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. 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.

    8. 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.)

    9. 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.

    10. 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.

    11. 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.

    12. 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.

      1. Loud Noises

        Sounds about par for the course for military house parties. Honestly surprised that it wasn’t much more dramatic. (In terms of general events, not your own experience.)

  30. Higher Ed EA

    I’ve been saving this story for this thread, although it really pales in comparison to some of these!
    I work in a small department at a university, where I have two staff peers and my boss, Dora. At the end of the year, we have a staff appreciation lunch with our department chair (a professor), Marten. The university has pretty strict rules regarding NO alcohol at lunch and NO alcohol for staff returning to work, but nonetheless, once we’re seated at the restaurant, Marten decides he’s going to order a cocktail and starts urging all of us to join him (he would pay–it wouldn’t be on the university’s dime). Unfortunately, Dora is VERY by-the-book and clearly doesn’t approve of rule-bending in this scenario. But, of course, Dora doesn’t offer any guidance or SAY anything to us regarding whether or not we can overlook this policy–we all just have to make that call in real time while she watches us uncomfortably. So, in the end, none of us are brave enough to join Marten for a drink. So, after several minutes of urging us to overlook the rules (and Dora’s palpable judgmental discomfort), Marten orders himself a cocktail and the rest of us move forward with lunch.
    Hours later…back at the office…Dora is gone and the rest of us staff and Marten are gathered around the water cooler, discussing the lunch. Marten finds himself in a moment of self-reflection wondering what it means that he couldn’t make it through one lunch without a drink, and starts asking the staff if we think this means he has a drinking problem! None of us really knows how to respond to this, (especially since, truth be told, I don’t think it’s a GREAT sign), so we all awkwardly attempt to deflect/redirect the conversation, while Marten has a somewhat soul-searching few minutes. SO AWKWARD.
    Also, this is my first and only holiday party of my career.

  31. Schnapps

    Last year’s bad Santa gift (similar to Yankee Gift swap, from what the google tells me): an “antique” Disney tin coffee can with a plastic lid and paper cover. A mostly empty bag of store-brand coffee with some chai-type spices thrown in. Seriously, there was enough for about one mug of coffee.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love me some coffee. And we even drink that store brand coffee because it’s reasonably priced and Not Terrible. The can came from a flea market. Giver was so embarrassed and tried to explain herself to me.

    This year’s rule, “$10 limit, and it has to be something you would like.”

    1. spoon4

      It sounds like there might have been a miscommunication, in my neck of the woods “Bad/Dirty Santa” and “Yankee Swap” are basically joke gifts like the one you’re describing, fish slippers, etc. Junk, essentially. Swaps with actual good gifts are just called a Gift Swap.

      1. Sally

        It depends on where you are. I went to my first Yankee Swap last year, and I found all kinds of conflicting information online, so I asked the host, and she said it was for normal, nice gifts, and the dollar limit was $X.

      2. Schnapps

        Yeah, but she was serious about it. It was just sort of weird, awkward, and sad. This year’s rule came from the organizer because she also felt awful about it, even though it totally wasn’t her fault. She also offered me the bottle of wine she won last year, but I declined. It was no one’s fault, and on the inside I was dying laughing :) I still have the canister and my now-9yo loves it.

        And for us, the “Bad Santa” part comes from the stealing of the gifts, not the gifts themselves. No one wanted to steal my coffee last year, btw :)

        1. PennyParker

          Well, I am an antique dealer who specializes in children’s paper toys (have been doing this for over forty years). That Disney coffee can probably is a valuable collectible, especially if the Disney graphics are on paper. So, while it may not be your thing it is not trash. For some people it would indeed be a nice gift. I find it sad that you are bashing her and it. Your bashing is due to ignorance.

        2. PennyParker

          from ebay sold listings:
          This listing has ended.
          Details about Vintage Advertising Disney Mickey Mouse Tin Coffee Can Empty
          Vintage-Advertising-Disney-Mickey-Mouse-Tin-Coffee-Can-Empty
          Item Sold
          Condition:
          Used
          “In overall good condition.”
          Ended:
          Dec 03, 2018 , 7:53PM
          Price:
          US $12.99

      3. Armchair Analyst

        This! A Yankee Swap is nice gifts, a White Elephant swap is useless gifts, Bad Santa is jokey gifts and I guess Dirty Santa is “adult”….

  32. MusicWithRocksInIt

    I used to work at this manufacturing facility that had moved locations that year. It had been a really hard year on everyone due to upper management cutting a lot of corners on the move – a lot went wrong and we fell behind with orders. Everyone was working super long hours, the people on the floor were pulling double shifts and everyone was super stressed out. At the Christmas party that year the owner gets up to give a speech. We are all expecting some go get them, encouraging talk about how we pulled through in hard times. Nope. He starts scolding us because someone broke open the tampon machine in the ladies locker room recently and stole all the quarters. He talked about it for fifteen solid minutes. He used the word tampon so often it lost all meaning to me. He said he was going to move the tampon machine out onto the floor so it was covered by the cameras. When he was done talking about tampons the speech was over. It was so bizarre and utterly discouraging after one of the hardest years we’ve ever had, that all he cared about was that tampon machine.

        1. Len F

          “Pulled some strings”? Wouldn’t it have been easier to carry the whole vending machine?

          *badum-tish*

  33. Gandalf the Nude

    An excerpt from the group chat last December.

    Pike: …why would you list the very specific brand of underwear you like on your secret Santa list
    Keyleth: For an office secret Santa???
    Pike: YEP
    Pike: he isn’t even joking.
    Keyleth: Why would you list any underwear, let alone a very specific brand??
    Keyleth: I can’t
    Pike: He is bougie AF.
    Keyleth: My HR brain is screaming
    Pike: It’s either the Calvin Klein steel micro low rise trunks or socks from Banana Republic
    Keyleth: SCREAMING
    Vex: This is why we can’t have nice things.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      Depending on how expensive they are, I would be sorely tempted to get said underwear in XXS…unless that was his actual size, then I’d go XXXL.

  34. Mbarr

    Not an exciting story, but one that makes me feel sheepish when I look back on it. When I was a student, I had a co-op tech writing job at a tech company during the holidays. Some of my teammates kept going on about how they were going to get wasted, etc. at our party. Wanting to be one of the team, I joined in on the banter (I wasn’t a big drinker at the time).

    Then the party happened, which was just a nice meal at a restaurant, and it turns out no one got crazy. I felt sheepish cause I think I came across as younger and more naive, not realizing that a) getting sloshed at a Christmas party was appropriate, and b) the other teammates were just trying to get a reaction out of me.

      1. Mbarr

        I don’t think they were doing it on purpose. I think they were joking, and I took it seriously. I suspect I wasn’t as observant/savvy at reading people as I am now.

        1. Nancie

          I tend to fall for that sort of joking, and I’ve come to realize — the jokers have no way of knowing that I wasn’t joking, too.

  35. CDDCS73

    Husband’s company invites and pays for all employees to come down and stay at a resort hotel “so no one will drive drunk afterwards.” Open bar party on the Friday before and open bar at actual party on Saturday. People go because of free weekend in beach town, free booze and pretty awesome door prizes.
    3 years ago: Fist fight on dance floor (for some reason everyone from his branch thought my husband was in it. Nope.)
    2 years ago: tail-gaiting in the parking lot
    Last year: employee passes out in bathtub with water running. $60k worth of damage.
    Hotel invites the company back!

    1. CDDCS73

      I forgot, 2 years ago include owner’s mother slurringly telling people how nice they looked in their collared shirts.

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        ^This makes the story. I am picturing Lucille Bluth so the comment in my head isn’t exactly a compliment

      2. Ella Vader

        This reminds me of the scene in Sophie’s Choice where Sophie is telling the narrator he looks nice in his cocksucker suit. (She meant seersucker.)

    2. 653-CXK

      One time 20 or so years ago at my former company, they used to have the company holiday parties at a hotel, and of course there was alcohol available. One of the managers lorded it over to us that us peons were not allowed to drink. As soon as she got there, she and her clique started drinking. (I didn’t go that day.)

      The next year, the company announced there would be no more holiday parties at the hotel, and they would all be on campus. The announcement came off the tail-end of a huge layoff, but it was likely people got loaded off booze and the hotel – and some reputations – sustained some damage.

      1. 653-CXK

        Let me clean up that first paragraph a little…

        I didn’t go to the party that day, but one of the (female) managers took it upon themselves to tell us that us peons were not allowed to drink – but as soon as she and her clique got there, they started drinking.

        She was fired a few years later after I had left that unit, and from what I was told, she was escorted off the property by security. Karma – she is a patient mistress :-)

    3. Dr. Anonymous

      I can totally see the hotel issuing a repeat invitation assuming the company or the hotel insurance paid for the damage. “Hey, let’s put the drunk who flooded the hotel on the fifth floor this time. The 4th floor needs a refresh!”

  36. I don't drink at work functions anymore

    The first job I ever worked at was a start-up in San Francisco that had a huge party where everyone got drunk. It was very college-ey, all in good fun, and no one thought too much about the shenanigans (I don’t remember anything that bad happening)… and also the only holiday party experience I ever had, so I thought all companies were like that.

