8 Gifts for Nieces and Nephews If You're Competing to Be the 'Cool Aunt'

We know—there really is no contest. But these gifts will prove that once and for all!
toddler in the grass with butterfly wings on
Photo by Jessie Cowan/Getty Images

There's a lot of pressure that comes with being a cool aunt. One obvious reason: You don't have the same level of obligation to your nieces and nephews as their parent, so you're expected to be more lenient when it comes to rules and more generous when it comes to gifts. As a result of being this super non-parent, you're perceived as cool…and that "cool" needs to be maintained. What better way to cement your reputation than with cool holiday gifts?

matriarchy now tee

Photo courtesy of Bulletin

Unisex Matriarchy Now Tee

Encourage the young ones to support the matriarchy as early as possible with this 70s-inspired tee from Bulletin. Make sure to hand them a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Feminist Manifesto along with the shirt for positive reinforcement.

Nike Air Max kids

Photo courtesy of Nike

Nike Air Max 95 SE

Kids love shiny things; it's just who they are. Embrace this fact by gifting them with classic Nikes Air Max 95 sneakers with visible Air-Sole cushions refashioned for the 21st century in a bold colorway.

Elf shirt

WB Graphic Shirt

Fifteen years ago, Will Ferrell's Elf debuted and has been making us laugh out loud every holiday season since. Your niece or nephew may not have been born when the film came out, but once they see it, they'll be stoked on receiving this long-sleeved GAP Kids shirt.

Gold backpack

Photo courtesy of Yoya

Metallic Backpack

Disney and Nickelodeon character backpacks are so passé! Upgrade your sibling's kids fashion with this metallic backpack from Yoya, a New York City-based kid's clothing and accessories company.

The Hate U Give book

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas' debut novel The Hate U Give became a New York Times bestseller for a reason. The compelling novel about a 16-year-old Black girl who witnesses the death of her childhood friend is also a great case study in racial profiling, perceived criminality, coping with grief, and gives practical ways to interact with law enforcement.

ATCQ hoodie

A Tribe Called Quest Hoodie

If your niece or nephew shows any semblance of interest in hip-hop, a great introduction to the genre is A Tribe Called Quest's music. Once they've listened to The Low-End Theory and Midnight Marauders, hand them this official ATCQ hoodie.

sister outsider book

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Another way to instill the building blocks of consciousness to the young ones is through iconic literature. Audre Lorde's collection of 15 essays and speeches in Sister Outsider make for one of her most pivotal books, touching on homophobia, racism, class, and much more.


Photo courtesy of Hasbro

Bop It!

"Cool" —at least in my mind—also involves making that which is old, new and relevant again. If there's one toy that deserves a comeback it's Hasbro's Bop It!, a classic physical coordination game that's been enhanced with new action-oriented moves, like "sing it" and "selfie it."

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