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Becoming a big sister was one of the best and scariest moments I experienced during my collegiate years as a member of Alpha Sigma Tau (AST). As soon as I was initiated, the first thing I started planning for was the phase of becoming a ‘big sister’. While most get excited to shower their little with gifts, I remember being stressed about this added cost. The big and little sister relationship should have more of a focus on the relationship and not the gifts. That is why I put together some tips to make this time exciting for your little without a focus on just the cost and amount of the gifts you give her.

Ask Your Big for Advice

I first sought to ask my big for preparation advice, because SHE WENT THROUGH THE SAME THING! She knew how to create and find meaningful gifts that would bolster our relationship while sticking to a budget. I remember asking my big about her experience when preparing my sorority baskets, letters and initiation gifts. Knowing I had an idea of where to start relieved a HUGE level of stress. Your big may also be able to offer you advice on how to build your relationship with your new little and can help offer advice on how to be a great mentor.

Make Crafts Far in Advance and Reuse Items You Already Have

The summer after I was initiated into Alpha Sigma Tau, I immediately started making general AST crafts. I made a variety of canvases, frames, wrote out letters on different items and picked out what apparel I could pass down to my littles. By the time the school year came, I already had twice as many AST canvases and gifts made, which helped reduce the cost of art supplies and time to make them. Think about the craft items you or your sisters have to help reduce the need to spend money on supplies. You can make gifts that come from the heart without spending money.

You can also reuse craft items you make at sisterhood events or items that have been gifted to you. They are also more meaningful because there is a story behind the item you can tell your little.

Find Sisters Who Are Passing Down Items

When big/little season is around the corner, older sisters in my chapter would post some apparel and crafts that they were happy to pass down to younger sisters. I remember when I was taking my little, I would keep an eye out in my sorority group chats on who was selling or giving away apparel. This is another great way to find gifts for your little while staying within your budget!

Show Your Little Affection in Ways Other than Gift Giving

While it can be easy to want to show your little affection by buying her a cute shirt, the big and little relationship goes far beyond gift-giving. While the gifts can make her feel appreciated, there are just as many ways you can do that without spending money. Plan activities for you to do together like studying or attending campus events. Spending quality time together is necessary to build a strong relationship between you and your little.

During initiation, write her a note about what your relationship means to you and why you are excited for her to become a lifelong sister. This is a great time to share meaningful stories on why you joined the sorority and the benefits it has had on your life.  

Remember, being a big goes far beyond the gifts you give your little at reveal or at initiation. You are her mentor and this relationship is a special one. The ability to pay for gifts should not deter you from offering guidance and support to another young woman.

Written by Amanda Cruz

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