Government agencies, nonprofit organizations and some companies may have a policy that prevents you from accepting gifts. If you are offered a gift, and wish to or must decline it, you can write a letter to the person explaining why you cannot accept it. If you explain the reason for declining the gift, the giver may understand more clearly why you turned it down. By offering this courtesy, it can help the person avoid feeling rejected or disrespected.

Step 1.

Address the letter on your company or organization's letterhead. Include the date, the name, title, company name and address of the person who sent you the gift. Begin the letter by writing "Dear Mr. or Ms." and include the person's last name in the salutation.

Step 2.

Thank the giver for the thoughtfulness of the gift he prepared or purchased for you. Do not embarrass the giver, so choose words that show your genuine gratitude. For example, you could write: “I was pleasantly surprised when I received the thoughtful gift you sent.” If the gift was something inappropriate or something that hinted at a sexual message, simply write, “Thank you for the thoughtfulness you displayed by sending me this gift.”

Step 3.

Explain that you cannot accept the gift. Show your regret when explaining that you must decline the gift. Include the reason why you cannot accept it. Use working that avoids making the person feel uncomfortable.

Step 4.

Be direct, but polite. If you were given an expensive painting for example, write, "Thank you for your thoughtful gift, it is beautiful. I am sorry, but I cannot accept a gift of such high value."

Step 5.

Explain that you have returned it or will return it. Include a sentence that explains the way in which you plan to return the gift.


A letter that declines a gift is a matter of courtesy. It can help you maintain positive client relationships, while adhering to your organization's standards for such items.


If the person sending the gift has made inappropriate advances to you with the gift or at other times, you need to talk this over with your human resources professional or your manager.