ho ho no … real-life holiday workplace debacles

We have now officially entered the season of mandatory workplace merriment, inappropriate gifts from coworkers, and office holiday party debacles!

There’s nothing like cubicles mingled with carols to bring out the weird – and at this time of year, my inbox overflows with glorious accounts of work holiday celebrations gone awry. At Slate today, I presented some of my favorites — including the drunk Santa, the boss who doesn’t quite understand Hanukkah, and the most epic post-holiday email ever. You can read it here.

{ 346 comments… read them below }

  1. CatCat*

    Hanukkah balls really just is the gift that keeps on giving every year.

    It just kills me every time I read it.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      It’s really the “Savannah’s First Christmas” stuff that makes me gape in astonishment (and glee).

      1. Marthooh*

        Like Savannah’s never even heard of Christmas! And of course she wants to celebrate it, because of course!

        1. Jadelyn*

          That was what got me – the “educating”, like, you pretty much can’t grow up in this culture without absorbing the basics by osmosis. Not celebrating Christmas doesn’t mean you know absolutely nothing about Christmas.

          1. Ann*

            Yeah, but there are christian cultures and countries that do not do the trees, santa or stockings stuff because it’s actually originally European. They have other long standing and deep rooted traditions (and climatic conditions that favour them), so this isn’t just patronising to non-christians, it’s patronising to non-western christians, too.

            1. Pandop*

              Conversely, there are places that do not celebrate Christmas as part of their culture, but go all out with Western style decorations (eg Dubai, Japan), so as Jadelyn said, it’s hardly some obscure festival either.

      2. kittymommy*

        The Savannah one gets me every. single. time. She’s not an infant. She’s been around Christmas. She just doesn’t do it. And no amount of pushing will make this Savannah’s First Christmas either.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yes, I love that the boss somehow came to the conclusion that Savannah had never celebrated Christmas because she wasn’t aware of it, and not because she chose not to.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Or, like she was a neglected child whose parents didn’t have the means to celebrate Christmas.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        I never fail to cringe at that one. It’s so blindingly tone-deaf and patronizing.

        It’s also one of those situations where the boss is often given a pass because she “means well” or is “just trying to be inclusive” when the right response is more along the lines of, “She did what now? Oh, hell, no!”

      1. Polaris*

        I would also like to know if there was a final update after she confronted her boss with Allison’s suggested phrasing.

    2. mr. brightside*

      Just yesterday I saw Chanuka-themed Christmas tree ornaments. My jaw is still on the floor, but also I can’t say I’m too surprised.

      1. Heynonnyanonanon*

        Ooh, now I want all the ornaments. Krishna and Ganesh. Buddha in the lotus. Blank white non-representative ornaments not representing the Islamic god and prophets.

        Failing that, can I at least have a tree topper of my very own Odin hanging on the world tree Yggdrasil?

        1. fposte*

          I love the story of a college friend, who converted to Judaism, and whose loving but slightly ditzy mother went to the temple to buy my friend a menorah for Christmas.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I mean, I’d say that you’re allowed to buy people Christmas gifts as long as *you* celebrate Christmas, and at least the menorah is something I’d assume your friend wanted/needed. But yeah, kinda tone deaf there.

            1. queenbeemimi*

              Hard disagree, actually! Giving people gifts for holidays you celebrate and they don’t may seem nice and caring and harmless, but it can work to further oppression by imposing your beliefs and traditions on them without asking. Some people may be cool with it, but others won’t be. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, are not supposed to observe holidays in this way at all, and it could be really upsetting to them to inadvertently get roped into a Christmas gift situation by a well-meaning acquaintance.

        2. Admin of Sys*

          I had a friend who modified one of the ‘father christmas’ tree toppers (old white bearded man in fur lined robes) by putting an eyepatch on him and gluing two ravens to his shoulders.

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            I now have my crafts assignment for this holiday season. Thank you. This is fantastic.

            Off to find a father christmas tree topper. The eyepatch and appropriately scaled ravens will be next.

        3. Slartibartfast*

          I have some clear glass ornaments. They look like soap bubbles because my SO puts so many lights on the tree, we attract air traffic

        4. Traffic_Spiral*

          Well, maybe the tree-hanging isn’t specifically associated with Yule, but Odin is. So since pretty much all our Christmas traditions other than the Nativity come from Yule, and Odin *is* the Yule-father, that’s actually thematically and traditionally appropriate.

      2. LKW*

        Well there are families with parents from both religions that put up Christmas trees, so I’m not surprised.

        I’m still astounded when people don’t “get” that in Jewish households we don’t put up a tree, stockings, all the trappings of a holiday that contradicts the basic tenant of the religion.

        1. Arielle*

          This blows my mind every year I’m alive. We do nothing for Christmas. Because we are not Christian. We may have Christmas Day traditions, but that is only because everywhere is closed except movie theaters and Chinese restaurants. I would just as soon go to work and take the holiday when it’s nice outside.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I think a lot of it is ignorance, but a lot of it is that there are people who celebrate Christmas who aren’t Christian, and there are non-observant Jews, and then you throw in Jews for Jesus and multi-religion families who celebrate Christmukkah, and it’s no wonder some people jump to odd assumptions about Jewish people having Christmas traditions.

            1. Ellex*

              There can be quite a lot of crossover and variance when it comes to holidays, but a sad number of people seem to put blinders on regarding them. Just because I rhapsodize about the superior quality of a kosher turkey and talk about the Traditional [my family name] No-Stress Takeout Christmas (in which we all order our favorite takeout food and share), doesn’t mean I’m Jewish. Or Christian.

              1. CM*

                Ooh, I’m going to steal that takeout idea for some non-holiday occasion! No-Stress Takeout Potluck sounds perfect.

            2. Oaktree*

              This isn’t really the point, but Jews for Jesus isn’t, like, an alternative kind of Jewish-Christian fusion. It’s a missionary group that tries to convert Jews away from Christianity using very underhanded and appropriative tactics. It’s hugely offensive and most real Jews loathe them. That J4J have managed to sucker some actual Jews into converting to Christianity under their dubious auspices doesn’t change that.

              1. Oaktree*

                Sorry, where I said “convert Jews away from Christianity” I meant “convert to Christianity.” Oops.

          2. stump*

            I think a good chunk of it is the fact that Christianity as a whole is assimilationist as heck; on the bad end is the whole “gotta convert everybody” thing that everybody knows, but at the other end is the “Man, I appreciate people sharing their traditions with me. I’m gonna share my traditions with everybody! I’m gonna be SO. WELCOMING. IT’S GONNA BE GREAT!” Which, okay, yeah, great hypothetically, but when combined with ignorance, tone deafness, general dingdonginess, etc, you get ~SAVANNAH’S FIRST CHRISTMAS!!!! HANUKKAH BALLS, Y’ALL!~. Hell, I don’t even know how many Christians that are normally otherwise not dingdongy about that kind of stuff and are knowledgeable and accepting of other religions and cultures that kinda lose their minds on the whole Christmas thing and just Do Not Get that many non-Christians, especially people who grew up with another religion, aren’t culturally Christian, or otherwise don’t have ties to Christianity or Christmas, just want Absolutely Nothing to do with Christmas and aren’t missing out on anything by not celebrating Christmas. In their minds, they’re just being Accepting and Welcoming and Sharing. Not Christian, you say? Well, Christmas is like, 90% secular these days! And Yuke trees are like, Pagan and stuff, not Christian! Never mind that “Christ” is in the name, is still culturally Christian, any Paganness/Paganinity/whatevs has been obliterated by the Christian bits, and at its core, it’s still a Christian holiday. They’re going to Welcome you no matter you want it or not!

            It’s not as bad as the “OH EM GEE WAR ON CHRISTMAS” crowd, but the “I WANT TO SHARE CHRISTMAS JOY WITH ALL (and will choose to be oblivious when I’m rebuffed)!” crowd is still tiring as heck. :/

            1. Beaded Librarian*

              It’s crazy and don’t get me started on “The War on Christmas” my parents are pastors and it drives them nuts. They very deliberately only say Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day because while it’s the Christmas Season during Advent that’s not Christmas. They are also aware enough to know if it’s better to not say Merry Christmas.

              I wish more pastors were like that and would make a point of educating their congregations and holding them accountable.

              1. Carrie*

                A few years ago I was in line at Macy’s and the checkout person said “Happy Holidays” to the woman in front of me. Said woman sighed, rolled her eyes, picked her crucifix up a little and said, “I’d think it would be obvious that it’s OK to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me.”

                The checkout person said, “Oh, so Christmas is the only holiday you’re celebrating this year?”

                Affronted, the woman said, “Of course!”

                Whereupon the checkout person smiled and cheerfully told her, “Well then, merry Christmas and I hope your New Year sucks! Next?”

                I don’t know what happened, but I desperately hope that checkout person didn’t get fired…

                1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  Not to mention Advent, St. Stephen’s Day, St. Lucy’s Day (with that beautiful but tricky crown of candles), the Holy Innocents and, well, she’s Catholic, I’d also expect she’d honor the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, no?

                  I really, really do not like this “Happy Holidays Is For Godless Heathens!” b.s.

              2. Clisby Williams*

                Actually, it’s not the Christmas season during Advent. The Christmas season begins on Christmas Day, and goes through Jan. 5. Next up: Epiphany.

                1. Beaded Librarian*

                  You’re right I was thinking Advent Season but was typing Christmas so many times I tripped myself up. Thanks.

