Gifts given during dating are often a beautiful expression of a relationship’s development, but they can also make the recipient feel compelled to demonstrate an affection that has not (at least not yet) actualized.
Jewish law concretizes this concern by raising the possibility that a gift in the context of romance may be intended and received – however monetarily - as a token of marriage, such that the couple may require a divorce.
I applaud your recognition that gift-giving involves serious ethical issues, and that Judaism may have important guidance to offer about those issues. Judaism applauds or even mandates gift-giving in a variety of contexts.
However, profligacy is a vice, and one must consider the effects of gift-giving on others as well as on oneself.
One should, for example, be careful not to give gifts to friends or family that would make you angry if they failed to reciprocate, or that might make the recipient feel compelled to reciprocate to a degree they can’t really afford.
Many of these straddle the blurry line between charitable donation and present, but on Purim, there is an explicit mandate to send gifts of food to even wealthy friends and neighbors.
Gift-giving can exemplify gemilut chassadim = acts of graciousness or lovingkindness and symbolize and concretize the profoundest depths of relationship, and as such fulfill the central religious obligation to imitate G-d’s ways.
As you can read in the responses of my Orthodox and Conservative colleagues, there is no Jewish tradition of gift giving that parallels our American practice.
A review of the CCAR Responsa (responses to religious questions) finds no entry for gifts, even for Bar or Bat Mitzvah, birthdays or anniversaries.Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the principles and commands found in the Bible can help us to make decisions that both please God and benefit us.