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Gifts Give Meaning
A gift informs us about the characters and their relationship.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-02-23 12:47:03 sponsor: Oof edited by: XFllo (last reply: 2013-10-22 01:56:56)

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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 GIFT.

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
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