let’s hear your funniest office holiday stories

 Did your CEO send out an epic email demanding apologies for bad behavior at the company holiday party? Did your boss celebrate the season by offering poinsettias in exchange for tales of woe?

{ 1,338 comments… read them below }

    1. FrenchCusser*

      We have a White Elephant exchange and people can ‘steal’ other people’s gifts if they like instead of picking blind. Then the person whose gift was stolen can pick another blind gift.

      One coworker one year kept picking good gifts, then had every one of them stolen, until she ended up with a gift bag full of paper holiday napkins. :(

      Then, one the nicest things I’ve ever seen IRL – another coworker stole her paper napkins. She ended the day with a really nice tea set.

      1. yala*

        Awww, that’s really sweet!

        I hate white elephant with family (NARROWLY avoided having that be the plan for this year on the side of my family that didn’t do it for years), but with coworkers it can be fun and goofy, but also…man when someone brings a gift like “paper napkins” in, it just feels mean.

        1. DataGirl*

          I received a sack of potatoes in a white elephant exchange at work one year. My boss felt sorry for me afterwards and traded me the tea towels she had gotten.

          1. Essess*

            I’d actually rather have the potatoes. :-D I like baked potatoes or potato salad or mashed potatoes so I could use them, rather than have an unneeded tea towel floating around the house that takes up space.

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            I think we all want to know the REAL question here… what kind of potatoes? :D

            #yukongold4eva

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Yukon Gold > all. OK, red potatoes are a close second, especially roasted with rosemary and olive oil (YUM).

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              A twenty pack of scantrons……and I didn’t ever use scantrons in college because my program was all essay exams.

              Spoiler, none of the other college students stole them.

          3. Nannerdoodle*

            When the potato thing happened at my old company, the guy who got them literally microwaved one and ate it plain every day for lunch until he went through the whole bag of potatoes. There were over 30 potatoes. He won that one.

        2. Queer Earthling*

          My extended family used to do a white elephant gift, and my sister and some cousins and I started bringing a family-sized can of hominy every year. The same can, I should note. Whoever got stuck with it would bring it next year. We enjoyed the running gag until a boring aunt got it and declined to continue the tradition.

          1. Empress Snow37*

            My sons’ Scout troop had the same running gag for their white elephant exchange. In their case, the recurring gift was a “fishing” game designed to be played while on the toilet. As far as I know, that game is still showing up every year.

            1. Athena*

              I don’t get people who ruin traditions like this…even if you don’t find something personally funny clearly it was making you all happy.

              1. Corporate Goth*

                Because it doesn’t make them all happy, or it would continue. Plus, it sucks to be the new person in the group with stuff like that.

                Guess I’m the too-practical, boring aunt type. I’m definitely not hanging onto expired food or some game for a year to take up space and maybe remember it a year later. I’ll give it to someone who needs it or will use it.

                1. tiffbunny*

                  100% with you on this – I don’t own holiday decor because storage space is too valuable in my house for anything that only gets used once a year. [….I’m also the new person who inherited a ton of dumb traditions that no one even likes anymore “but it’s tradition…” so I might be very biased.]

                  That being said I’d definitely offer to let someone else keep the item and bring it the next year to keep the tradition going – I wouldn’t end things like this for other people if I didn’t have to!

          2. WantonSeedStitch*

            I can’t believe you passed up the opportunity to also include a can of peas, so you could spread “peas and hominy” through the family!

            Damn. Now I want to do this.

          3. Daniotra*

            At my old workplace we had an old Milli Vanilli CD as the running joke gift. It was fun to wrap it up in interesting ways to hide the fact it was a CD. This CD was still showing up every year until I left a couple years ago.

        3. Ev*

          Where I work, we started out with a reasonably normal white elephant that has now morphed somehow into an explicit “Cursed Object” exchange. (It started a few years ago with one of our employees bringing a print of a terrifying Ozz Franca clown painting – please google that – that now lives forever in our staff room.) So now we each go thrifting once a year and buy the worst thing we can find (or regift something weird we have in our house), and then open all of our terrible gifts one by one while eating cookies. Everyone knows that this is what happens so no one feels like they’re the only one getting a horrible gift, we all have similar senses of humor and so really enjoy the cursed objects, and it wholly relieves any pressure about buying a gift for someone you don’t know well that they’ll actually like.

          This year, I found a horrible tea pot shaped like a pirate’s head. I’m very excited to give it away.

          In conclusion – fewer sincere gift exchanges at work, more horrifying Goodwill tchotchkes.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            This is the awesomest gift exchange ever!! Now I want to go out and find a plush monkey’s paw or a Hellraiser puzzle box or something!

          2. Salymander*

            I love that you call these horrible gifts cursed objects. That changes a horrible, gross present exchange into something hilarious. I thank you sincerely for reframing this for me, and making me howl with laughter. Also, I am totally stealing this phrasing for my next family holiday exchange. Last time, I got a 3 foot tall wire ferris wheel for serving different types of nuts. That ugly, useless piece of crap is definitely cursed. Not as bad as a clown painting (because of the creepy) but still awful.

            1. Jesse*

              I have pet mice, and I would be VERY happy to receive a rodent-scale ferris wheel! They would probably enjoy it if I served nuts with it, too.

          3. Susie*

            My coworkers do this exact thing every year and it’s hilarious.

            The “gifts” have to be re-gifts of things you were actually gifted or horrifically bad thrift store finds. They can also be re-gifts of things you have gotten at this exchange in previous years. The gifts aren’t opened until the end, so we’re all trading based on size and appearance, with no idea what treasures lurk beneath the wrapping. Some of these objects have made so many appearances that they have their own nicknames.

            There is a now mostly-rotten barbie doll toilet paper holder that has been making an appearance for 30 years or so. It’s especially funny when someone gifts that one since every time it shows up it is in worse shape than before. We should take bets on how many more years it will take before her hair is all gone and the dress literally falls off.

        4. noblepower*

          At a white elephant I once picked the lovely gift of a used-up pepper spray can. No one was interested in stealing that one! White elephants can certainly show people for who they are, though, the petty as well as the generous!

        5. Ella Beebee*

          I’ve always hated white elephant exchanges because it always ends up that some people bring really nice gifts, and some people bring like literal trash from their houses. I kind of can see how this might be fun with like a group of close friends, but I’ve only experienced them at work with people who aren’t that close, and it just always ends up awkward when half the people leave with actual gifts, and half with something they will throw away on the way out the room.

          At the last one I went to, I got a nice gift I really liked, and it was stolen at first by my boss (who had brought a jar of baby food as her gift to give) and then by the person who brought it to begin with, upset that he had put thought into it and brought a nice gift and then had ended up with something awful himself.

          1. Lunita*

            That’s so frustrating! As a boss I can’t see myself taking a crap present and stealing a nice one from an employee. I love the idea of setting expectations for weird gifts beforehand though. And for thrifting because I hate cheap new gifts that people will just throw away.

          2. Theo*

            We had an exhausting employee for a while (retired now) whose contributions to the Yankee Swap/White Elephant have included a used pot rest and a broken picture frame. They also stole something from me because “my relative would like that for Christmas”, which is… questionable. The gift exchange has gotten a lot nicer without them.

        6. a steely gaze*

          I’ll admit here that I did once bring two tallboys of Steel Reserve, duct-taped together, to my company’s white elephant. The person who ultimately got stuck with them was not excited, but in fairness, there were plenty of folks there who would have loved them.

      2. PopJunkie42*

        One year my work did a white elephant but it was mixed – some people realized it was a jokey gift but most everyone just brought something generally generic. I had brought the Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story which I had gotten at a yard sale years before (It was about half-sized). I couldn’t wrap it well because of its size, so it sat there, unpicked in its ugly newspaper. It got chosen last by our accountant…who LOVED it. She had never seen the movie. She didn’t think it was a joke. She was genuinely taken with it and excited to bring it home!

        1. Kitrona*

          I’ve wanted one of those for years. I lived in the neighborhood the movie is set in for a while, although the school’s been remodeled (no flagpole out front now!). They sold replicas in the gift shop of the welcome station near the interstate, but they were always too expensive for my budget!

      3. HeyNowYoureAnAllStar*

        We did a White Elephant gift exchange with some friends once.
        I ended up with a gift that was EIGHT COPIES of the Smash Mouth “Astro Lounge” CD.
        They were gifted by the host of the party, so I spent the rest of the night hiding them around his house.
        I wonder if he’s found them all.

      4. DrRat*

        One of the more clever White Elephant gifts I ever saw was….a plastic bedpan. The woman who got it looked sad at first, then her expression changed and she started hugging it to her, looking like she was going to defend it to the death against anyone taking it from her. After all the exchanges were done, she showed it – it had 20 lottery scratcher tickets taped to the bottom of the bedpan! She was thrilled. (And yes, I think she won something.)

