share your funniest office holiday stories

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{ 1,170 comments… read them below }

  1. Definitely going Anon for this*

    The party: team Christmas dinner with a white elephant/Yankee swap mystery gift exchange

    The gift: a nicely wrapped bag containing a scented candle, a bottle of lotion… and a framed photo of coworker Fergus doing his best Burt Reynolds impression, posing with the fireplace and the fur rug and absolutely nothing else but a smile

    Fergus: turns a shade of red not previously believed humanly possible while trying to explain that he asked his wife to take care of getting a present for him to bring in because he was busy and that the photo was his gag gift to her on their recent anniversary

    Fergus’s wife: victor and forever champion of every prank war ever

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Oh my goddess. I assumed it would take a moment for the stories to warm up, so I sipped from my bottle of Cherry Coke Zero as I started to scroll.

        Big mistake. Huge.

        1. JessaB*

          I’m surprised it isn’t in red blinking 60 point type in the commenting instructions “Do not read or eat whilst reading AAM. Ever.”

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        Prank War Legendary Hero. Bards will sing of Fergusina’s deeds in the time of the children of my children.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      1) I want to be Fergus’ wife’s friend.

      2) Fergus deserved some shame. He asked his wife to buy a present for his workplace exchange? Was this in 1950?

      1. Ama*

        Yes, I have a feeling this was a not-so-subtle “maybe you take care of your own office gifts from now on.”

        1. irene adler*

          Or at least take a look at what Mrs. Fergus prepared as the gift.
          Bet he’ll be doing this from now on.

        2. B'Elanna*

          I can see this being about his anniversary “gift” for her. Let’s see how funny it is now. :)

          1. Misc*

            “You have to do it, otherwise I do it wrong” manipulation technique works with dishes, laundry, childcare, any chores. They get to choose the ones they like best and you do the shitty ones.
            Spot it, stop it.

      2. LadyGrey*

        Somehow I have a feeling he won’t be asking her to pick out any more presents for work. Her genius truly knows no bounds.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Like, personal errands? Not shared errands that you typically handle (like grocery shopping or whatever)?

          Huh. I don’t mean to challenge or criticize you — it’s making me realize that my husband and I manage our individual stuff more separately than other couples. (For example, we each do our own laundry without any intermingling. I thought it was weird when we first got together, but a decade in I’ve mostly forgotten that it’s not how most folks do it. :))

          1. NotoriousMCG*

            Yeah, I mean if I am stuck in a day that is nonstop with meetings or appointments or whatever and he happens to be at the store, I don’t see why I wouldn’t say ‘Heyo, grab me something and stick it in a gift bag so I can take it to this party’ and I do the same for him when he’s busy

            1. Sarah*

              Heck, my roommate asked me to pick up stuff for her work holiday party since I was out and she hates dealing with crowds. She gave me the option to opt out, but I needed to hit Target anyways, so why not?

            2. Anoncorporate*

              I think there is a huuuuge difference between thinking of the gift yourself and just asking your partner to pick it up if you’re tied down and they happen to be free, and asking the partner to do both the deciding AND buying because you can’t be bothered. I have a feeling it was the latter (but original commenter – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!)

          2. Anon, like everyone else*

            Hi, Me. This is an incredibly mean-spirited thing to say. Telling a stranger they are odd because they don’t do the thing the way you do the thing?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I’ve asked you to stop being unkind to people here. I appreciate you changing your user name (which you wrote was in itself intended to insult people) but you need to alter the content too in order to continue commenting here.

              1. Iain C*

                A bunch of people agreeing here with something does not make that thing common. It just means we have *many* commenters, and x% agree and are motivated to reply, while those who do not agree are not highly motivated.

                I also think doing separate laundry is “odd” aka “not the norm”. But so what? Both people are happy, and causing no harm to others with this.

                I suspect almost everyone has something that’s in the minority in somewhere.

                I could have been misreading “me” over charitably (And apparently they have a history) but I read it as “just because you do many things separately does not means it’s strange for others to help with each other’s errands.:

          3. mcr-red*

            My husband straight up told me when we got married that he’s been doing his own laundry since he was in middle school and he will continue to do so.

            Considering my first husband didn’t do a single thing for himself ever, dude, you want to do your own laundry, be my guest!

            1. Katie*

              That’s awesome. My husband and I do our laundry separately, and always will as far as I’m concerned! We have different preferences (he does everything in one big regular load on warm and leaves it all to wrinkle; I separate mine into color categories, wash on delicate, and fold promptly). I would NOT want him doing my laundry, and why should I do his? Of course I will do his in a pinch if he’s really swamped, but it’s not a regular thing.

              1. Blue Anne*

                Same. Mine will happily do my laundry, but everything comes out slightly shrunken and covered in lint. No thanks, I’ll do my own.

            2. Chinookwind*

              I am another one who does laundry separate from my husband. In our case, it was because he was in the military and had it drummed into his head by them that, since the soldier is the one being inspected, he is the one responsible for his uniform, not his wife. It carried on when he became a cop because he doesn’t want me to deal with whatever stuff may have splashed on his uniform while on duty or risk it getting it on my clothing.

            3. Nox*

              Yeah we do separate laundry here. Hes got a whole system for his stuff, I just toss my clothes in since I don’t ever wear light or white clothing.

          4. RussianInTexas*

            Huh, my live-in partner of 4 years and I do our laundry separate. We have completely different laundry schedules and needs, never even thought of doing it together.

          5. Holly*

            I don’t see how it’s odd at all – my s/o and I do laundry separately because there’s no way we could carry both of our bags to the corner laundromat and we have different laundry schedules. People have different arrangements/circumstances. Also, your comment comes off oddly and inappropriately judgmental to the original commenter.

          6. [insert witty username here]*

            Different from you does not necessarily equate to odd. You can comment on how you do things differently without passing judgement on someone else’s life and relationship.

          7. J.*

            We also do separate laundry because my husband has a much smaller wardrobe and washes his clothes pretty much every Saturday without fail, while I hate hate hate laundry and prefer to wait until I’m almost out of clean underwear and absolutely have to do it. I’m also particular about what stuff should go in the dryer and at what temperature. We may say, “Hey, I’m throwing in a load of jeans, do you have any you want me to add?” but mostly we do our own laundry, it’s not so strange.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              I do all my laundry on Sunday so I start the week with all washed clothes. Boyfriend does his when he runs out of socks and/or underwear.
              Plus he throws all his stuff together and washes on hot.

          8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            If I were to couple up now, I’d insist on my laundry staying separate. My two adult sons live with me and we each do our own. They have a lot more than I do, but more importantly, mine goes in cold water/delicate cycle, and theirs on “oh, whatever”.

            I used to do the entire family’s laundry when I was married, and showed each of my sons how to do their own when we moved out. My laundry went from seven giant baskets per week to one or two small ones. Me, maybe you should try that on the off chance that it’ll help you stop snapping at people?

            Laundry aside, I’m a huge proponent of spouses having lives of their own. My ex and I did it and it helped greatly during the divorce, which I understand isn’t the best argument, but my parents did it too and it helped them to have an amazing 50 years together – they found they appreciated each other more because they weren’t in each other’s face all the damn time. When I was getting married, I asked my mother, “you and dad have the best marriage of anyone I know. How did you do it?” and mom thought for a bit and said, “well, I went on a lot of business trips”.

            1. Not a cat*

              Yes to this! Sorry for off-topicness. My aunt and uncle swear they have been together for 30 years because they live in separate cities M-F.

              1. Free Meerkats*

                One couple I knew were married for 30+ years. Then he retired from the Navy. They were divorced within the year.They couldn’t take actually being together so much. And not the first time I’ve seen similar things.

                But we’re way off topic now.

            2. Etanabird12*

              My proudest mom moment was when my 3rd grade son came home from school and said: “Mom! I checked and no one else has to do their own laundry!” I have always HATED doing laundry so taught my kids way early how to do it themselves.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                My kids were in 8th and 11th grades when I showed them how. Their reaction was… “and this is it? Why is everyone acting like it’s hard?”

              2. Jessica*

                I started my youngest brother on laundry when he was… can’t recall exactly what age, but the only part he couldn’t do alone was loading the washer because he wasn’t tall enough. And I used to tell him stories about people I’d met in college who had no idea how to do laundry. He was very proud to have better life skills than those people who were probably three times his age!

              3. AnotherJill*

                I showed my son how to do laundry as soon as he was tall enough to reach the controls. My husband and I also do our own, which has worked well for 30-odd years.

          9. Mallory Janis Ian*

            My husband and I each do our own laundry, too. It’s not that odd. My son does his own load, too. I’m in charge of kitchen and bath towels. Husband is in charge of washing our bed sheets, and son washes his own bed sheets and makes his bed. Husband and I make our bed together because we both need help with that task.

          10. Oryx*

            *raises hand*

            Married couple who also does our own laundry. I also don’t think I’ve ever asked him to pick up my prescriptions for me (though if we are out, I will ask him to drive by so I can get them myself). We also keep finances separate, except for a shared account for bills and such. We were both in our mid-3os when we married and had both been single and living on our own for a long, long time before we moved in together. We each had our routines when we started dating and then moved in and then married and, thankfully, our routines can co-exist alongside each others without necessarily needing to combine.

            So how about instead of passing judgement on those couples who keep their lives separate, consider that what works for you does not work for everyone and if this it what works for us and both people in the relationship are happy in the marriage, there is nothing wrong with that and it is certainly not “odd”

            1. Mimi Me*

              I have married friends who operate like you and your spouse. It’s strange to me because my husband and I do something very different. It works for them though and isn’t the expression “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? There are usually multiple right ways to deal with things…and it’s okay if what’s right for me isn’t right for someone else. I think that more people need to realize that. :)

          11. Madge*

            They’re not that much of an exception. In our house, if you’re old enough to dress yourself then youre old enough to do your own laundry. (Why yes, we do have kids! :)) My husband does his own toiletries and clothing shopping, but I do make things for him to bring to pot lucks. He has his own sense of humor so he buys the white elephant gifts but I have the time to track deals and interests so I take care of most of the family holiday shopping.

          12. Blerghhh*

            My husband and I do our laundry separate too! We have separate closets, separate hampers, and different ways we like to do our laundry, so it works out great for us. I think it’s way more common than you believe!

          13. Episkey*

            I don’t mingle my husband’s laundry with mine. I do all my own and he does all of his. I am very territorial over my laundry and I don’t want anyone else touching it. I don’t want to mix his with mine, either. I know it’s odd because our friends have reacted that way when I tell them, but I don’t care!

          14. jessejane*

            I absolutely do not do my husband’s laundry. I’m busy enough doing mine and the kids.
            But, I would never call someone odd for not running their own households in the same way.
            Odd comment, frankly.

          15. Oaktree*

            My partner and I do our laundry separately. Maybe we’re in the minority, but clearly (judging from the comments here) it’s not that weird, so maybe chill out on the separate laundry front. Go get a snack or something.

          16. Snow Drift*

            My husband is not allowed to do laundry, because he is severely color-blind and I just don’t need the headache of sorting out his mistakes. It’s easier to do it right the first time myself.

          17. Jen S. 2.0*

            Word. I know a couple that are married but live next door to each other. There’s something to that. (She bought her house, then a few years later the house next door came up for sale and her then-boyfriend bought it. Then they got married, and just never moved.)

            1. Free Meerkats*

              I’ve often said the perfect house for a couple is a ranch-style triplex. Add lockable doors between the units; A lives at one end, B lives at the other, and the middle is shared. But I’m an introvert who requires true alone time.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                My boyfriend and I have a three-bedroom apartment so we each have “our” rooms and a shared bedroom (and we even both have couches in our rooms if one of us is having insomnia or something). Awesome setup if you can afford it.

          18. Chocolate lover*

            There is a middle ground, you don’t have to spend all your time together. I love my husband, but I don’t want to spend every waking moment with him, and some of the things he enjoys, I don’t. And vice versa. We still talk about those things and share them with each other.

            And on a practical note, there are a whole variety of legal benefits that come along with marriage. Can make medical decisions for each other, access to social security benefits if widowed, etc.

          19. Jen S. 2.0*

            Lots of people get married because they want a legal commitment, or because they want to be married before having children, or because it’s financially advantageous.

            I don’t think most people are getting married so they can wash someone else’s undershirts or pick up their pills. It happens, but I’m not sure it’s a benefit.

          20. AnnaBananna*

            Uhhhh we also do our own laundry because I CANT TRUST HIM not to ruin my clothes. Boom, own laundry style. Not really a huge thing, “Me”.

          21. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            My life experience shows that any question that ends or starts with “Why even get married then?” is probably best left unasked.

            It’s 2018. I’m no longer married myself, but I imagine that people don’t get married for others’ approval anymore. They don’t have to stay together, in this day and age, so it’s safe to assume that they stay together because they want to. They like each other’s company enough to commit to it for a long period of time. They don’t have to also like washing each other’s shirts and socks.

            I am also going to go out on a limb and assume that no one ever reprimands a man for admitting that he doesn’t do his wife’s laundry, so there’s that too.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              “I am also going to go out on a limb and assume that no one ever reprimands a man for admitting that he doesn’t do his wife’s laundry, so there’s that too.“

              Oh no there’s a constant cacophony of voices wailing at the injustice of all the married males who are bereft of others’ (and their own) dirty clothes needing to be washed.

              /s

          22. RUKiddingMe*

            We don’t have too many you/me things except vacuuming (I hate doing it, and weirdo that he is he likes it) and cooking (he takes waaayyyyy too long and I like doing it).

            Sometimes though, like today he was super busy. I was home all day. People are coming in the morning. House needed vacuuming. It took me all day, but I got it done.

            Also like you he is always near the pharmacy and I am not so he picks up my prescriptions for me.

          23. SarahTheEntwife*

            My boyfriend and I do separate laundry as well. It just happened kind of organically because of the way our apartment is arranged, but this way we don’t have to worry about shrinking each other’s sweaters or not having clean underwear because the other person forgot to put stuff in the dryer. If one of us has a half-load that really needs to go in we’ll ask if the other has stuff to add, and we’ve occasionally done each other’s laundry when one of us was really busy/sick/etc. It works really well.

        2. Anon From Here*

          Same here — and worse, I could see either of us pulling this kind of prank on the other given half a chance.

