what’s your worst office holiday story?

In the spirit of the holiday season, it’s time to share your worst office holiday stories!

Did your office mandate your attendance at an 80s-prom-themed party on a Saturday night? (That’s a real story from  the comments on a recent post about holiday aggravations at work.)  Did your CEO make everyone at the company holiday party watch two carousels worth of slides from his recent trip to Yosemite, and then sing a song about a bear? (That’s a real story from the comments on that post too.) Did your coworker swoop in and pack up all the leftovers from an office lunch as soon as it was over, including a whole cake, so that she could take them all home and no one could have seconds later that day and then act put out when anyone asked for some for themselves? (Yes, another real one.)

Share your worst office holiday stories in the comments …

And speaking of the comments on that earlier post, there’s also a recipe for chocolate turtles in there, as well as advice on tea-drinking. Check it out.

{ 382 comments… read them below }

  1. Dawn*

    My husband has two holiday parties in one week, one for his department and one for all company employees in the area. Both are scheduled for 4-9 pm and “mandatory” causing him to miss our daughter’s choir concert one night and another personal regular weekly meeting another night. Why can’t they do these during work hours like my company does?

  2. Working Mom*

    It’s hard to pick just one story, but the best was probably the holiday party where everyone had to sing Christmas Carols together, only the words had been changed and basically made fun of the senior managers (think singing about your boss’s boss’s boss’s bald head to the tune of Jingle Bells). They were all good sports about it, but it was so incredibly awkward.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      We did this once at a holiday party. We changed the words to “The 12 Days of Christmas” and sang “The 12 Days of Banking”. Yes, we made fun of the senior managers, but there was nothing about bald heads or anything like that. It was more about the CFO being tight with money, etc. It was hilarious and the senior managers were practically on the floor laughing. It wasn’t mandatory. It was something we cooked up on our own to make things fun.

      1. Laura L*

        Ha! We’re doing that this year. I’m helping plan my department’s party and we’re doing the 12 Days of [Department Name]. We’ll see how this goes over.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          It was really a lot of fun and every employee (we only had about 30 at the time) wanted to help write it. Our favorite part was the 5th day of Christmas, which was “Where is Maxine?!?!?!” (imagine 30 people practically screaming this in the banquet room of a high-end restaurant). Maxine was our person who basically oversaw the three branches we had at the time and she could NEVER be found. Cell voice mail was always full, never answered email, etc. She thought it was hysterical though.

          1. Laura L*

            Cool! Someone else on the planning committee has already written it and we are keeping everything a secret so that everyone will be surprised at the party!

            1. Working Mom*

              To be clear, I think this could work okay in the right office with the right culture, especially a small group like the 30 people above. In my experience, I was at a large federal agency where I was expected to put on a suit coat before going to a meeting with upper management, and typically would have had to have a “prebrief” before any meeting with the Bald Boss. So for this situation, it did NOT fit the culture.

              I would suggest that anyone considering something like this seriously consider the company culture, and remember that just because YOU have a personal relationship with whom/what you’re ridiculing, everyone else may not.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                Yes, definitely. It’s all about culture. Our culture is one in which everyone feels comfortable ribbing the CEO, and he laughs at it, so our song wasn’t an issue.

                1. Gene*

                  We have video of our male Director in a dress & falsies, on stage, singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with modified lyrics at our potluck/winter staff meeting a couple of years ago.

                2. Emily*

                  I think a CEO or Management in general can set a tone that makes this kind of thing acceptable and even appealing, but since it’s never going to appeal to everyone, participation and maybe even attendance shouldn’t be mandatory. It’s kind of like, if there’s a coal walk at a company event (a la Dunder Mifflin), then the boss should be the first to try it. On the other hand, does the boss going first imply that it’s not acceptable to sit it out?

              2. Laura L*

                Ours doesn’t make fun of individuals, it just talks about little annoyances we all deal with. So, it’s a bit different.

      2. Ryan*

        The 12 days of banking…that sounds suspiciously familiar and I’m now wondering if I know you hahaha

  3. Sharon*

    My worst was a company that turned out to be rather psychotic but I didn’t know it at the time of the holiday party. It was an otherwise ordinary party – dinner and dancing at a local hotel ballroom. But between the dinner and dancing they had karaoke. Not volunteer karaoke, though, and this was before karaoke machines were available. Several small groups of people were coerced into going up and singing, handed the words to the songs printed on paper and made to sing acapella in front of the entire room. It was so painful to watch their embarrassment…. no, I’d go so far as to say humiliation. I wasn’t one of those people, so I have no bitterness, but you have to really think twice about company management that will do that to people. It was downright ugly.

  4. Jamie*

    What a perfect post for a Friday!

    I don’t have anything good…just kinda pathetic.

    I had just been promoted to corporate in Novemeber one year and I was miserable…I ended up resigning a couple months later without something lined up, that kind of miserable.

    Fancy holiday party (hate) after hours, no spouses (hate), mandatory (HATE), and I had no work friends there since it was only for corporate employees and the people I liked we’re at that moment at the B party at a lesser restaurant with cheaper door prizes having a much better time.

    So Im uncomfortable at these things even when I like people, so my distress and anxiety being here was reaching epic proportions. Oh, did I mentioning was sitting at the owners table? Yeah. So I spent the rest of the night:

    1. Listening to one millionaire talk about the troubles he’s having nursing his 100k coin collection properly and how hard it is to find a decent jaguar dealer. Two problems I’ve truly never had.
    2. Listening to another millionaire complain that he had to pay OT for the min wage temps on weeks they worked 48 hours after we went to 12 our shifts. Oh and then change the topic to the second kitchen he was having installed in his summer home.
    3. Being badgered by the woman who organized the even about what I was pnt eating. Seriously pushed it around my plate and pretended to eat, back off!
    4. Having to refuse a characterist > 10 times because he was taking it persoanlly I didn’t want a a cartoon of myself with a giant head to commemorate this magical evening.
    5. Sending text messages to myself because at the time I didn’t have anyone close to me with texting capabilities and I felt so pathetic and it was the first and only time I’ve pretended to have friends.

    Walking out I was given a door prize of a freaking giant crock pot and a $100 gift card for Target. I happened to know the workers at the plant were given picture frames and I thought about what a $100 a piece would have meant to any of them working a tough job min wage. I left the crock pot in the ladies room of the restaurant (oops – yeah on purpose) and stopped at the fire station of my town on the way home and dropped the gift card in the Toys for Tots bin.

    The money felt dirty…that whole experience made me feel dirty.

    I was so new in my career, though, I didn’t think I had options. Now, there is no way I’d be bullied into going knowing I was leaving soon. People say this crap is like highschool but I disagree…I liked highschool. At least I had friends there, this was a freaking nightmare.

    1. De Minimis*

      I’m sure you meant the car, but I prefer the idea of the millionaire complaining about trying to find a good dealer in exotic cats. Actually either would be pretty repulsive, that sounds like a terrible time. I really like what you did with the prizes you won.

      1. Jamie*

        Ha – yes – although I love all cats exotic and otherwise I’m sure he meant the car.

        And yikes, sorry for the typos…I also meant he had trouble insuring his coin collection and not nursing it. I don’t know if the thought of him with his coins in little sick beds with thermometers or him trying to breastfeed them would be more disturbing.

        1. fposte*

          I loved “nursing”–it left a sort of cartoonishly wacko fondling of the shiny coins image in my head.

          1. De Minimis*

            I didn’t even notice that one….I guess I just thought of nursing as being equivalent to maintaining.

              1. Shannon!*

                I loved “listening to one millionaire talk about the troubles he’s having nursing his 100k coin collection properly.” Poor millionaire. Who knew coins could be so frisky and uncontrollable?

      2. Sarah G*

        Ha! I misunderstood and was totally picturing him shopping for exotic cats; the car didn’t even occur to me! Maybe if “Jaguar” had been capitalized…
        Goes to show you how utilitarian my attitude about cars is. Proud owner of my third used Civic.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Jamie- what an awful story, yikes.
      I, too, looove the part about what you did with the gifts. Somehow there is something so satisfying there, right? Like getting in the last word…

  5. Anon*

    Well, my story is not as extreme as the stories above, but lousy enough to get us started. We were all invited to a christmas lunch at a nice (but not super fancy) nearby restaurant by the bosses. Same as the year before. We got an RSVP reminder and a general reminder as the date got closer. Then the week before we all got a memo un-inviting us from the Christmas lunch. Instead, we need to buy a 5 dollar gender neutral gift for a blind exchange. No lunch provided, the explanation being that we are non-profit and shouldn’t be wasting money like that. And then the day of they ordered us a pizza, which came an hour too early. Oh and the bosses/management did not partake in the pizza or forced exchange. Now, I would have been fine with no lunch from the start, but un-inviting the whole office sat wrong with many of us, especially given the money spent on catered lunches for business meetings and the like, and the cold pizza as a consolation prize was just a reminder that we would have been down the street at that nice restaurant…

  6. Elisabeth*

    My husband works in a branch office (there are 2 folks in this office) and the main branch is clear across the state 3.5 hours away (we live in the midwest). Every year, the guy who owns the company has a Christmas party luncheon. It’s mandatory. And never exceeds an hour (sounds like a rip-roaring good time, no?). So my husband and the other guy in his office spend approximately 7 hours driving on the interstate for a 1 hour lunch. Thankfully, the last couple of years we’d had higher than normal temps for this time of year and the roads have been clear.

    1. Blinx*

      Well, I *was* going to complain about a 4 hour round trip to a holiday lunch… just what is management thinking? And it was a late lunch that went long, so the return trip coincided with Friday rush hour traffic.

    2. Lucy*

      I was trying to figure out why having super-stoned temp workers made the 7 hr drive better – comedy relief from the back seat?

      But then I remembered that I haven’t had my breakfast yet and “higher than normal temps” meant, uh… temperatures.

      1. Jamie*

        Yes!! this is AWESOME!!

        I’m picturing a road trip with Jim Brewer in the backseat alternately sleeping and heckling.

      2. Kathryn*

        This actually made me laugh out loud, and now everyone is giving me strange looks because I’m in my office laughing all alone. It’s been a stressful day, thank you!

      3. Marly King*

        “I was trying to figure out why having super-stoned temp workers made the 7 hr drive better – comedy relief from the back seat?”

        Now THAT would make an excellent holiday story. +1

  7. Rebecca*

    At my old company we had a holiday party that many people thought sounded really fantastic. It was held at a very high end hotel, open bar, very generous gifts, surf & turf dinner and we could all stay at the hotel and have breakfast in the morning – all of this compliments of the boss. Sounds posh, right? But it was mandatory, no one could leave until the boss did, the husband of the 2nd in command would sing (he was awful – no one could even look at each other for fear of breaking into giggles), someone would be chosen to give a toast saying how wonderful the boss was, and you had to get up early to avoid having breakfast with the boss. One year I happened to have a hair appointment the same day, so my stylist put my hair up when I told her I was going to a glitzy party. Unfortunately for me, the boss also had HER hair up, and was so infuriated that we had similar hairstyles that she glared at me all night and wouldn’t speak to me. So very mature!

    1. Laura L*

      “no one could leave until the boss did”

      This type of thing pisses me off. It’s such a controlling thing to do. Argh.

      1. Jamie*

        I would have thought the boss would be considered the host of the event and rules of etiquette dictate guests leave before the hosts. Hmmm.

        Maybe Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior is something that boss should read.

      2. Anonymous*

        Look up control freak and narcissism and you’ll see her picture! We also had an annual Halloween party to which all the families were invited and kids had to dress up. It was held almost an entire month before Halloween, which was always a pain for me since my kids neve knew what they wanted to be that far ahead. And all the employees (not just the kids) had to participate in bobbing for apples. EVERYONE. And they took picturs. I caught an epic cold after the first year so refused the next year. Got the evil eye but stood my ground. All of a sudden everyone else gets brave too and that was the end of bobbing for apples.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Okay, it’s already kind of childish to get mad if someone wears the same dress as you – sure, you might not be thrilled, but might as well laugh at it – but *hairstyles*?! I’m sorry, but getting annoyed at you for having your hair up (not exactly novel) makes your boss sound like some kind of Bridezilla/Scarlett O’Hara.

      1. Another Emily*

        I think it’s okay to feel annoyed if someone has the same outfit or even hairstyle as you. But it’s not cool to act peevish about it and be rude to someone who didn’t do it on purpose.

  8. Anon*

    My first year at a new company our party consisted of packs of deli meat tossed on the conference table along with a loaf of white bread.

  9. Lynda*

    Well, the one I’m due to attend in 2 weeks may well spawn a story, what with it:
    Being a family firm where everybody dislikes one brother’s wife
    Fancy dress is mandatory – my idea to go as 2 different incarnations of Doctor Who have been spurned
    Unlimited alcohol is always a good thing with people that can’t hold their liquor and run off at the mouth when sober

    Plus points: it has a scheduled end time! and it’s in a castle! With wandering musicians who can play “Smoke on the Water” on medieval instruments!

