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If you hire a pawn and you send it back to the maker once you out-level it there is a prompt for you to gift them an item. Now my question is what would be considered a good gift? Is it okay to send something as simple as a rabbit or wolf pelt or an easily acquired curative item? Are there gifts that could be seen as insulting, like a rock or kindling? And is it okay to not gift at all, for example if you only had that pawn for a very limited amount of time and they never really got to show their skills?

And about the star rating, should your rating reflect your honest opinion or would people just set it to five stars no matter what?

I try to gift something decent at least, especially if the pawn is not outfitted with those overpowered armor items that are deposited in the Inn for the Dark Arisen version, which is a pet peeve of mine. It sometimes takes quite some time to find pawns that don't have any of those items in their inventory and I always favor those who don't.
Good gifts tend to depend on the level of the pawn, but usually the rarer the item the better. Just remember that the usefulness of items tends to change as you progress through the game. Something used in a tedious "Collect a gajillion <x>" quest can also be a worthwhile gift. When you first delve into BitterBlack Isle a piece of cursed treasure can feel like a great gift, but once you're doing the second iteration of that place they'll be trash tier items.

In general, I feel that it's better to not gift anything as opposed to gifting something easily found.

As far as star ratings go, I feel honesty is better than all-5s. That way the truly good pawns will be easier to find over time.

And those "overpowered" items and only really strong until around the time you fight Grigori. After that point they're mostly average.