    No. No they are not. When I left that job for a fairly stuffy buttoned-up one (in my mid-20s at the time), we had our holiday party at a very fancy country club. There was an open bar and everyone got fairly toasted, but I was probably the worst. And I ended up stealing a wine glass.

    We did not go back there for our holiday party the next year.

  37. Toni West

    My old office would throw a big holiday party with live music at this very famous venue. Open bar, the works (I would have preferred a small bonus). Well we see one of our coworkers there, drinking and having a good time. Too good a time, he’s falling over drunk. The next day he doesn’t show up at the office, doesn’t call in sick, nothing. My manager calls him to see if he is sick (or hungover). No answer. Well come the next day he fails to show up again. No call, no email, nothing. My manager ends up calling the police to do a wellness check, worried that he might not have made it home after the party. I never heard what came from that call, but the following Monday he shows up, says good morning to everyone like normal and gets to work like nothing happened. I’m sure our manager talked with him about the no call absences, but he carried on as if he wasn’t missing for half a week. We had been checking news reports trying to see if he had died or something!

    1. Krabby

      A similar situation happened in my office. After two weeks on the job, this poor guy got wasted at our holiday party and had to be carted off in an ambulance after he couldn’t stop puking (I found out later that it was through no fault of his own, since some asshole in sales had been pressuring everyone to do shots and the alcohol reacted badly with a medication he was taking).

      He didn’t show up the next day and I was in a panic thinking he was dead. I finally got a hold of him only to find out that he had assumed he’d be fired for getting so drunk, so just chose not to show up. We told him no such thing would be happening and he came in the next day and we all tried to act like nothing happened to help minimize his discomfort. He’s now one of our star employees. I wouldn’t be too surprised if a similar situation had happened to the guy in your story.

      1. Beaded Librarian

        I’m glad to hear that your company didn’t hold it against him and was also concerned about where he was. What would you have done if it was his fault in how drunk/sick he had gotten?

  38. CHC

    Since everyone was available, management decided to hold mandatory sexual harassment the same day as the holiday party. The training was in the morning and at lunchtime the party started. Needless to say, it was an awkward day.

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

          Yes, but the one who mandates it is the guilty one. Not the one who is forced to sexually harass someone.

    1. Lily

      We are actually having our mandatory Title IX training (aka, the university version of sexual harassment reporting rules) after our holiday lunch this year. So…yeah.

      1. Glitsy Gus

        That could be interesting, “So Fergus, that thing you said to June at the punch bowl twenty minutes ago? That is not at all OK, and here is where in the Title it says so!”

    2. Wintermute

      We didn’t do it the same DAY but december was regulatory obligations month– do your security training, do your HR training, do your IT infosec training, do your safety training, etc.

      It did make sure that no one could plead ignorance! They had JUST HAD their mandatory HR training. I think it’s wise to be honest, just giving people a little reminder.

  39. Eeyore's missing tail

    This story happened before I started in my office, but I believe it knowing the people involved. Not as exciting as many, but it’s my only funny story. We’re a tame/boring office.

    Our office does an ornament swap every year. Participation is completely voluntary and the prince limit is $5. Since I’ve been here, the way it works is you draw a number, collect the bag that matches, open it, and guess who gave it. From what I understand, it use to be more of white elephant, where you could steal other people’s ornaments. Wanda (who finally retired, thank heavens) stated before they started that it was a swap and you could steal other people’s ornaments. The one she opened had her favorite baseball team on it. When Jessica went to steal it, Wanda said no. After a few moments of blank stares and Jessica asking for the ornament, Wanda said that she was changing the rules and there would be no more stealing. She then left the room with her prized ornament. Since then, we have’t been allowed to steal.

    And yes, I have many, many stories about Wanda.

  40. Just Another Manic Millie

    At one of my former companies, we had a company grab-bag at Christmas. About fifty of the eighty-five employees participated. We put our names in a hat and then pulled out someone’s name. We were told to spend a maximum of five dollars (plus tax). Don’t laugh – five dollars went a lot farther in the early 1980’s.

    After the names were picked, Elvira said to Jane and me, “I wish I knew who had my name. I would say to that person, ‘Here’s a dollar. There’s a pair of earmuffs at Chuckles that I really want that costs six dollars’.” I asked her why she didn’t just buy them for herself. She said that she wouldn’t spend six dollars on earmuffs. Four dollars, yes, but not six dollars.

    I was certain that Elvira actually expected Jane and me to run around the office and ask people, “By any chance, did you pick Elvira’s name in the grab-bag? If you did, there’s a pair of earmuffs at Chuckles that she wants.” Well, I wasn’t about to run around and ask everyone, and neither was Jane. No one had a master list of which person had which person’s name in the grab-bag.

    Even if Jane or I had happened to find out who had Elvira’s name and told him/her about the earmuffs, what if Chuckles had more than one kind of earmuffs? How would the person know which one to buy? Even if Jane or I had Elvira’s name, we wouldn’t have known which earmuffs to buy. Even if the person was willing to spend the extra dollar, he/she might have bought the wrong earmuffs, unless he/she spoke to Elvira first, and that would have completely ruined the element of surprise. Elvira should have bought them for herself.

    On the morning of the grab-bag, someone checked over all of the gifts on display in the kitchen, and there wasn’t one for Garnet. As there was no master list, she had to ask everyone, “By any chance, did you get Garnet in the grab-bag? There isn’t a gift for her.” The son of the president of the company said that he had picked her, but he said that he didn’t know that he was supposed to put the gift in the kitchen with all the other gifts. He said that he thought she was supposed to go to his office, and he would then give her the gift. Of course, he was unable to explain how she was supposed to know that he had picked her.

    When the time came for us to open our gifts, it turned out that Fergus, who was on vacation that day, had picked Elvira’s name. He had left his gift for her before he went away. Elvira eagerly opened it, and it turned out to be plant food. She carried on and carried on. People said that it was a good thing that Fergus wasn’t there, or World War III would have started. Everyone knew that Elvira liked to grow plants, so plant food wasn’t really such a bad gift. But she wanted her earmuffs!

    Oh, and it turned out that the president’s son bought Garnet subway tokens. They cost seventy-five cents each then, so I guess he bought her seven tokens. Garnet was very gracious.

  41. Sarnobyl

    At a job I had in my twenties there was a huge company wide party at a banquet hall. This lady who worked in my department was in her late fifties, but lived life like she was 21 year old party girl with no morals. She was going on and on all week about how she spent weeks finding the perfect outfit for the party. She shows up and sees a colleague from another department wearing the same outfit. After having a mental breakdown in the bathroom over it, she started drinking. Heavily. She propositioned one of the fresh out of college tech guys to go home with her that night as her husband was out of town. He turned her down very bluntly. Rage kicked in. She then punched the girl with the same outfit as her for “stealing her outfit”. She was dragged out kicking and screaming.

    She ended up getting fired a year or so later for after complaints of her propositioning customers. That lady was cray cray. Actually a lot of the people at that job were. I could write a book on the insanity of that place!

      1. Sarnobyl

        Everyone was shocked but she was good “friends” with our bosses boss. She got fired after he retired for those complaints.

  42. Database Developer Dude

    Yankee gift swap on a previous gig. The guy who was basically my boss brought in a gift that looked like he scraped up some stuff from his garage, including a headband with a lamp on it. The woman who ended up with it was very overweight. (It’s relevant, wait for it).

    So my at-the-time boss is getting shit from everyone at the party for his lame gift, and he tries mightily to defend himself. He says to the women who wound up with it “you can use the headband for going running at night!”

    Her response: ” Do I look like I go running?” Best Mic Drop EVER! He slunk off with his tail between his legs.

    1. Artemesia

      Those head lamp things are actually great for many things — handywork around the house where you need a flashlight and two hands, reading in bed (my son got me one for that before the kindles had lights in them) so you don’t disturb your sleeping partner etc etc. I would think it an ok gift if there were not spiderwebs and garage leaves on it.

      1. Kiwilib

        Yep, very handy, my husband has literally just walked in from watering a plant using his headlamp (I laughed when he bought it, but he uses it heaps)

    2. Annony

      A headlamp is one of my go-to gifts. I gave them as party favors for my daughter’s birthday (it was a camping theme) and every.single parent has mentioned at one point over the years that they still use the headlamp and how weirdly useful it’s been!

  43. Lily Rowan

    This isn’t that funny, but I’m still mad about it, and it was 10 years ago: my office did a Secret Santa thing with a $10 limit. Nearly everyone was pretty creative and did a nice job with it — it was a small office where people liked each other. The ONE person who got a gag gift was my direct report — and the person who had drawn her name was the head of HR!

    1. Jane Who Needs Coffee

      I will never do a Secret Santa again. Last year at the company i worked did a Secret Santa – 2 people (not one, but two!!) forgot to bring their gifts – and accepted theirs without mentioning anything until the boss sent out an email scolding who ever forgot their gifts, and I think I got the worst gift.