      5. David*

        We played this game at a Christmas party a few years ago. It was called “Dirty Santa” or something like that. I think one of the rules we had though was that once you had a present stolen from you once you couldn’t have another one stolen from you.
        One of the long serving staff members picked a present and got a really nice diary. Somebody commented that it was the booby present and somebody else should steal it from her. The present recipient looked shocked and replied that she loved the diary and that they really needed one and it was actually the perfect diary for them. In all seriousness, she really liked the present.
        The next turn was the CEOs. He stole the Diary from her which made her pick again. Her next present was a real lemon. I cannot remember what it was but it wasn’t that brilliant at all. She was in absolute tears. The CEO commented that it was his role as a CEO to do that sort of thing and that it kept the company on its toes and various other comments along the lines of he was allowed to be a jerk.
        The very last person to pick a present got something really nice, I can’t remember what it was, But THEY stole the diary from the CEO and gave it to the original winner, who burst in to tears out of appreciation. Whats more, being the last present chosen it couldn’t be stolen.
        I learnt a few things that day: One, That I did indeed work with some really nice people and Two, Indeed the CEO was a sociopath clear as day and nobody else could see it.
        Narrator: They all saw it a few months later.

      6. Aphrodite*

        This reminds me of a time when there was a white elephant exchange after an all-staff meeting at the adult education division of the college. There was a young woman who didn’t earn much (around $30K) but who picked what turned out to be a lovely little painted wall clock; it had come from a winery and had grapes and leaves. It was obvious she loved it. Several people later the dean, paid in the six-figure range, stole it from her and gloated about her gift. The young woman handed it over but didn’t quite understand the “game.” I was appalled but since I had been one of the first I couldn’t do anything. Then another six people on an older woman, a very long-time employee, stole it from the dean who made screeching noises about how it was hers and she wanted to keep it. The VP interceded and gave it to the older woman but noted that two times was the limit for stealing.

        We got out and I saw the older woman discretely, out of almost everyone else’s sight, walk up to the original woman and hand it over to her. I nearly cried, and later that day told her what I had seen and how touched I was. I have never forgotten and probably never will forget that.

    2. WanderingWatson*

      At an old job, one person brought diapers for a female dog in heat as the white elephant gift. I still feel so bad for the girl who went home with those. No, she didn’t have a dog.

    3. Astrid*

      My family always played this at the big family Christmas party, we called it ‘Rob Your Neighbor’, and I probably have a million stories.

      The big problem I always have with it is you have some people who lean into the fun and goofiness, and then people who really DON’T

      The year the ‘hot’ item was a pair of Grinch slippers, and another year where it was a walking alligator robot toy.

      The year my sister took home a car fire extinguisher.

      The year everything was supposed to be handmade gifts, and my sister made these gorgeous Swarovski crystal beaded tree ornaments, and everyone just sort of overlooked them in favor of my cousin, who had stuffed styrofoam balls full of sequins and straight pins. And I submitted an oil painting I had done and the aunt who opened it pulled it out of the paper like it was a dead fish and went “oh. Not as good as my paintings” and shoved it under her chair.

      I don’t go to that party anymore but we still play Rob Your Neighbor at my little friendsgiving/christmas party. Last year the hot ticket was a ‘genie bottle’ full of dove chocolates. The year before it was a pizza cutter my blacksmith uncle made.

      I enjoy the tradition.

      1. Old Admin*

        Makes a very nice cup of natural Indian cai…

        No, those are *not* tortilla chips, who said that?!?

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      ::Pours fresh cup of tea::

      I loved this thread last year, and look forward to this year’s iteration.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        ::Puts the kettle on for her own cuppa::

        This is my first year here, and I am stoked to get to participate, even if I have no stories of my own.

        1. BrotherFlounder*

          Same here; I’ve always worked in small offices without holiday parties, so I have no stories to share.

          And glad I got more tea this morning.

          1. NoPhoneCallsInTheBathroom*

            Mint, I am so jealous of your (presumably) imaginary snacks for this thread. :)

  1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I need another story where someone’s boobs got frozen to an outdoor railing. Pretty please?

      1. Mimi Me*

        Oh it’s the best one!!! Her assistants had to blow on her breasts to try to release them. Can you just picture it? Makes me laugh every time I try to imagine it.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Why didn’t anyone have something liquid to pour on them, why did they resort to blowing, why is that what they chose to do?! I AM CONFUSED by this logic.

          1. ksm*

            Canadian here, raised seeing other kids get tongues stuck to poles: only warm liquids would help; everything else would at best be value-neutral and at worst freeze up themselves.

            Blowing is a standard approach if you don’t have warm fluids.

              1. Venus*

                Liquor may taste warm, but I don’t know how well it would work in -10 temps…

                And I can’t get my mouth close enough to my boobs for that to work.

                If it was a small area I would have ripped them off instead of suffer the embarassment. Although I can’t ever imagine being out in the cold with them exposed

                1. atgo*

                  It’s not about it tasting warm… alcohol has a lower freezing temp than water does. Hence why you can store vodka in the fridge.

                2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                  I come from a long line of people who store their vodka in the freezer. It doesn’t freeze with high enough alcohol content. Get thee Grey Goose for The Lady!

                  I’ve never met a woman who can’t put their mouth on their boobies, this is an interesting twist. But I supposes someone with neck problems wouldn’t be able to do that…if I start thinking way too much about it.

                3. Nobby Nobbs*

                  Reply to The Man, Becky Lynch:
                  I just tried. Then I tried to lick my elbow, for good measure. No dice either way. Bodies, man. They’re all different.

                4. Gazebo Slayer*

                  @Becky – My boobs are way too small for me to be able to put my mouth on them!! They’d need to be *several* cup sizes bigger. I’m not even sure how many.

        2. The Bimmer Guy*

          And what’s worse is that she was an HR admin (as in, someone who really should have known better) :P

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      I tried to post the link but I think it’s in moderation. Search on “breasts stuck on railing” on this site; it’s “your workplace holiday disasters” from 12/25/2016.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The angels sing every time we’re reminded of gems buried in our not so distant past. Bless the AAM collective memory, a true Festivus miracle.

    3. Arctic*

      I hate that story. This poor woman was a recovering alcoholic going through a divorce. She’s vocally uncomfortable with the amount of alcohol at these work functions. And she suffers a relapse.
      And every.single.year it’s trotted out here as the most hilarious thing to ever happen.

      1. MMD*

        Maybe having her boob stuck to a frozen railing at the Office party snapped her back into sobriety. Silver linings.

      2. Nanc*

        Come sit next to me. I hope wherever she is she’s doing better and has a supportive work and personal environment.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        I don’t entirely disagree, but I would agree more enthusiastically if part of her recovery program wasn’t being insufferable to the people around her.

        1. Arctic*

          Nothing described said she’s insufferable. She, as an HR person, would send emails reminding people to act appropriately. That’s her job. She’s described as a teetotaler, which yeah, she would be.

      4. KayDeeAye*

        I am firmly on the fence here. If I experienced it in person, I truly would be horrified – I get HUUUUUGE sympathy pangs when I see anybody, even a somewhat unpleasant person, caught in a humiliating situation. I even sometimes have problems watching a fictional character get humiliated on TV or in a movie.

        But on the other hand, I don’t know this person, and the situation is just so weird. Hence my fence-sitting.

        1. Arctic*

          The letter says she very often would skip them (hence her reputation as a teetotaler). Having to miss out on bonding work events can be tough for alcoholics. We get many letters about that here. She went once during a period of distress for her and relapsed. She made a mistake I don’t think she should forever be damned as an object of ridicule for it.

        2. Ouch*

          So you’re saying: Well its her own fault she fell of the wagon so I’m entirely justified in making fun of her.
          By the way, at my org HR is required to attend company parties and stay until the end.

    4. kittymommy*

      I’m still trying to figure out how to work “it’s not a real party until someone’s boobs get stuck to something”.

  2. ThankGodI'mNotAlone*

    In the dotcom bust era, my company had a LAVISH (and I mean lavish!) holiday party at a local restaurant. Everyone and spouses were invited. Food! Dessert! Open bar! Dancing! The works. I found out later the company spent in the upper 5 figures for it.

    The second week of January we closed our doors (with no inkling it was coming). I wish they had spent that money on the employees, because you know they knew shut-down was imminent.

    1. MsSolo*

      See, when people were talking about how eating the pizza won’t kill the organisation on the earlier update, there is a point where spending enough to cover several people’s salaries might be the sort of choice that, sure, isn’t the nail in the coffin, but is definitely the cherry off the top of what could have been more generous redundancy payments.

    2. L P*

      I have a really similar story! 2001, a £70,000 launch party for the dot.com I worked for, the guest of honour was the first person to be kicked out of the first-ever Big Brother house… Shortly after I came to the office and there were chains on the door.

          1. Creamsiclecati*

            Ohhh right, my mistake. Because they go around the world *twice* for their clients.

            I clearly need to brush up on my Parks & Rec over the work break…

      1. Autumnheart*

        Yeah, although signs of that are usually noticeable right away. I’ve worked for more than one start-up that blew its wad on Aeron chairs, trendy digs, and huge perks for the founders, and then one day your paycheck bounces along with the aforementioned chained door.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I saved up for 2 years for an Aeron chair. I had it delivered to my office. I warned anyone if they touched my chair I’d break their fingers. On my last day I triumphantly wheeled my chair out of my office and put it in my car. A newbie (who didn’t know it was mine) was like, “if I quit do I get to keep an $800 chair, too?” Bwahahahahaha!