            2. Works in IT*

              My utterly non religious family only celebrates Christmas BECAUSE it’s assimilationist as heck. It’s so assimilationist we use it as our generic holiday in which we get time off on the same day every year to exchange gifts and watch the cat try to climb the tree, and decorate with the handmade ornaments my (more religious than us, by a lot) great grandmother handmade.

              Basically it’s an excuse for our non religious family to get out the family heirloom religious holiday decorations.

            3. Silamy*

              I’ve got a friend who’s usually very good about this sort of thing. He was raised as a secular Christian and got religious in high school. I’m Jewish. Our first conversation wound up turning into an in-depth Talmudic discussion. The guy’s a fundamentalist in the best way possible -the kind that believes you actually need to know and understand the fundamentals and the context in which they happened. He’s been at my place or in shul with me for most holidays of the last year (at his request). He still asked me what I was doing for Christmas this year and how I’d be celebrating it. It was a genuine question.

            4. Kelsi*

              Yeah, like, I was raised secular-Christian (I mean, nonreligious but as part of the larger Christian-based culture, celebrating Christmas Easter etc.) and now consider myself atheist, but I still catch MYSELF trying to assimilate friends into my Christmas traditions. I try to be aware and keep it in check, but my brain has a really hard time grasping that there are plenty of people who don’t celebrate any religious-based winter holidays, and also that even as a religious-based winter holiday, Hanukkah is not at all as major in the Jewish calendar as Christmas in the Christian one.

              I also have a food metaphor: I’m a bit of a picky eater (not by choice, my brain is just convinced a lot of things Taste Like Poison And Will Definitely Kill Us If We Don’t Spit Them Out). I can’t tell you how many times a dish has contained something I dislike, and people I know and trust aren’t trying to be jerks say “Oh, you can’t even taste [ingredient] in here!” What they actually mean is: I don’t dislike this thing, so it’s not noticeable to me over the other flavors. Trust me, I can taste it!

              I feel it’s a bit the same with Christmas traditions: to those of us who are from Christian-ish backgrounds, a lot of it feels secular, because we don’t think of it as inherently religious…but we’re not actually great judges of that because we can’t “taste” it!

              Actually secular thing: snowball fights. Let’s all just have winter holiday snowball fights.

              1. Ms. Alex*

                I have the same reaction to coffee anything. “You can’t taste the coffee.” Yes, yes I can. :-D

          3. SavannahMiranda*

            That seems to me to speak of how deeply non-religious Christmas has actually become. It’s a holiday of joy, cheer, and possessions, and really has very little to do anymore with the nativity cycle. Except as a kind of glossed over cover story.

            I don’t necessarily have an issue with that. Some folks keep the nativity story front and center in their family life for Christmas. Others ignore it completely. It all depends on how a household chooses to handle it. By and large as a society though, Christmas really has snot all to do with religion anymore.

            Which I can see playing in to someone being amazed others don’t celebrate it. Like, yeah I know you’re a different religion, but it’s Christmas, what does that have to do with it. /s

      3. IDeas*

        When I (raised Jewish) was married to a Catholic person, we had a small tree hung with stars, silver spheres, and dreidels hung with wire from a hole drilled in the stem. It made us both feel comfortable.

        1. hermit crab*

          Yeah, we occasionally do things like that in our mixed-background-but-mostly-secular-in-practice household. It amuses us. Then again, I also bought myself a “Menorasaurus Rex” tshirt the other day so that should tell you something about my level of religious observance.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        That actually doesn’t surprise me. I’ve known a number of families that celebrate both holidays, and I went to college with someone who was Jewish but loved secular Christmas – specifically the trees and Santa.

      5. Vicky Austin*

        Some Jewish people decorate a Chanukah bush. It’s a small evergreen tree decorated with blue and white lights (the colors of Israel’s flag are blue and white, so they are often used for Jewish events/groups) and ornaments such as the ones you saw.

        1. Hola!*

          I have an old friend from high school who does a 10 foot tall Hanukkah bush and also opens her Hanukkah presents all at once on December 25.

          We lived in a *very* Jewish neighborhood where us Christmas celebrating folk were the odd ones out.

          People do things that aren’t necessarily consistent.

        2. Holly*

          That’s not a Jewish tradition – that’s something rather new for families who don’t want to be “left out” by not having a Christmas tree (which is fine by me, I just want to clarify it is not a by the book Jewish tradition)

      6. Ralkana*

        My friend just yesterday sent me a picture of a stuffed Daschund in a blue sweater with menorahs, also inexplicably wearing what is obviously a Santa hat, but blue instead of red. SOCLOSE!

      7. PollyQ*

        I’m the child of a religiously mixed marriage, and we do have Hannukah ornaments on our Christmas tree. Works for us!

      8. Iain C*

        I totally misread that as “my jew dropped”, and it still worked! (As my “my inner jewish person was dropped to the floor with shock”)

      9. JustaTech*

        For many years the *only* ornaments I owned were Hanukkah-themed ornaments. They were a gift from my lovely Jewish in-laws the year I wasn’t able to go home to my parents for Christmas. I was very upset, so my in-laws came up and we got a teeny-tiny tree and put up Hanukkah ornaments and ate roast beef.

        My MIL was terribly excited because a Christmas tree is basically a giant tchotchke display, and she loves decorative things.

    3. Bryce*

      My usual candle hookup didn’t carry them this year (I don’t know whether they decided that foot of shelf width would be better spent on more Christmas stuff or if the guy in charge of ordering stock was caught off guard by it starting so early this year and missed a ship date) so I actually eyed some light up ornaments as a Hanukkah Balls alternative. Decided to go elsewhere instead.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          “If I have to confront you, you could lose your job. ”

          And then he tells them to apologize for “what their spouse did or said”.

          That would not go well with me. Especially if it was one of those “spouse attendance is mandatory” holiday parties that I keep reading on AAM about. Either way, I feel there’s something deeply wrong about forcing people to apologize for the actions of another adult, or be fired.

          1. WellRed*

            I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an employee to apologize if their spouse say, vomits on Suzy from marketing. The spouse should apologize too, but that may not happen and then Suzy gets no apology.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                I think Racial Slurs, groping someone else’s wife, and other behaviors on that level deserve an “you will apologize or be fired” demand, personally.

                1. Rumbakalao*

                  I’m inclined to agree, Traffic_Spiral. Out of context it’s a very odd ask, but if that kind of nonsense was going down I wouldn’t think it that unreasonable to address. Just maybe with a bit more finesse.

            1. Antilles*

              Yeah, that’s my thought too. It’s more about making sure there’s at least SOME acknowledgment and regret about the issue. It’s an “I’m sorry that happened”, not an “I’m sorry because it’s my fault”.

          2. Brett*

            In the original thread, the OP said that line was referring to an employee’s spouse calling the boss’s son-in-law the N-word.
            (It doesn’t sound like spouse attendance was mandatory either, just that the party was lavish enough, with free booze, that lots of spouses attended.)

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*


              I admit, as someone who was married to a person with a drinking problem, my mind immediately painted a picture of my boss forcing me to send out a mass email like “I am deeply sorry that my spouse did that thing he always does, that I have, over all these years, been unable to stop him from doing, no matter how hard I’ve tried, and that really wish he would not do. How can I make it up to all of you, since his drinking problem is clearly my fault?” But I see now that it was not necessarily exactly like I imagined.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                Still, wouldn’t it be on you not to bring him if you knew he wouldn’t behave? Just claim he’s sick (hey, alcoholism is an illness) and can’t make it.

          1. hermit crab*

            I’m suddenly a bit sad that I no longer have to chase people down for past-due progress reports. That would have been the perfect opportunity!

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Followed closely by, essentially, “You know what you did! I’m not telling you, but you know!”

    1. Memily*

      I actually think he started out well! He Ben apologized for his own behavior.

      But he should have just left it alone instead of requiring apologies. It quickly descended from reasonable to unreasonable right there at the end!

      1. fposte*

        I was fascinated to see several comments on Slate by people who seem genuinely puzzled at the notion that people should control themselves in the face of an open bar.

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          Oy I read things like that and say to myself “and THAT’S why we still have so many problems with this kind of crap in workplace settings..” so unfortunate.

        2. Myrin*

          I see a bright future ahead of those commenters where they, too, get to fuse their secondary sex organs with random metal railings.

              1. Jadelyn*

                My brain just blue-screened at the number of wildly inappropriate responses involving blowing on things that popped into my head. And the worst part is, I’m sure you’re right. *facepalm*

                1. Maolin*

                  I’m adding “my brain just blue-screened” to my personal vernacular – such brilliant imagery. Particularly given that I work in IT.

          1. Phoenix Wright*

            “fuse their secondary sex organs with random metal railings”

            If this isn’t the name of an existing post-rock album or song, someone should totally make it happen.

            1. Audiophile*

              Anyone know a member of Panic at the Disco or Fall Out Boy? They’d totally use it as a song title.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          If you were raised like I was (in a practically teetotaling family), and hosting a party, you would think, open bar, no big deal. You would assume adults would act civilized at a more formal business party. If you grew up like my husband, who was raised my hillbilly, hard-partying inlaws, you would think twice about having an open bar. They assume you drink till it is gone. When I was 18, I worked with my now-husband and my mom, and let’s just say that first work Christmas party was a nightmare.

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Haha, did we marry into the same family? My parents rarely drank and when they did it was a special occasion. A second drink was very unusual! My in-laws think happy hour ends at “last man standing.” We only had beer, wine and champagne at our own wedding to avoid too much over-indulging by that side of the family.