      It was a 20$ limit, nice gift thing. I got a used pack of lip scrubs from a pre-teen store – yes, used. There was product missing from 2 out of 3 pots and the package had clearly been rescued from the garbage to be taped back together, it had coffee grounds on it. Oh, and I was super allergic to them. The worst part is this was completely optional exchange.

      I also want to say there is one thing I am known for, and that is the obscene amount of coffee I drink – often from Tim Hortons. Like there was two of us with the same name there and I was known as “Jane-who-always-has-coffee”.

  44. SMH

    New Hire took pretend picture at our Christmas Party dinner table of his hand grabbing another coworker’s boob. He proudly showed the leadership team the picture at the party. They all openly agreed that bringing him on has been GREAT for camaraderie…and they invited him out for drinks afterward.

  45. HR Lady

    It’s my office Christmas party tomorrow. It has traditionally always been on a Saturday, partners and spouses were always invited and there was a three course sit down meal, albeit with free flowing booze. So people were pretty relaxed but they were well-rested and had the control factors of their other halves and a decent meal lining the stomach.

    This year: it is on a Friday. No partners. Only food will be canapes and ‘bowl food’. The booze is still free-flowing. I am extremely aware that most teams are planning to go out for lunch at bang on 12, start drinking, stagger back at 3pm and pretend to work for an hour, get changed in to their evening wear, and make an early dart for the pub before the official party starts. (I work in the City of London. It’s not as boozy as it was but the culture is still there. Highest pub density per square mile in the UK!)

    I am the only in-person HR bod for 1,200 people at this office due to a couple of recent leavers. (I have some remote support but they are a couple of hundred miles away!)

    I have had people coming up to me for WEEKS to either raise concerns or look gleeful at a party that is already being talked about in hushed terms with phrases like ‘chaos’ and ‘armageddon’ thrown around. I’ve made it frank that on Friday night I am OFF DUTY and if anyone wants to have a crisis they can do it THEMSELVES but as of Monday morning I will support on as many disciplinary processes AS POSSIBLE and oh god help me.

    1. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)

      I love “I am OFF DUTY and if anyone wants to have a crisis they can do it THEMSELVES.”

      if I quote this, how would you like it attributed”

      1. Ama

        I’m not HR but I work with a lot of Type A scientists and this is very appropriate for my busy season.

      1. Sorcha

        Bowl food is small servings of dishes served in hand-sized bowls, so between canapés and a sit-down plate. Provides more food than canapés alone, but can be eaten standing and mingling. It was served at the royal wedding reception this year and is the trendy thing at present.

    2. Parenthetically

      Oh please, please please please report back, please, knowing I’ll be hearing these stories next week is all I have to get me through this weekend’s Snowmageddon.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      Might I recommend you book yourself a massage for next Friday in anticipation of the many disciplinary processes you are likely going to be doing next week?

    4. Wide eyed curiosity

      Oh my gosh. Can you do an update on one of the open discussion days? My inner drama-llama really wants to know how this ends up…

    5. Alice Ulf

      First off, this is amazing and so are you, and I wish you all the caffeine necessary to get through Monday with your sanity intact.

      Secondly…what is “bowl food” (and why does it sound so unappetizing)?

    6. BrightLights

      I think it’s possible that you work for our head office, and I would just like to wish you fortitude and the best of luck.

    7. londonedit

      We’re having ‘bowl food’ at our office Christmas party. Why is this now a thing, London?

  46. Still anon after all these years

    First “traditional” job after law school (I’d worked on political campaigns and staff for a couple of years after – you do NOT learn regular office norms at these jobs!!), I started the week before Thanksgiving. I was one of the first new hires in a big expansion they were having after going public and one of the first people who hadn’t been there for 15 years already. One thing to keep in mind is that the CEO was one of the other newbies. They had a white elephant gift exchange at the holiday party and, not knowing what that was, I asked. I was told that it was all in fun and to just bring in a random thing around the house and not to really spend any money on it. It was just to exchange tchotchkes and laugh about the random 1973 harvest gold candle that someone got. So, that’s what I did. I brought in some incense and an incense stick holder (and this was the $5 head shop version of incense, not the fancy kind you get at Bath and Body Works!!). I don’t know to this day if everyone changed their minds because of the new CEO and forgot to tell me of the change or if I got pranked as the newbie, but everyone else had spent at least $30-$40 on their contributions and they were all things like holiday guest towel sets and kitchen utensil sets. And guess who got my incense? Yup, the CEO!! Gifts also did not have names on them, so I have NEVER claimed responsibility for being the bringer of the incense and claimed ignorance for the entire two years I was there!!

    1. Annie Moose

      Ahhhh this happened to me once at a white elephant! I was told (and given explicit examples) that it was a “bring random, amusing trash and we’ll all laugh at how silly they are” event. One of the examples was a used McDonald’s cup. So I followed suit! I brought some silly, partly-used office supplies, wrapped in ridiculous lime green wrapping paper.

      It… was not that sort of event. Everyone else brought nice stuff. I kept my mouth shut and told people I’d brought one of the dozen or so candles.

    2. Melly

      I have a similar story to this, but not quite as drastic. I definitely brought an As Seen on TV item that we’d been given as a wedding present to a white elephant office party, where I’d been told it was calm and cool but everyone else brought enjoyable things. I did not own up to it as people tried to be nice and justify how the Fasta Pasta was actually a good gift because then you could eat pasta at work.

      1. Kelsi

        This is actually true though. Someone clueless gave me a Fasta Pasta and much though I rolled my eyes at the time, it actually was super useful for office lunch. I was so sad when someone stole it out of the office kitchen.

        1. pony tailed wonder

          I just ordered one. I had never heard of it before but I googled it and I think it would be great for my elderly parents to use.

    3. Beth

      I attended a party with one of those gift exchanges, and the organizers had deliberately “salted” the stack of presents with three or four absolute utter garbage items: one was a grotty old vinyl purse, one was a gross set of porny underwear, one was a pair of old shoes. Just to make it “more fun”, because what’s better than a party where assholes have full license to pick on anybody they want to? One where they’ve been given extra ammunition!

      I HATE those “gift” exchanges and will never do another one if I can help it.

      1. Parenthetically

        They can be SO FUN, but only if everyone is of the same mind about them. If you have some people who see it as purely a ridiculous gag-gift game and think, “I’m raiding my great-aunt’s basement for this one” and some people who see it as an opportunity to swap fun/nice stuff that they don’t need but someone else might, it’s going to be a disaster because Bob brought a bottle of scotch (since he got it as a gift from a client but only drinks beer) but came home with Jane’s great-aunt’s ugliest ashtrays. Best one I ever went to had strict rules: you had to include a $5 or $10 gift card to somewhere decent (Starbucks/Chipotle-type places were usual) or equivalent GOOD gift (nice chocolates, fluffy socks) with your prank gift so everyone got something hilarious AND something nice.

        1. Catwoman

          That’s how my current department handles it. Some people go only for the nice stuff and others do funny trash with something nice thrown in.

    4. JustaTech

      This happened at my last White Elephant by accident. The new guy was the new VP, and while everyone else understood that the gifts should be new or like-new, he brought a very used laptop backpack. With the logo of our competitor.

      Thankfully there was a spare gift, and he was apologetic, but it really impacted people’s opinion of him for a while.

  47. DCGirl

    I’ve told this one before, but it’s hard to top. My new company’s party is in January, so I’ll have to wait and see what happens. It’ll be the first time I’ve been to a drinks-and-dancing office party since this one, the intervening years having been spent at organizations that didn’t do a big holiday event.

    A couple of jobs ago, the CEO of the company decided that it just wasn’t a party without a Tom Jones impersonator. HR, which was organizing the party, duly went out and hired a Tom Jones impersonator for her. We walked into the hotel ballroom where the party was being held and a hirsute man with his shirt unbuttoned to his waist started handing out tiny little thong panties to some of the female employees and asked them to throw them at him at the appropriate time, the tossing of panties having been said to be a feature of Tom Jones’ concerts through the year. There is no circumstance, even in the context of an appearance by a fake Tom Jones, where panties should be handed out during an office holiday party. None. I declined to participate in the pantie-tossing.

    While most of the women were wearing cocktail dresses or slacks with dressy tops, the CEO was wearing an outfit that consisted of a crop top and slacks in a vivid blue brocade-y kind of fabric (very retro-looking). The kindest thing I can say is that she did not have the figure or muscle tone to pull off a crop top. My husband was like, “That’s your CEO? For real?”

    So, Tom Jones performed and women tossed panties, except for the CEO, who decided to put her bright pink pair on her head and wear them for the rest of the evening. She had quite a few drinks and held forth on the dance floor, panties on her head, for the rest of the evening.

    My husband and I stayed at the hotel that night (by coincidence, it was where we’d held our wedding). We came down to breakfast the next morning to find the CEO nursing an epic hangover, with little memory of the night before.

      1. Daniel

        I read this reply before reading the full story, and I *literally* jumped up a bit in my seat.

        Reading DCGirl’s original post now.