        3. Red Reader*

          Right. And presumably, as an adult, if he doesn’t want to or is unable to do, he uses his words and says no. :-P

      3. Chinookwind*

        I am wondering if I know “Definitely going Anon for this” because I saw an escalation of something like this the following year with the recipient regifting the frame they received with a photo of Fergus with a stop sign held as if he was protesting our work. It was beautifully wrapped and fought over during the Yankee Swap to much laughter. It actually held a place of honour on that year’s recipient’s desk. Our Fergus’ gift that year was a stuffed “Anger” Pop doll complete with fuzzy hair, which had a place of pride on my desk and I would use as a threat (don’t make me throw my anger at you!)

        This group, and Fergus in particular, were known for “knowing their audience” and it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if Fergus’ wife knew how the colleagues would respond and appreciate actually catching Fergus in a prank.

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        I don’t want to be her friend. I want merely the opportunity to sit humbly at her feet, sweep her dojo, and perhaps if I am worthy, sempai will notice me.

    2. Red Reader*

      I … am kinda skeezed by Fergus’ wife thinking this is a good idea, personally, and I’m kinda surprised to see so many people are okay with surprise naked pictures of someone, who didn’t know they were in the package (ahem) and therefore certainly wasn’t consenting to have them shared – at all, let alone in a work setting? But I recognize that maybe I’m the odd one out here. (Yes, Fergus should have done his own gift shopping, but still.)

      1. Kelly AF*

        If I’m recalling correctly, the famous Burt Reynolds shot doesn’t actually show genitalia.

        (Still, obviously some people would be really upset/hurt by this, so I am going to choose to believe that Fergus’s wife knew him well enough to know that he would maybe be mildly embarrassed but still amused, and not that she was just a cruel person.)

        1. Red Reader*

          He might, yes. And yet, she doesn’t know a thing about how the recipient would respond upon opening it. Fergus is damn lucky the next person to see the picture wasn’t HR.

          1. Kelly AF*

            I think it’s different (as the receiving coworker) knowing that Fergus did NOT put it in there, but I’m having difficulty articulating why. I guess it’s like the difference between accidentally walking in on someone in the bathroom (in which case I’d feel embarrassed on behalf of the other person, but not otherwise bad) and being flashed, which would make me feel violated and angry.

        2. Cassandra Lease*

          Bit of a tangent, but: There’s a place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin called the Safe House – or at least there was some years ago; I visited once, in 2001. In the women’s bathroom there’s a blown-up copy of that photo with a flap covering Burt’s Mr. Reynolds, shall we say. Lifting the flap causes alarms to go off in the main bar, and this usually prompts a round of applause for the next flustered-looking woman to emerge from the bathroom.

          Alas, I never saw this in person.

      2. anonagain*

        I totally agree, Red Reader. It’s violating both to share a photo like that without someone’s consent and to surprise an unsuspecting person with it.

        I don’t find this funny in the least. I find it deeply disrespectful.

        1. your favorite person*

          At first, I thought it was kind of funny. Then I realized that if the genders had been reversed… no one would even remotely think this was funny.

      3. DivineMissL*

        I assumed that Fergus’s wife had re-gifted the bag with the candle and lotion, not realizing the photo was in the bag, making it unintentional.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I am 98% sure she did this on purpose to get even with him for asking her to do his gift-selection duties for him.

      4. Psyche*

        I’m with you. If the genders were reversed, I don’t think anyone would be nearly as ok with it. You don’t share naked pictures of someone without their permission.

        1. Lady H*

          The thing is, gender politics don’t exist in a vacuum. If the genders were reversed, yes, this would be uncomfortable because women are the ones who deal with sexism in our society. Men enjoy considerable privileges, including being taken seriously in the workplace, being able to ask their wives to take care of presents for their own workplace, and being able to take funny pictures without it being overly sexualized and leading to slut-shaming.

          Speculating about how we’d feel if the genders were reversed doesn’t work because women and men are treated differently. This is not a world I am happy to live in, but it is reality, and these kind of thought experiments ignore that reality in a way that I find reductive.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            No, gender has absolutely nothing to do with it… anyone would be humiliated by this.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Bold of you to speak for everyone. Was there a universal poll on the issue, and I just didn’t get the link?

              1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

                Anyone does not equal everyone.

                But perhaps there are lots of people in the world who are fine with their SO sharing boudoir pictures of them with their coworkers.

                I mean who wouldn’t love that. /s

                1. Lady H*

                  It’s not a boudoir picture: “the photo was his gag gift to her on their recent anniversary.”

                  He takes gag gift pictures of himself in funny poses. It sounds like Fergus might not fall under your “anyone” statement. I also do think your statement that “anyone would be humiliated” does indicate you were saying that yes, everyone would be humiliated, which isn’t the case. I appreciate you clarifying but the original language was confusing.

                2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

                  @Lady H

                  “Fergus: turns a shade of red not previously believed humanly possible”

                  Weirdly this description of his reaction reads humiliated to me. So, not sure why everyone’s doing the mental gymnastics to say otherwise.

                  To the other topic:
                  The anyone was in reference to the gender discussion that I was replying to… but if it gets everyone to move on please amend my statement to the following:
                  ___
                  No, gender has absolutely nothing to do with it… any GENDER of person would find this humiliating.
                  ___

          2. Kelly AF*

            Yup. “If the genders/races/religions/whatever were reversed!” is pointless unless you can also reverse thousands of years of history and all context.

            For better or worse, male nudity is much more likely to be seen as hilarious than female nudity. Think of Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The fact that the scene would have read more tragic than funny if it were a nude woman being dumped doesn’t somehow make the scene not hilarious.

      5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Thank you — I feel chastened (in a healthy way)! I was yucking it up, but you’re right that this was a violation to both Fergus and his coworkers.

        1. Red Reader*

          Honestly, I’m almost more skeezed for the coworkers. Maybe Fergus’ wife knows he doesn’t care, and that’s great for them, but … I know that had I been the recipient, I would not have responded well at all to surprise!risque pictures of my coworker, and practical jokes aren’t fun when HR gets involved.

          1. Artemesia*

            I agree it is a bridge too far and humiliates the husband. BUT this pose does not expose anything considered obscene. It was not more actually nude than a photo in a speedo. So still funny rather than horrifying to poor Fergus.
            And can anyone not understand that woman live in a different world where this is concerned?

      6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I guess you’d have to know both your spouse and their workplace pretty well to pull off something like this. If I did this to any of my past SOs, I’m sure I’d have to move states the same day; and some of them would also not have a job at the end of that day. I’m guessing Fergus’s wife had a good enough feel of both Fergus and his colleagues to know how it’d be received.

      7. Aurion*

        Yeah, ditto. Amongst friends? Sure, knock yourself out. At work? Ugh, no.

        I would personally find this utterly humiliating and this would be a breakup worthy offense; I assume Fergusina knows her husband well enough to know that this would be an embarrassing ordeal for him but something he can laugh off/live down…but not at work. Keep that crap out of work.

      8. Ellery*

        It makes me very uncomfortable, too. He intended that for private use and she shared it with his co-workers.

        There is a phrase for sharing personal pictures like that with people with the intent of revenge…

        1. Jadelyn*

          Holy false equivalency, Batman!

          (Inappropriate pranking by a current partner, with a photo that doesn’t actually show genitalia, is not remotely the same as literal revenge porn shared by an ex. Come on, now.)

          1. Wintermute*

            Im with you, bedroom photography meant for you wife is not intended to be public by definition, note that most laws against revenge porn would absolutely include this in their definition.

            1. Wintermute*

              *man, my phone messed up this post I meant that I agree with you there is a serious difference, but it’s one of degree and intent. It’s like saying that because murdering someone with an axe involves misuse of lumberjacking equipment, cutting down your neighbors trees is murder.

              But the law would say this was similar enough to be illegal so the other poster has a point as well.

      9. Elaine*

        You’re not the only one who thinks this was a bad idea. He shouldn’t have asked his wife to take care of his obligation, but I certainly wouldn’t call her response a prank. To me a prank should include the strong likelihood that the victim will find it funny, too. It doesn’t sound like he did.

      10. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        I was shocked, had a mild moment of humor (risque pic plus lotion as gift, I’m actually 12 inside) and then settled on disappointed that Fergus’s wife went for the cheap shot here and also disappointed because the comments basically sided with her. If my husband asked me to pick up a gift for him and I didn’t want to, my answer would not be to act PA about it. I’d either suck it up and deal (help him for whatever reason, if he was late or stuck) or tell him no (if he just had poor time management).

        1. Kelly AF*

          Is there any indication that the photo was some sort of “revenge” for being asked to pick up the gift for him, or was that jut the commenters read on it? It sounded to me as though they just had a back-and-forth pranking relationship. I think the fact that Fergus’s wife picked up the gift was relevant because it provided opportunity, not because it provided motive.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I need to learn a bit on that front. I’m about as devious as a golden retriever and I’d like a little bit of sneak

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Golden Retrievers can be devious too. My cousin had one eat almost an entire Confirmation cake. A nice neighbor who bakes had given the cake as a present. The dog showed no interest in it at all, whereas he normally showed extreme interest in food. So we thought it was safe to leave the cake out on a counter. While we in another room taking a group picture, the dog got up on the counter and ate about half of the cake before anyone returned to the room.

            Sometimes a lack of deviousness is the perfect pretense for the long con.

            1. Murphy*

              Yeah, one of my dogs (admittedly not a Golden Retriever) stole the bath mat while I was in the shower…He’ll also steal my seat when I get off the couch, pretends to be eating his food when he wants my daughter to leave him alone (I don’t let her bother the dogs while they’re eating), and I once found him “wearing” one of my bras.

            2. MySherona*

              I’ve heard that all golden retrieves share one brain, but only one of them gets it at a time. (I love goldens.)

              1. Perse's Mom*

                I used to joke that the little nub on the top of our golden’s head was where all his brain was. He was very sweet… but very not-smart.

    3. Anon From Here*

      Mr. Anon From Here and I have a similar, affectionately obnoxious relationship with each other, and my only regret is that I’ll almost certainly never have the opportunity to prank him like this, this absolute work of wonder.

      1. Temperance*

        Booth and I have an ongoing prank war with Smirnoff Ice. I would totally throw a Smirnoff Ice in a present bag to trick him.

        1. Anon From Here*

          Maybe I’m just lucky that there’s no gag photo of myself in the style of that Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent portrait.

    4. Liane*

      Not only is this a possible winner* but Alison now has a new bullet point for her next serious “Surviving Holiday Work Parties” article — If you’re in a gift exchange, buy it yourself!

      *one thing I’ve learned here is “There’s always a crazier work tale.”

    5. Autumnheart*

      Maybe my sense of humor differs from others, but this seems like a really mean trick to play on anyone, much less a spouse. Fergus could’ve gotten fired for that.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You have to assume a spouse knows a bit about if it’s going to get someone fired. I’ve never worked anywhere this would get a person fired.

      2. Lex*

        That really depends on the employer. I’ve never worked anywhere that would lead to a firing, and at my current job would probably lead to a job offer for Mrs. Fergus.

      3. Autumnheart*

        Pretty sure they’d get fired at my job. My employer’s pretty chill, and we have a fabulous White Elephant exchange in my department, but including nudies of yourself with the intent of sharing with your coworkers would absolutely cross a line. At the very least, it would demonstrate that Fergus has the professional acumen of a bag of hammers.

        1. Aurion*

          At my current workplace, you might not get fired outright, but you’d be in for a Very Uncomfortable Talk the next morning from the president.

          I’m kind of astounded so many members of the commentariat–on a blog where the members are known for promoting professionalism and good HR practices–find this hilarious/appropriate.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            I don’t think anyone is saying it’s appropriate. Lots of things are hilarious but completely inappropriate. Let people find what joy they can.

      4. Elaine*

        It doesn’t make me think the spouse thought it was a funny joke. It seems so mean spirited that it makes me think their marriage is in trouble.

        1. General Ginger*

          +1
          I know OP responded below, saying this was appropriate for their office, but it feels horribly uncomfortable to me.

          1. Delightful Daisy*

            I’m not going to leap to their marriage being in trouble but I do think it was mean-spirited and completely inappropriate.

    6. anon4now*

      I’m guess I’m different than everyone else. I didn’t find this story particularly funny, and I’m amazed that so many women do.
      It would’ve been a total deal-breaker for me, so kudos is their marriage survived this.

    7. Definitely going Anon for this*

      OP here, Mrs Fergus definitely knew her audience well- we’re emergency services personnel who were clocking in to work the overnight shift as soon as dinner wrapped up. So warped senses of humor are standard issue, unexpected close encounters with naked people are actually part of the job, and half the team shares a locker room with Fergus already. (I’ll never be able to leave and get a different job, I have no concept of how normal offices work.)

      As a couple people mentioned, the pose in question is a “classy” nude with no Hanukkah balls or other ornamentation showing.

      1. Autumnheart*

        “Other ornamentation” XD

        Okay. I could see something like this among EMTs. Office workers, not so much.

      2. wittyrepartee*

        Lol, okay. That detail totally changes the story from “is this funny?” to “HOLY BEJEEZUS THAT’S FUNNY”. You medical types…

      3. Lissa*

        Yup, this would be absolutely hilarious in some groups and not at all in others – some types of workplaces are just not workplace appropriate, lol. and presumably those of you who would be actually humiliated would not marry people who you’d get into a prank war with :) But I think this falls under something Alison has brought up before -some people are absolutely horrified by pranks and would never ever like them, but others might be embarrassed but say “good one! I’ll get you next time!” and the relationship is not damaged, may even be strengthened. I think some people in the first group just cannot believe the second group exists without mean spiritedness though.

        1. Delightful Daisy*

          That is a good point, Lissa. I am not really a fan of pranks but grew up with a dad and brother who think they are hilarious. I do often find them mean-spirited and have been told more than once to “lighten up”. The context of the environment that OP posted above does change my opinion a little bit but I still don’t think this is appropriate or funny. I’m in the first camp with a toe in the second.

    8. Aphrodite*

      At least Fergus didn’t try to do his best impression of Peter Lupus (of Mission Impossible fame) in his famous Playgirl centerfold.

