my company throws terrible holiday parties

A reader writes:

I have been at my job for about 10 years now. When I first started working here, we had a holiday potluck at an outdoor terrace on campus with just our department. It was kind of fun, but some people complained about “the sappy trees” and “dirty chairs” so the next year, our manager suggested we go out to lunch, which we did. It was nice, but the people in our department don’t really get along well, so it was a bit awkward. I had made up some holiday-themed games and prizes. That seemed to be the highlight of the event.

The next year, our manager invited us to a potluck at his house in a remote part of town on a weekend evening. I attended, but about half of the department did not. The following year, we were invited for cocktails and food at a nearby bar after work. I and another employee got there about 10 minutes after the starting time, and all the food was gone. The manager purchased one order of French fries for the latecomers, but that was it. Then there was the time our staff assistant arranged another potluck in a conference room. This was very depressing, more like a department meeting with food. There were games, but it was nearly impossible to get anyone to participate; they are all sticks-in-the-mud.

For the past three years, we have done nothing. This year, I asked if we were going to have a holiday party, and the staff assistant said that the department head “hadn’t had enough time to plan something” and then yesterday we got an invitation to go bowling one night after work after the holidays are over.

I have been frustrated for years about the lack of team-building in our department, so you probably think I should be glad that we’re finally invited to get together, but in actuality, I am annoyed. I believe that if there was strong leadership, we could actually interact and be a strong team, so I’m not one to just give up hope easily, although I do think at this point with the people involved that it’s never going to happen. I know that if I had not inquired about a party, this wouldn’t even be happening. Shouldn’t staff appreciation be genuine? Maybe my bad attitude about our leadership is tainting my thought process, or perhaps I’m right in feeling slighted. I would appreciate your insight to the situation and advice for how to proceed.

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 156 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Robin B

    I used to work for a company like that! My first year there, the office manager slapped a pack of wrapped deli meat and a loaf of white bread on the counter at our “Christmas party.”

    Reply
    1. Robin B

      Oh and another year, our “party” was at a meeting where they told us how bad our health insurance was going to be for the following year. Like the OP, it was like a depressing meeting, but with food.

      Reply
    2. Specialk9

      “some people like this stuff, and some don’t. Most commonly, the people who don’t like these events find themselves working with people who do, and have to go along with the majority’s wishes. In this case, you’ve found yourself working with people who aren’t terribly enthused, and you probably need to accept that the majority of your coworkers just feel differently about it than you do.”

      Boom. And here is why Alison is queen of the internet today.

      Reply
      1. Augusta Sugarbean

        I’m surprised to find something I actually appreciate about my terrible workplace. The overwhelming majority of us have no interest in a holiday event. Probably in part *because* the workplace is so terrible but at least we are all on the same team. Go Team Bah Humbug!

        Reply
        1. JamieS

          If the management is really that bad at OP’s work then that’s likely the reason why more people aren’t excited over office parties. I know I’d hate having to spend even more time at work (or a work event) than I already do if I hated the workplace.

          Although to be fair I can’t really tell if this is actually an issue of lousy management or if OP just really loves team building activities and holiday parties and is blaming management for others not sharing in the excitement.

          Reply
      2. einahpets

        I’m struggling with whether I am going to attend my company’s holiday party this Saturday. They just had the first round of layoffs this week with my department scheduled for layoffs after the holidays and… man it is hard to want to go to the swanky ‘super fun!’ holiday party they couldn’t cancel because they already paid for it.

        Reply
      3. Paper Snowflake

        Honestly, I am one of those sticks-in-the-mud (I prefer “introvert”) who loves my work and cultivates genuine relationships with coworkers without the help of forced team-building exercises. I understand why companies do them, but I’ve never gotten much out of them and prefer to let the team-building happen more naturally. Unless coworkers are constantly separated and never have access to one another, I think it’s best to let people grow closer through collaboration rather than awkward, poorly-planned parties.

        Reply
  2. Antilles

    I kind of think of company social events as more of a microcosm of the department than anything else: If your team is functioning well and interacts well, the parties will be successful even if the activity itself is something simple like “cookies in the break room Friday afternoon while playing Christmas music”. But if the team doesn’t interact well socially, then no matter how great the activity is, it’ll probably still feel awkward, weird, and poorly attended.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      Yep. It is possible to design a bad enough event for it not to go well with a socially-functioning department, but it’s pretty hard to make something so awesome that it works well with a department that isn’t socially-focused/functioning. (And, in a department full of get-it-done people who are content with the status quo, may not be necessary – and wanting it might be a sign of a culture fit issue.)

      Reply
    2. Kathleen

      My personal favorite kind of staff Christmas party is that we’re taken out for a nice lunch (during the week, not on a weekend), we have a little bit of fun with our coworkers, we get some sort of gift (our bonuses are given earlier in the year), and then…we get to go home early.

      But none of that actually makes me a better employee, nor does it build teamwork or any of that stuff. I realize it’s different for some people, but OP, I join my voice with others in letting you know that if your company has a problem, it’s not with the Christmas party. That might be a symptom, but then again, it might not.

      Reply
    3. MillersSpring

      Holiday cookies in the break room sounds nice to me! I also liked a breakfast potluck at a previous company, as well as simple restaurant lunches.

      Many people either resent or simply can’t attend after-hours events. And companies are rightly nixing the fancy weekend shindigs with a full bar and everybody’s significant other. They’re expensive, unpopular with many, and fraught with risk of drunken behavior and/or sexual impropriety.

      Reply
    4. Trout 'Waver

      I totally agree with this. Successful work parties are a sign of a healthy team working well together. (I want to emphasize that the inverse is not true: The absence of successful work parties is not a sign of unhealthy teams) Taking a team that isn’t in sync and trying to force a work party on them isn’t going to make them any more aligned.

      Reply
      1. Dr. Doll

        Oh, glad you put that the inverse isn’t true. My team is full of introverts and it is like *teeth pulling* to get a conversation going in a social setting. No one wants to even go for a quiet drink at the campus watering hold after we finish a major event. They just split. But we are awesome and win awards for our awesomeness, so.

        Reply
    5. Falling Diphthong

      And the flip side is that no amount of finding the perfect holiday party is going to turn everyone into a tight-functioning team of nouns, if years of working together haven’t had that effect.

      Reply
  3. Health Insurance Nerd

    Your company had yearly outdoor potlucks. People complained.
    Manager hosted the potluck at his home. People complained.
    Cocktail hour. People complained.
    Potluck onsite, with games. People complained.
    Bowling planned after the holidays. People complained.