        [now done]

        What. The. Crap.

    1. Amber Rose

      I’m reminded of a family Christmas party many, many years ago where everyone got underwear as their present. The kids all got underwear with candy canes on them. The adults got… edible, crotchless underwear.

      1. Kelly AF

        This is actually the first story that made my eyes widen and my head snap back a tiny bit. A FAMILY party???

        1. Amber Rose

          What can I say. My grandparents have a wicked sense of humor. :D

          I was too young at the time to really understand the joke (I think I was around 8 or 9), but I have such a clear memory of my mom laughing her ass off, and refusing to explain to me why.

    2. Libervermis

      Because I am a nerd who studies eighteenth-century literature I thought you meant Tom Jones from the Henry Fielding novel, and was simultaneously baffled and delighted that there exists a person who believes a good party requires him. And honestly, until the “tossing of panties at concerts” line, it still mostly worked.

      Between HR hiring the impersonator and the panties on the head…probably for the best that the CEO doesn’t remember.

      1. Artemesia

        Actually I can imagine Fielding’s Tom Jones having panties thrown at him at a raucus party. It still works.

    3. Parenthetically

      “it just wasn’t a party without a Tom Jones impersonator. ”

      Boy, if I had a nickel…

    4. Wintermute

      I found myself wondering if Tom Jones impersonators were COMMON at work functions but, well… it’s not unusual.

    5. Surprised

      ‘The kindest thing I can say is that she did not have the figure or muscle tone to pull off a crop top.” Maybe try not saying anything, then. This reflects poorly on you.

      1. Me

        Concur.

        A crop top in itself is a poor choice for a work event from a professional apparel standpoint. Take issue with that? Fine.

        Taking issue with a crop top because you don’t like the way someone looks in it is very 6th grade. Other people don’t exist to visually appeal to you.

  48. Edianter

    Background: I was a department director in an expat-owned teapot company overseas. Our staff was split into two main demographics: (1) teapot salespeople—mostly young expats in their first professional jobs and who largely did not speak the local language of the country we were working in, and (2) teapot support—local staff who were generally mid-career, so clearly older than the sales team, and they almost without exception did not speak English. Management (myself and about a half-dozen other directors) were all bilingual expats and had to manage both groups of staff simultaneously. (This resulted in MANY funny cultural clashes, but I’ll just tell you about a holiday party mishap.)

    My boss, one of the company’s co-owners, went all in for a very lavish party (as was typical for this company). Think open bar, DJ, presents, fully catered sit-down meal, etc. He also wanted to have an additional form of entertainment and he got the idea in his head that it would be FANTASTIC to have a talent show among the staff (even though, as I said, the staff was two groups of people who could really not understand each other and there were only about a dozen people company-wide who could understand/communicate with both groups). We could not talk my boss out of the talent show idea (we REALLY tried!), so it went ahead.

    Mostly, the talent show was just awkward, but there was one act that will forever be burned into my brain as one of my most humiliating memories. One of our young teapot salespeople, Fergus, has some experience in stand-up comedy and was planning to do a short set in the talent show. It was decided that I, his boss, would translate for him as he went so that the teapot support staff could also hear the jokes. We did not practice ahead of time, and I did not know what the set would contain.

    Well, as it turned out, Fergus’s comedy set was filled with some of the dirtiest, raunchiest jokes I’d EVER heard. Things I would not have been comfortable hearing on my personal time, let alone at a work event. Definitely not the type of jokes I would normally ever repeat. I was appalled that Fergus thought these jokes were appropriate for a work party with all of management and the three owners present. But the worst part was that I had to stand there and repeat the jokes in the local language for the support team to understand. It was so awkward, almost no one was laughing. I was so humiliated to be involved with the act—to the support team, I know it looked like I was supporting/approving of the routine.

    But, as it turns out, one of the only people truly enjoying the “comedy” routine was my boss, the co-owner, so I couldn’t do anything but go ahead with the plan, as it had been his idea for me to translate in the first place. I had no warning that I’d be put in an awkward situation so I didn’t have the option to say I’d be uncomfortable translating. Plus, with the nature of my job, I ended up translating between the teams all the time. So I had no way of knowing that this particular situation was going to be so awful. It *was* awful. I’m still shuddering just thinking about it, and this was about 4 years ago!

    1. Project Manager

      I’m actually impressed you knew the language well enough to be able to translate the dirty stuff. I don’t know any dirty words in German.

      1. Edianter

        Haha—my translation was certainly more clinical than the original… my knowledge of the equivalent dirty/inappropriate slang was definitely lacking!

        1. CM

          That actually sounds pretty hilarious, having raunchy jokes repeated with formal, clinical language substituted for the dirty words. But yeah, probably not at a work party.

            1. Bulbasaur

              ‘…orally stimulate my reproductive organ, you, um… illegitimate child and perpetrator of incestuous acts!’

  49. Definitely Anon

    A couple of years ago my boyfriend (who had never met anyone from my office) came to pick me up from my Christmas party. The VP of my company – who was very very drunk – came over, grabbed my boyfriend and me by the shoulders and, crying, told us we just needed to ‘take care of each other’. She then put her head on my boyfriend’s shoulder and sobbed for a very long time. Awks.

    1. CM

      I went to a holiday party with my partner, who is of a different race / skin color. Drunk colleague said “awww, you two are so cute, you look like the united colors of Benetton” (ad campaign with people of different skin colors). :/

  50. Evil HR Person

    Years ago, before I worked in HR, I worked for an small insurance broker as a receptionist. This was right around the time when DVD’s were starting to take over VHS, so people would actually own one of each machine, that’s how long ago this was. Anyhoo… we had a big party at the home of one of the VP’s of the company. Spouses were invited, and the VP’s children were there (as it was their home), and there was a white elephant gift exchange which numbered about 65 people. The evening started out as boring as you’d imagine for an introvert like myself (with no such thing as a smartphone to keep me entertained), so I just found some food, found a seat near the tree, and settled. Then, after about a couple of hours and plenty of alcohol, the gift exchange started. I drew a low number, and I can’t even tell you what I got as a gift. As the numbers got larger and larger, the drunken shenanigans began. Until… somewhere around the 60-mark, someone opened their gift and it was a VERY racy VHS tape. Again, this was before there was free porn on the internet, so you can only imagine the frenzy of wanting to possess this thing. My close friend had a very high number and stole the cassette its third, and final, time – which meant she got to keep it. Funnily enough, the females that worked at the company were enjoying this turn of events. The wives of the males, and ESPECIALLY the wife of the VP (the hostess and mother of the only children in attendance) were not very happy (I wonder why?). The party ended soon thereafter. I don’t remember much of that party, only the white elephant gift exchange from the moment that tape made its appearance. Nowadays, I allow white elephants at my company, BUT I make it very clear that naughty gifts are not appropriate, and then I explain what exactly constitutes a naughty gift. Live and learn…

  51. Sleepytime Tea

    At my former company, we had an obligatory “fun committee” that rotated quarterly. I was of course on it the 4th quarter which meant being responsible for the team holiday party. I loved my teammates and wanted to give them a good party. The 3 other people on the “committee” were less… useful, but one in particular, let’s call him Fabio, was the bane of my existence. He was a blatant misogynist, and even if he volunteered to do something he would then try to delegate it to me. I would explicitly say no, he needed to do what he committed to and we were each doing our part, and then he would let things fall through. He also didn’t pay even the remotest attention to what was being planned and was always clueless and useless.

    We had a decent number of people on our team who were not from the US and so for the games I planned, specifically a stealing/white elephant gift exchange, I made sure to write up instructions about how it worked. Not just the price limit and stuff but a breakdown of how the game worked. That game also varies a lot so this made sure everyone was on the same page. Fabio, of course, did not pay attention. He also was from another country and had never played the game before. We ended up with one very lame gift in the exchange, a used electronic can opener (all the other gifts were fun/funny/nice/etc., this was the only one that was truly something absolutely no one would want and was even kind of dirty and gross). I don’t remember exactly how it went down, but Fabio had the opportunity to get a different gift but instead kept the disgusting can opener, which obviously no one stole from him.

    Karma’s a bitch guys. :-)

    The rest of the party actually went incredibly well. It was during work hours and I organized games for those wanted to play, let people go back to work who wanted to instead of socializing, and had copious amounts of food. And Fabio got a little bit of karmic justice. That was a good day.

    1. Turtlewings

      I really wonder if Fabio brought the can opener, realized he’d screwed up when he saw what everyone else brought, and actually kept it himself as a good deed. Not saying he wasn’t otherwise a pain in the neck, but honestly that’s my first thought about the can opener thing.

      1. Sleepytime Tea

        Nah, I wish that were the case. But after the game was over I innocently asked him why he didn’t just get a different gift when he had the chance, and he was genuinely unhappy that he didn’t get a better gift and had missed the opportunity. With the other people who had never played before I made sure during their turn I told them what their options were, I didn’t with Fabio (decent chance he would’ve ignored me anyway, being a woman). He was a little peeved at me that I hadn’t corrected him. Plus he made sure to point out which gift it was that he brought for the exchange. I forget what it was, nothing particularly exciting but definitely not the can opener.