    9. Chaotic Neutral*

      I work in a place that has both a retail and service department- think people ordering personalized teapots and teapot makers. Every year corporate sent out approved CDs of Christmas music to play in the building. On this particular year they sent out a CD with a version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree where it sounded like they were saying f@&%!%* pie instead of pumpkin pie. When we first hear this, right after Thanksgiving, we are suprised. As December wears on, and this same CD repeats endlessly, it gets to the point that everytime that song comes on, all it takes is our team making eye contact for us to burst into fits of giggling. One day the song comes on and I, a teapot maker, glance up and make eye contact with one of the retail team, while she is in the middle of a order with a customer. It’s worth noting that we were both into overtime for like the 4th day in a row at that point, and it was probably the week before Christmas. Anyway, she bursts into hysterics, giggling, hiccups, tears, which sends me into a fit. We both run into the back room where it takes like 10 minutes for us to get it together. My boss actually threatened to write us up for laughing, but that girl was the top performer on the retail team and I was the fastest most experienced teapot maker. To this day I can’t hear that song without giggling.

    10. Bowserkitty*

      I am having one hell of a time biting my bottom lip with my entire top row of teeth because it would be so out of social norms to burst out laughing in my quiet office oh my laaaawdddd

      I want to be her friend!

  2. Françoise*

    Our company holiday party has been held at our boss’ home in recent years. Hospitality (and eating and drinking) are important to him. A few years ago, he broke out a bottle of fairly high-end schnaps after one of the employees mentioned that she liked liqueur wines (which he didn’t have). So in addition to the vast quantities of red wine being imbibed, now 80 proof schnaps was making the rounds. I went home between 2:30 and 3 am.
    Later, someone began reciting a winter nonsense-poem. The group managed to come up with the first stanza, but drew a blank as to whether the poem went on after that. I work for a publishing company and the party is held – as I mentioned – in the publisher’s home which contains an extensive library. Of course, he also has wifi.
    Instead of consulting one of the many poetry anthologies or just googling the poem, the group began to wonder who might know if there were indeed more stanzas to the poem. Someone – I think the publisher himself suggested one of our authors, who was also a professor at the local university and the president of a prominent literary society. The head editor for poetry had the number in his cell phone and dictated it. Two of our student workers made the call (not mentioning who they were or the name of the company) – by now it was around 4 am – which went to voice mail.
    I heard about it the next day when one of the student workers came to me with shining eyes and said, “He called back!” The author had returned the call at around 5, regretting that he’d been asleep. The publisher and poetry editor hadn’t realized the students were actually dialing – they thought the students were faking it – and called the author back to apologize.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      So… they did a poetry call rather than a booty call? And got an apologetic “sorry I missed you” response? Holy crap.

    2. Liane*

      Perhaps the VM brought back fond memories of the poet’s own student days?

      (I feared when I read “extensive library” after “red wine…80 proof schnapps” that there was going to be some horrible damage and relieved at the funny ending. )

      1. Artemesia*

        I thought they were going to find his porn stash in the library or something similar. IN any group I am in and I am old so don’t blame it on Millenials, half the room would have been on their phone searching for the poem.

    3. Lynca*

      I have a huge smile on my face for this one. It could have gone so wrong but ended up being delightful!

    4. Françoise*

      P.S.: The schnapps actually belonged to the publisher’s wife. It had been given to her in exchange for a favor. The next year one of the employees who had drunk quite a bit of it brought her a bottle as a hostess gift.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      1. Schnapps is the devils instrument!! One late night around a backyard firepit and never again.

      2. Drunk dialing about poems is adorable and I could never get mad.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Brings to mind sailing instructors getting together at the end of a long day and evening and taking a J-24 out on San Francisco Bay with nothing but a couple of thermoses of snugglers (hot chocolate and schnapps) – and an extra bottle of schnapps. Then we got stuck in a sandbar as the tide was going out. We floated off about 6 hours later.

        That was mid-winter, so I guess that counts as a Holiday Party story.

      2. Wintermute*

        Schnappes is dangerous stuff because it comes in two types.

        The first is the deceptively high-octane which tastes like candy but is actually in the upper double digits proof-wise (so like 40% alcohol) and you can’t tell.

        Then there is the other type which is so potential it practically evaporates down your throat rather than being drunk in the conventional sense, assaulting your sinuses with cherry-scented paint stripper fumes, and through some alcoholic alchemy of sugar level plus high proof will render you completely insensible far more rapidly than the 80% alcohol content would even normally indicate.

    6. AnotherKate*

      When I worked in book publishing I often said “there’s no such thing as a bookmergency.”

      I STAND HAPPILY CORRECTED. This is awesome.

        1. SageMercurius*

          Librarian here – helping people deal with bookmergencies is stock in trade! XD

          I’ve never been drunk dialed with a question about a book in our library. Yet.

  3. anon today.*

    I’ve shared this before, but it’s a gem.

    I work for a small family owned business that has several locations At Christmas all employees from all locations come together for a great little Christmas party. It used to have alcohol but about a decade ago, the wife of an employee at another location got drunk. Sloshed drunk. As they were about to leave, the boss at my location – Company VP – jokingly offered her another glass of wine. She responded by saying: “Why don’t you eat my ass?”

    We haven’t had alcohol at a company function since.

    1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      And if that guy still works there, I bet at least once at every Christmas party someone says, “Hey, remember when we could have a beer at this thing…FERGUS???”

        1. Liet-Kinda*

          Did anyone, perhaps, get him a large container of Altoids for a going away gift? Because if not, son, I am disappoint.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      No more wine because someone said “why don’t you eat my ass?”

      LMAO. This would just be our go-to response afterwards and wine would still be at the parties.

      “Nancy, do you have those TPS reports?”
      “Why don’t you eat my ass? Here they are, Beth.”

      1. Roja*

        Same in some of the places I’ve worked at. Considering some of the wild drunken behavior we get stories of, a single comment is pretty tame! Surprised they banned alcohol on that alone.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          You’d have to be a mean drunk to get anything banned here. We are a place that swears frequently enough. Never at each other but in terms of “did you see the game?” “Sure did. Effing hell it was a bad night.” kind of way.

          So a quip like “how about another glass?!” to a drunken person being met with a “lol shuddup, kiss my ass, Seymour.” is met with more laughter.

  4. Sherm*

    It was one of those lunchtime holiday parties where people sat in groups around round tables. At the center of each table was a poinsettia. The big boss/emcee announced that she realized that some in the crowd must have experienced hard times that year. She invited people to share their tales of woe, and whoever told the saddest story at each table would win the poinsettia. No one volunteered. It was at the same party that someone told a manager, “Not everyone dislikes you!”

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        This year I’m going to decorate my Grief Poinsettia with Hanukkah Balls. And top it with my bare ass, gold Barbie.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Love it…I must see if I can bring some traditional grief poinsettias as last minute gifts…always wondered what they were for!

      3. Artemesia*

        Right. You know he stole the idea from Notting Hill and the brownie competition.
        He couldn’t just put a secret star on the bottom of one of the chairs or plates? Or make the competition about the funniest Christmas story?

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Oh, like the dinner scene in Notting Hill. Yeah, you need really good writers to pull that off.

    2. PB*

      Oh, lord. I have a coworker whose mother died, and another whose mother is dying. I’m pretty sure neither wants that trotted out at the holiday party.

    3. jb*

      Aren’t poinsettias poisonous?

      I really thought this story was going to end with someone calling poison control.

      1. HR in the city*

        They are poisonous but you would literally have to eat the thing in order for it to hurt you. I had to google it three years ago because the cleaner at the place I worked made a really big deal about the fact that the owners decorated with poinsettias. The cleaner was a drama queen and I really don’t miss that place.

            1. General Ginger*

              Same. “You see, *sniffle* pancetta is the only thing that will reliably stop me from succumbing to my Lack of Pancetta illness”.

            2. Glitsy Gus*

              Right? My life would sound like a GD Country song, complete with my ex taking my truck and my dog, if pancetta were on offer.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yes, if you ingest them.

        Though I have a cousin and a sister who are allergic to them and have difficulty breathing when they are in a room with them.

      3. Alli525*

        Yes – I bet quite a few of the employees had pets and knew they couldn’t take it home, so why compete for the Depression Olympics?

      4. Milo the Yellow Frog*

        I found this from HowStuffWorks: “It’s possible that poinsettias get the bummest rap in all of the plant world. … Keeping this plant out of the reach of your pet to avoid stomach upset is still a good idea, but according to the ASPCA, you need not banish the poinsettia from your home for fear of a fatal exposure.”

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      Wait… I’m planning to bring a poinsetta to work. Are my coworkers now going to think I have a tragic backstory?

    5. Doe-Eyed*

      We had one of these a few years ago. (More of a ‘share your sadness this year’ vs ‘grief poinsettia’ but still very inappropriate.) One of our more… rambunctious young residents told a harrowing tale of war, refugee status, death, flat tires, and death that quickly shut the entire thing down as I tried to shut down my laughter. They carefully cobbled together every bad happening from every resident in the program for roughly the last 5 years into one single, mind-melting wad of depression and single handedly ended that ‘tradition’.

    6. Lissa*

      If nobody else did something I’d start telling a fictional story as though it happened to me. “I was so excited when the king came to visit my father, and it turned out that I was to marry the prince! Except it turned out the prince was a psychopath, and had my father killed…”

  5. NudeNancy*

    I was a newbie at a very conservative, mostly Mormon office and they put me in charge of the company party. I booked it at an art museum. A week before the event, the museum called and asked if I wanted to come look at the art and let them know if they should cover anything up. I refused. It’s an ART MUSEUM! Fast forward to the party and walking into the massive exhibit hall where we were eating and socializing to find it covered in floor-to-ceiling nudes. They never asked me to plan anything again (*I* thought the whole thing was hilarious).

    1. Al who is that Al*

      But it’s art, you’re not supposed to be offended by art. And some of the Christian depictions of Cherubs etc are full frontal, if the medieval Christians didn’t object, whats the issue ? Very funny though, did you get the chance when passing the chicken to do the “Breast or thigh” question ?

    2. CatCat*

      In my mind, the art is from the art gallery where the Christmas party was held in “Love, Actually”

    3. CM*

      Lol, this reminds me of my brother’s wedding which was held at an art museum. Just before the wedding, they told him they were getting an exhibit in the same week and would not be able to move it, so they would need to have the wedding ceremony around it and be careful not to touch the sculptures. So my brother got married among Rodin’s “Gates of Hell” sculptures of tormented souls screaming and being crushed under stones.

          1. Jules Verne*

            Same!! As a queer woman in a Mormon family, it would have been HILARIOUS to have the Gates of Hell at my wedding… Then again I was grateful that most of my family had no issues with me, so perhaps it’s better that I didn’t alienate anyone.

        1. Gumby*

          I think the original is in Paris but there is a copy (I don’t get how copies work in this context) at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford, CA. It’s on the outside of the building so the place doesn’t even have to be open.

          1. veggiewolf*

            One of the original bronze casts is in Philadelphia (at.the Rodin Muesum) and the other is in Paris.

            Link to the Philadelphia Rodin museum in my username.

      1. Joielle*

        This. Is. Amazing. I also got married at an art museum, and was thoroughly disappointed when, the week before the wedding, the gigantic bizarre political-cartoon-esque painting behind the ceremony spot was replaced with a tasteful shimmery sequinned-looking thing. It was very pretty, alas.

      2. m00nstar*

        I recently heard of a wedding at a ski museum, which seemed adorable.

        Until the bride (who’s family was Jewish) found out there was going to be a historical exhibit featuring how the Nazis used skis….

    4. Vicky Austin*

      This reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom took me to concerts at Symphony Hall and I was embarassed by the nude statues. I remember thinking, “What kind of pervert made that statue of a man flashing his penis, and thought it was appropriate to put it in here?”

    5. Taco*

      I’m going to emphasize “conservative” in that description rather than “Mormon” because I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I would have straight up loved having my Christmas party at an art museum, nudes or no (and I don’t know a lot of members who would be bothered by that).

      Derailing done and I’m stealing this idea from you if I ever have to plan an office Christmas party.

      1. The Other Chelsea*

        I have some mormon family members who would be absolutely scandalized. I was cackling just thinking about them in that situation!

      2. Office Gumby*

        I know, right? It’s not so much a religion thing, but a conservative thing. Half my ward would be absolutely SCANDALISED!!!OMGosh, whereas the other half of my ward would think it hilariously awesome.

        I wanna come to your next office party.

    6. emmelemm*

      It wasn’t, by chance, at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle? I remember (many years ago now, I guess), I had a friend who worked there and for a while they had an exhibit that was basically all floor-to-ceiling nudes, and then they were having a lot of debate about hosting school groups as usual.

      Perhaps the exhibit had just traveled somewhere else by that point. :)

    7. Artemesia*

      Note to everyone: ALWAYS check out the room you are booking for a high stakes party. But that is hilarious nevertheless. Your cue of course was that they called and asked.

  6. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

    My husband had a co-worker that was always obnoxious at their department gift exchange. They did a yankee swap of sorts every year and the co-worker would buy the bottle of vodka that he wanted and try his darndest to get it back every time, he always did for some reason. Well, one year I guess my husband drew the right number, and it was the last swap and he snatched the vodka from him and said, “drinking is bad for you.” The best part about that is my husband doesn’t drink. His other co-workers were just about on the floor laughing, and the one that wanted the vodka got chocolate or something instead. He left the party with a big frown….and I got a nice bottle of vodka!!

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      And the Hanukkah Balls Award goes to your husband for not giving in to the petty prick. Vodka Victory! ‘na zdorovie!

    2. PhyllisB*

      This isn’t work related or even a holiday party, but our ladies’ group at church had a gathering and we decided it would be fun to do a gift swap. Well, one of the ladies brought a tea set she had bought at an estate sale and was telling everyone how much she loved it and hoped to be able to swap back to get it. Well, the person who unwrapped it wouldn’t swap with her, telling her how much she loved it. The first lady went home mad because she couldn’t get it back. The rest of us kept wondering why she brought it in the first place if she wasn’t willing to let it go.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Seriously. To be truthful, if she hadn’t made such a big deal about it she might have been able to get it back, but the “mature Christian” ladies that we are, I guess they decided, nope. Actually, I had nothing to do with it except get a kick out of it. This was the first gift unwrapped and I didn’t get one until like number 15.

          1. Rip Torn*

            I worked at a small company where they were nice enough to take us out to dinner each end of year and would also buy each one of us quite a different present. There were about six of us who worked there, and the place was owned by a married couple.

            I don’t like or wear jewellery. Wearing it makes me feel super aware of it and uncomfortable – dunno why, it’s a mystery and it doesn’t make much sense. Obviously, it rarely affects or comes up in my daily life.

            Anyway, the first year I worked there, they gave me a very nice wooden bird on a necklace. I felt so bad because I knew I would never ever wear it and I even actually forgot it in the restaurant because we were all drinking absinthe and we were all sloshed as anything- so sloshed that later that night we got kicked out as a group out of the casino that we decided was a great idea to go to afterwards.