    Hmmm, I wonder why your company doesn’t want to plan any more holiday parties….

    Reply
    1. Mediamaven

      Agreed. There are so many letters on AAM about people complaining about having to go to holiday parties, not having a good enough holiday party, not having any party. It’s like it often feels like there is so little opportunity to win with whatever is offered.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Ah, but who writes in because the holiday party was awesome? There’s no advice in that case.

        My $OldJob did a potluck one year; some people stayed to chat while others grabbed food and retreated to desks. It was pretty decent. Another year they took us out to dinner at a spaghetti place – that was really nice. (I could still eat what was being served, otherwise I might have declined – but it was optional.)

        My current job puts on a fancier evening party where you can dress up formally and take your SO, dance and listen to music, eat hors d’oeuvres and drink nice wine. This is…kind of my definition of misery. But it’s optional, so I don’t go! Lots of people have a great time at it, and I’m glad we do it. (In the summer they host a family picnic with a band. There are some people who enjoy both, but a lot of the folks who enjoy the holiday party don’t seem to go to the picnic, or just stay long enough for a bit of food.)

        Reply
        1. College Career Counselor

          My “favorite” is the optional-but-not-really holiday party that was thrown by the head of the division at a previous employer. It was very lavish, catered well with good food and drinks, etc., but it was very clear that this was a massive social signaling event for the division head’s other community activities. The implied message to them was “I’m so awesome and beloved that my entire division came to the party.” For those of us who reported to the division head, it was basically mandatory because there was retaliation by and loss of credibility with that person if you didn’t go. One year, it snowed 10 inches at my house the afternoon of the party, so I decided not to risk life, limb and property and stay home. I’m convinced this did not help my reputation with the division head.

          Reply
        2. Peppermint Mocha

          Yes!! The “optional” part is key here. And not just “its optional but you will get a lot of flack and questions if you decline”, but “it’s optional, end of story, no questions asked”.

          Reply
          1. First time commenter!

            +1000.

            My husband’s workplace does a holiday cubicle decorating contest every year, but it’s not by cubicle — it’s by department. So if most people in a department are really gung-ho but one person doesn’t want to participate, it’s suuuuper awkward for that person, and that person is usually my husband, who is Jewish and therefore doesn’t want to sit in a cubicle festooned in Christmasy stuff but also doesn’t want to really advertise his Jewish-ness at work.

            Reply
            1. oranges & lemons

              Ugh. This is a good example of why I think it’s so weird that it seems universal for offices to get into Christmas stuff. Lots of people don’t celebrate it or don’t like it for whatever reason. Why can’t the office be a festivity-free haven?

              Reply
                1. First time commenter!

                  That was my initial suggestion — just go all out decorating your cube for Hanukkah to make the point that not everyone celebrates Christmas! — but like I said, he’s trying not to advertise the fact that he’s Jewish at work, because it’s led to really weird interactions with coworkers in the past. Like, it’s not a secret, but he doesn’t bring it up, and he definitely doesn’t want the equivalent of a big “I’m Jewish!!!” sign hanging up in his cubicle.

                  It probably wouldn’t kill him to just throw up a strand of generic twinkle lights to humor everyone, but eh, he’s a bit of a curmudgeon.

      2. Jesca

        Exactly. You will never please anyone. I mean sure people write in about the strange and sometimes even cruel things that happen, but I feel those are the one offs. A lot of people just complain about really mundane things, I think. I mean it is a work function. If you think your job sucks, the party planning people suck, your manager sucks, or that everyone everywhere just sucks, then likely the holiday party will as well. LOL

        Reply
    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      Exactly. OP, it sounds like you work for a company where people don’t enjoy this sort of thing. Aside from gathering feedback from colleagues about what types of events they WOULD actually enjoy, I think you might just have to accept that this isn’t part of the culture of your office.

      I think this line is really telling:

      The people in our department don’t really get along well, so it was a bit awkward.

      I know I don’t enjoy (or attend) parties with people I don’t like. The venue/format of the party is never going to resolve this problem.

      Reply
      1. SevenSixOne

        I am a grump who doesn’t like parties, period. If I go to your party, it’s because like you more than I hate parties.

        Reply
    3. WellRed

      Yes I wouldn’t plan anything either if I was this company. That said, they could actually buy food for employees rather than expecting employees to PONY IT UP EACH TIME as a potluck. Well, except for the time the manager popped for an order of fries.

      Reply
      1. Roscoe

        In fairness, it does seem like there was more food before, just that it all got eaten, so they ordered an additional order of fries for the late comers

        Reply
    4. Roscoe

      Ha. That was my thought.

      As someone who plans these things, I’d probably stop as well. The problem doesn’t seem to be the parties, it seems to be the complainers. It seems that they would complain about anything at this point.

      Reply
    5. ss

      I came here to say basically the same thing. If they keep making an effort but people cannot be grown-up enough to appreciate the effort that was made then why should they bother trying any more.

      The ones who complained should be responsible for planning the next one.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        I’m baffled why the employees should be “thankful” for being required to contribute to a potluck, for attending an event where the food provided didn’t last ten minutes, or where they’re required to give it their free time to spend time with people they don’t like.

        Reply
        1. Ugh, parties

          Hi, I’m a hard working introvert who’s sick and tired of being nagged about not socializing enough/the way someone thinks I should be based on their idea of “enough/correct”! If I felt like I was being pressured to go to a holiday party every year I didn’t actually want to go to but had to show up because “team building”, whether it eats into my work time or my personal time, you’re damn right I’ll be complaining about it. I’m not a social person, I rarely go out with more than one or two people at a time even with close friends, and I wasn’t hired to be good at parties. I had to fake enjoying parties for years before I became an adult. If you want me to keep doing it now instead of the work I agreed to do, then pay me a hell of a lot more. Otherwise, consider the post party complaining as part of my benefits package.

          Reply
    6. Jade

      Yes, this! I am responsible for organising our party each year. It’s always optional, completely free to attend, there’s transport provided, and the company pays for all food and drinks. Often the company credit card goes across the bar after the party has technically finished, so people can continue to enjoy themselves.

      Every year though, I get complaints – you just can’t ever please everyone. I’m about ready to give up too.

      Reply
    7. Laura

      This is exactly what I thought. Every year no matter what is scheduled people complain and I personally don’t like going anyway.
      I’m of the camp that I’d rather have budgets for each dept to do what they want together or receive gift card with the money that would’ve been spent per head.

