My husband has 11 employees of both genders who are scattered through-out the country in various offices. For several years, he has given his employees gift boxes of food items for Christmas from a catalog company (Harry & David) in order to partially show his appreciation for their hard work and to wish them a Merry Christmas...sometimes it's jams/pancake mix/English muffin combinations and other times it's sausage/cheese/crackers combinations, etc.
A year or so ago, one of his employees decided to reciprocate with a similar type of gift box to my husband. It wasn't expected and we actually felt kind of bad that the employee would spend his money giving the boss a gift. But we understood that maybe the employee felt the need to reciprocate after being on the receiving end all these years.
Now, however, it appears that a number of other employees have either independently decided to reciprocate or word has spread like wildfire that the "Cheyenne Employee" gave the boss a gift so others felt they needed to do it also. With 11 employees, can you see where this is going?
Yep...this week we got our fifth food gift box from an employee. When my husband came home from work and saw it on our doorstep, his face dropped and he said, "OH, NO!" Not exactly the reaction the employee would have wanted if they could have seen it, I'm sure. However, we are so totally over-run with sausages, pears, crackers, nuts, candy, and cheese that we can hardly see straight. I'm giving it away to neighbors, friends.....anyone who will take some of it off our hands. At this point, we're praying that the other 6 employees haven't heard what the first 5 have done or we'll be in real trouble.
So......we think something must be done next year to stop the deluge of food. Would you Etiquette Mavens suggest:
1) Do nothing. Let the employees gift us if they feel the need. Continue to give away the excess as necessary.
2) Somehow explain to the employees that reciprocating is not at all necessary and run the risk of hurting their feelings.
3) Somehow suggest that, if they feel they must gift my husband, consider joining forces and give one item from everyone. But, how to word this?
4) My husband should stop gifting the employees at Christmas next year so they feel no need to reciprocate.
5) Open a food pantry out of our house in December of next year.