Germans like to say that small gifts maintain friendships – and annual turnover. Deciding when a gift is inappropriate is a matter for either corporate compliance rules or, if none are in place, the employee him- or herself.

Refusing a gift can result in the giver also feeling rejected. Returning a gift that includes thanks for a good business year and expresses the hope that the relationship will continue without a comment sends a clear message.

You may, of course, refuse a gift if you feel that it is inappropriate or are worried that it could lead to suspicion of taking personal advantage. On no account, however, should you do so without providing a corresponding explanation. Clarify your reasons for rejecting the gift and refer either to your company’s rules in this regard or put the blame on yourself – for example that you don’t feel comfortable accepting a gift of this value.

An elegant solution that can satisfy all concerned can be donating it to the company tombola or auction. Many companies collect all the gifts they receive and use them to offer a tombola at the Christmas party that all the employees can participate in. The givers are informed about this decision and, of course, are also sent a letter of thanks.

Alternatively, particularly valuable gifts can be auctioned off, with the proceeds donated to charity. In this case, the sender should also be included, possibly even mentioned at the auction, and sent a letter of thanks.

This enables you to clearly express your appreciation of the “donor” while simultaneously avoiding any accusations of taking personal advantage.