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Gifts under a Christmas tree Gifts xmas.jpg
Gifts under a Christmas tree
Red gift box Gift box.jpg
Red gift box
Gift packaging Gift packing.jpg
Gift packaging
Modern engagement gifts basket in Bangladesh. Engagement gifts basket (01).jpg
Modern engagement gifts basket in Bangladesh.
Emperor Pedro I of Brazil receives a sword as a gift from his wife Amelie. It belonged to her father Eugene de Beauharnais. D. Pedro recevant des mains de L imperatrice l epee du prince Eugene, son pere e.b.c.jpg
Emperor Pedro I of Brazil receives a sword as a gift from his wife Amélie. It belonged to her father Eugène de Beauharnais.

A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. In many countries, the act of mutually exchanging money, goods, etc. may sustain social relations and contribute to social cohesion. Economists have elaborated the economics of gift-giving into the notion of a gift economy. By extension the term gift can refer to any item or act of service that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness. Gifts are also first and foremost presented on occasions such as birthdays and holidays.



In many cultures gifts are traditionally packaged in some way. For example, in Western cultures, gifts are often wrapped in wrapping paper and accompanied by a gift note which may note the occasion, the recipient's name and the giver's name. In Chinese culture, red wrapping connotes luck. Although inexpensive gifts are common among colleagues, associates and acquaintances, expensive or amorous gifts are considered more appropriate among close friends, romantic interests or relatives. [1]

Gift-giving occasions

Gift-giving occasions may be:

Promotional gifts

Promotional gifts vary from the normal gifts. The recipients of the gifts may be either employee of a company or the clients. Promotional gifts are mainly used for advertising purposes. They are used to promote the brand name and increase its awareness among the people. In promotional gifting procedures, the quality and presentation of the gifts hold more value than the gifts itself since it will act as a gateway to acquire new clients or associates.[ citation needed ]

As reinforcement and manipulation

Giving a gift to someone is not necessarily just an altruistic act. It may be given in the hope that the receiver reciprocates in a particular way. It may take the form of positive reinforcement as a reward for compliance, possibly for an underhand manipulative and abusive purpose. [2]

Unwanted gifts

Giving the appropriate gift that aligns with the recipient's preferences poses a formidable challenge. Gift givers commonly error in the process of gift selection, either by offering gifts that the recipients' do not wish to receive or by failing to provide gifts that recipients earnestly desired. For example, givers avoid giving the same gifts more than once while recipients are more open to receiving a repeated gift, [3] givers prefer to avoid giving self-improvement products (e.g., self-help books) as gifts while recipients are more open to receiving such gifts [4] , when choosing between giving digital and physical gift cards, givers opt for the latter more often than recipients want, [5] and many receivers prefer a future experience instead of an object, or a practical gift that they have requested over a more expensive, showier gift chosen by the giver. [6] One cause of the mismatch between the giver's and receiver's view is that the giver is focused on the act of giving the gift, while the receiver is more interested in the long-term utilitarian value of the gift. [6]

Due to the mismatch between givers' and recipients' gift preferences, a significant fraction of gifts are unwanted, or the giver pays more for the item than the recipient values it, resulting in a misallocation of economic resources known as a deadweight loss. Unwanted gifts are often "regifted", donated to charity, or thrown away. [7] A gift that actually imposes a burden on the recipient, either due to maintenance or storage or disposal costs, is known as a white elephant.

One means of reducing the mismatch between the buyer and receivers' tastes is advance coordination, often undertaken in the form of a wedding registry or Christmas list. Wedding registries in particular are often kept at a single store, which can designate the exact items to be purchased (resulting in matching housewares), and to coordinate purchases so the same gift is not purchased by different guests. One study found that wedding guests who departed from the registry typically did so because they wished to signal a closer relationship to the couple by personalizing a gift, and also found that as a result of not abiding by the recipients' preferences, their gifts were appreciated less often. [8]

An estimated $3.4 billion was spent on unwanted Christmas gifts in the United States in 2017. [9] The day after Christmas is typically the busiest day for returns in countries with large Christmas gift giving traditions. [9] [10] The total unredeemed value of gift cards purchased in the U.S. each year is estimated to be about a billion dollars. [7]

