tell us your weird office holiday stories

It’s the season of forced workplace merriment, inappropriate gifts from coworkers, and holiday party disasters!

In the spirit of the season, I want to hear about office holiday-related debacles. Did a game of Secret Santa end in tears? Did a coworker throw a tantrum when she didn’t win a raffle? Did your boss try to give you Hanukkah balls? Were you asked to pitch in to send your CEO’s family on a ski trip? Were you given a nude, spray-painted gold Barbie? These are all real stories that we’ve heard here in the past. Now you must top them.

Share your weirdest or funniest story related to holidays at the office in the comments…

{ 1,632 comments… read them below }

  1. Christy*

    The people I sit with had a Christmas music sing-along via conference call and screen-share yesterday. Everyone at their desk or teleworking, singing at their computer.

      1. babblemouth*

        This actually sounds hilarious to me. Unless I was sitting next to someone singing and needing to focus on something importan, then I’d be a bit annoyed, but otherwise, I would probably laughing while recording it for blackmail materials ;)

      1. Christy*

        Lucky for me, only one person was in the office yesterday, and he was just playing on his phone. But others were definitely singing.

            1. EE*

              It’s my dad’s favourite song, full stop. He says he nearly cries every time he hears “Can’t make it all alone / I’ve built my dreams around you.”

              A friend of mine and I have a tradition where it’s not Christmas until we hear the song, and we’ll text each other with: “It’s Christmas” when we hear it. Usually in Dublin by mid-December at the latest you’ll hear it.

        1. Taylor Swift*

          I’m glad not everybody is as curmudgeonly as most of the commenters here. I wouldn’t want to sing with my coworkers, but I do enjoy activities that allow us to be human beings together instead of soulless automatons all day, every day.

        2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          My guess is because this feels like something you would do in elementary school.

          1. Lovemyjob...truly!!*

            Singing is fun. I wouldn’t sing with my co-workers because I’d be too wrapped up in my head worried about how I sounded that it wouldn’t be fun, but not gonna lie…if an opportunity to do an art project with glitter glue and construction paper came up I would jump at it. But I would refrain from eating paste…because THAT would be infantile. ;)

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              It isn’t only done in Elementary school, though. I get that it’s not something everyone would enjoy, but I’d encourage you to be more open to the idea that different people do enjoy different things, and neither enjoying it nor not enjoying it is wrong. To each his own! (And why nothing other than showing up and doing your actual work should be mandatory at work!)

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Given that rationale, there’s no reason for today’s post at all, because every single thing here is something that SOMEBODY thought would be enjoyable. It’s okay to say “Aw, I actually would have liked that.” It’s not okay to say “There’s nothing wrong with that and you’re a soulless automaton if you disagree with me.”

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  Which is why I’d never call someone who disagreed with my a soulless automaton. Or infantile. :)

                  Alison asked for weird or funny stories. Not only horrible ones.

        3. Alienor*

          I don’t think it is, but some people really hate it, and being forced to do it in a group probably reminds them of those holiday concerts in elementary school – the kind where you have to put on Santa hats or construction paper antlers and sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for all the parents.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        We had a disney sign along day one day. It was awesome. And not mandatory. Just wanted to have some fun during dreg work and decided singing to songs we loved as kids would be amusing. And it was!

        1. TheCupcakeCounter*

          I do this daily in my house! I have a Pandora playlist “for my son” of Disney songs and if he is in the house I put it on immediately. I would LOVE this (as my neighbor is shaking her head and saying that is a horrible idea).

        2. Turtle Candle*

          I had been thinking, “Oh how weird! I wouldn’t ever think to do a sing-along with my coworkers” until I read your comment and remembered the time my teammates and I belted out “Part Of Your World” en mass. (Granted it was at the end of a long and exhausting conference and we were all a bit punchy–and said conference was in Anaheim. But still. It was surprisingly great stress relief!)

          1. Cath in Canada*

            We once learned that our youngest colleague had never heard of MC Hammer, so we played the Can’t Touch This video on YouTube for her and all sang along. Some of us even danced. But that was obviously a special occasion ;)

            1. Turtle Candle*

              That’s awesome!

              I guess the defining factor is whether it happens organically or not. If someone told me “you must participate in the Christmas Singalong” I’d probably be irritated. If it was like, “hey look at this hilarious Christmas music video I found!” that then turned into an impromptu singalong, or “I love carols, anyone who wants to join in hop into Conference Room B at noon!” I’d be charmed.

              1. other rick*

                At my office in the summer 2012, everyone in the office laughed, danced, and lip-synced with Psy’s song “Gangam Style.” Hardly anyone did so when the company tried to make a Gangam Style parody video for the holiday party six months later.

        3. NJ Anon*

          Years ago, I worked in the Appetizing Dept of a grocery store. One day, around Christmas time, we started singing to the piped in Christmas music as we sliced cold cuts and waited on customers. We were all having a grand old time until the store manager came over and told us to stop. What a grinch!

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I know it’s a typo or DYAC but every job should have an Appetizing Department — if only to make the work palatable :P

          2. Professional Merchandiser*

            This is not a holiday story, but I was working with a group doing a grocery re-set and they were playing oldies over their sound system. Well, one of the other ladies and I started humming along and before you know it, we were singing quite gleefully. ( I believe there were some dance moves involved .) Well, everybody was in hysterics. The employees of the store wanted to come work on our aisle. Then alas, they changed the music to Country, so the party was over. Nothing wrong with Country, just don’t know the lyrics to a lot of Country songs. Maybe that was the store manager’s discrete way to tell us to can it? :-)

            1. Clickety Clack*

              I would’ve been completely charmed by the spontaneous singing, as a customer. (Though not at all, as a coworker in the conference-call situation.) One hot summer evening when we were eating dinner at a local restaurant, the Jackson 5’s “ABC” came on the sound system, and by the end of the song, all the servers and customers were either singing or bopping along in their seats. It was great.

            2. Snazzy Hat*

              When I worked in retail, I would hum or sing along to the stereo if it was a song I really liked, especially if I was doing recovery and not directly interacting with customers. During post-close when it’s only employees? They could hear me singing from across the store if “Susudio” came on.

      2. paul*

        I wouldn’t sing, but it’s because my singing voice is awful and I don’t hate my coworkers *that* much!

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          That was the funniest thing paul; I won’t even sing in church because I don’t like my singing voice, but that day I just got carried away.

      1. MashaKasha*

        This thread reminded me of a guy I used to date who’s a professor at a small-town LAC. Every spring on commencement day, their faculty all gets together at a local bar for their annual karaoke night. Then they continue to work together as if nothing happened, and so on for twenty+ years. When he and I dated, he used to invite me to stop by, but I didn’t want to drive to LACTown and back on a weeknight. Now, after reading this thread, I think I should’ve gone. I’m cracking up just trying to imagine the bonfire of the awkwardness that is a bar packed with coworkers, all taking turns singing karaoke. And I guarantee you that at least half of them could not carry a tune to save their lives, either! Probably doesn’t keep them from trying!

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I sang (really really badly) with some collaborators at a karaoke bar in Tokyo during a conference last year, but at least I don’t have to work with them every day. (I only see them once a year – this year, we had a Bohemian Rhapsody singalong in a bar in Brussels). We all have video of each other, and a Mutually Assured Destruction pact that ensures no-one will ever leak said video.

    1. Emi.*

      But…but…what about the network lag? JinglJinglele belbellsls, jinjinglglee belbellsls, jingjinglele alalll ththee wawayy, ohoh whawhatt fufunn it iit iss toto riridede inin aa one-horonese-horse opeopenn slesleighigh!

        1. pope suburban*

          Now I wish I knew a dang thing about IT, because then I’d write “The Twelve Bugs of Christmas.”

      1. Emma*

        That would still be considerably better than my one sorry attempt at in-person caroling, actually, where people kept dropping out or just droning one note or syllable unless the teacher was actively looking at them.

    2. not so super-visor*

      I guess that this depends on your personality, office culture, and work type. Personally, I would find this kind of fun (as long as it’s voluntary).

      1. Emma*

        I wouldn’t personally find it fun, but if it was genuinely voluntary, it wouldn’t necessarily bother me.

        What would bother me is if this seemed to be somehow arranged by management, or was part of a lot of other religious stuff in the workplace, but if it was just a group of coworkers doing it for fun, cool. (Kind of the difference between someone having Christmas decor up in their own space vs. it being required or having Christmas decor up in the lobby.)

        And I know that makes me seem curmudgeonly to a lot of people, but the Christmas season in particular can be really weirdly alienating if you’re not Christian. Which has a hell of a lot to do with the area I’m living in, I know.

        1. Emma*

          Okay, so an entire, perfectly fine, conversation has just gone missing. You know what? It’s obviously well within your rights to delete whatever the hell you want and have as restrictive a comment policy as you want, and not a single solitary person is going to give a crap, but this is getting ridiculous. I am out, and I am no longer recommending this site to anyone – and yes, I am telling them why.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Actually, it wasn’t “perfectly fine.” It was a wildly off-topic thread about religious beliefs in an already unwieldy comment thread, when the site rules clearly address wildly off-topic comments.

            I announced last week that I was no longer going to just keep trying to cajole people into following the comment policy but would be enforcing the rules more actively, including deleting comments or whole threads that break those rules. The post is here if you missed it:


            I don’t understand your tone here. It’s hardly ridiculous to enforce the rules of the site, which frankly are not terribly restrictive and which are very clearly linked above the commenting box. But of course no one site will be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. If this one isn’t for you, I encourage you to find one that is.

      2. Rhys*

        I would hate if this happened in my office due to my personal preferences but what I think is really iffy about it is that not everybody celebrates Christmas and they should be able to be free of the deluge of Christmas stuff when they’re at work.

    3. Unmitigated Gal*

      We do this in my office (we are all over the US) for every team member’s birthday! We sing, virtually.

    4. zora*

      our office neighbors (work for a different company, but share a glass wall) have been accidentally playing christmas songs SUPER loud a few times this week. It seems like they hit play on a video or song on their computers before they realize their earbuds aren’t plugged in, and it stops after a minute or two, but it is So. Loud. and I’m like, folks, the whole hallway really doesn’t need to hear your music. Kind of weird, but a sing-along by videoconference is way weirder!

    5. SS*

      That would probably drive me crazy because there is usually a lag between speaking and hearing a person on a conference call so all the singers would be offbeat from each other, especially if I can hear the live singer near me and also hear it on the conference call.

  2. Stephanie*

    Commenting to subscribe. *gets popcorn*

    (Although my department holiday party is tonight, so maybe I’ll have some stories to share later…)

        1. Anonicat*

          Or, the picture of The Rock with his nose in the air, captioned “I know you’re here Michael Jackson – I can smell your popcorn!”

    1. hermit crab*

      Me too! Our party is on Friday. But the invitations to our party this year refer to it as “the Winter Event.” Apparently, we are too fancy now to use the phrase “office party” and must instead use terminology that belongs in a year-end Lexus commercial. There have been a lot of snarky jokes about this.

        1. pope suburban*

          Interesting that he named the doll Cynthia. That was the name of the doll that Angelica, the kinda-bratty little girl from the Rugrats cartoon, carried with her everywhere.

      1. Jenbug*

        Okay, but do we know if this guy worked at the same place as the original LW or is there a trend of people spray painting naked barbie dolls gold and giving them out as awards???

      2. Folklorist*

        That was me! It remains one of the greatest moments of my life. And I think he was going for the Rugrats reference. ;-)

      3. Artemesia*

        I remember that gold barbie trophy thing — and remember thinking at the time that it sounded kind of silly fun. I would not have found it so awful. But then my kids used to do odd things with barbies — goth barbies, godzilla barbies, dragon barbies (a surprising number of plastic figures have sort of interchangeable heads) I’d rather have a gold barbie than a certificate with scrolled border at the annual Christmas ‘awards show’.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      We are having lunch in three hours. But I don’t expect any good stories. I work around adults.
      But I’m with you, I can’t wait to read the stories.

    3. Audiophile*

      Last night was the board holiday party and most staff at my company attended. I skipped but I heard it was eventful, full of tension between the board members. I’m sort of sorry I missed it.

    4. Amy G. Golly*

      My library’s party is this Saturday! While I had heard tales of Shenanigans Past, I’ve not yet borne witness to any myself in the year and a half I’ve been here. ;)

  3. Capri*

    We had a small Christmas party at my bosses’ tiny apartment. One of my coworkers got really drunk, started talking about sex and while everyone was looking around uncomfortably she fell out of chair and spilled cider ALL OVER the light gray carpet. Someone had to escort her home in an uber.

    1. Lalaith*

      My first year at my company, my boss also had the holiday party at his apartment. My husband spilled his drink all over the couch. He wasn’t even drunk :-P

      1. Golden Lioness*

        Ugh! I am half Italian I don’t need to be drunk to spill drinks… I speak with my hands… *blushes*

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      Oh dear. this wasn’t christmas, but it was a work happy hour, and I wasn’t even drunk but someone I was talking to was very expressive with her hands and knocked over my drink. To this day I get some teasing that I was so drunk. I also at some point nearly fell into a closet that I swear wasn’t there before. (I wasn’t drunk I swear). Still get teased about it.

      1. Golden Lioness*

        Can relate and if they don’t drop it it gets really annoying. I am naturally goofy, so people assume I am drinking while I am just completely sober… just having fun. I was teased for similar things… the first couple of times was cute, then it got old.

      2. Mookie*

        I also at some point nearly fell into a closet that I swear wasn’t there before.

        I love this. I’m sorry you fell, though.

  4. The Other Dawn*

    Our department Christmas party was last night. It was at a bowling alley and it was a lot of fun. Sadly, nothing weird to report. Although the ISO (man) got head-locked by someone in IT (woman). It was in good fun, though, and it was hysterical.

    I’ll be checking this thread ALL. DAY. (no work is getting done here, I predict…)

    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      One of my co-workers has several “slap bets” going right now. (I bet I can slap you before you slap me – yeah, I don’t get it either). I’m looking forward to our company party with interest to see if he gets a couple drinks in him and decides to cash in.

      1. echosparks*

        Have you seen How I Met Your Mother? I imagine they were inspired by that, there’s an ongoing plot line.about slap bets.

  5. sssssssssssssss*

    In 1994, I landed a job at a large nation-wide firm in their head office in Montreal. I started in February and found myself finally with my first Holiday season with them. Just before Christmas, I noticed that members of my team were being called into my boss’s office one by one and they were leaving with self-satisfied smiles and an envelope. Aha, I thought, Christmas bonuses! I not-so-patiently waited my turn…and it never came.

    Confused and disappointed, I finally got over timidity brought on by my feelings and asked my boss about it. He said I wasn’t getting one. I had to ask why as I had not been told there were any performance issues nor had it been explained to me if it was a seniority issue (e.g. had to have worked for 12 months, etc.). He eventually told me a couple of days later that HR determined that it was too detrimental to me to tell me why I was not getting a bonus.

    I was 24 and decided not to pursue the matter but I was so hurt. I wish I had chased up that issue as I have after much thought realized there was a gaffe I had made just before the cheques were issued, but other than it having been addressed and dealt with immediately, no one said “this could affect your bonus!” I do this day cannot think of anything else that would be “detrimental.”

    I stayed on at that firm for another two years. My boss changed over that time and under him, I got Xmas bonuses every year and nominated for Employee of the Month (and won).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “It would be too detrimental to you to let you know that you did something we dislike enough to withhold your bonus over it, even though that means you may unknowingly do the same thing again in the future. Also, we do not think it’s too detrimental to you to know that you’ve been secretly judged on something we won’t discuss with you. Happy holidays!”

      1. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        As I said below – boss probably worked off the prior year’s list and forgot about her, as she wasn’t on the payroll then.

        And might be a little too yellow to admit “I made a mistake – I forgot – and I’m going to fix it”. If it was an error on his part, it CAN be fixed. If he has the courage to do so. It sometimes takes a degree of fortitude for a manager to say that he/she erred, and will backtrack and make things right.

        In this example – a call to the boss’ boss “I forgot to give a bonus envelope to Ms. sssssssss. Yikes. I did go through the entire budget for everyone else’s bonus. Is there a way we can rustle up $x for her, and I can give her an envelope tomorrow?” Then hand her the envelope the next day – and APOLOGIZE. And be explicit – “I went off of last year’s list – and you started in January, and you were overlooked. I’M SORRY.”

        Goes a lot further than she was told. Humble pie? Yes, but it’s worth it.

        1. sssssssssssssss*

          That would have been interesting if that had happened. The bonuses were direct deposited and already taxed when you got them. It would have been difficult to hand me a cheque when the other bonuses were handled by payroll essentially.

          No, no humble pie from that man. Ever.

          That place was so cheap post-its were reserved for the executive 5th floor only.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            POST-ITS??? That sounds terrible. I’m a personal assistant. Post-its are my lifeblood. At least I’m in charge of the Staples orders so I can get all the beautifully colored post-its I want in every size.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I bought my own colored stickies (the generic ones) at OldExJob because I didn’t like using the yellow ones. When I got laid off, they left with me. I wasn’t about to leave my stickies for them!

              I have so many sticky notepads from shipping vendors I got at that job, however, that I haven’t even gotten to the colored stickies and I’ve been out of that job for five years.

              1. pugsnbourbon*

                I am that way with “sign-here” tabbies – they are MINE and they don’t leave my desk. You can have one if you ask nicely.

          2. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Most large companies have “retro fix” systems built into their payroll mechanisms. I have had occasions where – in negotiations – I had to have a retro pay increase.

            Not easy – yes perhaps difficult – but it COULD be done.

            1. Red*

              Yeah, I did this all the time for manually cut checks, including for bonuses that were mistakenly not paid!

      2. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        … and I might add – if it’s a large national firm – IT CAN BE DONE. There’s always money around to fix a mistake.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I can’t even comprehend this. It isn’t too detrimental to withhold a bonus when it is very clear everyone else got one, but it is too detrimental to tell you what you did and therefore how to correct it? My brain cannot compute this series of events…

      1. fposte*

        I’m kind of wondering if this was all a desperate cover for their forgetting to issue sssssss with a bonus in the first place.

          1. sssssssssssssss*

            Oh, Spineless was too mild of a word for that boss. He was so useless they continued to promote him, but at least he was no longer managing people. He had a hard time keeping admins too…

        1. INTP*

          I think it’s either this, or the reason really was more terrible than she could possibly assume. Like “You looked at [decision maker] weird in the bathroom one day and she still holds a grudge” or “[decision maker] is still mad at you for taking the last maple donut that he really wanted but didn’t say anything about.”

      2. Joseph*

        My personal guess is that the actual reason was illegal, petty and/or straight-up idiotic. And once sssssss asked, the company had no idea how to respond without digging themselves in a deeper hole.

        1. Alton*

          That was my thought. Maybe they meant “detrimental” in the sense of “You’ll be angry with us if you knew the reason.”

            1. Ruffingit*

              Because there were probably others who joined them before the 12-month mark who got bonuses so that excuse wouldn’t likely hold up. Large multinational corp had to have more than one person join them before the end of the 12 months. And if those people got bonuses…

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      I’d interpret that statement as “Once we saw the reason in black and white, we realized how petty and potentially discriminatory the reason was, so it would be detrimental to the company to tell you why.”

      1. Whats In A Name*

        Yes, I read “detrimental” as detrimental to the company…as in “we screwed up and can’t tell you the real reason”.

      2. sstabeler*

        Frankly, in that situation, I’d be inclined to discipline whoever made the decision to deny the bonus (probably a write-up and sending them for retraining on avoiding discrimination- yes, even if it was me) and issue the bonus- explaining “the bonus was unfairly refused- here’s the bonus you should have received. We ca only apologise, and it will not happen again”

    4. KathyGeiss*

      “If you don’t know why I’m mad, I’m not telling!” {sticks out tongue} – me in grade 3 to my best friend.