    3. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Another friend of mine was a receptionist at a wealthy trade organization. She asked for a raise and was told there was no money. The next week, she processed the expense reports from the BOD meeting. The bar bill (not the dinner bill) was more than one of her paychecks.

      She began looking for a job that week.

      Yes, she knew that her paycheck came from a different pot than the BOD expenses, but it’s about organizational priorities and what’s allocated for where. It would have cost a lot less to keep her than have her leave.

      1. Chaordic One*

        “…it’s about organizational priorities and what’s allocated for where.”

        You really nailed it.

      2. Anonymous for this one*

        Yup. I worked for an organization where I was told to justify my request for a $3 an hour raise. After taking on 75% of a 2nd full time job (not by choice!) and succeeding to keep 95% of goals for both jobs on target. The director, HR, & general manager all agreed it was justified. But it was declined on the basis of ‘no money in the budget’ because things were so tight.

        The next week, I had to cut $250,000 in bonuses for upper management. Paying those bonuses meant the company took a loss for the year. But there’s no money for my $3/hour raise. Yeah, shove that where the sun don’t shine, buddy.

        2 weeks later I had an interview someplace else and was out the door in 4 weeks.

        1. AlsoAnon*

          This is basically what’s going on at my current workplace. The CEO gave himself a 83% raise, then laid off a bunch of people because they are ‘broke’.

          1. Autumnheart*

            I’ve said this before, but one of the things I appreciate the most about my employer is that when the company’s financials require making cuts to raises and bonuses, it’s for “directors and above” first, then rank-and-file if more cuts are required. Every other place I’ve worked, it was the opposite.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              As it should be.

              The captain goes down with the ship, “to those whom much is given, much is expected,” and all that.

          2. san junipero*

            83%?

            *EIGHTY THREE PERCENT?*

            I know it absolutely won’t happen given our current political… situation… but that kind of thing should be illegal.

        2. Em*

          I feel that. I work for a university department and was told I can’t be given a few more thousand a year because of the budget. I was promoted and negotiating. Only offered 4k more than previous position. So anyway our 50 person department has a 7 million a year budget. It’s so demoralizing but unfortunately a niche field so they’re getting away with not paying industry standard.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Office Christmas Party was described as the cause of seasonal depression. I think I agree with that claim.

    4. Precious Wentletrap*

      a) that money had been spent in September and wouldn’t have mattered b) they figured if we’re gonna close might as well go out big c) b AND they knew the expenses were creditors that would be the first ones written off in bankruptcy d) all of the above

    5. Dysfunctional Deb*

      I worked at a tech startup in the 80s. We did a gift exchange at our holiday party.

      One VP gave the CEO a stripper. The other gave the female marketing person the cucumber-is-better-than-a-man book.

      The sad thing is that we all laughed. How times have changed.

    6. Uncle Bob*

      Sometimes companies do that because a sale is in the works and they need to project a “business as usual” attitude, including things like using suites at NFL games, which happened at once place I worked. We folded months later.

    7. JustaTech*

      The year my company went bankrupt (still around!) we may have gone a bit overboard with our holiday party. Well, not with the holiday party itself (at a local museum, band was two friends of a coworker, just passed appetizers). No, we bought a ridiculous amount of booze. And because we bought it and provided it at the party, we got to keep all the extra.

      Man, we were drinking that stuff (at the end of the day, on Fridays) for months.

    8. Larina*

      At my old job, one year, despite hiring freezes and salary freezes, they held the company holiday party at the fancy sports club at the local university college football stadium. It was a lovely event with an open bar, and it was only a few months later that I found out from someone in finance that the company hadn’t paid off the holiday party and it was also in the 5 figure cost. Then we had layoffs that summer. When December rolled around the next year, they STILL hadn’t paid for it completely, and had a last minute, barely thrown together event hosted in the office, and knowing that the debt for the last holiday party was in some cooked books made me so mad. I will die mad about their financial mismanagement, and how the company could have been so good, if they just didn’t spend beyond their means, and invested in the stuff that was successful.

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I temped at a startup that did this. I left a few months before Christmas while the party was still in its planning phases. Lavish Christmas party, followed by New Year’s layoffs of everyone, except the engineering team who was purchased by another company and now worked somewhere else entirely.

    10. Tammy*

      I had a similar experience with a company in 1999. Lavish fancy holiday party Friday evening, CEO making speeches about how bright our future was and how our hard work would be rewarded. Monday morning, close to half of the company was laid off. You can’t tell me the CEO didn’t know Friday night that the layoff was coming.

      It worked out for me (the layoff led indirectly to my ex and I being “gifted” the client we started our consulting business with), but it was still a terrible thing to do to people. Especially four days before Christmas.

    11. Observer*

      because you know they knew shut-down was imminent.

      Not necessarily. A lot of these folks were kind of delusional.

      And it still happens. Just look at WeWork (or the We company.) I mean, Masayoshi Son is not a fool, yet somehow he seemed to think that company that was burning money it didn’t have, with no real plan to change this, could support a valuation of $42 BILLION. And by all accounts, Neuman was utterly blindsided by being pushed (and bribed) out.

      1. Autumnheart*

        He wasn’t blind-sided. He got a billion dollars for literally nothing. I wish I could pull that level of scam off so brazenly.

        1. ian*

          Not nothing, he got the company to pay him directly for things he was having it do. It takes a good amount of work to pull off a con that well and not get arrested!

    12. Filosofickle*

      LOL, yeah. It was December 2001 and I was working at a dot-com ad agency. They took us to a fancy Saturday dinner/party at the Top of the Mark in San Francisco. On Jan 31 most of us were laid off — no severance, no health insurance. (Those remaining got 25% salary cuts with no reduction in hours, so in some ways I was glad I was axed. Except I had a brand new mortgage to pay.)

      It was a small agency, so I doubt the cost was more than 5K. It certainly wasn’t what put us under, but still! In hindsight, they probably saw it as a last hurrah. I wish they’d covered a month of health insurance instead.

    13. office party*

      I had a similar experience at my first job out of college in 2010. It was a startup in San Francisco and the majority of us made $13-$16/hour (SF wasn’t as expensive back then, but that definitely wasn’t a living wage). They threw us a HUGE LAVISH PARTY in Union Square, for which they also spent in the upper 5 figures.

      When it came to our holiday bonuses, we each got fancy gift bags that contained… some candy and a card that said “thanks for a job well done”. That was it. Let me tell you, it was super demoralizing for all of us. One of the admins had access to budget info and calculated out that if they’d spent half as much on the party and allocated the other half to holiday bonuses, everyone would’ve gotten something like $500 – which would’ve made a big difference for most of us.

      That company ended up getting bought before it went under, which is the only reason it still exists.

    14. CAS*

      This happened to me a couple of years ago. In mid-December, the company threw an unbelievably lavish holiday party. I’d never seen anything like it. It was like a high-end wedding reception with an open bar, waitstaff carrying trays of hors d’oeuvres, plated dinner, a professional photographer, and a DJ. They rented out a fancy reception hall for the event. We all got branded Tervis cups, and they spent thousands of dollars on raffle gifts. Big speech from the CEO about the company’s banner year and how integral we all were to the operation.

      Six weeks later, about a third of the staff was laid off. Boom. We didn’t get any warning, although I’d picked up on some signals. First, a few other staff suddenly disappeared. Then the operations manager became very prickly and negative and began sending loads of nasty emails. On lay-off day, they shuffled us into the conference room and dropped the bomb. None of the upper management had the balls to be present, and all the supervisors with laid-off staff were given the day off to spare them the trauma of the bloodletting. (I’m not joking.) If they’d cut back on those super-special raffle gifts, nixed the photographer, and had a cash bar, maybe my pregnant coworker could have kept her job and health insurance for another few months. I haven’t spoken to my former supervisor or anyone else in the chain of command since then, and I never will. The CEO’s wife was in charge of the company financials, btw.

  3. CatCat*

    Oh, I cannot wait for some new tales!

    The classic “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week” might be my favorite of all time.

      1. CatCat*

        Click on the “epic email” link in Alison’s post where it says, “Did your CEO send out an epic email…”

    1. Anon for This*

      Reading back through the comments the OP responds and says that in a previous holiday party bonuses were handed out in a “handheld game of deal or no deal.”

      How did I miss that the first time?

  4. HailRobonia*

    I used to organize a gigantic departmental holiday party, complete with a DJ, caricature artist, balloongineer, lots of food, and lots of booze (beer/cider/wine).

    Grad students and postdocs are a hard-drinking bunch. I was not surprised when a drunk student tried to ride the reindeer ice sculpture, but then another decided to head-butt the giant gingerbread house display. What none of us knew was that under the gingerbread was a plywood structure. So this guy smashed his head full-force into a solid sheet of plywood and got a bloody nose and two black eyes. The best part was a stale gumdrop got smashed hard into his forehead and stuck and looked like it was embedded in his skull.

