my office wants us to bring single friends to a Valentine’s Day singles mixer

A reader writes:

I don’t really need advice, but I thought this level of WTF-ery might interest you.

My workplace just announced a Valentine’s Day Singles mixer. Maybe I’m just a prudish weirdo who likes to keep work and personal very separate, but it really strikes me as odd, and almost like they’re encouraging us to date one another…?

You can go if you’re attached, but you have to bring a single friend as chattel (my words, not theirs). Here’s the actual invite (names and locations changed):

Love is in the air….

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and this year Dunder Mifflin is celebrating with a special evening at Poor Richard’s.

On Tuesday, February 14th, bring one single friend with you to the event for mixing and mingling with your Dunder Mifflin colleagues!

Whether you are attached or not, grab a friend who’s looking for love and join the fun!

· Valentine’s Day

· 6pm – 10pm

· Poor Richard’s

· Appetizers will be served

· One drink ticket per person

Please be sure to register yourself and your friend HERE.

Also, they’ve provided color-coded nametags to differentiate the single from the “happily attached.”

Um, yeah, if there’s one thing your employer should stay out of, it’s the attempted orchestration of romance.

I mean, it would be fine to do a casual Valentine’s Day happy hour, with no more to it than drinks that happen to fall on February 14 and maybe some heart candies passed around or something.

But “bring one single friend … who’s looking for love”?

It’s a little pimp-ish, no?

Obviously, though, you should go and report back to us.

{ 286 comments… read them below }

      1. OP*

        Unfortunately, I don’t have any single friends to fulfill the entry fee, and I already made other plans. However, one of my colleagues is going, and I will be pressing her for details first thing tomorrow morning!

        1. seejay*

          Back in the day, I used to attend a local adult BBS meetup and the SYSOP would take minutes for them that he’d post to the board a few days later. They were usually entertaining as he’d put his spin on them and wrote them with our screen names.

          A few guys from a “rival” BBS showed up to one, stole the minutes at the end of the night, transcripted them, added their own flavour to them, and posted them up to the BBS message board. Much hilarity ensued.

          Not sure why but reading a bit of this thread reminds of that incident. There was a lot of drama surrounding the stolen minutes, comments about the people at the meetup, comments about the SYSOP from the rival board (the SYSOP from the adult BBS had a really bad habit of hitting on every girl that showed up to the meetups, which were intended as a singles mixer in the first place, but since it was a BBS thing, it was obviously heavily gender imbalanced anyway). It was a hot mess.

          1. Nerfmobile*

            Hah, I haven’t seen the word SYSOP in years! (Decades?). Having flashbacks to the user group meetings I used to attend for our local group (not an “adult” one, lots of families and teens there). Those communities were always prone to drama.

            1. seejay*

              Yeah I totally dated myself by mentioning that didn’t I? XD

              There was definitely a lot of drama on the adult one, especially due to the owner running it. I think one of the reasons he was doing it was to try to meet more women except he was in his late 30s and was targeting the late teens and early 20s girls. I was 19 at the time and he was constantly hitting on me, which skeeved me the hell out since he was twice my age. Absolutely *no one* was interested in him, which just made his attempts to hit on everyone more amusing than pathetic than anything and he created more drama as a result of it.

              Then there was a whole pile of legal trouble eventually, which I won’t even get into. ><

              1. many bells down*

                SYSOP chat was how I learned to type. I never had a typing class at school, so SYSOP chat being the only way you could chat in real-time on a BBS made me learn really fast.

            1. seejay*

              BBS = Bulletin Board System
              SYSOP = System Operator

              The BBS’ were the original Internet back in the day (20+ years ago). At least before the Internet was the World Wide Web and accessible beyond universities. BBS’ were usually local to your area and you dialed into them through a land line and a modem on your computer. For the most part, there were message boards, “door” games that were text with bad ascii graphics, and sometimes an assortment of files you could download, mainly limited to pictures and freeware/shareware games. Sometimes BBS’ had more advanced features like paid services that got you better games, better files to download, better message board services (like Usenet that was shared across the world), but you still had to dial into them.

              Then the Internet came along and BBS’ couldn’t compete and they more or less died out. There’s probably still some floating around out there, but I haven’t connected to one in a very long time.

        2. Amber T*

          Totally legit that you made other plans, but if you had wanted to go, would you have been *required* to bring a single friend for entry?

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            “Chad from Accounting appears to be crooning a mating call to OP’s friend Julie. These shy creatures appear to have the rudiments of language, but have made no headway in translating their calls as yet.”

    1. Noobtastic*

      There’s just another reason why I would not dare read this site at work. Even if I’m allowed to surf the web during break time, it’s just too risky.

      Also, frequently too messy, with the number of spit takes one does. “The boss did WHAAAAAT?!”

  1. Tiffany*

    “Obviously, though, you should go and report back to us.”

    That’s the best advice I’ve seen today and I frequent multiple blogs. You’re a hoot, Alison!