    1. Andrea*

      Some of these sound like a blast to attend…you know, if you don’t work there or even really know anyone who does, making it possible to tell off the jerks with no repercussions while also enjoying the food and entertainment.

    2. Laura L*

      “and it’s in a castle! With wandering musicians who can play “Smoke on the Water” on medieval instruments!”

      This might almost make up for the negatives. You should still go dressed as Dr. Who, though. Or, are you a woman? Then wear a tux (or something suitably formal, but less expensive)

      1. Lynda*

        I thought cross dressing 4th Doctor so I can offer people jelly babies all night :)

        And it’s a castle in England as that’s where I live…

    3. Andrea*

      Please go as Doctor Who anyway! (Tom Baker is, of course, the best Doctor.) Also, we need pictures, lots and lots of pictures…

    4. Vicki*

      I am reading these and thinking ow glad I am that every company I have worked for has had non-mandatory company-wide (or division-wide) parties, 1 guest / employee invited too… and I never attended any of them.

  10. AdAgencyChick*

    Let’s see…the holiday party where a very senior (and very married) person made out with a very junior person in front of everyone?

    Also the old-school alarm clock (complete with bells on top) that I got from a creative director as a holiday gift one year. It was pastel, had an elephant on it, and it said “Dream Big.” (From the colors and the elephant, it was pretty clearly meant for a baby’s room.) He was totally offended that my reaction wasn’t, “ZOMG! I am so totally inspired to be more creative because of this!”

    I was going to toss it in the trash, but then a coworker had the genius idea of putting it on a lanyard. It is now my Flavor Flav clock, and when I’m feeling goofy I’ll wear it around the office. Ha!

    1. Ivy*

      HAHA They made out!? I mean…. It’s. So. Scandalous! I love it. Sounds like something that would happen on The Office. I’m happy for the reminder that real life is really that ridiculous. Makes me remember to not care about the little things.

    2. anonymous for this*

      At my first office job, many years ago, I made out with a co-worker not at the official holiday party but at the after-party. I don’t know if anyone saw, though. I make a point to never have more than a couple drinks at work things now.

      1. Anon*

        I worked with a couple who would make out in the staffroom on our lunch break. (We were all students, which makes it slightly better, but still…ick. And that’s coming from somebody who also works with her boyfriend.)

      2. The gold digger*

        I would write this anonymously, except I already wrote a blog post about it. Although the blog is anonymous. I hope.

        Anyhow, I, too, got drunk (several shots of tequila on an empty stomach) and made out with my boss’ married boss. At the bar. In front of everyone.

        Oh yes.

        My only defense – and it is weak indeed – is that I was 22 years old and he was in his 30s. He should have known better way more than I should have.

        That was my first and penultimate time drunk. I don’t make good decisions under the influence.

    3. Louis*

      As I was leaving one christmas party, I heard from around the corner “Of course you can come home, XYZ won’t be there tonight”… XYZ was the name of the CEO.

      I get to the corner which was the way to the underground parking and I come face to face with the VP of HR (Who actually had a child with the CEO although they were not married) making out with one of the consultant.

      I’ve keept my mouth shut and never had any issue with HR during all the time I worked there…. I guess that makes this it a not so horror story

  11. Blinx*

    Yeah! My bear song and slides story made AAM’s post! *does the happy dance*

    It was excruciating. And I think the bear song was impromptu, while someone worked on unjamming the slide projector.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know if it’s funnier that he spontaneously broke out into a song about a bear to entertain the crowd during the technical difficulty, or if it would be funnier if he had rehearsed and prepared for it.

      1. Jamie*

        I think impromptu is way funnier – because that means he has songs about bears just rattling around in his head ready to go at any time…I wonder what else he has lurking in there?

        Maybe when he’s in line at the grocery store he just randomly starts spouting haikus about piglet sqid.

        (If you have never heard of piglet squid I beseech you to google it and check out the images. It embodies the cuteness and total utter weirdness of our world better than any other living creature.)

          1. Jamie*

            It’s totally real. It was in an article on Cracked last week about weird animals that you won’t believe are real…so I looked it up and have been in love ever since.

          1. Kelly O*

            This is EXACTLY what I was thinking!

            Although Oleanna Redwyne would make any party more entertaining (I am still bummed that Maggie Smith is not playing her, because since I discovered the wonderfulness of the Dowager Countess, I have pictured her in my head when reading Martin.)

            1. Henning Makholm*

              Entertaining, yes. I can imagine it:

              “… so we were negotiating a strategic alliance with this family business from overseas, and somehow their CEO’s mother got herself invited to our holiday party, and she spent all night droning on about how her son was a total nitwit, and how much better it had been when her late husband ran things, and complaining about the music selection, and suddenly our president nearly choked to death on a piece of pie and had to go to the hospital, and it was weeks before we discovered that in the confusion she’d managed to get one of the interns to reveal his VPN password without really being aware of it…”

  12. Amouse*

    Oh I cannot wait to read these! Just wanted to say thanks Alison for choosing this awesome topic! I’m still thinking about my worst holiday party. I’ll post later if I think of anything good.

  13. Christine P.*

    I worked at a small office during university — f/t during the summers, and casual p/t during the school year (usually 8-12 hours every week). One year the entire staff was invited out to a 3+ hour Christmas lunch at a fancy restaurant with the company president — except me. This was after I had already been there for two summers as well as the in-betweens, so it wasn’t like forgetting to ask the temp who’s only been there for a week and a half.

    (Actually, I got an awful lot of work done in the wonderfully empty and quiet office… but it was pretty rude.)

    1. Anonymous*

      I work behind the scenes for a performance group with a large nonprofit. There will frequently be donor or sponsor parties after performances around the holidays and because we’re generally bused in and out all together the crew is forced to be there. However, the hosts of the parties only want the performers so they straight up tell us that we aren’t allowed to eat or that we have to wait in a room off to the side. And these are always huge lavish events at someone’s mansion with catered food that our tiny staff wouldn’t put a dent in the leftovers. It really screams Christmas Spirit.

    2. Jenna*

      I work at a university too. Our office is split into several departments. For many years, we had a two hour holiday party that took place in the large open office that one of our departments worked in. Only problem was that the office only closed for one hour, and then all the people in the department where the party was being held had to go back to work (and watch the rest of their coworkers hang out and have fun for the remaining hour). What is with universities?

      1. Anon*

        Yes! My first job out of college was as a receptionist for a division of a university. My job was to cover the desk at all times even though there really wasn’t too much foot traffic or many phone calls. But it was my job, so I took it seriously.

        But on the day of the 2 hour Christmas party, which was held in the lobby where my desk was, my boss gave a really vague, noncommittal answer about whether or not someone needed to cover the desk during the party. Since of course no one else was going to miss the party to cover it, that meant me, and from the way she was hemming and hawing it was pretty clear that she didn’t want the desk left unattended.

        So I sat at the desk for 2 hours while the rest of the department celebrated about 10 feet away. The phone rang twice, and I had to tell the callers that the people they wanted to talk to were unavailable because they were at a holiday party. And my coworkers (but not my boss) kept coming by to ask why I wouldn’t just put on a voicemail saying we were at the Christmas party, and come participate.

  14. Just a Reader*

    1) Mandatory dinner led by married company owners–they regaled us with stories of their marriage, including the time the husband smoked too much pot and ran around a hotel lobby naked.

    2) Open bar + no food = nobody could look each other in the eye the following Monday and it was actually the final straw that landed someone in AA. Horrifying.

    1. Jill of All Trades*

      You’re first one is currently in the running as my favorite. It made me think of “Old School” – “We’re going streaking…in the LOBBY!”

  15. Janet*

    A few jobs ago my first day was going to be after the New Year. But for some reason, my new boss thought it would be beneficial for me to go to the holiday party and meet everyone and have a fun festive time. I thought this sounded like a good idea so I went. She introduced me to one other person and then disappeared and I never saw her again the rest of the party. The person she introduced me to was not a talker. He just kind of sat there and it was pulling teeth to get him to talk to me. I knew no one.

    Everyone kept asking who I was. I’m fairly outgoing so I just kept introducing myself and telling people who I was and what I’d be doing but it was super awkward. Bosses were giving gifts to their team and there were a number of inside jokes. I managed to win a door prize through a raffle that everyone was entered into and there weren’t THAT many door prizes so people were shooting daggers at me for winning one and they wouldn’t let me return it back to be raffled off again. Then there was dancing and someone started a conga line so at that point I hid in the coat check room so I wouldn’t have to dance in front of strangers. Once I’d worked there a while, I was able to joke around the people that I became friends how my first day was our office Christmas party. But at the time it was so awkward.

    1. Anne*

      Oh man. We’ve invited a new hire along to our holiday dinner with the same thought in mind. I’ll have to be sure he has a good time.

      1. anon o*

        I once was starting on a Monday and the holiday party was the previous Friday night so my new boss told me to come. I was really nervous and didn’t say much and my co-workers for years joked that I was so different at the party than I was to work with!

        I had a good time at the party, though, I spent a lot of time just observing – I learned a lot about dynamics in the office, particularly after everyone else were a few drinks in. :)

        I was really glad I went – it was actually a great way to start off, an opportunity to break the ice before my first day. It made the first day nerves a lot better – I already had some burgeoning relationships and knew everyone.

      2. Janet*

        It’s not a bad idea in theory – you just have to make sure that they don’t feel left out. Introduce him/her around. If you give team gifts, bring one for them just as a nice show of inclusion. I think my time was miserable because I was pretty much just dropped in the party and left to figure everything out for myself.

        1. Jamie*

          This. It’s not only kind to the new employee to introduce him around, but the co-worker who wasn’t much of a talker probably found it very awkward to play host to a stranger.

        2. Laura L*

          I don’t know… I wouldn’t want to be invited at all. I never have fun at parties where I know no one because I get really nervous ahead of time and can’t relax around anyone because I don’t know them. I’m a slow to open up type and parties are not a great place for that.

  16. Anonymous*

    1 – I missed this party but heard all about the next day. An exec and a new hire (like two days at the company new) got wasted, started dirty dancing in front of everyone and left together. The next day, I had to train her on our crazy phone and paging systems. She practiced by calling and paging this exec about dozen times for no reason. I reminded her to only page people if it was necessary. She said okay, but continued to call/page the exec. At this point, all I knew about the party was it was “fun!” and that I’d “really missed out!”

    Finally, the exec’s secretary called me to find out why her boss was getting paged every 10 minutes. I told her “Sally” kept doing it, even though I told her to stop. I also told her that “Sally” was being really weird, and asked about the party. The secretary started laughing and gave me all the dirt. Apparently, her boss was having some major drunken hook up remorse and was literally hiding in his office. “Sally”, however, had no remorse and was looking for more drunken fun times with this guy. I don’t know what happened to her after I left, but I can only guess that she was let go not too long after that.

    2 – New supervisor got wasted at a holiday party, called me and my coworker “a couple of m-fers”, then loudly started complaining about the lack of hot, gay men on our staff. He also hit on one of the waiters from the catering company and basically chased the poor man around the room all night.

    And that is why I never, ever drink at company gatherings.

    1. Marie*


      I actually have mine tomorrrrow and I’m afraid of what I’m going to see.. being that it’s an open bar… I’ll probably be able to come back and tell my own story

    2. Ivy*

      Lol AdAgencyChick this kind of goes with your story too.

      I’m early in my career so there’s a part of me that hopes I’ll get to experience some of this (second hand of course; it’s never fun if you’re the one hiding in your office). I mean, I might be horrified at the time, but it makes for some great stories ;)

  17. Kristen*

    My boyfriend used to work at a small, family-owned taxidermy and rustic furniture store. Overall the party was fine. Everyone was drinking quite a bit, but that was expected, and it wasn’t crazy or anything. The owner of the business is a 70ish year old married man who is also a bit of a womanizer (or thinks he is–he is always making comments about women or trying to swat the behinds of the bartenders at a local bar). He always kisses me on the cheek when he sees me, which I think is a bit odd/awkward, but I don’t have any serious problems with. But, at said holiday party, someone was making jokes about him doing that and out of no where, with everyone watching, he grabbed me and kissed me on the mouth! Admittedly it was just a peck that lasted less than 5 seconds, but it really grossed me out and my boyfriend was LIVID. Needless to say, I’m not sad that he doesn’t work there anymore.

        1. Kristen*

          Yes, but I did not work there. And it is a little family run business with no HR department or anything like that. They still do their bookkeeping by paper and let employees smoke while they work. I think they think it’s 1960.

    1. MJ*

      You had me at “taxidermy and rustic furniture store.” I so hope it was called something wonderful like “Sofas and Stuff.”

  18. Pam*

    The Christmas party at an old job involved a bit of everything that could be wrong with office parties: games, prayer, practically mandatory attendance (very small staff), and pictures. The CEO took pictures every year of her employees playing the games and put the “best” ones (i.e., most embarrassing) from years past on an overhead for everyone to fondly remember.