        1. Glitsy Gus

          Well, then that’s his lesson on reading directions. Or at least paying attention to what literally everyone else in the room is doing.

  52. Anon raunchy holiday party goer

    I worked for a small satellite office, where we threw our own holiday parties instead of going to corporate. Which meant we did things like: leaving the office at noon for a pub crawl, playing Cards Against Humanity with the entire staff, openly smoking weed on the street, shirtless drunken colleagues, maudlin drunken colleagues (“my wife won’t have sex with me!”), karaoke, a made up game called “drinking dreidel”, scorpion bowls, shots, openly smoking weed in the office, drunken colleagues sleeping in the office instead of going home, the list goes on… thankfully we had no HR department because they would have died at some of the stuff that went on during those parties. Instead we just took innocent looking photos of ourselves in our ugly sweaters and posted them to the corporate intranet. Good times!

    1. Nobby Nobbs

      “Drunken colleagues sleeping in the office instead of going home”- beats driving home drunk! Good work!

  53. JustAClarifier

    Aaaaaaand all of these stories are why I flat out refuse to attend holiday parties or events that are in any way related to my job and anyone with whom I work. Ha!

  54. Thing1

    As a grad student, my department would have a holiday party after the end of the semester every year. It wasn’t super fancy, but it was fun–professors, staff, grad students and post-docs, plus families. The department provided “heavy appetizers”. The first year they asked people to bring desserts. We had a whole table full. The next year, someone decided that we should have a dessert contest. We ended up with 4 desserts. For something like 50-60 people. Because people just wanted to bake or buy something, they didn’t want to have it judged. It recovered a little bit in the years after that, but it was never as many as we’d had before someone decided we needed More Fun!!

    1. Gumby

      We once had a Halloween party with a pumpkin pie contest or maybe it was Thanksgiving now that I think about it. My manager made a pumpkin pie from the actual squash. Several people made it with the can of Libby’s stuff (which is great and how I make it) – not as labor intensive but still homemade. I made one of those cakes that look like a pumpkin (2 bundt cakes, orange frosting, using a ding-dong for the stem) expecting that it wouldn’t be included in the competition part but I wanted to try it and co-workers make excellent guinea pigs. The judges tasted all of the desserts – blind testing, didn’t know who brought what. They winner was announced.

      Turns out the pie? Bought from Costco. When that news made it around the office the “winner” was shamed into passing the prize ($25 or $50 gift card IIRC) on to the second place person.

      I’m pretty sure the winner was someone in HR and I think the only reason the pie’s origin’s came to light is that they had already told several other HR people where they had gotten it.

  55. Krevlornswath

    I was a young producer and worked at a production company that specialized in reality tv / documentary film / branded digital content back in 2013. I had made my first big reality tv pilot pitch and we had filmed the first week with the cast about a month prior to our holiday party. Our party was huge and full of some D-level and local-to-the-city-we-had-our-offices-in celebs and cast members of some of our shows. It was a fun party but also quite a bit chaotic, as all entertainment things are. I spent the majority of the party with the cast to my new show because I actually also really liked them as people. One of our interns was really attracted to one of the cast mates and kept following her around. Eventually I took the cast out for a final followup drink to try and escape the chaos of the party and the intern followed us, even though he was under 21 and we had to leave the bar. Then we went back to the cast house they were all living in and he followed us there, too, even though I’d tried hinting that this wasn’t for him, but he *called a friend to join him*. His behavior was so gross to the whole cast / the one cast mate he was particularly fond of that at 2am I had to call one of our executive producers to come and reprimand him and take him home. For clarification, this wasn’t an intern *I* could properly scold because his father was some big producer and I could have lost my job if I “made him feel bad”. I couldn’t believe I called the EP, but the next day he assured me I had done the right thing “politically”. At the following year’s holiday party I ended up being a handler for a mid-level hip hop artist because he wanted to run around the city from club to club, and we ended up at a club where the servers all wore basically nothing until I had to take him to the airport for his 5am flight. It was a really weird job and I’m so glad to not be in that industry anymore.

  56. Anxious Lesbian

    A few years ago I was at the Christmas party for my previous employer, which was being held at one of those arcade/bar places (think Dave and Buster’s but a bit fancier), along with my wife. She was nervous about being around my coworkers, and hit up the bar before dinner, so she was already somewhat inebriated when the buffet opened up, and proceeded to cut in line in front of the president of the company. After eating (and apologizing profusely), she decided she wanted to do some bowling, and went over to the lanes near the bar. She immediately got on the scorekeeping computer and entered her name as “DICK SQUAD”… And turned around to see the president behind her again.

    Thankfully he was a decent guy and didn’t get offended by either thing, but it didn’t do my anxiety any favors.

  57. SigneL

    Not a funny holiday story (sorry) but I really want an update from the person whose boss was determined to make her “first Christmas” special – in spite of said person being Jewish. (Remember the cutesy “Shannon’s first was” ornament? Ew.)

  58. IntoTheWild

    It was my first holiday party at my office fresh out of undergrad, and with my hearty Irish heritage I am prone to 1) generally ferocious rosacea and 2) an especially vivid red flush after my first drink. I arrived to the party late because I’d walked form work (it was at a hotel conference room area), met with friends, and grabbed a glass of wine. Pretty much immediately after finishing the glass I got my customary alcohol flush.

    One of my coworkers (the office front desk manager, so she’d been involved with the whole party, like ordering food, etc) had been drinking way too much at this point, and was already pretty drunk. We wound up in the bathroom washing our hands at the same time. “Oh my god, you’re so red,” she said. I tried to play it off (‘haha yeah, this happens all the time, definitely not something I spend literal hundreds of dollars at dermatologists before I found out it was genetic’), and she goes, “are you allergic to something? are you having a reaction?”

    I tried to tell her it was just my face but she lost her mind. She was positive I was allergic to something. I finally escaped but she kept finding me periodically over the span of probably the next half hour or so, and every time she got more freaked out that I was having an allergic reaction. Her reactions went from slightly worried but having too much fun to think about it to grabbing my cheeks and feeling my pulse. Finally I thought I lost her by hiding with some friends in a corner.

    NOT SO. Fifteen minutes later I’m over at the table pondering which cake slice to take when this woman appears with an epi-pen clutched precariously in her fist, pulls me around by my shoulder, and tries to LIFT MY DRESS UP to get to my thigh!! I’m scrambling away, she’s too drunk (thank god) to actually be effective at stabbing me with adrenaline I DON’T NEED, and worst of all because she got me by surprise she hoisted a decent bit of my dress up and all my colleagues saw least a good portion of my cheeks, framed tastefully by the the red velvet and vanilla cake options on the dessert table behind me.

    My company handled it really well – called a car for her to go home, followed up with me then and there, and had separate meetings with us on Monday, as the party was on a Friday evening. Her intentions were honestly good (if not soaked in alcohol) and given the weekend I was beginning to find it funny that I’d effectively mooned all the higher ups and they had to be professional about it, so in the end I think she just went through some sensitivity training. She was also MORTIFIED, apologized nonstop for the next week, etc. I’m no longer at that job but what an intro to the world of Corporate Christmas Parties.

    1. BenAdminGeek

      ” framed tastefully by the the red velvet and vanilla cake options on the dessert table behind me” is the capper here. Hilarious!

    2. PB

      Wow. Can’t you really harm someone if you inject them with an epi pen they don’t need?

      I share your Irish genes. On occasion, I’ve had someone look at me and say “Are you all right?!”, but never anything of this scale.

      1. LKW

        Yes, even for those who need it at the moment, it still has some pretty harsh effects. But it’s worth it to remain alive.

      2. Bagpuss

        Yes.
        Even if you do need it, it’s a massive shock to your system.
        It increases your blood pressure so there is a risk of causing a heart attack or stroke, particularly if the person injected has any relevant medical history.

      3. Artemesia

        My brother who has allergies and is particularly allergic to some antibiotics, is also deathly allergic to adrenaline. A dentist once nearly killed him; put him into shock right in the chair. An epi pen might well do him in. What he needs when he has a medication reaction is steroids.

      4. Kimberly

        Yes, epi can cause cardiac problems, even if you need it for an allergic reaction. While one person is administering it another should be calling 911. That is one of the problems with making it OTC – like some people want to. (Another problem is the cost and it won’t be prescription/covered by insurance). It also isn’t a cure-all. I need epi, breathing treatment, and steroids for 72 hours or I’ll have “another” reaction when the epi wears off. The epi only suppresses symptoms – it doesn’t get the allergen out of your system.

    3. blink14

      I’m with you on the alcohol flush! It’s super annoying, especially when people ask 800 times if you’re ok. Yes, I am aware my face is red from having one drink, thanks.

      1. Armchair Analyst

        Yes.
        It involves drinking, aggressive helpfulness, desserts, mooning, and of course, corporate reprimand the following week.
        I would say Top 5 for 2018!

    4. Parenthetically

      This one… this one is incredible.