      Reply
  4. Brandy

    How does your team work together normally? We don’t do team building here and our potlucks are us filling our plates and back to our desks to eat, but we’re all happy with that. Everyone gets along well and helps each other out, we’re just a bunch of non social people. We chat and all, but that’s about it. Some groups are like that. Try any team building exercise here, it wouldn’t work, but we’d rather be getting our work done.

    Reply
    1. JulieBulie

      Yes. I work with a good team. Our work IS our team-building activity. Trying to shoehorn us all into the same social situation, no matter how great it is, is a thankless and unnecessary task.

      Sometimes we have to go to “mandatory fun” things. We try to have a good time, but then someone observes that we’re not actually jumping up and down (because we don’t jump up and down, ever) and complains that we’re not “engaged” enough. Please let us go back to our desks!

      Reply
  5. DCompliance

    It sounds like there could be a problem outside of the holiday party. It sounds like you don’t think leadership is great and that you do not think you are strong team. A holiday party will not solve that.

    Also, a lot of people hate games. Some people just want to sit with their plate of food and chat with their friends. It does not make them sticks-in-the-mud. I think I am fun and I don’t have to play ladder ball to prove it.

    Reply
    1. Curious Cat

      +1 to all that! Definitely sounds like it’s a team issue and not a holiday party issue. Also agreed on just the varying ways people like to socialize — my office team loves potlucks/going to lunches/happy hours, but the second someone tried to break out a team-building “ice breaker” at our most recent gathering, the room went silent.

      Reply
    2. Specialk9

      Agreeing. I’m a good sport so will do the games, and laugh along gamely… But I think they’re lame and annoying and wish we could have just chatted.

      Reply
  6. Construction Safety

    Last was my first year at this company. Holiday party, Saturday night, employee +1. At a conference venue, BBQ catered in, open bar, DJ, raffled off about 5 x $100 bills. +1 & I arrive, just after the start, only table open has one other couple at it. He’s so new, he hasn’t even started working for us yet. No one else came to sit with us. We mingled, ate dinner, listened to the DJ and went home. Worst/”boringest” Holiday party we’d ever been to.

    This year: same weekend, same venue, same menu (different caterer), open bar, DJ (assumed). Snow on Friday, Saturday’s cool but clear, main & secondary roads are dry, side roads may be slick. +1 & I arrive at scheduled time, venue’s dark. Call boss, “Did, I miss the memo?’ “Oh, sorry. It’s cancelled.”

    It’s Wednesday, no news on anything else.

    Reply
  7. SallytooShort

    My department doesn’t do anything for the holiday either. And we share our space with another department that always makes a big deal of the holiday. They go out for a big lunch and have a separate Yankee Swap (although I have been invited to that.)

    I know it’s not the biggest deal but it can be a little disheartening and sad around her during the holidays. So, I can empathize.

    Reply
        1. chocolate lover

          I always thought “white elephant” was more of a “something weird you were regifting or random item you had laying around the house”, no? The Yankee swaps I’ve been in have been random in the sense of not for a specific person, but the items are pretty typical and many are bought specifically for the event (it’s $10 cap, and voluntary.)

          Someone at work did suggest doing a “regift something that someone else gave you” swap, or an alcohol-specific swap, but those were outvoted. I’m glad, since those seem to have the potential to get awkward for work.

          Reply
          1. Someone else

            I’ve heard it both ways, so it’s critical when planning one of these for a large group to outline the rules. To some people “Yankee Swap” implies “regift random item you already had (but which is NEW not used)” to others it’s “regift any item”, to others it’s “go buy a new random (funny) thing under (pricepoint)” to others it’s “go buy a new random (useful) thing under (pricepoint)”. I’ve also seen all four variations used for something deemed a white elephant. I’m sure there are other variants.

            Reply
      1. Jen S. 2.0

        Yankee Swap is the gift-exchanging deal where you can steal each other’s gifts. I have done it once or twice, and I have never understood what’s supposed to be fun about it.

        Reply
        1. MoinMoin

          Stealing can be fun when it’s all friends and the gifts are all pretty much on the same level (and ideally of the wacky and useless variety), but I can’t imagine it going that well in any sort of work situation.

          Reply
          1. The Other Dawn

            A team within our department does it and my team is always invited. I took part when I was new to the company but skipped it this year (money, not into this year, etc.). The gifts, for the most part, are nice things and it works well. But of course there’s always that one person that buys a big tacky piece of jewelry that they would love but others hate. I felt bad for the person who got it last year, as she was #2 to draw and didn’t have a use for the gift the first person got so she got stuck with the jewelry.

            Reply
          2. Ainomiaka

            Yeah. It was pretty popular and generally fun in my dad’s family because it was explicitly a way to cut down on the madness when 35 adults were going to the party. You bought one gift instead of one for everyone. But we all brought reasonable gifts. And everyone either learned as a child or had an introduction by s.o. bringing them.

            Reply
          3. Elizabeth

            We used to do it in my old department, but most of the time the gifts were bottles of wine and Starbucks giftcards so while everyone could usually end up with something they’d use, it wasn’t exactly interesting or fun!

            Reply
        2. Surfactant

          My husband’s family does this, though we call it Grab Bag. We all draw numbers out of a hat (we draw in order of age – oldest to youngest) that determine your turn. Then #1 chooses a gift and can either unwrap it or leave it wrapped. #2 chooses a gift, can unwrap it or leave it wrapped, and then can swap with #1. However, if the original gift chooser opts to leave the gift wrapped, it must STAY wrapped until the game is over. So forth and so on, and the final person can trade with anyone else. Then we unwrap the still-wrapped gifts. It’s fun for us because people generally try to put in good gifts that any of us could use, which isn’t the easiest as some of us have houses and some have apartments. Some of the best gifts of recent years have been a $50 Petco gift card (most everyone has a pet), two bottles of Champagne (which were promptly drunk) and a framed photo of one participant at two years old with a $50 bill hidden inside the frame.

          Reply
        3. MCMonkeyBean

          I like it, we just did it at our office today! But we have a $10 limit so if you’re really upset about not getting something you can just go buy it yourself for $10, no big deal.