            So about mid-year, one of my co-workers who I was close to said something about jewellery and then “Oh wait, I forgot you hate jewellery”. Up pops my female boss from behind the partition that I had no idea she was even behind and going “WHAT?! BUT I GAVE YOU THAT BIRD NECKLACE!!” which is followed by a back and forth of “I’m sorry!” “Why didn’t you tell me?!” “When would I have told you?! Was I going to tell you right then when I opened the present?!” “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!”

            Anyway, next Christmas she gives me a necklace with the word “Truth” on it, saying “because, you know, you have to TELL THE TRUTH!”

            (She also got me another present.)

    3. Quackeen*

      Years ago, my then-workplace had a swap and I was the last person to pick, so I took a bottle of wine that a coworker had initially received. I was still at that workplace the next year, and she angrily said something about not “stealing” the wine this year.

      It was really bizarre. Like, it’s not stealing if it’s a gift swap and, besides, we’re all over 21 and can buy our own $10 bottle of shitty wine.

    4. Leo McGarry*

      My husband’s former employer had a large holiday party that would regularly include spouses, kids, etc. and also a gift swap with a “two steals and done” rule. One year we had our toddler, and I stole a giant plush BB-8 from someone and gave it to my toddler, who immediately started playing with it. A couple rounds later, another employee’s 20 year old child cane and stole it *from my toddler’s hands*. Like, ok, technically that’s within the rules but just why would you do that?

      1. AdminX2*

        Meh I side with the 20yo. You knew the game, you can’t just say “Not it cause kids!” and suspend the rules. Better to have held the toy until the end of the game. Why would you do that? Cause it’s a swap game and they wanted it.

        1. T*

          Yeah, agreed. You don’t get to expect the rules of a game not to apply to you just because you have a kid.

  7. no longer gets drunk at office functions*

    when i was in college, i had just turned 21 and worked part time in an office that managed a couple of fancy bars in the big city i lived in. they had a holiday party and i got so drunk that the president of the company, who was pretty young and on whom i had an enormous crush, had to personally put me into an uber home (very far away, probably a very expensive car ride!). i tried to thank him but the words just weren’t coming out so i ended up grabbing both of his hands in mine as i got in the car and like stroked and patted them as a thank-you, i guess… i didn’t do anything else weird but that was pretty bad. i don’t think i ever looked him in the eye again after that.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Awwwww! I know it’s embarrassing to you and it’s good that you learned but this is sweet. We’ve put strangers into ubers before, gotten hugs or awkward pats, it really doesn’t register as more than a “lol aw” moment. Most ppl who want to get you home safe aren’t fussed by hand squeezes.

  8. SaffyTaffy*

    Easter counts as a holiday, right? The adult-learning school I used to teach had held an Easter party with 5 different kinds of Easter-themed cocktails, and they were all fun colors and had candy garnishes so everybody wanted to try them all. And then the snacks never arrived, so we were all way too drunk on empty stomachs, and had to play limbo and hopscotch.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Hopscotch while drinking on an empty stomach sounds like a quick way to an unintended slip-and-slide….

    1. Ali G*

      Was supposed to have a conference call – it got cancelled, so…this is what I am doing until my 2:30 :)

  9. Sailor wife*

    The Christmas party for my husband’s company (he works for a cargo shipping company, so the staff is 1/3 office people 2/3 sailors/long shoremen) was held on an antique steam boat for a couple of years. Really neat stuff, open bar and all. Not too much drama except the people who were operating the boat rammed it in the company dock at the end of the day.
    The boat was damaged, so was the company dock, everyone fell down on impact… good stuff.
    Icing on the cake was probably to have 60 drunk sailors berate the (volunteers) who operate the antique boat…

    1. Jam Today*

      What do you do with a drunken sailor
      What do you do with a drunken sailor
      What do you do with a drunken sailor
      Later in the evening?

      Ram into the dock with an antique steamboat
      Ram into the dock with an antique steamboat
      Ram into the dock with an antique steamboat
      Later in the evening!

      Hey-ho down they tumble
      Hey-ho down they tumble
      Hey-ho down they tumble
      Later in the evening!

      1. iglwif*

        Scold the volunteers until they’re sorry
        Scold the volunteers until they’re sorry
        Scold the volunteers until they’re sorry
        Later in the evening!

      2. Llellayena*

        So…awesome! I had to try to stop laughing long enough to type this response. I’m going to start laughing again now…

    2. kitryan*

      Ours was on the intrepid a few years ago. It went well and they did pre dinner tours. I generally recommend venues where there’s some sort of exhibit or something to look at and discuss. I’m not great at parties but I do better when I’m surrounded by conversation topics.

      1. JustaTech*

        I always advocate parties in interesting places. The year my company went bankrupt and everyone was sad and the drinks were very strong and very sweet and all the medium-high honchos who actually cared (and were getting laid off) flew in from HQ unexpectedly and got all drunk and maudlin, that was the year I was so, so glad the party was in a museum so there were things to look at (and places to get away) when the whole thing was just too sad.

        The next time we had an off-site holiday party the invitation said “there will be otters!” (it was at the aquarium) because we knew that was the best way to get people to show up. (It was a great party!)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a reason “may you leave in interesting times” is a formal curse. Like “may you have a subordinate just like you” from your boss.

          1. Jadelyn*

            My mother always says I was the fulfillment of my grandmother’s curse along those lines. I take it as a point of pride.

            (The whole family always says that one of my cousins and I should have been siblings, we’re so alike, but god took pity on my mother and gave one of us to her sister instead, because both of us would be too much for anyone to cope with.)

        1. PhyllisB*

          It’s like your mother telling you, “I hope you have a child someday who is just like you.” It is not a compliment.

    2. Amber T*

      Me too! We have an open bar at our party but every year everyone has behaved appropriately. I’m torn between feeling grateful and disappointed…

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, the best I have is the employee awards luncheon where I discovered I’m really good at Wii basketball (I’ve always been a pretty good shot with a real basketball, so this is not entirely surprising, but I have zero interest in game consoles). But one of the guys from IT was making a lot of noise (in good fun; he’s a nice guy) about how good he was at it . . . and I proceeded to wipe the floor with him. And then the woman after me, who had also never played, decided she would try my technique and *also* wiped the floor with him. So the office Wii basketball champion got obliterated by two middle-aged women who had never touched a Wii before.

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        I beat my brother-in-law at Guitar Hero one Christmas. He plays lead guitar in several bands (roofer by day, rock star by night) and is a truly excellent musician. He spent a LOT of time explaining that he only lost because he was going by ear instead of just by following the instructions on the screen. He’s a super, super nice guy who gets crazy competitive at any kind of game, and it was absolutely hilarious

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          It’s surprisingly difficult to do scaled-back/everyman versions of something you’re really good at! Video-game instruments don’t react like real instruments, you don’t win TopGolf by hitting like you’re actually golfing…

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Haha yes, it is SO HARD to play Guitar Hero/Rock Band if you actually play the instrument! And everyone expects you to be good at it but it’s not the same!

    4. Vicky Austin*

      I’m glad that the only funny story I have involves the CEO of my workplace getting a Viking helmet in the Yankee swap and wearing it for the rest of the event.

    5. Kyrielle*

      I love crazy work holiday stories!

      I also love that none worthy of being posted here have happened to me!

      :)

  10. Emily*

    I don’t know if this is funny but it’s definitely a debacle. I used to work at a horrible, horrible small company (like 15 employees). Since it’s the end of the year and my FSA $ was going to run out I made a slew of medical appointments that I had been procrastinating on (dermatologist, annual check up, etc). Our office manager is the original office Mean Girl. She was a bully and liked to publicly shame and humiliate underlings in the office whenever she got the chance. She also served as the main point of access for the CEO and control the flow of information, hence why she was able to get away with it.

    The day before our holiday party last year Office Manager emails all of us an “Office Trivia” questionnaire with “fun facts” about employees and asking us to guess which employee matches the fact. One of the questions is… “Who is pregnant”. Myself and another female employee had gotten married earlier in the year and people were straight up asking my colleague if it was her.

    When another colleague turned in her questionnaire she told Office Manager that the pregnancy question had created a stir in the office, to which Office Manager replied “well, there have been a lot of doctor appointments recently.” I told my boss that I was really uncomfortable with that fact that we had a question about someone’s private health status on a trivia form and was told this was “all in fun” and that I was “overreacting.”

    The day of the holiday party several people came up to me and told me that Office Manager was asking about the frequency of my doctor appointments and saying she thought I was pregnant. People made jokes about watching what I was drinking and I felt like I had to drink at the party to prove to them that I wasn’t pregnant. When Office Manager read the trivia questions and answers aloud she looked right at me when it was time for the pregnancy question… then laughed and said it was a trick question. It was honestly one of the worst nights in my professional career.

    It gets better! Months later I was contacted by my dream company and now have the best job ever with an amazing company culture! Also, three of my colleagues at Old Job left shortly after me because of how terrible a place it was to work. Looking forward to a better holiday party this go around!

    1. TheWonderGinger*

      This is going to be one of those days where I am whispering “what the fudge is wrong with people” underneath my breath all day, I can feel it,

    2. Where’s my coffee?*

      Coworker trivia can be fun, but more when it’s like, “Guess who used to work as an iguana trainer?” not, “Guess who recently took a leave of absence for herpes?”

      1. Psyche*

        Yeah. I think in general it is fun if everyone is submitting the facts about themselves. We did two truths and a lie once and it was a lot of fun. Apparently I work with people who have had lots of crazy experiences.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          We did similar things at my old job, where everyone had to submit an interesting fact about themselves and we had to guess who it was. My personal favorite was the coworker who used to be a backup dancer for Britney Spears and other late 90’s/early 2000’s pop acts.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            We found out at a company lunch that our head of HR worked her way through college as a stripper. (From her, that is.)

            We’re not an uptight company.

        2. Kelly AF*

          That’s how I found out I have a coworker who once punched Steven Tyler and one who used to date the Chiquita Banana Girl.

          1. EmKay*

            I’m gonna need the backstory on why your coworker punched Steven Tyler. You can’t just drop something like that and walk away!

            1. Kelly AF*

              KEEP IN MIND that I am just repeating what I heard from my coworker (because of course, that was our response, too!) and cannot attest to the truth of this and in no way intend to defame Mr. Tyler.

              Coworker (we’ll call him Wakeen) was backstage at something like the Iheartradio fest with his then-girlfriend, who worked in media. Apparently, Steven Tyler grabbed Wakeen’s girlfriend and kissed her without permission, and Wakeen decked the old man and was summarily escorted out by security.

              “Good for you” was the consensus response.

        3. Kelsi*

          You do find out all kinds of fun things about people that way!

          One of my former coworkers, as a kid, used to impersonate her brother to be allowed to participate in boys-only soapbox races. They had the same first initial, so she’d race as K. Lastname and stick her hair up under the helmet and get away with it.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        I complexly shut down this “icebreaker” at a work related training. I didn’t want top be there and was having a really cranky day, so I told the story of finding a body in a car when I was sixteen. It was three weeks after the Black Hills Flood and the car had been hidden by brush.

        Yeah, I’m mostly over it, it wasn’t anyone I knew (I lost several childhood friends in the flood); but it brought that to a screeching halt.

      3. Cassandra Lease*

        I tend to keep very colorful (but organized, and out of the way of workspace) arrangements of toys at my desk, and at one company I worked at, one of the trivia questions in a company team trivia contest was “How many toys are on Cassandra’s desk?”

        I, uh. I got the answer wrong. To be fair I was working from memory and explicitly NOT allowed to go back to my desk, but still.

    3. your favorite person*

      I’m one of three women of child bearing age in my office of 35. I am VERY EARLY pregnant. This sh*t would send me over the edge.

    4. SometimesALurker*

      The only time in which that could possibly be okay would be if it were a live trivia game, no time for gossip and speculating, and it was the person running the trivia using the question as a way to make their own pregnancy announcement! Even then, I can think of ways people could mess it up.

      1. Girl friday*

        And if she were way pregnant and obvious about it, like her belly would have to be festooned with Christmas lights or the appropriate holiday equivalent.

    5. Diane Lockhart*

      Also she clearly doesn’t know how pregnancy works. You go to the doctor, like, twice in the first 12 weeks? For most people the really frequent appointments happen when you’re hugely pregnant. So, yeah, whoever’s secretly hugely pregnant, she sure…got ’em.

    6. Sunshine's Eschatology*

      The funny-not-funny part of this is that I’ve had a ton of doctor appointments lately as part of infertility treatments. Like, if it ever takes and the test comes out positive, the doctor appointments should actually slow waaaay down for awhile. (I warned my boss in advance that I’d have a bunch of doctor appointments for awhile but that everything was fine. If there’s been speculation, it’s been out of earshot.)

      This behavior is incredibly inappropriate in any context. But wow. The particular irony here would have me incoherent with ALL THE FEELINGS, mostly boiling rage.

  11. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I work at a government agency, and the former head was, ah, interesting to work for. He didn’t like being organized and prepared, and boy did it show at one holiday party!

    We’re supposed to have quarterly agency-wide meetings, but my boss didn’t like doing that so everything was saved up for the holiday party. That meant the employee lunch was four quarterly meetings dumped into one. Included in these non-existent quarterly meetings was recognizing employees who’d hit milestone years of service.

    Not only did my boss have a ginormous list of employees to get through, but he’s supposed to screen for who and wasn’t attending. See second sentence of my post! Instead of reading the list his staff gave him, he used the original one he had. (He refused to use briefing materials.) So the majority of this event turned into my boss reading in a monotone voice a list of people — most of who were not there. At one point, he’d read 23 names before he got to the next person who was there. It was so embarrassing.

    Then instead of reading prepared remarks, full of information staff had to have, my boss meandered for over an hour about the agency, his future there, what he thought was going to happen after the election, funding streams, etc.

    The event ended with about 300 people either openly sleeping or walking out of the room. Boss was either oblivious or straight up didn’t care. I’ll go with both.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Basically.

        You’d think after the first time he read someone’s name, he’d move on. Nope.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Ex-Boss: when I see polished presentations and reports, I think the other person is trying to pull a fast one. I hate that.

        Me: well that’s…something I haven’t heard before

  12. Namast'ay in Bed*

    At a former company we did a low-key secret santa every year and shared what everyone got one by one in a big group. One of the higher ups was missing most of his thumb from an accident, and the person who had him hand-made him a very realistic thumb out of clay.