      And seriously how awesome are you that you were able to find humor in it so quickly?! I would have evaporated into a fine mist of embarrassment then and there.

      1. IntoTheWild

        It helped that most of my team at least was around my age and we were all friendly past normal cordial coworkers, but yeah, in the moment I was totally horrified. Having a friend explain what my department head’s face looked like as he gazed upon the scene was really what got me to come around (there may or may not have been a private dramatic re-enactment in a conference room the next week for my amusement, which also helped!)

    5. Chinookwind

      As someone who has had to explain that my rosacea was not actually a serious “butterfly rash” to the ER doctor who I saw to treat a burn on my leg, I feel your pain. Some people just won’t believe me that I know my skin reactions better than them.

      1. ElspethGC

        I have a) keratosis pilaris, and b) very annoying veins that occasionally decide it’s too warm and open full throttle and make my skin bright red, but only in very odd irregular patches on my face, chest, arms and hands.

        I have had to spend a *lot* of time telling people that I don’t have heat rash, I don’t have ingrown hairs, and I’m not having an allergic reaction. One person was insistent that the KP on my arms was heat rash and started trying to make me put a coat on in 40C weather, completely ignoring the fact that I was telling her no, it’s just a genetic chronic skin condition that’s never going to go away, also you’ve known me for five years, how have you never seen it before?

        1. IntoTheWild

          Isn’t it frustrating?? I get an afternoon flush occasionally (usually when my topical meds are getting a little old so their effectiveness is wearing off) but drinking…it’s a whole other ball game. the patchy flush is not a great look. And discussing it makes me actually blush so then it just gets worse!

      1. Adlib

        Right?! Did she just “bum” one from somebody by explaining someone was about to die? Or steal it from some person’s bag? Just wow.

      2. IntoTheWild

        It turned out that her son had an allergy he needed it for, so she had a bunch of copies all over the place in case he needed it. She didn’t even have it uncapped thank God, but yeah, it was definitely a nasty shock! In the moment all I could think of was 1) I don’t want a needle in my leg and 2) there is a definitive breeze upon my lower regions…

    6. Traveling Teacher

      “I’d effectively mooned all the higher ups and they had to be professional about it”

      Top Five, maybe even Top Three!

  59. Nanc

    My first job post-college and I had a tight budget so for the White Elephant exchange I went flipping through my collection of LPs (I’m old!) and selected The Partridge Family Up to Date album. It was one of the first things selected (I put it in a giant box so you couldn’t tell it was an LP) and the most grabbed! At the end of the exchange the host put it on the stereo and everyone sang and danced along.
    I bet that sucker is worth something now . . .

    1. Pam

      At our white elephant, there is a traditional gift that reappears each year- a teen magazine with ‘N Sync on the cover. It’s always popular because the tradition is to tuck a $20 inside.

  60. publicservant

    We had our office Christmas party in the upstairs of a nearby bar ~5 or 6 years ago. We thought it went really well, only one person who had to be sent home in a cab, good times and no drama… And then we received a call from the bar that someone had stolen the baby Jesus out of their almost-life-sized nativity scene and we were not welcome back.

    An email went out to all the staff asking for His return, but I don’t think the mystery was ever solved. I had another Christmas party for a different office at that bar a couple years later and they no longer had a nativity scene on display.

    1. Turtlewings

      I don’t even know why your oh-so-proper capitalization of “His return” is cracking me up so bad but thank you for that.

  61. Gobsmacked

    There was department head, who in the weeks leading up to our holiday party, took off from work to have a boob job done. She spent the time away, sending painfully inappropriate details to her entire staff, including weird diatribes on her justification for doing it. It was the talk of the whole office. She showed up at the party with her new cantaloupe sized boobs on full display in a sparkly dress with tiny spaghetti straps. Unfortunately (or maybe by design?) a lot of factors combined to make it even more immodest that it should have been. She was very petite, so the neckline hung much lower than it would have on an average sized person. It was made of a super stretchy jersey knit that just seemed to get more and more stretched out as the night wore on. Finally, it was just barely providing any kind of coverage at all, and by that point, everytime she moved, or make any kind of gesture, a boob would pop right out of the dress. She would just say “oops”, laugh wildly, and tuck it back in.

  62. Oryx

    Old job did a lunchtime Yankee Swap type thing where everyone brought in a wrapped gift and then people randomly were selected to pick from the prize table. Alcohol was a common gift.

    One coworker, male, was going through a really heated and contested divorce with his wife around this time. His number gets pulled, he goes up and picks his gift. While standing up there he starts to unwrap his and then he starts shaking his head, laughing. He holds the beer up and it’s a six pack of Raging Bitch.

    1. Kat in VA

      Hand to god, you just gave me the idea for our admins’ white elephant party week after next. I was wracking my brain over what to get (tasteful flavored salt set? Minky lap blanket in a neutral color? whaaat can I get…)

      (Before anyone gets upset, I am one of those admins)

      1. Kat A.

        I’d just like to point out to my friends and colleagues who read this blog because I told them about it that the Kat in VA who posted the above post is not me. I’m another Kat in VA and have had to clarify that a few times with others who think I’m every Kat who posts here.

        Thank you.

  63. Lygeia

    Back when I was unemployed right after grad school, I went as my friend’s plus one to her company’s holiday party. It was a weekday evening shindig, and there was lots of booze. I had a job interview the next day so I had one drink and mostly just enjoyed being out on someone else’s dime.

    I met a lot of my friend’s coworkers and her boss, most of whom (including her boss) were very drunk. A couple of weeks later, she got me an interview, and I was subsequently hired at the same company under the same manager. The one that I had seen very very drunk. While I was interviewing, he introduced himself, and I mentioned that we’d met before. When I told him where, he looked embarrassed and absolutely didn’t remember me. Looking back, I should have pretended we had never met. Oh well, I got hired anyway.

    He was generally a good boss though the company was terrible.

  64. Sneaky Ninja for this one

    I missed this party because I was pregnant and didn’t want to go. Lots of drinking. Employee drove supervisor home in a company vehicle and was beyond drunk. Missed a curve, wrapped the vehicle around a tree, severely injuring himself and killing the supervisor. No more offsite parties or alcohol at company parties.

      1. Sneaky Ninja for this one

        yeah not funny. I don’t understand the culture of “get sloshed” at the company party.

        1. Armchair Analyst

          Or the culture of not paying for employees to get a safe ride home :(
          I am sorry for your loss.

          1. Amber Rose

            Whatever else is wrong with our parties, we do that right. My boss hires a dude to just hang out and give rides to whoever wants one wherever they want to go, and he’ll also reimburse taxi fare both to and from the party.

            Driving drunk is never worth it.

            1. Lucille2

              I’ve gone to work events where Lyft/Uber codes are provided so everyone has the option of a safe ride home. More companies should consider doing this.

  65. Oh2beyoung

    Setting: company-wide Christmas party. Fifteen years ago. My first holiday at this company. My (now ex-) husband and I traveled from my branch location 90 miles to the swanky hotel.

    We were an engineering firm and the owners were very conservative. I didn’t know anyone there except my boss because no one else from our branch office attended as it was so far away and we had to provide our own lodging. The party consisted of a cash bar, dinner, door prizes, and there may have been some dancing later; but I don’t recall much of the evening. The reason for this will become abundantly clear very shortly.

    During dinner, my husband and I were bored to tears, so we decided to slip back to our room for a bit and spice up the evening. No, not that! We went to our room and smoked copious amounts of marijuana. Then, we headed back to see if the party had gotten more exciting.

    Probably reeking of weed, we returned to find my boss upset that I had disappeared. In our absence, I had won a door prize. Since I did not claim my prize, they ended up giving it to the wife of a VP because we shared the same first name. I was not going to stand by while this lady stole my prize. I had my boss point her out and I went and stood beside her, arms crossed, until she acknowledged me (though she probably smelled me long before I got there). I then stuck out my hand and told her that she had my prize. Understandably, she looked very confused; but after a little back and forth with me explaining who I was and that I had had to leave for a bit because of how horribly bored I was, she finally handed over MY day planner. I guess I showed her.

    Acknowledgements: Yes! I know, it was REALLY an a$$ thing to do. I would never do it (get high at/before a work event OR steal someone’s prize) today! I hope it at least gave them a story to tell later. I left the company for another job a month later and have actually grown up to be a decent human being.

  66. Deryn

    Not necessarily funny, but memorable: a few years back, my office held the holiday party at someone’s newly constructed home, and employee’s families were encouraged to attend. One employee brought her son, about two years old, but really wasn’t watching him – I witnessed a few instances were someone else would return him to her, let her know he had been jumping off the stairs/dragging things out of a closet/gotten into something/whatever, and gently suggest that she keep an eye on him. A while later, she realizes she can’t find him anywhere, and a large portion of the party-goers end up forming a house-wide search party. Turns out, he had locked himself in a bathroom and we could hear lots of splashing/water sounds coming from inside. They ended up taking the door off and found him playing in the toilet. His mother seemed to think this was very funny (“boys will be boys!”) and there were quite a few terse looks exchanged behind her back. I’m very, very glad he didn’t drown that night, but it did put a bit of a damper on things.