          I made out pretty good this year. I was deciding between “stealing” an opened present which has a Marvel bedtime story book and some chocolate and opening a new present in a pretty bag (I often go into these with the intention of just taking something in a pretty bag because then at the very least I have some wrapping for my family’s presents!). I did go with the safe option of the book I already knew, and the guy honestly seemed thrilled that I took it off his hands lol. But then the other bag turned out to have a cat mug in it and I do love cats! So I guess I would have been happy either way. :)

          The most popular items in my office are always gift cards which is kind of boring but whatever. There were like 4 $10 starbucks cards this year. Lottery tickets and bottles of wine are also very popular. If someone actually won big money off a lottery ticket I guess that would probably result in some drama!

          Reply
      2. Jilly

        It’s like a White Elephant gift exchange. Everyone brings a wrapped unlabeled gift and it goes on a table. Everyone pulls a number from a hat. #1 goes up and picks a gift. #2 picks a gift and either keep it or swap it with #1 or from the table (#1 doesn’t get to object). And so on and so forth and often #1 can then choose to swap with whomever is last.

        Reply
          1. SallytooShort

            See your question has been answered! But I’d never heard the use of White Elephant or Dirty Santa before recently.

            Yankee Swap is the norm in New England.

            Reply
      1. SallytooShort

        Secret Santa is when you pick someone’s name and buy a gift specifically for that person.

        A Yankee Swap/Dirty Santa is when you all bring in gifts and put them in the middle of the table. Everyone takes a number and can pick a gift. If they don’t like it they can steal from someone who has already chosen a gift.

        Reply
      2. Adlib

        That’s a completely different thing to me. That usually means drawing names, getting small gifts for that person throughout some time period, and then revealing yourself at the end as the gift giver, usually with a bigger present.

        Reply
        1. Jen S. 2.0

          Yep, this is my secret Santa. You buy things for someone over some specified period of time (a week, a month … in my sorority chapter it actually lasts all year), and they don’t know who you are until you reveal yourself at the end. Yankee Swap all takes place at one party.

          Reply
  8. Young and Managing

    As a previous manager who tried to organize some of these events in the past, I feel for your manager. There were many years where tons of food would be ordered, raffles would be organized, and a ton of prep work would go into this types of events. Every single time there were complaints that things weren’t good enough and it’s not what people wanted. When offering others to plan it the way they want, nobody would step up to organize. As a manager, I got tired of being expected to be a party planner that knew what everyone wanted for the holidays. Of course, this impacted the few employees that were truly grateful for tokens of appreciate. However, when people start complaining to HR that they didn’t win a certain raffle prize………..let’s just say the party planning ends.

    Reply
  9. Marillenbaum

    It sounds to me like the issue is bigger than the holiday party sadness. Sure, lots of people don’t like this stuff (they exist in droves in this comments section), but you do. That is perfectly valid! I also like events that make me feel more connected with my colleagues. That your team consistently doesn’t do these things and doesn’t enjoy them points, in my mind, to a fundamental cultural mismatch. What this means for you is now deciding how you want to deal with that: would you like to approach one or two people with whom you are friendly in the office and do something festive with them? Pour more of your energy into your outside social circle to meet that desire for warm relations? Start looking for a workplace that has the sort of atmosphere that makes work feel less blah? Any and all reasonable choices.

    Reply
    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      I agree with this. I had a coworker once who really liked socializing with her team – she wanted to do weekly happy hours, see movies together, etc. Our team just wasn’t into that. We were a “I’m with you for 40 hours a week, I don’t want to see your face anymore at the end of the day” kind of group. Nothing wrong with either of us, it was just a mismatch. She moved on to another job shortly after starting (for other reasons) but I think the mismatch might have contributed to it. Last I heard, she had found a job as a high school in some kind of staff position, and it seemed like it was much better suited to her.

      Reply
  10. accidental manager

    Do you talk to your colleagues about wanting parties, and do any of them agree? If some of them do, why not try taking on organizing a potluck lunch or restaurant lunch yourselves. Invite everyone but don’t use guilt or shame or demands, and if it’s only a few of you, then enjoy the company of people who genuinely want to be social at work.

    I get the impression that it wouldn’t be a good use of management/company time and money for them to produce some kind of social event as “staff appreciation”, given what you describe in previous years. Your expectation for that is unrealistic in that office, given that most of your colleagues wouldn’t be grateful.

    What kind of evidence makes you think that you do not have a strong team, in terms of productivity and engagement with the department’s goals? Or are you conflating “strong team” with social cohesion?

    Reply
  11. Amy

    No amount of holiday party or team building is going to fix a negative office culture. That’s gotta come from better management. Without fixing the root cause, anything else is just going to feel tense and yucky.

    Reply
  12. AnotherJill

    The best workplace holiday event I participated in was one day being designed as “Holiday Muncheon” day. It was an all day potluck organized in the conference room. Some brought in breakfast items, some brought in lunch items. The department provided nice deli trays.

    Everyone worked a little, went into the conference room and ate a little, worked a little, ate a little, rinse and repeat.
    You could ignore it and no one noticed or you could socialize in short bursts or you could grab some cookies and take them back to your desk.

    It was nice because there was no pressure to give up an evening, no games, no forced socialization… just an opportunity for a relaxing work day.

    Reply
    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      My department does this a few times a year, and I love it. It’s nice to chat a little bit with coworkers, but you don’t feel trapped in a room with them, and can get back to work when you need to. My last department was terrible about trapping us – we’d do a holiday potluck meal, but the meal would be SO LONG and include cheesy games that no one really wanted to play.

      Reply
    2. EddieSherbert

      We have this, plus a (totally optional) White Elephant that we scheduled a conference room for (so we won’t disturb people who aren’t participating).

      Last year about 1/4 the department (15ish people) did the gift exchange.

      Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      I’ve started to really like the low key events. As our organization grew, we had to scale back on the grandness of parties. Formal parties are nice, but when the cost $$,$$$, well, it’s time to ask your self if you would rather have a raise or a party.
      We have done coffee parties that are fun. The big conference room is all decorated and tall tables are set up to encourage mingling, and they have a coffee bar with many flavors of coffee (and cocoa and tea) and all the whipped cream and sprinkles you could imagine. It’s amazing how far some decorations and music can go to boost morale.

      Reply
      1. As Close As Breakfast

        I do not believe I have ever heard of a work party that I like the sound of better than your coffee party. I am so jealous!

        Reply
  13. Peppermint Mocha

    Alison is right, OP. I despise my office’s holiday party. Attendance is always “fundatory” (ugh) so I have to go and hate my every minute of my life instead of doing something (LITERALLY ANYTHING) else. Except I can’t drink because I have to drive home from work, I can’t eat because I have severe food allergies, and most of my coworkers are 20+ years my senior so apparently the only conversations they can have with me are about the fact that I don’t have a husband or the one football team that I sometimes follow.