    Fortunately, the recipient thought it was hilarious. I was semi-horrified, but apparently the gift giver knew him well enough to think he would appreciate it, which apparently he did, because he displayed it prominently on his desk.

    1. Turtlewings*

      Displayed it on his desk!! Now when people ask what happened to his thumb he can pick up the clay thumb and say “nothing, it’s right here.”

    2. OhGee*

      This….is a power move, if you know the boss in question well enough to know that they’ll love it.

    3. Adlib*

      I have a friend who lost his pinky finger in an accident with a table saw. He would love this!

      (He also did a parody video of the Office Space printer scene with the saw in question.)

      1. Magenta Sky*

        I have a friend who was born with no left hand, and had tremendous fun with the guide on the It’s A Small World boat ride at Disneyland (where there are fake sharks in the water). They fell for it every time.

        1. pcake*

          Not trying to be a jerk, but I’ve been riding Small World since it first got to Disneyland, and I’ve been an annual pass holder for years, so we go a lot. At no point in the ride are there sharks – real or otherwise – in the water. In fact, nothing interesting is in the water – the fun stuff it outside of the water.

          Was it, perhaps, Disneyworld?

          1. ThatGirl*

            Possibly meant Jungle Cruise? Still no sharks but there are animals, and jokes like that make more sense.

          2. Magenta Sky*

            It was definitely Disneyland (he lives nearly within walking distance). Maybe a different ride, I dunno.

            The real shock for the ride operators wasn’t that there might be wildlife in the water that might eat a hand, it was that there were mechanical devices in the water that definitely could. (The other guests, of course, fell for the more apparent gag.)

            1. Artemesia*

              Hey a child was eaten at Disneyworld by a crocodile or alligator just a year or two ago so a croc in the Jungle Ride is perfectly believable.

              1. Phrunicus*

                Just because I remember: It was two years ago. Just a month or two before we took my 4 year old down for his first visit. (Hence why I remember.)

                I noticed quite a few signs around the various bodies of water to watch out for alligators…

    4. Chewbie*

      I had a friend who lost part of a finger in a silly (if painful) accident. We called him Stubs. He was a good friend. I miss him (he passed away).

  13. Amber Rose*

    Oooh, I’ve been looking forward to this! As promised, a quick recap of the last few years (with some help from my husband, who did not drink as heavily through it all.) Keep in mind that my boss pays for an open bar every year and everyone drinks a lot.

    First Year: Started normally, had a pretty fun game of Name That Tune, and then the dance portion started. My boss was located several minutes into the dance… doing a stripper dance with a chair to the tune of Pony by Ginuwine (sp?). After that he requested the DJ play F**k You Like an Animal. I embarrassed myself by dancing enthusiastically to Spice Girls. Just kidding, I have no shame about stuff like that.

    Second Year: The drinking started early, with my boss cheerfully handing out little plastic shot glasses of scotch while we were all still at work. At the party proper, we played a game which I poorly tried to describe on AAM before and will try better this time. Basically they made us team up and played a song that heavily featured piano. The idea was, one person would be on all fours as the piano, and the other person would pretend to play piano on them along with the song. I ended up partnered with… my boss. I did not drink enough, I still remember it too clearly. D:

    Third Year (at a hotel where I stayed the night): The games started out fun. Candy cane toss, unwrap a chocolate while wearing oven mitts, somewhat violent round of musical chairs. Then my boss made us all stand in a circle, all of us including spouses/guests. The idea was, my boss would say something, and we’d all have to repeat it. If you laughed, you were out. But it was all stuff like “[Boss] has a huuuuge…” WELL. You can guess the rest. I didn’t even try, I ran off and hid at the bar. I think husband stuck it out a round before joining me, he remembers what was said better than I do.

    Aside from that: The president got drunk and offered jobs to everyone working at the hotel. One of the sales guys drank too much and ended up locking himself out of his hotel room in his underwear, wandered around and had to be escorted back by security. I had an awkward hungover breakfast with my supervisor and that guy the next morning which is why I know.

    This year’s party is next week. I shall return, probably with more stories.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It gets worse. Since I was wearing a fancy dress, my boss was the piano. But instead of being side to side, he faced forward, so his butt was facing me. And he was drunk, so after playing the game normally for about half a minute, he decided to win by sabotaging the other players and started ramming the other pianos.

        I was actually grateful for that because it meant he was further away from me. I thought I was going to die of mortification. I had difficulty even writing it out because I still might spontaneously combust remembering it. D:

        1. 1234567891011112 do do do*

          “STARTED RAMMING THE OTHER PIANOS”

          I decided to highlight this so that others wouldn’t skim over it.

            1. Jen S. 2.0*

              I am trying so hard to guffaw silently at my desk, and I am failing so miserably that I assume my coworkers think I am choking to death right now in here.

              1. Amber Rose*

                This is why I was looking forward to this thread. Everyone else laughing at this is making me laugh, and reducing the leftover embarrassment.

                I hope/fear to have some more stories this year.

        2. LimeRoos*

          …That is a glorious image… air playing a “piano” that’s crawling across the floor to headbutt other “pianos”. I’m cackling silently at my desk, so glad I wasn’t drinking anything.

          1. Amber Rose*

            It was more of a shoulder check, and I utterly gave up on air playing piano basically immediately. xD

        3. Kelsi*

          The amount of laughing I did at the mental image of him ramming the other pianos is why I shouldn’t read AAM with other people around.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        “My name is Roger Sterling. I have taken LSD. If found, please return to the following address…”

    1. Preggers*

      I don’t have any fun personal stories but I worked at a hotel and every Monday we would receive a report of what occurred over the weekend. One year we had a huge nationally known company based out of our city hold a Christmas party at our hotel. Security got a call about a naked homeless person passed out in the building. Turns out it was not a homeless person but the CEO of the company, who was a very prominent, wealthy, well known person. He got drunk and locked him self out of his room naked. They had to call the sales manager who booked the party to help coax him back into his room without any company employees finding out. I forgot all about it until you mentioned your coworker being locked out.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Now I really, really want to know which CEO of which company. (Obviously you can’t tell me, but.)

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Or at least no cameras.

        (Frankly, all this sounds like a typical birthday party or wedding reception among my redneck relatives in the rural Midwest.)

      1. jolene*

        Sobbing about the pianos. I will suggest this to my writers’ Xmas party when we are very drunk and it’s very late.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Adults playing kids’ games always get kind of vicious, I find. The last couple rounds featured some people getting physically thrown out of chairs.

  14. Bend & Snap*

    Open martini bar in the city. Very little food. Inappropriate behavior everywhere.

    Martini races, piggyback rides, ill-advised dancing, hopping to many, many bars afterward…it was bad. For everyone. I passed out in a bathroom while my husband got the car from the valet. But not before our president made sexually charged comments to every woman there and my future boss patted my ass.

    Everyone slunk into work on Monday and nobody ever talked about it again.

    1. Duly Mortified*

      “Everyone slunk into work on Monday and nobody ever talked about it again.”
      And that…is the perfect end to such a party:)

    2. wittyrepartee*

      The “no food” part is the worst. That happened to me last year. They had little tiny appetizers and giant glasses of wine.

      Things were said that can never be unsaid.

    3. No name this time*

      You just described half of my military career. We all look back at it fondly while shaking our heads and being grateful nothing bad happened.

  15. loslothluin*

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t here for these, but they live on in office lore. Once, my boss had to send one of the other attorneys from the office party/open house to the police department to bail out a paralegal who was in jail for writing hot checks.

    They then decided the next year to just go out for lunch. My boss’s then-paralegal would only eat French fries. If fries weren’t on the menu, she sat there and watched everyone else eat. This may or may not have been the same year my boss accidentally went in the ladies room to use the restroom.

      1. loslothluin*

        From what I was told, it made for some seriously awkward Christmas lunches to be stared at the entire time by somebody that won’t eat anything and just stares at everybody.

  16. EmployeeHotlineBling*

    White elephant gifts from holidays 2017:
    1) A crumpled Starbucks bag with a mug purchased 5 minutes after the exchange stated.
    2) A mug and a notebook featuring the photo of an employee. The employee pictured was not the employee that brought this gift.
    3) A vacuum-sealed bag containing two fully cooked, intact ears of corn.

    1. Melly*

      I giggled at the first one, thinking “I could see that happening.”
      I laughed out loud at the second one.
      I started crying at the corn.

        1. Drew*

          I can’t decide between “You *said* everyone brings corny gifts!” and “Now you’ll always have my ear” as the best explanation, so I’ll just leave them both.

    2. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      I’m dying at the corn!! I can’t imagine how it would cross anyone’s mind to put ears of corn in a gift exchange.

      1. Precious Wentletrap*

        I once contributed two gift-wrapped frozen pizzas. My longtime wish is to time it to be able to give a pizza hot and fresh straight from a pizzeria.

        1. President Porpoise*

          I once gave someone a can of green boiled peanuts. The rule of that particular white elephant was that the gifts must weigh exactly one pound. The weirdest thing I could find in my house was that bizarre food. Do people actually eat those? Totally unappetizing looking.

          1. Precious Wentletrap*

            Canned? I dunno. Fresh? Yes, if you’re from the Carolinas down through Georgia. Lotta boiled peanut stands on the way to the beach there.

            You can do a LOT of damage in a yankee swap if you know how to shop. You can give an expensive thing you got for pennies if you’re a bargain hunter, you can give a letter of the law but abuse of the spirit if you feel spiteful (look up how much sand you can get for ten bucks at Home Depot)…

            A family friend had a $1 limit on their YS, which always ended in things like canned goods, remaindered books, bootleg toys, and other items you could get at the convenience store en route to the party. It’s good times when everyone’s honest about how stupid it is.

            1. Kitrona*

              I moved to Georgia from the Chicago area a year and a half ago, and I still haven’t tried boiled peanuts. It’s the little things that get me, culture-shock-wise, like that and the absolute rabid sports/college fandom thing. I wouldn’t be too surprised if someone yelled at us at work because we actually stock X college, let alone put it *next to* Y college. And it’d be half-joking, but half of it isn’t. It’s…. I’ve never seen anything like it, at least not this widespread.

              1. Chuck*

                I lived in Atlanta for 31 years (but grew up in suburban Cleveland OH) and NEVER had a boiled peanut-EWWWW! And you are exactly right about the rabid college sports thing.

                1. Kitrona*

                  It’s so strange to me! Like, I grew up with Cubs fans and this is beyond that, even. I never thought anything would top that! Thanks for the confirmation, I was starting to doubt this was weird.

                  I don’t like peanuts, so I don’t think boiled peanuts are going to be on the menu anytime soon.

              2. Prior HR*

                I saved this thread for today at work because I knew it would be quiet. Do yourself a favor and try fresh (not canned) boiled peanuts. I lived in the south for 5 years and it wasn’t until the last year there that I tried them, and I was so upset I’d waited so long. They sound weird and the texture, especially when you hold them, is different, but there is a very good reason why they are so popular.

          2. Eeyore's missing tail*

            My husband eats canned boiled peanuts. Ewww. If they aren’t fresh, I’ll do without.

      1. PB*

        I know! I can just see the thought process:

        “Oh, crap. The holiday party’s tomorrow. I need something for White Elephant. No time to shop, so gotta regift. But what? (opens the fridge) I’m never going to eat all this corn…”

    3. Bees in my Socks*

      One time we did white elephant and one of the employees put in….

      a bunch of magnetic souvenirs from their vacation that everyone knew they had gone on?

      -._.-

      1. B'Elanna*

        We had someone do that for a much beloved coworker who was retiring. Everyone wanted it.
        Though permission was asked before placing their “mug” on the mug.

    4. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      This wasn’t a White Elephant gift, but one a coworker who didn’t last so long gave to all the unpartnered women under 40: A studio portrait of himself, semi-80s background, with lasers, soft focus,, standing, with his hand on his chin, a “come hither” look, and his parrot on his shoulder.

      Is anyone surprised that he was fired for inappropriate comments and behavior towards that same set of women

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        “And his parrot on his shoulder”

        I’m here just nodding along like, “Yup, fits the profile…”

      2. Lora*

        Oh my god I think I went on a date with this guy. The parrot in question bit me, so there was no second date.

      1. feministbookworm*

        They sell this at our local grocery stores, I suspect to cater to one of the many immigrant groups in our neighborhood, though I have yet to discern which group– I think maybe Turkish/middle eastern?

        1. CatCat*

          I am not wondering about the concept of corn in a sealed bag, but rather, the thought of it as a gift at the office holiday party :-D

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I just texted my old coworkers to see if anyone kept it. Thus far no, which makes us all sad because no one can get the true creep factor without seeing it

    5. delta cat*

      OK, this is actually better than my white elephant story, but I’ll tell mine anyway.
      One gift at an exchange we did a few years ago was an unopened set of fancy bath products. As soon as it was opened, three other employees started laughing hysterically. No one else at the table understood what was so funny. It was just some soaps and lotions.
      The three of us who were laughing were the people who had been with the company the longest. We had immediately recognized the bath set as the gift our previous boss had given all of the staff at a holiday party two years earlier.
      The woman who’d opened the gift was perplexed by the reaction — it was actually a pretty nice bath set.

      1. Ama*

        Hee my mom is the champion of recycling white elephant gifts (partially because she’s a preschool teacher and gets a lot of scented lotions and soaps that set off her allergies from well meaning parents), but she’s pretty careful not to “cross the streams” as it were and not put a regift into the same group where she received it. It’s going to be a lot harder now that she’s retired from one of her two part time jobs and can’t just directly pass the gifts from one job to the other.

        EXCEPT for the game my parents play with all their couple friends where there are now half a dozen gag gifts that get recycled every year (a random water buffalo figurine and a bobblehead of a now forgotten college basketball player from the local university are among the most “prized”). In their game, everyone puts a $10 gift card in with their “gift” so you are largely playing for the gift card you want and the gag gifts are just extra fun.

        1. Astor*

          I like that!

          The game at my office is specifically a regift exchange; you’re required to bring something you already have and a few gifts end up being recycled every year. I actually really love it because it’s designed so that the fun is in the game and watching other people open gifts. If you end up with a good gift, that’s great, but it makes it much less annoying if you end up with something that’s not really to your taste or worth keeping.

