The not-so-secret formula

Every once in a while I hit the jackpot. Know what I mean?

I was thinking about Oliver the other day. No actually I was fretting about what to get him for his birthday. I have something of a reputation to live up to in the gift giving department. It's my secret formula that gives me the edge. I can't take credit for the formula itself ... only in my enthusiastic application of it.

I was absolutely thrilled a while ago when my eldest niece (now 23 y.o) told her littlest brother that he shouldn't worry about giving me his present wish-list because Auntie Jos always buys the coolest pressies anyhow. Now that is an accolade and a half.

Auntie-hood is an area of my life that provides many blessings. I need no other reason for my general non-grown-up-ness than it makes me an all right kind of auntie. I like worms ... and mud ... and tree climbing, kite flying, snot flicking, ice-cream licking, kicking balls around, jumping in puddles, lying on the ground, and running around for no good reason other than it feels good.

I am shockingly bad at playing Barbie though. Not too good at tea parties or playing fairy princesses either. And I hate playing house although it's OK if I can be the cat. The last Barbie-doll I played with was immediately seconded into a commando parachute regiment and promptly dropped from a 3rd storey window weighted down with plasticine boots for ballast. I'm not sure my youngest niece has fully forgiven me for the green marker pen camouflage which I honestly thought would wash off her Barbie's face .... no honestly I did!

Back to present buying ... and the not-so-secret formula.

  1. Go to any good toy shop on a day when you have plenty of time to spare. Ideally on a day when it will be filled with kids (you can take some of your own if need be but swear them to utmost-secrecy-on-pain-of-gruesome-horribleness first)
  2. Look around for ages and ages making notes of all the things that you think are cool along with location and price. Have a good look at stuff that is attracting a lot of interest amongst kids of a similar age to your young friend.
  3. Now for the fun bit.
  4.  Beyond budgetary considerations which are allowed don't think about practicalities! Don't don't don't!!!
  5.  Instead imagine you are the age of your young friend ... it helps if you pretend to have similar interests too. Hmmm .... actually this is pretty crucial to the formula's success.
  6. Buy the thing that you want to play with most of all.

OK, well I admit it. There have been times when I've been a more popular auntie than sister. I blame step 4 for this. I find it better to blame step 4 than myself. It works out better that way because who am I to argue with the secret formula?

So Oliver is eight years old tomorrow. He will be getting a Make You Own Dinosaur Movie kit from me. It's well cool. I say he is getting this present but the reality is that we are both getting it because that's the other thing about the secret formula ... I get to play with it too! Yay!!!! I can't wait.

We are away from home at the moment because my Father-in-law is not at all well and is in the ITU in hospital. As a way of passing the inevitable hours spent in the waiting room I have been learning how to write text docs onto a Kindle. Wonderful gadget it is, very kindly loaned to me by my sister-in-law who doesn't like the clunkiness of the page turns ... very odd woman. What's not to like? Kindles are well cool.

Not good internet access here as it's dial-up. So I'll press send and then leave the PC on whilst we go visiting. Might work ....


  1. I want one!!! Hell yes. Sounds like great fun, and you are a wonderful Aunt! It's obvious. Sheesh. Who wants to play Barbie anyway??? (somehow my nieces all wound up with a bit o' Tomboy in ' I could divert into something for fun!!!!

  2. love yr post! if you are down here for a while give me a call and we can have a coffee in the hosp cafe...

  3. I love this post!!!! I was always a tom boy too, so I relate, though I never liked worms, frogs and snakes yes, worms no :-). What a great, wonderful auntie you are! I know how much love you put into your gift giving, I wish I was there so I could help you all make that movie, have fun and good luck to your father in law.
    Happy Birthday Oliver! I feel I know and love him just because you do :-).

  4. what a lot of fun toy shops are, not sure about kindles yet, I guess I am still hooked on my ipod where I listen to my audiobooks, wonderful for 'tube' travelling in London.