      1. annakarina1*

        This story could have ended with the ice sculpture collapsing under the guy’s weight and sending blocks of ice to hit other people, it’s a miracle that didn’t happen.

        1. Jaid*

          Well, at least the guy wasn’t nekkid, then someone would have been responsible for unsticking him from the sculpture…

            1. Jen S. 2.0*

              I just made the really painful cough / snort / laugh / choke noise at my desk. I really need to learn to just laugh instead of trying to swallow it.

      1. Roy G. Biv*

        This will be my new go-to lyrics! “With a gumdrop head, and a bloody nose and two eyes as black as coal.”

      2. Mockingjay*

        Stop! I’m at work biting the insides of my cheek! *Snorts with hysterical laughter.

        I love this community.

      3. Iconic Bloomingdale*

        I am literally sitting on a bus on my way to work laughing hysterically at this ditty. Lol

    1. Quill*

      I shouldn’t laugh, because he could have been concussed, but the fact that he made himself a gumdrop unicorn and that you had a REINDEER ICE SCULPTURE to ride is pure gold.

    2. Free now (and forever)*

      Does it mean I’m a terrible person Because I laughed so hard at this that my body shook?

  5. Rose*

    We had a Yankee Swap where people would usually give a combo of a good gift and a crappy gift added to it. For example, my boss gave a really nice bottle of wine paired with light up puzzle pie coasters, which I received and was happy for the wine and re-gifted the coasters. That same year, I paired a travel mug and a coffee gift card with the soundtrack to Titantic. My coworker received said gift, and even though he used the travel mug every since day after receiving it… he also complained every single day about the Titantic soundtrack. For the five years I worked there. Whenever I’d say “but don’t you like the mug you use every day?” he would say “yes, but I really hate Titantic” and he wasn’t trying to be funny. It was bizarre at how much one CD bothered him for half a decade.

        1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          Fits tho! “I will always complain about this free CCCDDDD, thaaat is how I’ll always go onnnn…”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        My whine will go on and on!

        (I hate Titanic too, but I would’ve found the gift hilarious! Especially with the mug and the coffee gift card thrown in (which btw go very nicely together), a great gift with a touch of levity!

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Is your coworker Balthazar from Supernatural? (For those who don’t know the reference, there’s an episode where he changes history and saves the Titanic because he hates it so much!)

        1. Rainy*

          I still don’t know what you’re saying but I heard Celine Dion’s name spoken in a hostile tone.

          1. FormerFirstTimer*

            No, no, no! Celine Dion is a queen! But in the show, when the angel (Balthazar) unsunk the Titanic, it was because he hated “My Heart Will Go On”. I don’t think the show writers realized she had a very successful career before that, so she ended up a lounge singer (in the show).

            1. whingedrinking*

              Quebec really is a kind of alternate universe, isn’t it. It can be really hard to explain to foreigners and even some English Canadians just how mega famous someone can be within that one province. Basically it’s like saying that Taylor Swift wouldn’t have been successful if Shake It Off hadn’t caught on in Japan.

    2. kathyglo*

      You are mighty…I would have spent $50 to buy him a CD of his choice if he would promise to never complain again….

    3. Chaordic One*

      I didn’t really care for the Celine Dion version, but I do like the various “doo-wop” cover versions by “Postmodern Jukebox” that you can find on YouTube.

    4. Cinnamon*

      2 years ago someone put in a huge bag filled with boxes of dry pasta and while it’s not the worst I have to defend why it’s still Not A Good Gift to all my coworkers when everyone else is getting bottles of alcohol, gift cards and concert tickets. They argue “well I would have used it!”constantly as if they didn’t make off with a bottle of whiskey and $25 to dunkin donuts while some dude got 10 boxes of $3 pasta.

      1. Lunita*

        My friends and I did a white elephant (or maybe Secret Santa?) one year in college. I can’t remember what most presents were but one girl got a huge block of cheddar cheese and a package of tortillas. She was not happy, although most of us said we’d have liked it. I wouldn’t mind that!

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Not my story, but a friend of mine was a partner at a big law firm in a major city. Corporate clients (think Fortune 500), big bonuses, steak dinners for clients, etc. Money was rarely an issue even during hard financial times.

    Their holiday party was in NYC. Alcohol was beer, wine, and soda. Not totally cheap but nowhere near what was normally offered at other firm events. My friend noticed that some people had champagne. So she and her coworkers went to the bar to ask for it.

    Turns out only select people (identified by a wrist band) were allowed to have champagne. No idea who determined who got wristbands and why, but it wasn’t based on seniority. She noticed several other people on her level had wristbands.

    But my friend was resourceful! She asked friendly wristband havers to get her and the non-wristband havers champagne. So take that!

    1. Catsaber*

      Well that’s rude. Champagne doesn’t have to be expensive! At my level it’s usually just lumped in with the other wines. Why be exclusionary like that?

      1. EPLawyer*

        because they can. It was probably the organizing partner (really the assistant organized it) best buddies.

      2. Ama*

        So it is really common for venues in NYC to charge extra to serve champagne at an event with even a high dollar alcohol package (learned this while planning my wedding), so my guess would be someone high up insisted on champagne but they were trying to limit the total cost. Obviously it is still dumb the way they went about doing it, but I would not be at all surprised if it was somebody too high up for the organizers to ignore insisting they have champagne but also insisting they stay within a certain budget.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      At one of OldJob’s holiday parties, everyone was given two drink tickets.

      But I worked in IT, and was friends with most of the infrastructure team, who were in charge of setting up and fixing computers for everyone in the company. Long story short, the two infrastructure team managers got hold of the HR person who had the entire roll of the tickets, and a great party was had by all of their friends. A bit too great, in fact. I can just see those two guys finding the person with the champagne bracelets and getting said bracelets for everyone in our department.

      1. Polaris*

        At one of our company parties, friendly coworkers kept giving me their spare drink tickets when they left the party. If I’d used all of them I’d have been SO smashed.

        1. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          Someone I knew kept receiving all the leftover drink tickets. She brought them to the bar and asked, how many would get me a whole unopened bottle? It was negotiated, tickets and bottle swapped and she brought home a bottle of wine. I was impressed by this technique!

        2. cacwgrl*

          Ugh, I have made that mistake, TWO YEARS IN A ROW. I can only say I was young and dumb and the party was a slightly toxic culture where the president and his wife led from the front on the drinking heavily challenge. Smarter friends leave, my closest friends and I absorb their tickets and top shelf is part of the deal. All I can say is… it would have taken a lot to stand out, in hindsight, I am probably the only one that cringes at my behavior and choices, and finally, I am much, much smarter. I have learned free doesn’t always mean good alcohol and common sense exists for a reason. I no longer work in private industry with those freedoms but we also have our holiday parties on station where you BYOB and that combination works really well to keep behavior in check. We all know the rules, obviously and the less out rightly stated social rules and life is so much less cringe worthy.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        At OldJob, you got two drink tickets. But certain managers had more tickets, and many people just booked a room (at a discount due to quantity of people and the fact the company was paying for the banquet room and food/drinks) at the hotel where the party was.

        So as long as the managers knew you were staying at the hotel or had a designated driver, they would hand out extra tickets from their leftovers and from the extras from people who didn’t show up. So no one was really limited to two drinks.

        Plus, there were after-party parties in the hotel rooms. People would bring bottles of their own alcohol. Lots of stories there.

  7. Henrietta Gondorf*

    My office did a Yankee swap sort of gift exchange with a $10 cap. Most of the gifts were about what you would expect (scented candles, coffee mug with cocoa, that kind of thing). My colleague was shaking boxes, trying to decide what to open and finally picked one that sounded sort of unusual. He opened it to find a disposable plastic container filled with peanut shells and a used dish towel. No one would admit to having wrapped up a bunch of trash and my colleague sulked for the rest of the event. I think he’s still mad about it.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      I got a frozen pizza in an office Yankee swap. I put it in the break room freezer and it may still be there today (4 years later – also an Ex-Job).

      1. sacados*

        We had someone who did something similar during a white elephant at my old job — it was actually kind of brilliant! We set a quite low limit for the gift amounts, it was meant to be intentionally lowkey. And of course everyone is picking up the packages, examining, trying to decide which one they want to pick…
        There was one package that was small but quite heavy, very satisfying feeling — so someone picked it and… it turns out to be a bag of small decorative rocks! ;-p
        Everyone got a pretty good laugh out of that one.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t blame him, but he should have obviously and deliberately tossed it in the trash during the party (and then got over it).

    3. Will*

      There’s always at least somebody who gets really upset at a Yankee swap. I think they are popular with party organizers because they boil down to a sort of office politics popularity contest. The more socially adept people tend to steal the good things and enjoy the spectacle, while the introverts will just settle on the dumb presents so as not to be in the spotlight and just seethe. Of course there’s always one jerk who does something like wrap up trash just to ensure that somebody is disappointed too.

      1. Sam.*

        I try not to contribute crap gifts, but tbh I actually think having one or two of them in the mix can make these kind of swaps more entertaining (not, of course, if the average gift is $20 or whatever. But if everything’s <$10? I won't be mad if I open something worthless, as long as it's funny.)