      You sort of expect adults to be better than third graders, no?

    5. TheFormerAstronomer*

      As someone who constantly second-guesses themselves and remembers things that they could/should have done differently *years* after the fact, that would be so much more detrimental to me! My shoulders have gone up ’round my ears just reading about it.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Yeah, that would have been much more detrimental to me, too. I don’t want to think how many things I would have worried about.

    6. Rachel*

      A-hat…The only place I worked that did holiday bonuses had a brightline rule for whether or not you received one. I don’t remember it anymore but it was something like, you had to be there 6 months before the holidays. (The bonus was pretty decent, it was a couple of weeks pay)

      1. sssssssssssssss*

        I could have lived with an answer like that. But this place’s HR kept their cards very close.

        No internal job postings, ever.

        No proper performance reviews.

        And, when I asked for a raise, seeing as I had been there over a year and got along better with the new boss and felt that I had ably demonstrated that I was a good and able productive employee, his query to HR about the possibility of a raise was replied with “She’s at the top of her pay scale.”

        Huh? What pay scale? There was no posted pay scale! We weren’t a union. I worked for the same salary for three years with no cost of living raises even because “an employer is under no obligation to provide a cost of living raise” (that was from another source, not the employer). I left for a higher paying job with more transparency.

        1. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Then they can do two things a) adjust the pay scale bands *or* b) promote you to a higher grade. If it’s a big company – you likely have a grade and a band associated with it. “Grade 15, low end $35,000, high end $50,000” and if you are at the top of the band – they either promote you – or change the bandwidth or adjust it upward.

          I once was in a job where I got trivial raises every three-four months for two years, because I was at the rock-bottom in the pay band!

          And yes – it is true – an employer in the U.S. or Canada, unless it’s built into a union / CBA deal – does not have to give you a cost of living raise.

          1. sssssssssssssss*

            No one knew what those scale bands were – that was top secret!

            I had even changed departments and learned new things and expanded my skill set in the hopes of securing a raise. When I did find a new job and chatted with my boss just before I left, I mentioned this in passing; he said, oh, you very likely wouldn’t have gotten a raise anyway…

            But if you were the child of one of the owners, well, then, of course you can get a raise. But that’s not Xmas related.

            1. Greg M.*

              reminds me of when I worked at Value Village kept getting told I wasn’t meeting quota without ever being told what quota was.

              1. Golden Lioness*

                The quota is whatever your number is… plus 10% mwahahah… shakes head.
                Sorry to make light of it. That’s awful.

    7. Emi.*

      Wow, and he won’t even take responsibility for deciding not to tell you. No, that was HR’s determination. Wow.

      1. sssssssssssssss*

        He took responsibility for nothing. Only three of the team were running late on their breaks every day. But everyone had to sign the memo stating that we would all be mindful of time on our breaks, rather than taking the tardy ones aside…

      2. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        When bosses make bad decisions or blunders, you’ll hear words like “band limits”, “policy”, “HR”, “the higher ups”, “my hands are tied”, and other horse***t.

        I’d rather have a manager who says “it was my decision”, than a litany of buzzwords and doublespeak.

    8. Golden Lioness*

      Who was that boss? Regina George? I cannot believe they did not even make an effort to attemp a venner of politeness… sigh. At least it makes for a good story!

    9. NPwho*

      I had a boss who wrote in my annual review paperwork that another employee had lodged a complaint about me to HR. It came a surprise to me because no one had mentioned anything about it to me during the previous year. I asked her what the complaint was and she refused to tell me anything about it because the employee wanted to remain anonymous. The rest of my review was very positive.

  6. Fabulous*

    One of my coworkers went into labor at our holiday party at a fancy restaurant! Our boss was completely drunk on the dance floor, and there she was off in the corner having contractions. A few of us ended up driving her home so she could pick up her hospital bag (and change clothes because her water finally broke), then over to her boyfriends place so he could take her to the hospital. Thankfully she made it on time!

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      That’s kind of awesome, actually. It could have gone badly, but since everything turned out okay, it must be remembered as a holiday party for the ages!

    2. JoAnna Wahlund*

      Our office holiday party is next week. I’ll be 35 weeks pregnant. REALLY hoping the same thing doesn’t happen to me. :D (Very doubtful, thankfully.)

      1. Mrs. A*

        Congrats!! I’m in the same boat, office party next week and 35 weeks pregnant! Everywhere I go these days I have the thought crosses my mind… what’s the plan if labor starts? It’s rather amusing :)

      2. Red lines with wine*

        I’m also in the same boat – 35 weeks next week but luckily I already had our Christmas parties. Now I just have to worry about going into labor at work after the holidays. :D

        1. Helena*

          I’ve done it – 35 weeks along, water broke on New Year’s Eve. The labor part is easy, the paperwork nightmare that ensues when you have a late December baby is hard. People will point out you get the tax deduction for both years (true) but you also have to fill out two sets of insurance paperwork and meet your deductible/out-of-pocket maximum for both years. And the birth certificate will take a ridiculously long time, because of the holiday backlog. And the hospital paperwork will be massively screwed up because the administrators are all off for the holidays and the computer systems get confused about what year it is. All of my newborn’s procedures got coded and billed as having been done to me (because baby didn’t get into their system until the next year), and the insurance company denied all the claims because it makes no sense for a thirty-something woman to getting nursery care.

          Long story short, if you have the option, wait until January!

            1. Artemesia*

              Yeah, have the kid Dec 31 and you double your out of pocket costs which are considerable. You end up paying hideous hospital costs in two years and your deductible starts over Jan 1.

              I broke an elbow in France and had surgery there and couple of weeks of PT before returning to the US. my co-pay out of pocket for my PT in the US is greater than the entire fee I paid for my physical therapist per session in Paris. The cost of the surgery would be at my physician here’s estimate be 10 times as high (my travel insurance paid that ). The cost for an appointment with my orthopedic specialist here is 5 times higher than in Paris and my personal cost for it given deductible etc is 2 times as high. I have both medicare and a gap policy.

              1. SS*

                You may want to check on your insurance policy. Many insurances have a hidden clause (called a Rollover Deductible) so that expenses towards your deductible that are incurred in the last portion of the year roll over and are applied towards the new year’s deductible. Unfortunately, not all insurances have this.

        1. The Mom at Home, The Work Goddess*

          I’m singing the line right now, not on a conference call, and smiling.

          As someone who has had three pregnancies while working with Fall full-term, past-due-date births, just stay hydrated during the event, and you’ll be fine ay 35 weeks, in 90% or more cases. Enjoy and may your colleagues chat with you about more things than your pregnancy – as mundane as scenic places to take a walk or the latest yummy discovery.

    3. Hermione*

      A company holiday party miracle! I hope she named baby accordingly? “Google Holidayfest! McMahon, you were named after the greatest office party of all time.”

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oooh, I hope it was at an Olive Garden because Olive is a cute name. Or Ruby Tuesdays! Although I’d like to see a baby named Applebees or Outback Steakhouse.

          1. CMart*

            I’m currently overdue (baby’s due date was Monday) and one of the names I really liked was Noelle. But then my husband pointed out that as a near-Christmas child she’d spend her whole life having people make the same pun/joke once they found out her birthday. Ruined it for me :(

            1. Formica Dinette*

              Middle name? I used to work with a woman whose parents gave her Noelle as a middle name because she was born on Christmas. I think it’s a beautiful name.

              I hope birth goes perfectly for you and your baby!

            2. Natasha*

              Natasha means “Christmas child”. I was born in August. Ironically, I believe that historians generally believe sweet little baby Jesus was born around August versus the pagan borrowed solstice holiday.

      2. Fabulous*

        I really wish that happened! It was at a Maggiano’s in Chicago. I don’t remember what she named her kid, but it’s been about 7-8 years since I worked there.

      1. Dot Warner*

        IDK about sitcoms, but in the detective show Foyle’s War, Sergeant Milner’s wife goes into labor right in the middle of the V-E Day party. :)

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Another Foyle’s War fan!!!! I loved the story of Clementine Milner’s birth. I also loved Sergeant Milner, because he was v attractive and set my teenage heart aflutter.

  7. Nobodymuch*

    The big director who normally dressed up as Santa was away, so a thin and weird director dressed up instead. His santa trousers fell down in front of the whole office. Santa’s trousers fell down. Awkward doesn’t cover it.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        “Hi Santa, is that Rudolf’s nose or are you just happy to see me?” (i even grossed myself out with this one)

    1. Maris Von Christmas*

      I know of a priest whose trousers fell down at midnight mass, but it wasn’t at an office party.

      1. MashaKasha*

        That is still very, very good. Doesn’t have to be an office party – still work-related, since he was at work!

      2. Nursey Nurse*

        My dad was a Catholic alter boy. He had to carry the heavy wooden cross for midnight mass. When he put it in its stand, he apparently didn’t check to be sure it was secure because halfway through mass, it tipped over, hit the priest in the head, and knocked him unconscious. I should add that this midnight mass was being televised, so basically everyone in their small town knew that my dad had concussed poor Father Whatshisface.

        1. Chinook*

          Right there is fear #2 as an altar server (and why I show the young ones how to hold a heavy cross without it wavering everywhere). #1 is catching the priest on fire. I have seen it almost happen once on the altar and I swear about 10 other people in the congregation also saw the robe go through the flame as there was a collective gasp and a random people ready to run for his aid.

          Turns out his robes were fire retardant (thank goodness).

          1. Cath in Canada*

            As a teenager, my Dad showed up for altar boy* duties somewhat inebriated, fell asleep while holding a candle, and set fire to his shirt. No major damage done luckily!

            *or maybe something else? I’ve been to exactly one Catholic service ever so I don’t know the terminology. He was definitely an altar boy at some point though.

  8. Temperance*

    Booth is a programmer, and his former company was very, very conservative because of the industries that they contracted with.

    At his holiday party last year, one of his colleagues brought a stripper to the party. She wore her work clothes and a pair of lucite platforms to the party. They walked in, and everyone just kind of fell silent and stared. I found out later that she was angry at the coworker, who is her FWB, so she decided to wear a stripper dress to show him how mad she was. I don’t understand it, either. (She was really nasty, too … also part of her trying to get back at FWB.)

    1. Rachel*

      So confused. Let me get this straight:

      The FWB was the guest. When coworker went to pick her up, she was dressed in a barely there outfit. He brought her to the Christmas party dressed that way.

      Why? Why wouldn’t he just save himself the embarrassment by saying, “No, I’m not taking you to a party in a professional setting unless you’re dressed appropriately. Either change or have a nice night alone.”? Did he not realize how inappropriate that was?

      1. Temperance*

        You completely nailed it!

        I honestly don’t know what he was thinking. He is over 50, BTW, so he should have known better. I mean, so should she have, but at least it gave us all something to talk about?

        It’s not like she was covered up in a big coat or something, and he had to see the lucite platforms. He was joking about it with Booth and some of the other dudes in the office the next week, like, oh Marie was mad at me for X, so she decided to wear her work clothes to the party.

          1. Mookie*

            Yeah, these two sound like (very mild) exhibitionists who performed some angry-couple role-play in order to generate discomfort (which, I guess, will make the sex better after they get home or summat).

          2. Artemesia*

            I worked with a kind of geeky unattractive guy who was married to a woman who had been a model and was very attractive. It seemed like every conversation he managed to work in her career. ‘One of Patrice’s model friends told her . . . .’ ‘This happened to one of Patrice’s model friends.’ ‘When Patrice was modeling, . . . .’ so I can easily imagine that this guy was showing off.

      2. Temperance*

        I should also clarify that some of us thought he might have paid for an escort for the night to attend the holiday party. It was that shocking.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          We’re about 90% sure that our former tenant (who was also a friend of my husband’s family) brought a paid escort to our wedding. Obviously we didn’t out and out ask, but it seemed fairly likely, and other friends who were seated at the same table pretty much confirmed it.

    2. INTP*

      I don’t think “FWB” means what she thinks it means. If you’re getting angry enough to show up at an office party in stripper clothes, that defeats the point!

        1. College Career Counselor*

          I’m assuming Friend With Benefits. (Presumably different from a Contractor Friend; ie, no benefits included) ;-)

        1. Temperance*

          I’m putting the blame on him for a.) bringing his sex buddy as his date and b.) not asking her to dress appropriately.

          1. Anna*

            Absolutely. I would also hazard that the guy who thinks this is okay also probably doesn’t make it completely clear that they are FWB and not something else.

            1. Temperance*

              She totally agrees with the transactional nature of the relationship, actually. Trust me, dude is no prize, and old enough to be her father.

              (She receives in-kind donations for the sex that they have. Cough cough)

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                Oh, so she’s not his FWB then, he’s her Sugar Daddy. Either way, he couldn’t bring his sister or an acquaintance or just gone by himself? Kind of like the woman in the D/s relationship who was telling people to call her uh… guy… “Master”, there are certain things I just don’t want to know about in the workplace. If you’re paying someone to be your uh… friend… I really don’t want to know. It’s none of my business what you do with your time, money and body parts (so long as it’s all legal in terms of age and consensual).

                1. Temperance*

                  Yeah that migh tbe a more accurate description, although they call each other f buddies.

                  He’s a really weird dude. Honestly, we all thought that she was a prostitute that he paid for a night.

          2. INTP*

            Yeah, when he saw how she was dressed and how angry she was, he should have just gone to the party alone. It was unprofessional of him to bring in someone who was clearly there to behave inappropriately. (And I’d say that whether she was his FWB, his favorite escort, or his wife and mother of his 5 children. Keep your bedroom drama out of the workplace!)

    3. Liz2*

      So the issue isn’t that she was a stripper, she wasn’t there as a performer. The issue is he brought someone who wore an inappropriate scandalous outfit.

      1. Temperance*

        She kept her clothes on at the party, but yes, she is a stripper and was wearing one of her work dresses to the holiday party.

        We thought he brought an escort as his date.

      1. INTP*

        Right? People are going to assume it’s an SO and make conversation about him or her with you later, and I can think of nothing more awkward than discussing my casual sex partner with my coworkers. FWBs do not belong at work events or family dinners for obvious reasons. (Though there’s also a chance that she thought she was more than an FWB, and he brought her along to continue this charade.)

        1. Marisol*

          I think it’s more of a “kept woman” thing and the men that do that do have an emotional investment in the women they give money to. It’s clearly transactional, and yet on some level real to them, at the commitment level they are comfortable with. They might even refer to them as their girlfriend or their fiance, even though it’s bullshit. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t know about this from personal experience, but between bartending in Los Angeles and working as an assistant to high-level executives for many years, I’ve witnessed the phenomenon from time to time.

          I’m not the least surprised that this man would take his inappropriately dressed date to a work party, but I can’t articulate why. I think sometimes they like the emotional intensity they get from fighting with a sexy ingenue girlfriend, and the scandal of bringing someone to a work function escalates the drama, and thus, the emotional satisfaction, and what they get from that outweighs whatever satisfaction they might get from simply behaving professionally…something like that. Plus, if you’re such a big shot in your industry/company that you can be scandalous and still keep your professional standing, then it’s a power move too. Just my speculation.

          1. Temperance*

            It’s a combo of him being socially inappropriate in general and enjoying bothering people. The comparison to the “Master” chick was pretty on point.

      2. Drew*

        I read this as stress on so, like “that’s *so* territory,” and I could not figure out what “territory” was supposed to mean in that context. And then it clicked, and I felt SO stupid.

          1. Liz*

            I’m now reading this as significant other stupid – as in your stupidity level has reached your significant other’s level of stupid.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      Reminds me of a couple of years ago when we went to hubby’s office party and one of the managers brought someone who isn’t his wife to the party. She was dressed almost like what you’ve mentioned here. Turns out, it’s the manager’s new gf. Why she thought dressing like a stripper to a fairly conservative office party was a little beyond me, but I’m old fashioned that way.

  9. AndersonDarling*

    I worked for a family business. The kind of place where the owner makes fake jobs so family members can get paychecks for doing nothing. At the holiday party, the owner gave his big speech and at the end gave awards to some of the employees. When the owner’s niece was given cruise tickets for her 10 years of service, she loudly proclaimed, “But I haven’t worked for you in years!”
    I guess no one told her she was “working” to earn that paycheck.

  10. Gift basket hell*

    Not me, but this happened to someone who worked in another department at the company I used to work at;

    This company had a tradition where everyone would chip in things to put in a gift basket for the administrative staff in their department (stuff like hot chocolate, magazines, mittens etc.) The company gave bonuses but this was a way for people to show appreciation to the admins. One year one of the managers contributed a fake lottery ticket to the basket in his department. No one else knew it was fake. The admin thought she won six figures until he let her in on his “joke”. She left in tears from what I heard and never came to back. An admin from another department confronted the jerk manager and told him that the admin’s father was a widower and she had two younger brothers about to start college and after she won she called her father to tell him they could pay off the house and have tuition for her brothers before news that it was a “joke” came our. It was horrible and even though nobody else knew it was a fake ticket we all felt terrible and it still brings up bad memories even though it happened years ago.

      1. Joseph*

        Especially since apparently in this case, they let it go on a while – long enough for her to process the shock and call her family. Even if you wanted to pull a joke like this (don’t; it’s a lame joke), you need to basically jump in immediately with the “nah, just messing with you; see how I used whiteout to change the number?”

      2. Natalie*

        Yeah, they don’t even seem to meet the bare minimum of a joke if the fake prize is totally plausible. *Maybe* if the prize was clearly ludicrous like a unicorn or a time machine, I would get it.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      This sounds straight out of The Office. Typical Michael Scott. I totally believe this happened too.

    2. Hlyssande*

      That kind of malicious prank is the kind I hate the absolute most. Only someone who delights in someone else’s despair would do that.

        1. Hlyssande*

          That too. I can easily imagine myself in that admin’s shoes. A winning ticket would be like the sun coming out after a long, dark winter, angels descending from heaven, etc etc etc. And to have that sudden hope and joy dashed as a cruel joke? I’d probably end up in jail for my reaction.

    3. Liane*

      If AAM existed then, the manager-jerk would have made a certain ballot (Which I won’t specify because I fear it might conjure some more entries for this year.)

      1. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Turtlewings – some people don’t have fruitful and productive lives. People who do this to others – we call ’em “losers”.

    4. Gift basket hell*

      Funnily enough right after I posted this, we were talking about the admin gift baskets and someone brought up this story. She did indeed walk out and never came back. But someone who stayed in touch with her from Facebook said she joined the military after that, and she loves it. One of her brothers has graduated from college and the other is about to graduate and her father got a promotion at work. So as far as I know she is doing much better now. (It’s still a horrible story and I feel terrible for her having that happen though)

      1. RVA Cat*

        Agreed, good to know things worked out for her. Kudos to her for serving her country. This makes the whole evil prank that much worse…

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            Well, don’t ever mess with her again because it’s a shitty and inhuman thing to do.

            She just now has more experience and frame of reference.

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          Seconded. Good for her. The manager that decided this was hysterical has a garbage sense of humor

    5. The Mom at Home, The Work Goddess*

      I give real lottery tickets. The most anyone has admitted to winning is $5.

    6. JKP*

      My brother thought he won a 7-figure lottery for about 10 minutes. He matched all the numbers and started calling everyone. But then when the TV went to commercial break, he realized he was watching the wrong station and had matched all the numbers for the wrong state lottery.

      1. Anion*

        I worked at a phone psychic company for a while. Once we had a customer call to complain about the lottery numbers she’d been given, because those numbers had won the Florida lottery but the caller was in a different state (and had used them in that state’s lottery), so she didn’t win.

        We were in Florida.


