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Julie Blais Comeau

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Sticky Situation: Solutions to the Four Stickiest Gift Situations

Posted: 12/13/2012 12:51 pm

Here you are in the hustle and bustle of the gift-giving season. Wonder, magic, surprise and even shock may arise from any exchanging encounters with loved ones, clients or colleagues.

To help you keep the gratitude spirit alive, here are solutions to the season's stickiest situations.

1. Sticky situation: A client offers you a three-day cruise to the Bahamas. Yesssss! Well, not quite...Your company's policy only allows you to receive gifts with a maximum nominal value of $100.

Solution: After graciously thanking the offerer, you must decline it. Don't let it linger. When offered in person, immediately inform the person that according to your company's policy, you cannot accept such a generous gift.

"Thank you for thinking of me. I sure could use a few days in the sun. Unfortunately, our company's gift policy is very strict. It does not allow me to accept such a generous gift."

If it was offered via a delivery, return it to its sender right away. Accompany it with a succinct explanation note that foremost acknowledges your appreciation. In both cases, document the incident and involve a witness, like HR.

2. Sticky situation: Your new neighbours have a gift for you and you don't have one for them.

Solution: Don't lie or make up excuses. You do not have to reciprocate, if you do not want to. From an etiquette's perspective your only obligation is to graciously thank the offerer.

"How thoughtful of you. Thank you for thinking of me. I appreciate it."

If you wish you can send a thank-you note.

You can avoid this sticky situation by pre-gifting. This includes gifts of the host(ess) type such as perishable goodies, tea towels, scarfs and ornaments. My favourites this year are this magical snow globe and a gift card for the charitable organization of the receiver's choice. Of course, a gift card to the local coffee shop is a great way of showing your gratitude.

Before reaching for your pre-gifting closet, make sure that you validate your gift intentions for that person. Reciprocating could mean adding a person to your list of annual gift exchanges. You may be starting a new tradition.

3. Sticky situation: You are a woman and your male colleague offers you a Victoria's Secret gift certificate.

Solution: Just as when you received an overly generous gift from a client, when you receive an overly personal, intimate gift, you must decline it.

"Although I value you as a colleague, I really cannot accept this gift. It is much too personal for our professional relationship."

Once again make sure to document and have a witness.

4. Sticky situation: You have received two Magic Bullets. Can you pass one on to someone on your list?

Solution: Seven out of ten women and almost half of men do it. Re-gifting used to be a complete no-no. These days, with our current recycling trends and over-consumption concerns combined with our economic situation, it may be acceptable, if, practiced seldomly and when the following conditions apply:

* Your worlds will not collide. Remember the Seinfeld episode? Watch.
* The gift was not homemade or made especially for you.
* It is new, unused and still available in stores.
* Original packaging, merchandise tickets and instructions are intact.
* The wrapping and gift tag are freshly replaced and personalised.
* The receiver will really like this gift.
* There is no chance of offending the original "gift giver" or the new "gift receiver."

Remember, as Oprah says: "Doubt means don't." If you are afraid that someone's feelings will get hurt, tuck the gift away in a closet and take it out when your giver visits.

In the end, it is the thought that counts, not the gift. Christmas gift giving is about recognizing the people that make your lives easier and more enjoyable. A handwritten note of genuine appreciation that accompanies holiday wishes will always warm the heart of anyone, from Richie Rich to the Grinch. Really. Try it and see a smile grow.

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    The most popular people at any party are those with boobs and those with booze. So any woman lucky enough to wear the <a href="http://www.bigkitchen.com/product/Cooler-Fun-WineRack-25-Ounce-Stealth-Drink-Cooler-Bra--Size-Small-466870">Wine Rack Stealth Cooler Bra</a> will be in demand for sure. The bra holds only 25 ounces of alcohol, but you probably won't have any trouble getting someone to help you refill it.

  • Dog Lamp With Poop-shaped Floor Switch

    <a href="http://www.kookik.com/store/product.asp?productid=1947">This $120 floor lamp</a> not only looks like a cute little dog, but the switch looks like the cute little dog's cute little dropping. Perfect for the home where the design has an animal excrement theme.

  • Cheesehead Bed

    Wisconsinites and cheese lovers elsewhere will be "dairy" happy to get the <a href="http://www.cheeseheadbed.com/">Cheesehead Bed,</a> a mattress shaped like a giant slab of cheddar. Thank goodness, the holes are just part of the pattern and not really in the mattress. One downside: The mattress will likely attract nearsighted mice.

