This is the second most important question in The Universe after the existential Who Am I? What to gift for your friend/colleague/relative/boss/somebody's wedding/birthday/anniversary/send off/whatever.
During college days things were simpler. Any poor soul who had invited us for some family function will forever be cursed by his family. A group of 15-20 people descend on the venue mainly for the food. Those who have not been in Engineering College Hostels will not understand this craving. Since all this 15-20 have to be on stage, the gift should be sufficiently big and at the same time not more than Rs. 400-500 (Rs. 20-25 per head in 1996 value). And the most suitable gift of this kind was the Stainless Steel Water Filter, with its double cylindrical volume. I have lost count of the weddings were I was part of the gang proudly gifting a big water filter and smiling for the photograph on stage.
Sanity returned when I started going to work and earning. By now the gift value had moved to Rs. 100.00 per head and we usually asked the recipient what he wanted(of course mentioning the budget) and gifted what he treasured then a pair of shoes or a Jeans or whatever it was.
After marriage came this issue of having to gift separately and not as part of the boys. Now the ideal gift is the Silver (not eversilver) Kamakshi Lamp. The beauty is it is available from Rs. 400-Rs.1000.00. So depending on the thickness of your wallet you can gift. We got about 10-15 of these lamps as our marriage gift, each gifter having read this post before it was written. So I have been gifting lamps in all the functions I attend and still have 5 more to go.
The best gift I ever received was a basket ball. During my courtship period, the movie Alai Payuthe was released and naturally I was crazy about that romantic movie. Especially the song Kaadhal Sadugudu where Madhavan and Shalini go around their half built home playing Basket Ball and other close contact games. I used to hear the song in a loop for days. My colleague was aware of it and so he came up with the brilliant idea of gifting me a Basket Ball. How could I explain the significance of this gift at home? So the best gift lies in its packed condition in my village.