    1. Mabel*

      Every time I scroll past your comment, I see “frogs” instead of “blogs”! Every. Time. Something is clearly wrong with me.

    1. Elle*

      After reading the Valentines open thread, what color is “My wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend thinks I’m taken but I want to hook up with someone anyway”?

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        Yeah, when I saw that there would be a color for “happily attached” I wondered if that implied the “unhappily” attached could take a singles nametag.

        1. SanguineAspect*

          Yes! Thank you, NotASalesperson. As a woman in a happy polyamorous marriage, polyamory and open relationships do not = cheating. At all.

          1. Noobtastic*

            Key word being “open.” As long as everyone is on board with it, it’s all fair, and it’s surprising how many people are actually quite happy in that kind of relationship.

            What really stinks, though, is when someone in an already established open marriage decides to suddenly get sneaky about their latest lover, and actually denies it, until they are caught in the act. That is just too low for words. Sneaking and lying when you don’t even have a reason to do it? What the heck is up with that?!

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          Doesn’t strike me as an association, just a jumping off point for brainstorming different categories of people who might be on the prowl!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, I didn’t read that as being about polyamorous people — by definition someone whose partner doesn’t realize you’re seeking out other partners isn’t in a poly relationship, just a cheating one.

          2. Jadelyn*

            I agree – that’s where my brain went, and I actually am poly. Not an association so much as considering all the alternatives between “single and looking” and “attached and not looking”.

    2. straws*

      Stripes of the other colors? I’m sure that would turn a few heads if someone went and made their own from what’s provided!

    3. Applesauced*

      I imagine it’s something like “Stop Light Parties” where your shirt color signals your status – green: single, yellow: complicated (I guess?), red: taken.
      So ploy night be a yellowy green/greenish yellow?

    4. Admin of Sys*

      This reminds me of the time we tried to have colored name tags at a poly gathering to identify if you were single, in a relationship, looking for a primary, looking for a secondary, etc, and then we started adding in gender preferences and eventually ran out of colors and symbols to use (especially if you wanted room for a name!) We had some fun with the random artwork on the nametags though. :)

  2. Leatherwings*

    If I were to go to a workplace-sponsored singles mixer, I would need a whole lot more than one drink ticket.

    The color coded singles parties weren’t fun in college. I can’t imagine why anyone would think they’d be more fun as a grown-ass adult.

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      Wait. This is actually a thing? A thing that grown people do? They drag single friends to “parties,” label them with “I’m alone” tags, and release them into an enclosure to meet others of their kind?
      How noble.
      At least in Bless the Beasts and the Children, the poor unwanted animals were shot. They didn’t have to see people the next day and be told how they will have better luck next time.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Well, I’m not sure how “grown” you’d consider college students to be. It’s pretty much the nadir of good judgment.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        A colleague once told me about a Valentine’s day event where pairs of platonic single friends of the opposite sex sign up to attend together, then try to meet other singles at the event. She thought that perhaps I’d like to attend with my platonic single male friend from the same lab. I thought it was actually quite a nice idea and might have been into it, if I hadn’t met my now-husband a couple of weeks before! But at work? OH HELL NO

      3. KG, Ph.D.*

        I think what Leatherwings is referring to is what my friends and I called “Stoplight Parties” in college. Single folks wear green, “taken” folks wear red, and those who wear yellow…well, that’s up for interpretation. It was silly, yes, but no one was dragged to those parties.

      4. TrainerGirl*

        There is such a thing as a “Recycle Your Ex” party. People bring an ex, and they get recycled to other people, I guess??? I’m sure it has a buzzier name than that, but I can’t think of it right now.

  3. Emile*

    What happens if you don’t have any single friends? Are you barred from going?

    I can’t imagine going to a friend of mine’s workplace valentine party if they asked me to. WEIRD.

    Also, didn’t this actually happen on the Office? Your workplace does realize that show is an example of what NOT to do, right?

    1. Naomi*

      I don’t know about The Office, but Better Off Ted took it a step further and ran the single employees through a matchmaking algorithm based on genetic compatibility.

    2. EmilyG*

      “Can you come to my work party with me tonight? It’s for Valentine’s Day.”

      “What, and meet all those people you’re always telling me about who refuse to keep the office kitchen clean/chew too loud/make you do all the projects with the difficult client?”

      I don’t understand how they expect this to work.

      1. Jaydee*

        If I had a single friend who I thought might be a good match for one of my co-workers I would either mind my own business or I would already have introduced them. Nothing about this party is a good idea.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        Now I am hearing the “wait, that’s not any of this is supposed to work” commercial running over and over in my head.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      It never ceases to amaze me, that people see things on Sit Coms or in movies (or even books) where things go horribly awry, and their thought is “That’s an awesome idea! Let’s do this in our workplace! ”

      This isn’t the only time we’ve seen this.

    4. Drew*

      I don’t let my own parents set me up on dates, and they’ve known me my entire life. I love my friends but I don’t trust their romantic judgment even that much. Co-workers, even friendly ones? Still less.