  67. Avyncentia

    I feel like the moral of these stories is abstain if you don’t know how to hold your alcohol. And maybe don’t serve alcohol at all, just to be safe. I understand now why my company has a policy of “no alcohol if you are representing the company or at an event sponsored by the company.”

    1. MrsCHX

      I’m in HR and recently, on a professional forum, someone was set on a holiday party with open bar.

      WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!

  68. anon for the holidays

    My office doesn’t do a holiday party, instead we have an office retreat where we discuss work and goals over lunch, do some team-building and listen to the director and a guest speaker for the day. One year all of the tables were decorated with poinsettias and a coloring book with pencils were at each chair. When the day was over it was announced that we were all supposed to take a plant and the books with us as a way to reduce stress. I have animals and didn’t want it in the house so I asked a co-worker if she wanted my plant and the book for her kids. The organizer overheard us and said that no one could take extras and we were all required to leave with only one of each. I left the plant next to the exit but still indoors and gave the book and pencils to my co-worker after we left.

    1. LKW

      Ah yes the “here’s a gift and I will inform you what you can and can not do with said gift” gift.

      1. anon for the holidays

        Exactly. The next year we were all forced to sit and eat on box lunches on a dirty floor in work clothes. There was also an “optional” meditation session but you were not allowed to leave the room if you didn’t want to participate. I’ve become better at taking strategic bathroom breaks based on the itinerary.

  69. Former Hotel Worker

    For my first Christmas at ex job, we had a pretty nice Christmas party at a local pub. The company paid for a taxis to and from the location and they even bought us a round of drinks. We paid for our own food and any further drinks or extras.

    Then the recession hit and all those perks went. No employee of the month prize, and no Christmas party. We organised a pot luck style get together in the hotel bar instead, and had our own secret Santa and unofficial party. While this was going on, the owner came looking for us. He turned off the lights and scolded us for wasting electricity. So we all sat there in the dark exchanging our secret Santa gifts and waiting for the owners to go home so we could have the luxury of electric light.

  70. Former Pro Drunk

    Not an “office” party exactly, but I used to work as a server in a pretty big bar. Our social events were typically drunken shit shows, as is unfortunately not uncommon in the service industry. The one holiday party that sticks out: super drunk coworker threw up all over the front of the building (next year he had to wear a bucket strapped to his chest), for starters. The real story from that year, though, is the white elephant, at which a supervisor contributed a copy of Mein Kampf that he’d signed “XOXO, Dolphie”. Naturally, this “gift” went to a Jewish employee.

    I, of course, kept myself controlled during these parties – because I’d gotten wasted at my first company picnic and had to be walked home by two of my bosses. One block.

      1. KillItWithFire

        I want to know if that supervisor was fired or disciplined. Wow that is a gross thing to do.

        1. Former Pro Drunk

          The employee who received the book seemed bothered, but took it as sort of the extreme end of our workplace culture. (Bars and restaurants tend to have a lot of dysfunction baked in.) The supervisor was never disciplined that I’m aware of, though I suspect he was talked to privately – probably not very sternly, as he was well-connected with other management. He was known for being more extreme with coworkers (but not patrons, thankfully); lots of swearing, name calling, casual homophobia, etc, etc, etc, and I think this incident was just sort of the worst end of that.

          I ultimately left for a daytime job eventually, and he left a while after me on good terms to accept a better position at a different bar. There’s a lot about that industry that I definitely don’t miss.

        2. Armchair Analyst

          I agree with KillItWithFire but also having been in food service, I can see the extent of the discipline being, “Wow, man, that was pretty uncool, you kinda crossed a line there.”

  71. AnonTodayJustInCase

    Not really a debacle, but there was the year when, the day after the holiday party, I sent the CIO a polite email noting that not everyone who works in the department is Christian and suggesting that he leave Jesus out of the grace before the meal.

    To his credit, he took the suggestion to heart.

  72. Anonymooooose

    My organization is on the no-rent list at a fairly well-known DC hotel because years ago, one of the most uptight, no sense of humor, stick-in-the-mud attorneys ever to grace the halls of the firm got completely drunk, knocked over a candelabra, and caught the table and the wall of the venue on fire.

    1. Sally

      And that’s why it’s difficult to find an actual (not battery operated) candle in a restaurant these days (and definitely not in a bar!).

  73. Ama

    This was less *at* a holiday party and more *caused* by the holiday party, but it’s also why I still have workplace PTSD about event planning, so I’ll share it.

    I worked at a small graduate school in a niche subject area that was entirely funded by a private foundation. The family that ran the foundation had a personal interest in the subject matter — and the woman at the head of both the family and the foundation (I will call her Fatima) had a tendency to get a bit overinvolved in day to day decisions, with no one feeling like they could tell her no because she was paying for everything.

    The first year I worked there, we had a pretty nice holiday party. Fatima told me and my colleague (who had done all the planning work) that it was lovely, but could we have music next year? So the following year, my colleague brought in some wireless speakers and set her phone to one of the Pandora holiday music stations (specifically one with only instrumental classical music style arrangements). Everyone seemed to think this was great …except Fatima, who said that she wished that we had live music (this was the very first time she’d mentioned she wanted the music to be live, my colleague and I later theorized that she was wealthy enough it probably never occurred to her that we wouldn’t assume live music as the default). I believe at one point she mentioned this to our director (the only person who felt comfortable telling her when she was being ridiculous), and apparently mentioned how nice it would be to have live piano music, to which he pointed out we didn’t have a piano in the building.

    Yep, the following morning my colleague and our boss got an email that Fatima was going to get a local museum to loan us one of the baby grand pianos that Fatima’s foundation had donated to them, so all we needed to do was arrange for it to be moved and then we could have live music. For our once a year, two hour holiday party.

    Thankfully, after listening to me, my colleague, and my boss rant for an hour about all the ways having a piano in the room next to our classroom spaces was going to cause problems, the director told Fatima that if she really wanted live music at the holiday party, we’d try to see if some of the music students would be willing to work, but the logistics of moving and policing the piano made it a no go.

    I quit before the next holiday party so I didn’t get to find out if they went through with the music student plan and if that satisfied Fatima. But I think this is probably why I have such anxiety around the possibility of someone making impossible demands when I am event planning for work.

    1. Lord Gouldian Finch

      If someone told me to hire live music I’d probably have hired a piper. Because who doesn’t love the bagpipes?

    2. Armchair Analyst

      An electric keyboard would be more portable…. but also “cheaper” according to the rich folk, ha!

    3. Zoe Karvounopsina

      Harpists. Harpists are brill. They bring their own harp and give you an unwarranted air of sophistication.

      (We totally hired a harpist for a company event this year.)

      At the office Christmas party, musical accompaniment is usually provided by our office choir, who have…look, I work in an Obs & Gynae related field, and they are called Ultrasound.

      And they can’t even sing.

  74. Former English Teacher

    I’ve been holding onto this one. It’s a bit long..

    I moved to South Korea to work at this large corporation that taught Business English to adults. There were probably 10-15 branches in Seoul and the headquarters was in Gangnam in a huge building (IIRC it was 20+ stories). The international teachers at my branch all hung out together, we would always get Friday dinner together after work and would spend other free time together as well. There was one teacher, John*, who was around my age and was very nice but he never joined for dinner or other outings though he was invited. I didn’t know him well, I only knew through the grapevine that he was in a relationship with a woman and they spent all their time 1:1, and that she was a bit jealous.

    In December the headquarters announced that we were invited to a mandatory Holiday Christmas party at the Gangnam headquarters and we could not bring significant others. This was not a problem for most of us but I remember John asking our manager if she could make an exception for his girlfriend and the manager said no.

    The party ended up being a lot of fun, there was a lot of food, alcohol and games between the branches with nice prizes. We played a couple running/trivia games that involved people running from their branch table and switching seats (this is important later). We also got to socialize with people from the other branches who we never saw normally. My branch was having so much fun that when the party ended we decided we would go for a nightcap. As we were leaving the party, I checked my phone and it was from a number I didn’t recognize.

    It said “This is Misun*. John’s EX girlfriend. Were you sitting next to John tonight?” I was very confused by this and mentioned it to my friends, it turns out John’s GF had messaged multiple people including our two managers that night saying various things about John and referring to herself as his ex. When we asked John about it he said that she must have stolen the numbers out of his phone at some point, and that she was very upset about not being invited and had actually traveled across the city and spied in through the window at the party, which is how she saw us sitting next to each other temporarily. He was really shocked and embarrassed and said that he needed to break up with her and that she was very possessive.

    But the worst was that he did not break up with her right away and then out of embarrassment ended up avoiding everyone at the office for the next six months.

  75. ErgoBun

    Several years ago my division of about 40 people held a holiday lunch/party during work hours. We are IT so we have a lot of introverts, but we get along well together.