        1. Creed Bratton*

          Yes – the best ones I’ve seen had plenty of nice candles and mug combos, but the real entertainment came from grown adults with advanced degrees competing for the pink “hot stuff” trucker hat :)

          1. Jennifer*

            Like when you gave Jim Halpert that random jacket you found in the back of your closet and threw it in a plastic grocery bag. :)

          2. DrRat*

            It wasn’t my office, but someone I knew worked at a non profit based around STD treatment/prevention. When you spend all day every day asking your clients deeply personal questions about sex, the office culture is a little…different. My colleague told me at their Santa swap one year the most highly sought after gift was the inflatable sheep from a sex toy store.

        2. DCBA*

          One year, the organizers intentionally put in a couple really crappy gifts (one was a urinal cake). Then at the end, had everyone else vote for the worst gifts in the group, and gave those recipients gift cards greater than the minimum gift limit (I think our limit was $15; and the gift cards $25 or something). It made the event really funny, and no one left feeling too grumpy.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I went to a party with a new (to me) group last year and they had a white elephant exchange. Apparently they have one designated crappy gift that comes back every year. It’s like a running joke in the group. I got it last year. This year’s party is coming up, and last night I went to get the crappy gift to wrap it (which I planned to pair with a box of chocolates) lo and behold, I have lost the damn thing! Cannot find it anywhere. Going to have to buy a replacement crappy gift now, which is by far the weirdest thing on my holiday shopping list. (Oh wait wait wait, just had an idea while I was typing this. I have a copy of The Rules book at home, somewhere in the attic with all the other junk. It can be the new crappy gift!)

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          We had the crappy gift too in one group but the gift was a ThighMaster. The receiver proudly displayed it in his office that year and rewrapped it with some fancy chocolate bars the next year’s exchange. Which meant it got stolen.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Mine was a fake nose with a mustache and a pair of eyeglasses.

            One day I will sell my house, and in the middle of me packing for the move, the nose will turn up!

          2. Just Sayin'*

            Ours was the singing bass plaque. I hoped every year that I would get it so that I could “lose” it before the next year. But I never did, and it made the rounds of the office. That thing is motion activated, so we’d be walking down the hall in April and somehow set it off.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Oh god I remember that fish from the pits of hell! We still had cable when it first came out, but it was before the DVRs and we had to sit through so.many. commercials of that fish.

              1. Hadespuppy*

                I worked several summers at a canoe camp where it was tradition to sneak heavy, bulky, or otherwise amusing items into other staff member’s packs before they went on the water, forcing them to haul said items through the bush for a week. Popular items were bibles, puzzles, lengths of logging chain, etc. One year someone sent out one of those fish.
                It did make it back, but somehow along the way must have gotten wet, and instead of ruining the electrics, it just put it on super speed, so whenever the demned thing went off it made a demonic sounding noise, and looked like it was having a seizure.

              1. LibrariAnne*

                I had an uncle named Skeeter who was once gifted THREE of those one Christmas. He was exactly the sort of person you’d look at and think, “I bet he would really enjoy a singing fish that hangs on your wall.” Also, his name was Skeeter, which I really think sort of says it all.

            2. Glitsy Gus*

              Our family does that with the singing lobster! We’ve upped the ante because now if you get the lobster your job is to provide him with one new item of clothing or accessory before you pass him along. It’s weird but it’s fun.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          Our annual crappy gift was a pair of a colleague’s pants.
          “Who will get Fred’s Pants this year?” (not his name)

          1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

            My family has one too. It’s a rubber severed foot from a Halloween costume. (Who even knows)

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        Decades ago I made zucchini jam for a gift exchange like this. It was a joke and I wasn’t even willing to try it myself. And yet, it got stolen from the first person, perhaps stolen more than once!

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I can see stealing it. I don’t expect actually good stuff from these events, and zucchini jam would at least be interesting. If it turns out to be terrible, as it probably is, then toss it without regrets. And if it turns out to be good (stranger things have happened–Donald Trump is president!) then it is a complete win.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        At my dad’s family’s christmas gathering we did a regular gift exchange with actual nice gifts, and then a white elephant with a mix of intentionally terrible gifts, goofy gifts that met the price guideline, and regifted stuff from someone’s office gift exchange. So it was a mix of jars of candy, scented candles, 15 $1 scratchoff tickets, and hideous novelty photo frames.

        The rules of the exchange are: On your turn you may open a new gift or “steal” someone else’s opened gift. After two steals, the gift is “dead” and cannot be stolen again. If you are robbed you may steal in turn or open a new gift.

        This was all fine and good until my cousin’s 4 year old wanted to participate AND THEY LET HIM. First of all, 4 year olds do not understand the “stealing” thing — they just think it’s mean. And second, 4 year olds do not have a lot of chill about getting crappy gifts.

        So my cousin’s 4 year old son unwraps basically THE BEST 4 year old gift ever — a toy gumball dispenser full of M&Ms. He is PSYCHED. He is SO INTO his candy dispenser. He cannot wait to open it up and dispense some candy but his dad makes him wait because it might get stolen. Of course, no one is going to steal candy from a 4 year old, right?

        Nope. My other cousin, this kid’s uncle, steals the candy from him and immediately (dead seriously) declares that it is his now and he is not going to share. The 4 year old starts to cry. His dad tells him he gets to open a new gift now, so he does, and he gets…. a set of cheap scented candles. Now he is definitely crying. His dad says maybe someone will steal from him and he can steal the candy back.

        Of course none of my relatives, who are absolute cutthroats apparently, steal his stupid candles. I had declined to participate so I was no help. My parents were already done with their bit. So this poor 4 year old, who does not understand how any of this works or why his uncle was allowed to take his gift away, is just gutted and crying. His uncle, also apparently a monster, refuses to give the candy back or even share some with him. 4 year old is inconsolable.

        My entire immediate family boycotted the white elephant thing from then on but the rest of the family kept doing it and kept getting very small children involved and there was at minimum one meltdown every Christmas from then on. I even suggested doing a child-specific white elephant with child-appropriate gifts (and maybe no stealing, because toddlers) but was told that was stupid. :(

        1. Puffle*

          That is so sad! Poor tiny human! I think a kiddo white elephant would be fun, but definitely no stealing. Those family members are jerks. This is how I felt about bingo as a tiny human, I didn’t understand why I never got a prize when I was -so- close. (Because everyone else was very close too, tiny human! And could control many cards at once, with quick reaction time, unlike tiny human.) I still hate bingo, lol.

          1. Queen of the File*

            I had a great bingo experience as a tiny human! Somehow I wandered into the adult bingo game at my dad’s work Christmas party and someone let me have a card (I think I was 7 or 8). Lo and behold, I won! So I got to go up to the “prize table” and pick something out. I’m sure everyone was nervous because 95% of the prizes were bottles… but at the end of the table was what I’m sure was a joke gift someone brought in–a pink telephone shaped like lips. I used that phone until I finished university.

          2. BethSmash*

            When I was a kid, I was in a group that did an ornament exchange. You pick out an ornament you think is cool and wrap it. Then everyone sits in a big circle, then you pass the ornaments around. 15 to the right four to the left, etc. Sometimes there was a story with an excessive amounts of rights or lefts in them, and when you heard that word you’d pass the gift, “Sally knew the right thing to do, and when she got home she went right to work “, etc. Everyone gets a cool present, nothing gets stolen. I don’t recall anyone really having a meltdown, but that could just be my own faulty memory. That could also work with younger kids and toys/candy presents.

        2. Kat*

          I’m sitting here chuckling to myself envisioning that not only did an adult steal candy from a child, but the rest of your family is so cutthroat no one helped by stealing the candle from the kid. That’s some commitment to the rules.

          Tbh if the kid was super annoying or bratty and never corrected by their parents I could see myself taking their gift just to be a butthead. MUAHAHAHA (evil laugh).

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I wouldn’t do it, but I would gleefully think about it. One of my husband’s little cousins behaves awfully. She gets very upset if other people get presents; you could give her 25 presents in a row, but if you give a present to another cousin to open, she throws a fit. Finally, the host of the annual Christmas Eve dinner said that if we brought presents for the kids, we had to keep them in the car and hand them out as the kids left so the other kid didn’t make a fuss. That’s when I stopped buying gifts for anybody. I’m not going to take away the fun of letting other kids open their gifts because one kid can’t behave.

          2. Kat A.*

            Wow, Kat. That’s an awful thing to do to any child.

            Even if the child were “bratty,” as you say, it could be from being tired, having too much sugar, his regular schedule being thrown off by the holidays, or upset about something. It’s still no reason to be cruel.

          3. Wendy Darling*

            Honestly the saddest part is that this kid was a total sweetie. Just a really kind, sensitive little guy who totally would have shared his candy with anyone who asked. I haven’t seen that side of the family in a long time (for, uh, reasons that I think are pretty obvious such as that they are jerks) so I don’t know if they managed to torment it out of him but I hope not.