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    “Obviously, though, you should go and report back to us.”

    Seconding this, and thank you Alison for making me laugh.

    This is so bizarre and fraught with potential landmines.

  5. Emi.*

    We had something like this in college. It was called a “Stoplight Party,” and when you arrived you were given a red, yellow, or green t-shirt, according to your status.

    Typing this out makes me realize how much it sounds like a weird horrible frat event, but it was put on by Student Activities at the keep-the-kids-out-of-trouble “nightclub.”

    Please go and report back to us!

      1. H.C.*

        generally “available, but cautious”, but can be interpreted as anything between the “single and ready to mingle” green and “not looking and not interested” red.

      2. Emi.*

        Allegedly, it meant “it’s complicated.” Personally, I don’t think complications are ever improved by making out with strangers, but YMMV?

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        My understanding is the same as H.C.’s… or at least that’s what “yellow” meant when I was in college.

        This entire thing is rife with asshat-ery. But I do want to know what happens!

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It’s one of my favorites, all though “f-ery” is my all-time favorite (but less usable in mixed company). To wit: “What kind of f-ery is this? / You made me miss the Slick Rick gig.” — Amy Winehouse

      4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        “If you move fast, you just might make it,” at least in this town.

    1. LBK*

      Those aren’t uncommon even post-college. A local bar has an annual one and I know I’ve been to at least one non-college house party that was like that.

      Never heard of one being organized by a someone’s workplace before, though!

    2. ZNerd*

      A meetup group near me does something like the stoplight party… or did as recently as last year. I don’t remember the details, aside from thinking “not for me!” Of course, there’s a HUGE difference between a meetup group who has overtly said they do mixer-style events along with other types (hikes and dinners and trips), and a workplace doing it. Holiday parties with free-flowing booze already offer a bit too much insight into some of my colleagues. I can’t imagine this ending well.

          1. PhyllisB*

            I will look it up, but my guess is this is where you have everybody throw their keys in a bowl, and at the end of the night you get them back if you are sober enough to drive. We did a version of this in my younger days. Once we even took (and hid) the distributor cap on someone’s car.

            1. LPUK*

              No Phyllis, sadly not. Allegedly, the women put their house keys in a bowl, the men take turns in picking one out, and the ‘couple’ go back to the house together. Basically wife swapping, and quite popular in the 70’s . Even my small English village was reputed to have one street where this happened

              1. JKP*

                Yes, and if you happen to watch the Jim Carrey version of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, there’s a scene where in the background you can see through a window some of the adult Whos drawing keys out of a bowl at a party.

          2. MW*

            Just a heads up, if you look this up on Wikipedia it redirects to the “Group Sex” Article which is somewhat NSFW.

          3. BTownGirl*

            Ohmygod, I just choked on my coffee! Lest anyone think no one does stuff like this in the suburbs anymore, there’s a group of swingers in my town. How do they invite you to join? They leave a homemade straw doll (!!!!) at your door. I wish I was kidding. Because nothing says “sexy” like, “creepy straw doll planted while you’re out of the house”. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed on Pinterest.

    3. I've Been There!*

      They did that at the women’s college I went to one year. I, an unseasoned freshman, attended.


    4. Allison*

      Here’s what I don’t get about those parties though: clearly, the color coding is meant to help single people find other, available single people to date, hook up with, whathave you, yes? Would people with red shirts on have any fun? Seems like they’d be ignored all night, or aggressively hit on by jerkwads who see it as a challenge. Why go? Seems like if I’m not looking to throw myself into the dating pool, a party like that is the last place I wanna be. Do they just offer the option so attached people feel included?

      1. Emi.*

        Maybe you go with your SO. Because who doesn’t want to go on a date to watch their single friends hit on each other?

        1. Whats In A Name*

          Totally. I pretty much feel like its the equivalent of a college party…where my SO and I totally went to watch our drunk male friends hit on equally drunk women. They all thought there were so smooth. We also realize we were them at some point, which I think made it even funnier…we would take bets on what the next line would be.

      2. LBK*

        At the ones I’ve been to it’s been more like a theme party than a singles event. I’ve only ever gone to one while in a relationship and had just as much fun as any other party; there’s nothing that stops you from just socializing normally regardless of status. The green people don’t sequester themselves in a corner and try to pair off or anything.

      3. SusanIvanova*

        I like parties but I hate being hit on. If red meant “sure, I’ll dance with you, but that doesn’t imply any further commitment, no not even sitting down to talk – what part of ‘here to dance’ are you missing?” I’d be for it.

    5. Mabel*

      And are you supposed to change into the t-shirt right there in the doorway of the Student Activities Center (or wherever this took place)? Was that part of the “fun”?

      1. Emi.*

        That’s a good question! Now that I think about it, they might have given the t-shirts out ahead of time, in the dining hall. Otherwise I’d guess that people just put them on over whatever they were wearing—it was at the on-campus “nightclub,” and there weren’t a lot of good places to leave your things.