        4. Traffic_Spiral*

          One of the things I am deeply proud of my law school for was that they actively included corporate drinking in the curriculum. The orientation started with “so we’re going to have lots of open bar events during your time here, and we expect you to behave,” and they always had staff patrolling the events reminding people to behave. Seriously, I think it was literally the only useful thing are career services office did.

          Basically they figured that we were all idiot college students used to getting smashed, and that we were going to need lots of hands-on practice learning to get “business drunk” under supervision.

      2. Myrin*

        I’m glad to hear that – whenever I read that story/the email itself, I always think to myself how I actually really like it apart from the weird “confrontation”/”you know who you are and I want you to come forward or else…” issue, but I thought I was the only one!

        1. Esme Squalor*

          Apparently someone called the president’s son-in-law the n-word, and that particular line is fully directed at that person, sooo I get it, tbh. Frankly, I’d just go ahead and fire the person who said that, so giving him the opportunity to apologize seems like going above and beyond.

        2. Jadelyn*

          It starts off amusing but relatable-ish – yes, take responsibility, man it sounds like stuff went wild! – and then takes a hard left turn into crazytown about halfway through.

      3. Bulbasaur*

        Haha. ‘Apologized.’

        “I’m not happy with you lot! You all behaved really inappropriately! You need to apologize! Oh, and I might have had a bit to drink too, and *cough* got in a fight with a guy, and that wasn’t cool either, and I’m sorry about that. But in my defense, he was being a real jerk! And none of you did anything about it! I’m not happy with you about that either! If one of you had just jumped in and punched him out, then I wouldn’t have had to do it! That would have been cool. Except, well, not cool, of course, because we don’t condone that kind of behavior, and I’d have been requiring you to apologize (by Wednesday, if you please) and might have had to fire you. But it would have made this e-mail so much easier to write! Seriously, why wasn’t anyone thinking of my feelings in all this?”

        1. Sevigny*

          To put forth a consequence for others (possibly being fired) when he was breaking the same rules? Total hypocrite.

    2. pleaset*

      It’s work, and if the behavior was extremely egregious, I can see it being required or the person being fired.

      But I think he should have told those people specifically – otherwise some people who were just a little bad might take it as an order and it might not have applied to them.

    3. Brett*

      The boss did not actually end up firing anyway, even though it sounds like he would have been pretty justified in doing that.
      The email came across a little weird, but he was really making it very clear that some people needed to make an effort to save their jobs because of how badly things went.
      (And he did lead off by making the first apology himself and calling out his own bad behavior.)

      1. Karen from Finance*

        By the sound of it, if he fired anyone then he should also resign. He was in charge of this whole mess, after all.

      2. fposte*

        Yeah, it was the complexity that makes it so interesting. But also–hey there! Haven’t seen you around here much and hope you’re doing well.

    4. Cat*

      I love that one. It reminds me of the Greenzo episode of Thirty Rock where Kenneth’s Halloween party went awry and they all got a hungover dressing down the next day.

  2. Rivakonneva*

    I had forgotten about the frozen flasher. I had to clap both hands over my mouth to muffle the howl of laughter when I found that letter. :)

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      Out of all of those stories, frozen breast-ticles was my favorite.

      Poor woman. She was probably mortified the next day.

      1. paralegal beagle*

        Hahaha -“breast-ticles”! I’m crying!!

        I had to read that story three times because I couldn’t actually believe I read it properly.

        1. Jadelyn*

          The mental image of the assistants *blowing on it* to help her detach is stuck permanently in my head now…

      2. Blue*

        I genuinely don’t know how she came back to work and kept seeing those people everyday. The secondhand embarrassment alone is excruciating.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I’ve always felt sorry for her. I have the impression that life is not kind to her. I hope she recovered from the fall off the wagon.

    1. The Tin Man*

      Also I think my favorite of the crazy party was “And I accidentally walked in on the sales director peeing in the unlocked hallway bathroom (which I thought was the coat closet; we were both surprised).” I think because it was an unfortunate result of an honest mistake. Or maybe two honest mistakes, assuming the sales director forgot to lock the door.

      1. Blue*

        That’s pretty much the most normal thing that happened at that party, honestly. (I also misread the sentence at first glance and interpreted it as, “I accidentally walked in on the sales director peeing in the coat closet,” which was waaaay more alarming.)

        1. Wintermute*

          That’s howw I read it, accidentally walking into an occupied bathroom is a thing that happens at parties all the time. It would only be noteworthy if it was a place you’re NOT supposed to be peeing.

          1. Phoenix Wright*

            Yep, had to read it a few times to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. That’s awkward, sure, but it’s an honest mistake. Don’t feel bad about it!

          2. SophieChotek*

            Yes I read it that way too – peeing in the hallway closet…which considering everything else that had happened at that party, seemed quite possible

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Ohhh I misread that as the sales director was peeing in a closet. LOL at least that didn’t happen!

  3. Amber Rose*

    Our party is in three weeks. I’m looking forward to sharing my pain/amusement with all of you as I have the last couple years. :D

    Not sure what can top stripper dances on chairs and a drunk coworker wandering the halls of the hotel in his underwear, but hey, we have many more staff this year.

    1. Joie De Vivre*

      I don’t believe I’ve seen your past holiday party posts. If you can find them quickly, can you post the links?

        1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          OMG, the chair dancing to Pony! I remember laughing hysterically over that last year. :D

    2. Antilles*

      Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
      This happens every years? How does this happen more than once?
      I could understand if one time everybody got a little out of hand and there was some crazy stories…but the next year, wouldn’t you all have quiet thoughts about “I better watch it and not do *that* again after last year” or “okay guys, just a reminder for the office party, let’s make sure nobody ‘pulls a Matt’ and makes himself a laughingstock”.
      (Also, I would love to see that sum-up of the past insanity)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I guess it’s because it’s instigated by my boss. There’s no real reason for anyone to behave themselves.

  4. Myrin*

    I’m quite sure I already commented on this when it was brought up in another highlights post but for some reason, nothing will ever be funnier to me than “(which I thought was the coat closet; we were both surprised)”; I’m giggling wildly yet again.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    I cannot be the only one who wonders if the president from the last one actually ended up confronting people.

  6. anon today and tomorrow*

    The Hanukkah story always reminds me of several past companies where coworkers insisted that me eating a baked good at a “holiday” party meant I really did celebrate Christmas, and was obviously lying about not celebrating for some inane reason. And they wondered why I would roll my eyes when they insisted their party decked out in red and green and Christmas themes was really a “secular holiday party”. I don’t care that people celebrate, but I do care when they try to insist I have to celebrate because otherwise I must be living a sad, lonely life.

    1. WellRed*

      The worst thing about this comment is that it was more than one company treating you that way. It’s so…aggressively unkind.

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        I just happened to have many different coworkers at many different companies who were very, very in love with Christmas and didn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to celebrate it.

    2. Drew*

      I have a Jewish friend whose (U.S. government!) office gave all the staff poinsettias several years ago, declaring they were “holiday poinsettias.” When my friend pointed out that there is absolutely no Hanukkah tradition that includes giant red flowers, the person in charge of distributing them got extremely offended.

      But the best part was another friend whose office created a sort of Hanukkah Advent calendar, giving the staff eight little gifts including Santa keychains and jingle bells. Similar stunned amazement when it was pointed out how incredibly clueless this was.

      1. WellRed*

        OMG. I had to read this twice to catch on to the CHRISTMAS themed gifts. But, even if it had been dreidels I would have thought the whole thing clueless.

      2. LKW*

        Not entirely similar but I had to carefully spell out why gifting each team member a bottle of wine wouldn’t go over well with our observant Muslim colleagues.

          1. JustaTech*

            I almost had to talk the *head* of HR out of that her first year. A ham? Yeah, that’ll go down great with our Jewish, Muslim and vegetarian-Hindu coworkers.
            It was decided to give Amazon cards instead because the hams they wanted were expensive and someone pointed out that people in the Atlanta office (to heck with the other offices) could get a pretty good ham and a whole lot more for the cost of one fancy ham.

            Can’t wait to see what they come up with this year!

      3. Hills to Die on*

        Now, if the poisettias were BLUE…I kid. We have all blue and silver Christmas stuff as our own unique nod to the fact that my husband was originally Jewish. I personally come from a family that has always mixed all of it together.

        1. many bells down*

          When I was in elementary school, my class made a bunch of holiday crafts. One was a garland-thingy with candy canes and peppermint sachets. I don’t like peppermint, so I asked if I could do the other garland which was blue and white and had cinnamon sticks on it.
          They said “No, because you’re not Jewish.”
          I said “Wait, I’m not Christian either though?”
          I got in trouble.

      4. anon today and tomorrow*

        I feel like the past few years have gotten worse with people sticking “holiday” in front of a traditional Christmas item/decoration/gift and insisting that it’s something for all holidays and not at all related to Christmas. It’s so annoying and clueless.

        1. Jadelyn*

          And then, of course, you get That Type howling about how this means there’s a War on Christmas!!! Which, if there is, then clearly Christmas is the aggressor here, trying to devour all festivity occurring in its claimed calendar territory, and the rest of us are just trying to defend ourselves from the onslaught.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yep. I literally heard “they’re taking Christmas away from me!” when our Christmas Luncheon became a Holiday Luncheon. Um, no, they’re not. You can celebrate Christmas all you want. Decorate a tree, sing carols, wear a reindeer sweater, go to church, put an inflatable Santa peering into an inflatable manger on your lawn. Just don’t make it a work activity. Declining to ram Christmas down your coworker’s throat is not taking anything away from your own personal observance and enjoyment of the season.

