Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost a Cent


Well, I for one am glad that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us. I have never desired to be a part of such madness and craziness just to buy something a bit cheaper. Quite frankly, I don’t see the appeal of being first in line and then being nearly trampled to death.

I was talking to a friend recently and asked how her Thanksgiving had been. “Wonderful,” she beamed. She said it was just her and hubby and no guests. She wondered if that made her a bad person.

No, I said. I understood her sentiment. It is that KISS Principal thingie again. Keep it simple sweetie!!!

Now I am not talking about going back and living in caves, or even back one-hundred or two-hundred years ago. I think we romanticize those bygone eras just a bit too much. Personally I like modern conveniences. They are a blessing.

When I say simple living I mean a quality of thought; a quality of mind; a way of thinking. I am talking about getting back to basics and putting people, not things first. 

And don’t get me wrong. I like nice presents too. Yet when I reflect on years gone by, the things I remember and treasure the most are those intangible gifts where someone touched my heart, or where I touched another’s. I am talking about gifts of sharing, of friendship; a gift expressing concern and love.

I am not suggesting that we give up buying and giving material gifts. It is a wonderful tradition. And traditions are important, especially in uncertain times like these.

I just happen to think that we can do both.

With that in mind I am sharing with you eight gifts that do not cost one cent, but are worth millions.

1. The gift of listening

Nothing else.  Just listening.

No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening, keeping in mind that the key to being a good listener and friend is simple validation. That is, listening without judgment, correction, or advice.

2. The gift of affection

Be generous with appropriate compliments, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and hand holds. Let your actions speak your love for friends and families. These gifts are the foundation that shore up your words.

3. The gift of laughter

Clip cartoons and jokes; share articles and funny stories; forward funny emails to the friends and family. Some forwards I have received hundreds of times. But they make me laugh every time because a friend took the time to send it; and took the time to say, “I am thinking of you.” This gift says, “I love to laugh with you.”

A high compliment indeed.

4. The gift of a hand-written note

It can be as simple as a, “Thanks for the help,” note or a poem or sonnet copied in your own hand. A short, hand-written note may be remembered for a lifetime. A handwritten note, even more than an email, tells and shows the recipient they are worth it.

5. The gift of a compliment

A simple and sincere, “You look so wonderful in red,” or “You did a super job,” or “That was a delicious meal,” can make someone’s day in ways you may never know.

This gift always reminds me of a story in the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A 3rd grade teacher felt bad after disciplining a particularly talkative child. She decided to try and be more positive. So the next day she had every student write down something they liked, a compliment if you will,  about each child in the class. She then compiled the list of all the compliments by student name and gave each child a written list of their compliment  list.

Many years later the child who had been disciplined that day was killed in Vietnam. In the pocket of his uniform that day they found that list his teacher had given him years before. At the funeral the teacher learned this and discovered that many students had saved their lists of compliments. You can read the entire story, All the Good Things, by clicking the link. Warning: tissues may be needed.

The gift of a compliment is powerful stuff indeed!

6. The gift of a favor

Every day try to find some way to do something kind for someone else whether family, friend, neighbor, or stranger.

7. The gift of solitude

There are times when we want nothing more than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those needs in others and give space to those who just need some time to recharge.

8. The gift of a cheerful disposition

One of the best ways in the world to feel good is to extend a smile or a kind word to someone else. Really, it is not that hard to say, “Hello,” or “Thank you,” to folks we chance upon at the bank or the grocery store.

These eight simple human gifts can be given everyday all year long and are a much needed antidote to the ever increasingly mechanized and seemingly impersonal world we live in. 

And oh! By the way, I like what you are wearing today. That color looks so great on you!!

Happy Holidays my friends. You rock my world when you visit MTTD. I appreciate you very much.

Featured Recipe        Sautéed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms. They are so versatile. You can use them in just about everything except your breakfast cereal.

This is a fantastic side dish to any leftover you have, whether it left over Thanksgiving turkey or leftover meat loaf. This dish will perk up anything and everything.

This five ingredient, Martha Stewart, Everyday Food magazine recipe is an inspired pairing. It is truly a marriage made in heaven.

And it is super easy. I say that a lot, don’t I? That is because I have spent a life time finding easy and delicious recipes. I have to. I am lazy.

Shitake mushrooms have an earthy meaty flavor and are high in lots of nutrients. The Chinese have used them for medicinal purposes for centuries. 

Cremini mushrooms are also heavy in nutrients. Cremini  mushrooms are just baby portabella mushrooms.

This is what you need for 4 people:

6 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms

8 ounces fresh Cremini mushrooms (also known as Baby Bella mushrooms)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 shallot

Salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

Using a damp paper towel and/or a mushroom brush clean the Cremini mushrooms.

Then cut them into fourths.

Next using a damp paper towel and/or a mushroom brush clean the shitake mushrooms.

Remove the stems of the shitakes by using a knife and just cut where they attach to the mushroom cap. They are very tough and about the only thing they are good for is flavoring soup stock. So you may want to save them in the freezer.

Then slice the shitake mushrooms.

Mince the shallot.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots.

Sauté until light browned about 1-2 minutes.

Add the Cremini mushrooms, cook, stirring occasionally until softened about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add shitakes, cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. 

When serving I usually add a little chopped parsley to the mushrooms just to make it look a little prettier.

Bon Appetit!!!!!


6 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms             $2.69

8 ounces fresh Cremini mushrooms            $1.99

2 teaspoons olive oil                                  $0.24

1 shallot                                                   $0.25

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $5.17
Cost per person = $1.29

Quote of the Day

I can live for two months on a good compliment. 

Mark Twain  
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3 comments to Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost a Cent

  • Friend with a job!

    You are making me famous! You give us all a gift with your blog! Thank you and Happy Holidays to all!

  • You are a very intelligent person!

  • I read something on the web recently ( where college students were asked if they’d rather be a multi-millionaire in 1900 or make $70,000 in 2010. Two-thirds of the students chose the latter for the same reason you cite – modern conveniences. We take a lot of the comforts of life for granted today, like how we keep warm, cool, and clean. Plus, more mothers survive childbirth, more children survive childhood, and we grow up to live longer, healthier lives.

    Beautiful photos, Roberta! I accidentally clicked on one and got the expanded version. Outstanding!