    6. Bad Candidate*

      Given how common color blindness is in men, I’m kind of surprised that this type of party would work at all.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        It’ll work as long as the red and green have different brightness levels. Yellow will register as lighter regardless.

  6. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA*

    I can’t imagine asking a friend to this because even they were able to meet one of your co-workers that they liked, it could make it incredible awkward for you. But if you had a lot of single Jim’s in your office, I would totally attend. Too many Dwight’s or Ryan’s though and I’d be out.

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      I adore that Dunder Mifflin was the example here- for the hilarity of frequent misguided matchmaking in the office and all, that was just where I started full on laughing in my cube

      1. KG, Ph.D.*

        More to the point, there was an episode where Michael threw an impromptu “singles party” and invited outside strangers to come and mingle! It’s in the “Blood Drive” episode from season 5, I just watched it last night, coincidentally enough!

  7. Lora*

    This is like, one of my actual nightmares. Having to wear a name tag that says Crazy Cat Lady and have my colleagues all give me heck about it and point and laugh and try to set me up on random blind dates with whomever they can scrounge up. It was bad enough when I first got divorced, I’m glad all my friends have given up on me in that regard, because I nearly died of humiliation several times over.

    I mean, I have a date with a margarita pitcher for Taco Tuesday night at the Mexican restaurant down the block. Does that count?

    1. a different Vicki*

      Depends: how committed are you to the margaritas? If you would throw them over for a cheap happy hour pitcher of beer, it doesn’t count; if you’re definitely going to spend your time with the margaritas and maybe some tacos al pastor, it absolutely counts.

  8. LSP*

    I read the title and thought, “Is Michael Scott behind this?”

    Glad to see we are on the same page, OP.

    1. Sherry*

      Very curious about this as well! I get that some people think singles events are fun — but why would they think that a workplace should host one???

    2. OP*

      It was the social committee, which I don’t believe includes anyone from HR (at least I’m hoping there wasn’t HR presence when that idea was floated because otherwise… YIKES)

      1. Zoethor2*

        The sometimes-misguided social committee on my team at work suddenly seems much better by comparison…

      2. Zombii*

        Are social committees a thing in normal, functional workplaces? By that name, I mean. At my last job we had someone in charge of “employee engagement,” who coordinated a lot of social activities (but also other things during work, with the expressed purpose of causing people to form emotional bonds so they would act against their own interests, in favor of the company).

        I’m wondering whether I should run screaming in the other direction if I end up somewhere that specifically assigns a committee to organize off-work time social events.

        1. Rye-Ann*

          Eh, I mean, I consider my workplace relatively functional and we have something like that. It’s not called that exact name but something similar. A lot of the things they organize are during work hours, like the events we have during Halloween, but they also organize the Christmas party which is outside of work hours.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          We had a social committee for a while. It could have been good, as I would actually like to hang out with many of my coworkers socially more often and am terrible at taking initiative with this kind of thing, but the whole Official Fun thing kind of killed the spirit and apparently the committee itself was impressively dysfunctional.

        3. KTB*

          I work at a company where the partners have fairly explicitly stated that if we ever come to a point where we feel like we need a social/Fun Committee that we should just burn the whole thing down. Which I appreciate.

          In my experience, “fun” committees are an attempt to add levity to an otherwise dull workplace at best, and at worst they plan stuff like this.

      3. Anonymouse*

        Dear OP,
        Are these the same people who will be doing the Halloween Party and the Christmas Party this year?

  9. Triangle Pose*

    I feel like I read an article once that this might be considered normal in some places. I want to say that in the article (or podcast?) they said that in some large companies in certain Korea, they have matchmakers whose job is to match up single employees to each other for successful marriages. And that company speed dating events, singles happy hours and even match making personality tests were normal and work-sponsored. This had something to do with the work-hours culture, the drink-at-work culture, and something else….

    Does this ring a bell for anyone?

    1. ROK JP Teach*

      Well, as someone living and working in Korea (though certainly not at a company like described), I can confirm these things to be true here from those I’ve talked with. There are certain companies (not all) that will do this, mainly because of the culture of excessive (unpaid) overtime which leaves little to no time for dating, as well as the cultural standard that if you aren’t married with kids by age 30 you’re some amount of a failure and the people around you must save you…
      However, I would consider this something that doesn’t carry over into the western world well if at all, similar to the public bathhouse culture here in Asia… So if OP lives in Asia, sure this could be totally normal, but I don’t see it being so anywhere else…

  10. FDCA In Canada*

    “Hey, Lucinda, what are you doing on Valentine’s Day?”

    “Oh, nothing, Marjorie, just take-out and trashy TV. Don’t you have a dinner planned with Aloysius?”

    “Yeah, but before that, there’s a mixer at my work for single friends of employees! There’s one drink ticket and loads of single weirdos at my job. Why don’t you come? It’ll be fun–you can stand around awkwardly while I introduce you to the guy who Xerox’d his face, the guy who microwaves tuna every morning and burns popcorn every afternoon, the girl who keeps twelve dogs in her two-bedroom house and can’t talk about anything else, and the guy who drinks Listerine at his desk!”

