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For what it is worth I give out tons of background like abilities to my players. The key is to avoid combat pluses and generally any other stacking things, and it stays pretty balanced.
Some of the things I have given out:
A barbarians reputation grew so fierce that she got double proficiency on intimidate.
Someone learned to cook really well.
Someone got so good with a particular weapon that they increased their crit range to 19-20 with just that weapon.
Someone got so good with a shield that they can block 3d10 worth of damage per long rest as a reaction.
Someone got medals and a uniform that gives them advantage in social situations in a particular city.
Someone got given a house and food for life in a given village.
The whole party got given mechanical griffons that can fly at 60 feet per round but cannot meaningfully participate in combat.
I gave out the spell sharpshooter feat for free.
None of these things have caused me an issues as a GM. The worst thing for balance so far was a ring that gave the wearer 19 constitution. The party wizard ended up with more hp than anyone else in the party!!!