift Ideas!

I am the BEST AUNT in the world! I'm lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my nieces and nephew. I know them pretty well, but as they get older, it's harder to figure out what they would like for Christmas. I have three nieces, age 8, 11 and 14, and one nephew, age 11--World's Best Aunt
Well, this brings back a painful holiday memory! Hang on there, World's Best Aunt, while I over-share.

The year I was eight, I stumbled into my oldest sister's bedroom (she was home from college) and there, in all its glory, was a knitting machine for kids my age! The brightly colored box showed a happy girl holding up a beautiful scarf that she had supposedly knitted herself using the machine in the box. I nearly wet my pants in excitement. But on Christmas morning, as the pile of presents got smaller and smaller and NO KNITTING MACHINE APPEARED, I was thrown into the depths of despair. It ended ugly, let me tell you. Turns out College-Age Sister had purchased the knitting machine for her boyfriend to give to HIS eight-year-old sister. And no, I don't remember what gift I received from her that year, just what I didn't get.
Okay, I think I can move on...

Since you get to spend a lot of time with your nieces and nephew, what are the chances of taking each of them out separately? This might be totally lame; maybe you already do this on a regular basis. But the kids I know in this age range LOVE spending time with their favorite aunt. So...a night out at a hockey game? A movie? Bowling alley? Swim center? Live theater? A hike and a stop at a favorite burger joint afterwards? Trip to a favorite bookstore with a $20 or $25 gift certificate?
Something my kids love, and I always loved, were magazine subscriptions. Stop laughing, you Internet-addicted types! The fun of getting something every month that's JUST FOR YOU is still pretty cool. And there are a ton of magazines out there just begging for subscribers. In no particular order, and without separating for gender or age, how about: American Girl, Discovery Girls, New Moon (our personal favorite; the true voices of real girls come through in this publication, although it's not for every family, given its frank discussions about issues that most magazines shy away from), Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Boy's Life, Any One of The 5,231 Magazines That Focus On Animals (Your Golden Retriever; Ferret Times; Snakes and You, Backyard Chickens). 
How about a disposable digital camera, or, if your budget runs to it, a cheap digital camera? Also:
Art classes, or an art workshop that you could attend together. A one-time cooking class. A skating lesson. A trip to her favorite clothing store (she'll be armed with a gift certificate from you, of course) and time for a Starbucks stop afterward. 
If the kids are computer-savvy (and if it's okay with the parents), a subscription to an online game site such as Club Penguin might be a hit for the younger kids. And I won't even get into the many, many computer games for fear of showing my extreme ignorance of such things.
Also: We've scored countless times with gifts from the following catalogs: HearthSongChinaberry, and Young Explorers.

You could, of course, look for a knitting machine, or a loom, for the eight-year-old. Just a thought.
Readers? Any ideas for World's Best Aunt? Leave them in the comments section. 

1 comment:

  1. Go to Goodwill or someplace like that and buy some old appliances. Gather up a few tools like screwdrivers (both types of head) and needlenosed pliers. Put them all in a box and PRESTO! Any youngster can spend a bunch of time taking things apart without anyone suggesting they will be unable to put them back together.

    Maybe yes, and maybe no. This present is one my sister gave her two boys one year when money was so tight she was unable to buy them store presents. Just as little kids sometimes like the box better than what came in it, this gift was their favorite for two years running.

    It is always a good idea to give them things they can Do. You know, things they can USE. My personal values go toward children growing up competent with their hands, and that doesn't just mean using the computer mouse capably.

    Can't wait to see what else people suggest. WAIT! More ideas!
    1. composition books (if someone writes) come in many designs now - get several
    2. pens and pencils, very cool
    3. paper, lot os paper of different kinds
    4. books, of course, and yep, magazines are a good idea.
    5. a bank account - depending on age and parental permission, a checking account for an older kid who needs to learn, now, how to bounce a check