            1. Urban Lady*

              Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) told a true story during an interview of his first days as a TV studio gopher. He was treated poorly by a few people and that feeling stuck with him. So, when he (inevitably) rose to stage manager, he made sure he was always kind to everyone because he remembered how it felt to be treated poorly. I hope that 4-year-old grows up to be kind, too.

        3. Leslie Knope*

          We do White Elephant at a friend’s annual Christmas party where children are welcome, but the kids are NOT allowed in the gift exchange. The host always has little presents that they can open for themselves, which is usually a small toy and Hershey’s Kisses.

          Last year some parents brought their two kids, a boy and a girl around 9-12 years old. They insisted their kids get to pick the gifts for their parents during White Elephant, which we kind of frowned upon but no one outright objected. This of course confused the 4yo and the 3yo who were there! But luckily they were small enough to wrangle and distract with the chocolates.

          The 9yo boy got to pick a present for his dad and he opened a bottle of Jack Daniels, but the parents don’t drink! So the next person who had a turn felt obligated to steal the bottle of whiskey from the kid and let them open another present or steal from someone else. It was a little embarrassing for the dad and that nice person ended up with a bottle of whiskey they didn’t really want…but all ended well. Both those kids ended up with presents for them instead of their parents, which was not the point of the game so we were all kind of annoyed.

          This year the invite for the annual Christmas House Party says, “Kids are more than welcome, but won’t participate in the White Elephant Exchange. Adult gifts (ie alcohol) are not prohibited.”

        4. emmelemm*

          I have honestly never been part of a white elephant/yankee swap exchange (I don’t think they’re that popular around here/where I grew up), but stories like this make me think they’re awful.

          1. Kat A.*

            It really depends on the group. My group does one every year, and we all have a laugh. Every item is new (not used) and either good quality or obviously funny but not in a raunchy way. Plus, anything unwanted (which is rare) gets donated to charity.

          2. Wendy Darling*

            It is possible for them to be nice if they are done in good faith by nice people who all manage to get on the same page. That is unfortunately rare so I usually give them a skip.

            We did one at my job a few years ago and everyone on my team was super conservative so it ended up just being a bunch of nice $15 gifts. The biggest “conflict” was that my contribution was a phone backup power bank and everyone wanted it. (It was actually my only ever regift — my mom gave it to me as a gift but I already had that exact one so I just rewrapped the brand new power bank and used it for the work white elephant!)

          3. R.D.*

            We do them at the family Christmas party and while there is some complete junk, mostly people bring stuff that someone might want or that is hilarious.

            And we do let our tiny humans participate, which means we end up with what ever really annoying singing thing someone else found and just knew our tiny humans would have to have the singling toilet brush or the yodeling pickle. They are of course always right and we end up having to listen to the pickle yodel for the next couple of months until it “breaks” or “gets lost”.

            So yeah, we may play with jerks, but they are trying to torment parents, not steal candy from babies. :D

            We also do one at work and that is generally pretty fun, too. Usually scratchers and starbucks cards or regifted wine end up being the best gifts.

          4. Autumnheart*

            They’re like any other game, it’s fun if the players are fun. My office holds one every year that is really popular. It helps that my coworkers are a hilarious bunch who have a good idea of what does (and doesn’t) make a good joke gift.

          5. zora*

            My office did one for the first time last year and EVERYONE (except me) is so excited about doing it again this year. It was fine last year, no one brought trash, most of the gifts were fun or cute. And we’re a pretty small office, so it doesn’t seem likely to get out of hand.

            I might skip it though, honestly. We are clear that it’s not mandatory, and I felt a little obligated to play along last year. But mostly I just object because I hate useless ‘stuff’ and I don’t want another piece of junk I need to deal with, or have a bunch of things that will end up in a landfill.

            And considering some of the people in the company we share space with, I feel like it’s only a matter of time until someone brings something stupid and it gets awkward.

          6. Róisín*

            My ex-fiancé’s family does a white elephant every year for the adults! The rule in the family is that everyone buys presents for all the kids, and then one present for the adult exchange (couples often buy a joint present for the kids and then two for the swap so they can each pick one). Gifts can be stolen once or twice, I can’t remember, and at the end there’s always a couple people who swap gifts so everyone leaves happy. It’s one of my best memories of the family, being included in the white elephant Christmas fun. Ex and I walked off with a nice essential oil diffuser one year. Alcohol was always present, and no one ever bought crappy gifts because they’re a genuinely lovely family who love each other.

        5. MarsJenkar*

          And that’s one reason my family’s white elephant exchange excludes the children. The children get their own gifts, plus separately packaged birthday gifts if their birthday falls close to the holidays (as mine does).

        6. Quill*

          We do white elephant but you have to be 18 to play… children are allowed to cart gifts to people but usually they’re already knee deep into loosing the pieces of their toys.

          Also, my family aren’t monsters? Everyone declined to steal the nice tupperware set from the cousin who was literally in the process of furnishing her first apartment.

          One year I successfully antiqued an actual white elephant sculpture (soapstone, I think) intending for it to be the literal white elephant for years to come, only to have my great uncle become enraptured with it and move hell and high water to make sure that he took it home.

        7. Richard Hershberger*

          Including small children in gift stealing games is just a terrible, terrible idea. I would let my 12 year old participate, after having carefully explained it to her, complete with setting expectations. My 10 year old on the spectrum is another matter.

          1. theothermadeline*

            My family does white elephant every year and it was honestly one of the fan favorites of the kids. They made an age threshold under which nobody was allowed to steal from you and included a few gifts that were obviously meant to entice us away from the ones that the adults wanted. Now we’re all grown and waiting for the next generation to get old enough to do it all again.

        8. Mr. Shark*

          Yes, we had an office party with white elephant gifts, and I guess it was acceptable to bring your SO (although only one person showed up with their SO). One woman brought her 9-year old kid, so of course, he got the best present and no one stole it from him, because even at 9, he didn’t understand the point of the game. You should never involve kids in the white elephant exchange!

        9. Sleve McDichael*

          I will never forget the Secret Santa organised by the adult leaders of my girl guide troop. We all were assigned a specific person to bring a $10 gift for. I bought a nice stationery set for my Secret Santa. When my turn came, I opened the present to find a big box of Quality Street. Excited, I opened it immediately intending to throw one to everyone but when I picked one up it was strangely light, so I unwrapped it. It was empty and the foil had been twisted back into the shape of the chocolate. I opened another with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It was empty too. The other girls started to laugh at me. I felt so awful that not only did I not get a gift, but someone spent all that time re-wrapping chocolate foils just to humiliate me in front of everyone. I didn’t go to girl guides for much longer after that. Children remember these things.

            1. 1LFTW*

              For real. My inner Girl Scout Leader is furious right now. Had this happened in my troop, there would have been Words… They would have been kind words, but they would have been firm, and they would have resulted in a meaningful apology.

          1. Random Guy Named Art*

            I’m going through this thread after having been linked to the best story elseweb. And I’ve had multiple bad Secret Santa experiences that have turned me off on Secret Santa. Your story? Your story is worse than my worst one. What a jerk they were to you.

        10. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          That is so very sad.

          When I was a kid we did a cute gift exchange for the kids. Everyone brought a small generic gift, and sat in a circle, then we would read “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Every time you say the word “the” you pass your present to the person on your left. Whatever present you have at the end of the story is yours.

        11. Wren*

          This reminds me of my primary school secret santa. Not sure why 12 year old me looked like I wanted tea light, so initially I was kind of upset. Come Christmas time they turned into an inferno that had to be hurriedly removed from the house due to the metallic glitter. That was definitely worth it.

      5. Puffle*

        I like the idea in theory, but somehow half the time I get the short end of the stick. I’ve posted about it before, but I worked at a library once and everyone had such kooky gifts (that were eventually traded and matched with someone who genuinely liked them — like cassette tapes of obscure music, themed rubber duckies, you name it) except I received a clearly used cat toy (one of those ‘dammit dolls’) covered in cat hair. FROM THE LIBRARY DIRECTOR. He could have easily pulled a knickknack off his desk, a random book off his desk (or a free copy of something he received), literally anything. As a student worker, it just annoyed me that I spent my $10/15 on something odd but not literal trash, and got the literal trash. I somehow also tend to get the people who ghost in online card exchanges as well. Maybe it’s me. :P

        1. CookieWookiee*

          Nope, it’s not just you. When I was in school and did grab bags and Secret Santas, I inevitably got the short end of the stick. I remember in 5th grade I pulled out a used pack of playing cards, sans box, wrapped in tin foil. (Yes, all the cards were there, I checked.)

          8th grade, everyone else was getting little candies or gifts every day before the big gift—I got nothing for several weeks, horribly disappointed every time I went to check my little bag—then got a Koosh (anybody else remember those?), which was cool, but then nothing else till well after Christmas, when I was gifted with a popular drugstore perfume as my final gift. Which was nice, but I was so, so hurt in the meantime. Especially since I have always put a lot of thought into buying gifts.

          These days, I don’t participate in work gift exchanges or white elephants (there’s one today, I didn’t go). Just too much potential for hurt feelings.