    “Uh, thanks Marjorie, but I think I might have some plans.”

    “But…there’s a drink ticket!”

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

        Either that or people were probably heard around the office…”I’m not going for just one drink” so they upped it to two to get more people to come. This and the post of asking everyone about their workplace romances has been making my day! :-)

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      “and the guy who drinks Listerine at his desk!” pushed me over. This is amazing. Now I wish I were invited to this event just so that I could include this monologue in my normal conversations (although to be fair, I do work with loads of single and non-single weirdos).

    2. Aunt Margie at Work*

      Hey, Jane. Yeah, can you help me with a work thing?
      I guess. What’s up?
      See, we are have a Potluck People Party for Valentine’s Day. I need to bring a single friend to be judged by my coworkers. Don’t worry. They will be drinking, so they will barely notice you. And you get a drink…no, Jane A drink. Dinner? No, I mean, I will buy us an appetizer we can split, but the drinks are on the company. Well, not drinks. A drink. You get this ticket, and you can get like a beer or a well mixer. So, can you like meet me there at 5:30? We’re going straight from work. Text me when you get there. If you don’t see me right away, look for people wearing wristbands. You’ll get one, too. See, so everyone knows you are single…what do you mean I’m cutting out? This is your landline…Jane? Hello…?

    3. Whats In A Name*

      I can’t even stop laughing…”there’s one drink ticket and loads of single weirdos…”

  11. Elle*

    Go to the mixer and take a friend with a good sense of humor. Use your drink tickets then leave to go somewhere else to laugh about the craziness.

    1. Parenthetically*


      I mean honestly, in my head it’s going to look like the spring dance at Napoleon Dynamite High School. So much potential to become an epic tale of awkwardness for the generations.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        This is why OP needs to go and report back. Bards shall sing of this awkwardness to the sons of our sons.

  12. First Time*

    Is this person sure they don’t work for Veridian Dynamics? This is reminding me of an episode of Better Off Ted

    1. Snowglobe*

      OMG, this *was* in an episode of Better Off Ted. Even better, the company matched people based on DNA compatibility, IIRC.

    2. Person of Interest*

      From the Better Off Ted Wikiquote page:

      “So, Veronica, the company wants genetically compatible employees to pair up? Is this the first step in trying to breed someone tall enough to change that light bulb in the lobby?”

  13. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Oh, and the OP later reported to me that they’ve upped it to two drink tickets. I’m enjoying speculating on what triggered that change — like were people saying they’d need to be drunk to find this a good idea? Are they hoping for beer goggles? (But then I guess they’d need more than two tickets.) I really need to know.

        1. Almost the right term*

          I was trying to talk about that to one of my coworkers, except I got the term wrong and called it “pre-balling” which she heard as “free balling” then I forgot what my original point was

          1. Gay Drunk Patriots Fan*

            I can’t with this entire thread anymore. I am dead. This thread has committed homicide against my person. :-)

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think they’re counting on “just north of blackout drunk,” but agreed—you’d need a secret handle of Jameson to make up the difference between 2 drink tickets and “this sounds like a great idea!”

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Just do what I used to do at concerts, and strap on a Camelbak full of booze under a loose-fitting hoodie.

        1. Hlyssande*

          Ohhh, clever! I love that one!

          I have just acquired some of the flat all-plastic flasks of the type that don’t get picked up by metal detectors. For, y’know. Reasons.

          1. Noobtastic*

            FRED brand water comes in a plastic flask, designed to be reused. While other bottled water brands are advertising that they use less plastic, for less land-fill space, FRED is selling plastic flasks, with some water in them.

            I think it’s a brilliant idea, actually. And they’re cheap enough that if you should lose your flask, you’re just out the price of a bottle of water (and whatever was in it).

      2. Marillenbaum*

        This is part of why I finally invested in a flask–that, and the fact that sometimes waiting for concerts means lots of standing relatively still, outside, in the cold. I fully believe in the medicinal powers of what my Uncle Jonas used to call “a wee nip”.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Okay, sign me up. My husband will agree to me being technically single for getting to attend the sheer absurdity of this! 8•P

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Too bad you didn’t know about this early enough to attend! You could have gone undercover as OP’s single friend and done an “on location” blog!

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        YES! Oh my gosh – undercover Alison, liveblogging this sure-to-be disaster of an event. That would be ~amazing~

      1. Noobtastic*

        The tickets are free drinks. You’re still allowed to buy your own, or flirty-eye cadge drinks from the bar (and its patrons).

  14. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Wow, guys, I admit I was wrong. I’ll totally do the cookie decorating waste of time contest (from an AAM letter years ago) over this Michael Scott Valentine’s Day party disaster idea.

