Q: Is there any polite way to let them know in advance a gift really isn't necessary?

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Q: We have two administrators in our department. Each year, I buy each a holiday gift. I really don’t expect anything in return, but they usually go in together on a gift for me.

I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t seem appropriate for them to be buying for me. I suspect the answer is no, but is there any polite way to let them know in advance a gift really isn’t necessary?

A: My guess is your administrative employees feel some sense of obligation to reciprocate your gift-giving. But it is just as likely that they, like many other people, genuinely enjoy the exchange.

You buy them gifts to express your regard and they, in turn, are expressing their regard for you.

Unless they are buying you gifts that are inordinately lavish, you should resist the urge to ask that they stop. The best response is gratitude.

If you tell your employees that you do not expect gifts from them, they will probably buy you one anyway. Plus, you risk sounding unappreciative and hurting their feelings.