          One thing I also think is great is that the organizers wrap extra gifts up every year so that there are more gifts on the table than participants. And the leftover gifts get saved for the next year. I can see how that might frustrate people, because there’s a chance your really great gift won’t get picked. But it also means that they’re able to include people who didn’t bring a gift. And I’ve absolutely seen situations where someone new, junior, or just sad gets a disappointing gift that they’re invited to pick a new one from the table before leaving.

      2. kitryan*

        Two of us were going to do this at my office. I had the box and we were going to rewrap it the next year but we didn’t have a gift exchange for another 2 years so I eventually used most of it up.

    6. Arya Snark*

      Where I used to work, that corn would’ve been accompanied by an appropriate amount of lottery tickets.

      1. EmployeeHotlineBling*

        From what I remember, it was in a dollar store bag accompanied by other assorted dollar store items that were less noteworthy.

        The corn was still in the office when I left in June.

    7. Parenthetically*

      Ahhhhh yesssss this is the kind of white elephant gift exchange that can only be a good time

    8. Blue*

      I’m of the mind that there should always be a couple of terrible gifts in a white elephant pool to make things more interesting. But the corn is just next level! Amazing.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Our group of friends used to have a White Elephant gift every year and it was a mix of nice gifts (like a Starbucks mug + gift card) and utter crap (a box of cheap wine coolers and Misty Slim cigarettes). One year, a blow-up Justin Beiber doll (uninflated, in the box) was a prized gift. We blew up Justin after the gift exchange was over and over the course of the year, he would make appearances when you least expected him. If you asked someone to feed your cat while you were out of town, Justin was sitting on your couch when you got back. Loaned a friend your car? You better believe Justin was buckled into the back seat the next time you got in it.

    9. Wulfwen*

      At a long-former employer, the white elephant was really well-run, and a great time! There was a year that was particularly memorable. The gift everyone wanted, and which was passed around till everyone had had it at least once, was a mounted set of longhorn horns. They were enormous and awesome! The same year, one of the higher-paid “professionals” contributed a vial of her BABY TEETH. What even? Apparently the idea that the gift should be something funny or that people would actually *want* blew right by this person…

      1. Kitrona*

        To be fair, my girlfriend would want the teeth. But also to be fair, she’s a little strange. (So am I, we work well together. I gave her two of my teeth when I had to have them pulled and she loves them.)

    10. Magenta Sky*

      The best worst gift exchange gift was The Armpit Tree.

      It was a miniature Christmas tree made out of a pine branch. A gift from a vendor who manufactured air fresheners that we sold, and they sprayed it with a brand new scent they called Wintergreen. We called it Armpit, because that’s what it smelled like.

      It wouldn’t have been all that bad except they sprayed *way* too much, or maybe it was just an extra powerful smell, because the stench permeated the office within minutes of arriving, and lasted for at least three hours after it was removed.

      So one coworker, bless her black heart, stuck it in my storage room (yes, she asked), and wrapped it up for the gift exchange. For about two weeks. My storage room took months to recover.

      That vendor isn’t allowed to send us anything more than a card for the holidays now.

    11. Meg*

      We have someone who always puts weird stuff in the Yankee Swap. Last year it was a pound of potatoes and a peeler.

      1. Pliant Platypus*

        I look forward to this years White Elephant gift exchange. I desperately, desperately want to find a set of bagpipes for it.

    12. Glitsy Gus*

      Every office gift exchange I’ve ever taken part in featured at least three Starbucks mugs bought on the way to the office. It’s part of why I don’t do them any more, I can just buy my own mug and be done with it.

    13. Bea*

      My wife always brings a live lobster to gift swaps. Nice gift box, ice packs, live lobster, stick of butter. Box gets gift wrapped then holes get stabbed into it.

  17. GladIDon'tWorkThereAnymore*

    One year at OldJob the CEO got drunk and did a comic monologue about one of my co-workers, all about how he was a “climber” and always trying to get into conversations with the higher-ups, and comparing him to a chihuahua yapping at the bigger dogs (he’s very short). And yes, he heard most of it, and she never knew he was in the room.

    I still shudder a bit when I think of that CEO, and all the idiots who stood around her laughing and chiming in. He left pretty soon after that.

      1. GladIDon'tWorkThereAnymore*

        Yeah, the whole performance was mortifying (for the few sober people who realized what was happening, anyway), and I can’t imagine how it must have been for him. He was a pretty good guy, too. I hope he has since gone on to much better things, working for much better people.

    1. Important Moi*

      That is awful. It is an unpleasant reminder that Presentation by one person doesn’t guarantee the Perception of another.

      The “climber” probably didn’t think he was being perceived as climber.

      1. GladIDon'tWorkThereAnymore*

        Very true! I think in her case, it was mostly about his height — CEO seemed to think it hilarious that very short men both exist and sometimes are ambitious.

  18. Kelly AF*

    My office party is next week (my first with this job). We leave work early on Thursday to go get lunch together, then we’re going to a movie theater to watch The Grinch and enjoy a dessert bar and open wine/beer bar. It sounds nice.

    I’d like to participate in the optional gift exchange (I think we do it Yankee swap style). The limit is 10 bucks. Any ideas for something truly interesting/useful/hilarious?

      1. JustOK*

        ^ the only appropriate answer.

        But I also like the coffee mug I got one year that says, “World’s Okayest Employee”

      2. Kelly AF*

        It’s just what I’ve always wanted.

        Maybe I’ll wrap it Matryoshka-style, in a series of larger and larger boxes.

        1. joriley*

          I’m planning on giving a (thoughtful) gift card in my office’s secret santa, and this is how I plan on wrapping it so it seems like a larger thing.

        2. Sarah*

          Not a work gift, but my ex’s family had a gift that circulated through their Yankee swap for 20+ years – the goal was always to wrap it in a way where the person choosing would have no idea what it was. Boxes on boxes on boxes was definitely one approach.

          (The gift? A cross stitch of a group of vultures with “The family that preys together stays together” underneath”)

          1. PhyllisB*

            Not a gift, but my mother was notorious for saving/recycling boxes. There was one pink one from a dress shop that made the rounds for twenty years after this shop went out of business. I got this box three years in a row. No gag, just happened to be the right size for what she was giving. Well, the year I turned 16, I complained, “I’m sick of getting this same old box every year!” Everybody died laughing. Well, by the time I turned 20 I was able to appreciate it because I noticed that she wrote the current recipient’s name on it. (She would box and write names on packages then wrap everything later.) It was fun to see who all had had “the box” over the years. We were all sad when by year forty the poor thing fell apart. The funny thing is, I do the same thing now.

            1. Preggers*

              My grandma does the same thing. We can’t wait to unwrap it and see what box we got because they are all from stores no longer in business. lol

            2. delta cat*

              We have a few boxes in circulation in my family that I am pretty sure have been making the rounds for twenty years or more. They’re mostly boxes from a couple of cute boutiques in the town where we used to spend our summers, so they have sentimental value. Either that, or they’re specifically from some high-end store we almost never actually shop at. (Birks boxes are a gift in and of themselves; they’re very sturdy.) It’s extra fun if the gift is some cheap gag gift, like a box of crackers.

              1. Common Welsh Green*

                Thank you for the Birks reference! Our local store was shuttered many years ago. I used to buy one small thing there each Christmas, just to get the box.

            3. Jen S. 2.0*

              Ha, my mother gives gifts in pretty gift bags, but then decides she likes that bag so much that the recipient is not allowed to keep it and she wants it for herself. She’s been known to snatch your gift from you just as you pick it up, hold out the bag so you can reach in and take the gift, and then run off with the bag.

              This is doubly amusing when she does it to me with a gift bag that I bought the previous year to use for her gift, knowing she would think it was pretty.

              1. Lalaith*

                This reminds me of my friend’s wrapping paper. One friend group has been holding a holiday party with a Yankee Swap type game for years and years. One year, someone moved out of my friend’s building, and he went in and raided whatever they’d left behind, including a partial roll of red-and-gold wallpaper. It would have been a bit much on a wall, if you ask me, but it made for beautiful wrapping paper! So every year, from then on, he’d show up with his gift wrapped in that wallpaper (and often duct tape, I guess regular Scotch tape wouldn’t hold as well). He was famous for it. When finally one year he showed up and said that that was the last of the paper… we made the recipient unwrap the gift very carefully and give the paper back to my friend. I think it made it through a few more years, but I had to miss last year’s party, so I don’t know if it’s still surviving!

            4. A different name*

              We had one particular box that kept popping up, and one year my cousin had enough and threw it in the fire once they’d removed the gift.

              The charred half lid the next year was delightful.

            5. Ginny Weasley*

              At my dad’s family Christmas, we have the tradition of the M*A*S*H box. The box is for some old, long lost/forgotten M*A*S*H trivia/board game. No one in the family has any recollection of ever owning/playing the game. Someone had the empty box in their attic and wrapped a gift in it, many years ago. The next year the recipient of the M*A*S*H box wrapped a different gift in it. From then on, if you received a gift in the M*A*S*H box for Christmas, it was your responsibility to gift something in it next year. I can remember seeing/knowing about the M*A*S*H box for as long as I’ve been alive. A few years ago, one of my family members hunted down the actual trivia game on eBay and brought it to Christmas. We were very bad at it.

              1. PhyllisB*

                Wow!!! I didn’t realize how many people re-used their boxes like this!! I especially love the cousin throwing the box in the fire and the half-charred lid showing up again next year!! For the record, my mother, now 88, uses gift bags these days.

            6. Artemesia*

              I am moving next week and in the process of getting the apartment ready to sell (alas not yet) I threw out useless stuff. I had collected probably 50 fancy department store, restaurant, shop etc bags that I use for gift wrapping. Choose fancy bag of appropriate size, put a little colored tissue in it, slide in gift, tie handles together with ribbon. Feels ecologically appropriate as recycle and they are actually attractive. But I don’t have all that many gift giving occasions — mostly family, so the things do accumulate over the years. Into the trash with all of them and I start over at the new place.

            7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              We have a couple of gift bags that are from the last year my grandma gave us presents before she passed away. Mom puts a little present in the appropriate bag for us each year.

      3. km85*

        Or, similarly, my family had a hit with a banana my uncle took to the deli counter to get wrapped on a styrofoam tray like meat and labeled “gourmet cooking banana.” Best if you get the banana about a week in advance. Maybe two.

        1. PhyllisB*

          This reminds me of a story from Reader’s Digest (Life in These United States?) A little boy wanted to get a special gift for his mother. He bought with his own money, insisted on wrapping it himself and placing under the Christmas tree. Well, in a few days there was this odd smell in the room. No one could figure out what it was. By Christmas it was overwhelming. Well, when Mother opened her (smelly) gift, it was a whole, raw chicken. He told her he knew how much she loved chicken and he wanted to get one for her. Not funny, I know, but the “gourmet” banana reminded me.

          1. Ginny Weasley*

            That reminds me of a story a coworker once told me! Her mom was sick of the way her kids would examine the presents under the tree and shake them/weigh them in their hands to predict what they might be. So, she started adding random canned goods and other things from the kitchen to change the weight/shape/sound of the presents. The only problem was she didn’t really pay attention to what she was adding, and when it came time to make Christmas Eve dinner, they had to start opening presents to find many of the needed ingredients!

    1. Amber Rose*

      My favorite thing in my desk right now is a roll of Hello Kitty Duct Tape.
      It’s adorable, silly and useful.

      1. Anono-Mice*

        There are also a ton of fake coal (that look like coal) that are chocolates – and oh my god are some of them absolutely delicious.

    2. Emmie*

      * In a sports loving town, I got a pizza cutter that played the team’s fight song when you used it.
      * In a city where people used public transport, a gift certificate for the subway went over well.
      * A small gift certificate to lunch at Panera, Subway, Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, or the like.
      * Cupcakes, or holiday cookies from a fantastic bakery. Because they are amazing.
      Good luck!

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      A pair of earplugs and a bottle of Prozac. (Or at least jelly beans labeled as such.)

      If it’s not needed at your workplace, it’ll be a great gag gift. If it is needed…good luck to you!

      1. CrickettheCat*

        Oh no no, PLEASE don’t label a bottle of…well, anything as “Prozac”. It’s stuff like that that makes people with mental illnesses feel like the butt of the joke.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          Agreed. This is offensive, hurtful, and also ableist. However, I suppose it could be funny if you work in a psychiatric hospital or a mental health counseling center, and even then only if your coworkers are the type who would find it funny. I’m sure there are some mental health centers who would consider that “mocking our patients” or “not taking our work seriously.”

        1. Precious Wentletrap*

          I’m less annoyed by the gag use of Prozac than the fact the gag doesn’t work anyway–pick a drug that works on the spot (any of the benzodiazepenes will do) rather than an SSRI that requires at least a few weeks to really kick in

          1. Kitrona*

            And there’s the person knowledgeable about mental health meds. :D (I thought the same thing. Hell, Thorazine would be hilarious to me, but that’s largely because I had to do a presentation on it yesterday. YMMV, obviously.)

        1. Elfie*

          Yeah, I used to joke about an ex-Job that I’d need Prozac to tolerate it, and guess what? I ended up on Prozac (well, fluoxetine, which is what Prozac is the brand name for). I kind of wish I’d never made that joke now.

      1. [insert witty username here]*

        Was coming to say this – if I participate in something like this, I do some candy + scratcher tickets!

    4. ZuZu*

      My husband once gifted a live beta fish and small tank as a Yankee Swap gift. He put the plastic bag it came in inside a gift bag with lots of “fragile” stickers on it. It was pretty hilarious and I always recommend it.

      (The fish was unfortunately swallowed by the recipient in an attempt to relive his frat days later that evening)

      1. PhyllisB*

        I thought that went out in the twenties??? (goldfish swallowing, I mean.) Exactly how old was this co-worker?

        1. ZuZu*

          haha I went to college in Boston in the aughts in this was very much a thing! This party was probably six or seven years ago, and the guy in question was probably late twenties at the time. This was just a party with friends however, not work, which makes it just a smidge more appropriate I guess.

        1. ZuZu*

          Yes and weirdly enough I didn’t know that this was uncommon?? It happened a lot at the fraternities I went to when I was in college. Poor fish.

      2. Tired*

        … Now I understand why my Fraternity, on its list of banned hazing, included “forcing individuals to swallow live goldfish.”

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          If there’s a rule that oddly specific anywhere, it’s probably because someone actually tried it.

    5. Dezzi*

      Important lesson: when it’s your first year participating in the office yankee swap/gift exchange thing, bring something safe. Do not assume it works like other functions you’ve been to, where joke gifts are common and appreciated.

