FAQ: Corporate Holiday Gift Giving Guide

This time of year dozens of people give and receive holiday gifts. Whether you’re a vendor, a client, a co-worker or a boss, chances are, you will be on the giving and receiving end of holiday gifts. Whether your office is overflowing with tissue paper, or your cubicle dons just a simple gift or two, it’s important for everyone to review this advice:

• Who gets a gift at the office?
Traditionally, an employer may thank his or her employees for their dedication with a holiday “bonus.” Today, budget cuts and a struggling economy have had an impact on the types of gifts many employers give out during the holidays. Some companies now offer alternatives such as a day off, a gift certificate to a restaurant or a holiday turkey or ham.

Employees shouldn’t feel obligated to give their boss an elaborate gift. Ask around to see if there will be an office “pool” where everyone who is interested pitches in a small amount of money and a designated person buys an “office” gift for the boss. Or, as an alternative, bring a box of your famous fudge for the boss, and another box for the entire office to enjoy.

Colleagues can draw names, select and donate to a charity, or skip the gift giving process all together.

• Is a gift card a suitable holiday gift for the office?
Of course. Gift cards make a great gift. Be sure to wrap it in something creative. For example, if you purchase a gift card to a local coffee shop, wrap it in a mug with a coffee scoop.

• I want to give a gift to a few close colleagues, but not the entire staff. What should I do?
Exchange gifts away from the office to ensure that other people’s feelings will not be bruised. Go to lunch or meet for a quick drink after work for a cup of holiday cheer, exchanging gifts at a separate location so no one will feel left out.

• Do I have to give a holiday gift to my boss or co-workers?
Although workplace gift-giving should not be considered mandatory, many people and businesses do exchange gifts, especially during the holidays. Gifts, however, should not be given with the intention of hoping to establish a new relationship, so don’t try to win your boss’ favor or make up for poor performance with a spectacular holiday gift.

The greatest gift that you can give to your employers and co-workers is to be an exemplary employee year-round. It is the day-to-day way in which you do your job and treat people around you that matters most to your employer.


Things to do this Holiday Season

If you’re looking for fun things to do this holiday season in the Lou, you don’t have to look far. From festive family gatherings to great date-night events, St. Louis is the perfect place to spend the holidays. Here are a few of our favorite holiday attractions:


  • Garden Glow: This is a must see! The Missouri Botanical Garden is decorated with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights. The walking tour includes Glowmen Glen where you can decorate your own snowman, a candlelight vigil with fire pits and s’mores, a live DJ, dancing and so much more. This is perfect for the whole family or, makes a great date night with a stop under the mistletoe!


  • Movies at Citygarden: Bundle up and enjoy some Christmas classics now through December 25. Enjoy favorites such as “The Santa Clause,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and more.


  • Stroll through old town St. Charles: The street comes alive with Christmas Legends and Santas from around the world. Over 30 characters will join in the festivities, each wearing handcrafted clothing representing their heritage. Shop and dine along the historic brick-paved street, which is festively decorated with fresh greenery and hand-tied red bows. Enjoy holiday sounds of Victorian carolers and take in the scent of roasted chestnuts.


  • Holiday light displays: There are dozens of holiday light displays to enjoy in St. Louis. From Santa’s Magical Kingdom, to the Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo, to the AB Brewery with live music and complimentary beer samples, there is plenty to see and do.


What is your favorite St. Louis holiday tradition? Share your comments below. 

Ready Readers is Seeking Volunteers


Our YPN members support many great organizations. One of the standout nonprofits our members support is Ready Readers.


Ready Readers inspires preschool-age children from low-income communities to develop a love of reading.  Each week, hundreds of volunteers read to almost 8,000 children in 180 different early childhood programs around the St. Louis area.  While that might seem like an awful lot of volunteers, the truth is, they need more!


If you enjoy reading aloud and have an extra hour a week, Ready Readers needs you.


Not only will you will have the opportunity to read to a group of eager and enthusiastic young children, but you will also have the pleasure of seeing their faces light up when you give them their own copy of six books each school year.  In addition, you also get to keep a copy for yourself to add to your personal library.


