ask amy sedaris

What Should a Poor Daughter Give to Her Fancy Mother?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo Getty Images

In September, we asked actress, comedian, and writer Amy Sedaris to be our first-ever gifting columnist. Forty readers wrote in for help with their toughest giftees — the 13-year-old daughter who only wants Taylor Swift concert tickets, the millennial daughter-in-law who doesn’t like clutter, the aunt who’s a borderline hoarder. We sent all the requests along to Amy, who handpicked a handful to answer. Below, her second batch of suggestions for the poor daughter with a fancy mother, the wife whose husband is turning 63, and the mom whose teen daughter wants Olivia Rodrigo tickets.

Dear Amy,
My mom is a lady who lives a very comfortable life. Meanwhile, my husband and I have small kids and are working-class folks, so I can’t ever afford to get her expensive things. We’ll be having a family dinner for my mom for her birthday, but I’d like to find something to gift her since my siblings will be picking up the bill for that. What should a poor daughter give to her fancy mother? —Miss Riches to Rags

Dear Miss Riches to Rags,
This is a tough one. The best gift would be something extremely intimate and sentimental that makes your siblings’ money look cold and heartless. Maybe it’s a photo of her mother, having her father’s pocket watch restored, or even a photo of her mother holding her father’s restored pocket watch. Or make a beautiful speech from the heart written by a ghostwriter, which costs next to nothing (at least the one I hired to write this response did). Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with a butter sculpture of her face, a painted rock, or a hunk of aged Parmesan.

Dear Amy,
I’m looking for something for my husband of 30 years. He’s 63 years old. His birthday is on Christmas Day, so double the pressure on me. He has a worn-out messenger bag, and I’d love to find him a better one. We also love to travel, especially to Japan. —Mrs. Bookworm

Dear Mrs. Bookworm,
Il Bisonte and Billykirk make nice bags. Get one and fill it with Japanese yen and sleeping tablets for the plane ride. That takes care of Christmas. For his birthday, make him a personalized bookmark that doubles as a coupon for a hand job.

Dear Amy,
I need to buy a gift for my daughter’s 13th birthday. She wants tickets to Taylor Swift or Olivia Rodrigo that will run us thousands of dollars. I told her that “we are not those people.” Help me find something that she can’t help but freaking love, even if it’s not … Olivia Rodrigo tickets. —Mommie Dearest

Dear Mommie Dearest,
At that age, I personally would have liked a tear stick, breakaway china, and a “bruise wheel” (a makeup kit to create your own cuts, bruises, blisters, and abrasions). But I think if you really loved her, you would get her those concert tickets.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

What Should a Poor Daughter Give to Her Fancy Mother?