Uniquely positioned at the intersection of sexual selection, nutritional ecology and life-history theory, nuptial gifts are widespread and diverse. Despite extensive empirical study, we still have only a rudimentary understanding of gift evolution becausewe lack a unified conceptual framework for considering these traits. In this opinion piece, we tackle several issues that we believe have substantively hindered progress in this area. Here, we: (i) present a comprehensive definition and classification scheme for nuptial gifts (including those transferred by simultaneous hermaphrodites), (ii) outline evolutionary predictions for different gift types, and (iii) highlight some research directions to help facilitate progress in this field. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.