            1. whingedrinking*

              I’ve even seen people get upset because something is very definitely Christmas themed with all the cultural signifiers – probably even the actual word “Christmas” – and complain that it’s insufficiently reverent of Christian sensibilities. Images of same-sex couples celebrating Christmas together in advertising come to mind. So, you want everyone to acknowledge that it’s Christmas, dammit, except “teh gayz”?

            2. Stormfeather*

              I first read that as “an inflatable Santa peeing into an inflatable manger”… and could totally see something like that popping up in our redneck area, TBH.

              1. Canadian Natasha*

                “I first read that as ‘an inflatable Santa peeing into an inflatable manger’…”
                So did I! Now there’s a mental image I didn’t need. Lol

                I came from an evangelical subculture where “the war on xmas” was definitely a thing and it still annoys me. Actually writing it as xmas instead of Christmas was also supposedly trying to take Christ out of Christmas, despite it just being basically greek or latin shorthand (I forget which).

                I wish people happy holidays because the point is to wish them well, not to force people to acknowledge my religious beliefs.

                1. slmrlln*

                  The Xmas complaints drive me crazy. Xp, chi rho, is the Greek abbreviation for Christ. Christians have been using X or Xp as shorthand for Christ since the beginning. It’s in the Roman catacombs, etc. It’s up there with the cross and the fish as an early Christian symbol. If you’re passionate about your religion, you should know its history!

      5. mr. brightside*

        There was a US government office “holiday party” that required all staff to sing Christmas carols and fill out Christmas trivia worksheets.

        I just wish they’d stop lying and just call them Christmas parties. It’s what they are. Own it.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, my (non government) job has a “holiday party” where a volunteer chorus sings Christmas carols. Otherwise, it would just be the decor, which is probably bad enough! But that really is over the line to me.

          1. Lighthearted Musical Numbers*

            If you have ever heard of them, there is a group called Straight No Chaser and they have a “Christmas Carol” lampooning Christmas, holiday shopping, and their Jewish member pointing out the shafting they get. Link in my name if anyone is curious!

            1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

              SNC has a couple good nods to the Jewish disrespected in December; in addition to the part in Can-Can, there is a small bit in the 12 Days of Christmas (when they stop one person from singing the Dreidl Song “Twelve days of *Christmas.* Eight days of Hanukkah.”)

        2. Kate*

          I second this. My (non-US) Government Office is having a “holiday” party this year. Complete with Santa handing out gifts to all the kiddies.

          Nope, sorry. Busy that night…

        3. SpaceySteph*

          My (US government job) job had a holiday party last year with one of those bingo games where you have to get someone who has done X thing to fill in the square. Literally ALL the things were Christmas related albeit “secular” in nature (like put up lights, already finished shopping, favorite movie is White Christmas etc. vs like “goes to midnight mass” or other overtly religious) but as a Jew there was literally not one square that applied to me.
          I’m generally a good sport about the Christmas-stuff-thinly-veiled-as-Holiday-stuff, always participate in potlucks and cookie exchanges and the toy drive, but this one really irked me. Would have been so easy to have a square or two for the non-Christians, so it was really SO obvious they never even thought of us.

          1. anon today and tomorrow*

            Seriously. I mean, you could easily just make it seasonal instead of Christmas. Drank hot chocolate, participated in a potluck, went ice skating, watched a movie set in winter. There are so many non-Christmas alternatives that are actually secular.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Literally ALL the things were Christmas related albeit “secular” in nature (like put up lights, already finished shopping, favorite movie is White Christmas etc. vs like “goes to midnight mass” or other overtly religious) but as a Jew there was literally not one square that applied to me.

            Well, if you have no Christmas shopping to do, obviously you could say you’re done with your Christmas shopping. There, see! It’s secular! XD

        4. Sam*

          This. I don’t care that my Canadian government office has a Christmas party. I’m very happy to attend, provided it’s not an issue that I don’t sing carols or wear Christmas colors. It’s nice to have a party, Christmas is something that’s important to the majority my colleagues, and the desserts are top-notch. I also don’t care that we have a Christmas tree in the lobby. It’s nice to come downstairs this time of year when it’s dark by five o’clock and see it lit up. But because this is government, they insist that it’s an all-inclusive Holiday Party (scheduled solely because it’s Christmas, decorated for Christmas, and featuring Christmas music and Christmas-themed games) and a Holiday Tree (because they put a Coexist symbol decoration on a tree otherwise cut down, put up and decorated for Christmas).

          I’ve had Christian/culturally Christian co-workers tell me that they’d be uncomfortable calling it a Christmas party at work because then they’d feel like they weren’t being inclusive. And personally, my reaction is…well, good. I think if managers had to sit with a little discomfort around the Christian holidays, without the easy out of saying that their holidays are for everyone, they might have to put in a little more thought about how to actually make their offices inclusive. For instance, I’d take some informed consideration about my desire to have Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off over a token cut-out menorah decoration on the wall of the Christmas party two weeks after Hanukkah is over any day.

          1. Treecat*

            I really like your take on it. I was raised Christian, so Christmas is still “my” holiday so to speak, but I no longer adhere to the religion and I think calling what are obviously Christmas parties “Holiday Parties” is just cowardice. My workplace is large and diverse. The people who aren’t Christian know it’s a Christmas party.

            I also live at a high latitude, and since there’s no escaping the ubiquity of Christmas, I like to wish my colleagues (and myself) a “happy halfway out of the dark” in honor of the fact that, like you said, this time of year can be pretty miserable.

          2. Astor*

            Yup. My Canadian university offers a program where you can host international students for a “festive holiday dinner”. This program explicitly runs from mid-December through the 30th of the year and is basically a thinly veiled cover for Christmas dinners (while still excluding Eastern Orthodox traditions that celebrate in January).

            The thing that makes me the most mad about it? Is that they have the nerve to describe it as a great opportunity to introduce students to a “wide-range of traditions found in Canada” during “the generous spirit of the holiday season”. I’m sure that the people involved in this program really are trying to be inclusive, but it doesn’t read that way at all. There’s no option or encouragement to just invite international students over during that same time period for dinner and a nice time during the break. It’s clear that the assumption is that if you’re Canadian you’re either celebrating Christmas or you’re celebrating some secular version of it.

          3. Silamy*

            Yes! Thank you! If they’d feel guilty about being noninclusive, maybe that’s a sign that they ARE! Channukah isn’t “Jewish Christmas” with all the significance of Christmas to Christianity, and a token menorah (it’s often not even a chanukiah) is even more of a slap in the face when it comes on top of not letting you take the high holy days off.

        5. JustaTech*

          I’m getting gladder and gladder that my company “Holiday” party will be in January this year. Religious holidays are (mostly) over and we can call it a New Year’s party (a few days late).

          In fact, I may suggest that we do this permanently going forward. (It’s also wayyyy cheaper.)

      6. Armchair Analyst*

        I ended up getting a “holiday poinsettia” because me and the person giving them away are the only 2 people working the afternoon of Christmas Eve…. because I *don’t* celebrate Christmas…..

    3. Database Developer Dude*

      I have no words for the egregiousness of this, and I salute you for not committing felonious assault on the coworkers who did this. I want to be you when I grow up.

    4. Magenta Sky*

      When people insist I should celebrate Christmas more (or at all), I just regale them with tales from 40 years in retail, most of it at a place people go to buy their Christmas decorations. Then they understand.

      1. Independent George*

        Having spent a lot of years working in retail and ecommerce damn near ruined Christmas for me. Now that I’m in a different line of work and have young children, it’s making a little come back for me. But I can do without the workplace festivities, even as an observer of Christmas myself. I just really, really don’t care for them. I now have mostly Jewish coworkers, so Sept was the time for holidays and everyone taking time off. I’m expecting December to be pleasantly quiet.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I had a similar experience. I *hated* Xmas when I was working in retail. Now that I’ve been out of it for a few years, I’m finding that I still enjoy the holiday. But man, working retail during the holidays really forces you to see humanity at its worst in a lot of very ugly ways.

    1. CM*

      It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

      Reading it again, what strikes me this time is that the specific complaints the boss makes are so odd given what actually happened. “Shots are not OK at a company Christmas party.” “It is not OK for a spouse to misbehave.”

      Also, while “I will confront you on Wednesday” is clearly the best line, this one is also a gem: “I, myself, am guilty of attacking someone from the other group after he decided to retaliate by groping my wife.”

      1. Clorinda*

        I’ve always wondered. What was the person from the other group retaliating for? And, what goes on in someone’s mind that he thinks, “these people have offended me and my honor must be restored! I know, I’ll go grope that guy’s wife.”

          1. Budgie Lover*

            I guess he was offended at being given alcohol? Or maybe the boss didn’t know what retaliate means. Either way hilarious. I imagined that boss did something to offend the guy earlier and just left it out, opting to start the story with the retaliation.

  7. Highlighter*

    I still hope for an update to the “I will confront you” letter. Did he confront anyone? Was anyone fired? Did the boss ever “attack” anyone ever again??

    1. Scout Finch*

      If you go to the link from the article, the OP clarifies a little. Last sentence is “Apologies were made (privately and via company-wide email) and nobody ended up fired. No more open bars at parties from then on, though.”

  8. RabbitRabbit*

    > Shots are not OK at a company Christmas party.

    As I stated after my transfer to a new department (where I’d known half the people for years, professionally) and one of my first days was a holiday party where one of the guys ordered shots, “I believed that the tequila shots were a team-building exercise.” No one actually got plastered, and that statement was very tongue-in-cheek. It was fun.