In some cases, people know the preferences of recipients very well, and can give highly valued gifts. Some value in gift-giving comes from assisted preference discovery - people receiving gifts they did not know they would like, or which they did not know were available. Behavioral economists propose that the non-material value of gifts lies in strengthening relationships by signalling the giver was thoughtful, or spent time and effort on the gift. [11]

At common law, for a gift to have legal effect, it was required that there be (1) intent by the donor to give a gift, and (2) delivery to the recipient of the item to be given as a gift.

In some countries, certain types of gifts above a certain monetary amount are subject to taxation. For the United States, see Gift tax in the United States.

In some contexts, gift giving can be construed as bribery. This tends to occur in situations where the gift is given with an implicit or explicit agreement between the giver of the gift and its receiver that some type of service will be rendered (often outside of normal legitimate methods) because of the gift. Some groups, such as government workers, may have strict rules concerning gift giving and receiving so as to avoid the appearance of impropriety. [12]

Cross border monetary gifts are subject to taxation in both source and destination countries based on the treaty between the two countries.

Religious views

Lewis Hyde claims in The Gift that Christianity considers the Incarnation and subsequent death of Jesus to be the greatest gift to humankind, and that the Jataka contains a tale of the Buddha in his incarnation as the Wise Hare giving the ultimate alms by offering himself up as a meal for Sakka. (Hyde, 1983, 58–60)

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the bread and wine that are consecrated during the Divine Liturgy are referred to as "the Gifts." They are first of all the gifts of the community (both individually and corporately) to God, and then, after the epiklesis, the Gifts of the Body and Blood of Christ to the Church.

Ritual sacrifices can be seen as return gifts to a deity.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Party</span> Gathering of invited guests

A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, recreation, or as part of a festival or other commemoration or celebration of a special occasion. A party will often feature food and beverages, and often conversation, music, dancing, or other forms of entertainment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Red envelope</span> Chinese Gift Envelope

A red envelope or red packet is a monetary gift given during holidays or for special occasions such as a wedding, a graduation, or the birth of a baby. Although the red envelope is from Chinese traditions, other cultures also share similar traditional customs. The red packet is also called "money warding off old age" for Chinese New Year.

A wedding anniversary is the anniversary of the date that a wedding took place. Couples often mark the occasion by celebrating their relationship, either privately or with a larger party. Special celebrations and gifts are often given for particular anniversary milestones. In some cultures, traditional names exist for milestone anniversaries; for instance, fifty years of marriage may be known variously as a "golden wedding anniversary", "golden anniversary" or "golden wedding".

In game theory, a Perfect Bayesian Equilibrium (PBE) is an equilibrium concept relevant for dynamic games with incomplete information. It is a refinement of Bayesian Nash equilibrium (BNE). A perfect Bayesian equilibrium has two components -- strategies and beliefs:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Etiquette in Japan</span> Overview of etiquette in Japan

Etiquette in Japan forms common societal expectations of social behavior practiced throughout the nation of Japan. The etiquette of Japan has changed greatly over the millennia as different civilizations influenced its culture. Modern Japanese etiquette has a strong influence from that of China and the Western world, but retains many of its unique traditional elements.

A bridal registry or wedding registry is a service provided by a website or retail store that assists engaged couples in the communication of gift preferences to wedding guests. Selecting items from store stock, the couple lists desired items and files this list with the chosen merchant. The list is then made available to wedding guests, either by the couple's family or by the merchant. Upon the purchase of a listed item, the merchant updates the gift registry accordingly. In addition to providing valuable information for the buyer, the system helps prevent the receipt of duplicate or unwanted gifts, potentially saving time for both the giver and recipient.

