Bah, humbug!

I got a formal letter recently from a retail company that advertised with us off and on during pre-recession days. When I first opened it, I feared it was a bankruptcy notice (we’ve seen a lot of those lately). It looked very legal and imposing.

But it wasn’t. It was a holiday message of the most “Bah, humbug!” kind. The letter outlined this company’s policy against accepting gifts. If we ignored the warning and sent holiday gifts to any of its employees, the letter explained, we would be responsible for the most dire of consequences. People could lose their jobs.

I guess this isn’t an isolated occurrence. When I went home and told my husband about the letter, he said his law firm has stopped routinely sending holiday gifts to clients because many of them have similar policies.

Raising Arizona Kids has really scaled back in the holiday department this year but our reasons are budget-driven, not trying-to-avoid-getting-people-fired-driven. Typically, we send small edible goodies to our vendors and most consistent advertisers. The last few years we’ve sent tiny, carrot-shaped packages of sugared almonds. One year we all got together in my kitchen and baked holiday cookies that we packaged with Saran Wrap and ribbon and hand-delivered to clients all over the Valley.

Since when is saying “thank you for your business” influence-peddling? It makes me sad.

As I was pondering this trend, I got an email from Community Relations Manager Katie Charland. Part of her job is to monitor other blogs in Arizona and around the country that focus on raising children. She was astonished to find a post on the blog Parent Hacks that encourages parents to Take digital photos at the toy store to create a photographic “Santa list.”

There is nothing magical about requesting gifts — photographic or otherwise. Nor is there anything inherently evil in accepting small ones you weren’t expecting. The whole point of a gift is the element of surprise, the thoughtfulness of the choice and the opportunity it offers to say “I appreciate you” to people who matter in your life — and in your business.

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