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Ask Savvy: Is There a Polite Way to Say "No Gifts"?

Ask Savvy: Is There a Polite Way to Say "No Gifts"?

Dear Savvy,

I am in a management position at my company but not top management. So I was somewhat surprised last year during the holidays, when several of my employees bought me Christmas presents. It was a really lovely gesture and I got some great gifts, but in general, I’m more of a “no gifts please” type of person (I have in the past made that rule about birthday parties.)

With the economic downturn this year, I’d just rather they not stress about it and not get me anything. Is there any way to tell my co-workers “no gifts” without offending them?

To see my answer,


Savvy says: You must be a great manager to have so many employees expressing their appreciation through holiday gifts. While their kind gestures are harmless, I completely understand how it could make you uncomfortable, especially if you aren't a gift person in the first place or hadn't intended on giving them gifts in return.

Some people might just say let it go and deal with any discomfort that comes with receiving gifts from your employees. However, I think this year you have an especially easy out and you were on the right track when you mentioned the economy in your question. I would send a light-hearted email to your team that asks how they would feel if everyone agreed to withholding gifts this year. Mention that you know the economy has made it a tough holiday season, and that you think it would be better for everyone to focus their giving efforts on their families.

More than likely, your employees will be relieved about needing to find something affordable but appropriate for their boss. They'll be even more thankful for having such an understanding boss, and that's more than a lot of workers can say about their managers.

Have any of you dealt with asking for "no gifts"?


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