  11. Coffee*

    My office held an ugly sweater contest at the Christmas luncheon and one of the finalists was wearing an unintentionally ugly sweater. It was really awkward when they announced his name and he had no idea what was happening.

        1. The Mom at Home, The Work Goddess*

          Exactly. I am thinning my wardrobe so I would have to go to the thrift shop to buy one and re-donate it…

    1. Turanga Leela*

      This is why I don’t like the whole “ugly sweater” concept. Holiday sweater parties are fun, but “ugly” is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve seen some beautiful hand-knit Fair Isle sweaters repackaged as “ugly sweaters.” Don’t do it, guys. Someone put a lot of work into that. Give awards for “over-the-top sweaters” instead.

      Someone who once wore a vintage, glittery Rudolph sweatshirt in public

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I agree with you. I liked the “ugly sweaters” when they were just embellished sweaters you already owned. One year, my son wore one of my mom’s to the 6th grade Christmas thing. It was just a blue sweater with some patchwork stuff on the front. It was more fun than intentionally buying “ugly sweaters.”

        That said, I just learned that our holiday potluck will include one of these contests, and my SIL made my husband an intentionally hideous hat and fanny pack and gave it to him for his birthday last week, so I may participate for the first time ever.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I tend to see “ugly sweaters” as referring to a specific trend from the 80s–you didn’t necessarily embellish it yourself, you could buy them that way, but it was a very specific thing where everybody was wearing bulky sweaters with giant themed appliques and gobs of glitter and whatnot. People thought they were cool at the time, they’ve become dated with the passage of time, and now they’re “ugly.” OK, fine. But the fun of having an ugly sweater party is that you’re supposed to either make your own or scrounge one up from the actual 80s, whether from a thrift shop or your own/your mom’s closet. It isn’t just any sweater, and I think the flimsy sweatshirts with the designs printed on them are missing the point too.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            In my family we made our own ugly sweaters! We bought super cheap sweatshirts and put on iron-on appliques and embellished them with puff paint, glitter, and rhinestones. And we thought they were *fabulous*. In my defense I was a small child.

            They were really fun to make though either way.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Actually — and I don’t want to make everyone shudder — that could be a fun team-building thing to do at a holiday meeting.

            2. JKP*

              We did that too! You can also sew the appliques on the underside of the sweatshirt and cut a “window” in the top sweatshirt layer to see the applique underneath. Every year when we made sweatshirts like that, we would wear them out as a group together when we went Christmas shopping. If we got separated, we could always find each other by asking any stranger, “Have you seen a bunch of people wearing obnoxious sweatshirts like this?” Whoever you asked could always point you towards the rest of your group.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Also, the beauty of the ugly sweater is that it wasn’t intended to be ugly. And now everyone’s coming up with deliberately ugly sweaters, so what’s the point?

      3. Anna*

        Everything was fine until the ugly sweater concept became self-aware. That’s when things like this happen because everyone thinks you’re being ironic or in on the joke. Or they make them so their intentionally ugly, which is dumb.

        1. Lovemyjob...truly!!*

          My mom loves the holidays and loves to dress up for the month of December. She’s the lady who wears blinking colored light bulb earrings, musical necklaces, headbands with holiday patterns and holiday sweaters in everyday life. She has them all: Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Snowmen, Snowflake, etc. A few years ago at her company they decided to start a Festive holiday dress up day with a prize. She won. Four years in a row. So they made an ugly sweater contest. She won. Three years in a row. Now she’s the judge and gets to pick the winner. She misses the $20 gift card but she likes the little badge they made for her. It’s appropriately decked out with enough glitter snowmen and snowflakes to make her tacky self happy.

          1. Golden Lioness*

            Go mom! that some serious commitment and dedication to the holidays!

            I went to a friend’s parents fro Xmas last year and she had the biggest collection of singing animals/santas/ elves/ trees/ snowflakes… etc. One of them was about 4 feet tall. I had a balst trying to figure out which of her decorations sung and which ones didn’t.

          2. The Mom at Home, The Work Goddess*

            we all need this person in our office for so many reasons. Bless your mom!

          3. No Name Yet*

            That is hysterical, go mom! Also, in a few years (I’m still a bit young), that is totally going to be me. The only sad part is that in my health care setting that wouldn’t really work, so will probably only be on weekends. Sigh.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Can we just keep clothes in general from becoming self-aware? Unless their level of self-awareness is only that they will wash, dry, fold and put themselves away.

      4. Manders*

        Ooh, yeah, those sweaters are probably valuable and gorgeous but beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder when it comes to clothing.

        Some people in my office have been trying to convince everyone to wear ugly sweaters to the holiday party, but I just don’t have enough money or space in my apartment to own the kind of novelty clothing that only has one possible use per year.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Me too. We had a holiday ugly sweater contest at my last job, and I didn’t participate because I wasn’t about to spend time (much less money) something I would only wear once and then donate right back to the thrift shop I got it from.

          1. Solidus Pilcrow*

            Plus now the thrift shops are in on the trend and charge extra for them when you used to be able to pick them up for cheap.

              1. Mookie*

                This makes me like ugly sweaters. I generally feel that they’re only enjoyed, “ironically,” by the perpetually humorless, but this sounds fun.

        2. Natalie*

          Yeah, the only year I ever went to an ugly sweater party must have been right on the cusp of the trend getting big – the local thrift store had racks of Christmas sweaters, but they were only a few dollars so we didn’t mind re-donating them after Christmas. The next time I was looking for one they’d gotten super trendy and too expensive for a one use item, IMO.

        3. misplacedmidwesterner*

          A few years ago, this happened unintentionally at my husband’s work party. His work party is very formal and elaborate. It is at a ski resort just a bit out of town, about half the company takes a hotel room. A lot of people come up early to ski. (We just play in the pool.) It’s suits for the men and cocktail dresses or nicer for the women (a few show up in something closer to ball gowns and don’t look out of place). One guy just didn’t want to get dressed up, so he told his wife it was casual. They went skiing and then changed into jeans and holiday sweaters. She was so extremely upset with him.

        4. Anion*

          YES. This is the thing that really annoys me about the “ugly sweater” thing. Lots of companies and schools where I live do “ugly sweater” days, and everyone is expected to participate. We just don’t have the money to go buying deliberately hideous novelty clothing that will only be worn once, just for the “fun” of it.

      5. Dan*

        I was out at an ugly sweater party, and one guy says to me, “My wife doesn’t like my sweater.” I told him I didn’t know how to take that — if she hates it, doesn’t that mean it’s a good candidate for “ugly sweater”?

      6. Sadsack*

        We once had an ugly Christmas sweater contest. When the department was shown photos of examples of ugly Christmas sweaters, one of the sweaters was the exact same sweater that my co-worker wore on a regular basis in winter. I felt bad for her.

      7. Delightful Daisy*

        I’ve said a couple of times that I have Christmas sweaters that I don’t know are “ugly Christmas sweaters” lol

      8. Mints*

        Yeah, I have a sweater that was labeled “ugly Christmas sweater” but I love it unironically and try to wear it as much as possible (it’s a dinosaur wearing a Santa hat). But I also have other weird things so I think people just kinda shrug at me (rocket purse, a dozen harry potter socks, taco socks, breakfast socks, ice cream necklace)

        1. not really a lurker anymore*

          See, I would probably love the dinosaur wearing a Santa hat.

          I’m not a huge fan of holiday sweaters myself but my sister in law loves holiday sweaters. I let the kids pick out a sweater for her. They’re happy because they got to chose the gift. She’s happy that they were thinking of her and last year she loved the one my daughter picked out. It’s my son’s turn this year and I assured her it wasn’t Star Wars themed.

    2. WS*

      Last year one of my coworkers told us that her husband’s company had an ugly sweater contest and the person who won was wearing a sweater with a picture of her husband’s face on it! He thought it was hilarious but I would be mortified if that happened to me!

      1. Temperance*

        OMG why would someone a.) own a sweater with their husband’s face on it and b.) wear it to work? EEK.

        1. fposte*

          Poly women could have one partner on each boob. (More than two and they have to fight it out for the honors.)

          1. Manders*

            Now I’m picturing a sweater covered in the faces of my friend’s entire extended polycule. That would take a lot of work!

          2. Edith*

            Like the Entertainment 720 bikini Tom gives Donna on Parks and Rec. it had Tom’s fave on one breast and Jean-Ralphio’s face on the other.

        2. WS*

          The winner was wearing a sweater with my coworker’s husband’s face on it. So technically the winner was wearing a sweater with their coworker’s face on it. I saw pictures of it, it was clearly a handmade iron-on transfer deal made for the contest.

          …having explained that I have no idea if wearing a sweater with your coworker’s face is better or worse than wearing a sweater with your husband’s face on it. But in this case it was the former, not the latter.

          (Sorry for the confusion in explaining this, I heard the story secondhand so it’s not my workplace or my coworkers. I work with C, her husband is B. Coworker of B wore a sweater with B’s face on it and won the contest.)

        3. Teclatrans*

          But I think the way it went was that husband (let’s call him Bob) told a story of *his coworker* whose ugly sweater had Bob’s face on it (the joke being “this sweater is ugly because Bob is ugly”), and this joke was rewarded.

      2. Mints*

        A friend of mine went to a an ugly Christmas sweater party and pinned pictures of her friends to the sweater (a normal nice sweater with pictures printed out and safety pinned) and she joked “Nothing’s uglier than my best friends”
        Like this isn’t everyone’s sense of humor, but I think it’s hilarious if savage

    3. Juli G.*

      Yep, happened here too last year.

      That’s why ugly sweater parties make me cringe. “Ugly” isn’t universal – there is a line of clothing popular in my peer group that I find 80% hideous but I keep my mouth shut because ugh… awkward.

    4. Cranky Pants*

      Best ugly sweater ever will forever go to my friend: She took a plain sweater and stitched on a bunch of words/phrases like materialistic, greed, $$$, consumerism, bah humbug, etc.

    5. Central Perk Regular*

      This happened when I worked at a library several years ago. There was an abundance of ugly sweaters (usually with cats) daily.

    6. CAA*

      This happened at my office a couple of years ago. The HR director was rounding up the people he thought were participating in the contest to come up to the front of the room, and one responded that she wasn’t wearing an ugly sweater, it was a family heirloom from her grandmother.

    7. Natasha*

      We had a department, all younger guys, wear ugly Christmas sweaters to the holiday party and our HR admin was wearing one unironically. Awkward. Several of these guys also brought dates that dressed in very tight and short dresses. Future invitations stated “business attire”.

  12. SJ*

    Nothing too exciting for me, sadly. I think last week I told the story of my jerk boss handing me a nice bottle of wine, and, after a split-second where I thought the gift was for me, asking me to pass it along to my terrible coworker because he forgot.

    This same coworker is the one who laughed like it was the funniest thing EVER when I gave her a box of homemade cookies last year for the holidays. “I didn’t know you could work an oven!!!!” I’m so glad to be out of there.

    1. Paige Turner*

      Dude, I’d keep that wine for myself and if the boss asked why the coworker didn’t get it, I’d say I forgot.

      1. anonderella*

        ooo – wasn’t going to comment bc I didn’t think I had anything to say, but my office has been receiving holiday gifts since last week, and one of them was a box, containing:
        a) several paper towels being used as box-filler, on top of several plastic bags filled with homemade cookies; the bags were thin decorative plastic, like holiday-themed cling-film, and they had ALL broken, leaving greasy spots and cookie crumbles everywhere the moment I opened the box.
        b) a letter, written from the owner of one of our subcontractors, who was expressing how sorry he was that they couldn’t send their traditional gift this year, as it was the wife of the owner who usually put it together and she’d just succumbed to a brutal fight with cancer. The letter was quite emotional, but still made sure we knew they were thinking of us at the holidays.

        I showed my Office Manager, my boss, and tried to make her aware of the nature of the letter, as I knew she’d take one look at the cookie mess and throw it away. She walked off with the box, and seconds later I hear her saying to others in the office “Well we won’t be eating THIS.”
        I was like, you heartless c___.

              1. Golden Lioness*

                I am always happy to make new friends =) Not sure if we can PM each other on this site to send you my e-mail.

            1. Anonicat*

              What? Heck no, I’d be eating that cookie dough aaaaaaall myself.

              I could come around to wiping my fingers on the windows and door handles though.

          1. anonderella*

            I am in charge of keeping up with all the holiday gifts, also; she tasked me with keeping a list so we can distribute Thank Yous later, but she walked off with the box and the letter. Fortunately, I could remember the info, so I quickly added it to the list. My plan is to bring it up to her later (maybe in front of our co. owner), like ‘Did we remember to send a special thank you to the group who had suffered the loss from cancer?’ A lot of our clients/subs are small Mom & Pop places; I think the homemade cookies deserve the same recognition as the $250 gift basket.

            To anyone reading, would you lie in your Thank You note and say the cookies were delicious, or tell them the packaging was too unfortunate but you appreciate their gift and express condolences?

            1. NW Mossy*

              I think you can leave the note open and say “We so appreciate your thoughtfulness in sending us this gift, and we wish you our sincere condolences on your loss. Your partnership is valuable to us and we’re glad to have the opportunity to work with you.”

              And your office manager is kind of horrid. If she gets shirty about doing a thank-you to this group, I would suggest you take it upon yourself to do it.

              1. Marisol*

                I second this. I don’t think it’s essential to describe the consumption of the cookies. If you got cookies from Mrs. Fields, would you specifically mention their deliciousness or just give a warm thank you?

                On the other hand, lying is fine too. Or you could split the difference and say, “the cookies were wonderful” without actually saying you ate them.

                Ultimately as long as you acknowledge the gift politely, I’d say you’re doing the right thing.

            2. MoinMoin*

              I’d say they were delicious, or at least something truthful that skirts the taste part: It was so thoughtful of them to still think of you while dealing with this tragedy and they’ll be in your thoughts as well. Or something.

            3. Jill*

              This is a time where a white lie would be acceptable. “The treats were enjoyed by our staff” is perfectly fine. I find it hard to believe that the guy will survey the office to find out which cookie was everyone’s favorite. I would also add a line or two about how Your Company and its staff expresses its condolences to Their Company and the Family of Wife for their loss.

              BTW, if ever there was a Christmas Grinch, your Office Manager is it.

            4. Yetanotherjennifer*

              Maybe say you were touched by the gesture and enjoyed the cookies. They don’t need to know about the packaging fail but talking about the thought allows you to say thanks without lying.

            5. anonderella*

              Thanks for all the wording suggestions! I have a feeling I’ll be the one writing Thank Yous, or at least sending them out, so I should know if they get ‘overlooked’. I will make sure they know we are grateful! In a sea of holiday wishes, they could easily have sent nothing and no one would notice, so we should definitely take a few seconds to acknowledge their effort and their loss.

            6. FrequentLurker*

              I would thank them graciously and sincerely – with all they were going through, to have still thought to send a gift is an incredibly kind gesture. No need to mention the wrapping or anything negative that would make them feel bad.

      2. Cafe au Lait*

        Me. I’m a germaphobe, and I will not eat foods individuals with untidy hygiene habits have handled. Last year, I took over cake cutting at my Grandmother’s 80th birthday party because the woman cutting the cake kept licking her fingers inbetween cuts.

        I’m not so rude to tell you to your face. I’ll smile and thank you profusely before putting the food out in the break room.

    2. The Mom at Home, The Work Goddess*

      Glad for you, too. I hope 2016 was full of good, or at least worthy, colleagues.

    3. Lili*

      Something similar happened to me. I was called into a meeting, along with my two coworkers, so that my boss could update us about something. Then he proceeded to pull out two bottles of Dom Perignon, and give them to the other two coworkers as a reward for a project that they had completed.

      Of course, one of them doesn’t like champagne, so I got a secret free bottle instead. :)

  13. AnotherAlison*

    What do you think about lavish Christmas parties in the year of a RIF?

    I don’t go to my location-wide party, because it’s 1,000+ person party, which is way over my limit of 10 people in one room at a time, but they have had these big blowouts for years (ballroom location, unlimited free drinks, black-tie dress). I assume these things are planned about a year out, so there isn’t a lot that can be done after everything is booked, and I know that scaling back the party would not have changed the ~10% RIF, but it seems a little tone deaf to me.

    Maybe I’m wrong and it’s important for team solidarity going forward.

    1. fposte*

      It’s a judgment call, IMHO, so I dunno. I think there are almost always going to be layoffs of some kind happening that can make morale-focused events and parties feel ironic to those close to them so you can’t make a straight-out rule, but I also think that there’s a difference between a pot luck in a year when you’ve lost a few people to restructuring and a 1000-person party when you’ve lost close to the same amount of employees.

    2. NK*

      I think lavish parties in a year of a RIF is pretty tone-deaf. Those parties can cost as much as a couple people’s annual comp. That said, I do think it’s nice to keep scaled-down celebrations – smaller department ones instead of a 1,000+ person bash – to continue to provide some appreciation for the people who are still there.

    3. Whats In A Name*

      If I had to guess I would say they see the party as something people look forward to and as a good time so they keep it for employee morale. A one-time cost (even a big one) probably wouldn’t have affected bottom line, as you mentioned. I have mixed feelings on it as I can see it from both sides.

    4. Joseph*

      Honestly, I think there isn’t a good rule here; it really comes down to how the company handles things in general. Financially, even a lavish party isn’t likely to add up to more than the salary/benefits/insurance/etc costs of even a couple employees, so it’s really a perception thing.
      And that perception is going to rely heavily on how they treated the laid off people. If the company was cold-blooded about it, limited severance, etc, then a lavish holiday party is going to come across as mean-spirited, but if the company truly did the best they could, people are going to be a lot more forgiving.

    5. Central Perk Regular*

      I was working at a company during the Recession that did this. They had layoffs a few months before the holidays and still had a big splashy holiday party. All of the people laid off were junior employees who were living paycheck to paycheck who coincidentally were doing a ton of the work. I refused to go to the party because I thought it was just so tone deaf. I didn’t make a big deal that I wasn’t going and if anyone asked why I wasn’t there, I just said I had a prior engagement that I couldn’t break.

    6. JustaTech*

      Depends. Most years we had RIFs at my company (read, most years) we had smaller or pretty informal parties. Or no party. The year we went bankrupt we had a pretty big party (biggest since when we were cool) that would have been a great party if 1) the venue weren’t ever so slightly too large and 2) everyone weren’t depressed and anxious. The amount of alcohol was insane (and then the caterers took away the food early), but it just made people maudlin rather than dance-y.

      (Side note, museums are a great place to have company parties, because there are things to talk about that aren’t work (the exhibits) and there’s someplace for people to go to get a break from all the people without looking like a wallflower or a party pooper.)

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        Yes on the museum thing! I’m not a fan of parties generally, but the best one I ever went to was in the the National Museum of Scotland*. The food was lovely, the free champagne was delicious and the band was great. But having stuff to talk about with the other attendees was the best!

        *It was the Edinburgh Film Festival Opening Gala, so also the swankiest party I’ve ever attended!

        1. Cath in Canada*

          We went to an amazing party for my husband’s work at the local aquarium a few years ago. When it got really loud inside, I wandered out and just watched the sea otters floating around for a while, even though it was below freezing out there. All the keepers were out there too and I had a really nice chat with some of them.

          It was a bit weird when they started serving sushi, but the open bar and free taxi vouchers helped me get over it.

        2. JustAnotherNonProfitManager*

          Scottish Museums rock for events. I went to a party at the Glasgow Science Centre which was just bizarre and amazing – so much better than fancy hotels which don’t give you any conversation starters

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            I LOVE Glasgow Science Centre … I’m suggesting it for a corporate event we’re doing and hope it gets taken up!