          1. Puffle*

            Oh no, I would totally feel the same way! (Also I love your username. :D ) The cards thing, ugh. And oh man, I have a koosh ball that my dad always had at his office for like…20 years, he almost got rid of it when he moved, but I had to rescue it. Of course intellectually I understand if the gifting kid isn’t thinking about their gift compared to what everyone else is getting, or a parent just can’t afford it or mentally can’t juggle everything for the kid…. but YOU KNOW the receiving kid is going to be disappointed if everyone else is getting exciting tiny tidbits and you get one thing and feel left out. I hear ya.

      6. Nessun*

        We had a swap one year at OldJob, where everyone attending got candles or scarves or scented lotions – and I went home with a box of Advanced Yoga Flashcards. I wasn’t very impressed with the choice, but I just took it home and stuck it in a box and eventually donated it to somewhere. What I remember most is the look on the face of the lady who’d wrapped it – she obviously didn’t fully understand the process or purpose, and she was SO embarrassed. I wanted to tell her it was OK, really! but didn’t want to make her feel worse by bringing it up the next day.

        1. WellRed*

          I’m confused. Why was she embarrassed? I mean, sure it wasn’t something you cared for, but is the purpose to give only candles/scarves/scented lotions?

          1. Nessun*

            People were confused when I unwrapped it, wondering why it wasn’t something “holiday related”, kitschy, or generic – and a few people commented about it being something not everyone could have used (for medical reasons). Her heart was in the right place, and the comments were unfortunate – I didn’t participate, just showed it to everyone (part of the rules of the game, we all had to hold our gift up to show everyone), and then took it home.

        2. only acting normal*

          I would have preferred the yoga cards to scented candles and lotions. Allergies ahoy!
          (Guess what I’ve always received in secret Santas?)

      7. Ella Beebee*

        I commented this above, but every yankee swap I’ve been to has had a few people who brought actual trash. maybe this person wasn’t trying to be awful, and had been to swaps before where this was the norm? Still uncool though. This is why I hate yankee swaps.

    4. Yikes!*

      At an office party I was at we did Yankee Swap. I got anal beads and a book titled “How to Have Anal Sex” I was the only woman who worked there at the time, and it was for our families so my little kids were with me. It was horrifying.

        1. bunniferous*

          Almost as bad as the “personal massager” someone brought to our own office white elephant gift exchange last year.

          One of the bosses got it.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Who on EARTH thinks this is an office appropriate gift?

        I know, I know the Secret Santa lingerie guy. He thinks he is being funny and EDGY by doing something like this. Instead it’s horrific and quite frankly grounds for a good talking to about judgment.

      2. Liz*

        Who DOES that? AND thinks its appropriate for the workplace, kids or no kids! I would have died. And I thought the question the other day about the CW buying his secret santa red undies as it was her tradition for New Years was bad.

        1. Liane*

          “Who DOES that? AND thinks its appropriate for the workplace, kids or no kids!”
          The Secret Santa creeper who brought penis-shaped candies? Or the (female) admin who thought a vendor rep should be part of the company Secret Santa and brought a wrapped pair of new Spanx to be “Vendor’s SS Gift” to a young woman employee?

          (From previous years’ Bad Office Holidays)

      3. Jillian*

        Ah, I was in my early twenties, also the only female, when I received a rubber plant – a plant with actual condoms for the leaves. Good times (not).

      4. Ama*

        I have also received a sex toy in a yankee swap (although at a friends party, and it was caused because the organizers called it “Dirty Santa” and the woman who brought it was not familiar with the game and thought you were supposed to bring an adult-themed gift, so it was more funny than horrifying).

        However, between that and a couple of other times when I have managed to pick the one gift no one wants to swap for, I have decided I’m just bad at picking from the wrapped gifts, so I always steal instead.

      5. OklahomaMama*

        One of my all time favorites….someone thought a pair of *ahem* anatomically correct teddy bears were a good idea. My supervisor opened them right in front of the hospital chaplain

        1. Shocked Pikachu*

          Today’s comments are putting images in my head I really don’t care to have ;) Anatomically correct teddy bears .., Anyone seen Conan with Butterscotch the Clown introducing anatomically correct Hello Kitty cosplay costume ?

          1. Edwina*

            Haha, yes–that Butterscotch the Clown character is hilarious, that actor always goes so dark. Conan has a great dark streak–remember Wikibear?

        1. Fox in a Box*

          I just googled it. It refers to a Conan O’Brian sketch. Apparently the clown is a recurring character. Also: right up until I saw the search results I was thinking “Conan the Barbarian” instead of the comedian.

      6. Le Sigh*

        If this blog has taught me anything, it’s that waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy to many people think sex toys/sex-related gifts are appropriate for the office.

        1. WooHoo!*

          Maybe because it’s the only time of the year they can get away with subliminally telling their co-workers to either F Off or Get F’ed?

          /s

      7. Observer*

        Did you pick a wrapped package or was this meant for you?

        It’s horrifying either way. But if it was meant for you?!

      8. Henrietta Gondorf*

        I did not think my eyebrows would go that high, but apparently they’re now receding into my hairline. Holy Hanukkah Balls, Batman!

    5. Lady Russell's Turban*

      At our Yankee swap, we had a holiday theme and it had to be something from your house. So we knew to expect hand-me downs and most were really lovely figurines, ornaments, table runners, mugs, platters, cookie cutters, or specialty baking pans. But not all. I received a repurposed jar (as in from your refrigerator) with 11 hard peppermint candies, several of them without their wrappers.

      I have plenty of holiday decor and baking ware AND no longer decorate or rarely bake, so I was not jealous of anyone else’s gifts. But honestly! I don’t know what lazy a** put together that gift (but I have my suspicions), but I don’t care if he or she saw me drop that gift in the trash on my way out of the room.

      1. Pilcrow*

        The Yankee Swap at a former employer was optional; of about 30 people in the department, 10 chose to participate. One of the participants came in late with a rather large cardboard box (about the size of a crate of office paper) that wasn’t wrapped or decorated. We’ll call him Bob. After trading back and forth, Bob eventually *takes back his own box.* He did open it to reveal the box was packed with things like a variety of tea bags and a couple types of cocoa. Apparently he liked his own gift!

        I just can’t figure out why Bob even bothered.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          My mom confessed to me that she’s stolen back her own gift at her office party, but never told anyone she was the one who brought it. She was almost to the end of the line opening gifts, so she could survey what all was out there to steal. She didn’t like anything else, so she decided she really wanted that heated blanket she had brought!

          1. Amy Sly*

            That’s my rule for Yankee swaps — always bring something you’d be willing to take home. Worst case scenario, you can always unwrap or steal your own present and get something you won’t mind.

      2. OklahomaMama*

        One year I spent WEEKS decorating a small Christmas tree with beaded lanyards that I made as Garland and handmade earrings as ornaments.
        I ended up with a paperback Harry Potter that was obviously pre-read if the dogearred pages were any indication.
        Oh, and it was in a crumpled paper lunch bag.
        I suspected strongly someone from Slitherin did it.
        #DirtySantaSucks

      3. JustaTech*

        We used to do White Elephant at my office (it mostly ended on account of lack of space). I got roped into organizing it so I made sure that every year we had *very* clear rules about type of gift (new or like new, $25 max, if you want to give crap there has to be something good in there too) and the rules (minimal stealing to keep it from taking hours).

        But. The last year we did it we had a brand new VP who had just come from a company with a rival product. He was so new that we really didn’t know him at all. And he missed the “new or near new, or there has to be a gift card in the dumb thing” part of the invitation. His gift was one of the last opened and it was … a used backpack from his old company with the rival product logo embroidered on it. And when the recipient opened it (looking for the expected Starbucks card) and found a charging cable, he *took the cable back*.

        The guy who got the backpack is usually really easy-going, but he was *pissed*. Several of us offered to trade our gifts just because he was so upset. Thankfully there was an extra gift, so he opened that, the backpack disappeared and that was the end of the White Elephant.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I helped out our White Elephant exchange by not only getting a gift (adult coloring books, non-risque and colored pencils), but wrapping up a jar of jam that I’d made so there would be enough gifts. Both were popular…

    6. Al from Dal*

      At a previous job during a white elephant exchange, I got 2 cleaning tablets for a toilet. The kind you put in your tank and it turns the water blue. I no longer participate in white elephants. :(

        1. Al from Dal*

          Depends on the company. Other gifts at the exchange were gift certificates to nice restaurants and nice candle sets

        2. Leslie Knope*

          Some groups like to do gag gifts. In that case, everyone has to KNOW that’s the plan! It’s not really cool if someone people just do it on their own.

          Our White Elephant game is pretty fun because everyone is good at buying gifts people enjoy (lottery tickets, bottles of wine, gift cards to Starbucks, etc).

        3. Mr. Tyzik*

          That *is* the point.

          I worked in a department that was small and we had a white elephant exchange for years. We expanded across and up. We had a lot of new leaders in separate tax brackets who would buy expensive ($50) gifts, like tool sets and headphones, while the rest of us brought regifted stuff from home. One year, I brought a book on how to code HTML 1.0 which was 500 pages thick. A director wound up with it and loudly proclaimed, “What is this piece of crap?” I was mortified. In an IT department, I thought that gift was perfect.