  • Zombie Killer

    To be honest, the <a href="http://innovationfactory.com/products/truckers-friend/">Trucker's Friend</a> was actually intended to be an all-in-one tool for truckers, but folks in the zombie-hunting community have decided that this device is also good for killing the undead. Who are we to argue?

  • Pink Bunny Suit

    This adult version of the <a href="http://www.tvstoreonline.com/christmas-story-adult-classic-comedy-bunny-suit-pink-pajama-gag-costume.html">humiliating bunny suit</a> Ralphie wore in “A Christmas Story” will give you pop culture bonafides at the office party and make you very popular at the next Furry convention.

  • Barking Door Alarm

    Dogs are great for security, but they're expensive. <a href="http://www.qcidirect.com/alarm-security-bar.html">This door alarm </a>not only makes it hard for thieves to open the door, but it plays a recording of an angry dog when jostled.

  • UnderUps

    Suspenders do a great job of holding up pants, but, fashion-wise, they can bring you down. <a href="http://www.suspenders.com/undergarment-suspenders.htm">UnderUps</a> are different because they go under the shirt so that people won't be reminded of Yuppies from the 1980s or wacky mimes from the 1970s.

  • Trendy Top (To Hide Bulging Bellies)

    Women’s shirts are getting shorter at a time when bellies are getting larger. The Trendy Top, a modified<a href="https://www.gettrendytop.com/"> half-skirt, half-shirt </a>(seen here in white), allows a woman to bend, reach or sit without exposing more flesh then they wish.

  • CanBeGlobal

    Paris and Rome are breathtaking places, and <a href="http://eshop.canbeglobal.com/en/">CanBeGlobal</a> is a way to actually take the air from those places home with you. It's basically a sealed can of oxygen "bottled" at the city of origin. Each can comes in a fancy box with a certificate proving the air is authentic and two photos of the place of origin.

  • Weird Perfumes

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  • Shredder Scissors

    Not everyone can afford a shredding machine to destroy their old bills and other important papers, but these <a href="http://www.qcidirect.com/shredder-scissors.html">Shredder Scissors</a> can slice and dice them up just as quickly. Even better, unlike electronic shredders, these will also work on nose hairs.

  • Breathalyzer Keychain

    There's a thin line between sobriety and snockered and the <a href="http://www.buydig.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=BCTKKC10">Breathalyzer Keychain</a> can help keep you from going over the edge. It's also useful if you're the type of person who hates driving under any circumstance.

  • Hot Booties: Microwavable Slippers

    Microwaves aren't just for leftovers or popcorn. Now they can heat slippers. <a href="https://www.orderhotbooties.com">Hot Booties</a> are microwavable slippers filled with natural linseed and lavender seeds. A minute in the microwave and the slippers are piping hot, provided you don't heat them with a fork (note to self: don't make that mistake again)

  • Mirror Gear

    For generations, people have expressed themselves with bumper stickers, rear window stickers and fuzzy dice only to ignore the rearview mirror. That has changed with <a href="http://www.mirrorgear.com">MirrorGear,</a> a brand of stickers made for the rearview mirror that allows extroverted Americans to let fellow drivers they like snowmen, flaming skulls or soccer.

  • Walker Glides

    It is hard to make any walker stylish, but these tennis shoe-shaped <a href="http://www.qcidirect.com/sneaker-glides.html">Walker Glides</a> make a valiant attempt. If you want to add a little pizazz to them, try gluing tiny metal taps to them. No, serious, it'll be funny.

  • Bloody Wall Mural

    The problem with crime scenes is that they eventually get cleaned up and turned back to normal. However, this collection of <a href="http://pixersize.com/wallmurals/bloody-splashes-23875127">morbid and bloody wallpaper</a> is perfect for the person who wants to be surrounded by murder, meyhem and blood.

  • The Go Plate

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  • Brolly Umbrella

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  • Superman Socks

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  • ProToast Elite Toaster

    Football fans now can show their support for their team in the kitchen with this line of toasters that imprints team logos on to bread. Of course, it is also a good way to razz fans of teams like the Eagles which are already toast.

Have a Sticky Situation yourself, write to julie@etiquettejulie.com and Julie will reply promptly. You can also ask your questions on her Facebook page.


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