    Last year I seriously considered calling in sick to work that day just so that I wouldn’t have to go- I can still find the email I drafted to my supervisor saved in my inbox. I might revive that email and actually send it to get out of this year’s party.

    Point is, there are plenty of people who aren’t into holiday parties. I don’t think it helps build morale or collaboration at all. At the very least, you should ask your coworkers what they think. If they are fine with not having one, please don’t push it on them.

    Sincerely,
    Someone who would give anything for the holiday office party to just be canceled.

    Reply
  14. Say what, now?

    Alison is SO SPOT ON with this. The lack of participation from your coworkers isn’t a leadership problem. They can’t force people to attend and be merry and if they tried to it would only result in more bitterness. Your management has tried multiple things and been met with crappy responses so you’ve got to appreciate that even tried multiple years. Also, the boss probably had to buy the fries out of pocket (I’m assuming the party budget went to all of the food your coworkers ate) so you shouldn’t knock him for not buying you a full meal.

    And as a manager myself, I can tell you it’s exhausting to try and make these things work when people aren’t willing. I tried one year to organize a Secret Santa exchange. I got complaints left and right, “I wanted this person!” “I can’t stand this person and I won’t get them a gift!” People opened their gifts silently and barely mustered a “thanks.” So then the next year I tried to organize a cookie competition with a gift card prize that I had to provide with my own money. There was a judge from another department who blind tested the cookies, yet he was supposedly biased for not picking the other 5 people in my group. They don’t want to serve food at a homeless shelter. They don’t want to have to make anything for a potluck. I’m just out of ideas. Now I just give them each a small gift (with my own money because my company is cheap as hell) and leave it at that. I can’t be spending my time trying to make them happy when what’s really going on is they want something given to them, not something to participate in.

    Reply
    1. Health Insurance Nerd

      All of this. This year my husbands VP literally sent her management team an email that said “I’m not planning a department holiday party this year. I can’t do it anymore. These people have finally broken me”. Which was was kind of sad, but also kind of hilarious.

      Reply
      1. Adlib

        Ha! My branch manager about twisted himself in knots trying to find a date that worked for everyone. Originally it was supposed to be with spouses. Then we couldn’t find a date that worked for a majority. Finally, I think most people just started saying “pick a date”. So we had an employee-only party last Friday out of the office during the day. It was great, but I think the whole planning thing gave him heartburn.

        Reply
    2. Brandy

      I hate the Secret Santa. I don’t need anything and don’t want anything. Last time I played (at a different job) my person that got me did not like me at all (I don’t know why) and so I bought for my person and almost got nothing. She showed up late. I got mine after everyone else had exchanged and had their good times. I enjoyed watching them but still. She did finally come in and got her present from her person and gave me mine (actually cute picture frames that another girl had shopped for). That kinda soured me on this stuff. I gave in this year here and hope it goes well.

      Reply
      1. Say what, now?

        Yeah, I made the ones that said they didn’t like their person stick with it and bring something nice (no bag of garbage like the OP who had been sick and given trash as a get well soon “present”). I told them that they didn’t have to put time into something personal or sentimental, it could be as generic as a nice soap set but that they would be pleasant about it. I didn’t try Secret Santa again.

        Reply
      2. MashaKasha

        I play Secret Santa with a social group I’m in, where most people are my friends or friendly acquaintances. First time I played, was the year my dog died, in the summer of that year, after a long illness. Can’t remember what I said I wanted (I may have said I like art), but the gift I got was a painting, by an indie artist local to where my Santa lived, of a dog that looked exactly like my late dog, except more artsy. (To the point where, when my older son moved back in a year later, he started at the painting and asked: “Why do you have a portrait of Sparky on your wall?”) You better believe I’ve been playing with this group every year since; and trying my best to come up with a gift that the person would enjoy! But, you cannot pay me enough to play with coworkers. To me, this is a friends thing. The gift is something that reminds me of one of my friends. I do not want anything hanging or sitting on a shelf in my house that reminds me of work.

        Reply
      3. Aiani

        One year when we did a work Secret Santa, I was the person taking around the container full of names for everyone to pick their person. More than one person commented to me that they hoped they wouldn’t get a particularly not well liked co-worker.

        I finally just took her name myself because even though she wasn’t my favorite person I was still willing to buy her a decent gift.

        I feel like if you’re going to participate in a Secret Santa you have to go into it with the idea that you are willing to buy something decent for whoever you get.

        Reply
        1. Say what, now?

          Yes! Especially since there is likely someone potentially drawing your name that doesn’t like you. Think about that and treat the person you drew with some damn compassion.

          Reply
  15. KayEss

    My office departmental holiday party is this Friday. It was announced Monday. Attendance is mandatory. It will be held immediately after our 9:00 a.m. staff meeting, and end at 11:30 a.m. sharp, after which we will all return to work. Did I mention that we found out this morning that my sub-department is being dissolved and we’re all going to be either laid off or restructured into other departments after January 1? Anyway, it’s also a potluck! I’ll be bringing (probably) non-poisoned cookies.

    Seriously, screw holiday parties.

    Reply
    1. KayEss

      Anyway, my situational bitterness aside: it sounds like this may not just be an issue of the OP being more festive than their colleagues, but also not feeling like they and the team as a whole are appreciated by leadership. That sucks, and is definitely a leadership/management issue. Unfortunately, if I knew the magic steps to make leadership appreciate your work, experience, and contributions, I wouldn’t be job-hunting right now.

      Reply
    2. Say what, now?

      Wow, so sorry KayEss! First that you’re being laid off/restructured and secondly that your office is making attendance mandatory even for the people they’re letting go. That’s just terrible on all counts. But I love your attitude about it.

      Reply
    3. einahpets

      I am totally going thru something similar. We just had a round of layoffs this week with another round after the holidays that includes my group, and they announced that the Christmas party was still happening because they already paid for it. This is the company wide party on top of the Christmas cookie exchange, a White Elephant exchange, and a department luncheon. I am so over the holidays and the mandatory nature of participating in stuff that is supposed to be fun/giving back but really isn’t.

      Reply
  16. High Score!

    Why do people want to celebrate the holidays with their coworkers? Yuck, give me my paycheck and let me go home. U have family and friends to celebrate with.