    I did not stay long enough to see my own pictures at the next Christmas party.

  19. Sarah*

    We got an email invitation to a “small party” that was the next evening (a Tuesday, or something) after work from our boss. He then left for the day.

    About 15 minutes later, we got ANOTHER email from his deputy saying, “yes, there is a christmas party for our program, but it is really small, and I’m not sure that you guys are REALLY supposed to be invited’ (in more dipolomatic words).”

    Eventually, we got another (more official looking) invite from the admin, along with reassurances that we WERE really supposed to be invited. Two days before the party. (But there were still a LOT of people on the program who were not invited!)

    Yeah, right. I didn’t go. The flub was annoying, but even more annoying is a party that didn’t invite everyone. It was appetizers/snacks and cash bar. If you can’t afford to invite everyone, you have no right to have a party at all, even if you plan to be secretive about it!

    1. Janet*

      A past boss would always have a summer barbeque/pool party where he’d invite some of the staff but not everyone and there was no rhyme or reason as to who was invited. They weren’t the employees of the month or just the senior managers. It appeared to only be the people he liked. A new person didn’t realize that and thought everyone was invited and asked another woman to share a ride with her. The new person then told the boss “I can make it, Sue and I will be riding together.” and the boss said “Sue is not invited. Please uninvite her.” so the new girl had to go over and tell Sue “I’m sorry, you’re not invited to the pool party.” Great for morale.

      1. ES*

        I would never, ever go to a pool party with coworkers. Ever.

        My aunt had to plan a group bonding thing where they went tubing on a river in Georgia (this was not her idea). The group missed the drop-off point and ended up in the middle of nowhere climbing over a concrete wall or some other such nonsense.

  20. some1*

    Getting laid off with 10-15 other co-workers (including a cancer patient and my friend who was 8 & 1/2 months pregnant) two weeks before Christmas last year was the worst. I am in my early 30’s and was unemployed for the first time since my junior year of high school. Luckily I was only out of work for 3 months and I like my new job a lot.

    Second worst was at a job years ago. I had dated a co-worker and things didn’t end well. We had a holiday party each year in the party room of a bar that started at lunchtime. If you didn’t want to go, you had to stay and work so I went. At the time, you could smoke in the bar areas of restaurants, so I lingered in the bar until right before lunch was served. When I went back to the party room, the only open seat was at a table right across from my ex-BF. It was so awkward, we weren’t even speaking. I wolfed my food down and made a beeline back to the bar.

  21. Karyn*

    This isn’t so much a terrible story, just a funny one. The office I used to work in has a layout that is essentially one giant loop. You can walk the entire office loop in about 5 minutes. There are also two kitchens in the office, one on each end of the loop, but you had to pass the area where I worked, the executive lobby, to get to one of the two kitchens. A former coworker of mine, Jane, was notorious for circling the office, pretending to have some sort of reason for doing so, but in reality she was just checking on both kitchens to see if anyone had left any goodies out.

    Around the holidays, the executives all start receiving baskets and boxes of edibles – chocolates, nuts, the usual. The other admin and I generally put them in the executive lobby for general consumption. Of course, Jane would be the first person coming around to get treats and would take literally half of whatever was put out to “put in her family’s stockings” at home. The other admin and I were horrified at this, so we decided to have a little fun with her. One of the baskets that came was wrapped in cellophane, and boy, was it a good one. Chocolate, coffee, hot cocoa, expensive cookies, etc. We set it out on the coffee table in the lobby between our two desks, and didn’t send the usual email announcement about the treats being out. Of course, Jane showed up not long after on one of her “hunting trips” and noticed the basket sitting there, still wrapped. She walked up to it, looked at it, picked it up, turned it all around to see what was inside, and then walked off sullenly. She, of course, didn’t want to be heard and seen unwrapping the gift – it’s much easier to sneak things off when the basket is already unwrapped, rather than making all that racket with cellophane.

    This continued for about a week – Jane would walk by, look longingly at the still-wrapped package, and then continue on her way, until finally, one of the execs told me and the other admin to split the contents of the basket between us and take them home – because, in his words, we should “be allowed to share treats with our families, too.”

    1. Tina*

      That’s hilarious! At one of my previous companies, those kinds of individuals were nicknamed “The Vultures”.

      1. Kelly O*

        That’s what I call them around here.

        We have doughnuts and kolaches on Friday mornings. It’s nice, but I very rarely get one, mainly because I don’t want to get trampled in the break room.

        We have regular meetings of our store GMs, and the leftovers get brought back upstairs afterward. You would not believe the complaints when there is “not enough” or “all the good stuff is gone” even though the meeting is NOT FOR YOU, VULTURE.

        Christmas parties get ugly around here – we play the whole “pull a number and then steal something” thing, which was fun the first five years I played it but is now no longer fun. Especially not fun when people decide they “really want” or “deserve” something and the play turns ugly.

        Add to that a coworker who constantly complains about “being poor” and not wanting to spend her money on anything – we decorated our area for the holiday, and she refused to chip in at all on anything. I mean, I spent maybe seven bucks? Three of us went in together and got things or brought things from home. She participated half-heartedly, complained loudly because I would not decorate her cube, and has moaned about how “poor” she is. (Yes, this is the same one who took leftovers after Thanksgiving.)

        Add to that the other diabetics who will complain they don’t feel well after shoveling down desserts, sweet tea, and cheese-laden casseroles. (And then tell me I’m “no fun” because I’d rather not try to see if I can peg out my glucose monitor.)


        1. Elizabeth West*

          Jeez, you can buy a ton of Christmas decorations at the flea market for practically nothing. If she’s so poor, let her go there. (Although I think she was just whining so you would share.)

      2. Jessica*

        We just call ours “you know who.” I send out a “daily holiday” email, which is just a quick snippet of a funny or weird holiday of the day, to a few of my coworkers. (I used to do it at the end of an email I had to send out daily, when I was in another position, and a bunch of people complained that they missed it when I moved to another office. Instead of spamming everyone, anyone who said that they missed it went on a newsletter where I send out a couple funny sentences about the day’s odd holiday.) Anyway, I once mentioned something about wishing I had a pet at work to greet me, saying that even a fish would do. Well, one of my coworkers always had candy at her desk and put three little Swedish fish in a clear plastic cup and wrote “Good morning!” on the side of it and then stuck it in my mailbox at work. I thought this was hilarious, so I covered it with some tape to keep out the dust and put it on my desk. Two days later, “you know who” came around and said, “Oh, I’m taking one of those candies,” dipped her hand toward the cup, and hit the tape. She was so shocked that I couldn’t help but laugh at the look on her face. I mentioned that they were pets (fish are friends, not food!) and not treats. This is the person who scavenges all around the building for any chocolate or candy that she can find, BUT when offered sweets says that she never eats them. People have actually taken to hiding their sweets and only telling a few trusted people where they keep their goodies because they know “you know who” will come around and take a handful. She just has a nose for finding sweets, but will only eat ill-gotten ones. :(

    2. Jamie*

      Around the holidays, the executives all start receiving baskets and boxes of edibles – chocolates, nuts, the usual.

      Okay this made me shudder – I think I have some PTSD left over from early in my career where I sat at the front desk.

      Same lovely company which threw the party I already complained about had me sitting at the front desk even though I wasn’t the receptionist and wasn’t supposed to be providing admin support…so yeah, excellent plan – no confusion for co-workers at all who saw someone new sitting in the desk the former receptionist used, but the new woman isn’t allowed to file or unjam the copier.

      So anyway – the front desk counter is where they put out the treats that were sent including a huge tin of pistachio nuts. This thing had to be 5 lbs.

      All day long people would stand there, put shells in their mouths, roll them around – bite, chew, suck…whatever the hell they do in there…and spit out the shells.

      I can never remember the name of it, but we’ve discussed it here, I have that rage thing that happens to me when I have to hear people eat. Mouth noises send adrenaline surges through me and I get ridiculously angry and want to flee.

      Two people would leave the wet saliva covered remains on the counter and walk away.

      They left their saliva dripping garbage on my desk and walked away. There are not words to express what this did to my soul.

      Oh, and the boss who should never have seen a moment in management was the loudest sucker/slurper of all (how do you slurp a nut?) and would do handful after handful with his hand on the back of my chair (which I hate in the best of circumstances) slurping in my ear while watching me type emails to make sure “we’re on the same page.” Then he would toss the shells in my garbage can (ew) and some would miss (more ew) and with an “oops, my bad” he’d walk away.

      I bought latex gloves and a roll of paper towels…did I mention this was the job I ended up quitting without something else lined up?

      All these years later I have a vein throbbing in my head right now just thinking about. Freaking traumatic workplaces and the horrible people that inhabit them – the damage can be long lasting.

      1. Kathryn*

        I shudder for you. I still get freaked out thinking about my old boss that used to pick his nose and then stick the “treasures” under his desk. I never went in that office. Never.

      2. MCG*

        There is a name for this food noise rage?!?! Please, enlighten me. I’ve been suffering for YEARS!!! I can’t even stand my favorite coworker making soup slurps at lunch. This woman I normally adore, gossip with, hang out outside of work, etc. I suddenly want to punch in the face.

        1. Jamie*

          Misophonia. I keep forgetting the name, but I thought it was just me (and my family) like a personal quirk until someone posted here with links to research.

          1. pidgeonpenelope*

            My sister has this! I used to get so many bruises from her hitting me when I ate too loudly! I have to tell her about this one.

          2. Jessica*

            I have to tell my husband about this. He eats SO. DARN. LOUDLY! How can anyone eat that loudly? How can people slurp jawbreakers all the time? I had one coworker who said she had a jawbreaker “wallerin'” in her mouth when I complained about the “slurp, slurpetty, slurpy, ssssssllllluuurrrppps” all day long. Wallerin’? Apparently, she meant wallowing, but still…

            (Oh my goodness! After reading about this? I have this! I have sound PTSD or something for certain sounds, and it makes my stomach hurt and my temper flare. It has a name?! I’m not just picky and insane? Just thinking about some sounds is making me nervous…)

          3. Jen in RO*

            I thought my boyfriend was being obnoxious on purpose before I read about misophonia here. I still can’t eat around him, but at least I know why!

        2. ChristineH*

          Yup, the ladies are correct. I’m pretty sure I have misophonia too. Eating sounds drive me bananas!!!

  22. Andrea*

    My husband’s former employer had a party for their department a few years back. The department head took pictures of everyone as soon as they arrived. I don’t like having my picture taken and tried to beg off, but she was not having it. Then they printed all the pictures with an Xmas border and gave them to everyone, I guess as the cheapest and most unwelcome party favors ever. When she brought us ours, she said, “Oh, I see why you didn’t want to be photographed….that outfit doesn’t really flatter you.”

    Of course, she was wearing a hot pink leopard print sequin suit at the time (I had on a cute knee-length wrap dress in navy that fit perfectly, fyi). The best part was that my husband was such a rock star there that he just looked at her and said, “why would you think it would be smart to insult my beautiful wife like that?” She immediately and profusely apologized. (Of course, at the time we were looking to make a change, and he got a better offer two months later.)

    1. Blinx*

      Your husband sounds AWESOME!!!

      Now I have to go wash my eyes out after reading the description of the hot pink leopard print sequin suit…

      1. Jamie*

        I would love to find one and wear it to work some random Tuesday.

        Not say a word about the change from my normal uniform of subdued dress pants and sweaters – just show up in hot pink leopard print and sequins.

        Probably won’t happen since I have a small somewhat shiny barrette I won’t wear for fear it’s too flashy…but the thought of doing this amuses me to no end.

        1. Elizabeth*

          It’s not leopard print, but J Crew does have one in pink with sequins. http://tinyurl.com/d3758st It is also available in gold.

          (I blame AaM for introducing me to Corporette. I can’t possibly afford to read that site, but it has induced me to up my game when it comes to my wardrobe.)

          1. Jamie*

            That is FABULOUS! The day I spend $695 on a something that’s not a couple of car payments is the day I check myself into the home…but WOW!

            Seriously, though? 20 years and 3 kiddos ago when I could pull it off I’d have loved something like that.

          2. Natalie*

            I can’t afford their regular TPS reports, much less the splurges, but it has definitely helped me know what to look for in knock-offs.

            The sale roundups are gold, too.

      2. Andrea*

        Yeah, I think wearing animal print just screams, “No, I am neither a classy woman nor a serious professional!” But I am judgy that way, I guess, and aware that some people like it. Make it pink and add sequins, and it’s a whole different level—I bet we can all agree on that. (This woman dressed like that at work all the time. I would not have been surprised to find out that she’d worn that to work earlier that day.)

  23. LCL*

    Many years BC (before cellphones), husband was working way too hard for a company that paid way too little. The company was so cheap the workers weren’t supposed to stop between jobs to make phone calls.

    So they give a holiday party after hours, in a restaurant, and paid for the meal. Yay! Then they had a gift exchange-the horrible kind. The company had supplied all the gifts, mostly cheap home furnishings , and people could take gifts from each other. The workers became insanely competitive over something they could have bought at Fred Meyer. The whole thing was demeaning, and embarassing, and I would have rather the company just paid everyone a little better.