Regifting or regiving is the act of taking a gift that has been received and giving it to somebody else, sometimes in the guise of a new gift.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hamper</span> Type of basket

A hamper refers to one of several related basket-like items. In primarily British usage, it refers to a wicker basket, usually large, that is used for the transport of items, often food. In North America, the term generally refers to a household receptacle, often a basket, for clean or dirty clothing, regardless of its composition, i.e. "a laundry hamper". Typically a laundry hamper is used for storage and will be sturdier, taller and have a lid while a laundry basket is open and used mainly for transport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Party favor</span> Small gift given to the guests at a party or wedding reception

A party favor is a small gift given to the guests at a party as a gesture of thanks for their attendance, a memento of the occasion, or simply for fun.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Traditional Vietnamese wedding</span>

The traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important ceremonies in Vietnamese culture, which is influenced by Confucian and Buddhist ideologies.

In economics, a gift tax is the tax on money or property that one living person or corporate entity gives to another. A gift tax is a type of transfer tax that is imposed when someone gives something of value to someone else. The transfer must be gratuitous or the receiving party must pay a lesser amount than the item's full value to be considered a gift. Items received upon the death of another are considered separately under the inheritance tax. Many gifts are not subject to taxation because of exemptions given in tax laws. The gift tax amount varies by jurisdiction, and international comparison of rates is complex and fluid.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gift wrapping</span> Surrounding a gift with material to conceal it

Gift wrapping is the act of enclosing a gift in some sort of material. Wrapping paper is a kind of paper designed for gift wrapping. An alternative to gift wrapping is using a gift box or bag. A wrapped or boxed gift may be held closed with ribbon and topped with a decorative bow.

<i>Mishloach manot</i> Foodstuff gifts distributed on the Jewish holiday of Purim

Mishloach manot, or shalech mones, and also called a Purim basket, are gifts of food or drink that are sent to family, friends and others on Purim day. The mitzvah of giving mishloach manot derives from the Book of Esther. It is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast held later in the day, and to increase love and friendship among Jews and their neighbors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wish list</span> List of wishes of an organization or an individual

A wish list, wishlist or want list is an itemization of goods or services that a person or organization desires. The author may distribute copies of their list to family, friends, and other stakeholders who are likely to purchase gifts for the would-be recipient or to offer some of the listed items for sale. The goal of a wish list is to facilitate communication between the gift receiver and the gift giver. Wish lists often contain items that a gift purchaser can obtain from a variety of retailers. Some wish lists are specialized for particular purposes or concentrated at individual retailers, such as gift registries.

A gift registry is a particular type of wish list in Western countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Promotional merchandise</span> Products distributed to promote a brand

Promotional merchandise are products branded with a logo or slogan and distributed at little or no cost to promote a brand, corporate identity, or event. Such products, which are often informally called promo products, swag, tchotchkes, or freebies, are used in marketing and sales. They are given away or sold at a loss to promote a company, corporate image, brand, or event. They are often distributed as handouts at trade shows, at conferences, on sales calls, and as bonus items in shipped orders. They are often used in guerrilla marketing campaigns.

A nuptial gift is a nutritional gift given by one partner in some animals' sexual reproduction practices.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Economics of Christmas</span> Economic aspects of Christmas

The economics of Christmas are significant because Christmas is typically a high-volume selling season for goods suppliers around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate. In the U.S., the "Christmas shopping season" starts as early as October. In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween, and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on 11 November. In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on. In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season. Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that expenditure in department stores nationwide rose from $20.8 billion in November 2004 to $31.9 billion in December 2004, an increase of 54 percent. In other sectors, the pre-Christmas increase in spending was even greater, due to a November through December buying surge of 100% in bookstores and 170% in jewelry stores. In the same year employment in American retail stores rose from 1.6 million to 1.8 million in the two months leading up to Christmas. This means that while consumers might spend more during this season, they also are given increased employment opportunities as sales rise to meet the increased demand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christmas gift</span> Gift given in celebration of Christmas

A Christmas gift or Christmas present is a gift given in celebration of Christmas. Christmas gifts are often exchanged on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself or on the last day of the twelve-day Christmas season, Twelfth Night. The practice of giving gifts during Christmastide, according to Christian tradition, is symbolic of the presentation of the gifts by the Three Wise Men to the infant Jesus.


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Further reading