Declining a gift is a delicate task, but at times a refusal may be necessary. Company policy may forbid gifts that could be valued at more than a very few dollars; a gift from a near stranger may be expensive; a gift may be a duplicate and of no use to you, but of value to the giver; you may feel your position could be compromised; or public opinion may be opposed to your accepting gifts.

Whether accepted or declined, a gift should always be acknowledged. However much you dislike the gift or the giver, never criticize either. You received the gift because of a kind thought, and there is no reason to indirectly criticize the thought by directly criticizing either the gift or the giver. Make the letter brief to avoid drawing out the disappointment of a refusal.

Letter 1

Dear [[Recipient]]:

I am sorry I cannot accept the case of champagne you sent me.  Although the thought is gratefully accepted, company policy prevents me from accepting a gift of this value.

The gift has been returned, but not my appreciation of your thoughtfulness.

Letter 2

Dear [[Recipient]]:

The company appreciates your offer to provide free service and supplies for the copying equipment in return for an agreement to deal exclusively with Fuji Xerox.

Regrettably, the offer must be refused.  Our long-standing policy is that no one company may be dealt with on an exclusive basis.  While the reputation of Fuji Xerox and the quality of your product are well known, company policy must be followed.

Letter 3

Dear [[Recipient]]:

Your recent gift of appreciation as a result of the court decision last Tuesday was a kind gesture.

However, I must decline your offer, although I know it was well meant.

As a civil court judge, I take great pains to maintain my image of impartiality.  Acceptance of gifts in this manner could compromise that image.  Nonetheless, your kindness is appreciated.

Letter 4

Dear [[Recipient]]:

The painting you sent is well suited to the decor and mood of the office.

I regret, however, that it must be returned.

It is my policy not to accept expensive gifts from clients, and an original painting by Picasso certainly fits the category of “expensive.”