    Our director at the time decided we would play a game that was a hybrid of musical chairs and the drinking game “Never Have I Ever.” Here’s how it worked: Everyone sat in a circle of chairs except for one person. There were 1 fewer chairs than the number of players. The remaining person stood in the center and had to say, “Never have I ever _____.” If you had done that thing, you had to get up and run to a different chair.

    At first it was cute: “Never have I ever owned a Windows computer,” “Never have I ever been to Mexico.” Even though there was no alcohol and this was on work property, it degenerated pretty quickly. “Never have I ever been arrested!” “Never have I ever smoked pot!” (I learned some things about my former boss that day.)

    Eventually we ended up with one very introverted, but very sweet, network tech in the middle. His contribution? Loud and clear: “Never have I ever HAD SEX.”

    After that, never have we ever played this game again.

    1. AnonForReasons

      I could so see myself doing that. The way I’ve usually played this game is everyone puts up 10 fingers and each time you HAVE done the thing, you put a finger down. Last one with at least 1 finger up is the winner. I always win because 1) I’m pretty inexperienced in a lot of areas and 2) I have no compunction against calling out typical things (had sex, smoked pot, got a speeding ticket, etc.) that I suspect will get everyone else. I feel like your network tech and I could end up tied for first in this game.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I played this game once in my life. (Didn’t grow up in the US, we did not have it growing up.) Even though it was in a group of friends, this game gets very precarious very quickly. In our version, everyone who’s done the thing takes a drink. Even with the drink being a sip of Mike’s hard lemonade (we all switched to the lightest possible drinks early in the game), things went downhill fast. I did screw up on one of the rounds and disclose more than I meant to. So did the guy who sat next to me (on a different round). You can’t make me play that game again.

  76. sometimeswhy

    I worked at a company that had it’s first big holiday party at a fine art museum. I left pretty early but heard later that people got very drunk and that there might’ve been some… damage. I heard from one of the admins that the company had very quickly been asked (ahem) to never ever come back.

    I also learned from a friend who’s an event planner that the museum had also banned red wine from private events that weren’t restricted to a very specific area of the museum.

    Our event wasn’t in that area. Our event definitely had red wine.

  77. GoingAnnonForThis

    Last year was the 1st time since 1994 my company had hard alcohol as a part of their open bar. It will probably also be the last. To set the stage: We are already a pretty hard drinking crowd (work hard, play hard), the only food they had was sushi, servers were walking around with trays of margaritas to immediately re-place any drink getting low.
    Events that took place: someones fiance threw up on a bouncers shoes, someone got into an argument with a bartender b/c they made the wrong drink, someone got stoned in the bathroom, someone passed out in the non-smokey bathroom making it unavailable, I apparently found french fries somewhere and took the whole bowl and hid under a curtained table with them all until my Mom – we work for the same company – saw my shoes sticking out and made me crawl out and put the bowl back (I have no memory of this). I also apparently tried to get into the wrong car to go home and my SO had to steer me away while I kept trying to go back to “the car” – the driver apparently found this funny (again zero memories)

    A large group of people were individually called up to the CFO’s office for a “chat” about their behavior. I somehow avoided this, but that was probably b/c taking the fries isn’t that big compared to the rest!

    1. CM

      Did the CFO confront them on Wednesday?

      I think you could actually take these stories and make a “best practices” list for holiday parties with alcohol — use drink tickets, limit to wine and beer.

    2. not really a lurker anymore

      Ok, I’m dying at the picture of Mom having to coax you out from under the table with the fries. Thank you!

    3. Rebecca in Dallas

      Stealing french fries and hiding with them sounds exactly like something Drunk Me would do.

  78. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

    This was at my first job out of college. A coworker (who wasn’t very popular with the rest of the staff due to his constant screw ups) decided to host a holiday party at his house, and invites everyone at the office. I decided not to go, as his house was 45 mins away, AND I had a dinner planned with family friends that night.

    He left early that workday to prepare, and my boss asks if I’m going. I say something like “No, I’m afraid I can’t make it, I have this family friend–” I can’t even finish my sentence before she starts yelling at me.

    She says that all of this bullying has to stop. (No one to my knowledge was bulling him, certainly not me). She says that people are “going to be fired over this.” And she says that I have to attend to show him my support (????). And more about how I wasn’t a good coworker and how I was letting him down. I just sat there, dumbfounded while she yelled at me. I honestly thought she’d fire me right then. I finally agreed to go, canceled my plans with my family friends, and made the drive out to his house. He set up a lovely party, but it was super awkward being there and having my boss be suddenly super friendly with me. Then and there I vowed to be out of there before the next Christmas.

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      Oooh, I’ve also had the boss who thinks “avoiding the awful person in the office” is “bullying.”

      1. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

        Yeah apparently I was just the tenth or so person to tell her that I couldn’t go. So she blew up. Another facet to this was that he was her old friend, and her bad hire. He had no prior experience in the role and was ill equipped to do the job. It honestly wasn’t that he was unlikable, it was just that he messed up so much it and it was a huge problem. Then he would blame other people for his mistakes. It didn’t win him any friends. :/

  79. Managercanuck

    We were at one of the more storied restaurants in town for our holiday lunch and it was all very lovely. Except, they played the same CD of Nat King Cole’s Christmas classics not once, not twice, but three times we were there, and it was beginning to grate on our nerves. My boss asked the server about it, and she had no power to change it, and she’d been there since 1030, poor woman.

    So, we tipped her well, but in retribution to her manager and out of pity, my boss nabbed the little live Christmas tree that was the centrepiece on our table and brought it back to the office, so that it wouldn’t have to listen to NKC’s stylings any longer either.

  80. L.

    It was a small law firm with a sole proprietor who was on the cheap side. Instead of a party, it was a potluck at his house. We all sat around the coffee table where the dip had been set out, while his Golden Retriever made the rounds at coffee-table level, swishing it’s tale around the dip. Things were bad enough after each of us (including the lone associate) received a $50 bonus for a year’s hard work but it was the dirty bath towels in the bathroom which were the only items available to dry our hands on that finally did me in. Did I mention he specialized in Employment Law?

  81. jessejane

    Wild story here- let’s see how many details I can remember.

    I was 21 and waiting tables at a Greek restaurant. The owner owned a few restaurants in town, plus a night club and strip club. The party was held at the night club for all of his employees. There was an open bar and the staff was mostly made up of servers, cooks, and strippers in their 20’s. What a night! Everyone was hammered! There was cocaine, threesomes, and a couple of fistfights. Unfortunately, I wasn’t involved in any of those situations:) But, I did get very, very drunk and definitely danced on a table with a stripper. She showed me some pretty cool moves!

    I only worked there for a couple of years but will always remember how much fun those parties were! Now I work in a small office, where the owner takes us out for a very civilized lunch. Boring! (lol)

    1. jessejane

      Just remembered more…the owner fancied himself a Greek version of the godfather. He liked for people in town to think he was part of the mafia, but I highly doubt he was. Anyway, during the middle of the party he would make everyone come to him to receive their bonus. He would sit in this huge chair (throne) and we would have to file by to pay our respects. It was hilarious, bc everyone was pretty toasted by then and loving life!

      1. Rainy

        I’m envisioning Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear in the Starsky and Hutch film from some years back, making you all kiss the fist-shaped head of his pimp cane.

      2. Anonicat

        “You come to me, on the day of my Christmas party, and you ask me to cover the front desk….for money.”

  82. TechWorker

    Last year my secret Santa gift was a book called ‘how to be assertive at work’. Passive aggressive much? I had no idea whether to talk it as an insult/compliment/joke/general advice. Plus the gifter managed to leave a card of theirs stuck to it so I found out who it was from – someone who managed me for 3 years… The fact I’d been on an awful project with a younger male colleague who’d completely disrespected me/the fact I was lead and called me aggressive for basically asserting *any* authority (he knew this!!), the general issues around women being assertive and getting treated badly for it in general… I just do not see how he expected me to take it as a joke.

    Conclusion: I cried privately in the bathroom, complained to lots of people and then got rather drunk at the Christmas lunch the next day where said manager apologised profusely.

  83. KillItWithFire

    Yearly holiday pary for a mining company. Head office in a remote town, party held at the legion.band is flown in from warmer climes and gets set up. We all dress up and look nice and are ready to have some fun. One person has had too much to drink, the band isn’t even out yet. And he’s stumbling around, grabbing the mic and yammering drunkenly. He then stumbles into the drum set, and takes a header off the stage, taking the drum set with him.

    Entire room sits in stunned silence for about 30sec before someone goes to help him. He was in the first round of lay offs later that year……

  84. CQ

    These are all so good! Alison – you may need to publish an entire book of these stories! :)

    For the holiday White Elephant gift exchange (expectation was gag gifts, weird things, etc), I wrapped up a leftover wedding present. My aunt had given us this tacky, dramatic, ugly abstract ceramic statue of a man carrying his bride across the threshold. Yuck. I thought it was unanimously atrocious – but apparently one of my coworkers did not think so. She ended up with it at the end of the gift exchange, and when I made a crack about how ugly it was, she said “Oh no I love it! I’m getting married next month and I’d love to use this for our cake topper!” Oops! So cringey.