Created By: Oof on February 23, 2013 Last Edited By: XFllo on October 22, 2013

Gifts Give Meaning

A gift informs us about the characters and their relationship.

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Trope
For why this is not chairs, read People Sit on Chairs. Please note that No Trope Is Too Common. Comments are welcome. Feel free to edit your examples, ideas and improvements yourself. Up for Grabs.

This is a very rough version of the draft. It should be mainly index and general comments on various types of gifts. Some new sub-tropes might start emerging.
A gift informs us about the giftor, the giftee, and their relationship. It's what the gift says about the characters and their relationship that's important.

Supertrope to the following tropes:

Gifts among friends:

One leader giving tribute to another tells us that the giftee is more powerful than the giftor. A guest who brings a bottle of wine to a dinner has good manners and isn't just a freeloader. If a friend buys you a present you like, they probably like you and know you well. If someone has a party and receives a lot of presents, that means they're important and popular.
  • Birthday
  • Holidays
  • Parties
  • Some groups might do a "secret santa" thing.

Gifts among romantic couples and spouses

When characters date, the social and personal importance of their relationship increases over time, to the point that it's expected that one or the other (or both) will buy each other something to indicate how important they are to each other. The longer that people date, the more likely the gifts are to be expensive, unique, or otherwise significant to the giftee.

Families; adults give to children, children give to adults; siblings.

  • Birthdays
  • Holidays (Christmas and equivalents)
  • Mothers' and Father's day, Children's day
  • To celebrate accomplishments (school reports, graduation)
  • Just because. A really nice things remind you of your loved one.
  • To cheer them up when they are broken-hearted or sad.
  • Apology gifts
  • A family token, related to your family tradition (father's watch, grandmother's engagement ring, wedding ring, )

Casual gifts and etiquette

It is often the custom in circles where such things are relevant to give bribes in "classy" items like a wine bottle or an art object. One of the CIA's greatest spies was "bought" with a custom sporting rifle (actually he was doing it for ideology; the rifle was kind of a "what the heck" sort of thing).
  • Wedding gifts: You get invited to a party, you bring a nice gift.
  • Politicians, might be close to bribing with expensive things.
  • Children to adults (teachers, doctors, people who helped them)

Related to All Take and No Give, which takes this ritual Up to Eleven.

Chekhov's Gift is about a gift, it typically serves a plot purpose rather than a character purpose.

This trope has nothing to do with The Gift or G.I.F.T..

Examples from media (might be moved to respective sub-tropes):

Live Action TV
  • On The Big Bang Theory Sheldon obsesses over what to give Penny for Christmas, because the largesse of the gift may affect their established relationship. He ends up buying a bunch of gift baskets; his plan is to open the gift she gives him, then surreptitiously go online to find out how much it cost and give her the gift basket which most closely corresponds. But Penny, not knowing about all this, gives him something so precious that all his plans go out the window. She gave him a napkin signed by Leonard Nemoy with his DNA to boot. Sheldon is so impressed that he gives her all the baskets and an awkward hug, which is a huge deal for him.

Literature
  • Emma:
    • Harriet Smith spends summer with er friends from school, the Misses Martin. Their brother Robert Martin falls for her and starts pampering her with small surprises. He brings her walnuts because she likes them or he brings her a shepherd's to sing her a song.
    • Jane Fairfax receives a very expensive pianoforte. Her giftor is unknown, but the town conclude its from her adoptive parents or their daughter. Emma suspects its a token of love and a secret relationship. She's right, only she bet on a different lover. Mrs Weston also thought it was from a secret admirer, but she also got it wrong. It was from Frank Churchill who courted Emma in order to blind everybody from suspecting that he and Jane are secretly engaged.
  • Jane Eyre
    • Mr Rochester brings his ward Adele a lots of presents like dresses. She's wild with joy. It's nice of him, but it's clear that he doesn't particularly care for her.
    • When Jane and Mr Rochester became engaged, he insists on buying her lots of dresses and jewellery. Jane sees this treatment as something very possessive and she doesn't approve. She feels a bit his slave in a harem rather than his equal partner.
  • The Lord of the Rings. The gifts Galadriel gave to the Fellowship, including the phial given to Frodo (which was a It May Help You on Your Quest) and the brooch she gave to Aragorn as a symbol of the hope that he could become King.