    Reply
    1. SallytooShort

      Because we spend quite a lot of time with these people and it would be nice to occasionally interact like human beings and feel some kinship.

      Because it’s not either/or.

      Reply
      1. Beancounter Eric

        I don’t really want to know my coworkers and I have no desire for kinship with them. In too many respects, they stand in the way of my doing my job – necessary, probably, but still a bloody pain in the backside.

        Pay me on time and in the correct amount, make sure my computing resources are adequate, kill the rats running around the office (yes, we have rats), and I’ll take care of the numbers. I’m not interested in a holiday party, birthday observances, “We hit sales goal” celebrations, and the other blowing of smoke up backsides so popular in many workplaces……just let me prepare and analyze the numbers, and otherwise, leave me alone. Like or don’t like the work I am doing – simply say so.

        I’m not there to be friends with my coworkers – civil with them, absolutely. Might even smile once in a while. Possibly tell a joke every quarter or so….but I’m not interested in being a friend. For at the end of the day, as much as I like what I do, it’s just a job, and they are just coworkers.

        Reply
      2. MashaKasha

        While I bond with some of my coworkers, there are others that I wouldn’t trust not to stab me in the back the moment it’s turned, and still others that I’m racking my brain trying to come up with things to talk about when we meet at a coffee machine, because we have absolutely nothing in common. Forced socialization between all three of these groups in a party setting sounds like… not my idea of fun?

        Reply
      3. Thermal Teapot Researcher

        I have never had any desire to form “kinship” with people who are being paid to be present at the same venue as me. Never.

        Reply
    2. TC

      I like my coworkers, and I think they like me. We all work in a city where we don’t have a lot of friends or family (it’s one of those big ones) so it’s nice to let lose with them. I did focus on applying for jobs where I would be working with people like this, but I appreciate our parties and get togethers.

      Reply
    3. Say what, now?

      Ditto, but I’m fast becoming a Grinch. I don’t like going to my family Christmas either. I don’t want to do anything but sleep in now that I have a two year-old, but that would be too miraculous even for Christmas.

      Reply
    4. Justin

      I get that some hate it, but why is it a surprise that some like it?

      I spend a lot of time with them, and it’s fun to get to know them, personally. But I understand it’s not for everyone.

      Reply
      1. Say what, now?

        It’s not surprising, it’s just (in my experience) not as common. In my entire branch there are 3 people who love Christmas and want to spend time with coworkers being merry. There are 40-some other people who want to slit their throats for even asking them to socialize. And the story has been similar in most of the other places I’ve worked as well.
        Now I just try to do the best I can in making people realize that I appreciate them being here without infringing on their time and space. Typically a small gift and a note saying thank you for whatever noteworthy things they’ve done this year.

        Reply
    5. MashaKasha

      Hear, hear!

      How to give me a perfect work holiday party:

      1) give me a bonus
      2) send me home early
      3) I might get together for drinks with my work friends after work. But I might do it any other time of year, regardless of the party.

      Reply
      1. Say what, now?

        I’m asking this in all sincerity because I think what you outlined is what my employees want, but I can’t give them a bonus and we have the same service level agreements regardless of whether it’s December 24th or June 10th so I can’t let them go early. Our company is notoriously stingy so I can’t offer bonuses. :( What could I do to make you happy, Masha Kasha?

        Reply
        1. MashaKasha

          Oh yikes! I don’t know! As your employee, I would, of course, be understanding of these limitations. I don’t know… a team lunch? Bring in cookies? Depending on how close with each other the team members are, go out after work? I cannot think of anything else. Maybe others can?

          Reply
          1. Dr. Doll

            Yes, except that we’ve just read dozens of posts about what an imposition team lunches are, the minefield that plates of cookies can be, and how ridiculous and offensive it is to even consider that people would want to go out *after work*.

            So, Say what, I do not believe there is anything you can do to make your people happy WRT holiday celebrations. If you’re up to it, you could give them a small neutral gift and a card that mentions something you appreciate about them.

            Reply
            1. Party Pooper

              No one has said it is offensive to “even consider that people would want to go out *after work*”. What they HAVE said is that it should be OPTIONAL.

              Why is this so goddammed hard for some people to understand?

              Reply
              1. Guest

                Exactly. I don’t understand by people get so defensive about forced company gatherings. I don’t get offended if my coworkers don’t want to be my best friend and I don’t get why some people do.

                Reply
          2. Say what, now?

            I appreciate the suggestions. I want them to be happy, especially knowing that the holidays aren’t super happy for some of them. Maybe I’ll look into getting some pizza delivered. Pizza is pretty safe, I think!

            Reply
          3. Elsajeni

            I think a key part is not suggesting something that requires your staff to spend their time or money for it to work. Say What, I don’t mean to pick on you, but I notice that most of the stuff you mentioned upthread falls into this category — Secret Santa, a potluck, a cookie contest. Even when those really are voluntary, they can put people in a tough position, especially in smaller groups, because low participation means the whole thing falls apart — you only have 3 names in the Secret Santa hat, the one person who made cookies wins by default, and your “potluck” is one bowl of pasta salad and a veggie tray. I think any holiday party suggested by management should be something that will be able to go ahead even if no one else brings anything, even if it’s as simple as “I ordered enough pizzas for everyone and got a cake at Costco”; that way, if anyone wants to contribute something extra, it’s gravy, and no one is left feeling like they have to choose between spending money that may not be in their budget or being The Grinch Who Ruined Secret Santa.

            Reply
            1. Say what, now?

              I have more than three under me. At the time we did the cookie competition and Secret Santa we had 7 and we had full participation. But more to the point, I have no budget for this. The company has a “we gave them a job so they should be grateful” line. They don’t offer bonuses, they don’t give out party stipends and they don’t allow even food to be expensed.

              So everything done is out of my own pocket and I’m not flush either. My frustration stems from the fact that they’re expecting me to come up with something but they don’t want to do something, they want to get something and I just don’t have the cash to give them what they really want. It’s not in my budget and it wouldn’t fair to expect me to pay out of pocket anyway.