    1. Emilia Bedelia*

      Listen, I get that a cookie decorating contest seems like a waste of time at a functional adult workplace… but I’m willing to put up with a lot of time wasting nonsense for free cookies.

      1. Ayshe22992*


        Free cookies…I’m also “willing to put up with a lot of time wasting nonsense for free cookies”

        1. Noobtastic*

          On of my coworkers once set up a mini Darth Vader, with a sign that said, “Come to the Dark Side. We have cookies.” It got a few chuckles, but when she placed a plate of cookies next to it, she had visitors in her cube ALL. Day. Long.

          She kept putting out the cookies, so I reckon that company was her goal. Maybe she was hoping she could convince one of her new “friends” to take over a portion of her project?

          This was the same co-worker who I once overheard saying, “This is going to take significantly more chocolate,” when discussing a particularly troublesome project. The next day – a big bowl full of chocolate bars. They didn’t last the day.

          I find it interesting to note, however, that no matter how many project got piled onto this woman, she was never among the people who A) stayed till all hours working against a deadline or B) got dinged for low productivity. While other coworkers were literally working until they passed out (not hyperbole. I’m talking “Call 911! She hit her head on the way down, and call the janitor to clean up the blood”), she was a productivity star, and always left at 5.

          1. Ayshe22992*

            I work on a giant Tech Campus and we have our own paramedics on site cause so many people work till they pass out. Also I’m stealing “this is going to take significantly more chocolate” <3

  15. Kate the Little Teapot*

    Is anyone else wondering if they’re having problems with coworkers dating other coworkers and causing drama, so somebody thought outside the box in a way that seemed logical to them but in fact is HORRIFYINGLY FUNNY?

    1. Zombii*

      Yeah, I don’t understand the LW thinking the company wants them to date each other when the entrance fee is one single friend.

      It seems like the social committee started planning this fun Valentines party, but then someone said “Wait, what if some of the employees get drunk and hook up?” and someone else said “You’re right, that might be awkward. Oh, I know! Let’s have everyone bring a single friend, then if anyone gets drunk and hooks up there’s like a 50% chance it won’t be with a coworker, which will make the situation not awkward (somehow).”

      1. Noobtastic*

        Actually, I believe that is exactly what happened. They probably had to deal with too much fall-out from inter-office dating, but wanted to maintain a high ratio of “happily attached” employees, on the belief that people who are regularly having sex will be better performers at work.

        This is exactly the sort of “logic” that some bosses actually have.

  16. Tex*

    I think a VP recently became single and wants to find a date.

    Seriously, though, it would have been a good idea if they toned it down and had a no-pressure happy hour for employees who don’t have Valentine’s Day plans. And invite your friends who also don’t have plans – the more, the merrier.

    Eagerly awaiting the end of week report.

    1. Jess*

      “I think a VP recently became single and wants to find a date”

      This, combined with Alison’s obviously you must go, is making this my favourite thread in quite some time.

  17. Anonymouse*

    This event is being offered at an off-company location.
    The color coded nametags (which obviously can be found in the office supply room) can be given to everyone at the bar.
    The drink tickets will not have holograms or security threads. Let’s all say “color copier” together.
    Unless the drinks are specified in fine print in a legally binding, signed by both parties, contract, expensive scotch and champagne are advised.
    Don’t look at this as an awkward Valentine’s Day promotion, look at this as a memorable occasion, they will never ever repeat again.

      1. ZeDirector*

        “In fact, we’ll make sure we force HR to create an addendum in our corporate policy manual expressly forbidding these events!”

        1. Noobtastic*

          And at this point in the thread, I literally changed my mind from getting up for some popcorn, and decided to consume a snack with less potential to choke me.

          But, yes, this thread just calls out for a “theater snack.”

  18. Joe in Frederick*

    Alison’s right, you should absolutely go to this thing that shouldn’t happen. We need details, for all the wrong reasons.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      LOL I am imagining the future AAM letter from the significant other of the person who says this. “My wife’s job is making her go to a dating event! Can I email an angry letter to her boss?”

        1. Artemesia*

          It has never crossed my mind to be concerned when my husband does something with a woman colleague or gets together with a female friend — but this one would skeeve me.

  19. Amber Rose*

    So I had this coworker who was working part time as a stripper and handed out business cards to all of us.

    And I actually think this party may be more awkward.

    Please go and write a follow up.

      1. Noobtastic*

        I once mistook a male stripper for an actual police officer. He was “in uniform” at the gas station.

        Funniest part was when I made *him* blush.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      There was a girl at OldJob (the one I told stories about in the open thread) who had a side gig as a stripper. She had business cards and flyers up at her desk advertising the twitter account she ran under her stripper name. That contained topless photos. And was connected to her real name. Because of the nature of the industry, HR had to terminate her.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Our dude resigned to go back to school. I guess the stripping was to help pay tuition. Absolutely nobody here cared, which is kind of nice but still kind of uncomfortable.

