The Gift of Nothing

“What is the gift of nothing? It’s a gift of love and time shared. More than presents, it’s presence. And it’s about creating heartfelt memories while making the gift and in gifting it. It’s a wonderful, fun way to celebrate the true meaning of the holidays, and to bring out the child in all of us. I’m glad Mooch thought of it.”

— Patrick McDonnell

Patrick’s beloved picture book The Gift of Nothing was released in October 2005 and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. In 2014, it was adapted as a musical for the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., where it won a Helen Hayes Award. Then in 2016, it was adapted into a board book (great for preschool-age readers) called The Little Gift of Nothing

The book also inspired The Gift of Nothing Day, a holiday that was first celebrated in December 2017 and is recognized yearly, around the world, on or around December 15.

About the Book

In the story, Mooch the cat attempts to find the perfect holiday gift for his best friend Earl the dog. But what do you get someone who already has everything? Mooch goes shopping, where he looks “up and down every aisle.” He finds many things — “The latest this, the newest that." But ultimately, he presents Earl with the perfect gift, something far more valuable than anything displayed on a store shelf: Nothing. “Nothing,” says Mooch, “... but me and you.”

About the Holiday 

The Gift of Nothing Day is recognized annually on or around December 15. The exact date is up to you. It’s an occasion to gift someone — a friend, a family member, or a group of classmates or neighbors — the experience of spending quality time together. 

How to Celebrate

Decorate a box or gift bag with paint, stickers, or other art supplies. Then, add a from-the-heart gift. It can be a note, a photo, or a coupon to spend time with the gift recipient. You can even blow a kiss into the package or leave it completely “empty.” You can be creative in getting your message across. The goal is to share the gift of yourself with a loved one. We invite you to create your gift on or around December 15 and present it to your loved one on the holiday of your choice (such as Christmas or Hanukkah).