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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.

What is the purpose of a gift?
Underlying that custom is an important purpose: appreciation. We give people gifts to show them that we are grateful for them and value the role they play in our lives.

What is a personal gift?
Personalized gifts in the traditional sense are gift items that carry either person's full name, first name, surname, monogram or initials on them.

Why Gift giving is important?
Gift giving is an act that can show that you are thankful. Giving and receiving is the purest of reasons to give gifts. The receiver will truly feel your gratitude when you give gifts for elevating happiness and wellbeing. It is important for married couples to remember the day of their anniversary.

When material objects are given as gifts, in many cultures they are traditionally packaged in some manner. For example, in Western culture, 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.

The occasion may be:

  • Expression of love (Valentine's Day) or friendship.
  • Expression of gratitude for a gift received.
  • Expression of piety, in the form of charity.
  • Expression of solidarity, in the form of mutual aid.
  • To share wealth.
  • To offset misfortune.
  • Offering travel souvenirs.
  • Custom, on occasions (often celebrations) such as
  • A birthday (the person who has his or her birthday gives cake, etc. and/or receives gifts) This is
  • most commonly from a family member or girlfriend/boyfriend.
  • A potlatch, in societies where status is associated with gift-giving rather than acquisition.
  • Christmas (People give one another gifts, often supposedly receiving them from Santa Claus.)
  • Saint Nicholas (People give each other gifts, often supposedly receiving them from Saint Nicholas.)
  • A wedding (the couple receives gifts and gives food and/or drinks at the wedding reception.)
  • A wedding anniversary (each spouse receives gifts.)
  • A funeral (visitors bring flowers, the relatives of the deceased give food and/or drinks after the ceremonial part.)
  • A birth (the baby receives gifts, or the mother receives a gift from the father known as a push present.)
  • Passing an examination (the student receives gifts.)
  • Father's Day (the father receives gifts.)
  • Mother's Day (the mother receives gifts.)
  • Exchange of gifts between a guest and a host, often a traditional practice.
  • Lagniappe.
  • Retirement Gifts
  • Congratulations Gifts
  • Engagement Gifts
  • Wedding Gifts
  • Anniversary Gifts
  • Birthday Gifts
  • House Warming Day Gifts
  • New Baby Gifts

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.