      1. AnotherAlison*

        We were asked to share ” office holiday-related debacles”. I consider it a little bit of a debacle to have a lavish party when our coworkers were recently let go, but that’s just my opinion. You’re free to ignore the thread, and Alison is certainly free to moderate on her own.

    7. Dan*

      I’m with the “it depends” crowd.

      A few years back, OldJob had three rounds of RIFs in the same year, totaling 25 people, or 15% of the company. I got caught up in one of them. They cancelled the party that year.

      But… the company was so bad at handling RIFs, that the words “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” were going through my mind before I got whacked. People started leaving in droves, and I kept thinking to myself that management needs to do SOMETHING to make us think there’s reason to stay. (FWIW, while the actual RIF numbers weren’t huge, keep in mind the voluntary turnover, to which the company lost far more staff and never replaced them.)

      No Xmas party = Things Are Bad. Having an Xmas party when you’ve lost a large percentage of your staff to attrition and have no need to replace them? Tone deaf. Having an Xmas party when you’ve done some restructuring and want to keep people? You do need something to send the message that things are at least “ok”.

    8. James*

      I was going to say “It’s a horrible idea”. My company went through a few RIFs this year, and it would leave a VERY bad taste in my mouth if the company did this.

      Then I thought for a moment. If the COMPANY did this, yes, that’s bad. If my area manager did it, though, I’d be okay with it. The area didn’t have a bad year, after all, and there’s no reason for the local folks to deny themselves a traditional perk just because people we’ve never met haven’t had a bad year. Keep it subdued, sure, but don’t skip it.

      Of course, it’ll all depend on your situation.

    9. Spooky*

      Oh man, we had that – my previous company (which you’ve all heard me talk about so many times – I’m sorry I keep bringing them up!) had a huge, fancy holiday party right after closing an entire department and laying off a large percentage of people. The party rented out a really trendy restaurant in Chelsea, had a DJ, served custom cocktails and dishes like osso bucco, and was complete with an on-site artist doing portraits. Oh, and this was in addition to the personal yogini, who the president had hired to come into the office and give hot yoga classes twice a week for six months. Because you know, that was more important than her actual employees’ jobs.

      Definitely tone-deaf.

    10. INTP*

      It’s incredibly tone-deaf, imo. Depending on how annoyed people already are with upper management, it seems well-intentioned but super out-of-touch at best, and like they just don’t care about employee wishes and morale at worst.

      I’m less a fan of office functions than the average person, but even the people I know who generally like them still regard them as more of an obligation than a privilege. If you have to go anyways, then great food and free booze is certainly appreciated over bad food and no booze, but at the end of the day it’s a company event thrown for business purposes, not a treat being generously provided for the employees’ benefit. And the black tie element is extra out-of-touch because that makes it not just a schedule burden but a financial burden, seeing as most of the working- and middle-class employees will have to purchase or rent an outfit just for that party (or show up underdressed).

      If management comes across as generally well-meaning, it just looks like they’re a bit delusional about what their employees’ lives are like and how important their “appreciation” is to the employees to think such a thing would boost morale. If management is already seen as self-serving, it looks like they trimmed the budget in ways that hurt employees but wouldn’t spare an expense from their precious party that they throw for their own enjoyment and to look more high-end to any clients that might attend. Either way, it’s not good. You can scale it back and still provide good food and free beer and wine, which is all employees care about. They don’t care how fancy the room looks or that they don’t get to wear gowns and tuxes.

    11. Michele*

      Do we work together, because that sounds exactly like what happened here this year. They announced a 10-20% RIF a week before the party (formal dress, surf & turf, open bar, approximately 2000 people). No one knows for sure who is getting cut yet. I didn’t go to the party, but the people who did were apparently trying to drink as much as they could because of the company’s behavior. To be honest, there are far more egregious wastes of money than that party, and the company is still very profitable.

  14. Withans*

    1) Previous terrible boss threw a nice holiday party for us every year, on a Saturday night. When I was hired, other employees told me quickly that you had to show up and be profusely grateful to the boss, or else it would directly impact your raise and bonus. Also, if you weren’t going to be able to attend, you had to tell them why, and they would write it down and decide if it was ‘good enough’ of a reason. Other plans, children, and the fact it was a saturday night to be spent with the horrible boss were not considered good enough reasons.

    2) Different terrible boss decided one year to do a holiday dinner out for everyone. (He occasionally read a management book and decided to try something for about a week before reverting to being 100% terrible) So he took us all out to a vegan raw restaurant – nothing heated above, I believe, 120 degrees. He was vegan, no one else was even vegetarian. The menu items were things like “Pepperoni pizza” (dried cracker with nut paste and raddish slices), and “lobster tail” (a big piece of sliced mango). We all ate an appetizer, entree, and dessert while our boss and his fiancee refused to talk to any of us. Afterwards, a bunch of us went out to pizza, because we were starving. At least the cocktails were good.

    1. alter_ego*

      I’m allergic to nuts and most raw fruits and vegetables. Not that that restaurant sounds at all appealing anyway, but ooooooooh man, I doubt there would be a single thing on that menu I’d be physically capable of eating even if I wanted to.

    2. Paige Turner*

      This is so weird, especially since a lot of vegan/vegetarian cooking now makes an effort to not connect the dishes to a meat equivalent (that is, having a plant-based dish that is good on its own and is not intended to approximate a meat-based dish). The mango chunk is hilarious, though! Glad you got a good story out of it.

    3. AMT*

      To quote Achewood, “If more than half your menu is in quotes, you are running a metaphor, not a restaurant.”

    4. INTP*

      I eat about 75% vegan, I love vegan restaurants (give me an imaginative vegan menu over a bland cheesy vegetarian dish at an omni restaurant any day), I am used to vegan “cheese”/”bacon”/etc., the best restaurant meals I’ve had in the past six months were all vegan, I think people objecting to an occasional veg meal at a restaurant or wedding are often being childish…and even I would be annoyed about a RAW vegan restaurant. Blech. Eat there for lunch if you’re on a high raw diet but don’t make a bunch of people on varied diets eat crudites and nut pastes for dinner and tell them it’s a celebration.

    5. Heina*

      Ahahahaha! I went to a place like that a few times and it was awful. The best veg*n food is its own thing, not strips of things pretending to be other things.

    6. MashaKasha*

      I was at a party once where everything was vegan, and enjoyed the food immensely. (Unlike my then bf, who halfway through the party leaned over and whispered: “stop eating, we’re going out for real food soon.”) But it was not raw! I could not possibly handle vegan raw! And I cannot possibly imagine why anyone would think it would be a great idea for a workplace holiday dinner, it’s such a tiny niche!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I know! I’m an omnivore but I love vegetarian food, and would be perfectly fine with a vegan restaurant even though I would wish there was cheese on everything, but raw is over the line IMO.

  15. AMT*

    I used to have a boss who was so tightfisted that she locked up the stamps. If you wanted to send a letter, you had to go into her office and explain why you needed the stamp. Then she’d peel off one stamp and put it on your finger.

    Anyway, when Christmas came around, she would distribute a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card to each staff member. (Not out of her own pocket, mind you, but out of organization funds.) Then she mysteriously switched to 7-Eleven gift cards. Why? We found out that Dunkin’ no longer offered them in $5 denominations and she didn’t want to give us any more than that. Keep in mind, this was an office of six people, so it would have only been an extra $30.

    I know this sounds terribly ungrateful, but trust me when I say that she was horrible in so many ways that it was like the icing on the cake. I spent the gift card on booze to forget my job.

    1. Anna*

      It really doesn’t sound terribly ungrateful. I mean, a $5 gift card is nice, but more like “I just wanted to say thank you for finishing that project so quickly when the timeline changed,” not “happy holidays.” Your boss sucked.

    2. Liz2*

      Those little petty things really do add up to an overall miserable experience because it’s the mindset behind it that really ruins it all.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Ha! We had a weird admin would only give us one strip of staples instead of a box. But she wasn’t cheap, just a bit odd.

      1. Malibu Stacey*

        I had to do that, but that was because people would take boxes at a time from the supply closet. If you came to me I gave you as many as you asked for, though.

        1. calonkat*

          I’m the person who cleans out cubicles when people leave (it’s government work, so low pay means continuing turnover). I’m amazed by the number of people who seem to need MULTIPLE boxes of staples. We use little paper anymore, some of these people didn’t have a stapler!

      2. The Mom at Home, The Work Goddess*

        Even in paper-intense situations, it can take 5 years to run through one box of staples. She did you a favor.

    4. JMegan*

      We once had a Christmas party where the door prize or whatever was a FOUR dollar gift card. Not $5, which is little enough as it is, but $4. It was very odd.

      1. Audiophile*

        I didn’t even think that was possible, most gift cards require a $10 minimum. I assume this is due to fees that are tacked on after a year of non-use.

    5. Person of Interest*

      I got a $5 Starbucks card last year from my boss. She’s usually very forthcoming with praise, flexibility, appreciation of the fact that we are overworked and underpaid. etc., so it felt strangely lame.

      1. Michele*

        I bet a vendor gave it to her. I don’t drink Starbucks, but one of our admins has it every day. Occasionally, I get a $5 Starbucks gift card from a vendor, and I always give it to her. I don’t pretend that I am being overly generous, though. It is just, “hey, Company X gave me this. Do you want it?”

    6. Mookie Ball*

      “I used to have a boss who was so tightfisted that she locked up the stamps. If you wanted to send a letter, you had to go into her office and explain why you needed the stamp. Then she’d peel off one stamp and put it on your finger.”

      This sounds like the type of boss that, if we still had stamps that you had to lick, the boss would insist on licking the stamp before giving it to you!

  16. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    “He eventually told me a couple of days later that HR determined that it was too detrimental to me to tell me why I was not getting a bonus.”

    It was probably – as you might have determined – the boss just FORGOT. He probably worked off of his 1993 list.

    If I were told “it would be too detrimental to tell you” – I would say “I’m a big boy – I can handle the truth. Let me have it, so if I made a mistake, I don’t make it again.” Yes, that’s confrontational, but I’d rather accept a verbal explanation – “someone was upset over your mistake”, “well, I just forgot”, etc. than being kept in the dark over it.

    And if “he just forgot” … that can usually be fixed immediately in these cases, if the boss wants to own up to his forgetfulness.

    1. MashaKasha*

      You know… I think you’re right! I mean, apparently the boss later provided the information of a terrible work faux pas the OP had committed that had resulted in the yanking of the bonus without telling her… but I think it was really what you’re saying!

  17. Venus Supreme*

    Recent college grad attending my first company holiday party here. So… this one was different than I expected. I spent the majority of the party with a bewildered expression.

    Background: I work for a nonprofit arts org and we’re used to having a bit of a casual atmosphere. We dress down most days and we’re used to (maturely) handling sensitive/not family-friendly material, due to the programming we present. Overall it’s handled very professionally.

    I haven’t had much interaction with not-admin people, but I did at the holiday party! It was really a one-man show for one employee (Nick) and he created a platform, spotlight, and microphone for him to sit on throughout the party. I think he was the MC? He played music filled with sexual innuendos and curse words, which is apparently okay for his kid to hear but left me wondering how the other children and their parents in the room felt about it. I was volunteered by someone else to help run our variation of the Yankee Swap, with Nick as the MC (of course). The whole game lasted about 2 hours plus an “intermission,” and one gift unwrapped was a Spanish-translated script for a play, The Vagina Monologues. Again, we are an arts company and we honor the Spanish language (as we serve our community that is mainly comprised of native Spanish speakers). Nick goes on to read a passage from the play, making sure to butcher the language and make crude jokes at the word Vagina. I was mortified. Then he took a phone call and stayed on the microphone for everyone to hear his conversation. What a waste of everyone’s time. These were a couple examples of his behavior that night, and the day after the party I was told that this is the way it’s been for about the past 20 years. The party started at 4:30 and was still going strong when I left at 8PM…

    Some coworkers avoid this party like the plague, and the holiday party has also been regarded as “The Nick Show.” Now I know why.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        HAHAHA! It does sound like that from what I wrote. Basically he created a little stage for everyone to look at him. It reminded me of a little coffee shop poetry slam.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Oh, wonderful question. People with seniority around here can get away with everything except stealing the Declaration of Independence. Our business manager is another long-timer and we don’t have direct deposit because she doesn’t like it.

          1. Golden Lioness*

            That was what I was wondering as well… If this is sample of how they handle things, it would be a fair assumption to imagine that it’s not the best of work places.

            1. Venus Supreme*

              My previous workplace was straight up toxic- I was hospitalized from the stress and the toll it took on my body. This place is paradise compared to OldJob. I can also confidently say that my department, including my immediate supervisor and coworkers, make the day pleasant. Of course, it’s not sunshine & rainbows every day, but I know my manager will stick up for us if need be. She’s actually doing her part so that we can get direct deposit in place!

              Also, I have zero overlap with Nick which helps my day-to-day.

              1. Golden Lioness*

                I am so sorry to hear that! and I know how it feels. My 1st job in the US was “the job from hell” I lost 20 lbs a lot of hair and would leave crying everyday. It was such a relief when I was laid off!

                1. Venus Supreme*

                  Oh no, I’m sorry that happened to you as well! OldJob’s holiday party was terrible. I was having an allergic reaction to something with nuts in it well before the party (it was to take place in the office) and OldBoss told me to “pop a Benadryl” and work through the reaction while I decorated the office. I was supposed to go ON A LADDER to hang tinsel when a board member saw me and told me to go home.

                  Why are some bosses terrible?!

      1. Venus Supreme*

        I asked myself the same thing!! Nick is the head of his little department and it seems like the party is geared more toward him and his friends and everyone else politely looks on as “outsiders” from this clique.

        Another employee is known for his AMAZING (alcoholic) cocktails and to be honest next party I’m planning to stay for a glass or two of his and then make a quiet exit.

    1. Polka Dot Bird*

      When you have to have an intermission in your gift swap game, it is time to pause and reassess what you are doing. Amazing.

  18. Grits McGee*

    Christmas party planning (once again) ended in tears over an argument about whether body part-shaped gummy candy was an appropriate table decoration.

      1. Joseph*

        I’d like to know that too. I can’t believe after the first time someone didn’t just say “screw it, let’s just get candy canes and go with that”.

      2. Grits McGee*

        For reasons which I dare not know, there is a small contingent of people in my department who all have strong personalities, strong opinions, and no chill. Everyone hates each other, but they all must be on the various party planning committees. Our fall potluck was simultaneously “sports jersey”, “Halloween”, and “Richard Nixon”-themed because I accidentally ended up in charge and did not have the energy to veto anything.

        1. Emi.*

          I gotta ask, what do you do at a Richard Nixon Party? Wiretap your enemies? Lie to the public? Snort coke with Elvis?

          1. pope suburban*

            I dunno, but I guess I’d be thankful for that theme for a potluck if “I’m not a cook!”

        2. The Mom at Home, The Work Goddess*

          1000 bonus points for letting people be themselves. You may be on to something here – from storming to norming.

        3. toomanybooks*

          Omg, I’m actually laughing out loud on the bus reading all those themes. How were they all executed simultaneously? And who thought Nixon would be a fun fall-specific party theme?

          1. Wintermute*

            To be fair if you’re going to have a Nixon party it’s the best time of year… no one remembers his campaign promises, a few policy wonks remember Nixon going to China– but EVERYONE remembers Nixon’s Fall.

          1. kbeersosu*

            Ditto. I assumed someone had some “personal” body part gummies left over from a bachelor/bachelorette party that the were looking to get rid of.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      Just tell people that they are guitars (referring to the Miley Cyrus Gummy Guitars that were put out a few years back).

  19. TeasedLW*

    This is off-topic but since my question popped up under the “You May Also Like” I felt inspired to say this…

    I’m the LW from the letter “my coworkers mercilessly tease me about my drunken holiday party behavior.” Last week was our company holiday party. I’m happy to report that I stayed 100% sober and professional this year. Well, I did do some silly dancing, but it was just plain ol’ (sober) bad dancing, not falling-down-drunk embarrassing dancing. My behavior last year did come up once or twice, but it wasn’t too bad.

    Having made it through this year’s party, I feel like I can finally move on from that incident. I have been working really hard on sobriety this past year. I wish I could say I haven’t had a drink since my update letter, but the truth is I’m still working on it. However, I am in therapy and AA and doing really well. I believe that 2017 will be the year I can stay sober for good.

    It makes me happy to read through the comment section on that letter and remember all the support and empathy I received from Allison and the commenters. Thanks everyone.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Oh my goodness, I’m so happy to hear from you! It’s wonderful to hear that you’re doing well. Happy holidays!

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Thank you for saying hello, and congratulations on the good and hard work you’re doing.

    3. krfp13*

      Good for you! In case you are interested, the book: The 30 Day Sobriety Solution was amazing and helped me greatly. It’s about so much more than drinking, it’s about being a whole person who loves themselves. I got mine from my local library, and then decided to purchase a copy. Highly recommended really for anyone who just wants to feel better about life. Keep on keep on-in’!

    4. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Thank you so much for updating us. Every one of us has at least one moment in our lives that we look back upon with shame. It is hard not to let that define you. But with your update, you have shown us that it is possible. It takes hard work, but it’s possible to change and move on.

      I especially appreciate your honesty and saying that you have consumed alcohol. The path to lasting change is never smooth. There are times when it’s one step forward, two steps back. Yet you’re still determined to move forward on that path, and you aren’t letting setbacks stop you. This will sound so strange coming from an internet stranger, but I am really proud of you. It sounds like you’re also proud of yourself. (And I hope this doesn’t sound patronising, because it’s truly not meant to be, but your story is inspiring for people who are struggling with making a lasting change. This update has made me smile so much.)

      Congratulations on all your success and I hope that 2017 is an amazing year for you.

    5. Nic*

      Thank you so much for the update! It is always good to hear back, and positive ones are especially wonderful. :D

    6. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

      Congrats on your all of your hard work over this last year and I’m glad to hear that this years party was more successful. I always remind myself that recovery is a journey and it’s never a straight forward path and hitting those bumps along the way are important as they teach you so much about yourself and what you need to stay sober. I once had someone tell me that if you look back in 6 months, you can either have made no changes for 6 months and be at the same place or worked hard to change things (even if it’s not always 100% successful) and be further along than you would have been if you didn’t continue to work at it. It sounds like you’re working to set you self up for a successful, sober 2017!

  20. vacc*

    Two jobs ago I worked with a certifiably crazy person.

    I used to bring cupcakes or treats into work occasionally.

    I brought my husband to the holiday party and upon being introduced to my husband, crazy coworker poked him in the stomach and said, “I can see you’re enjoying all the cupcakes at home!”

    My husband, who is the friendliest person known to man, glared at crazy coworker, said, “Happy Holidays,” and then froze the dude out for the remainder of the evening. Crazy coworker had zero understanding of what he’d done wrong.

    1. Lemon*

      Oh lord. How do people not realize that this is basically like saying “Wow, you’re really fat!” and that maybe people don’t like being called fat?

    2. MashaKasha*

      I miss the old days when employers could afford the “+1” holiday parties. Double the crazy!

      I have a story about a semi-crazy coworker’s full-on crazy wife. My first holiday party at OldJob, my then husband and I found ourselves sharing a table with Mr. and Mrs. Crazy. The conversation started out totally normal, they asked us about the time when we came to America, what we did for work the first year, how old the kids were, and seemed interested in our answers. All good. Suddenly Mrs. Crazy, whom I had never seen before in my life and barely knew her husband, says, “it must’ve been so hard for you that first year, because you could not homeschool your children!” Uh. Yes. Yes. That was the hardest part, I swear! I looked at my husband and he was as confused/amused as I was. I have no idea how she came up with that comment. They were very outspokenly conservative/religious, so that was probably how.

