A gift or a present is an object given to someone without the expectation of payment. 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 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 anything that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favour, including forgiveness and kindness. Gifts are also first and foremost presented on occasions - birthdays and Christmas being the main examples.
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.
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.
Lewis Hyde remarks 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)
Jean-Luc Marion translated by Jeffrey L. Kosky, "Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Giveness", Stanford University Press, 2002 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 0-8047-3410-0.