    Contrast that with the office party held in my old office, immediately after work, where a couple colleagues (one of supervisory capacity) were the main leaders in getting the open bar cut off. Ending up puking in (your own, at least) trash can at work is uncool.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      I know a guy who proved he could catch all of his (purely alcohol – he hadn’t eaten anything else) vomit in his hands, without spilling a single drop on the carpet.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        That’s… an impressive skill that would suit him well in parenthood. But not good to have to demonstrate at a work party.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          Fortunately, it wasn’t a *work* party, it was a friendly get-together. (And there were reasons behind it that everyone understood. Most of us weren’t in any happier a place, due to the impending death of a dear friend. The rest of us just don’t drink to begin with.)

          Our office parties are pretty tame, despite the open bar, because a) we try *really* hard to hire responsible grownups, and often succeed, and b) we don’t run a broken, dysfunctional, toxic work place. It’s pretty rare that the holiday party is the first chance for someone to misbehave that badly, and while second chances are generally in order, third chances are not.

    2. No one you know*

      The worst Christmas party I ever went to was for a previous job where I was sternly warned that the party was mandatory even though I hadn’t said a word about not going.

      There was no alcohol. There was no mingling. There was very little conversation. It was mostly a. presentation about the business and its prospects for the next year. So, uh, a staff meeting but with all our spouses present and after hours. Oh and it was a privately owned “Christian” company (the work had nothing to do with religion) so we also had to sit through a small sermon given by one of the middle managers who apparently moonlighted as a preacher.


    3. ThankYouRoman*

      Yeah the only time we did shots was at a party held for a construction crew. My office colleagues all just drank Cosmos to excess.

  9. Anonny*

    My story is the Christmas party at a hotel. A guy from one department (who was there with his fiancée) went up to a hotel room with a lady from another department. They hooked up and she got pregnant. (She claims she didn’t know he was in a relationship and most believed her). That rat bastard didn’t tell his fiancée until after the child was born. Until then it was very uncomfortable as we all socialized together and all his co-workers knew. Of course she broke it off after he finally told her.

  10. Claire*

    Has there already been a thread this year where we get to share our own stories? This year at my office is shaping up to be a doozy.

    1. Liet-Kinda*

      I have no doozies, but I did step out of my office this morning, see my boss setting up the office christmas tree, and say “Hey, sprucing things up around here, eh?”

      I did not do fingerguns, because it was genuinely unintended. She laughed, then laughed again when she realized the pun was accidental.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Am currently visiting my brother who is planning to put up his xmas tree this weekend. I am totally going to do the spruce pun AND with finger guns!

  11. Meteor*

    The funniest holiday fiasco at my office… We often receive gift baskets of candy/treats from our agencies around November. Our director is wonderful at her job but a space cadet about other things. She let a holiday gift basket with perishable items sit wrapped in her office until the following July. In July, she put it outside her office with a note for custodians to just throw it away.

    Instead, the office vultures descended & unwrapped it all, and actually ATE a bunch of the old goodies! Think popcorn mix, stale Christmas cookies, dried fruit, and even some fresh fruit that had luckily petrified instead of molding. Unfortunately they also put most of the snacks out in the communal kitchen, where unsuspecting coworkers ate it too. The next day, several of the people who had unwrapped it complained about a stomach ache all day. No kidding!!

    1. No Name For Me*

      Are these gifts addressed to the director specifically? If not, the gift basket should immediately be put in the communal kitchen!

      1. Meteor*

        Technically they’re addressed to her, but they’re definitely intended for the office to share! She travels often, and is focused on projects or in meetings while in the office, so I believe this gift just slipped her notice for a long time.

      1. Hey Nonny Anon*

        After one of our lunches, I had put the bowl of cole slaw on top of the trash bin at the end of the day (it was too big to fit inside) because it had been out unrefrigerated and someone retrieved it from the trash can and took it with them from the kitchen. I firmly believe that my office vultures would eat a six-month-old holiday gift basket.

    2. Grouchy 2 cents*

      One vendor used to send each of the guys in my old department the Harry and David tower of treats. One piece of which was a brick of cheese. One of the guys put the cheese in his desk for about 6 months and then started pranking people by leaving it on their desks. It was a delicate operation as the plastic wrap had ballooned to hold in whatever gasses the decaying cheese was producing and if it popped things would have gotten unpleasant.

      He also did fruit bowling with the 4 lbs of grapefruit another vendor sent him(this was probably the 5th or 6th fruit present he’d gotten that year on top of everyone else in the department getting similar items so everyone was fed up). Turns out grapefruit don’t make good bowling balls. But the leaky ones at least perfumed the office with citrus smell.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I’m guessing he’s never seen the Simpsons episode where the kids raced fruit down the aisle of the school bus!

      2. K*

        However, if you leave a grapefruit out on your office patio for 3 months in the winter, and then take it out to the top of the parking garage to play grapefruit soccer, it will last for one whole kick, and explode into a million bits of shattered grapefruit ice.

    3. Treecat*

      I worked for a time at a Very Large Online Retailer That Shall Remain Unnamed (cough) and didn’t take any time off for Christmas one year. On Dec 23rd a vendor sent a cooler filled with LIVE SEAFOOD to their vendor manager, who had left on vacation some days prior.

      Myself and one of my coworkers accepted the delivery on the absent vendor manager’s behalf, and ate both lobsters that night.

        1. Treecat*

          Oh if we hadn’t been there, it absolutely would have. One good reason to work Christmas even if you celebrate: you might be able to intercept perishable gifts intended for absent coworkers. ;)

    4. Syfygeek*

      I worked for her dumber brother. In early December, he received a box from a friend of the organization. The box wasn’t opened and remained on top of the credenza in his office. His office was the last office at the end of a hallway. As the weather got warmer outside, we noticed a smell in his office. One of his walls was an outside wall, so we thought maybe it was mold from when the office flooded. Walls and carpet scrubbed. The smell grew stronger, and started moving into the hallway. All summer we battled that smell. It got to the point that no one could go in his office but him, because he didn’t smell anything. In November, as we’re planning our Holiday Luncheon, Boss goes to flunky and says, oh hey, I just opened this box, it’s a ham, lets use it for the Luncheon.

      Yep, the smell was a ham, rotting in his office for 11 months!! And he really thought it could be salvaged and served to staff and donors.

      1. SophieChotek*

        The boss is the same person who cannot smell the rotting ham? Surely the ham also looked rotted by this point…?

        1. Syfygeek*

          Ham was in an unopened box, with packing to keep it fresh for a week, not a year. And ham stayed in Bosses office. When people were complaining of the smell, he kept saying he never smelled anything.

    5. JustaTech*

      We had the opposite problem of a vendor who would send goodies that were meant to be shared across two departments. But they were addressed to one guy (who was not the main person who worked with the vendor, never figured that one out) who would just eat the entire thing himself, not even share it with his group.

      And then he would complain about how much it messed up his blood sugar (Type I diabetic).

  12. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    These holiday stories always make me a bit sad that I’ve always seemed to work at totally boring and not at all post-worthy places. The worst that ever happens is someone gets a bit loud and overly happy — like if Jane goes around greeting people like she hasn’t seen us in years instead of all day everyday for the last year.

    1. Liet-Kinda*

      I know what you mean. I will always treasure the Thanksgiving when a friend of my mom’s sister got drunk and alternated between maudlin, weepy, and belligerent all evening. Coming from a low-drama family, having a gen-u-wine sloppy drunk getting offensive over pie was, like, a cultural experience.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        ditto – my life is so mundane compared to the posts I see around here. That said, when it comes to dealing with co-workers like Wakeen and Jane….I’m OK with that.

    2. Pipe Organ Guy*

      Our church office Christmas parties are completely tame and respectable. We have good food, wine if anyone wishes, and lots of pleasant chit-chat. The rector (head priest, and basically CEO of the parish) thanks everyone and gives everyone gifts. Then we leave, some of us going back to the office. No one overindulges, no one embarrasses himself or herself. (For myself, if I have to practice, I skip the wine; it does awful things to my coordination.)

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        I think the only real faux pas moment that’s ever happened at a holiday party was that the VP sat at my table (semi-formal and private pre fix meal at a higher end steak restaurant) and my boss used the bread plate to his right (wrong side) and ended up taking the VPs bread plate. GASP

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I’m with you… No excitement at any holiday parties I’ve gone to. I think the only story I have is the ‘ramp of death’. We were going on a dinner cruise in December in a location that gets snow and ice. The boat operators had moved the boat to the winter dock which is where we were to board. You had to walk down a metal ramp that was at a pretty good angle, as in it would have been challenging in heels on the best of days. Well, it had been snowing for a couple of weeks, so the ramp was now essentially a luge.

      My husband (big guy) made it to the bottom first and we all sort of straddled the side of this ramp and he caught everyone at the bottom. Getting up the luge after dinner was definitely a team building event because we had to get the most nimble person up to the top then we all sort of held hands and shimmied up the ice slope, again with my husband at the bottom so none of us slid into the not quite frozen lake. Did I mention most of us had a few drinks at that point.

      Good times!

      1. WellRed*

        Another example of why office parties and boats just don’t mix. Why would anyone think this was a good idea in December?

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          To be fair it was pretty cool once we got on the boat. Seeing the skyline and the lights through the snow was neat and when asked the dinner cruise people said that it wouldn’t be a problem, since the winter dock was set up for the time of year. I mean they weren’t lying, the winter olympics could have been held on that ramp :)

          Honestly, I think someone at the boat operator screwed up. There’s no way most business people would open themselves up to that level of liability.