  21. Addison*

    The second year I worked here I joked that other than the small Christmas celebration with my tiny family, I was going to spend my week off for Christmas on “staycation,” hanging out with my cat and unwinding. A couple people laughed and said “your CAT??” and I just shrugged and said yeah, she’s a pal. Don’t have to buy her presents (I didn’t add that I usually do buy her presents but WHATEVER SHE’S FAMILY OK), doesn’t bug me while I end of the year de-stress, it’s great. There was some joking and “cat lady” teasing but nothing too crazy.

    A couple weeks later, my secret Santa got me nothing but cat stuff. Like, stuff for the CAT, not me. Toys, kitty treats, catnip, a little scratcher. My secret Santa turned out to be my boss.

    1. SJ*

      Hahaha! I’d kinda love it if a Secret Santa got me all gifts for my cat. I don’t need more stuff, but my cat always loves more stuff!

      1. Amber T*

        LOL tbh my cats don’t need more stuff either. That didn’t stop my mom from buying two pet sized fleece blankets (or from me accepting them). I’ll be sure to buy them a handful of new toys, which they will ignore in favor of bags, plastic bottle tops, and my toes under blankets =^..^=

        1. Artemesia*

          those little spirals of plastic that come off milk jugs — so bouncy, such great cat toys. I remember back when we had a house cleaner and she moved the couch to clean under it and was mystified as why there were about 20 milk tops under the couch.

    2. Venus Supreme*

      Haha, honestly I’d love to receive that as a gift! My cat is my pride and joy. Although he’s a Special Cat in that he’s not very interested in toys (or boxes, or scratching posts, or anything you’d expect a cat to like), and catnip makes him fall asleep…

      1. Marillenbaum*

        My plan for the new boyfriend is to get a present for his dog. To be fair, she’s a really good dog.

        1. Michele*

          Before I got married, I had a strict “love me, love my dog” policy. Actually, I think at first my now-husband liked my dog more than he liked me. Not that I can blame him–she was a great dog.

          1. Chinook*

            I dated one guy whom, when I amicably broke up with him, told me to contact him if I ever needed help with my dog. I swear he loved that little guy more than he liked me.

        2. MashaKasha*

          Go for it! I wanted to instantly marry any SO who did anything for my dog. (Admittedly, only one of them did.)

      1. Addison*

        She loved them! And thankfully none of them were noisemakers so I didn’t have to endure much jingly-jangly torture on that front.

    3. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I got Christmas presents AND STOCKINGS for my two cats, and plan to buy the kitty my wife and I are now fostering a present, if it does not find a home before Christmas.

      (Also, do you want an orange and white polydactyl tabby mix that hates cuddles but loves to purr LOUD and rub against you?)

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        My parents are coming this year for Christmas, for the first time ever (normally we visit the week before/after), so instead of wrapped presents under the tree for the dogs and cats, there are merely unwrapped toys stuffed into the tree out of their immediate reach. ;)

              1. nope it's not gonna happen*

                Hi neighbor! If I could have another cat I’d take her! Hope Zoey finds a home soon.

            1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

              Hi! Are you enjoying the snow? I swear it makes people forget how to drive! And I am going to see “Fun Home” at the Ordway this weekend. But it’s supposed to be -10 out!

              I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the doors to open, haha.

              1. Solidus Pilcrow*

                It’s the “albino brain chiggers,” * they eat away all knowledge of driving in snow. Thank goodness I don’t have to go on the major highways on my normal commute. 35W is certifiably messed up.

                * Episode of “Third Rock From the Sun.” The aliens experience snow for the first time and has one of them running in panic from the albino brain chiggers falling from the sky. This has become my favorite name for snow.

          1. Sunshine Brite*

            Adorable! I wish we were in a place to get another… and didn’t have to be absolutely sure about fit given how surly our current cat is.

          2. AnonEMoose*

            Hi, neighbors!

            I also am not in need of another cat, although that one sounds fabulous. But our two current feline overlords are a very tight unit (they’re littermates), and one of them in particular would NOT be happy about an addition.

            1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

              I wish we could get cat people together to move them nationwide to get homes quicker! I would totally send Zoey on a trip to find her new family.

          3. Natalie*

            So many MN people. We should do a meetup.

            Unfortunately our cat HATES other cats. My husband brought her to his parents house once, and she kicked both of their cats out of their territory and took over the house. One of his parents cats has never really been the same.

          4. Emilia Bedelia*

            Oh no, I’m on the other side of the country

            But in the same spirit, if anyone in the metro NY/northern NJ area is looking for a cat, Ramapo-Bergen Animal Rescue, Inc. is a great place :)

            1. Opaque Snowflake*

              Awesome! I’m central NJ.

              My family and I have rescued from New Beginnings Animal Rescue (their cat sanctuary is awesome), Animal Rescue Force (my family dog lived to be 17!), and Puppy Love Pet Rescue, to add to the list :)

      2. Adlib*

        Oh man! Orange & polydactyl makes this kitty sound amazing to me! (Already have one orange/white cat and a polydatctyl!) What a sweetie he sounds like! I love the idea of getting him a present even if he’s a foster. :)

        1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

          Of course! She doesn’t understand that she isn’t permanent, but, I think, can understand not getting toys while my two do. And I’m not mean like that. It would be like not getting a family member a present, because he is being raised by my SIL, who is his stepmom.

            1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

              No, my SIL is raising her ex’s kid.

              But he’s 4.5. All he would know is that he wouldn’t get presents like the other kids in my family. And I like to think no one would be that petty.

      3. Golden Lioness*

        New kitty! the best gift ever!

        That orange kitty sounds great. I have 2 geriatric cats (17 and 16) right now, so I can’t add to the family, as it would be very disrupting

    4. Addison*

      oh my god. Ok, update – Secret Santa is this week as well, I just opened up my gift and it’s an air freshener hangy thing for my new car, shaped like a kitty with a cone on its head, in “Pot-PURR-i” scent. I’m basically crying with laughter. It’s so cute, but I think I might officially be a crazy cat lady since I’m on year four now.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        I can’t decided if it’s awesome or a little crazy in itself. I, however, love all things cat.

        1. Addison*

          That’s the one! I would have taken a pic but I wasn’t sure if that’s a normal thing people do on here. Even just looking at the picture of it online has me bawling with laughter again though. I went to put it on my mirror during my lunch break – can’t wait to get in and take a whiff of that sweet potpurri on the way home.

          1. Addison*

            I was actually kind of Concerned that it would smell like (clean) kitty litter so I opened it… it’s actually quite a fresh pleasant smell!

        2. Student*

          Their advertising copy is the best part: “Expresses the universal suffering of all living creatures”

    5. LA*

      Ever since we made it clear that we have cats, not kids, my in-laws always get me and my husband at least one set of gifts for our cats. So does one of his grandmothers. It’s actually really nice (and more useful than a tenth pair of mittens/candles)

      1. Anna*

        A few years ago my husband’s aunt and uncle got us a really nice basket of things that included a cat toy and treats for our kitty. She LOOOOOOVED the toy. I can go into rhapsodic stories about how much she loved that toy, but I will refrain from going all googly-eyed cat stories on you guys.

        1. Chinook*

          What, getting gifts for everyone’s pets isn’t normal? Does that mean people also don’t leave out stockings for their pets for Santa to fill?

      2. Emi.*

        When you say “made it clear that we have cats, not kids,” do you mean that you finally convinced your parents/in-laws that you were not going to have kids, just sticking with the cats, or did they think your cats were actually human children?

      3. LizB*

        Last year (my first year having a kitty) my boyfriend’s parents sent my cat a Christmas present, ostensibly “from” their cats. It seriously made my day.

    6. Sibley*

      Cat presents are totally acceptable to me! Especially if the silly cat will play with it, not run away scared… (can you get a glimpse of my life this week?)

      1. Addison*

        I would go bananas if my cat got a cat tunnel. She would LOVE that, it would keep her entertained and she would finally have a reason to leave me alone for awhile!!!!!

        I started out this story feeling like it was so zany that my boss got my cat gifts but the more this goes on the more I realize how great it actually is.

          1. Adlib*

            So cool. We have both a big cat tunnel and a small one that my female cat has squished, but it’s still her favorite!

            1. Venus Supreme*

              Aw, my cat is scared of being in small quarters. I made him that DIY cat-tent that was circulating around online and he freaked out. He much prefers a human lap to lay upon. He’s had a rough life on the street and I always wonder what’s happened to him before I adopted him! He’s around 4 years old.

      2. Good Afternoon!*

        I once gave pet stairs as a wedding gift.

        It was in the registry and their dog is pretty awesome. Trained to do some very odd things specific to the owners.

        He was part of the wedding even.

    7. Shazbot*

      That’s sweet! When I had cats* my family and I revived the surprise-gifts-from-Santa tradition, and for years Santa brought gifts for their cats and mine.

      *Mine sadly passed in Jan 2015 and Jan 2016. No cats = sad, depressed Shazbot.

      1. Adlib*

        I’m so sorry. (If it helps, your name is a nickname that I often use for one of our cats. We rarely use their given names, anyway!)

      2. Golden Lioness*

        SO sorry to hear that! My two are getting old and I know I am in borrowed time with my girl… she’s been fading but she’s still playful and hanging on. It breaks my heart when I see how hard it is for her to climb up the stairs now. She went from 14 lbs to 6 lbs. Kidneys are failing and has bad arthritis.

        1. Shazbot*

          I don’t know if it would help, but maybe plugging in a heating pad and putting it in/under her bed or where she likes to sleep would make her achy joints feel better?

          1. his finger*

            That helps a little bit. She’s 17 already. She likes to sleep wrapped around my head on my pillow, purring loudly, which keeps me up longer that I’d like… I love her to pieces!

            I have tried a heating pad in the couch and she sits in there for a while, but it looks like once she’s up and running again she starts to get stiff again very quickly. I have tried cosequin, shots. I give her massages. It helps a little bit, buy my little cuddle diva is just old.

            1. SarahKay*

              When I was a kid our dog had arthritis and the vet recommended cod liver oil for her. Bonus was that (unlike humans) she adored the taste and would perk up each day when it was time for her ‘treat’. Might be an option for your cat?

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I feel you. I miss my kitty still (she died in July). I’m not getting another kitty until after I move away from here, so I don’t have to worry about relocating with one.

    8. TCO*

      I, too, would be delighted by gifts for my cats. Both my and my husband’s families routinely give holiday gifts to each others’ cats, dogs, and horses.

    9. Mel*

      Any time I do Secret Santa and the person actually knows me, I always end up with cat stuff – either cat toys for my cat or cat-themed stuff for me. And I love it!

    10. Lovemyjob...truly!!*

      All of these holiday cat stories…I have to share a story that happened to me last night. I am a girl scout leader and my troop decided they wanted to create and host an event for the younger troops in town (ages 5-9). It was VERY popular – over 60 kids showed up to participate! One of the things we did at the event was a decorate your own sugar cookie table. I was the person in charge of handing out cookies. There were lots of different shaped cookies but I wouldn’t let the girls choose their shape because 1) we had a lot of girls and not a ton of shapes and 2) this was only a one hour event and who has time for that??
      One of the older girls in the group came up for her cookie and I handed her a cat shaped cookie. There are at least 6 girls behind her in line. She asks for a different cookie shape. I tell her no but that she can trade with a friend if they’re willing. She stomps her foot and says “But I hate cats!” I am now handing out cookies to the girls in line behind her trying to move them along and she says “Fine! I’ll take it but I bet this cat cookie tastes as awful as cats are!”

      I am literally laughing now as I write it out. It was such a weird comment to make but I guess when you’re 8 or 9 and you don’t like cats, you REALLY don’t like cats! :)

      1. ginger ale for all*

        I would have been that girl. I was mauled by a dog when I was young and I would have had to leave the party if I had gotten a dog anything.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        Slight derail: how did you get involved with Girl Scouts? I wasn’t a scout as a kid, but I love their mission and would be thrilled to participate. Is that considered weird if you don’t have daughters in the troop?

        1. Judy*

          I’m also a girl scout leader. I’m also a mother of one of the girls in my troop. Go online to girlscouts dot org. There’s a “find a council” link. There are links to the councils based on a map. I would have loved to not need to draft another mother to be my co-leader. In my situation, it wasn’t that hard, I have a group of very involved parents.

          Don’t worry about not being a scout as a girl, much of the mechanics of the program are different.

          Our council also has specialized troops – a “tech troop” for high school girls, there’s a troop for down syndrome girls, there are troops at places like the Boys&Girls club – these troops usually don’t have parents leading.

        2. Jen*

          I’m a Sparks leader with my daughter (Canadian equivalent, for 5-6 year old girls). I can’t speak for the American system, but it’s not a problem at all if you don’t have daughters in the group here — some leaders only have sons, but want to help out with the girls, some leaders have girls who’ve aged out or stopped going, but the leaders want to carry on, and some leaders do it because the groups need leaders and they have past experience with Girl Guides, or just want to help.

          I’m not a kid-person, so it can be tough for me, but the other leaders and I are starting to connect and relax together, which is great, and it’s great to be able to be a (hopefully) positive influence with young girls, including my daughter.

        3. SB*

          Jumping in here – I’ve been a GS troop leader without kids in the troop (or kids at all) and they’re totally fine with it! Just go to your local council’s website and fill out the volunteer interest form or send them an email.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Haha, that’s funny!

        I was a Girl Scout. I loved it. LOVED it. Back in those days, we had pocket knives and learned how to make buddy burners and camp stoves out of a coffee can. I think I have my old Junior book around here somewhere. And when I was a Brownie, we made these insane Christmas decorations by folding up magazines and Reader’s Digests, with a styrofoam ball for a head.

        Man, I’m old.

        1. Soupspoon McGee*

          I was so pissed when my GS troop insisted on teaching me to knit and wash dishes. I wanted to build campfires and tie knots and pitch tents, like my dad had done in boy scouts!

          1. Natasha*

            I hated GS for the same reason. One day we actually learned how to do a proper table setting. Lame! All crafts and no camping or shooting anything. Then BS came and told our class about all the cool things you could do in boy scouts, but that girls couldn’t join. Salt in the wound.

          2. Artemesia*

            My troop was the same. The leader was crafty and very unfit and not at all interested (or probably able) to do things like hike and camp. So we did crafts and sewing things which I just hated and we never did outdoor stuff. when I was a scout leader for my daughter, we did crafts of course, but we also had major camping trips with camp crafts every year.

    11. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Heh, I’ll be spending this weekend making catnip toys as holiday presents for our (3) cats. They may be a TEENSY bit spoiled…

      1. GiggleFits*

        My former cat (RIP) would actually open presents if they involved catnip. We learned fast not to put them under the tree until Christmas morning.

    12. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Haha, that’s awesome!

      I am also the designated “cat lady” at my office. Our pet supplies buyer brings me all kinds of samples and wants my opinion since she doesn’t have any cats at home. She even sent me home with cat-sized Thunder shirts to test out once! It did not go well.

    13. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Last year my colleague bought me a big gift basket at her church fundraiser that was all about the cats – cat toys, treats, bowls and cat nip. It was awesome! Of course the kitties liked the basket the best.

      For years my dad sent a Christmas check with $10 extra dollars (e.g. $110) and a note on the memo line that said $10 for grandkitties.

    14. k*

      Aww, I think that’s actually really sweet! At least it shows they put effort into personalizing it, instead of some generic thing. I’ve never been part of an office Secret Santa, but am now part of one with my spouse extended family. I can assure you I’d rather have gifts for my dogs that some of the well intended but random stuff I’d never use that I’ve gotten.

    15. Golden Lioness*

      As a fellow cat lover (I do love all critters but cats have a special place in my heart) I love this. At my first job my coworkers used to do the same. No pictures of family in my cubicle but I had several pics of my 2 cats.

    16. Jadelyn*

      Last year my white elephant gift was this jar with a butterfly on a wire in it, with a button that when pressed would move the wire and make the butterfly appear to be flittering around in the jar.

      My cat. LOVED. That thing. I showed her the button – set it down and when she was looking, pressed the button a few times so she could connect button-pressing with butterfly-flittering – and she actually learned to play with it by herself, so I would leave it out for her when I went to work (until the battery died).

    17. Mookie Ball*

      ” I was going to spend my week off for Christmas on ‘staycation'”

      I *hate* that term, “staycation.” I don’t have a problem with the concept, just the word. “Staycation” sounds like you’re being deprived of something, because what you really want to do is take a VAcation but you can’t so you have to settle for a STAYcation.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Plus the word just sounds off.

        “We need to have a romantic staycation”, a date texted me a few years ago; that’s when it finally hit me that he was certifiably crazy.

    18. Rachel*

      I would actually love it if my Secret Santa got gifts for my dog and cat. : ) They both enjoy getting presents!

    19. Anna*

      I’m late to the game here, but this thread reminded me a secret santa exchange I had at an old job, where we gave each other ornaments. The person who had my name didn’t know me well, so just bought me a silver and rhinestone “A” ornament, which was nice enough, but not really my taste. My cat, however, LOVED it, and would walk around holding it by the string in his mouth. Which of course then made me love it, too!

    20. Thoughts*

      I really appreciate that your boss supported you staying home to chill with your cat. Like, ok, cool, that’s how you choose to spend your time.

  22. Going anon*

    I’m going anon because this just happened YESTERDAY and I’d rather not out myself.

    We had a Yankee swap at my office where you could “steal” gifts. One of my coworkers got really upset that it wasn’t being played by her preferred set of rules and argued about it for way too long. Then when she unwrapped her choice of gift and decided she liked it, she put it down her bra and tried to walk out of the room so no one could steal it from her.

    1. Liane*

      And did she also contribute a package of random trash instead of a decent gift?

      2017 Yankee Swap rule #1–Chocolate Bra coworker doesn’t get to play.

    2. NarrowDoorways*


      Kinda relates: Last year it was ME who made the embarrassing comment about the swap rules. We’d always had a particular set of Yankee Swap rules and the office manager forgot what they were last year. So he on-the-spot made up rules that were all wrong and also kinda unfair. Stupidly, I blurted out–in front of the company owner and executives–“Well that’s dumb!”

    3. alter_ego*

      I don’t understand this at all. Both the arguing about the rules, and being *that* possession over one of the gifts. The spending limit is usually what? 20-25 dollars? If you really like something that much, just get one yourself later. I’ve totally done that before

      1. MoinMoin*

        I could understand clarifying ahead of time if they’re supposed to be real gifts or wacky gifts, but yeah I have trouble imagining wasting any emotion on this.

      2. Marisol*

        I was going to say the same thing. I’ve seen people have a similar hoarding mentality with free food. Like, it’s just a piece of cake. You can buy yourself another piece of cake from the grocery store later if you miss out this time around. But it’s clearly not a rational response.

        1. MsMaryMary*

          Depending on how well endowed she is, many things can be hidden in a bra! I didn’t understand this when I was an A cup, but now that I’m a DD I’ve caught on.

        2. Going anon*

          It was a gift card, which explains why someone was willing to steal it from her after she did that. (I love that she didn’t get to keep it.)

          1. Juli G.*

            Yeah, I’m not squeamish and I have to work hard to keep my confrontational behavior at bay. I also would have been “Game on!” to that behavior.

        3. Marillenbaum*

          Stapler, ten pencils, paperback copy of Arabian Nights, dog bone, remote control, hardback copy of Wuthering Heights!

          Sorry, I just needed to make a “Heavy Boobs” reference (check out the YouTube video if you haven’t seen it).

        1. Teclatrans*

          Nope, depends on where you put it Down the cleavage? Amateur stuff, and likely to pop out. I have developed an odd habit of putting my car keys or smart phone in my bra, near where the strap meets the cup, over my pec. I have also been known to lift my breast and place an item underneath, where it gets pinned to the cup by the weight. (Hence my utter delight at that part of heavy boobs.) Life would be different if women’s clothing had more pockets.