      My grandboss was not amused by the Spiderman Chia Pet.

      1. JustaTech*

        My coworker loved/loves her Bob Ross Chia pet! There was even a great deal of fuss about how best to keep it watered.

      1. Kitrona*

        And if you’re going cheap, no-sew blankets (two layers of fleece tied together at the edges by the fringe you cut into them) is super cheap and easy. (Most fabric places have fleece on sale right now… why yes, I do work at a fabric store, why do you ask? :P Just plan on sharpening your scissors afterward.)

    6. cactus lady*

      Last year I brought a little plant in a dinosaur shaped planter that I found for $7. It was a hit!

    7. TJ Morrison*

      Last year someone brought a pack of really short extension cords. All of them plugged in end to end was 3-4 feet long.

    8. Admin of Sys*

      Assuming there’s a decent amount of folks in your office who drink coffee, I used to get a quarter lb or so of really nice coffee and a cute mug from the dollar store, and include a mini airplane bottle of bailey’s if alcohol is appropriate, or a chocolate spoon if it’s not. Folks would always fight over it.

    9. Astute Assistant*

      At a white elephant gift exchange 5 years ago, I, a woman, wound up with an obviously regifted men’s large-sized, lavender button-down collar shirt. Defiinitley a WTH moment, but thankfully, a manager took pity on me and swapped that for some tool set he had.

      For your first exchange, gift cards are usually a good choice, especially to big-box stores.

    10. Kelly AF*

      Okay, if anyone is curious, I got a dual blade universal package opener (link in name goes to it) because it seems very useful. And I got one of those prank boxes that claims to be for a “cheese printer.” Hopefully it will be a hit!

  19. gr8celife*

    Many years ago, sit down Christmas dinner table seating for 8 people. Employee’s wife started telling everyone how her husband had ruined her life…. the entire dinner. I kind of blocked the details, one story was about each had specific burners on the stove they could use. Why I don’t know. We were stuck where we sat for several courses. I tried changing the subject more than once… to no avail. Once prior to the dinner, she called to speak to her husband, he was in a meeting and I picked up the call thinking it was a customer. She started yelling at me and calling me a liar. A few months after the party, she came to our office and threw all of his clothes on the lawn. Eventually they divorced.

    1. Me (I think)*

      “Eventually”?????? Like, it took more time for them to think, “hey, maybe we should get divorced?”

      Whaaaaaaaaat?

      1. gr8celife*

        I honestly tried my best to know as little as possible about his personal life. I ‘think’ they were separated but still living in the same house during the throwing of clothes incident.

    2. Mollie*

      I actually understand the different stove burner rule. My husband is constantly splattering, boiling over, dropping crap into the elements. I can’t ask him not to cook because 1) That’s mean, everyone deserves a hot meal and 2) He gets home before I do most evenings and if I had to cook, we wouldn’t eat until 8 sometimes which is too late for the kids. So there is one burner I have asked him not to use so that I don’t have to scrub the stove every time I have time to cook.

    3. Beth*

      “she came to our office and threw all of his clothes on the lawn”

      On the lawn of the office building?

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        I will admit I took boxes of my exes things to his job as I was trying to break things off as it was a bad relationship and taking them to his place wasn’t an option. Not my greatest move but I don’t regret it.

      1. L.*

        Oh gosh, I just made this comment below! I should have known I wouldn’t be the first to think of this. “You took me by the hand…made me a man…that one night!”

  20. lyonite*

    Not quite at the level of some of the stories, but I ran a Secret Santa for our group for a few years, and one time, for the last “big” gift one woman received a jar of anti-aging cream. Since I was running it, I knew who the giver was, and to this day I don’t know if it was meant like that.

    This year, we’re having a big, open-bar holiday party after finding out that our site is being closed and we’ll all be laid off in a month, so watch this space.

      1. Precious Wentletrap*

        Let’s just say I’ve been in that spot more than once and if you don’t take what you need, the creditors will auction it off anyway

  21. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I work for social justice organizations, and we do not celebrate Christmas (or “winter holidays” masquerading as Christmas). This is a good thing; our workforce is very diverse and the organization shouldn’t be lifting up Christian holidays over others.

    Myself, I’m Quaker(ish); Quakers don’t celebrate religious holidays.

    Buuuuuuut I’ve always been bummed out that my employers have never done any of kind of holiday celebration. I LOVE Christmas. I’m nuts for it. I want joy at work, dammit!

        1. Al who is that Al*

          As a pagan I always celebrate the Solstice, guess what ? It’s the shortest day, it means we have longer days to look forward to and that’s all you need to celebrate, no need to bring any sort of other meaning or baggage to it (pagan or otherwise), just enjoy it.

          1. Nox*

            Yeah, i work at a diverse company now and we recognize all winter holidays -we actually do mini presentations of different celebrations around the world and have a hot cocoa party. [I myself am presenting la posadas, despite celebrating hanukkah currently and I’m Latina.] I actually really get into these presentations because you learn so much about diversity and are respectful of it rather than avoiding it outright.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        That’s what I mean as a Christmas party masquerading as a “winter holiday” (or “end of year”) party. (I said it backwards in my initial post, whoops.) Nobody is fooled by having a gathering in December and pretending that it’s not a Christmas party.

        We do have delightful, celebratory annual parties… in the spring. Also, my office goes ALL OUT for Halloween, which has its own set of challenges and exclusions.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            All of these suggestions are lovely… but they are obviously attempts to hold a Christmas party while calling it something else.

            Of course we could hold an “end of year” party or a New Year’s Eve party, and perhaps it could genuinely feel like its own celebration and not an attempt to inject Christmas cheer into a secular workplace.

            Or we could celebrate a different holiday altogether (or not holiday at all), as we do. There’s no rule that annual celebrations have to happen in December. We don’t even operate on a calendar year for our programs or finances, so there’s truly nothing to celebrate in December that isn’t more relevant in May or July (or whenever).

            1. Kelly AF*

              I do see what you’re saying, but festive winter holidays exist for the excellent reason that this is a pretty gloomy time of year (uh, in the Northern hemisphere, I guess) and it’s thus a pretty natural time to party.

              I understand that it’s really tough in America for any party this time of year to come across as anything other than a “Christmas but we can’t call it that” party, though.

              1. Ali G*

                My office, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t get it together to have a Holiday Party this year, so we are having something in January. I’m on the Executive Committee and am going to advocate it be called something like Annual Celebration, and that we do it every year in January. Both to avoid the Christmas issue (our lobby is full on Christmas right now) and because people are just so busy, it’s more like a chore than a fun thing.

                1. Sally*

                  I started my new job at the end of August, so this will be my first winter with this company, but from what I’ve heard around the office, we have an annual party in January. I like that for all of the reasons Ali G listed.

                2. Gymmie*

                  My company always did ours in January because it is soooo much cheaper! Also, Christmas should be moved to January 25th to make the gloom of January much merrier.

            2. Trout 'Waver*

              Christmas is on Dec. 25th because there were already several major holidays in the end of December and it would have minimal impact on economic production if it was sandwiched in between them. So saying that any celebration in the end of December is a de facto “Christmas by another name” party is both completely wrong and quite backwards.

              1. Reba*

                I mean, I know what you are saying.

                As a different example, putting evergreen trees inside the house is a lovely pagan tradition that was appropriated into Christmas celebrations (thank you, Queen Victoria). But even knowing that history, it seems silly to insist that they don’t mean Christmas *today* in America, in the context of big corporate Christmas and majority-Christian culture. They are called Christmas trees! Or, modern Santa was invented by Coca Cola; okay, he is still a big part of Christmas!

                I’m feeling kind of sensitive to this because my work does have a “holiday party” — and there is a Christmas tree in the office right now and there will be a Secret Santa.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  I know what you’re saying too.

                  I don’t have a good answer to this question, but… How many non-Christian things need to be blended into Christmas before it becomes a cultural rather than a religious holiday?

                2. Reba*

                  @Trout ‘Waver, for some people, probably infinity/never?

                  I’m also thinking about this a lot for a work project right now (heritage/museum sector), is something cultural vs. religious vs. culture-tied-to-a-religion-but-extending-beyond-it — it’s definitely not easy to address or even to think about in a clear way!

                  For December in North America, I try to be aware that as someone raised in the dominant religion and culture–even if I’m no longer practicing the former except culturally (i.e. Christmas) and I passionately hate Rat Pack era holiday music–I’m just not the one who has the perspective to say whether something is too Christmas or not, too exclusive or not.

                3. Works in IT*

                  Christmas is a weird holiday. There are religious people who observe the religious aspects of it, people who are not Christians who don’t celebrate it because it’s a religious holiday, people who are not Christians who celebrate it anyway because it’s so cobbled together they don’t see it as a religious holiday, and religious people who are offended that it is so cobbled together and commercialized, and don’t observe it.

            3. lyonite*

              I have a friend whose work holds a “winter party” in January, mainly because it’s a lot cheaper to get a space. My understanding is that it doesn’t come across as very Christmas-y.

              1. Gymmie*

                The Christmas season doesn’t even start until December 25th and lasts for 12 days. It’s Advent right now people!! (daughter of Anglican priest here….)

                1. Ktelzbeth*

                  +8 million!
                  Signed,
                  A proud Episcopalian who got something for the “first day of Christmas” at the office today

        1. Treecat*

          This is one of the reasons I am (1000 years to late, but hey) mad that Christmas co-opted Winter Solstice. Those of us who live at miserable high latitudes should be able to celebrate our Halfway Out of the Dark milestone without religious stuff getting in the way!

          1. LQ*

            Absolutely! I need a celebration about that time of year, like once mid january hits and you can start to feel the days lengthen it starts to feel like you can breathe again, but I want to sleep all the time it’s dark, which for me means always in winter. (Want to have a party at 11 pm in june? TOTALLY IN! but if you want me to show up in December you better make it 11am-1pm because that’s about all I can manage.)

        2. a heather*

          I’m kind of happy my office does our big holiday party in January. Plus, it’s cheaper than trying to get something in December!

        3. Admin of Sys*

          New Years party’s rarely get tagged as ‘not actually Christmas’ parties unless the person putting it on does a bad job. There’s enough holiday oomph to NYE, between the ball and fireworks and such, that folks aren’t going to take it as ‘generic winter holiday’ unless someone throws a lot Christmas-y stuff at it.

          1. Lissa*

            Yeah I’ve never heard of a New Year’s party as being a fake Christmas party or anything like that! I mean definitely those exist but I don’t think all December parties are automatically Christmas/Christmas-adjacent.

            But I think there should be a new tradition for a late Jan/early Feb holiday. That is the gloomiest time IMO and could really use something. And obviously Valentine’s Day is right out because people have big feelings about that too so do something totally different!

            1. Zelda*

              I have several times attempted to throw an Imbolc party (Feb 2). Every time it has been snowed out.

              1. Chocolate Teapot*

                Carnival? In the January-March run up to Lent, Carnival parties are quite common in Germany (especailly around Cologne).

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Yes, of course. What I mean is that traditionally Quakers do not celebrate any day as more holy than others. (I, obviously, also celebrate Christmas.)

      2. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

        I’m one of those scarvy FUM-programmed Friends who celebrate Christmas. ;)

    1. Kaybee*

      We’ve always had our holiday party in early Nov or Jan to save money, avoid vacation schedules, and for less crowding at the venue, but in recent years it has evolved into a(n early November) Thanksgiving “party” – usually a nice lunch (not Thanksgiving food!) paid for by our powers-that-be. They use that time to tell us what they appreciate about each of us and give us small tokens of appreciation, usually gift certificates to our favorite coffee shops. We’re a pretty small organization, so our higher ups can do that without bankrupting themselves and know all of us well enough to be able to find something sincere to say about us.

      That particular format may not work for a larger organization, but if a team wants to eat, drink, and be merry during the gloomy time of year (northern hemisphere), Thanksgiving is an occasion where you can sincerely do that without it being framed as a “Christmas party that we can’t call a Christmas party.”

    2. CoveredInBees*

      My husband’s office has an annual party in late January. It makes scheduling and finding venues a lot easier and basically any religious holidays have passed. It is also a nice way to start the calendar year and January is all gloomy and gross weather in our area. Might as well have some extra cheer in the middle of the gloom instead of the beginning. To this point, I have a “winter cheer” playlist of songs that are probably meant for Christmas but are more about enjoying the winter. Think songs like “Sleigh Ride” I listen to it through mid-March and it does make it easier to slog through snow and slush.

    3. e271828*

      An annual wrap party at the end of the fiscal year, when the whole organization can look back on donations, projects, achievements, and reflect together and feel pride in what they’ve done, would not be a bad thing to implementt in any organization. But in a social justice organization, especially good, to boost morale and give people a sense that there are milestones, there are accomplishments to celebrate, all at once. Noting things as they happen can mean people don’t appreciate how much they’re getting done.

  22. More cringe-worthy than funny*

    My thinks-of-itself-as-very-inclusive office has FOUR Christmas parties this month.

    The first, which the organizers have been very clear to state repeatedly is a Christmas NOT holiday party, is scheduled during Hanukkah, and features baby pork fillet with lobster sausage (I so wish I was kidding).

    The second, billed as a holiday party, has Santa Claus handing out Christmas gifts to all the kids, and the organizers have contacted be SIX times already to see if I can volunteer as an elf. I’m Jewish.

    The third and fourth are potlucks. The first is at 8 pm on the Thursday (the “dinner” potluck) and the 2nd is at 9 am on the Friday (the “breakfast” potluck). Same list of invitees. I am tempted to call the second one the hangover potluck.

    1. Katiedid*

      I do not think “inclusive” means what your company thinks that it means!! That’s all awful on many, many levels and I’m sorry you have to deal with that!

    2. Precious Wentletrap*

      Let me guess–if you get a raise it’s cost of living minimum and nobody lower than C-suite gets a bonus

    3. CaribouInIgloo*

      First of all, they keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what they think it means.
      Second, I didn’t know lobster sausage was a thing and now I’m intrigued.
      Third, who has time for 2 potlucks in a roll?!

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        And if people are at the “dinner” potluck on a Thursday night , when do they have time to cook for the “breakfast” potluck on the Friday morning — or do they just stop at Mickey’s on the way to work and get egg mcmuffins for everyone (which, actually, would be OK by me!)
        Maybe next year you can suggest they also have a “festivus” party on Dec 24 and see if anyone bites!