Web Comic
  • This is a big element of the first few acts of Homestuck, as gifts (and the letters with them) are used to establish the relationships between the four kids.

Web Video
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Mr Rochester brings his daughter Adele a present which she really likes. He was a bit messing with her, not allowing her to open it before dinner, but he backed out. It was a sign that he's not all that bad, but it's clear that this family has issues.

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • February 23, 2013
    schoolbully
    I'm too new to shout "chairs", but what's so special about tuples buying gifts for each other ? It happens in RL and happens no more specially in fictional media, surely ?
  • February 23, 2013
    Oof
    It's not chairs, it just needs more of an angle. Some people indicated interest in this trope, so I'm posting it here. Comments and improvements welcome.

    I think the gifts might need to be categorised in some way. Or maybe this can be a supertrope to others.
  • February 23, 2013
    XFllo
    Just one quick thing, more attention later: I've been told that Alice And Bob and Example As Thesis are not welcomed in a trope description. I was surprised as I see it everywhere on the wiki but it can be re-written fairly easily.
  • February 24, 2013
    Oof
    ^^^ Since you're querying its necessity, I've tagged it as Tropeworthy? Let's see what people say. It seems to me to be deserving of a trope, since there are inversions, subversions, etc. to it. Chairs? Not so much.

    ^ Alright, fixed the description, I think, and also changed the premise some so that it's more of a supertrope.
  • February 24, 2013
    XFllo
    How about just Meaningful Gift for a name?
  • February 24, 2013
    Oof
    ^ I originally renamed it to that, but then thought that was too ambiguous: it's less about the gift and more about the context of the gift. Meaningful Gift might give the impression that it's the gift itself that's important, e.g. that it's something along the lines of It Was A Gift, rather than it's what the gift says about the characters and their relationship that's important.
  • February 24, 2013
    TonyG
    This would probably work best as an index or supertrope.
  • February 24, 2013
    Oof
    ^ Yes, it's a supertrope. Does that require special formatting or something?
  • February 25, 2013
    Oof
    Bump.
  • February 25, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Supertropes don't need special formatting except to be sure to list the subtropes as part of the description.
  • February 25, 2013
    XFllo
    @Oof, as the OP: I think it's better to do "zero edits" than to write bump posts. Zero edit moves the trope to the first page as well. When there are too many bump posts, the discussion looks messy and disorganized quite soon.

    I've found some related tropes, but I need to do a lot of reading to make it work. However, I suck at establishing tropes' relationships so someone has to look at it.

    Also the description starts to look too long. It's probably fine fr a supertrope, but it would be also OK to have an index to make it more reader-friendly.

    Related tropes I found:

  • March 7, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On The Big Bang Theory Sheldon obsesses over what to give Penny for Christmas, because the largesse of the gift may affect their established relationship. He ends up buying a bunch of gift baskets; his plan is to open the gift she gives him, then surrepititiously go online to find out how much it cost and give her the gift basket which most closely corresponds. But Penny, not knowing about all this, gives him something so precious that all his plans go out the window.
  • March 13, 2013
    grenekni3t
  • April 25, 2013
    XFllo
    YKTTW Bump
  • April 26, 2013
    jatay3
    It is often the custom in circles where such things are relevant to give bribes in "classy" items like a wine bottle or an art object. One of the CI As greatest spies was "bought" with a custom sporting rifle(actually he was doing it for ideology; the rifle was kind of a "what the heck" sort of thing).
  • April 26, 2013
    jatay3
    In Germanic culture warlords were called "ring-givers" because that is what they gave to followers they honored. At one period it was fashionable to make swords capable of attaching a ring to the hilt.
  • July 3, 2013
    XFllo
    I was thinking a bit about it, and it looks like there is huge amount of work involved.

    This should be a supertrope, and list subtropes for all kind of gifts: romantic couples, families (spouses, children to parents, parents to children), and friends.