  24. Frances*

    I work for a non-profit that currently gets almost all of our funding from one donor, which means if she gets a bee in her bonnet about the way things should be done, we generally try to satisfy that wish. Two years ago, she walked into our holiday party (which my coworker annually nearly kills herself arranging during one of her busiest normal work periods) and looks at the beautiful table of food and wine and all the happy people and says “no music?”

    So last year, my coworker spent a bunch of extra time working with our IT staff to make sure we can get speakers set up and pipe holiday music into the party. Our donor decides what we *really* need is live music. On a piano. Which we do not have. So she spent much of this fall trying to arrange the loan of a piano (not an upright, mind you, but a baby grand) from another institution to which she donates a bunch of money, which would have required us to completely rearrange that room (and also take up much of the space that made that room great for parties in the first place). Thankfully it appears that the logistic complications of that have finally overwhelmed her desire and the plan has been dropped, but I expect this year’s party will probably remind her again.

    1. Ali*

      As someone who works at a music non-profit, I can’t tell you the number of people who don’t understand what all goes into having live music at an event. It’s not just “Hey, lemme get that piano for free. Oh and a musician too.”

      1. Jamie*

        Yeah – was she going to have a musician come in or just hope someone was going to sit down and start banging out the Holiday hits?

        Just because there’s a piano there doesn’t mean anyone will know what to do about it. I know, I’ve moved a piano through 7 moves and the only thing anyone in my house can with it is dust it. It’s entire job is to hold up some framed pictures and a vase of flowers.

        I take that back – sometimes if I open the thing that covers the keys one of the cats will run across it and scare the heck out of themselves with the awful noise it makes. So – that’s useful.

  25. ChristineH*

    Did your office mandate your attendance at an 80s-prom-themed party on a Saturday night?

    Hey! What’s wrong with an 80’s-prom-themed party! :P

    1. Jamie*

      Absolutely nothing if you want to see my Blair Warner hair flip which I spent most of Jr. High perfecting!

  26. Sabrina*

    Mine is pretty tame. I’ve only ever worked at one company that did Holiday parties. However at an old company I worked for many years at, it was customary for managers to take their direct reports out for lunch. One year I was in a new department with a manager who wasn’t new to managing, but was new to the company and was really not a good fit for the culture. We had a small team, only five of us, and he did take us out to lunch. To the company cafeteria. Where at the time lunch was always free. The entire team was offended that a C-suite level manager wouldn’t take a team of 5 out to lunch when AA managers would take their teams which sometimes numbered up to 20 out. He got a reputation as being a cheap ass. We were taken out the following year.

  27. Sully*

    Last year’s company holiday party took place at the boss’s house which is about 2 hours drive from the office. It was, of course, after-hours with drinking involved, so that meant a) sleep on the boss’s couch or b) find the nearest hotel (not drinking at the party is socially unacceptable). Spouses were invited, but I have a toddler, so it would mean a night away from the family. Luckily for me “Grandma” wasn’t doing so well and sure enough at 2:00 pm on the day of the party my wife calls and says grandma “died.” I didn’t go to the party, but I did quit 6 months later.

  28. Elizabeth*

    This didn’t happen on a holiday, but it was one of a similar type. My boss at the time decided our department (4 women plus him) needed to have a Team Building Dinner. Just The Team. One other co-worker & I are both married, the other two women were single & divorced, respectively.

    The boss announced the dinner, for which our employer would be paying, at the most expensive restaurant in town, and that spouses were not included. The married co-worker & I were not pleased, but we accepted it. Less than 24 hours before the dinner, he announced that his wife was joining us, but that our husbands still weren’t welcome. We suffered through it, and I went home & my husband & I got drunk.

    That was the day that I decided that I didn’t need to be quite such a team player where my boss was concerned. I took every opportunity to subtlely undermine him with his boss and the rest of the senior leadership. Any time I could encourage him to make a fool of himself, I did. It took about 8 months, but he finally made himself look so foolish that he got demoted, so that he was no longer supervising anyone.

    Then, I was given the responsibility for making the call schedule. He hadn’t been on it, which was creating a lot of hard feelings in the expanded department (by now 7 people), so I added him back. He went to our boss & had a temper tantrum. The boss came to me and asked why I’d done it. I told him that if the ex-boss wasn’t the boss any more, he needed to be on a level playing field with the rest of us.

    Newish boss then got replaced with another new boss, and ex-boss hated her on site. The lack-of-love was pretty much mutual, and the newest boss got to hear the litany of complaints the rest of us had about ex-boss. It took 10 months, but the insubordination on his part, along with several major screw ups, plus increased responsibilities for the rest of us that he couldn’t handle, led him to retire before he could be fired.

  29. Andrew*

    Can’t decide between:

    The early 80s holiday party in a singles bar (with mirrored walls and telephones on the tables–for calling someone you found interesting)

    The mid 80s party where the wife of the company’s owner got drunk and lay on the floor singing “The Lonely Goatherd”

    The mid 90s party where the entire staff was forced to listen to the mistress of one of the owners do dramatic recitations complete with modern-dance movement exercises.

    The 2008 party on a boat where someone fell overboard.

    1. Laura L*

      “The 2008 party on a boat where someone fell overboard.”

      That’s not funny for that person, but it’s hilarious to read about it second-hand.

    2. twentymilehike*

      Andrew, those all sound equally awesome …

      I can’t decided either–Why are these things so frequently terrible?!

      At 19 I was a part-time admin for large commercail real estate company. The party was at a hotel at the beach, with an open bar, and everyone kept telling me that it didn’t matter how old I was and to keep drinking. Later everyone went to one of the broker’s rooms, smoked pot and listened to him talk about how his wife’s nickname was “c*cksucker” because that’s “what she did.” This was my introduction to Corporate America.

      But I think the WORST worst Holiday party was my fault. Think fancy restaurant, open bar, with waiters filling your glass without you asking. My two bosses were fueding, and one had the idea to buy everyone really expensive gifts (think flat screen TVs and Bose stereos), and I was so drunk before dinner that I didn’t eat and ended up telling my coworker that I loved her while she held my hair out of the toilet. I don’t remember getting home, but I know my boss called me a cab and I think my date carried me. It was our last fancy party.

    3. EM*

      “The mid 90s party where the entire staff was forced to listen to the mistress of one of the owners do dramatic recitations complete with modern-dance movement exercises.”

      I’m getting this image of the Condi Rice part of Will Ferrel’s “You’re Welcome” comedy tour where he impersonates GW Bush.

  30. Anonymous*

    1. Personal worst: A Valentine’s Day dinner/dance, where I had already decided to break up with a boyfriend, but felt weird about dumping him on the holiday. I ended up feeling so jerky trying not to let on that I told him the truth at the dance. Awkward! Funny thing was that I encouraged him to rebound with a girl I knew was into him, and she was so intense that he suddenly realized how he’d been making me feel. We had a good laugh and there were no hard feelings on his part.

    2. Company worst: I worked in Times Square in 2001, and a ton of companies used 9/11 as a convenient excuse to avoid throwing parties. The company I worked for normally threw extravagant bashes that took over major nightclubs. But this year, they replaced it with setting out two packs of fake store brand Oreos and a jug of that nasty fruit punch. Then they did a “drawing” where a few of us won damaged product that the company was just going to throw out. Lame didn’t even begin to describe it.

    3. Coworker Drama Worst: Two separate parties (both the aforementioned nightclub bashes), almost identical dramas, lol. Young coworker overindulges in alcohol, and somehow manages to miss that the company was offering a car service to help folks get home safely. Proceeds to wander drunkenly through the city trying to make it home, but ends up running into some bad sorts trying to accost him. In trying to escape, gets completely banged up–cuts, bruises, blood & filthy torn clothing. At this point coworker is so disoriented that he’s not sure how to get home, so he decides to lay down in back of pickup truck parked on the street (this is December, so probably 40 degrees outside). An hour or two later the truck owner spots him, and thinks its a homeless guy so he chases him off. He forgets his bag which has his MetroCard, so he decides to go back to work and sleep it off under his desk. Meanwhile truck owner sees the nice bag left behind & thinks it was stolen so he calls the cops, who then go to the address…where young coworker lives with a now panic-stricken mother. The panic doesn’t abate when no one at work has seen him for hours…until he stumbles out from his desk around 11am. The second coworker this happened to didn’t have the pickup truck incident, but managed to unwittingly leave a trail of blood throughout the office. And yep, everyone was freaking out about him as well for a few hours until he woke up. Needless to say, they both earned corporate reputations that I wouldn’t want to have!!!

    1. Anonymous*

      I nearly forgot the second personal worst. My coworker and I were scheduled to work during the holiday party but it was being held next door and our boss told us we could come have an extended dinner break, enjoy a drink, and then get back to cover the evening work. While we were there, a coworker came to us with a true emergency project, so I spoke to my coworker and we agreed that I would go get things going, and he’d come back a short time later and finish it. I went back and began working on it, but no coworker showing up. Finally he arrived, but he was drunk so he was next to useless on the huge project. I ended up having to struggle to throw something together. The worst part? The next day when he sobered up, he dug back into my rushed work, changed it all (admittedly for the better, but that’s what happens when you rush), and ended up getting tons of kudos while no one even knew the effort I’d put in since they were all off at the party.

  31. LL*

    My worst holiday story occurred years ago when I was working in sandwich shop with only 6 employees. The owner invited all of us to a formal holiday party at his house. I didn’t realize until I showed up – in my only fancy party dress – that I was expected to work the event, serving all the owner’s friends and family!

      1. LL*

        If I remember correctly, it was a vague verbal invitation, something along the lines of, “Hey, I’m hosting a fancy Christmas party on [date], so put it on your calendar.”

        Being 18 and not knowing the owner very well, I assumed that I was being invited as a guest!

        1. Marly King*

          That’s terrible!!!! What an awful boss. And what about that (ok, vaguely worded) invite implies “oh hey employee, BTW you’re working this party?” :(

        2. Another Emily*

          To be fair, any sane human would assume what you did, because vaguely inviting someone to a party and not telling them that actually you were scheduled to work (you were at least paid, right?) is pretty much the rudest thing ever. At least you got a great story out of it.

        1. twentymilehike*

          What?! “hat burns” sounded like an incredibly awesome and exotic insult phrase! I’m going to start using it.

      1. Steve M.*

        For what it’s worth it was Rebecca who was invited.

        Sam did end up going to help her when she was broken up and crying in the kitchen.

            1. Jessica*

              Oh geez! I saw this episode recently, and I can hear it exactly in Rebecca’s voice! Whiny with a bit of raspy.

    1. Jamie*

      Awww – that’s beyond rude, it’s heartbreaking.

      My youngest works in a sandwich shop – I’ll make sure he vets any forthcoming holiday invites from the boss.

      1. A Bug!*

        Heartbreaking is exactly the right word for this. I’m feeling embarrassed just imagining that happening to me, so I am so, so sorry that you had to experience it first-hand, LL. How terrible!

        “Invite” is not the word you use to hire help, as if it’s some privilege to be able to serve food to rich people.

        1. fposte*

          I found out much later that somebody I worked with (staff at university) had invited a student for Thanksgiving dinner and then made her babysit.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            I was going to say the same. If you worked the party, you should have gotten paid for working the party!

          2. LL*

            At the end of the night, the owner had mysteriously disappeared and I left empty-handed. Eventually I was paid my normal wages, plus a $25 gift certificate to a very high-end women’s clothing store. Thankfully, the boss never asked what I bought, since the only item the certificate covered was a pair of underwear.

  32. Cruciatus*

    After reading some of these, maybe I shouldn’t be so annoyed at how lame my workplace is about holidays. We’ve already had our holiday party! It was this past Wednesday–between 1:30-3:00 you could go to the cafeteria for some sugary treats (but you couldn’t stay there the whole time, of course). I thought it was a little…cheap. But on the other hand we were able to put work away for a little while, eat some sugary treats, NOT see the boss, and go on your merry way… Maybe this is really the ideal way to do it!

  33. Long Time Admin*

    My company has laid off 1/3 of the office staff in the last 18 months, so I’m just thankful that we’re NOT having a holiday party this year. I wouldn’t have gone anyway (again).

  34. anonintheUK*

    One where a manager, male, married and mid-30s, had been trying without success to make advances towards the fresh-out-of-university female trainee, who was largely ignoring him.

    His latest line? ‘Oh,I know I’m married and greying and heading for middle age now. But if we had met ten years ago, things could have been VERY different’.

    Her cool response, ‘Yup. Ten years ago I was 13. You would have been arrested. Now please just leave me alone. I’m not interested’.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      GO, HER.

      Years ago I learned a great stock response for situations like this — I’m glad I know it, because the simple shock of hearing something so inappropriate often leaves me too flustered to say anything. But if a coworker ever says something like that to me, the first words out of my mouth will be, “Say that again. I’d love to be rich.”

