I don't see my little girl throughout most of the year but we talk quite a lot on Skype. I think having intimate conversations with you nieces and nephews helps create the strongest bond between them and yourself. Instead of being associated with "fun" and "cool," I would rather be seen as trustworthy and a really good friend to her. Indeed, I've already earned the nickname "Lily Potter," after Harry Potter's beautiful mom and a character of her childhood's most precious book.
Kids can sense when you trust them, share ideas and stories as you would with your friends, and ask for their opinions. It tells them that they are important to you and creates a carefree sanctuary that's difficult to have with parents who worry much more and usually tend to be far stricter.
I tell her about my friends - yes, she can't fully understand why some stories make me so surprised but she loves to listen and strives to understand. She knows she is my confidant.
I show her my new clothes. Of course, everything is "very pretty" but this girlie rite of passage is just ours to share.
I always ask her tons of questions. I don't judge or advise, I just listen. That's how I learn about her and her answers help me engage with her more.
I always, always treat her as an equal. I wanted this when both her, and I were a lot younger, but there was no other thing that made us bond like my acceptance of all her emotions, no matter how transient they were. If my then-three-year-old niece said she was "very sad," I needed to know why for sure.
My other family members love her, of course, but most often, she is "just a child" or a precious little girl who must be taught something, or taken to special places or wear beautiful dresses. This is all great and makes for an enchanted childhood. But being a friend, sharing and listening to your little nieces and nephews is one thing that makes for a very special aunt.