      2. Ms. Alex*

        I got as far as “the ramp was now essentially a luge” and lost it. (Glad nobody got hurt and your hubby was a hero!)

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Last real work holiday party that I attended (not a potluck held at lunchtime) was in 08 or 09. Word of caution to the employers, by the way. While scaling what was a dinner party in the prior years, down to “appetizers and a bar with two drink tickets” sounds like a great way to save money, it is also a great way to ensure that people will get completely sh!tfaced at the party. They *will* find a way to get hold of more tickets (remember, the person in charge of distributing the tickets is going to be drunk too, and as such, easy to strike a deal with). Or else they’ll just pay for extra drinks at the bar. A few trays of appetizers, served to a crowd of hungry people right after a work day (the party was at a party center near the office, and ran from 4 to 7 pm) are no match for that sea of booze. But these are distant memories from the 00s. Last ten years, it was all potlucks (at two different companies, at that).

      1. jb*

        The problem with “everyone gets two drink tickets” is that the people who want to drink more will find the people who want to drink less. And it only takes a few of the former to make a SCENE.

    5. Amber Rose*

      Thing is, post-worthy parties are only interesting in hindsight. While they’re happening, not so much.
      I’m still cringing over last year. I wish it had been boring.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I did… somewhere. I will share the stories I have again this year, since they’re pretty short stories for the most part, but excellent if you like cringe humor and secondhand embarrassment. :D

          I wish I could tell more about last year’s thing, but I was so uncomfortable right off the bat I hid near the bar and got drunk instead of watching.

    6. Holly*

      Same. I work in a government office where we literally have a “year end party” (cannot reference holidays in any way) at a local bar and it’s funded by a per person cash contribution if you’re attending (again, government, can’t be taxpayer funded) and we only get one or two drink tickets each. Fun time of socializing but definitely nothing wild!

    7. SophieChotek*

      Me too…but I would feel so much second-hand embarassement it is probably just as well. I have been to a few professional conferences and heard the next day about odd behaviour after a certain hour, but never witnessed it.

      The most excitement (of the unexpected kind) was at a family party which was when my uncle collapsed on Christmas Eve and we had to call an ambulance…he was fine…just like super dehydrated or something like that…

  13. LeisureSuitLarry*

    This was my first time seeing the Frozen Flasher story. It may go down as my all-time favorite drunken work holiday party story.

  14. LKW*

    As a non-practicing Jew, I don’t have a problem with the holiday and if someone wants to give me a red and green box filled with candy, no problems (but please no candy canes – really). Admittedly this time of the year I get my kicks when everyone is stressed to the gills with holiday preparation and everyone asks me how I’m holding up and I just say “Oh, Hannukah’s not a big deal and my family only does gifts for kids. I was done before Thanksgiving weekend.” And just let that sink in…

    1. anon today and tomorrow*

      Yeah, as stated in a comment above, if you want to give me baked goods or candy I’m cool with that and will gladly eat all the sweets, but don’t insist I celebrate Christmas just because I accept your food.

      But it is nice to be stress free when everyone else is running around panicking about holiday prep.

      1. Violet Fox*

        Indeed. I just like cookies, and candy. I also give people cookies randomly because I like baking cookies, but truthfully I do that all year.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      A good friend of mine told me a story of growing up secular Jewish with four siblings. Money was tight. On each day of Hannukah, each child received a dreidel as a gift. The following December, their mom would fish the 35 (or however many it was) dreidels out of their toy boxes, and gift them to the kids again. It was a happy and fun family, and the kids truly did not mind.

      1. LKW*

        Are you kidding?! I gleefully regale my clueless workmates with the story of Hannukah! The Maccabees! The Philistines! Secret meetings disguised as gambling! I don’t get too far into the desecration and miracle stuff, but if only because fighting and gambling are much more interesting than cleaning.

        I also clarify that this falls into the category of holidays themed “They tried to kill us and they didn’t kill us! Let’s eat!” (see also Passover and Purim)

          1. Hey Nonny Anon*

            I’m a cradle Catholic, but I’ll use that 1% European Jew that Ancestry DNA says I have to eat all the latkes I can.

    3. hermit crab*

      As a similarly secular Jew, I kinda love the Christmas season because I get all the benefits (free food! parties! sparkly decorations around town! no expectations of meeting deadlines or scheduling meetings for weeks at a time!) with essentially none of the stress. It’s great.

  15. Blerghhh*

    At the first law firm I worked for, the holiday party each year was a rager at one of the partner’s homes. I missed one year because I got the flu, and apparently things went too far. There were body shots… off a secretary… who was wearing a dress and pulled up to her chest… exposing her panties. Pictures were taken. Also that night the same secretary peed outside in the partner’s front yard. She did not come back to work the next week, deciding it best to quit her job over seeing the rest of us after that. It was all very sad. I work at a much more professional office now with normal, appropriate work holiday parties.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Oh dear… I think I may have done the same thing (the quitting part not the antics that led up to the quitting)

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        No kidding, I would get in my car and start driving till I got to a place where nobody knew me. Then settle down in that town in hopes of a better life. Possibly combined with a name change.

        1. Wintermute*

          There’s a place in Canada where the only access is by a train through a tunnel that only travels to the town three days a week (the other days it’s travelling the other direction). Everyone lives in one big apartment building which also houses the general store and rec center. It’s basically a self-contained little arctic arcology of a few hundred people cut off from the outside world.

          That’s where I would move.

            1. Wintermute*

              I stand corrected, you are, of course, 100% accurate! I can’t edit my post to reflect the correct country of origin, sadly.

              1. Trouble*

                The might be Alaska but Canada has a diamond mine that is only accessible on the ice roads in winter, you get isolation pay and danger pay to work there and if you’re there when the ice road breaks up you’re staying there til next winter. You could always aim for a job there. I think they have a little underground city to keep them alive in winter in the North West Territories mining diamonds.

          1. jb*

            Brilliant until someone who lives there hears the story and connects the dots. Then you’d have no escape.

    2. CM*

      Having worked at a law firm, this story makes me sick. There’s such a power differential and this woman was clearly drunk. It sucks that people were taking pictures of her and she was the only one who had to suffer consequences.

      1. S-Mart*

        Dammit. Now I’m alternating between trying to picture what a Hannukah boob would look like… and trying NOT to picture what a Hannukah boob would look like.

          1. Wintermute*

            it’s not pleasant, ask my ex girlfriend after the bio-freeze spray (basically super-icy-hot made of pure menthol) incident.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          I was assuming something like a non-colorfast Hannukah sweater – like a Christmas sweater but a poor attempt at inclusivity. Or maybe what happens when you wear said sweater and get too close to the lit menorah.

        2. Liet-Kinda*

          As for the frozen balls, well, you can take it up with Fergus why we can’t have a margarita machine at next year’s party.

        3. Joielle*

          Last year around this time I went to a holiday-themed burlesque show. There were indeed Hanukah boobs. It was glorious.

  16. BurnOutCandidate*

    I was laid off at the company Christmas party.

    I had taken a job working in a warehouse (it paid really well, and the physically labor was good for my weight), and on Christmas Eve, we shut down for the day in early afternoon for a Christmas party in the company break room.

    As I was on my way into the break room, my manager pulled me aside and said, “We’re laying you off. We won’t need you after Christmas.”

    I was not the only person this happened to. Between and third and a half of the people going into the party were let go.

    This was, I learned, typical behavior — lay off people at Christmas, rehire them if needed in April/May.

    It was a gloomy Christmas party, I can tell you that.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Someone read the opening part of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and took it as a how-to manual?

    2. Marthooh*

      Sometimes, reading Ask A Manager really brings it home to me that Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t all that bad a boss.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Right?! Scrooge gets a bad rap but he gave Bob Cratchitt Christmas Day off work, paid, and that’s definitely not something everyone can say today…

    3. AnotherAlison*

      That definitely sucks, happening at the Christmas party and all. Were you not told it would be seasonal (albeit a very long season)? My dad is a truck driver at the largest retailer, so it’s ingrained in me that certain retail warehouse work would slow down after Christmas, but it would be very frustrating if you thought it was full-time permanent work.

      1. BurnOutCandidate*

        No, I wasn’t told it was going to be seasonal. I’d been there eight months at that point, they’ve even close to doubled my pay after two months because I’d done well, so about the point where they would have staffed up after the previous Christmas’ layoffs. I wasn’t planning on staying there long-term, though, so they ended up doing me a favor.

        I did have a part time job at the time where I worked weekends and an occasional night, and I was able to pick up extra hours until I was able to go full-time in March. (My supervisor and his supervisor wanted me to go full-time, but there wasn’t an opening for three months.) And I stayed there for seven pretty good years, so it all worked out for the best.

    4. Scrooge McDunk*

      This exact same thing happened to my boyfriend, except that his manager was dressed up as Santa Claus at the time.

      1. London Calling*

        My company has just announced that there will be redundancies in the next month. Well done, chaps, way to spread Christmas cheer far and wide.

        Why DO they choose this time of year?

        1. 653-CXK*

          Likely here in the US, they perform layoffs (redundancies ) so they can save costs and/or taxes. While it’s cruel and mean to do it at Christmas, a business can use whatever they saved to buy more materials (goods), hire cheaper employees, etc.

          About 23 years ago, a company I had worked for was to have a Christmas party. About six days into December, I was laid off (made redundant) along with seven others…it was a moot point that we were disinvited from the Christmas party. This was the tip of the proverbial iceberg, though: a few months later, several employees got fired for inappropriate manager-employee relations, and an entire conference went horribly wrong with bad reservations. The company itself went bankrupt (into adminstration) then out of business a few years after that.