        In fact, he’s in today hanging out in the shop. Nice kid. I like him. I would rather drink anti-freeze than watch him strip though.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Didn’t they tell Gina she should limit how she shares information about her dance troupe’s performances??


    2. Can't Sit Still*

      You’ve reminded me of the time an executive sent out an email urging all of us to watch, and vote on, his daughter’s pole dancing competition. I hadn’t realized that professional pole dancing was a thing until then, much less competitive pole dancing. He sent links to her previous performances, but we couldn’t look at them on our work computers, because they were blocked due to being NSFW.

      That job had an amazing amount of WTFery, but they still never planned anything like this party. But if they had, they would have definitely had an open bar.

    1. Emi.*

      I’m a skinny lady, and I would demand at least three drinks for this. Even if it were the week before my period.

  20. Allison*

    It doesn’t necessarily sound like they’re trying to encourage inter-office romances, but rather they’re trying to arrange an opportunity for the single people in the office to find partners, by asking employees to provide suitors for each other. Although I wonder if they’d have a problem with one person’s guest going home with someone else’s guest . . .

    Either way, blegh. If I were single, this would feel like my employer trying to help me find a man. As I’m not, it would feel like they wanted me to bring someone for my coworkers to woo. Gross, no thank you.

    1. Alton*

      I was thinking the same thing, which makes me wonder what the appeal is for employees who are already in relationships. How many people want to go to a Valentine’s party without their SO just so they can watch their friend hook up with one of their coworkers (or one of their coworker’s friends)?

      1. Allison*

        The appeal is that they’ll help their lonely single friends find someone! Because obviously, if someone is single, they need some help finding love, or they’ll be doomed to a life of misery.

        1. Brandy*

          This makes it feel like they think its wrong to be single. Like theres something wrong with you. My office better not judge me like that.

          1. Allison*

            Yes, exactly, that’s the problem! I hate when people I barely know think it’s their duty to help me find a husband. When I am single, it’s not a problem, no one needs to help me fix it. But noooo, these condescending adults either don’t think I’m a real adult yet because I don’t have ring, house, and babies yet, or they just love being married sooooo much they can’t understand how single people could possibly be happy or feel fulfilled without that special someone.

            1. Tex*

              It may not be the “older” crowd pushing this. I can easily imagine this event being put together by a newly minted, gung-ho HR Rep in charge of bringing up employee morale and team building events.

          2. Zombii*

            Of course they think there’s something wrong with you. Many, many people will think there’s something wrong with you if you didn’t finish college on time, or get married “on time,” or have kids “on time,” or otherwise managed to not conform to their expectation of how everyone is supposed to live. (Ask me how I know.)

            However, none of that is your problem, or your responsibility to solve. Different people have different priorities, that’s how people work. :)

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        As a connoisseur of awkwardness, I’d ditch my wife in a second.

        For science!

  21. babblemouth*

    As an introvert, I could only survive a party like this by going ironically, and with a hip flask to complement the drink ticket.

    1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Make sure they also have black tags, then, for those going ironically. You can’t possibly be the only one.

  22. Liz2*

    Who wants to deal with the hassle of going out on Vday unless it’s for a super special dinner date? Bah!

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      My wife and I have decided that instead of having a long, romantic dinner where we get really full and drunk, then going home and having sexy times, we go home have long, romantic sexy times, then order pizza and get full and drunk. Not a single damned regret.

  23. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    Lookin’ for love in all the workplaces/lookin’ for luuuuve

        1. Emi.*

          I definitely heard this in Lana Del Rey’s voice, which adds to the “dear heavens, not at work” vibe.

  24. KP84*

    Ah, Valentine’s Day – where couples are forced to buy each other expensive gifts or else risk sleeping on the couch, where restaurants jack up the prices and cram a hundred tables into a room meant for 30, and where singles are constantly reminded they have no one but their cats…

    Let’s add an awkward party where single coworkers and their friends are encouraged to drink, mix and mingle. Nothing more fun than waking up on the 15th to learn your best friend Joan hooked up with that jerk Chad from accounting or your boss who is totally married.

    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      As I said above, I’m a connoisseur of awkwardness, and I’d pay my last dollar just to sit with a beer and watch this madness.

    2. Zombii*

      Ugh, of course she would hook up with Chad. That is so Chad.

      Can we at least congratulate the company for having the sense to not make this event mandatory? I was reading the whole letter waiting for that part, but it didn’t happen, so there’s that at least.

    3. Erin*

      My husband and I went out for a great date night. Had great service, great food and no crowds! Super Bowl Sunday definitely beats Valentine’s Day for romantic dates. Timed it right before the game. Only 6 other people in the restaurant.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        We found a dirt cheap rate for an overnight in a waterpark that Sunday. Took the kids and had a blast. One of the best vacation for me since we had the kids.

    4. The Expendable Redshirt*

      I’d pick an evening with my cats over this train wreck!

      The cats and I can even drink wine together. Catnip “wine” is apparently a thing.

  25. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Ha! Oh no no no. I mean, I’d love if you go and report back. But seriously – no.

