The holidays bring good tidings, peace among humankind and copious amounts of gifts. While the spirit of gift giving dictates “no strings attached” when receiving a present… the spirit of business often proclaims a different message. Employees must often decline gifts – even during the holiday season – due to their unspoken quid pro quo nature.

Use Clark Griswald’s disappointment with his infamous “Jelly of the Month Club” gift in “Christmas Vacation” to launch a frank discussion about what is and is not acceptable gifts to receive from vendors and clients during the holiday season (as well as appropriate behavior concerning any corporate gifts or bonuses).

NOTE: For our purposes, the lesson ends at 1:01, after Chevy Chase tears up his certificate.


What are appropriate gifts from your employer? Co-workers? Clients or vendors?

Have you ever questioned a gift? If so, why?

What are the possible negative consequences for accepting a gift outside our company’s guidelines?

How can you graciously turn down an inappropriate gift?

What should you do if you receive a gift you fear might cross an ethical line?




Bryan Belknap, an award-winning screenwriter and speaker, is Creative Director at Resonate Pictures, which specializes in story-based training and branding films. His new ebook “How to Teach Ethics and Compliance with Hollywood Movie Clips” is available for free download.


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