          (I understand British English, so I put those terms in parentheses (brackets).)

        2. Bartimaeus*

          I think if you lay someone off before the year cycles over, you can get the most work from them without having to pay in benefits / etc for the next year?

          1. 653-CXK*

            That depends on the nature of the job, and the discretion on when the company “cuts bait.”

            To my ExJob’s credit, they never laid off at Christmas, and only lay off people if there’s a serious reason (financials, a certain program ended, etc.); the layoffs are immediate (as in that day). Also, even mentioing layoffs caused severe panic and anxiety among the workforce, so management tread lightly to head off a flurry of “are we going to be laid off?” questions.

    5. Alpha Bravo*

      Yeah, my last employer laid me off a week before Christmas and two months after my spouse died. Basically for grieving too long. Happy holidays!

  17. Equestrian Attorney*

    At my first law firm, with open bar and shots wildly encouraged. One associate ended up very publicly…fraternizing with another. And the next Monday, same associate brought his fiancée to the office to “celebrate their engagement”. She seemed lovely, and I felt like saying “oh yes, your fiancé was really celebrating your engagement with FemaleAssociate on Friday”.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I would feel so awkward (and sorry for) the fiancée!
      I would be like “nice to meet you” and then run back to my desk, but then surreptitiously be watching the happy couple thereafter…

  18. kittymommy*

    It’s stories like these that make me appreciate my during-work-hours, no-alcohol-allowed government job parties. While I enjoy myself a nice glass (or 2) of wine there is nothing in this world that makes me want to see one of my co-workers blowing on her boob that is frozen to a railing.


    1. Czhorat*

      I’m SO disappointed. My office holiday party this year coincides with a trip out of state for a meeting on revisions to an industry standard. However will I survive?

    2. Violet Fox*

      Yeah, we go out to dinner at a nice restaurant that we as a group pick, work pays, and participation is only if you want to, no one looked down upon for not going. Since we also pick the date, we also try to pick one where everyone who wants to go can go.

  19. irene adler*

    Every Christmas, someone brings in a real Christmas tree for the company lunch room. A big six foot number, way too big for the room. Then we decorate it. And everyone enjoys the scent of real Christmas tree. Many happy comments to this effect.

    Well, in a cost-cutting move, the real Christmas tree was replaced with an artificial tree. This was set up in the lunch room and decorated in much the same way as the real Christmas tree had been. But unfortunately, many unhappy comments were fielded over this. Most significant issue: no Christmas tree scent to enjoy.

    So I went to a nearby auto parts store and purchased pine-scented air fresheners one puts in the car (the tree-shaped kind). Purchased a couple dozen. Figured that would do it.

    Got to work and hung all 24 on the tree- much like ornaments.

    Let me tell you- those things are potent! No one could enter the lunch room they were so strong.
    (what the hell was I thinking??)

    So I removed all but one air freshener. Figured I could just put the rest in the trash and be rid of them and their scent. Nope. The overpowering scent remained. So I placed them in several plastic bags. Didn’t make any difference. The scent came right through. Tried many ways to seal them up- but I couldn’t diminish the scent. Finally I left them all outside.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Those things are the devil. My sister lost one of those in her car once. It was terrible! I bet nobody complained about lacking pine scent after that :)

    2. Jan Levinson*

      I would recommend the Fresh Balsam candle from B&BW next time ;) They are strongly scented (in a good way!) without even being lit.

    3. Magenta Sky*

      Now imagine that, except that the air freshener smells like armpit. (We got that from a vendor – who manufactured the air fresheners. They are not allowed to give us *anything* for the holidays now, except maybe a card. An unscented card.)

  20. KC without the sunshine band*

    I got one for ya. I worked at a company where the second-in-charge offered to host the Christmas party at her house. All was fine and dandy until said host’s dog bit the husband of an employee. The man bitten was on blood thinners and bled profusely. He ended up in the ER getting stitches while everyone else hung back at the house, eating fondue (read anything edible dipped in cheese or chocolate) and drinking. My husband said it was the best office Christmas party yet, primarily for the entertainment.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I hosted a work party at my house once (invites went out to the entire department and the department head sponsored some of the food) when we had a skittish dog. I now feel like I dodged a big one. The dog spent the entire party upstairs, hiding from the guests.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        My dog is one of the most friendly dogs I know. She’s generally a fabulous, well-mannered dog. I’d still have to put her away somewhere. Otherwise, she would spend the whole night staring down anyone with food in their hand.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          My dog would be trying to convince everyone there that she had never been petted or fed in her life. And then would try to sit on everyone’s laps (she’s 85lbs).

  21. Snarkus Aurelius*

    When I worked for a charity, we had a VP on staff, Jane, who was really loud and obnoxious. She ticks off most of the office pet peeves: took all calls on speaker phone, never read/responded to emails, came into work late, hired staff AND consultants to do the same job, constantly late to staff meetings that couldn’t start without her, etc. Jane and the Executive Director were best friends at another charity so the ED hired Jane as a favor. When they weren’t working together, they were vacationing together.


    Our entire office (dozen people) went out to lunch. We were seated at a long, rectangular table in a private room. Jane and I were seated in the middle, across from each other. I can’t remember why, but for some reason during our conversation, Jane went off on welfare recipients in America. Loudly. She talked about the “rich” poor and how she knew of so many people on welfare who had large TVs and designer purses and how it’s insane how easy it is to qualify for welfare and how the government never checks up on welfare recipients, how hardworking families like hers bear the brunt, etc.

    Just like in the movies, it was one of those scenes were everyone starts to hear this loud rant and stops talking so there’s only one voice left in the room. We were all looking at her horrified because we were a charity, although not one that specifically served poor Americans. Jane ended her rant and started talking/shouting about something else — completely clueless about what she’d just said.

    So much for the spirit of giving I guess…I left soon after, reminding myself this is why I hate work events.

  22. DaniCalifornia*

    I’m so glad my current workplace doesn’t do any kind of gifts and our holiday party is a really nice dinner at the boss’ house that we all enjoy (very small office, good time with good food and spouses invited.)

    Previous offices usually did secret santa and I am not a fan. I either would get forgotten or get exactly what I didn’t want (bath products) when we had to fill out forms that had a section for dislikes/cant haves. (My skin is super sensitive so I can’t use the smelly stuff from bath & body works.) It just showed how little people cared and that it was a forced thing. I’d rather receive nothing and have a good team that works well than have others feel compelled to shop for me and vice versa.

    1. Dame Judi Brunch*

      I have the same issue with Secret Santa as you do. One year I received a styrofoam snowman that had the head broken off. It’s really demoralizing.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        I would have nailed that to my office door with a plaque that said “Santa Claus didn’t die for your sins.” (Well, I would have threatened to, and been told I wasn’t allowed to, just like when I threatened to buy a cattle prod and mount it on a plaque on the wall of my office, or the sign for my door that says “Help Desk. If we think your question is stupid we’ll light you on fire.”)

    2. anon today and tomorrow*

      Yes, I agree about Secret Santas. I think Yankee Swaps are just as bad because everyone wants that one good gift and no one wants the weird gift or gag gift, so the person stuck with a bad gift is upset.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        My work had a white elephant exchange with a $10 limit. I put a crumpled ten dollar bill in one of those cheap clear plastic ornaments you can get at craft stores. Hands down the most desired “gift” of the bunch!

      2. Lore*

        We used to do a swap at my office where the gifts stayed wrapped till the end. So everyone tried to outdo each other with clever packaging and when we finally got around to opening, the gifts themselves were almost irrelevant. It brought out a lot of creativity.

    3. No scented products here*

      As a kid, I was taught by my mom not to purchase any bath/lotion/beauty products for anyone as a gift because of the exact reason you stated. I’m so glad she taught us that and to this day, unless I know that Product X or Perfume Y is someone’s absolute favorite beauty product, I won’t buy beauty products for people.

      My mother also has the idea that we are all grown and make our own money so whatever we want that is within budget/reason can be purchased by ourselves! She calls most gifting circumstances a waste of money because you don’t really know what people want!

    4. Tau*

      The most fun I’ve ever had at a gift exchange was when at LastJob we did one where we had to spend a precise amount – I think it was £6.34 or something like that. You knew in advance that you were going to get a weird assortment of random objects, and the odyssey of trying to find items that added up to exactly the amount and also worked as something at least resembling a gift was pretty funny. (I spent weeks on the look-out for something worth 35p exactly.) It was a pretty specific dynamic at that company, though. I don’t think it’d work at most workplaces.

    5. Bagpuss*

      We have a secret santa at work but it is voluntary, so no one has to join in . We usually do the exchange on the last day we are in the office, and will also order in pizza or have other food. You can join in both, or just the food.
      We are a comparatively small office, so everyone knows each other fairly well, it seems to work quite well

  23. UtOh!*

    I just watched a re-run of the Office recently where they had their office holiday party and were doing a Secret Santa. Everyone had a particular person for whom they were to purchase a $20 gift. Well, Michael, in all his wisdom, decides to buy his Secret Santa a $400 iPod, and when he got his gift, an oven mitt knitted by Phyllis, he became angry and decided they should switch from doing a Secret Santa to doing a Yankee Swap where you pick a gift, or steal someone else’s. Of course Pam’s Secret Santa was Jim and he had picked out a teapot which he then stuffed with personal things and a card professing his love(?) for her….which ended up with Dwight, and Pam got the iPod. Of course it all worked out in that Pam swapped the iPod for the teapot, but it was pretty ridiculous all around. . :)

    1. Peaches*

      Such a classic episode. :)

      So many holiday-related posts that Alison or readers share remind me of The Office.

