Margaret Visser on the behavior that is gift-giving:
In many cultures, obligatory giving is perfectly normal. People know exactly what to give on what occasion, and how much the gift should cost. Leaving the price on a present is therefore quite acceptable, and so is handing on a conventional present to someone else. There is no relegation of personal gifts to the private sphere, no categorization of gifts as necessarily free and “from the heart,” or as occasions for the equally free gift of gratitude.
More interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be a settled-upon word for what is not a gift:
The lack of a word for what for us is not a gift has clearly been felt by users of American English. An obsolete verb, “to gift” (as in “He gyfted them richely,” 16th century), has been picked up and given new work to do. “Gifting” is often used now for handing people objects disguised as gifts for the purpose of carrying out conventions and socially imposed duties. These are operations we define as utterly distinct from giving — although it must be admitted that motives and emotions are seldom either pure or simple.
Further, on regifting:
The practice of “regifting,” or handing on an unwanted gift to someone else, goes too far in the opinion of many of us. We can tell that from the way people who “regift” take care that the original giver should not find out. In Japan, should receivers of obligatory gifts hand them on to others, they do so openly and without offense. …. After the return of the verb “to gift,” why have we not found an alternative noun for “gifts”?
My own gift-giving this week was divided into giving gifts, regifts, and “nongifts,” the latter reserved primarily for professional relationships. Gifts’ lack of nomenclature, and corresponding conjugations, may point out a social etiquette in the making. As it becomes more prevalent across public/private boundaries, the corresponding words will emerge.