          1. Amy the Rev*

            ^^ This!!! the only downside of getting my reduction surgery was that i could no longer fit an entire smartphone in my bra without it poking out somewhere and looking odd

    4. Jillian*

      Can I ask a random question, is a ‘yankee swap’ the same thing as a White Elephant? I have never heard that term before. If it is the same, I’m guessing it’s just a regional difference.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        They are used interchangeably…though I have heard people say they have different rules.

        I had a former coworker swear that you brought a nice gift to a Yankee Swap and a gag gift for a White Elephant.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          This isn’t a coworker story, but is related to your comment, because around here, White Elephant does specifically mean gag/silly/regift (no one I know uses the term Yankee Swap, but for the life of me I can’t think of what we say instead, right now. Maybe just “gift swap”). Anyway, my darts league team has a Christmas party every year, and being new to the team, last year was the first year I attended. I was told there would be a gift swap, so I went to Target and picked up a lap blanket or something generic like that. My gift happened to be the first one chosen, and the person who opened it goes “oh, are we doing grown up gifts this year?!” I about died – no one bothered to tell me that it was much more of a White Elephant/silly gift thing. The “winner” for most-fought-over gift was the thrifted smiley face wafflemaker.

          1. Emma*

            I think that’s far better than the reverse, though, where everyone’s doing decent gifts except for That One Jackass who does the trash thing or empty box or whatever. But yeah, it’d help if places let you know the house rules before the exchange.

            Also, I’m not joking, I’d’ve been stoked to get that wafflemaker. No way it’d end up regifted the next year, either.

          2. Drew*

            Heh. I went to a white elephant at a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago where I was one of the only new people there — everyone else was telling jokes about awful gifts from years past.

            As it turned out, one of those gifts came back — a WILDLY inappropriate “how to” book that I don’t think Alison’s site rules allow me to describe — paired with a bottle of Kraken. The person who opened it looked really mortified by the book, so I did him the favor of taking the gift off his hands. I wasn’t really thrilled about the idea of looking so enthusiastic to get a book about [forbidden topic]…but…free Kraken!

        2. Beancounter in Texas*

          At one White Elephant, someone brought a large box about the size of a case of copy paper. It was also heavy enough to be a case of paper. It was full of office supplies – sticky notes, pads, staples, paperclips, colored pencils, pens, highlighters, tape and organizer trays. The dork in me was sad I couldn’t steal it when it was my turn.

          1. Golden Lioness*

            I would have loved that too! At one white elephant exchange this lady came with a box full of used paperbacks and I couldn’t steal that gift fast enough. I was the only one that wanted it, so I got to keep it. Loved the long hours of entertainment and picked out a few new authors to buy.

        3. Allison*

          See this is what confuses me. I’ve always been under the impression both gift exchanges have the same rules, but a Yankee Swap is for “proper” gifts and the White Elephant is for silly things – gag gifts, crappy stuff you got last Christmas and want to get rid of, or just random stuff. Yet recently I’m hearing people talk about White Elephants where you have to bring a proper gift, no “joke” gifts, so maybe it’s a regional thing. But it’s confusing.

          1. Kelly L.*

            It always pays to clarify with whoever’s in charge, IMO. Some people call it “white elephant” but they mean good stuff. And nobody wants to get it wrong in either direction!

            1. Jamey*

              Yeah I’m doing a “white elephant” with my friends this year and everyone else definitely took that as gag-gift-ier than I meant it. I tried to tell people that silly gifts are totally okay but not complete garbage? I’m trying to hit a balance between “this is silly and fun” and “I like my friends and want them to get gifts they don’t hate”

          2. Lore*

            At my work we did Yankee Swaps when our dept was smaller. But our rule was, no unwrapping till the end–all the “stealing” was entirely based on packaging. So everyone stayed safely generic with gifts–tea/coffee, wine, games, candies, etc–and got crazy creative with wrapping. I used Scooby Doo paper one year and had the hit of the game. (Once all the gifts were open anyone could trade if they wanted later, but no stealing.)

            1. Chinook*

              My women’s group did a Yankee Swap like that a few nights ago, only with the twist that nobody got to take their gifts home. Instead, they were encouraged to buy something for a teen, adult, or senior that would then be donated to the local Lioness Christmas Hamper Campaign to fill in any holes in their baskets. The rule was nobody opened until the end and I had to actively encourage people to steal from others (I pointed out that a lazy woman could just take her neighbor’s gift and make them walk to the gift table).

              Because we gave everyone the heads up about it, the wrapping was quite nice (and reusable), we all had a fun time because everyone could participate while still chatting with friends, and, best of all, no one had to worry about going home with stuff they didn’t want.

        4. Meghan*

          White Elephant actually has a specific meaning. It’s a gift that’s burdensome or hard to get rid of. There’s a legend about the King of Siam getting a white elephant or some such, so the White Elephant gift exchange does refer specifically to gifts you don’t want. Yankee Swap is proper gifts.

          1. Emi.*

            I think the idea is that white elephants are rare, so you think it would be so great to have one, but actually, who wants to take care of an elephant long-term?

          2. Fiona the Lurker*

            The point is that a white elephant in particular has to be treated very, very well and isn’t expected to do any work; therefore it’s something you’re quite happy to pass on because not only is it no use to you it’s actively costing you money to keep it.

          3. EddieSherbert*

            Oh gosh, now I’m concerned…. my office is doing a White Elephant exchange next week and I’m no longer certain if I should do funny or legit…..!

            Ahh! Oh well, I think I have the office environment where either would be acceptable (and based on the coworkers organizing it… I would guess they were aiming for funny).

          4. bluesboy*

            If I remember correctly, white elephants were sacred, so if you had one you had to spend the money to maintain it (not cheap!) But you couldn’t actually use it to work. Making it useless AND expensive.

            The King would give one to people that he felt ostensibly he had to honour or show respect to…but really wanted to annoy. So yes, as you say, very much a gift you don’t want!

      2. MsMaryMary*

        My experience has been that a yankee swap is any gift exchange where people can trade, swap, or “steal” gifts. There are many variations on who gets to swap, when, and how. A white elephant gift exchange are joke gifts, generally useless gifts. You can combined the two and swap uesless gifts.

        My mom’s coworkers used to have a white elephant gift exchange where you couldn’t buy the gift, it had to be something goofy you already owned. Everyone enjoyed regifting something from their household, and occasionally someone was really delighted to receive a hot pink tea cozy or something.

        1. Emma*

          Yeah, and if you know it’s going to be goofy from the get-go, it can be pretty lighthearted and fun. (As long as people stay away from offensive stuff or literal trash, unless that’s explicitly allowed by the rules.) I don’t get the people who don’t want to clarify rules beforehand – I understand it doesn’t occur to people sometimes that others may not know the house rules, but I’ve met a few (largely at my childhood church) who seemed downright offended at the idea of clarifying beyond “there will be a gift swap.” I guess they thought it’d ruin the fun?

          I think it’s more fun all ’round if everyone is on the same page, expectation-wise, personally.

          1. Miss Elaine E*

            I’ve had bad luck at Secret Santa/Yankee Swap events.

            Secret Santa for college newspaper staff got me some Oil of Olay. (Gee thanks!?)

            Yankee Swap at a new social group in my new hometown with something like a $5 limit (late 1990s) so I brought one of those little bags of lotions/bath soaps. Recipient kept going on about how awful it was. Way to feel welcome, ya know?

            Yankee swap at a December women’s retreat, not knowing what to bring, I brought some gift bags of chocolate truffles. This was one of those Yankee swaps where people could end up with multiple items — and yes, others ended up with nothing. Not only did I end up with nothing, but someone left my chocolate truffles on the unclaimed table after all was said and done.

            I’ve learned my lesson….

            1. Emma*

              Those are some horrible rules, esp. the one where some people got nothing.

              For Secret Santa-type stuff, I vastly prefer the way my mother’s workplace does it: there’s a strict dollar limit, and about a week before the exchange, everyone lists three cheap items under that limit that they’d be happy to get, and it’s made really clear that the only acceptable reasons for getting stuff not on the list is that it’s either more expensive than thought* or you can’t find it. People who blow the limit or go off-list get pulled aside later and gently spoken to about the reasons for those rules. It’s not perfect, but that always seemed like a decent way to handle things.

              *Comes up a lot with books, actually. A fair few times someone’ll list a book under $10 – but it’s only under $10 used from Amazon, and is over the limit if you include shipping or get it at a local bookstore.

            2. SebbyGrrl*

              Same here,

              For my family one year I got something I love (colored glass vases) and was sure no one in my family would want. Of course it was the ost popular thing and I wasn’t able to steal or keep ’em. But at least had the self satisfaction of having brought the most coveted thing.

              Oh lord, w my husbands’ family I have tried mightily to stop the exchanges because we get something thoughful that everyone will like and we get calendars with themes that have nothing to do with ANYTHING we like or do and 2 tears (ha, keeping that typo) ago an angel snow globe (very specifically religious – we aren’t and this throw that we re-gifted to our neighbor who was gay, he said he was lord of the blanket in his group.

              At work exchanges, same thing, give a starbucks gift certif, knowing the whole office does starbucks and getting a very crappy mug. Just stop!

            1. KJ*

              Yes, this. Last year at our office gift exchange, I brought two adults coloring books that were highly desirable to my office mates (I know my team well!) I got stuck with a box of bad chocolates (the cheap, too-sweet kind). Another co-worker had it worse and got stuck with a used set of cards game. Both the bad gifts were brought by the same “office couple” who are not very nice to the rest of us.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            Years and years ago there was a ‘goofy but not actual trash or offensive’ white elephant swap at a workplace of mine, and I brought a big bottle of Barney the Purple Dinosaur bubble bath. It brought down the house. It was goofy and silly and weird, and cheap enough to be well within the rules (without being outright trash)…. and some of the parents at my workplace sheepishly kept trading for it, because their kids would like it.

            It can be a lot of fun when done with the right people in the right mood and, yes, as you say, when everyone knows up front what the game is.

      3. burningupasun*

        It’s a regional thing. I’ve heard it called Yankee Swap around here (New England) but my gf in Texas calls it “White Elephant”. At my job they call it “Chinese Grab Bag” which I find offensive but the woman who runs it every year says “I’m half Chinese and it doesn’t bother me” so it’s been deemed okay? Idefk.

          1. Chinook*

            Around here it is called a Chinese Auction as well and I recognize it as being horribly offensive but, when I call it a Yankee Swap, I get blank looks until I say that that is the non-offensive name of a Chinese Auction, at which point I get nodding heads of understanding. I can’t wait for a better name to start sticking to this tradition.

        1. Jillian*

          Wow. That’s super offensive. Kind of like the term ‘indian giver’. I’m in Texas and we call it a White Elephant. Does anyone know the reason for calling it a Yankee swap? My mother is originally from New York, but I’ve never heard her use that term if it is a northern term.

          1. Anion*

            I assume it’s because Yankees were traditionally thrifty. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without,” as the saying went.

          2. Chinook*

            See, but as others pointed out, a White Elephant exchange is different from a Yankee Swap as one implies regifting or used items while the other implies new items.

    5. Anonymous 40*

      This reminds me of a weird Dirty Santa incident from a few years ago where the rules kept screwing me but ended up getting me the best gift in the game. I hesitate to tell this story because it’s so specific that anyone who was there would recognize it immediately, but it was a small office so hopefully nobody will come across this.

      I was the new guy in a 20-ish person office . In every other job I’ve been “the Star Wars guy” in the office but someone who’d been there longer already had that unofficial title in this place.

      The Christmas party came around a few months after I started and I got to pick first. Half the staff were lawyers, so the rules were clear and iron clad: Open or steal when it’s your turn, two-steal limit per item, and the person stolen from gets a new turn. I opened something – I forget what, but something fairly cool – and it was promptly stolen. Opened something else and it’s stolen too. It was a good group of people but they were vicious and shameless with the stealing. I opened six or seven different things that were immediately stolen, which became the big running joke of the party but got a little old to me after a while.

      Then someone else opened the best thing there: a really cool Star Wars lunchbox very similar to one I’d had as a kid. I knew right away it was specifically intended for the other Star Wars fan in the office, even though it was in the Dirty Santa exchange. Sure enough, the intended person stole it as soon as their turn came around. Meanwhile I was stuck with something incredibly lame despite having opened most of the good gifts there.

      But then someone either wanted the lame thing I had or took pity on me and stole it. Seeing my chance, I stole the lunchbox. The person who brought it was clearly not happy and immediately tried to finagle the rules to get another turn so he could steal it back. Nope! My steal was the second, so it couldn’t be stolen again. The lunchbox was mine and I was finally out of the game.

      Both the person who brought it and the person I stole it from were clearly unhappy about the outcome. I felt a tiny bit bad about it, but seriously? If you want to give someone a gift, give it to THEM. You chose to be cute and risk putting it in Dirty Santa instead.

      Also, dude, you got out-lawyered on the rules by the IT guy.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        This story is a delight and I am so glad to have had a chance to read it.

        If I were you, I would look at that Star Wars lunchbox every day and cackle. Cackle in my Yoda voice.

    6. Jess*

      My office once did a Yankee Swap and when it was my turn and I told a coworker I wanted to swap with her she gasped and freaked out and then didn’t speak to me for literally two months after. She must have really loved that $5 plain white candy dish. I still have it twelve and will never ever get rid of it after the bratty silent treatment I endured over it.

      1. Emma*

        Honestly, I’d feel pretty bad if I had something I liked and it got stolen by someone else. I can’t even say I’d react particularly well, either – I have some serious anxiety issues around property. (Let’s just say I’ve been the idiot coworker who has had a crying jag over someone taking a pen off her desk, and leave it at that.)

        But I know that about myself, and as a consequence I’ll only ever participate in the kind of exchanges that are supposed to be ridiculous – or not even that if I’m having a bad day. And so I do definitely think your coworker was way over the line.

        But that kind of reaction is why if I had my way I’d probably not arrange a Yankee Swap in the first place. It just seems to invite all the drama. I mean, just in this thread we’ve talked about how many ways they go wrong, just by having different, entirely legit, rule sets?

  23. Amber Rose*

    Our office party was last weekend. My boss usually springs for an open bar. Also he can’t hold his liquor.

    Are you ready to cringe?

    So he hires this company to host the party that sorts us into teams based on tables and we play Name That Tune, with assorted bonus games for bonus points. It’s crazy competitive, because that’s the kind of people I work with. Well we’re halfway through the night, my boss is three sheets to the wind and somehow ended up sitting next to me, when the host says he needs two people from each team up front. I end up being pulled up by my boss.

    The game is this: one person is the “piano” and one person is the “piano player” with points for best combination. My boss is too drunk to understand properly how this works, so he faces away from me and starts shaking his ass in my direction. Something halfway between a tow touch and a twerk. I am too horrified to do anything at this point. After an agonizing minute or so, he decides to cheat by crashing into the other “pianos” and knocking them over. I quietly went back to the bar in the confusion and started ordering doubles.

    Later in the night he and some others were doing stripper dances with chairs to Pony by Ginuwine. Around this point I realized that, because I CAN hold my liquor, I was going to remember everything on Monday, and we got a ride home. Husband has a very odd impression of my workplace now.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Technically, one person was supposed to be on all fours as a piano and the other was supposed to pretend to play piano on them along to the song. Like, on their backs I guess. But I was facing my boss’s butt…

      1. Amber Rose*

        Parts of it were fun. I also won a $100 gift card to a grocery store near my house, which is pretty sweet.

    1. Spoonie*

      Oh em gee. I don’t get what the piano/piano player thing is. But that party sounds like a certifiable train wreck. Kudos to you for holding your liquor.

        1. Anonicat*

          I’m trying to imagine my boss, a serious Austrian the same age as my dad, hammered and trying to shake his thang.

          Does. Not. Compute.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            If it helps, I now have the image my elderly Austrian economics professor doing the same thing.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Nope, just an older guy, grey hair, slightly shorter than me (and i’m pretty short). His daughter isn’t that much younger than me.

    2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      “Later in the night he and some others were doing stripper dances with chairs to Pony by Ginuwine.”

      I just started laughing hysterically at my desk and now everyone in my quad wants to know why.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Oh sure, laugh at my discomfort. ;)

        Bonus giggles: the song immediately after was I Want to F**k You Like an Animal. I didn’t stay to watch the dancing but as I walked past the bartender, I noticed she was a brilliant shade of red.

        1. Golden Lioness*

          OMG and I thought I worked for the most out of control place (my first job in the US AKA “the job from hell” or “the hellhole”

    3. Marillenbaum*

      Oh dear God. That sounds horrifying. Also, unless you’re Channing Tatum or any other member of the cast of Magic Mike, you don’t need to be doing a stripper routine to Pony by Ginuwine. (If you are Channing Tatum, though–call me!)

    4. ED*

      Not an office Christmas party but I was at an offsite, week long conference with a bunch of people from work. It was pretty standard for everyone to go out drinking afterwards. Our assistant director/my boss doesn’t drink much but he ended up getting HAMMERED (younger staff kept buying drinks, highly amused at the fact they were getting him drunk). I was 24 or 25 years old at the time and ended up cutting him off for the night and then escorting him back to his hotel to make sure he got there safely and coached him on his way back to drink LOTS of water and what to eat the next morning to help his hangover. No one saw him until late the next afternoon. Honestly nothing stranger for me than being a few years out of college and cutting off my 40 year old boss from alcohol.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        This reminded me of the time when a new lab member – she’d been there 3 weeks – had to help me deal with our extremely drunk supervisor at the Christmas party (this was in Glasgow, everyone was pretty drunk). We cut him off, marched him to a phone box, and made him call his wife to come and get him :D

        This guy was my first and best boss. I learned SO MUCH from him and we’re still in touch now, 15 years later. But he was one of those people who can have one beer, two beers, or like twelve beers. Nothing in between. If he stopped after one or two he was fine, but the second he took his first sip of his third beer, you knew it was going to get messy. This only happened about once a year though.

  24. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Not as bad as some stories, and I think there are good intentions, but it’s kinda bad.

    My org is doing a potluck. It’s not mandatory to bring things, but there’s some pressure.

    I do contract attorney work (document review). This org pays better than some others, but it’s still just $2 over the “living wage per hour” needed in my metropolitan area.

    Some people work here part of the time while hanging out their own shingle, some do it part time to supplement retirement, but a lot of people grasp at this as the only source of income in a tight legal market. And one still has to pay for dues and CLEs. So there’s a real possibility that people may not be able to afford to share food with others.

    I was going to make a nice dish (crockpot tacos), but I can do that because my family is dual income no kids, and I get good, affordable health insurance through my spouse (thanks, Supreme Court, for forcing spousal recognition!), I received my car for free from my parents after they downsized to move, and my wife is good at bargain shopping.

    Meanwhile, my coworker is eating a bag of 99 cent off brand Cheetos for lunch, and saving some for later. I can’t share my lunches, but I bought a bunch of clearanced K cups for the office machine and let him take as much coffee as he likes.

    1. Turtlewings*

      Oh, my heart. Why can’t bosses understand that some people — maybe even most people — don’t have the disposable income for these things? It’s not like they don’t know how much they’re paying their employees.

      1. Gabriela*

        Yeah, my office does a pretty low-key party, but between the potluck, yankee swap, and ugly sweater competition, it really adds up at a time when our wallets are already stretched thin.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I love, love, love to cook and bake, but somewhere along the line in finally clicked on how much I spend to bring homemade stuff to every treat day and potluck.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              I have an unreasonable love for deviled eggs and am usually too lazy to make them, so I just want to say that if you were at my org, you would be my favorite person.