If this sounds like the right fit for you, please contact Ready Readers Volunteer Program Director, Diane Sinclair, or visit their website and fill out an online volunteer application.


Clearly, the RBC and YPN is passionate about early childhood literacy programs! We truly believe that positive reading habits will jump start a child’s education. 

The Imagination Library Project Is Fully Funded!


Gene Diederich, CEO Moneta Group, Tom Chulick, Chairman & CEO UMB Bank-St. Louis and Jim Theiss, President and CEO, Centric Group

Thanks to Gift from UMB, Kingdom House Preschoolers Will Receive Books from Birth to Age Five

We are pleased to announce that the YPN’s priority project, Imagination Library for Kingdom House, in collaboration with the United Way of Greater St. Louis, has received a significant donation from UMB Bank.

The gift of $10,000 made to the United Way and Imagination Library reaches the threshold of funding to provide all 100 preschoolers at the Kingdom House Early Childhood Center with appropriately-aged books every month from birth to age five.  The gift was made as part of UMB’s “Week of Giving,” when organizations in the Metropolitan St. Louis area were surprised with monetary gifts throughout the week of December 2, 2013, totaling nearly $250,000.

“We are over-the-top thrilled,” stated Steven Harris, YPN, Chairman of the Steering Committee.  “Members of the YPN are committed to promoting education and literacy, and through the Imagination Library project, that commitment starts with earliest readers.”

“UMB understands the importance programs like these play in the St. Louis community, and we’re pleased to support this worthwhile initiative,” said Tom Chulick, Chairman & CEO of UMB Bank, St. Louis.  “Providing books and encouraging positive reading habits is an important first step in ensuring children have a solid start in their learning journey”

“Imagination Library provides books to children who otherwise would not have access to them,” stated Kewana Regans, Assistant Vice-President/Financial Center Manager of UMB Bank in Brentwood. “By filling this gap, these children now have a learning opportunity that previously did not exist. This is a critical need that is being effectively addressed, and the results to date have been amazing.”

Imagination Library is a program that promotes early childhood literacy by providing age-appropriate books to children from birth to age 5.  It was started in 1996, and today, 1600 communities around the country have implemented the Imagination Library, distributing close to 40 million books to approximately 700,000 children every month. 

Good News Tuesday

In our Good News Tuesday blog post each month, we highlight some of the accomplishments that members of our Young Professionals Network share with us.

This month, we’d like to offer congratulations to these members of the RBC/YPN community:

New jobs/Promotions:

  •  Linda Jing was promoted to Director of Global Strategy and Operations – Breeding at Monsanto and also received the Monsanto Global Vegetable Business Outstanding Award the highest recognition for individuals with in Monsanto’s Vegetable Business.
  •  Darryl Tyler was recently hired as Vice President, Client Manager at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  •  Keisha Mabry was promoted to Retail Business Development Manager – New Suppliers at Dot Foods, Inc.
  •  April Cole was promoted to Senior Channel Enablement Manager at Savvis, A CenturyLink company.
  •  Vyas Suresh was elected partner at Bryan Cave effective January 1, 2014.


Boards/Community Organization Announcements:

  • Steve Ponciroli, Principal at North Highland Worldwide Consulting, joined the Logos School Board of Directors.
  •  Joe Mark of Enterprise Bank and Trust was elected Chair of the St. Louis Sports Commission Associates for 2014.
  •  Charlene Johnson, Director of Business Development at Affordable Equity Partners will be the 2014 Co-Chair of the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ Young de Toqueville Society.
  • Roberto Garcia was promoted to Brand Manager with the Imports, Craft and Specialty team at Anheuser-Busch and elected President of the company’s Hispanic/Latino Employee Resource Group.

Achievements and Recognition:

  • Raegan Johnson, Environmental Safety & Health (ESH) Project Manager at Monsanto begins her PhD research with focus on increasing access and assessing the consumption of fruits and vegetables in 11 schools in Orange County and Osceola County in Florida.
  •  Zundra Bryant of MasterCard recently served as a motivational speaker during the Washington University TRiO Program welcome session and is being sponsored by her company in the Wash U Women’s Leadership Forum Certificate program
  •  Amber Simpson submitted her application to open Venare Learning charter school in 2016.