  35. KayDay*

    Gee, I wish I had something to contribute, but I’ve never worked anywhere that did anything like this. I actually didn’t realize how big a “thing” office holiday parties were until the my first working girl December and my friends were comparing our holiday parties. I didn’t realize how big a deal some people make it–when I said I wasn’t sure if my office would have a party they were shocked! And one friend was really bitter that they downsized her office’s holiday party due to “the economy” even though her company wasn’t really having many problems at that point.

    The places I’ve worked have always done something, but that something was always pretty relaxed. Lunch in the conference room, going out to lunch at a nearby restaurant, an early happy hour at a hotel bar (during work hours). Seriously, the worst thing that’s happened to me is that my Drunken Noodles got cold while I was finishing up a phone call. It seemed really unfortunate at the time.

  36. Long time reader, first time commenter*

    Two months into a temp job at a small-to-midsize company, I was asked to put together all the gift bags for the fancy company party. I also helped arrange the restaurant reservation and all that. It was tedious but that’s life as a temp, right?

    It was a bit awkward when people would stop by my cubicle/gift assembly station to joke or comment on the party considering I was the only one – including the intern – who wasn’t invited but again, I was just a temp and I figured that’s how it goes. I would just smile, say something noncommittal and cheerfully do what I was asked.

    About two weeks before the party, my boss and the HR director pulled me aside and said that one of their clients was traveling to our city to attend the party and would be bringing his wife and elementary school aged daughter with him. My boss wanted to know, since I wouldn’t be attending the party, if I would be willing to babysit the client’s daughter at the hotel “off the books” for my usual (low) hourly rate since there was an open bar and it was obviously not kid friendly. With my boss and the HR director staring me down, I meekly made the excuse that I would have family in town that weekend and simply couldn’t get away. They weren’t happy, but I figured even a temp has her limits.

    I have no idea who they suckered into babysitting, but after the party my boss’ boss gave me a very generous gift card as a thank you for my help.

    It’s been years, and I’m no longer with that company, but every time I hear about a holiday party I briefly wonder if someone is going to ask me to babysit again!

    1. Construction HR*

      We invited the temp one year, she won the grand door prize. A lot of sourpusses around the room.

    2. Jessica*

      Ugh. I was temp-to-hire as a paralegal at a law firm. I was often left in the office alone (not a bad thing) while the rest (admin assistants, lawyers, other paralegals, and the receptionist) went out for “a Friday lunch,” which was usually on Thursday. What’s a Friday lunch? One where everyone leaves the office at 11:30 and gets ridiculously drunk. They then become too “ill” to come back in to work after lunch and are too “ill” to come in the next day. (Granted, the secretarial staff and other paralegals still came in the next day, but they were hourly workers and needed the pay. The entire day was pretty slow going, though.) The worst parts were what happened before “birthday Friday lunches.” There would be cake (and sometimes ice cream) passed around while the birthday boy or girl was grilled on the most interesting topics. Each birthday that passed, the questions were refined to be the most humiliating and disgusting. When at one birthday, “have you ever been handcuffed?” was answered about an arrest, someone realized that they should ask instead two questions: “have you ever been handcuffed by a police officer?” and “have you ever been handcuffed to a bed or other sexual device?” On the day that they told me that I wouldn’t be hired for the “to-hire” part of my temping, I also received a call for a position I had interviewed for (non-temp, so I was obviously looking to get out of that place for a variety of other dysfunctional reasons) and was able to start there just a few weeks before my own birthday. The months leading up to my birthday had been full of “just wait until it’s your turn! We have a bunch of good questions for you!” I knew it’d be cake, awkward questions, and then everyone but me leaving for a Friday lunch while I stayed behind on my birthday and finished working while everyone else celebrated.

      I was never so glad to have to work on my birthday as I was that year, simply because I was not in the law office and wasn’t being asked how many times I’d been spanked since I turned 18.

      1. DawnSpringHR*

        Stories like this always remind me that I have the ability to lie. And not care if they don’t believe me.

        Have you ever been handcuffed? No.
        Have you ever been spanked? You’d have to ask my parents, I don’t remember.
        Do you like chocolate? No.
        What is the sexiest thing you’ve ever done? I went swimming in the ocean.

        1. Jessica*

          Ha! LOL I wouldn’t even have to lie on most of those! The worst part was other people’s birthdays. Everyone else who worked there either lied in the opposite direction or had a much more active life than I’ve had. The only person who held out on one question was badgered about it for months.

          I still run into the office manager, a couple of the lawyers (and their wives), and some of their kids. I work at a school now, but when I see the parents I can only think of how I know WAY too much about them, especially just for having worked with them at one point.

  37. Juni*

    Instead of holiday gifts this year to staff at the annual holiday party, I have it on good authority that we will be given branded detritus from the supply closet (think: old notecards, pens/pencils, greeting cards) with our old logo on them, along with a xeroxed note from “The Senior Team” telling us how grateful they are for all our hard work.

      1. Jamie*

        Use those for stocking stuffers for the kids, if you have them. When my kids were small there was nothing they loved more than waking up Christmas morning to a stocking full of old post it notes and dried out pens with company logos on them.

        If you don’t have kids it could save you a fortune in tips for your postman, hairdresser, garbage collector. Sure, they say they want money to make it easier for you. What they really covet is some logo stamped envelopes and some unused company calendars left over from last year.

        1. Kathryn T.*

          I know you are kidding, but my kids would go ape over post-it pads of their very own. I am gonna do that this year.

    1. Forked*

      I missed this party, but the gift given out was a fork each… because the kitchen was always short of forks.. You can imagine the puns made..

      1. Gene*

        Yeah, just where do the forks go? About once a year I need to go to Goodwill and buy a half-dozen forks for our kitchen/lunchroom. I think they mutate into spoons because we seem to have way more of those than ever got brought in.

        1. Jamie*

          This is really weird but my husband was just complaining about this the other day in reverse. He said we’re losing spoons but he has no idea where all the forks are coming from.

          Cue Twilight Zone music…creepy.

  38. Anon for my own safety*

    I actually have one where I was the heal. After the previous years party where I was asked to mc the door prize give away was a raging success I was asked to do it again. Well I arrived late and hit the open bar to “catch up” even with an empty stomach. When the time came to begin I was three sheets and ended up saying some pretty tacky things about my coworkers. The worst however was making an inside joke that was amongst my team members which outed a coworker to the rest of the company. I was thoroughly embarrassed and he was very gracious in what was an awkward moment for all.

  39. Kay*

    I wouldn’t say worst as much as strangest. A little background information, I work at a non-profit agency of the blind and a large percentage of our staff is blind.

    At the last holiday party at my office the upper management hired a DJ and told him to come up with some ice breaker games. The only ice-breaker this DJ could come up with was a game where the players had to keep toilet paper rolls in between their legs, and another player had to use a toilet plunger to try to spear the rolls from between the other persons legs.

    What this amounted to was that we had a bunch of blind people thrusting a wooden plunger at each others crotches. It did not end well…

      1. Jamie*

        I’m glad you admitted laughing, because I can’t stop.

        I know I’m going to hell…but this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

        I get the DJ being clueless, but what kind of mojo did he have to get them to obey??

        1. Kristen*

          I can’t stop laughing either. Sounds like a pretty weird ice breaker, even for people who don’t have impaired vision.

          1. Al Lo*

            I’ve only ever seen this game played at bridal showers. At least it’s somewhat more thematically in line for an event like that…

          2. Kelly O*

            OMG, I’m dying. This totally wins.

            I’m also grateful I’m not the only one laughing quite literally out loud at this mental image.

        2. Piper*

          I’m laughing out loud at my desk right now, trying to keep the snorting to a bare minimum. This is hilarious.

    1. The IT Manager*

      A real honest to God LOL story (but I’m trying to repress it because I am at my desk). Coke zero almost flew out of my mouth too.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The jaw dropping part is that everyone went forward with this game…. fully aware of the possible outcome…..

    3. Agile Phalanges*

      I nearly choked on my food, and did literally laugh out loud. Wow. Someone should have given the DJ a heads-up about the disproportionate ratio of blind and sight-impaired people at the party, and maybe should have provided their own ideas for icebreakers and just had the DJ implement them. Wow.

  40. Julie*

    The holiday party at my last company involves mandatory beer pong games. Two years ago, I was partnered with the extremely competitive CFO. I felt my job was on the line if we did not win. I am spaz and play beer pong once a year at the party. Luckily, our opponets were a very coordinated friend. He purposely lost without making it look to obvious after I whispered “Help”.

    The next year the CFO was up against a new manager. He failed to get the memo that the CFO gets to win. The CFO’s partner was fired the Monday after the party because he did not fit well in the “team” enviroment.

    This year I no longer work for the company. Yeah!!

    1. The IT Manager*

      What a horrible, horrible idea – forced alcohol consumption! I wonder what I would do in that situation. I don’t drink beer because I don’t like the taste. I do drink sweet, fruity drinks and wines to be socialable, but I also drink very little because I have a low level of tolerance for public spectacle and that easily keeps me from becoming drunk enough to do anything embarrassing. Honestly the non-aloholic versions of most mixed drinks taste much better than the alcoholic versions anyway so I find it easy not to overindulge. Are there people who refuse to particpate? any preganant employees should be exempt as should anyone else who just didn’t feel like it.

      1. Kristen*

        I’m with you–I don’t see how anyone could ever make me feel drinking is mandatory. Then again, I am not a person who gives in to peer pressure easily and can sometimes be seen as a party pooper for it (this is also probably why I seem to get along better with people who are 20-30 years my senior than I do with my fellow 20-somethings). I usually try to just get a coke or something so people think it’s a mixed drink if I don’t feel like drinking and no one really notices. Plus are they drinking the beer out of the actual cups the ping pong ball goes into? Because that’s just gross–I got strep throat once after doing that at a party in college. Blech.

      2. Jessica*

        I absolutely hate the taste of alcohol, so I understand where you’re coming from. People think I don’t drink for other reasons and are shocked that I don’t like the taste. I’ve always assumed it’s an acquired taste, and I have never felt the need to drink enough to acquire it. (Maybe I’m wrong on that one, and I really am just weird. I am a pretty picky eater anyway and have been told I’m a “super-taster” and have a lot of tastebuds that make everything seem 10x “more” whatever than it is: sweet, sour, salty, bitter. Maybe that’s it…?)

        1. The IT Manager*

          acquired taste, and I have never felt the need to drink enough to acquire it.

          I totally say that too. If I try something and it tastes bad why would I keep drinking it? I assume the only reason most people drink is because peer pressure led them to keep drinking to acquire the taste because beer and most alcohol does not taste good at all.

          I feel the same way about coffee. Never kept trying enough to acquire the taste. My dad did because he worked on an offshore oil rig for his first job out of college and realized he was getting screwed when he kept working while everyone left for a coffee break.

          1. Laura L*

            I think it’s more that people like the effects of alcohol and learn to deal with the taste.

            But sweet, white wines legitimately taste good.

            1. Jessica*

              I’ve never met a wine that I liked. Beer either. A lot of people where I live seem think that’s amusing, because I live in a town with a lot of local beers and ales. They are always bringing me a new one that they brewed, a friend brewed, or that one of the local brew-pubs has just come up with. I’m not adverse to tasting stuff: you probably wouldn’t be surprised how many people hold out their drinks upon hearing I don’t like alcohol and say, “Oh, this doesn’t taste like alcohol at all! You’ll love this.” One sip later, and them I’m grimacing and saying, “I’m sure you love it, but no.” I’ve been to wine tastings in the past, which just ended up being torture, so I quit going to those or just hang out with others who are doing them instead of actually tasting.

              But I’m okay with not drinking and okay with being the only person in the room with a water in my hand, so it’s not something I really worry about. (And as a bonus, when I go out with friends to a bar, I usually get my soda for free the entire night.)

          2. Jessica*

            I grew up thinking coffee had to be drunk black, so I hated it. When I got out on my own, I figured out that I could put milk or cream in AND choose a light roast instead of a dark one. I can’t drink it when my coworkers make it, though, as they stick about a cup of ground beans in to make a half-pot of coffee. Yuck, sludge. I have one particular bean that I absolutely love, but if I couldn’t have that one kind, I could easily live without coffee the rest of my life (and probably would).

            Here’s another funny story: I discovered in college that I don’t like really popcorn. I always ate it whenever I went to a movie or hung out with friends, because everyone was always really excited about getting! to eat! popcorn! In college, it suddenly dawned on me that the reason I was never excited about being handed the popcorn bowl was that I don’t really like the stuff and pretty much only ate it because it seemed like I should like it because everyone else loved it. Still to this day, no one I’ve met understands that. They smell popcorn from a concession stand (and my husband LOVES popcorn) and say, “Oh, doesn’t that smell just make you so hungry?!” No, it does not. I’m apparently missing the “buttery popcorn smell makes your mouth water” gene or something.