              Reply
  17. Miss Elaine e

    Personally, I’d rather have a small office potluck, chit-chat a bit and go home early. But that’s just me.
    The two worst office parties were for the same company, a newspaper chain with a daily and many small weeklies for several communities. Corporate had a formal reception/ball. I refused to go on the principle that, IMHO, the holiday party is intended to be the company thank-you for another year of work, yet we were charged $30 a head to attend. Um, no thanks.
    The reception was the weekend before Christmas. On the last production day before Christmas, all employees at the weeklies (scattered over two large counties) were Required to drive to the largest of the branches (30 miles round trip) for a Christmas lunch consisting of deli trays, chips and pop (yippee! I nearly crashed my car on icy roads for this?). The lunch started with our head honcho (a guy well-known for his daily 3-martini schmoozing lunches with advertisers) grabbing a handful of lunch meat, slapping it on some bread, taking a huge bite, and then exclaiming, “Nothing like a good lunch meat sandwich!” with his mouth full. (Think Saul Siler in the movie That Thing You Do.) Yum!

    Reply
  18. The Other Dawn

    I feel like I’m in a weird sort of limbo where I work, in that a few people on my team and my boss like to hit the bar after our annual Christmas celebration and I don’t.

    I manage my team (<10 people) and my boss manages the whole department. I was new three years ago and started at the beginning of December when all the Christmas events started happening. So I was a "joiner" that year even though that's not my usual MO; I'd rather be home with a book, my husband, and one or ten cats. I wanted to meet people and get to know them, and show the team and my manager that I could have fun and be reasonably social. I was a joiner the last two years, too. This year, though, I decided to skip one event (Yankee Swap) and I won't be here for another (department potluck brunch). That leaves the Christmas party, which is at a game center. I don't mind going to that since I usually have fun, but I feel more and more like a stick in the mud as the years go on: a few people on my team, a few other department members, and my boss all like to hit the bar together after the Christmas party and generally get home after midnight. It's not that I'm not invited. It's just that after working all day and then spending two or three hours more with people, I really just want to go home and I'm not into the bar scene. But on the other hand I feel kind of left out and like I'm not a part of the team when I hear them all talking about it the next day and how so-and-so told this outrageous story or whatever. I feel like I'm missing out on some bonding time. A couple of my team members pre-date me with my boss, so that adds to the left out feeling. I guess it always takes me back to when I was that awkward, unsocial, uncool kid. I know this is all internal and I just need to accept it or do something about it.

    Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        I might do that, although even though I stay until the end, I never see or hear any of them actually making the plans to go somewhere afterwards. I don’t know if they arrange it beforehand, or it kind of just materializes. I don’t know.

        I think what also doesn’t help is that even after three years of being here and being a joiner as much as I can, I still feel like an outsider. Even with a couple members of my team (the ones that pre-date me). It’s not all of them, just a couple. Probably sounds ridiculous and it’s likely all internal, but I still feel it.

        Reply
    1. Roscoe

      So don’t take this as mean, because I don’t mean it to be hostile. But you seem to want it both ways. You don’t want to hang with these people, but then you feel left out even though you were invited. You kind of have to decide which you want more? Your solitude or inclusion.

      Reply
  19. Justin

    So I got a new job this year, and volunteered to help lead the holiday party planning, because perhaps it is my dream to be Angela from the Office (actually, I’m kind of married to a severe, religious lady, so maybe I’m Dwight, but I digress).

    Anyway, so, we were given a small budget, each of the four of us did some research on possible options, we presented them at the weekly team meeting, they voted anonymously online, one of the options one. This is in addition to a Secret Snowflake.

    What won the vote was an “Escape Room,” which we’ll be doing tomorrow. A few people declined, but out of the 21 of us 14 of us will go. The budget covered the room. We will meet at a bar for a happy hour where we can choose to spend what we want or don’t want on drinks, and the other 6 people will join us there (one person who is in school can’t attend). And we’ll exchange gifts before the Escape Room. We also put the date up to a vote, and although there’s no pleasing everyone, tomorrow ended up winning that vote.

    Essentially, we put it to a vote, no one was pressured (the only “pressure” was “if you say you want to come, please come, because we have to pay based on participants”), and almost everyone will go.

    It wouldn’t work at all if we didn’t like each other, but still, the collaboration and the voting and such should make it work well.

    I say all this to say, yeah, your folks are voting by telling you they don’t like what’s been chosen. It’s too late for this year, but if it’s important to you (and it is to me, I just like parties, and being new here I wanted to be involved), ask people. Just ask and see what they say, and do it anonymously if you can.

    Reply
    1. Roscoe

      Good luck with that. I did party planning for a job once. What won was karaoke. I didn’t think it was a good idea to plan an entire work party around it, but I did it anyway. The problem was, no one wanted to get up there and sing. After a lot of liquid courage, it was a bit better. But man, it was odd that everyone liked the idea of it, but not the actual participating.

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I like the voting part, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s fair that the non-Escape Room people can only participate in the part of the evening that’s pay-your-own-way. I mean, I get it, and we can’t please everybody, and life isn’t always fair. But I cannot and will not do an Escape Room, which is my Thing (I am severely claustrophobic) and I have no problem opting out, but it’s kind of like, “We’ll pay for everyone else to do this thing where they’ll have fun, but we won’t spring for a cocktail for you, even though that is the only fun you’ll have.”

      Of course, I am also a proponent of, “If the company plans it, the company pays [for] it.” Government offices excepted.

      Reply
  20. Agent Diane

    I loathe organising the team meal. We strictly rotate it around, though, so I’ve done my duty for about five years now.

    My team are not co-located, and I work in an office with a heap of colleagues from other teams. There’s about five managers on-site. We take turns to bring in snacks on Fridays. And at Christmas we take turns bringing in tubs of chocolates for everyone. That’s fairly standard in the public sector in the U.K. Someone in the NHS even did a trial of which brand of chocolates would get eaten the fastest.

    (Every year the BMJ publish silly trials. Previous years’ included a trial of how quickly spoons vanished from a communal teapoint, and this year a doctor has done a case review of Dr Brown Bear’s cases in Peppa Pig.)

    Reply
    1. Agent Diane

      Sorry – got side-tracked! My point to the OP is that sometimes teams would rather have the low key tubs of chocolate in the office as a “yay, we’re appreciated” than a formal event. Especially one with team games (shudder).

      If the bowling isn’t a success, look at what more subtle ways managers are showing appreciation.

      Reply
  21. Chocolate Teapot

    There was an article in the Guardian about Christmas parties this week, and the comments section was full of people’s stories. My favourite was the person who ended up in the posh hotel ballroom at a themed party with free champagne and canapes, who should have been in the grotty function room next door.

    Reply
  22. Anon.