We’d love for you to be part of Good News Tuesday, too. Tell us when you’ve been promoted, if you’ve landed a brand new position or if you’ve launched another company. You can even announce your new baby, your volunteer efforts or your speaking engagements. Simply email the news to ypn@stlrbc.org by the last Tuesday of the month, and we’ll consider it for publication. Be sure to include full information, including pertinent names, titles, companies/organizations and contact information.


We’re proud of how hard our YPN members work to make St. Louis a better place to thrive, and we’re excited to sound the trumpets in congratulations. Join me in offering best wishes to this month’s YPN members. 

Five Questions with Carmen Jacob, NexGen

We had the opportunity to talk to RBC member, Carmen Jacob with NextGen, a national staffing, recruiting and consulting firm. Carmen talks about NextGen’s Diversity Works program and shares her “keys to success.”

Tell me about your company.

  • NextGen is a national staffing, recruiting & consulting firm that creates customized workforce solutions that help solve our clients’ business needs.
  • NextGen provides customized workforce solutions for information technology, scientific, engineering, clerical/administration, accounting/finance, human resources, legal, and marketing.
  • Established in 1997, NextGen is a certified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise and was recently ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in IT Services in the US by Inc. Magazine and one of the fastest growing and privately held companies in St. Louis by the St. Louis Business Journal.

How has the RBC helped your business grow?

  • The RBC has granted me access to some brilliant people and has enabled me to build some wonderful relationships.  Many of these relationships have turned into valued partnerships.
  • The members of the RBC have a strong commitment to helping each other, they offer advice and guidance, and mentor unselfishly.
  • The RBC is strong network of exceptional colleagues actively sharing knowledge and spreading excellence in a powerful way.

As workforce diversity is a major initiative for the RBC, can you please tell us how your company is implementing diverse business practices?

  • NextGen launched its Diversity Works program which is a packaged solutions designed to help organizations meet their business goals and objectives. This solution introduces a global talent community that helps fulfill our clients’ staffing needs while avoiding rising employment cost.
  • With this program we actively support minority and women-owned businesses locally and throughout the country.  We have expanded our reach and capabilities to proactively recruit for a worldwide diverse talent community and we aggressively promote diversity in the workplace and the community.
  • We work to create a workplace that supports our dynamic differences and the many positive and powerful dimensions that diversity affords.

What are your “keys to success?”

  • Surround yourself by talented people who are committed and have a vested interest in making a difference.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone and force yourself and your team to grow.
  • Work proactively, forecast how your business could change, and be prepared to respond quickly even if that means taking risks.
  • Don’t be afraid of the unknown — staying stationary keeps you behind the curve not ahead of it.

Do you have any tips or advice for young professionals as they continue to grow in their respective careers?

  • Find something you believe in so that you are able to give it your total commitment and energy.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, learn from other people, accept criticism with grace, and learn from your mistakes.
  • Find your passion, invest in yourself and be your own advocate.
  • Find mentors to support you both professionally and personally.

75 Young Professionals Participated in Focus Group

Recently, 75 Young Professional members had the opportunity to share their insight about the region’s economic future. Members participated in a focus group to benefit the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. The recently formed St. Louis Economic Development Partnership wanted input from Young Professionals about the region’s economy. Comments will be used for the Strategic Planning process. 


The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership’s goal is to develop a shared vision of a desired future for the organization and how it will influence, facilitate and impact economic development in St. Louis City and County, planning what it will take to achieve it, aligning stakeholders behind the plan, implementing and communicating progress on the plan.


Ultimately, the new partnership between the economic development teams in St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis will guide the St. Louis region’s joint efforts to support new and growing businesses.


For more information regarding the focus group and the Strategic Planning Forum, visit  (www.stlpartnership.com/strategic-plan.html) to download presentations from the October 17 Stakeholder Planning Forum and also submit comments.