            1. The IT Manager*

              Me too … with salad. Until I decided to try to eat the Ceasar Salad at a formal dining event in college and I discovered that salad could taste good if it was made with something other than iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing. That’s the only way my parents made salad when I was growing up and I never knew there were options.

              1. Jessica*

                Yes, me too! I also discovered that I like raw spinach as an adult. We never had good lettuces or arugula and certainly never any spinach when I was growing up, so I thought I hated salads, any kind of leafy stuff, and especially spinach. Then I had this salad at a restaurant that was full of wonderful, bright green leaves of various kinds. I said, “Oh, I love these little leaves like this one. What are these?” and about fell over when my companion told me they were spinach! And discovering real, fresh, creamy Caesar dressing was amazing. I still to this day have issues with the “white part” (the harder, non-leaf part) of romaine lettuce, though. Something about it just reminds me of iceberg.

            2. FreeThinkerTX*

              Yay! A fellow popcorn-disliker! (Is that even a word?) I’ve never liked the stuff, and actually get a bit queasy when I smell the fake-butter stuff at movie theaters. Which is why I only rent movies. My boyfriend LOVES popcorn, and makes it on the stove in an old-fashioned popcorn-stirrer pan type thing. Thankfully he doesn’t use fake butter or I’d have to ask him to move out. :-)

              1. Jessica*

                Why do we popcorn-dislikers get together with these popcorn lovers? My husband likes trying out different kernels and things (he pops his own, too — never box or bag popcorn, but he will get that odd stuff at the theater once or twice a year). I keep joking that as much popcorn as he eats must be making up for all the popcorn that I don’t eat. And he keeps offering some to me in the hopes that one day I’ll change my mind or something… (although I think he’s secretly relieved he doesn’t have to share his beloved popcorn with me).

            3. Dawn*

              I’m like this with melons. I can’t even stand the smell of watermelons. I’ve tried to like it really hard since everyone else things its so wonderful, but to no avail. People look at me like I’m a two-headed freak when I pass it up during summer picnics. Oh well, more for you to enjoy!

  41. Sarah Fowler*

    I think it’s interesting so many married people complain about not being able to bring spouses. As a single person, I always dread events where people DO bring spouses; they get a built-in person to talk/snark with, and I’m alone at at party where at most I only know half the people. Basically office holiday parties suck in general. I now have my own business, but if I decide to have employees I’m just going to give them cash and call it a day!

    1. Sasha*

      I wouldn’t force my spouse to come to my office party, even though I would have someone to snark with. I think it would be too cruel. Besides, he works night shift, and they always have the party during the day, so it would be doubly cruel.

      But I am fortunate that I have a coworker with whom I’m pretty close and we get our snark on big time.

    2. Jamie*

      Money and/or paid time (cutting them loose early, giving an extra day off before/after the holiday if you can) is the best gift a boss can give employees.

      Money and time to spend how it would most benefit me. It’s such an elegant solution. So simple and SO appreciated.

    3. Elizabeth*

      I’m good with either, as long as it is specified on whether or not spouses/SO’s are welcome up front, that the rules apply to everyone, and that the rules don’t suddenly change at the last minute. In my story above, I wouldn’t have been so vindictive if he hadn’t changed the rules for himself and no one else.

    4. Anon for my own safety*

      My last job did that they took their budget for the party and divided by employees then just gave everyone cash… This on top of the extra pay check bonus all employees received

      1. books*

        A previous job had a very fancy holiday party with dinner, live band + dancing, 3 drinks + table wine at dinner for 250+ people and their guests, at a museum in DC. We suggested that instead they just increase a bonus, but their response was that the cost spread among that many employees was not enough to make it worth it for us. Plus, probably was better for the company on taxes.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I would love to get cash. Has never happened; don’t think it ever will.

      My exjob invited all employees and one adult guest, so you could bring your spouse and / or a date. I always got stuck sitting at the bosses’ table though, so I quit going. That and I hate going to work stuff after hours. Bleah.

    6. Jennifer*

      I don’t get why a spouse would want to go. They only know one person and have to spend the entire night talking to that one person, and the employee spouse ends up only talking to them and…what’s the point? At least you know your coworkers enough to talk to them.

      The only year spouses/SO’s were invited to a night time party (at this point we have a lunch party for a couple of hours that’s catered, plus the stealing game, so spouses are never an issue), my boyfriend arrived in town late for whatever reason and never made it. I was actually very relieved because damned if I knew what I was going to do with him there for hours and my coworkers weren’t exactly his type to hang out with either. (Yup, yay for breaking up there.)

  42. louise*

    We had a shopping trip on a Saturday in December in a city an hour and half away (one way). When asked if it was mandatory, the office manager said no, but that the gifts from the doctors we worked for would be given out there and only the people who attended would receive their gift.

    The gift turned out to be lunch at a moderately-priced chain restaurant and $100 cash. The cash came after we were divided into teams and given a scavenger hunt list of events/activities we needed to complete while shopping and document with photos. And…we were told the $ had to be spent *entirely* (any remaining was to be turned back in!) and *only* on ourselves (so anyone who thought they’d finish up their gift shopping with it was out of luck).

    I don’t enjoy team work. I hate shopping. I despise giving up an entire day off (especially in December when almost everyone is too busy). I didn’t like my co-workers during work hours, let alone when I could have been spending time with my husband.

    The kicker was that the manager who organized it was someone I greatly respected who was being *very* misaligned by many of my co-workers and she was trying desperately to create an event that would both build teamwork and give overworked moms a chance to spoil themselves. It missed the mark. But because of the way others were treating her, I felt I had to be supportive so I put my smile on and laughed through the day despite being miserable. I found out $100 isn’t worth selling some of my self-respect.

  43. Erika*

    I used to work for a really terrible contracting company where my boss was a micromanager. As the receptionist, I wasn’t allowed to go to the Christmas party, but someone did bring me some tiramisu, my favorite dessert. What I didn’t know at the time was that the tiramisu was made with amaretto. I had three pieces of cake and was unable to drive home!

    This was surpassed the following year when I worked for a new contractor (also terrible) who had us (the accounting office) handle much of his personal finances. As such, we got to see the very large sum he spent on his own Christmas decorations and party (in the area of $10,000) while we got: no bonuses, pay cuts, and a mug with the company’s logo on it. Wooo.

  44. Ashley*

    Mine are more on the depressing side, but still crazy:

    Year 1: An inappropriate relationship between the owner and his “assistant” was made very clear when she drunkenly sang Santa Baby to him while his wife sat on his lap.

    Year 2: 2 days before the party the owner got ran over by a car and broke his hip.

    Year 3: 2 of our valet guys got shot. Thankfully not life threatening.

  45. kasey*

    Ack, I am cringing reading these. Thank you all for sharing! My last boss was a wee obsessed with Christmas. I had just started around the holidays and one day someone came into my office and said, “time to decorate”. It took our entire (granted small) office most of the day to put out: a HUGE santa, various santas from (from history?) skinny santa, old santa… elves, a train, a tree that we had to decorate, music boxes, a really large plaster bear, a big plaster penguin, little red & green fences everywhere, a HUGE wreath that was at least three feet across, various other ugly little things- most of which lit up, a sleigh, garland, a fireplace that was electric and “real” fireplace size- for the conference room, natch!, a dozen or so wreaths, various glitter covered doo-dads. That fake cinnamon scent was everywhere. Fake snow, check. It was insane, tacky, just way, way overdone and looked really, um, <iprofessional. I found it all so depressing.

  46. m3m*

    I missed this party because I was on maternity leave. There was a drawing for door prizes, but in order to get your prize, you had to answer a silly question. Like “what did you wear to prom?” or “what was your childhood pet’s name?”

    And then someone got, “What is the worst thing you have ever done?” A hush fell over the room, and the person turned bright red, muttered something unintelligible, grabbed their $5 Starbucks gift card, and walked away.

    I like to imagine that, had I been put on the spot like that, I would have said, “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

      1. Sasha*

        This would also be good for the “two truths and a lie” ice breaker game people seem to be so fond of.

    1. Kelly O*

      See, and I would go with “I shot the sheriff, although not shooting the deputy is my deepest regret.”

  47. The IT Manager*

    And this dovetails nicely into today’s other discussion. There are many people who can come up with a witty response like this. I am not one of them, and for me such a situation might go just like you described. You’re probably all lucky the guy mumbled instead of being articulate because it could have been worse.

  48. Malissa*

    Thank you AAM for doing this on a Friday when they’ve decided to update my ERP system! This could have been a very long a boring day.

    My husband’s company has an evening party that’s held in a place with a cash bar. There’s always stupid ice breaker games, because, apparently, the 8 people who work together day in and day out don’t know each other. Then there’s the sing along.
    At least the food is good and they do give a good presentation about how the company is doing and what the other locations are up to. Also the swag is good.
    Oh and one person always has to show up in a inappropriate skin showing outfit every year.

  49. AnonMouse*

    Yet again, I’m so thankful that the place I work currently is a dry campus…

    Though at a previous place I worked (small private high school), it was always awkward around the holidays… there were these certain little mini-parties that were thrown by various parent groups because they were ~*tradition*~ but since the office structure had changed since the 60s (gasp!) it made everything awkward.

    There was a party thrown for the faculty (okay, fine) but the front office staff and development/alumni people weren’t allowed to eat/graze despite it being held in the front office’s patio. (The office is an old house.) Then there was a staff party on the patio, where the faculty had to walk by all the food to get to the upstairs lounge but weren’t allowed to graze. Then there was a special Secret Santa party for the front office staff…but only for the women!!! What?!?!?! (Most of the office staff are women, and I’m sure the men would’ve loooooved sitting around gossiping, but still! wtf?) And awkwardly, the IT staff who had their offices in the upstairs of the house near the lounge weren’t invited. They had some weird imaginary divisions. I was also a little annoyed that I got a thoughtful gift of an owl kitchen towel and a very nice Christmas ornament for my person, and everyone else got nice personal things, and I ended up with a bag of leftover raisin scones and a box of weird tea.

    I think my worst gift exchange was the White Elephant when I worked at a rare books library, where everyone brought truly quirky awesome stuff to throw around (I brought winter-themed rubber duckies :P other people brought bizarre old things)… and what did I end up with? The library director brought a used cat toy that looked like a voodoo doll, complete with dust bunnies and cat fur still attached as if he’d just pulled from behind the couch. If you’re going to be “forgetful”, just don’t even participate. :(

  50. Jamie*

    Oh and one person always has to show up in a inappropriate skin showing outfit every year.

    Is this person chosen by management, or can the employees themselves decide who has to do it this year? :)

    1. Sasha*

      Thankfully he doesn’t show skin, but my manager is usually the one who makes an appearance in a horrific holiday outfit, and he does not do so ironically. His wife actually picks things out for him, like awful bright red and green button-downs and cheesy ties. He thinks it makes him look hip and relevant.

      This year, I’m on a mission to find a Christmas Cat vest to don at my office party.

      1. FreeThinkerTX*

        On the first pass, I read this as: “…it was the boss’s new wife.” As in, “Skanky Trophy 2nd Wife”.

  51. Not usually Anon*

    Anonymous (!) internet confession:

    Someone was looking for the stupid snowman that sings Frosty when you smack it and they can’t find it.

    I’ve spent the last several years pulling the batteries out and putting them in backwards when no one is looking just to silence it for periods of time.

    I did NOT hide it, but I saw it in the storage closet on the floor behind the Halloween decorations. So while I had nothing to do with it’s disappearance I’m not helpfully volunteering it’s whereabouts even though they are sending out the equivalent of an Amber alert for this thing.

    Shhhh…I think this knowledge makes me guilty of aiding and abetting or something, but I don’t care. If you can’t figure out to check the floor in the area of where you pulled the box of Christmas stuff from that’s not my fault.

    1. Elizabeth*

      We have a Christmas Clock.

      It plays a different carol on the hour each hour.

      The negotiation is that it is allowed to go no earlier than 12/1, and it must come down before the strike of midnight on 12/31.

      I even like it, and I get sick of it before the end of December.

      1. Sasha*

        Well, I didn’t read that second word as “clock” my first glance.

        Also, ew. I hate being assaulted by annoying music. I do enjoy some Christmas music (like Ella Fitzgerald’s holiday albums), but those novelty items tend to use the most annoying, badly recorded, jarringly cacophonic musical tragedies in existence. Like Singing Bass.

        1. Rana*

          Inflict the Jingle Cats on them, and threaten to play it again if they don’t stop.

          They will stop.

          (I have to admit that I like the Jingle Cats, but fully understand why other people will find it annoying.)

      2. A teacher*

        I have a sing ing Rudolph that vibrates. I use it to tell my high school students to be quiet. They get too loud or keep talking, I keep playing it. Best classroom management tool ever :)

    2. Anonymous*

      We have a tree that sings. Problem is the boss likes to put it out in the hallway where someone walks by like every second or so. No one ever says anything, but I know if someone else was doing that I would make a stink abou it. (I usually pull the batteries out after a couple of days when the boss has forgotten about it.)