  24. LizB*

    I literally came in to work today to find that my weekend employees had taken the initiative to decorate our public/client spaces with winter decorations (good) but that the winter decorations we have are apparently 90% Santas and Xmas trees and 10% snowmen and Kwanzaa candle holders (less good). I’m now waffling between adding a bunch of dreidels and Diwali lanterns to the mix, or taking it all down and putting up just snowflakes and mittens. I do appreciate the hard work they put into putting everything up… but if I had known what was in that decorations folder beforehand, I would have told them to chuck the folder because we’re starting from scratch.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      I’m 100% team snow decorations. Bring on the snowmen and snow flakes etc. (then you can justify keeping it up from now to March with no issues.) Then maybe accent with whatever holiday is being celebrated that week or next.

    2. LizB*

      Update: with support from some fellow managers, we’re revamping the winter decorations entirely. Everyone loves mittens!

  25. Phoenix Wright*

    You know that coworker who gets totally drunk, becomes annoying and embarrasses himself in front of the whole company? The one who makes you wonder whether to laugh at or feel pity for? Well, I was that coworker at my first holiday party. I had been working for less than 10 months at the time, so I wasn’t completely used to the professional world. Surely no one would be so foolish as to think free alcohol at a work party means they can drink however much they want, right?
    Because that’s exactly what I thought. “If my coworkers are drinking a lot, why shouldn’t I?”. Never mind the fact that I was smaller than most of them, and I was never particularly able to hold my liquor. As a result, while everyone else was feeling merely tipsy I was well on my way to becoming a little heavily intoxicated. Bear in mind that I wasn’t a teenager anymore; I was 21, and had been drinking for more than 4 years (in my country it’s legal at 18, which doesn’t excuse my starting at such a young age but puts it in context). Still, I always had trouble knowing my limits and stopping before getting there, and this was no different.
    My memories of the night are fragmented, and I pieced together most of what happened from what other people told me. I can recall shouting and asking other coworkers to come dance and drink. At one point I realized I was lying in the grass, although I had no idea how I got there. The next thing I remember, a couple of coworkers whom I barely knew were taking me home in someone’s car. Apparently I was also screaming like a madman while barely able to stand on my feet, so yeah, it wasn’t pretty. I’m lucky I didn’t lose any of my belongings that night, and grateful that people took more care of me than I did myself.
    We were supposed to go to work the next day, but I woke up in the morning with a terrible hangover. I didn’t have enough strength to make it through the day, let alone face everyone at the office, so I stayed home without telling anyone. Not my proudest moment, but at the time it felt like the best course of action. Needless to say, my coworkers (especially the ones I was friends with) made fun of me for years to come, and to this day they still remember that night. Sadly I do too, or at least some of it.
    Moral of the story, “free drinks” means just that: you don’t have to pay. It doesn’t mean “drink until you lose consciousness and make a fool of yourself in front of your coworkers, bosses and the head honcho”. Lesson learned, on the next after office party a few months later (but that’s a different story).

  26. Nervous Nellie*

    Ah, it’s there! “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week.” Yes! It’s like AAM’s very own “T’was the Night Before Christmas”.

    How I love holiday traditions. :)

    1. LizB*

      Twas the Monday post-party, and in my inbox,
      I saw a strange message, sent from Mr. Fox
      I clicked with confusion, still quite unaware
      Of the scandalous exploits ’twere detailed in there…

  27. Sabina*

    My worst holiday party: I worked for a small town law enforcement agency which for many years had its own parties which were generally pretty tame, even dull. One year for expense and logistical reasons, our party was combined with a holiday celebration by the local ambulance company. OK, we work together alot, so… Well, the ambulance company had a yearly tradition of doing a slide show at the party featuring employees and any special events that happened during the past year. The cop shop puts together a nice presentation showing officers and others smiling at their desks, showing off new patrol cars, forming an honor guard at the 4th of July parade, etc. Then the ambulance company fires up their slide show: 20 minutes and dozens of photos of every nasty, grusome car crash to which they had responded over the course of a year. Think upside down cars with blood stained shattered windows. And this is shown during dinner…This was the first and last combined holiday celebration.

  28. Jaid_Diah*

    Government office. Our JFED (Jewish Federation of Federal Employees) group wanted to light the menorah for Hanukkah. But we’re not allowed to use candles or plug in lights (not OSHA compliant or energy efficient). Solution? A glow stick menorah.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      I love this, too. Now there are the little battery operated LED “candles.” Not sure if those would work, but it sounds like they’d address most of the issues.

  29. The Other Dawn*

    The office location I’m at (bank, back office) announced today that they ‘may’ have a holiday party in a couple weeks. I’ll be interested to see how this turns out, since my company was acquired and our location now feels like this far away satellite office that everyone (meaning the acquiring company) forgets about. It’s kind of like the Wild West at the moment with people doing/wearing what they want (nothing outrageous), and morale is pretty low with people leaving left and right. The first wave of layoffs left a few weeks ago, and now people are leaving in dribs and drabs, with everyone (who isn’t taking a job with the new company) gone by the end of February.

    Anyway, the one remaining HR person at our location made the announcement. I think it’s nice that they want to do something for us, but I have a feeling most people are going to complain how the party is nothing like what we used to do, that the new company doesn’t care about us, etc. I also wonder how many people will actually show up (our holiday events are…were…always well-attended). I get that morale is down, but it’s getting hard to listen to the negativity. Especially when many people here really don’t realize how good we had it with the old company as compared to other companies out there.

    I realize now that I’m all over the place with this and I’m rambling. Sorry! I’m just kind of thinking out loud.

    1. Wintermute*

      Just wanted to say, hi co-worker! I’m pretty sure I’m working my temp contract covering IT central network support for that same bank (the timeline of the closure is the same as the end of my contract and the circumstances kinda line up perfectly) because it’s so bombed-out.

      Sadly as a temp there will be no parties for me.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Hmm. Possibly. As far as I know the location isn’t actually closing–yet. I’ve heard several different things, such as the new bank is keeping the location open until the lease is up, then it was moved up to spring time. I don’t think anyone actually knows for sure.

        If you click on my name it goes to my blog which has my picture. If it’s the same company and you see me, say hello :)

        1. Wintermute*

          I’m at the Chicago-area office for a bank just acquired by 5th/3rd bank, so maybe there’s TWO banks bought out by competitors which are laying off most of their staff in Febuary (!) or maybe you’re at another location.

  30. Anonymousse Gateau*

    At last year’s Christmas Party at a function centre, I went to the ladies room only to find two ‘gentlemen’ coworkers INSIDE shouting at some poor, tiny, female server. As I did my own business I was able to hear that the poor woman had helped one of our coworkers into the bathroom as she was quite drunk, to the point of helping her into the stall – above and beyond, right? But the men had come in after said drunk woman looking for her – one was her boyfriend – and subsequently decided that obviously she was cheating on him with the poor server and began berating them both and everyone nearby at the top of their lungs.

    Fortunately I don’t believe anything escalated beyond other female coworkers shoving the men and shouting, and the server was able to duck out at the same time I did. I let her know my phone number and told her if anyone tried to complain about her she could contact me as a witness.

    In all honesty I don’t think any of my coworkers actually remembered anything about anyone the next day, and I never was asked.

  31. JRE*

    2 years ago. I was on the planning committee for the party, but it was run via dictatorship by the HR Manager so she didn’t consult or share with anyone the plans for the party. Turns out, she actually planned nothing except for booking the venue. We arrived to an undecorated room with only a few cheap ornament “centerpieces”. The food was only minimal appetizers that didn’t last long because she didn’t give the catering company the correct number of attendees. The prizes that were given out were a cheap bottle of wine, an iPad and an expired Dave and Buster’s gift card. We didn’t have an open bar but we had two “drink tickets”. Well, the HR manager who was controlling the tickets got plastered and started throwing extra drink tickets at everyone. By the end of the night, she had given another employee a (very awkward) lap dance, drunkenly bragged about how she was “untouchable” because the executives liked her (they didn’t), and invited just about everyone to her hotel room for the “after party”.

    2 weeks later, her boss sent us an email letting us know the HR Manager left “to pursue other opportunities”.

  32. Lily*

    My previous workplace was a small company of around 10 people, so the CEO was very involved with many aspects of the organization, including our holiday parties. These parties were by no means fancy affairs…they were basically 2 hours of us sitting in the conference room, with a plate of cupcakes, and doing a secret Santa. They would usually end around 4pm, and then we’d get to go home an hour early (which of course the CEO thought was so very generous of her to allow).

    One year, my colleague had an emergency medical appointment the afternoon of the party, so that morning as soon as the appointment was confirmed, she let our CEO know she could only attend for the first half of the party. CEO was absolutely livid about this, so she sent a staff wide email along the lines of “the party was going to end at 4pm so everyone could leave early, but instead since [name] has a conflicting appointment, the party is moving up and will end at 2pm, and everyone will return to work for the rest of the day”. Sufficient to say, the holiday cheer was pretty low at that awkward party…not sure if CEO even noticed.

    This same CEO also lost it when my colleagues and I all agreed one year that we’d rather do a charity initiative than a company Secret Santa (even suggested the fun kind where you still buy presents like toys for each other, but then donate them to charity). She fumed about this one for weeks!

Comments are closed.