Brought to you by Kira- How to be everyone's favourite pank this Christmas!Step aside, Fun Uncle: this festive season it's all about the Professional aunt, no kids, otherwise known as the Pank.
The latest member of the modern family, Panks are the relations you always wanted when you were young. Fun, cool and relaxed, and with that extra cash to splash on little ones that only comes with having none of your own, Panks are the kind of guests children will run to the door to greet.
A world away from the stereotypical batty, hairy-lipped auntie who you dive behind the sofa to avoid kissing, there are even some celebrity Panks out there. Actress Cameron Diaz has been seen strolling around Paris with her niece, and has spoken about much she loves being an aunt.
Want to get in on the action and make sure you're the fabulous family favourite? Read on for a fool-proof guide to how you can be everyone's pick of the Panks this Christmas.
Treat nieces to 'girls only' days out
For pre-teen girls and young teenagers, there is nothing more sacred than spending time pretending to be that little bit older. While hanging out with their mum is just not cool, you represent the glamorous side of adulthood, complete with money, freedom and no responsibility. Spoil your niece with a grown-up spa day, including manicures, swimming and hot tubs, and you will secure legend-like status forevermore.
If a day bustling around town is more your style, treat her to a shopping trip for that all-important school disco outfit. You could also take the opportunity to have some silly fun at home: eat lots of ice cream, rent a movie and order matching novelty Christmas jumpers from K&Co that will prove you're her favourite to the rest of the family on Christmas Day.
Come bearing edible gifts
Everyone knows that seriously unhealthy food is the way to kids' hearts, and that rule most definitely applies when it comes to charming your nephews and nieces this Christmas. Sweets are always a sore point between parents and children, but Panks have a free pass, if not an unspoken requirement, to produce endless supplies of sugary delights. Pick 'n' Mix is a sure-fire win, as are any shamelessly expensive chocolates their parents would never buy. Mum and Dad might not be too impressed at first, but you can always win them over with some wine.
Treat older nieces and nephews to grown-up gifts
If you're a Pank to slightly older children, get in their good books by rocking up with some seriously cool presents. Teenagers and university students are easier to buy for than you might think. Leave the books, socks and kitchen utensil sets to other less imaginative relatives, and give them something high-tech or fun. Think fancy cocktail kits if they're a party animal, gig tickets to their favourite band or an e-reader for the more studious teen.
A word of caution...
Fun and frolics might get you in the kids' good books, but at the end of the day, what Mum and Dad say goes. Play by the rules and pass plans by them first, and both parent and child alike will adore you this Christmas.