  52. Blinx*

    AAM, can you have a follow-up column about holiday parties done right? Over the years, I’ve been to some really nice ones, both large and small.

      1. Jamie*

        I remember when I read that thinking that if my employer ever gave us the choice between the party and the day off that I would run a campaign lobbying for day off the likes of which had not been seen.

        I might even consider paying people for their vote. This isn’t politics or Survivor – so there are no rules.

        Actually, that would never happen. I truly can’t think of one person I work with that wouldn’t pick day off.

  53. bo bessi*

    In addition to the company-wide party every year, my office has a pizza lunch and white elephant gift swap. It’s totally optional, and you don’t have to bring a gift to still enjoy the pizza. Usually it’s stipulated that the gifts should be around $10 and be something you’d like to receive yourself. Last year, most of the gifts had been opened when one of my co-workers picked up a smallish box and shook it. It rattled like crazy, and when he opened it there were crushed peanut shells inside. No one knew who it was from, and it set a really uncomfortable tone for the rest of the afternoon. To this day, no one has claimed it.

      1. Lisa*

        It gets the point across about not wanting to participate, but most offices that force participation also have some know-it-all that decides to track down the “non-team player”.

        1. bo bessi*

          Yeah, by optional we really mean optional. Our office is pretty laid back, so no one should feel like they have to participate. They don’t even have to come to the lunch. It was just a weird thing to do given the casual nature of the lunch.

    1. Sasha*

      White Elephant gifts bother me. Not only because of random things like crushed peanut shells (lol) but because some people ALWAYS break the rules. $10 limit? You mean $10 per item in the mega-gift basket, right? So there is an awesome gift that is worth about $50, and everyone else brought crappy $10 like they were supposed to, and it’s awkward. In the case of my office, there are about 3 or 4 offenders who will bring gifts that make the rest of us look like cheapskates. This year my office is doing something interesting where we play the gift stealing game, but you’re not allowed to open it until after the party – so no one is embarrassed by the CHEATERS and their CHEATER GIFTS!! (Sore spot for me.)

      1. Lore*

        That’s how we always did ours, too (when my department was smaller, and we did a potluck and/or pizza lunch with a Yankee swap). The competitive aspect, of course, shifted to the wrapping, but mostly in a clever/goofy/absurdly-misleading way, and my boss was good about noting the unloved orphan gifts and getting them into circulation when it was his turn or his gift got “stolen,” so it was all pretty good fun.

    2. books*

      OH. We used to do a team white elephant/potluck that had a $5 limit, if you purchased something, but it was a sarcastic white elephant (uhm, I believe the intent of white elephant is to be sarcastic yankee swap, but I’m not sure, and it was not a sarcastic sarcastic yankee swap), so there would be some CRAZY CRAZY stuff, but occasionally also a bottle of wine that someone who was a non-drinker received as a gift, etc. It was hilarious. When your intent is to do bad gifts, everyone wins. (Because everyone loses.)

  54. Not So NewReader*

    After reading all these postings, I think I am doing pretty well. My worst Christmas party consisted of being in the B group for lunch and discussing surgical procedures for the entire time. Vividly discussing surgical procedures, so that even a two year old could figure out what went on. The restaurant offered a type of ethnic food that does not agree with me very well…
    Oh yeah. That was festive. I had to go back to work in order to cheer up.

  55. Anon*

    My former boss got drunk, sat me down at the bar and said that he was giving me a raise to [less money than he was currently paying me]. Whoops!

  56. anonymous*

    My former company was moving to a new location and decided to hold the company party at the new site, which was, at the time, occupied by an abandoned warehouse that had no heat or working plumbing. It was freezing cold in there and they had port-a-potties set up. Highlight of the evening: co-worker gets drunk, goes into the port-a-potty and cannot find her way out. I believe she may have tipped the thing over with her inside it, but I don’t remember for sure — I’d left by that point because I could no longer feel my fingers.

  57. Maggie*

    Years ago the company I worked for had departmental Christmas parties. Managers would take their people for lunch at a local, nice restaurant. That was nice. Until I got transferred to the warehouse. The Christmas party they had was a pot-luck in the cold storage room! Those managers thought they were being generous by opening up the pop machine. Yippee. I made sure to tell all my coworkers what the parties were like at the main building. The next Christmas everyone got a restaurant lunch…even the warehouse staff!

  58. Chaucer*

    I’m a big fan of EDM (Electronic Dance Music,) in particular Trance music. The job that I was working at on campus had just an informal gathering for those who were still at school after Fall finals, and pretty much everyone who worked in that building was invited. For the most part, the music that they played was lame Top 40 stuff, but out of nowhere, the song “Bright Morningstar” by Tiesto came on. I took that as my initiative to go right into the middle of the wooden dance floor and start dancing. At one point, I attempted to breakdance but got too close to someone and accidentally nailed them in the shin. The guy took it well, and we both laughed it off. To this day, he still brings it up to me via Facebook whenever I announce that I am going to a music festival. He would write, “Don’t injure anyone!”

    1. COT*

      Ha. At (nonholiday) staff parties at two different workplaces, I have:

      1. Served a volleyball into the back of my co-worker’s head.
      2. Tossed a Catchphrase game to my boss and hit her in the face.

      And those were alcohol-free parties! I am none too coordinated.

    2. Jen M.*

      I love trance!

      When I think of combining trance and my current company or coworkers, though…nightmares ensue! ;)

  59. Reader*

    A huge jar of cash money and coins is on display. Staff are to write down their guess as to how much money is in there, and “the one coming closest without going over will take all.”

    There is much chatter about the jar. People are excited.

    Then, at the end of the evening, in front of 100 people, the winner is finally revealed! The jar has over $700 in it! And the winner did indeed “take all.”

    But not the money. Just a bottle of All brand laundry detergent.

    1. Blinx*

      Geez, and I thought the box of peanut shells (above) was bad. I guess someone thought they were SO clever. NOT!

    2. Construction HR*

      Man, that’s cold.

      Not Christmas-ey, but didn’t some gal win a Toy Yoda in a contest where everyone thought they were vying for a Toyota??

      1. littlemoose*

        There was a lawsuit about that actually. We traditional in Contracts class my first year of law school. If memory serves the court found for the plaintiff, ie the woman who won the “Toyota.”

  60. Very Anonymous*

    we have a staff of about 10 people. every year we have to go to this half-decent restaurant that no one likes (mediocre food and rude wait staff) and pretend we all like each other. my supervisor and her supervisor dislike each other and don’t even talk usually, the upstairs people dislike the downstairs people, the downstairs people dislike the upstairs people, and yet we all have to sit and pretend to have a good time. the head supervisor must feel like this makes it all better for her being a complete nut the rest of the year (nut = changing the rules on you at any moment and yes, you should have known they changed, what’s wrong with you?) oh, and there’s a white elephant type gift exchange but usually only 4 people participate. awkward and absurd is the only way to describe this lunch.

  61. Scott M*

    Wow! Look at the number of posts!

    As much as I like to complain about my company, they do Holiday parties right. It’s a lunch, so no issues with taking time out of the employee’s personal life. It’s held at a hotel ballroom near the office (we are lucky to be in a office complex with a hotel). There is no alcohol. There are lots of door prizes. It’s not mandatory (I attend about every other year).

    The only thing I have to be concerned with is making sure I attend with my team, so that I don’t have to make awkward conversation with people from elsewhere in the company that I have nothing in common with.

    1. Blinx*

      Another one with door prizes. Man, I’ve been to lots of holiday parties over the years, some of them lots of fun and done really well, but none of them ever had door prizes!

      1. The IT Manager*

        I think the idea is to give out Christmas presents – but not to everyone because that’s too expensive.

        IIRC when I was in the military one of my units got door prizes by asking local businesses to donate for the (small) amout of publicity.

  62. Anonymous*

    My departmental Christmas party went from bad to worse. The bad party included all the faculty, staff, grad students, retirees and spouses and kids being invited to a hall for a buffet style dinner, with beer and wine served before that, if you could get there early. After dinner “Santa” would come out and give cheap gifts to the little kids. Food was always cold, the beer and wine were very bad, and the single people hated it. And one year “Santa” was almost outed by his own kids. (They were like 4 or 5 and didn’t know any better.)

    The bad party went to worse, when one year the department head decided, after the party was all planned, to cancel the dinner, and make the party a potluck during work hours on a Friday. At the same time as the big (with better food and music) campus wide Christmas “open house”. And now spouses and kids are no longer invited. And no Santa, but hey, now there is a small artificial tree decorating conest, which at least they supply the tree for the contest. The beer and wine still suck too.

  63. Trix*

    At a former job I worked on a team of 15ish for 6 years. Unbeknownst to me one of my co-workers, with whom I thought I had a decent relationship with, held a holiday party at her home – I was one of 3 or so people on the team not invited. I only found out about the party the last year I was there when one of my new team members asked if I was attending and I had to respond that I a) didn’t know what she was talking about and b) since I didn’t know about it had to assume I was not invited. Keep in mind that I sat in a cubicle near 5 of my other team members (but not near the hostess) who had managed for 5 years to keep the fact of the party from me.

    These lovely co-workers then decided that since the cat was out of the bag about the party they could discuss it within my hearing, but never with me as that would be rude – they would stop talking when I walked by so they knew they were behaving badly. I got to spend both the week before and after hearing about it. Way to inspire trust and team work. Needless to say, by that summer I had found a new job.

    1. Blinx*

      *sigh* I think this one wins the prize for being the saddest. Betrayed by your work friends. And the NEW person was invited makes it even worse. Makes me call into question past work friendships. Glad you’re out of there. Sounds like it was a nice place on the surface, but slightly toxic underneath.

    2. Job seeker*

      I feel so bad this happened to you. That is just plain mean. I would not want to go to their old party.

  64. KarenT*

    This thread is making me do grateful for my company party! It’s boring and lame, but perhaps that is for the best!

  65. Victoria*

    I’ve always worked for teensy-tiny nonprofits, so I’ve never had a holiday party.

    My husband’s company’s holiday parties were the BEST, though. This was a very large company – around 9,000 employees at his location. The parties were scheduled over several days and nights (like, Friday night through Sunday afternoon) and you could choose which (if any) you wanted to attend. Each year had a different theme or activity: one year it was ice skating, another time they rented a movie theater and you could go see whatever movie you wanted, one year they threw a huuuuuuuuuuuuge Cirque-de-Soleil themed party in their corporate training center, complete with dozens of acrobats, ballerinas, stilt-walkers, etc. The parties varied slightly to accommodate people at different life stages, too – Friday night was aimed at young adults (although no alcohol at all), Saturday afternoon is aimed at families with kids, etc.

  66. Ryan*

    I was at a work party—I don’t remember what it was for but a co-workers husband came up behind me…put his chin on my shoulder and said, “Just so you know…I go both ways.”
    Without missing a beat I turned and said, “Great…you go that way…I’ll go this way.”
    To this day I wonder if he was joking.

  67. Rana*

    Most of the holiday parties I’ve been to have been fairly pleasant: held during the afternoon with snacks and drinks, or at someone’s house and low key and no big drama.

    The only exception was at one place I worked (I’ve mentioned this party before). The party proper was okay: spouses allowed, a sit-down catered dinner in the back room of a nice-ish hotel, no one getting weird and drunk. BUT! One of the activities was this. The owner’s wife/vice president (who was responsible for a lot of the weirdness at this place) thought it would be “fun” to circulate a poem around the tables and have everyone take turns reading a line or two aloud. This would have been bad but tolerable if it were the usual holiday glurge.

    But, no, this was “The Politically Correct Christmas” or some such thing, and it basically was one long joke about why liberals, feminists, vegetarians, and the like are Meany No Fun Strawpeople so let’s get as many digs in at them as possible. There’s something strangely humiliating about listening to your co-workers laughing uproariously at your expense (without realizing they are doing so) while waiting for the horrid thing to make its way to your table. (Luckily they ran out of verses before I had to read any of it.)

    Employers, don’t do this.

  68. Yup*

    The CEO threw an evening holiday party at his house, and gave me a half day off to (a) shop for food and drinks, (b) set everything up, and (c) decorate. I did my best but since I was a billing coordinator, not a party planner, it looked a little… askew.

    The actual party was like a frat house run amok. The A/P director drank too much and threw up shrimp cocktail on the white shag carpet. The plant manager got into a screaming fight with his wife in the driveway. The chemist was found making out with the loading dock supervisor, who was about 30 years her senior and more importantly not her husband. And I accidentally walked in on the sales director peeing in the unlocked hallway bathroom (which I thought was the coat closet. we were both surprised.). The president himself got completely hammered and went around telling people totally inappropriate stories, gave me a giant bear hug that lasted a leeeeeettle too long, and broke the sliding door to his patio.

    Happy holidays.

  69. Jen*

    I’m sure others have worse stories. Mine is a party at a local sports bar held immediately after work where there was hardly any food served. Everyone was hungry and was drinking on an empty stomach… not pretty.