    I’m sure it’s the brainchild of the social committee with all the best intentions but this is something I’d stay far away from at work. Plus it’s just … awkward. How the heck do you know what the single people are looking for? All sorts of relationships exist and. just. awkward.

  26. NotMyRealName*

    I think I’ll stick with our company’s plan. The President just came around with a tray of fancy rice crispy treats that his wife and kids made for us.

    1. jenniferthebillionth*

      I second this. My co-worker made a big chocolate raspberry cake for our department. Fancy sweets for all, awkwardness for nobody.

    2. chomps*

      My office catered delicious fancy espressos and delicious donuts for us this morning. Did I mention it was delicious?

    3. Kyrielle*

      Our office did nothing at all special today. Which is awesome compared to the train-wreck of the LW’s office! I’m totally good with nothing-in-particular. It’s Tuesday. Tuesday is good. Tuesday without awkward frat-level dating setups is *awesome*.

      1. Workaholic*

        My team had a paper bag decorating party last Friday for those who wanted to. And today those who wanted brought Valentine’s and candy to fill the bags. Or leave in a pile in the middle of the desk for those who didn’t have a special container.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      That’s excellent! One of my colleagues brought in a dozen donuts from a local shop in a variety of flavors. We’re a small team, so she had an idea of what everybody more or less liked, and it was delightful.

  27. MashaKasha*

    I cannot begin to imagine how the invitation to the one single friend should be worded. “Hey, our management wanted us each to bring one single friend to a Valentine’s mixer and I immediately thought of you…” There’s really no way to say it without making the friend wonder if they do come across as someone simultaneously desperate to find a partner and utterly uncapable of finding said partner anywhere. Which is the opposite of how any single person wants to come across (or is in reality).

  28. Jenna*

    The masking of the actual details with The Office references is super appropriate because when I read this post, I imagined, “Hi, I’m date Mike. Nice to meet me.” *cringe*

  29. anoning*

    I think this idea is pretty weird, but how would they even deal with people who don’t identify as straight? OP didn’t mention it, but as a queer lady, I usually assume most of these quirky dating events are for straight people…..because they usually are.

    I can think of at least half a dozen issues with this just basing it on sexuality alone.

    1. Felicia*

      That was also my initial thought as a queer lady, but that’s just one of the bazillion problems with this.

  30. Artemesia*

    Actually the idea seems kind of nice — but NOT as a workplace event. The idea of a married person having to bring a single person to a mixer like this — what could possibly go wrong. LOL.

  31. Artemesia*

    It hadn’t occurred to me when I first read it but it not only has to be a single person, but a single person who doesn’t already have a date for Valentine’s day. So a sort of loserama (given the underlying assumption of this whole deal that people must be paired) And then of course there is the awkwardness of such a workplace event in a diverse environment when not everyone is straight and single people may not be interested in dating for whatever personal reasons. Mixers are a good thing. There are all sorts of meetup groups designed to introduce single people looking for potential partners — but NOT in a workplace.

  32. Drew*

    It could be worse. A lot worse. It could be speed dating. “OK, red people, get over here with your scorecards. Green people, you’ll be our roving band of singles. Yellow people, you’ll be tagging out on both teams as you see fit. People who took all the highlighters to give themselves rainbow badges, just do whatever you do at parties, I guess. OK, annnnnnnnd, BREAK!”

  33. Anne O Nymous*

    Office sent out an email about a game where we look for our other half in the office. We get half of a heart with a number on it, and we’re supposed to search the office for the person holding the other half of the heart with the same number. During our search, we’re supposed to hug every participant we meet and sign their heart.

  34. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    I get that it’s the office social committee that’s putting this together, but who the hell is on the social committee? Is it creepo guys looking for dates, or is it older grandma types that just want everybody to fall in Giant Disney love?

  35. Ayshe22992*

    My office didn’t go quite that far but I was not amused by the idea of Valentines Day fun they had

    Most of the other departments just said to wear reds or pinks. My department and the one that sits next to us decided that the color you wear should depend on your relationship status!!! Red for married, blue for single, green for not interested, white for I have plans but not with anyone official, and so on and so forth.

    I personally was put off by it and most of my coworkers didn’t see why. I kept saying, my relationship status is of no consequence to anyone in the office and I certainly don’t want people knowing I’m single and thinking it means they can hit on me or ask me out!!!

    My solution was to wear all black and gray. Not a single thread of color!! The good news is that I was not the only one who boycotted the “game” by wearing black and gray.

  36. JM60*

    This is a bad idea for so many reasons. Such an event would be particularly awkward for a guy like me, a single gay guy who hates parties. I couldn’t imaging being pressured to go to an event like this because my employer was stupid enough to do answering like this.

  37. Bailey*

    I went through the comments and I feel like only one person mentioned that this is an Office reference. It’s from episode called Blood Drive, Season 5 Episode 18. In the episode the mixer is in the conference room, but Poor Richards is the bar they all go to in the series.

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