            2. JKP*

              I was appalled when I discovered that my bf had never heard of, nor tasted deviled eggs before, not in 50+ years on this earth. I make them all the time now.

            3. Artemesia*

              If you make them yourself they are probably the tastiest thing there. Last year I bought deviled eggs for a similar event and they were just ghastly. They tasted like cold rubber; no egg/curry or whatever taste at all. Just the cold odd texture and no flavor. Never again. I had no idea you could make tasteless deviled eggs.

        2. Aurion*

          My boss once suggested a cheap secret Santa, but I nixed that idea even though she offered to reimburse us (so we’d really only be putting out the effort, but the monetary cost would be from her). That’s a better secret Santa setup than most I’ve seen, but I really didn’t want to stress out about more presents, gag ones or not.

          I may be boring, but there are upsides to being boring.

          1. Anonhippopotamus*

            This year we did 2 secret santas. One was a $15 gift, although everybody in our team can afford it.

            The second one was a bit more original. Everyone had to bring the most hilarious gift possible for under $4. We then voted on which gift was the most hilarious and that person got a prize from the boss. Some of the gifts were very creative.

    2. Dorothy Lawyer*

      You have my complete sympathy. I did this for around 3 years full-time (while working part-time elsewhere). It’s soul-killing work, but it’s tolerable if you have good co-workers. Thank you for being a good co-worker (crockpot tacos and k-cups). I hope those of you who want to move on are able to do so soon.

    3. Manders*

      If it weren’t for a few details, I’d think that you worked in my office. Some people just don’t understand that their coworkers might make the same wage, but that doesn’t mean they’re in exactly the same spot financially. And some people are veeeeeeery into pressuring others into participating in every potluck/gift exchanged/whatever.

      You sound awesome, I bet your coworker appreciated those K cups. What kind of office buys a coffee machine but no coffee?

  25. anon for this*

    My office’s holiday party is going to start at an escape room. We spend the first hour solving the escape room puzzles, and then we’ll go have drinks and food.
    Some people are refusing to participate in the escape room. Apparently some people think there’s a legitimate threat that they might not escape. Our planning team has tried to explain that it’s really just a puzzle room, and you can be let out at any time, but it’s not convincing these people.
    Now, I respect that some people might legitimately have PTSD or for some other reason don’t like to be in small spaces, and I totally get that. But I think that for some of these people, it’s like, “But what if they never let me ooouuut?”

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Do they not understand that the people who run these things do not WANT you in there indefinitely? They need to turn around the room for the next customer!

    2. chocolate lover*

      I think the question about being let out could relate to some of the reasons you already acknowledged, but people don’t want to discuss the reasons with coworkers. Anxiety, PTSD, etc. I wouldn’t want to explain that to my coworkers as a group.

        1. many bells down*

          We did a “Space Camp” at our family reunion. It was basically a 5-hour Star Trek LARP. My mother-in-law lasted 20 minutes because the whole thing made her way too anxious and we’re not even “locked” in the room. So I can see “Escape Room” being waaaaay anxiety-provoking.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I would love to do an Escape Room, with my husband or certain friends, but I do sometimes have some claustrophobia issues, and would outright refuse to participate at an office party, as well.

        1. SophieChotek*

          I agree. I think those puzzles or murder mysteries could be fun with the (right) group of friends, but I am not sure I would want to do so with my co-workers.

        2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          Same here – I’d be cool with friends who know about and even appreciate my weird intensity in fictionalized situations, but I’m not sure my coworkers would understand when I started screaming I CAN’T SOLVE THE PUZZLE SO WE’RE ALL DOING TO DIE OH GOD PLEASE FORGIVE ME I KNOW NOT WHAT I DO

        3. PlainJane*

          Right there with you. I got teased (good-naturedly) yesterday because I cringed at the idea of an escape room. Part of it was my own ignorance, not realizing it didn’t have to be in a small space (I’m majorly claustrophobic), but even if that isn’t an issue, it doesn’t sound like my thing.

          1. catsAreCool*

            Something about the escape room makes me nervous, and I’m not claustrophobic. I wouldn’t want to do this.

      2. Mononymous*

        I would never do one of these things, and it’s icky to explain why. I don’t want to go to my boss and talk about how with my Crohns I can’t guarantee I won’t have a sudden and urgent need for the bathroom during any given hour, and I REALLY don’t want to just take that chance, hope for the best, and then have to figure out how to get out OMG NOW while in a lot of pain if the odds do not happen to be in my favor that day.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          If it helps ease fears (should you ever want to do one), the exit door is just a push to open door.

          The second time we did one a coworker was leaning against the door frame and must have pushed it a little because the game master immediately came over the walkie talkie and asked if she was exiting since the door had opened.

        2. Kit*

          In escape rooms there is always an intercom where you can talk to the staff (you usually get a certain number of hints that you can use when you need them), and the door you came in through is never locked. The escape comes from the story (like you’re a group of soldiers who stumbled on a conspiracy and must now escape an abandoned military base). The puzzle is actually to get deeper in, not to get back out to the real world.

          I totally get why people would not want to play, but I would say most people’s concerns come from misapprehensions. These are entertainment companies who really don’t want anyone to panic or have a bathroom accident! They want you to have fun!

          1. Newton Geizler*

            This is true for both of the Escape the Room type places I’ve been to. We were allowed to leave to go to the restroom if we needed to, and like Kit said the entry door either wasn’t locked or you could intercom the staff to let you out.

    3. Me2*

      We just did an Escape Room the day after Thanksgiving (no Black Friday shopping for us), it was super fun and believe me, they get you out of there in the time allotted.

    4. Karanda Baywood*

      That’s a big ol’ can of NOPE for me. I understand it intellectually, but I cannot be trapped in a space even if it’s a “game.” Full stop, NO.

        1. PTSD anon*

          Me too. It reminds me of the letter where the OP had locked someone outside as a “prank,” and the victim panicked and punched him.

          I might enjoy an escape room 1) with friends 2) if it were easy to call it off and leave if I wanted to. With coworkers, no way.

          I had an abusive ex who at various times locked me out of the apartment with no keys as punishment, or physically blocked me from leaving during an argument. So that’s what I think of when I see “pranks” that involve confining someone to any space for any length of time, even a few seconds.

          Someone below commented on this as a “team building” exercise–I think then it would be even worse, because there’s pressure to “be a team player” and ignore your own instincts/fears/well-being.

          I’d be fine with this being offered as a truly optional activity so long as the setup was clear to everyone before they chose to participate, and there were other things non-participants could do in that time.

          1. Emma*

            I’d be fine with this being offered as a truly optional activity so long as the setup was clear to everyone before they chose to participate, and there were other things non-participants could do in that time.

            This is more or less how I feel about almost every activity mentioned in this comment section, really.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        They are usually just regular rooms. If you can be in a bedroom with the door shut, you could handle this type of game (unless it’s different than the one we did). Ours wasn’t even locked – it was just the idea of it more than the actuality of being trapped.

      2. Alton*

        I think different escape rooms can be quite different in terms of how easy they are to leave or how good they are at maintaining the illusion of being trapped. The one I went to was literally just a regular but somewhat dark room with an obvious unlocked door that we were just supposed to pretend wasn’t there (kind of anticlimactic, honestly, especially since an attendant came in several times to give us hints). I can definitely see why someone would be hesitant to take the chance, though, and I think this is something that would be good to ask the escape room company about if you were interested but unsure.

    5. vacc*

      I mean, my anxiety leads to me to worst-first thinking, so that is the sort of thing where I would immediately think, “But what if they lose the key and I’m stuck in there even longer while they try to find a locksmith or a fireman to bust the door down?”

      1. Viktoria*

        In the escape room I went to, it’s not even locked. :) You are allowed to leave at any time and you don’t need to wait for anyone to let you out. You can go to the bathroom and stuff.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          When I did an escape room last year, the guy who ran it was completely up front about that. “Theoretically you’re locked in permanently. Practically, the fire marshall would destroy us if that was the case. If something goes wrong or you panic or you just need out for some reason, the door pushes right open when you press the catch.”

          Had I thought about it for very long I would have realized that of course the fire department isn’t going to okay a business that literally locks people in and requires a manual opening mechanism, but I appreciated his spelling it out for us.

      2. Mandi*

        I’ve done several escape rooms. There’s really almost never one entrance in and out — generally, you enter through one door and the exit is at another door (in a separate — sometimes even third or forth — room!). That main entrance door never really locks; you can come and go as you please, if you find that you are feeling a bit anxious. :)

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yep–one of my friends was very, very pregnant when I did my escape room, and she had concerns about potentially needing a bathroom without much notice. The guy running the escape room said no problem–she could just nip out the main entrance door to the bathroom and nip back in. (It didn’t even affect our score, since the escape room in question permitted using your cell phone and any other resources you might have brought, so leaving the room for five minutes wasn’t going to net you anything you wouldn’t already have.)

    6. Episkey*

      My mom would be one of those people. She freaks out at being enclosed in small spaces and feeling like she can’t get out. One time she had a panic attack at Universal Studios at the beginning of one of those simulator rides because it’s basically a small room with a screen and you get locked in your seat by the safety bar.

      They had to stop the beginning of the ride and unlock all the safety bars so she could leave. I felt bad but was a preteen at the time so I was mainly super embarrassed.

        1. Episkey*

          My mom would agree with you. ;)

          It was actually a really fun ride from what I remember (Back to the Future I think).

      1. Papyrus*

        My parents, my sister, and I were at a museum that had one of those little rides at the end. It didn’t move that much, maybe just rocked back and forth a little, but my sis gets super motion-sick, and my parents explained that to the museum staff. They said if she feels like she’s going to get sick, then to wave their arms and they would stop the ride. Sure enough, 30 seconds in, they had to stop the ride.

        It took them about 5 minutes to reset, but in that time, about 10 people (almost half the group) also decided they didn’t want to do the ride and filed out with them. I stayed and enjoyed it, but yeah, it’s definitely not for everyone!

    7. hiptobesquare*

      Escape rooms are awesome! I have done two of them – Very fun. Actually legit good teambuilding/eye opening re: skills of others.

      1. chocoholic*

        We did an escape room outing last summer with my office and it was actually pretty fun. We were numbered off into teams and so no teams were made ahead of time. Went out for drinks/appetizers after it was over. All the feedback I had was that it was fun. We did not force anyone to participate though. Everyone was invited, but there was no requirement to join in.

    8. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I did this earlier this year – 100% optional and it was a blast! The non-management group (including me) got out and all the managers/supervisors who were on a team together still had an estimated 10-15 minutes left until they escapes. I immediately downloaded an escape the room game onto my phone and can’t wait to go back.

    9. Beancounter in Texas*

      My boss LOVES puzzle rooms. She told me that in Texas, to lock the door to an escape room is considered kidnapping, so the door is closed, but not locked. Haven’t verified whether locking the door makes it kidnapping in the legal sense, but it’s nice to know that the door is not locked here.

      1. Me2*

        We were told by signing the waiver it wasn’t kidnapping. Room was indeed locked but attendant was in room with us.

    10. beachlover*

      Big No for me. Not because I have claustrophobia or any anxiety issue. call me a humbug, but I do not like this kind of stuff. I would just sit and wait until they let me out.

    11. LSP*

      I was literally just talking about this with some coworkers. I have done three separate escape the rooms, and have had fun each time. Your coworkers sound a little unhinged if they think the staff at these places have any interest in not letting them out ever. Groups have an hour to complete the puzzles, and there will probably be a group waiting to go after you, so the staff needs to get you out of there.

      I’ve never been much of one for “team building” stuff, but because these involve clear communication, problem solving and overall teamwork, I think it’s a great work-type activity.

    12. I think this is my office LOL*

      I’d bet money this is my office. Like would seriously bet money this is my office. I gotta know!!! If nothing else, to laugh with this person and agree with you (because if this is my office, I know who you’re talking about).
      If this is my office, you should tell me – I’m the “planning team”. :)

    13. RS*

      Hard no on this. Some things that trigger my anxiety: being stuck somewhere with people I am not comfortable with, needing to work on puzzle-type tasks with people I am not comfortable with, publicly removing myself from situations because of my anxiety, the thought of having panic attacks at work/in work-related situations, the thought of having to explain my anxiety to anyone, ever, at all, especially coworkers, especially DURING an anxiety episode. I fully understand escape rooms. I fully understand that it is not a situation it is healthy for me to be in.

      1. Anxious Enough*

        A thousand times this.

        My boss keeps wanting me to organize a group escape room outing, because I organize outings of other kinds for fun for my coworkers, and I keep trying to explain that if he wants the escape room trip, he gets to organize it because the idea of it wigs me out.

        I might not end up a weeping puddle in a corner for no logical reason and seriously destroy my teams faith in my judgement and ability to function… but how about I judge that I don’t want to risk it?

    14. Liane*

      Never heard of this before, and I would be saying, “Hey, do they have a video feed so me and anyone else who wants to sit it out can watch the fun? Then ALL of us can have a good laugh afterwards over drinks/sodas/milkshakes.”
      I suck at Escape Puzzles when I am playing a role playing game session sitting at a table or on Skype, so those things just frustrate me. Why would I want to do a live-action one then?

    15. H.C.*

      Oh I love Escape Rooms but not sure I want to do them with my co-workers either; given the mix of hyper-competitive folks & clueless deadweights (at least in an Escape Room setting) in my team.

    16. Pickles*

      Ugh – my office has politics close to Game of Thrones levels. No one’s died yet, but as an example of the backstabbing, there was once a fake DUI accusation (I have proof it’s fake). I’m almost certain some of them would find it funny to pretend they were panicking, intentionally throw things awry/go down the wrong path, leave someone behind…

    17. denise*

      My department literally just did this. Escape room then dinner and drinks. I wasnt interested but went to be a team player. It wasnt very much fun at all-i noticed about half the team just standing around waiting for the time to be up. O think the people planning these events (both young women just a couple years out of school) mostly try to plan what they think would be fun rather than what a wide range of ages would be interested in. At least this party planning committee changes every year.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        In their defense, I’m an old person and I think an escape room sounds like fun, so I wouldn’t say they only picked things that young people would be interested in.

  26. SlickWilly*

    We got a round of layoffs just before Thanksgiving, decimating our office. Holiday spirits are in the crapper and parties are canceled. Happy Holidays to us!

    1. Jillian*

      I worked for a place that did a big layoff right around the same time of a big catered Xmas party for the office. Really crappy.

    2. WellRed*

      We laid off an employee on Monday before Thanksgiving. On Tuesday (she stayed an extra day to wrap things up) she was included on the company email reminding everyone to RSVP for the Christmas party.

    3. No Name*

      My coworker’s husband was recently told they were laying off everyone at their particular location on January 13th. Ok they’re about to have their second kid and that sucks, but she’s working and they have family in town and they’ll be ok.
      However the guy from corporate that came to make the announcement started with “Well I hope you didn’t spend too much on Christmas”. I honestly don’t know how the warehouse guys managed to keep their calm and NOT punch him. I might have!

  27. Mockingjay*

    Our office holiday party was last weekend, in a swank downtown hotel ballroom. Cocktail dress per the invitation. I wore a sequined sheath dress, knee length with cap sleeves and a draped back. Very conservative look in the front; the back exposed my neck and a little bit of my upper back – nothing outrageous and within the norms of what my coworkers were wearing. I have short hair, so the opening was apparent. (I wore this same dress to my husband’s office party as well.)

    The CEO greeted me and expressed his wife’s compliments on my dress. I met her later on the dance floor, when I was line dancing with my coworkers. She had was having a very good time (loads of cocktails!). She threw her arms around me, told me how much she loved my dress, then proceeded to stroke my back and neck and tell me how soft my skin was.

    After a few more hugs, strokes, and some dancing (I twirled her, what the hell, she loved it and it removed her hands), the CEO gently disengaged her and pulled her into a slow dance.

    1. Nolan*

      It’s a good thing I work from home, I could not mask the look of “train wreck” on my face reading this one

  28. i2c2*

    After having two prizes she liked stolen from her in our office game of “Dirty Santa,” a coworker happened upon my gift, a piece of novelty soap shaped like a slice of cake. (Not the world’s most inspired gift, but certainly within the bounds of office gift-giving.)

    Coworker spent the rest of the lunch muttering things like “I don’t want this!” and “what are we going to do about my situation?”

    The worst part was she had gone straight past the label that explained what the soap was, so I had to out myself as the gift giver to explain why there was a piece of “cake” in the office gift exchange.

        1. Anion*

          It’s the next morning, and I’m still giggling at “What are we going to do about my situation?”

      1. Future Analyst*

        Hilarious! Growing up, someone’s “situation” was code for unplanned pregnancy, which makes this even funnier.

      2. Ayla K*

        I’m almost crying at this quote and I fully intend on pulling it out at our own office’s White Elephant party tomorrow, which I have a habit of taking far too seriously.

      3. Spoonie*

        I made the unfortunate decision to take a drink of water right before reading your comment.

        It is ill advised to try to swallow and laugh simultaneously.

      4. Sarah G*

        I don’t know if this will be as funny in writing as it was when told to me, but I’ll never forget a boyfriend telling me about a time he was at a donut shop, and the guy in front of him in line pointed at the chocolate eclairs in the glass case and said to the staff person taking his order, “I’ll have a couple of those situations right there.”
        I thought this was one of the most hilarious uses of language I’d ever heard.

          1. CM*

            Eclairs – LOL! = Situations
            Situations = Unplanned pregnancies
            Unplanned pregnancies = Eclairs – LOL!

    1. Lucyfer*

      DH was part of a corporation where they had a “Dirty Santa” party with about 50 people. The rules by the corporation were that you could do a serious gift or a gag gift, but you had to spend X. Some of the participants were C level officers, some where cleaning staff. The price point was set so that the cleaning staff could afford to chip in, having fun, seeing who ended up with what. The price point was also low enough that no one’s feelings should have been hurt.

      A gift could be “stolen” 3 times. If you were the 3rd person, you got to bow out and keep the gift.

      One year, DH asked me to go buy a gag gift. I found a Christmas tree that made Charlie Brown’s look elegant. The point was to be fun and funny. It was NOT malicious.

      There was a small group of women in the office who were white, middle-aged, and well-off. They worked as admins “for extra shopping money.” They treated the cleaning staff (mostly POCs) horribly. Were only “nice” to the higher ups, including my husband. You get the picture.

      These ladies took the whole Dirty Santa thing very seriously. Complained endlessly if they did not get the “gift I deserve.” Totally did not understand the spirit of the exercise.

      Guess who ended up with my tree? The worst of the cabal.

      She bawled and groused for days – particularly to my husband. Finally, the top-man in the office had to take her aside and tell her to knock it off because it was only making her look bad. She continued until he personally gave her a gift card for TWICE the value of the Dirty Santa limit.

      The kicker? The gift she had put in was a pair of USED ladies’ socks that she thought were “ugly.”

        1. Lucyfer*

          She was eventually let go in a layoff. I suspect her behavior towards her “underlings” and her behavior at the party might have had something to do with it.

          So there was some justice!

    2. Anion*

      So, I’m a writer, and my writer-y mind is imagining that, far beyond her “situation” being a gift she doesn’t find appealing (which is hilarious in itself), perhaps she was counting on getting a pile of gold or something. Or maybe she’s a smuggler of some sort, and that job is her cover, and she was supposed to get the shipment in her Xmas gift exchange and is now terrified of what will happen when she has to go to make the deal without the product.

      Did anyone get an oddly heavy, unattractive china statue in the gift exchange?


  29. DCGirl*

    At my Old Job, my manager decided to give us all presents at Christmas for the first time ever after seeing other managers in our division give their employees small gifts (think gingerbread mix with a gingerbread man cookie cooker or a small cheese/sausage basket). Our gift was a small unbranded cellophane baggie with nine thumbtacks (three each of chartreuse green, bright orange, and fluorescent purple). Huh? Those thumbtacks were the only think I left on my bulletin board when I departed.