  70. Cath@VWXYNot?*

    I feel so lucky reading this thread – I’ve always worked in places with decent to good Christmas parties. However, during grad school, things did tend to get pretty alcohol-fueled towards the end (this was in Glasgow, Scotland, so…). One time a new guy in the warehouse brought some friends with him who were rather, um, rough around the edges and almost started a fight, and another time I overheard people having sex in the bathrooms (luckily, I have no idea who – I ran away PDQ).

    I (mostly) enjoyed those parties at the time, but I’m glad to go to more sensible parties now that I’m older!

  71. Seal*

    At my now-years ago temp job, around mid-December our boss scheduled a holiday lunch at a nice local restaurant. Since it was written on the master calendar and discussed several times in front of us, the other temps and I assumed everyone was invited. Come the day of the lunch, all of a sudden the regular staff stopped talking to the temps, avoided eye contact and kept whispering amongst themselves. Turns out the temps were NOT invited to their lunch, but no one had the guts to tell us. At lunchtime, the regular staff literally snuck out of the office! Since we hadn’t received further instructions when they left, the temps went out to lunch on our own so we wouldn’t be there when they got back. Unfortunately, that meant when we got back from lunch we temps walked in on the boss handing our presents to the regular staff; the temps got nothing. Needless to say, the rest of the day was VERY uncomfortable for everyone. The whole experience left such a bad taste in my mouth I turned down an offer of a permanent position there. If that’s how they treat their employees…

  72. A teacher*

    Company I used to work at rented out one of the museums in Chicago my first year working there and it was black tie mandatory. It was pretty cool to walk through the exhibits, especially after a few drinks. The next year we went on 3 yearlong pay freezes and the holiday events became regional parties at a bar owned by one of the companies owners. You either got open bar and paid for dinner or got dinner and had to pay for drinks, including pop. If you didn’t go they marked you down in your year end review (which was actually done in March of the next year)

  73. Anonymous*

    The stupid White Elephant gift exchange. How I hate it. One year this is the gift I brought: http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Princess-Fistful-Cake-Sony-PSP/dp/B003F1WGT4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354340710&sr=8-1&keywords=Fat+Princess%3A+Fistful+of+Cake which spouse got for free somewhere. Then since it was the stealing version of White Elephant, spouse “stole” the gift I choose. I didn’t know magnetic sculptures were SO desireable (to be fair, he took it to work, where it gets used often.)

    For some reason we’re not doing that again this year.

  74. Sdhr*

    My company opens the cafeteria and you get to bring your family. They hire face painters, Santa Claus, other popular characters, clowns to make Balloons, etc. it’s very nice. I pull my kids out of school yo attend. It’s a large company and they do this in each of our US locations. It’s a really nice party and everyone participates- if you are not married/no kids you can bring a niece, nephew, friends child, your parents, etc..

  75. Waiting Patiently*

    Our company has 2 holiday parties, a staff only party then a mandated holiday potluck which we host for the families in the community we serve. The community potluck, in past years, has been a program-wide event so participation was high because each “dept” had at least 2-3 families that attended and brought a dish from their cultures and etc. Even though it was a mandated event for us, I really enjoyed the experience. It was an opportunity to get to know other families in the program and to make the program stronger. Santa visited the kids, took pictures with them and handed-out a toy. Last year, the grin–, I mean our brilliant supervisor decided that the event should be more quaint. So instead of one program wide holiday cultural potluck, each “dept” was required to host their own potluck on different days throughout the week for families in their “dept”. And the grinch, I mean the supervisor graced each event with her holiday presence. Last year, it was myself, another staff member (the ONLY members of my dept), the grinch, and 3 families…talk about awkward and NOT filled with any holiday spirit or cheer. Santa was even nixed from the event. One family brought chicken,and two families brought a platter of cookies. I brought a pie and the other staff brought cornbread. And the grinch, in true grinch form, showed up empty handed and plopped herself down and just sat. I’m sure this was her behavior for each of the other FOUR holiday potlucks that week. Did I mention that this event was really uneventful and very awkward.
    When I raised questions in a recent staff meeting if we would continue this awful approach(that’s not exactly what I said)- an older staff member, who was one of the only people to agree with the supervisor, suggested that the kids ran around too much and it was too noisy. It’s for two freaking hour!!! Then the grinch implied that we needed to promote the event more to get a larger turnout. Everyone last year had low numbers and complained how drab their event was…
    But this is also the same company that cut two staff members hours by 10 hours a pay period and then handed out $100 gift cards to all the staff at the Christmas party. The same company which gave a promotion and raise to an employee then the following week handed four of changes in contracts citing budgetary concerns. Oh yeah, and we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, oh wait no, were told to ask families to come and bring a bag lunch.

    Just thought of this…
    I’m sure she’s racking up overtime , her position is hourly, to save up for her own personal holiday expenses… ( this would be a good reason for her push to have 5 separate events that 10 hours of overtime for her…)
    My passion is community and its little things like this, which I feel that makes a program stronger or weaker when it comes to including everyone. This separatist attitude that our supervisor seems to “run her ship” is creating a disconnect with the families and staff members.

    Sally Whoo

  76. Jackie*

    I have worked at a few companies where it was obligatory to participate in a “pot luck” lunch. The signup sheet was divided into desserts, salad, and a meat dish. Therefore, if cookies were your specialty and desserts were covered, oh well. It was assumed you would bring a homemade item too, not store bought.

    One boss had a party at her house and asked everyone to bring food.

    Another place I worked at wanted you to pay for your meal at a restaurant and no spouses were allowed. It was an evening party too.

    At every place I have ever worked there was always someone collecting for the boss’s Christmas gift. At one place, the required amount to contribute was $15. I told the person collecting I could contribute $10 but not the $15. She said that was fine. Then two days later, she came back to me and said the others thought that my name should go not on the card for the boss’s gift because I hadn’t contributed the full amount being collected. I said ok. I soon left for a better company.

    1. Jamie*

      It was assumed you would bring a homemade item too, not store bought.

      Just out of curiosity what was the mindset behind this? What difference would it make if you made the cookies yourself or stopped by a bakery.

      If it’s me, you’re better off with bakery goods most of the time – I’ll tell you that. And it would be a lot cheaper for me than the dozen or so batches I’ll need to go through to get one right.

      1. Jackie*

        Homemade usually tastes better but I’m good with a big bag of tortilla chips and a nice supermarket salsa…

      2. books*

        My husband was once told, when asked to bring cookies to a holiday potluck, “and make sure they’re bakery cookies, not store bought” (aka, not chips ahoy). He was livid (it wasn’t a staff member he liked), since obviously he wouldn’t bring a package of cookies from the grocery store, but the solution was that he bought homemade cookies to prove a point. (What point, not so sure.)

  77. Elinor*

    I’m a staff member at a midsize law firm in DC. The Firm’s 2010 holiday party was on one of those dinner boats that go around the Potomac. Not only was the boat horribly cramped and tiny for a crowd of over 200 people, but since it was held on a foggy December evening, the windows remained pitch black the entire time (one could of course *experience* the view by venturing out into the 30 degree weather).

    And, once the boat departed, I was stuck on it for the next 3+ hours until it re-docked.

    1. Jackie*

      I can’t help but think of the Eastland Disaster in Chicago where an employee boat ride turned tragic. They were overcrowded too…

  78. Cassie*

    I don’t have any crazy holiday party stories to share – our parties have been pretty tame. The oddest thing I saw was when the manager (she arranges the party so she’s kind of the host) & a few of her friends on staff (who helped the caterers set up) filled up their plates and sat down to eat before anyone else arrived. I was in the 2nd group of people to show up (we probably arrived right on time) and that small group of people were already eating.

    It’s not that I think they need to wait until everyone is done eating before they can eat (this is not Upstairs, Downstairs), but it just seemed a bit odd. Of course, you could make the case that the manager isn’t really the “host” of the party so she doesn’t need to serve guests first.

  79. Emily*

    I worked at a two-store chain of family-owned grocery stores. The year I worked in the administrative office I discovered that while all of the employees, from cashier to store manager, received a $30 bonus, the owner’s daughter (who oversaw both stores as the Vice President) gave herself a $10,000 bonus. This in a year of cutbacks to benefits, low sales, and general belt-tightening.

  80. Anonadog*

    Our holiday parties are always very nice. They’re on a Friday and start around 11, and everyone gets on a bus to a local venue that’s super classy. Seated luncheon, with passed hor dourves and an open bar for a few hours. And everyone gets to go home afterwards.

    Sounds fabulous, right?

    For two years in a row, my manager made me go back to the office to work after the party. She didn’t tell me about I needed to go back to work until the end of the party, after I’d already had a few drinks and was was ready to go home. I didn’t have a ridiculous amount to drink, but it was definitely too much to go into the office. I even told her I probably shouldn’t go back to the office, but she didn’t care.

    Now I don’t have any drinks for fear of this recurring.

  81. Piper*

    I don’t have any major stories of bad holiday parties, but I do have one that was actually successful. It was several years ago and I was the person in charge of planning all invents at the company (both internal and external). After getting input from all employees (via a survey), I planned a formal event at a hotel banquet room, complete with an open bar and a DJ with “plus ones” included.

    For months (actually years!) after that party, no one in the company could stop talking about how fantastic it was and it was the best work party they’d ever been to. My husband still worked for the company up until about a year ago and at his going away party at a bar after work (which I attended), coworkers who knew me from when I also worked there and planned that party were still talking about it to me.

    So, I guess in the right company, these kinds of parties aren’t so bad. Also, this wasn’t a mandatory event, but after the fact, people who had skipped it regretted it.

    1. Long Time Admin*

      This is similar to the kind of Christmas parties we had at my place of employment. We had a lot of fun planning it, and attending it. Our company paid for some relatively nice door prizes, too.

      1. Piper*

        Yeah, we had raffle prizes as well. I think I’ll always be remembered at that place as the girl who really knows how to throw a holiday party. I suppose there are worse things to be remembered for. :-)

  82. Piper*

    Oh, I thought of a bad story! This isn’t too awful, but considering how terrible I was treated at this company and by this boss in general, it was sort of painful.

    Last Christmas, at my old company, I wasn’t invited to the department holiday party (everyone but me was invited- I was sort of a fringe department member working on a project for them but not really with them all time). It was a pre-planned event with lunch and a white elephant gift exchange.

    My boss decided a half an hour before the lunch that I should attend the event (and didn’t really give me the option not to). So I sat there, while everyone else ate and participated in this gift exchange, and while some people stared me down, clearly wondering why I was there. It was…awkward.

  83. Maggie*

    I thought of another “interesting” Christmas party. For several years I was an aide at a school. My first Christmas there I saw a notice in the lounge about the upcoming Christmas party and mentioned it to another aide. She told me it was only for the teachers and to watch the notice to see who signed up. She was right! Teachers only. Aides made up about 1/3 of the staff for that school, guess we really didn’t matter though.

  84. Mr H*

    What never fails to amaze me is why companies think employees really want this non event in the first place?
    Take the case of one company I worked for after a poor response to the manageresses request for numbers so she could organise a meal out for staff the previous year she decided on another track and posted in the staff room a notice saying “£10 for drinks at the works christmas meal or £10 in your wages you decide.” and you then wrote your name under which option you wanted. All of the 30 or so staff, two of her own daughters who worked there included put their name under the £10 in your wages option except for one girl who was seeking promotion and brown nosing. Interesting meal I bet that was the Manageress, Deputy Manageress and this one girl.
    Proof that the majority of workforces simply want to knock off a little early on the last day with a bit of a bonus in hand rather than clock watch at some forced get together with people they wouldn’t ordinarily choose to socialise with.

  85. MissBoo*

    At my company, we have a weird ‘tradition’ where a very very expensive ‘Christmas Party’ is planned, with an elaborate theme (this year is 007!) where they charge at least £70 admission. (Typical of UK companies, I’ve discovered.) Whilst everyone is invited, only the senior department members go (the 7 team leaders, the headteacher and deputy and anyone who wants to suck up, as there’s several retirements taking place soon.) I’ve been once. My husband and I forked out nearly £120 for a hotel room with breakfast, £70 each for tickets and around £50 for costumes. (The theme was ‘Vegas Baby’, where all the women were expected to show up in full showgirl outfits and the guys wore tuxes). It was possibly the most excruciating experience I will ever go to! The evening started with us being crammed into a ‘reception room’ and being told that as there weren’t enough people, we had to share the function room with disco with a whole bunch of other people. That night resulted in one unwanted pregnancy, 2 now broken engagements, 3 broken bones and a nasty case of food poisoning.
    We have ANOTHER party every year, that’s held at a local pub-with-food. It costs around £20 including drinks (cheap, trust me!), we have live music and everyone attends. It’s usually pretty fun.
    This year I’m not going. I’m sick of being the ‘go-to’ girl when a student has a problem, or they need someone to cover a class. By refusing the Christmas parties, it’s my first step to leaving!

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