    This will include returning from travels, holiday episodes (Christmas, Valentines), apologies, just trying to be nice and pampering, birthdays.
  • July 3, 2013
    XFllo
    OK, major edits in the draft. It is now less coherent text and more notes and indexes.
    Now I don't have time to elaborate on all examples, here are notes to self to expand (my "to do list" if you will). And perhaps to others -- if you were so kind and did the write-up, it would be much appreciated.
    • Mansfield Park
      • a cross from William for Fanny
      • a chain from Henry vs one from Edmund and all the drama
      • a dress from Sir Thomas
      • a pen knife from a godmother,arguments; Fanny gives Betsy a new one
    • Sense And Sensibility: a horse (promised), a ring with hair, John doesn't buy anything for his sisters,
    • Pulp Fiction: Butch's watch
    • Children of Noisy Village (food to the poor, from grandpa, flowers, lots of birthdays and Christmas, toys (eps. a doll and a book to a sick girl))
    • Heidi: many gifts from Clara's family to Heidi and her friends, Heidi brings kittens to cheer Clara etc.
    • Sisa Sour (both children -- friends who argue -- get their biggest wish for their straight A's, Sisa gets a camera and her friend a pet mouse)
    • Cold Feet: apology gifts (CD, a vase with "sorry message and flowers")
    • Love Actually: necklace,
    • The Necklace: a czech Tv series, drama lies in an older man ordering a necklace for his lover, his wife saw it, so he orders a copy. The necklaces often get mixed up, stolen, returned, re-gifted over and over again in several generations and families who are strangely connected.
    • Yes Minister,Yes Prime Minister: Mrs Hacker is disappointed that she cannot accept a gift personally. It's considered a bribe. Only a state can accept that...
    • How I Met Your Mother
      • care packages to/for Victoria when she's in Germany
      • fake penis, sewing machine
      • tickets to concerts, brunches etc.
      • easy bake oven
      • beer apology
      • sock monkey for Natalie
    • Gilmore Girls: a car for graduation, a graduation basket from ex (lorelai), Rory: a book from her father (though can't pay for it), Luke to Lorelai (old bedroom -- the gesture is appreciated, but it's horribly old), Rory's grandma often insist on extremely expensive dresses and gifts, birthday parties, Lorelai sews dresses and costumes for people, hand-made jewellery...
    • Dr Quinn: from grandma: a family mirror and hairbrush, telescope, a puppy for Brian, books, a blanket for a new baby, cradle, dress for christening, miniature furniture (for mom, major trouble later)
    • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Jane to Bing (snickerdoodles), Jane to Lizzie (clothes, hand-made crafted work), care packages among all sisters, Lydia's birthday (necklace and a book which insults her), pony and kitty, Bing to Jane (cakes);
    • Friends: many X-mas episodes, expensive gifts, Monica gets a porshe from her parents, Rachel -- pony as kids, birtday party for little Emma...
    • The Simpsons: saxophone for Lisa, a horse/pony, a peach tree, going to scrub the beach; X-Mas episodes; Apu and Manjula (grand rom. gestures)
    • Everwood: pony, Delia's party, Amy got a car for her bithday while a year before Bright got only a football; Amy and Tommy (celebrate their first month together).
    • The X Files: Mulder's gift for Scully (key chain for her birthday), a video "Superstars of the Super Bowl", Scully's cross (two origin stories: birthday and X-Mas), Scully: BB gun for birthday as kid, Mulder gives Scully a rag doll.
  • July 4, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
  • July 4, 2013
    DAN004
    I guess the list of gifts at the top would belong to its Analysis page.
  • July 4, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ I'm not sure what you think exactly, but stuff like Chocolate for Romance is now in YKTTW and somebody talked about making a draft for flowers and gifts for apology in general. I think the list of gifts will be changed to an index of related tropes
  • July 4, 2013
    Quantumawsome
    This is a big element of the first few acts of Homestuck, as gifts (and the letters with them) are used to establish the relationships between the four kids.
  • July 11, 2013
    TTurtle
  • July 16, 2013
    Goldfritha
    How does this differ from It Was A Gift?
  • July 26, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Perhaps not at all. But I think it would be useful to have a Super Trope and Index page for gifted items, gift-giving occasions and gift plots in fiction.
  • October 21, 2013
    XFllo
    I am not sure the discussion is going anywhere.

    However, it occurred to me It Was A Gift seems to focus on the item.

    Do we have anything for the situation in general? When the sentiment is what matters, or if the item is a bit random and not really important.

    E.g. the example from The Big Bang Theory — it's not that important that Penny got baskets with bath items - it could have been anything else.

    Or there are plots when characters try to figure out a good gift, be it jewellery, flowers, books or souvenirs and memorabilia from trips.
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