    4. The New Wanderer*

      You know how people comment that someone isn’t doing something you don’t like AT you?

      It’s really, really hard to apply that to the pork/shellfish/Christmas party during Hanukkah. Like, how far out of someone’s way do they have to go to pick that specific food combo??

      1. bunniferous*

        Serve it with milk and you would have the Offensive Trifecta! (I am only 1/4 Jewish but I am offended on your behalf.)

  23. AnonXmasPartyDrama*

    Our office holiday party is usually a potluck. My boss complains every year that the potluck doesn’t have a theme. She doesn’t like that people bring in whatever they want, even though many people always bring the same things so you have a general idea of what’s going to be there.

    Well, she’s in charge of planning the potluck this year and finally gets to control whether there is a theme. She picked “Tacos.” I saw an early draft of the sign up sheet she made with specific items she wanted people to bring in, so you’d sign up to bring guacamole or doritos. That must have gotten vetoed by Grandboss because now the sign up sheet is open-ended like it always is.

    One of my coworkers put “bean dip” on the sign up sheet. My boss went and quizzed her about the ingredients of this bean dip, and determined it was more of a corn dip. She made my coworker go change it from bean dip to corn dip. (For what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like a dip at all… it sounds like black bean and corn salsa!!)

      1. DecorativeCacti*

        My friends and I do a taco potluck every year for our personal Christmas party. It’s great! Everything is low cost, but there are plenty of ingredients to spread around. It’s an amazing potluck theme.

      2. Cacwgrl*

        100%. Tacos are the best kind of potluck. We do building fundraisers every year and our building has perpetual claim over taco bar. It is the funnest and we also make the most money. I also strongly lean towards tacos for literally any holiday. You can do it cheap or expensive or both or vegetarian and it’s always good. Plus guac, which I am the champion of making, as determined by a contest with votes of peers. Don’t think for a second I don’t put the trophy right by the bowl of guac so all who partake know from where it came. Clearly I’m a joy of a coworkers lol.

      3. Joielle*

        This is the only kind of potluck my office does anymore! We do an annual taco one, and sometimes a salad one (where everyone brings different salad ingredients and dressings) or a potato one (where some people bring a bunch of mashed or baked potatoes and others bring toppings). Way easier than making and transporting whole dishes, and everyone’s dietary needs can be accommodated.

      4. Wintermute*

        To celebrate the success of our “walking helpdesk” (basically triage teams of people walking the isles to help fix the ample PC and systems issues caused by a system upgrade, rather than making people submit tickets to help queue and wait a few weeks to be able to do their job again) we had a “walking taco bar” with bags of corn chips and other things, toppings, packets of salsa, all designed cleverly so we could keep walking, and working, while snacking.

        Honestly I think it was the perfect potluck buffet bar, because everything was in single-serving containers or tong-based dispensing mechanisms and it wasn’t ruined by anyone getting handsy with the produce.

      5. Em*

        My in-laws and their friends do a “taco potluck” in the summer every year. Everyone brings one “thing” needed for tacos. Except for the people who bring margs instead.

    1. BadWolf*

      We have a potluck lunch during December and when I first started, they had you sign up under broad categories (salad, dessert, etc).

      They gave up even bothering to organize that much and now it’s just potluck and the managers buy sliced meats and buns for the “main course.”

      For one year, we didn’t really have enough people and the potluck options were looking pretty thin. But in the subsequent years, we’ve teamed our potluck up with some related departments and now it’s a great variety again (well, probably 50/50 sides vs desserts, but that’s fine with me!).

      1. PhyllisB*

        One year my ladies’ church guild was having a Christmas party/potluck and the hostess decided not to assign dishes, just let everyone bring what they wanted. There were 15 of us in attendance. We had 13 dishes of green bean casserole. Luckily, we had two desserts and plenty of wine so it was fine. I wasn’t a member of this group the next year (changed churches) but I often wonder if they still do “spontaneous” potlucks?

        1. Rosie M. Banks*

          I attended a Fourth of July potluck where pretty much all of the guests showed up with potato salad. It was actually kind of fun to try twelve different kinds of potato salad!

          1. Perse's Mom*

            That seems like an event you turn into a potato salad tasting contest and then declare Susan’s is the best and only she gets to bring it from now on so everybody else will have to find something else. And then hope you don’t get 12x of something else next time.

        2. Elmer Litzinger, spy*

          My senior year of high school I went on the class trip to Mexico. There were about 25-30 of us. After we got back we had a party so we could see photos, etc. (Pre-internet days.) Everyone was asked to bring a dish. Almost everyone brought flan.

          My father, who loves flan, still votes this as the best food he’s ever had at a party.

    2. Rey*

      This year for our Christmas potluck, the main dish is provided and everyone is supposed to bring sides or desserts. In every weekly meeting for the last month, someone has asked, “BUT WHAT SHOULD I BRING?!?” I keep repeating the same suggestions and encouragement, and they still want to fuss over it every week. My email with suggestions actually included the statement, “whatever you can easily buy”

      1. Artemesia*

        One of my most liberating moments was when I was slammed with work and needed to bring something to a potluck. My husband looked surprised and said ‘well of course, you just go buy something.’ Having been raised by someone who was a martyr to the kitchen, it never occurred to me. I took one of my casserole dishes to the deli, got German potato salad, heated it when I got to the office and had to fend off requests for the recipe all evening. Never looked back. I cook for potlucks with friends as does my husband — but for work based or apartment building etc, we always buy something.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      So your boss sounds like a little bit of a potluck micromanager, but I 100% agree that the black bean and corn salsa is not “bean dip”!!!!

      1. AnonXmasPartyDrama*

        Yeah but nor is it “corn dip.” That’s what makes it funny to me–she’s micromanaging what something is called and not even calling it the right thing! LOL

    4. Bunny Girl*

      This year for my boyfriend’s birthday I made him a cake decorated like a taco. I would 100% bring it to this party to be a twit.

    5. Internet Censor*

      I know this is very pedantic, but it’s not a potluck if people sign up to bring a specific dish.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        I suppose I see your point, that the idea of a potluck is to be surprised by what’s in the pots (that’s the “luck” part). But frankly, what with the way some people cook, and the varied entertaining and hosting skills in existence, and the wild ideas out there of what is appropriate to bring to a shared meal, I maintain that even if you know what someone is supposed to be bringing, you still get surprised a LOT. I vote that the term is appropriate.

  24. Dittany*

    At the company party at the job before last, one of the senior VPs was clearly fighting with his wife. They mostly mingled with different groups, but their time together was marked by a series of tense, whispered conversations… which must have been a lot tenser than I thought, because the last one culminated in her mashing a slice of cake into his bald spot and storming out the door.

  25. Not a robot*

    To give some context….I work for an organization that has a no alcohol on campus policy.

    One year I was in charge of organizing a white elephant exchange for my department of 30+employees. The guidelines we’re something small and nothing above $10. For the most part people bought thoughtful gifts, until one employee opened their gift to find d a 12 pack of Natural Ice beer…….with one can missing. The kicker is that even though it was awful beer, it got stolen three times during the exchange. My boss wasn’t too happy and After the party I got chewed out for not specifically stating that gifts could not contain alcohol in them.

    1. Anon for This*

      Oh, Natty Ice. That takes me back to the days of telling my parents that I was at sleepover, but I was really playing flip cup in a cornfield somewhere with a big cup of Natty Ice sitting there in the center.

    2. Cacwgrl*

      I have a dirty Santa this weekend and I’m 100% going to buy some natty ice at the wal-mart for that. I’ll bundle it with the fireworks I just HAD to steal at the same dinner a couple years ago… since I’ve now realized one should not be THAT neighbor that shoots of fireworks, which leads to complaints being filed and log notes made in the police logs and facebook debates in various town groups. Long story short, the fireworks need to go.

      1. Wintermute*

        That’s why you set them up carefully with one shared common fuze, light it, and run like the hounds of hell are after you, hopefully with enough time to be innocently at home when your fuzes finally reach the quick and your fireworks decide to do their best impersonation of the battle of san juan hill.

    3. Catwoman*

      It’s totally unfair that you got chewed out of that was the campus policy. That one’s on the gift-giver!

    4. Len F*

      12 bottles of beer in a box!
      12 bottles of beer!
      You take one out and pass it around…
      11 bottles of beer in a box!

      1. No name this time*

        You just described half of my military career. We all look back at it fondly while shaking our heads and being grateful nothing bad happened.

  26. Sauce-Side Down*

    My office had a fancy holiday party that had a huge table of sushi and other fancy finger-food appetizers. Enough to feed an army, and constantly replenished by the catering staff. Well…

    Someone dropped a barbecue short rib appetizer on the floor, sauce-side down. That person walked away and grabbed a fresh one from the table. A different coworker came along, saw the floor-food, picked it up AND ATE IT like it was the most normal thing in the world.

    1. Micromanagered*

      For some reason as I read this, I was expecting the rib-dropper to go get another one and drop it again, like when a cat knocks things off a table for no reason. The person walking up and eating it was so unexpected!!

    2. loloslothluin*

      My sister has a coworker (who is a nurse) that will get half eaten food out of the garbage and eat it. This is the same coworker that crapped her pants and wandered around in the back of the office naked from the waist down.

      1. Kelly AF*

        I have so many questions and I want none of them answered.

        I have so many questions and all of them are “what the f*ck?”

        (If this were facebook, those would be tagged groups.)

        1. loloslothluin*

          Seriously, the woman rummages through the garbage and eats the scraps from everyone else’s lunch. She has more money than she knows what to do with so only option is batshit crazy. She even steals food from the coworkers, including my sister, and they go dig it out of her drawer and put it back.

          This was reinforced by the naked rambling in the back office. Management/the doctors keeps hoping she’ll just quit before they have to fire her crazy self.

          This is at a pediatric clinic, and I think they were lucky no kid or parent saw her hoohah flapping in the breeze.

            1. loslothluin*

              I wanted to know that myself, and it all boils down to ineffective management not wanting to fire her since she’s been there so long. Never mind she flashed the entire office and eats literal garbage. They just ignore it and hope she’ll retire.

        1. loloslothluin*

          That’s a massive understatement. I can’t remem half the stuff my sister tells me, but garbage diving and naked are what stuck in my brain.

      2. Armchair Analyst*

        I would like more updates about this coworker, please. And how your sister can stand working there!

        1. loloslothluin*

          I think my sister is just used to it, sad as that is. They passed this lady from one clinic to the next, and they can’t blast her out of this one with a bazooka.

          Nobody likes her, but she’s been there so long that no one has the balls to fire her crazy ass.

    3. Katherine*

      I was expecting the 2nd coworker to step in the sauce and slip and fall dramatically or something, but picking it up and eating it! I did not see that coming!

  27. Tammy*

    Many years ago, I was at a holiday party for my ex’s company, a financial services firm. The party was lovely, at a country club, with a catered meal and an open bar. (Cue the ominous music). The partners of the firm got up to make the usual speeches. Then they decided on a rousing round of caroling. Only, instead of the traditional carols, they chose this variation. It was highly inappropriate, and everyone was just standing there in open-mouthed horror. Except for the Director of HR, who by all rights should have been horrified. She, as it turned out, was passed out unconscious on the side of the dance floor from having had too many champagne mimosas.

    1. Vicky Austin*

      As I clicked on that link and I was waiting for it to load, I thought, “Please tell it’s not THAT, please tell me it’s not THAT..”
      Yup, it was THAT.

    2. DaniCalifornia*

      This is my favorite because my husband…oh my husband. We were watching ELF and he asked me seriously, “Why are they singing Panties from Heaven? This is a kid’s movie.”

      I was DYING! I couldn’t even explain to him what the actual song title was (Pennies from Heaven, Bing Crosby). I had to pull out my phone and show him I was laughing too hard.

  28. Mama Bear*

    The party itself was kind of tame. Small company got together for some food and gift exchange. One of the newer hires brought his company provided laptop to the room to play holiday music. At the end of the night he and I confirmed that he would do a task over the weekend. Weekend went by, nothing. Monday, nothing. He had left food and other personal items behind in his desk. It didn’t seem like he’d planned to leave the party and never come back. There had been a snowstorm the night of the party so everyone thought he might be injured. I am not 100% sure what actually happened, but he was fired after 3 days for abandoning his post. Some of us are suspicious that he was arrested, just in time to spend Christmas in jail. He worked for us for a grand total of 3 weeks.

    1. Autumnheart*

      Did anyone actually get in touch with the guy after the fact, if only to fire him? Seems kind of disturbing that someone could fall off the face of the earth and your job just goes, “Oh well!” and replaces you.

      1. Wintermute*

        Yeah this is my worst nightmare, I live alone in a studio apartment with no real close friends in my city, my worst nightmare is I’m incapacitated but not killed in a household accident and no one bothers to check on me until I finally starve to death or dehydrate laying on the bathroom floor with a broken neck or something…

        I would hope they’d at least ask for a wellness check from the police!

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      Please google him and let us know if he’s ok! This has quickly gone from “Oh, ha, that’s funny-weird” to “worrisome”

  29. Jaybeetee*

    A few years ago I wound up inadvertently ripped at a Christmas party held at a colleague’s home (partly my boss’ fault – he was manning bar and kept doubling everyone’s drinks!) For whatever reason, I held up well for the first part of the evening, then the booze (and, uh a small amount of a now-legal substance) hit me like a truck. Like, not moving from my spot on the couch because the room was spinning. Thankfully I didn’t puke or pass out, but I was supposed to be driving other people home. They all wound up chipping in for a cab ride for one woman I was supposed to drive (party was in the burbs), the other person was fine waiting around for me to be in shape to drive. A random friend of the host was also hanging around this party, and started hitting on me while I was sobering up. Not even an ego-boost – I was one of two women still there at that point, and the other was the host’s pregnant (drunk – classy!) wife. It got awkward, I decided I was sober enough to grab my passenger (my future ex, as it happens) and peace out.

    Thankfully, this group of colleagues was largely military (I was one of several civilians working with them), so my being trashed didn’t really phase them. After Christmas, when I saw the host again at work, the first thing he did was apologize for his friend, telling me that guy had behaved like a tool at some other point over the holidays as well and they were no longer speaking. If I had to pick a company Christmas party to be torn up at, that was probably the best choice I could have made to learn that particular lesson. Sorry it contributed to the dude losing a friend though.

      1. Agnodike*

        I’m kind of assuming this is just the plot to a movie I haven’t seen, related in the first person as a joke. Otherwise it’s just toooooooo much.