    Another year, she decided to take us all out for a holiday lunch at a nice restaurant. After we got there, she told us that the total amount anyone could order was $10 including tax and tip. We all had a sandwich and a glass of [free] ice water.

      1. Grits McGee*

        No lie, I wouldn’t be mad if I got a cookie cooker for Christmas- like a little Easy Bake Oven with a light bulb, just cranking out little gingerbread men, one cookie at a time…

      1. DCGirl*

        Yeah, we were seriously underwhelmed. If there’d been enough to spell out FU on my bulletin board when I left, I would have.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I had a boss who gave me a package of ear plugs for Xmas! There was no reason except she was ridiculously cheap (and a millionaire, of course). She also took the division out for lunch but didn’t invite me (her EA) or the two other admins.

      1. CMart*

        I used to work at an upscale restaurant that people would frequently book department luncheon type things at. It always made me so sad when an admin would show up early to confirm the reservation, set things up on the tables (decorations, name cards, flower bouquet, whatever was appropriate for the occasion) and then… leave. Only once did the admin get to order some food to go and put it on the business luncheon’s tab.

      1. SebbyGrrl*

        Were the colored parts kind of oversized?

        Those were from staples, $2.50 for 10, they were in my favorite colors, I bought a bunch, plus matching paper clips and binder clips ;)

    1. Little Missy*

      That happened to me a few years ago. the person who drew my name had ordered a pink metal watering can (he knew I love the color pink and that I have potted plants from Earth Day to first killing frost), and it didn’t arrive on our exchange day. But it was a beautiful can and I still use it to this day. It has a removable “sprinkle spout” so I can pour water on plants that are really parched, or use the sprinkle spout to freshen up blooms.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      I was sort of that coworker my first year in the working world. I kept getting left off the e-mails about our secret Santa. There were three gifts: the first two on the first two Mondays of December and the third (I assumed) on the following Monday. Nope, it was apparently the Friday before, which I found out about when a coworker called me to come to the tree for the exchange.

      My secret Santa giftee got a printed Netflix gift certificate (Netflix was new that year, so at least I came up with something cool!) in a ratty interoffice envelope. It was the best I could do on short notice, but damn was I embarrassed.

    3. SMT*

      The first year of Secret Santa at OldJob, I didn’t get anything from the person who drew my name. My manager who was in charge of it let me know who had drawn my name and that she spoke to him about making sure he brought something for me, since I had given a gift to the person I had drawn (and he had gotten a gift from the person who drew his name). It was a $10-15 gift exchange, and the next day he brought in a package of chocolate chip cookies from a grocery store with the price tag still on (I think it was under $5).

      Last year at OldJob, one of my managers drew my name, and let me know before the party that he was heading out to buy something for the exchange, because he hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

      1. Katy Kat*

        Ugh mandatory gift exchange issues. Its so hard to know other’s financial situations. Some people are just cheap but you gotta wonder about the kids who had to do without because their parents were forced to give a gift to another adult (there is a movement to largely forgo giving gifts to adults because studies show it just isn’t worth it the vast majority of the time)

    4. Sadsack*

      My SO’s department had a secret Santa exchange a few years ago. Every one in the department put their names in a hat. The person handling the name exchanges was known to not be too bright. On the day of the gift exchange, one person hadn’t received a gift. When she went to the person who had handled the name exchange, the person told her that since there was an odd number of names in the hat, she took one out to make it even so everyone would get a gift.

      Just let that sink in a moment. I don’t think she ever understood what she did wrong.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, that’s one reason I stopped doing Secret Santa. Ours went on for a week, a gift per day, and I didn’t get anything until the 4th day. Except she’d been sick, and so she wasn’t in the office to even give me an IOU, and then felt horribly guilty when she got back, and I was like, this isn’t fun for you OR me, so why are we doing it?

    6. Paige Turner*

      Aww yeah, that happened to me once. I worked in a coffee shop, and the person whose name I drew moved away between when we drew names and when we did the exchange. I can’t remember what I ended up doing with the gift that I got for him; the person who drew me eventually got me a gift card, no hard feelings.

    7. Ismis*

      At least you got an IOU? I used to organise gift exchanges for a few years and always had some back up gift baskets. Out of 70 people, it wasn’t unusual to have about three giftless people. One year someone got an IOU, and they got two presents! The rest of the time, I think the gifters were embarrassed they forgot and just said nothing.

  30. J*

    In my first job out of college, I worked in the administrative offices of a hospital. Every year, the administrative staff (about 15 people) had a little party in a conference room with a secret santa and potluck meal.

    The last Christmas I was there, the Executive Director decided to switch things up. Instead of the conference room party, she took all of her direct reports out to long lunch at a very nice restaurant.

    There were 3 of us in the admin suite who did not report directly to her (our bosses were her direct reports), and so were not invited. So everyone in the suite, and everyone who normally had a holiday celebration together, was taken out to lunch, except for the 3 of us who were left behind.

    She did later distribute small gifts to everyone (including the 3 of us who were not invited to lunch). My gift was a manicure kit that was missing 2 of the pieces. (I presume it was regifted to me).

      1. PurpleHairChick*

        At old job they hosted a lunch for the entire office (80 people) but because we were considered operations we werent welcome to attend. The enitre floor would clear out expect for 4 of us. They would be gone for a 3 hour lunch including prizes and gifts (if you werent there you werent eligeble to win). Then everyone would come back and complain how tired they were after they party. My team tried to make the best of having quite time in the office and I’d usually bring in some little treats for us to share. It was still hard though. I feel you.

  31. LA*

    Okay, commenting because I didn’t know gold barbies were A Thing, but I have to chime in with the fact that I possess not one, but TWO golden Ken dolls thanks to my youth group’s Oscars-themed holiday party(my youth group had a lot of theater kids) when I was in high school.

    But since it was a church thing, they are not naked–they have Hawaiian swim trunks.

    1. Liane*

      LOL. Your youth group sounds more conservative than the one at my church when my College Kids attended. There was a (new) bra filled with candy at least once. Most gifts weren’t like this. My son once got a sizable roll of bubble wrap–we finally used it up last Christmas!

    2. Rhys*

      You’d think the church would love a chance to try to convince young girls that men just have a creepy mound of dickless flesh down there!

      1. LA*

        My church was…pretty open/frank about stuff, and the youth group leaders esp. had a good sense of humor. One year, we had a “Discipleship Now” weekend (which was basically a “learn about saving sex for marriage” weekend), and the high school girls pranked the rest of the youth group by making a giant banner that said “Sex Camp” and putting it up in the church fellowship hall so everyone would see it. No one got in trouble (though it was taken down once the adults stopped laughing at it).

  32. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Bland story here.

    I once worked for a trade association in the energy industry. Spending money on events was the norm, and the organization had the cash for sure.

    The Xmas party was at a swanky restaurant over the lunch hour, and then we had the rest of the day off. During the 30 minute cocktail portion, I saw the bar only had beer, wine, and soda. A little cheap but I didn’t think much of it at the time. I declined wine at the time because I figured I’d grab some with lunch.

    We went into the dining room, and the doors to the reception area immediately shut. I asked for wine and was told no more alcohol. Not only that but the entree options were three of the cheapest on the restaurant menu. No vegetarian option. A scoop of ice cream for dessert.

    I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but all the support staff knew how much this organization spent entertaining year round. To cheap out for a much smaller and hardworking group (27 people) was…noticed.

    1. AMT*

      Next year, down all the beer and wine you can during that thirty-minute window! Bring a Ziploc and pour some in if you have to.

    2. Emma*

      The thing that always gets me with stories like this is that if they are so determined to watch their costs, just holding the lunch at a cheaper place to begin with usually works without making them look like ungrateful cheapskates. I mean, some people will still notice that they aren’t going to Swanky Place, especially if they used to in the past, but most people would be more like, cool, we get lunch.

      1. Anion*

        My husband used to be a supervisor at a major credit card company, and every year they threw this huge blowout holiday party–his first year there they rented this enormous auditorium and hired KC and the Sunshine Band to come play (this was the mid-late 90s, when disco and KC were having kind of a resurgence), and that was typical. All managers etc. were required to attend, two free drinks for everyone, huge buffet, etc…. and no guests/spouses allowed. It was employees ONLY, because of costs.

        Every year we were like, you could maybe just do a normal nice party instead of an extravaganza, and so be able to afford to allow spouses to attend as well? It’s great to have this awesome party, but it’s not so great when you’re required to leave your spouse at home alone at 7 pm on a Friday night.

  33. Tammy*

    I was at a holiday party for my ex’s company years ago where several executive led the group in a rousing chorus of a song that was sung to the tune of “Walking In a Winter Wonderland” but involved lyrics about “walking around in women’s underwear”. It was sooooo awkward. And the HR person passed out unconscious on the dance floor and so was unable to put a stop to it.

      1. Tammy*

        Yeah. I mean, I fit into several of the “LGBTQIAP+” boxes, so the subject matter doesn’t offend me…but at a formal holiday party for a financial services company (at a fancy country club) which included clients? Not the right material for the venue and crowd.

        1. Retail HR Guy*

          I swear that string of letters (“LGBT…”) is longer every time I see it. Not a complaint (I don’t know of a better replacement word or phrase) but for some reason I find it amusing how it just keeps growing and growing.

          1. Purest Green*

            Hah, yeah I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the same lettering twice. At some point it should become obvious that those groups of people aren’t quite the minority as many would think.

          2. AMT*

            This is why I love the word “queer.” Short and inclusive. The only downside is that it hasn’t caught on among older people because they’re used to hearing it as an insult.

            1. atalanta*

              And to some of us youngs — it’s very much a slur where I’m from, and I strongly dislike being called it.

          3. AEB*

            GRSM (gender, romantic, and sexual Minorities) or MOGAI (marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex) are used sometimes in the tumblr-y parts of the internet. As an asexual, I would personally love if there was a generally accepted alternative to LGTB, but I don’t expect the vast majority of people I meet offline to have any idea what they mean.

        2. Nelly*

          QUILTBAG – easier to remember.

          Queer, Undecided, Intersexed, Lesbian, Trans, Bi, Ace/Associated, Gay.

      2. Liane*

        I’ve heard it many times–a radio station we listened to played it several times every Christmas season. But that was a humorous morning show, not a party for a presumably professional company.
        (The DJs claimed the pianist who did the parody was married to a Victoria’s Secret model.)

    1. Trinity*

      I love that version! My concert band plays the music frequently at our Christmas shows and I always sing along inappropriately in my head. :) (But never out loud, and never at work!)

  34. Murphy*

    I don’t really have any crazy stories! (Thankfully!) But last year I was voluntold to be on the Holiday party committee, but I was new, so I figured I’d just grin and bear it. (I ended up being assigned to purchase something, but I don’t have a purchasing card, so a non-committee employee had to go with me, pretty much defeating the purpose.) In a casual meeting with some of my coworkers, I asked my boss if I was going to be voluntold to be on the committee again. I said, “Really?” and pointed out that I don’t have a card and that I can’t help move furniture because I’m too pregnant. I was ALL ready to be asked to be on the committee and to complain if there were no men on it (as I don’t think there were last year, but there may have been one) but I ended up not being on the committee at all! Bullet dodged.

  35. Undercover for this*

    Going undercover for this since I don’t want to out myself…At my old job we had a holiday party where spouses and significant others were welcome to attend. One year, a co-worker was caught making out with our boss in the bathroom. Both of them had wives and were fathers, and had brought their wives to the party. It was really awkward to look either one of them in the eye after that.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      That is juicy! My sister has a private bathroom at work and went to go use it after their holiday party and found two coworkers (one who was married to a different coworker) in there playing “duck club”. She said she just shut the door and left and never said a word about it – but she is the “big boss” there so I would love to know how the coworkers reacted when they realized what had just happened.

      1. Alli525*

        I really appreciate your euphemistic use of “playing duck club” – I wish I could talk about duck club outside AAM and people would understand me!

        (first rule of duck club: never talk about duck club)

    2. NacSacJack*

      Whoo-hoo!! Took me a minute to catch that – I actually had to stop and think, what? They were in the same bathroom? Went back and re-read it.

  36. Baby Architect*

    About a month into a new job out of college I was informed that one of my duties “as a student” (even though I had definitely already completed my undergraduate studies??) was planning the office holiday party in its entirety. Venue, menu, games, soundtrack, A/V equipment, decorations, and “year in review” slideshow.

    I’m still baffled that they put the responsibility of a cutesy year-end retrospective on someone who had one month’s worth of familiarity with the firm’s work and employees. And my job was in architecture, not event planning.

    1. Chaordic One*

      As long as you have some sort of budget to work with, it doesn’t sound too terrible.

      I used to have to do this when I was an admin. Of course, I asked for suggestions from my co-workers. They weren’t great parties, but they were O.K.

  37. Claire*

    This isn’t winter holiday related, but I worked in an office where, for the Thanksgiving lunch, we were made to dress up as either a pilgrim or an Indian. The costumes chosen by those who were assigned to be Indians were …. not sensitive, to say the least. There may have been pictures where one person was pretending to “scalp” another.

    1. Emi.*

      My college sailing team had a lot of parties, and a lot of parties that were not Sailing Team Parties but were hosted and attended by sailing team people, including one with the theme “Pilgrim Bros and NavaHoes.” I have never been so pleased not to be invited to a party.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Because I’m salty as hell, I’d have probably shown up in a full Santa suit with beard and convinced two of my male friends to wear the skimpy elf costumes.

          1. Anonicat*

            I would pretty much only go if I could do this.

            Costumes are not mandatory at our work’s themed end of year parties, though there are prizes for best dressed. This year’s theme was Alice In Wonderland and the winner was a heavily pregnant woman who went as a teapot, with the handle on her back and a spout coming out of her belly. It was just painted cardboard but it looked so cute.

            1. Troutwaxer*

              My favorite ever costume was someone who tied a sneaker to her head and wore pink sweats. She was “a piece of gum on someone’s shoe.”

  38. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I was in one place where they FORGOT about the Christmas party.

    Turned out the guy who did the planning left the company in June. In Boston, you have to plan these things MONTHS in advance – because of space, hotels, etc.

    Around October, one of the big shots asked “what about the Christmas party?”…. everyone forgot that (let’s call him Fred) did the planning on his own, and when he left, no one picked up the ball. Too late to plan one! How are you gonna plan a party for 300 employees and their guest in under six weeks?

    So there was a hokey memo = “oh we all realize you’re too busy around the holiday time – so we’re going to have the Christmas party – in mid-February!!!! Isn’t that better?”

    Uh, no.

    1. Manders*

      Ooh, I’d enjoy a bit of schadenfreude over that if I were Fred. How often do you get to say, “See, this office couldn’t function without me!” after you leave a job?

      1. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        This guy went off to a much better job in a different region of the country. I suspect he was also caught in a pay band-low grade situation and (long story) to fix that they’d have to jump him up four grades.

        I don’t know how far the management team went to try to fix that, but in any event, he was missed, both for his computer programming work, and his involvement in various employee functions.

      2. The _artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        And to answer Manders’ comment – looking at how “Fred” ended up a year later, I don’t think he looked back.

        I’ve been in that position myself – and enjoyed that schadenfreude – but on the other hand, knowing where Fred wound up, I doubt he was thinking too much about us.

    2. Liz2*

      I’ve seen a lot of companies now moving their “holiday party” to January, I would guess to lighten the Dec load and get cheaper rates on venues. Just feels less spirited and celebratory to me.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I worked for several years at a company that did that: a new year’s party sometime in January (not NYE). It was great! Changed the flavor from peppermint-and-seasonal-angst to sparkles-and-a-new-beginning, for one thing, and we had better options in what to wear. Plus the scheduling was easier.

        1. WS*

          I just made the most undignified snorting-laugh at “peppermint-and-seasonal-angst”. Thank goodness I’m alone in the office today! (Also I know how I’m going to be describing the rest of this holiday season now…)

      2. Creag an Tuire*

        Ms Tuire’s company does that, but they have two excuses:
        a) She works at a satellite office and the holiday party involves taking a party bus to the Main Office in North Kentucky, so they don’t want to disrupt anybody’s other holiday plans;
        b) Last year they went ALL OUT. In the “even if my non-profit organization HAD to money to do this, we could never get away with it for PR reasons” sense.

      3. Cath in Canada*

        Ours is in January this year, for the first time. Much easier to schedule people, and the venues are that much cheaper.

        There might or might not be an unofficial party happening in December anyway. Might or might not be.

      4. Abby*

        Actually my husband’s company did this and it was kind of nice. Schedules are more open and people were less stressed. And they could afford to do the big hotel ballroom thing.

      5. Tim*

        We’ve always had our holiday party in January and we’re apparently so attached to it that when our boss tried to make us to have it in December this year, everyone (including the rest of management) had a meltdown and the other night we stayed late to have an impromptu meeting to discuss all the reasons why our boss should be fired and how we just shouldn’t even talk to him anymore. Hourly employees were paid OT for attending.

        I mean, there’s more going on than him telling us we had to have our party in December. But that was the step too far.

      6. Dot Warner*

        My husband’s company does that too. It’s nice to have an excuse to celebrate in January since there’s basically nothing else going on.

      7. Akcipitrokulo*

        We do that, and it’s pretty popular. Less stress, more people available and nice to have something cheery in dark January nights! I’m sure it is cheaper, but it’s a really good night at nice hotel with first couple of drinks at bar, 3 course meal andwine at table.

        Other reason is they have time to calculate year end financial results (and therefore bonus levels!) … they are announced over dinner.

    3. CAA*

      My last company deliberately had the party in mid-January. Their explanation was that December was just too busy, but everyone just figured that venues are a lot cheaper in January. We did have annual raises and good bonuses, so if they wanted to save a few bucks on the party to make those possible, I thought that was ok.

    4. CMT*

      That would work for me. I have plenty of other parties to go to in December. It would be nice to spread out the cheer (and free food and drink) a little. And this is what places in the service industry do, since they’re all working other peoples’ holiday parties.

    5. MsMaryMary*

      I’ve attended a couple work parties planned for mid-January. It was less the venue and more everyone’s availability. Year end is pretty busy in my industry, and then you take into account client events and personal commitments…it was nice not to have to cram another party into December.

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      A friend who is an attorney said that they always have the local Bar Association party in mid-February because the holidays are a very busy time for family law and criminal attorneys. I get the reasoning on that one, tbh.

    7. oh12*

      At my former job they *on purpose* planned the holiday party in February, also “to avoid the busy-ness of December”. The real reason was not that someone forgot, but because they were cheap. NO ONE went (when the day came the higher ups were begging people to attend) so whatever $$ they did spend was wasted.

      At another workplace my boss’s boss would “invite” us to lunch, and we had to pay for our own food. He chose the restaurant with no input from anyone else. Attendance was not optional. And he was VERY well-paid. He was also socially clueless.

      1. Person of Interest*

        You must have worked with my husband – the holiday party has been in mid-February for a few years now, for the same stated and real reasons. You know what turns out to be worse than giving up one of your December Saturday nights for the office holiday party? Giving up your VALENTINE’S DAY Saturday night for the office holiday party.

    8. Lalaith*

      One year my company did their holiday party in February *on purpose* (or at least, no one admitted publicly that someone had dropped the ball in planning). Not only that, but they turned it into a client event – we invited clients, and couldn’t bring our own guests. And despite the fact that it was right after work, they served very little food, just a few passed hors d’ouvres. But plenty of alcohol. Fortunately there weren’t any incidents (that I heard about, anyway). I haven’t gone to a holiday party since.