    Our staff appreciation consists exclusively of potlucks, where we bring the food, and we are also expected to bring cash, food, or gifts for one or more charities. I don’t really feel appreciated. :(

    Reply
  23. jm

    I think my boss and I finally hit on a good holiday party combination this year. We had our party today at lunchtime. It was just pizza from a well-liked local pizza place, a big non-alcoholic punch bowl, a tacky sweater contest and holiday trivia game (Kahoot.com is a great website to create your own trivia game). It was a super low-stress event, simple decorations, lasted about an hour, and everyone seemed to have a great time. My boss dressed up as the Elf on the Shelf which was really funny, and everyone took pics with her.

    The last several years, the main dish has been provided by the leadership team, and everyone brought a side or dessert. As the organizer, I’d always stress about whether there would be enough food, were the decorations nice enough, etc. This year , it was low-budget, low-stress, and JUST RIGHT.

    Reply
  24. meemee

    At my last job, the holiday part was going to my boss’s home for a potluck where he passed around small plastic bags of wood shavings. (He is a hobbyist carpenter.) He had us guess which type of wood was in each baggie.

    At my current job, the holiday party is blowout extravaganza with dinner, trapeze artists, a band, casino games and door prizes, but people complain about it. I’m like, you have no idea what it’s like out there. Wood shavings.

    Reply
      1. meemee

        Yes! Pretty much.

        Once I went to his desk to ask him something, and he wasn’t there. I saw a post-it note on his desk that said, “I need a plant.” Under that was a drawing of a plant with length and width measurements and dimension marks.

        Reply
  25. Pollygrammer

    Some of us aren’t Christian. You feel “slighted” because they don’t take your preferred means of workplace celebration exactly the way you’d like? Some of us get to feel slighted because these celebrations are always in the context of other people’s religion. Christmas is peak time to feel ~other.~ Speaking for myself: it wasn’t fun in elementary school, and it isn’t fun in the workplace.

    Reply
    1. boop the first

      I hear you. A slight tangent: I’m in a spot where I have to hear 7 different versions of every christmas song every day. It’s amazing that we suffer through a whole month of kid’s music for one holiday. Maybe it’s nostalgic for some, but many of us don’t want to relive childhood, you know?

      If we have to have a month of christmas music, we might as well also have a month of valentine music, then easter music, and halloween soundtracks, and in november just play recordings of wartime sounds, fireworks noise in july, etc. Each month, every year, the same auditory torture for *everyone*. Why not? We already do it!

      Reply
  26. oranges & lemons

    Is it just me, or is it weird that so many employers do Christmas-themed activities in general? Since not everyone is Christian and not everyone celebrates Christmas for various reasons (and lots of people have negative associations with it) it always seems weird to me to bring the forced festivity into the professional sphere, where I’m sure lots of people would appreciate a reprieve from the constant reminders of the holidays.

    Reply
  27. Rich

    People have different preferences. Using appreciation of “team building” events and social gatherings as a measure of team cohesion makes as much sense to me as using peoples preferences for fish vs chicken as a measure. Some like A, some like B, but while they might have A or B in common, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with work and team effectiveness

    I (and many like me) hate these things. I have friends that are coworkers. I am never (ever ever) friends with someone _because_ they are a coworker. I have many coworkers who are great professionally that I want nothing to do with outside of work. Nothing at all. It has nothing to do with my desire to work with someone or my team’s cohesion. It has everything to do with my different priorities and preferences around personal vs professional attachments and personal vs professional time.

    I accept events like these as a fact of working life, participate when I have to, and avoid them when I can. In all cases, though, they are work, not play. I prefer to spend my work time working, not pretending to play.

    For me it’s particularly noticeable as I work in a sales role for a technology company. Entertaining customers outside of work is part of the job. It took a long time to train my teammate to understand my boundaries on this. “Do you want to go to dinner with Customer Bob tonight?” No, I never want to go to dinner with you or Bob (who are both great people, I’m sure). Do you need me there? If the answer is a Maybe or higher, I’m always there, always making it work, because that’s the job. So I’m working, and that’s OK.

    Holiday parties are not the job. They are very well intended, and some people love them — which is fine. For me, they are good intentions shoved under my fingernails. And they have no relationship to how I will or will not work with you.

    Reply
  28. Where's the Le-Toose?

    For me, I hate office holiday parties. From the planning side, I manage a team of 20 and there is just no making everyone happy. Plus, I work for a state agency, so we can’t use public tax dollars for office appreciation events–I have to pay for the whole thing out of my own pocket, and I only get paid 5%-10% more than the people I supervise.

    Taking everyone out to lunch? I got complaints that the lunch wasn’t nice enough even though it cost me over $500 out of my own pocket. Doing the pizza party in the office? I got complaints from people who said it wasn’t the holidays without a drink in their hand (and you can’t have alcohol in a state building). An appreciation day instead of a holiday party with custom made fortune cookies, individually labeled pens, and other fun items to make a person’s office life better? I got complaints that it wasn’t thoughtful enough or Christmas-y enough.

    So now I don’t do anything and it doesn’t make me a weak manager. I have other appreciation dates the rest of the year. Around the holidays, my direct reports do a potluck and I give them time to interact with each other, but I’m done with trying to plan something for everyone.

    Reply
  29. Original LW Here

    Since writing this letter, there have been several changes in management in our department as well as in administration. Among other thigs, this has resulted in the administrator taking on the responsibility of hosting parties for her direct staff and our group, along with another very small department of two people. They are nothing lavish nor are they off-campus or after hours, so most people are able to attend and do attend. This takes the pressure/responsibility off of our direct supervisor to organize anything, which in turn takes the dissapointment away from me. This year, the first year the admin has done this, there was a small buffet, an open bar, and several nicely decorated tables, both seated and standing. I got a chance to visit with some of my colleagues who I only pass in the hall occasionally, so that was great. The food was unusual for our on-site caterer, so the change was welcome.

    Although I do still feel yearnings for more fun events and comraderie in our department, especially when hearing about the epic parties others are planning, I am grateful that a common ground has been found. All in all, I’m glad it has morphed into this event and it was nice.

    Reply
  30. boop the first

    I generally don’t go, because in the past it’s often been booze-driven sandboxing, and I don’t know what to do with myself but eat alone in a corner. I didn’t work with most of the staff, and the ones I did work with preferred to speak in their own language so I had no one to talk to. I stopped going.

    My current job did a restaurant thing, but it was pay-for-your-own. I still would have done it had I known more details, but that’s pretty weird for such a huge company to do. Even the small business that nickel and dimed the staff gave us free food in december.

    Reply

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