          The exchange was pretty much dead the next year. It was replaced by an outdoor activity (I live in the American Southwest). We had a salsa contest and an obstacle course; someone broke his neck on the obstacle course so that never happened again.

          The next year we did nothing. Just a note from the VP wishing us Happy Holidays, met with some coworkers muttering that she didn’t say Merry Christmas.

          1. emmelemm*

            Next time Alison has a letter about outdoorsy bonding activities, you definitely have to bring up the “No, really, someone *actually* broke their neck” in a more visible comment!!

        4. Quill*

          Yeah but the point is “stupid craft kit” or “clean but ugly knick knack” or “Chia pet” not remnants of cleaning products and literal trash.

          (My dad once brought home a “knit a beer cozy” kit for me from a family christmas function because I wanted to play with the yarn. When we opened it up it didn’t even come with knitting needles or comprehensible instructions! The yarn was used to make a replica bird nest.)

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            It’s the use of the word “replica” with “bird nest” that makes this sentence pure gold! :D

        5. ggg*

          I did too! Until I brought some crazy ’60s-era cookbooks to a white elephant exchange, and everyone else had gone out and purchased nice gifts.

    7. Mama Bear*

      Not a Yankee gift swap – we had a small company with two teams mostly working on two different projects. Project 1 received a copy of one of the Sharknado sequels and there was actually some discussion about who had received which other movie a prior year. The other team received nerf guns and ammo.

    8. Quill*

      I once wrapped a pair of maraccas with my little brother’s gifts because he always shook the presents. (They were already his maraccas!)

    9. Ellex*

      Mainly the reason why I always hate any type of secret santa or swap type exchange, I have always put thought and money into my gift and rarely does that get reciprocated. At my old job we did an admin secret santa and I bought my coworker a selection of small goodies I knew she would like, lotion, candle, nail polish, chocolate. What did I get? A pair of mens socks with our state flag on them that are $3.99 at the checkout lane in Walgreens.

  8. HONK*

    Back when I was 19, I worked in our local nonprofit over the summer. Every year, they held a rather swanky Christmas party for the employees, top donors and board members. The first time I went, I remember being super nervous about attending and spending hours beforehand choosing a dress and doing my hair. The party went very well at first, I went around talking to everyone while eating appetizers and drinking bubbles.

    After a while, I started feeling uncomfortable at how everyone, both men and women, seemed to make a point of staring at my chest. I am blessed with the Rack of Ages and being young and new to the workplace, I started worrying that either everyone was creepy or my choice of attire was inappropriate. And then… I colleague I also knew from school pulled me aside and told me I had a piece of chicken visibly stuck in my cleavage.

    I don’t know which feeling won in the end – the relief or the embarrassment.

    1. Mimi Me*

      This is hysterical! I wonder what the people who looked, but didn’t say anything were thinking as you walked away. “Is that a snack she’s saving for later?” LOL!

    2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I just belly-laughed at my desk and now all my workmates think I’m a lunatic. That is CLASSIC!

    3. AnonEMoose*

      “Rack of Ages” – LOL – being similarly endowed, I am SO stealing that. And I feel your pain, but I’m glad the situation was fairly easily resolved!

    4. Digley Doowap*

      You’re lucky one of the drunk senior managers didn’t come over and snatch that piece of chicken cause you know, being helpful.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          LOL! One time, my spouse and I were visiting the local Renaissance Festival, and were dressed up in costume. Which in my case includes a leather bodice that results in…significant cleavage. I had tucked the ticket into said cleavage to keep the ticket safe but out of the way.

          When we got near the gate, we realized that a friend of ours was the one taking tickets at that particular entrance. So I left the ticket where it was. He gave both of us a big grin, and leaned over and retrieved the ticket with his teeth. Husband and I both laughed our heads off, and some ot the other patrons looked…bemused.

    5. infopubs*

      Ha ha ha!! This is great! I can just imagine how many of them were wondering, Can I say something? Should I say something? What would I say? Help, Alison!

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      This story is hilarious on its own, but combined with your username it has me absolutely WHEEZING at my desk and I will be giggling about this for the rest of the day.

    7. EPLawyer*

      I am so sorry this happened to you. Bless the person who helped you out.

      But yes, I am cracking up. Please know it is not AT YOU really.

      1. HONK*

        I know, he truly did the kind thing that day! I was mortified, but it would have been a zillion times worse if I had only noticed the chicken when I arrived home, and realized it had been there the whole time… I shudder at the thought.

    8. Jennifer*

      Ha! And everyone was too afraid to say anything because they didn’t want to seem like they were staring.

    9. Auntie Social*

      I’ve had to call my misplaced cell phone. . . only to have my boobs start ringing. I understand perfectly.

      1. My Dear Wormwood*

        Yes, before I assembled my collection of dresses with pockets I would keep things in there…and forget where I put them.

        1. Sally*

          Sometimes I will put cash in my bra when I’m out dancing and then forget it’s there. So when I get home and take off my bra, there’s money stuck to the side of my breast. It always makes me laugh!

  9. Daisy-dog*

    In Ex-Job, an employee organized a Secret Santa exchange. We were a 24/7 healthcare facility, so plenty of people did not know each other as their schedules never overlapped. One person drew the name Jen, thinking it was the person that she knew (who was actually Jenn) when it was actually a night nurse that she’d never met. Jenn was given 2 presents, but she figured it out. Also, the employee who organized it didn’t like the Medical Director and just left him out (other directors were invited and did participate). When he saw an email about it, he asked me about it but thankfully said he couldn’t participate. And finally, the person who drew my name was fired the day before the exchange. However, a very kind co-worker who had drawn the name of that individual found out and got me a present. So, it all worked out in the end, but I refuse to ever do Secret Santa at work again. Too stressful.

    1. Platypus*

      I coordinated secret Santa at behest of the office several years. It was small and generally good group but everyone (kindly) mocked me for actually keeping track of who drew who. Then one year one person quit and one person got fired in the days before the gifting and it was super handy to be able to quietly reshuffle. No one’s judged me since ;)

      1. Alli525*

        I have done this too, for the exact same reason! I opted myself out of the exchange that year so no one would think I picked someone for myself (either as a gifter or giftee) out of favoritism, and everyone teased me about my spreadsheet (I was an admin, of course I had a spreadsheet!)… but it paid off in the end.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          My extended family does not-so-secret-Santa. There’s a Google Doc now which helps! We all live pretty far apart, so if someone is drawn for you that you don’t see at Christmas you mail them the present (usually a gift card in that case).

          After the holiday people like to go on the Google Doc and fill in what they received from so-and-so along with a thank you. It’s nice way to keep us all a little more connected!

      2. Just Another Manic Millie*

        No one kept track of who got whose name for Secret Santa at a company that I worked for in the 1970s. We were supposed to spend $5.00, which went a lot further then than it does now. Circe complained to Minerva and me, “I wish I knew who has my name. I would give him a dollar and tell him that there are some earmuffs at Chuckles that I really want that cost $6.00.” Neither Minerva nor I had Circe’s name. I said, “If there are earmuffs that you want at Chuckles, why don’t you just buy them for yourself?” Circe said that she wouldn’t spend six dollars on earmuffs. Four dollars, yes, but not six.

        I don’t know if Circe expected Minerva and me to run around and ask everyone, “Did you pick Circe? If you did, there’s a pair of earmuffs at Chuckles that she wants.” There was no one that Circe could ask who had picked her name. So, when she found out that Fergus had picked her name and had gotten her bone meal (which was good for plants – everyone knew that Circe liked to garden), she threw a tantrum and carried on. Everyone said that it was good thing that Fergus had dropped off his gift to her ahead of time, because he wasn’t in the day of Secret Santa, and if he had been in, World War III would have started.

    2. Andream*

      I completely forgot until now that I had something similar with the firing. With my post below, I mentioned that at a former job we had a secret Santa. I forgot that one person got fired before she could do the secret Santa. There was one teammate who didn’t want to participate so they had all of the names and such and I think someone just switched names or something. It was really sad, and she was a good worker. It was just a horrible company with horrible policies. Like they would take customers’ ratings of us (Customer Service) as gold. Even if you did everything you could, were professional and everything if the customer gave you a bad review (anything under 8 was bad ) it docked you. They started implementing a policy if you got so many bad reviews you were first “Talked too” by upper management and then later fired if it happened again. I’ve heard that this is a policy that a lot of call centers do.

      On a side note, I would like to remind everyone to be really nice to customer service employees this year. Even if you couldn’t get what you wanted when you called/went in, please don’t give the employee a bad review. You might just get them fired for Christmas.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I also try never to give the person a bad review for simply being the bearer of bad news. I was on the receiving end of way too many of those and it was hard to read such vitriol about yourself when you were probably following a policy you had no control over.

        1. Nessun*

          It’s an awful policy to use bad reviews so arbitrarily – who knows if it’s legitimate, or someone just blowing off steam at the company/product, not the person? My main problem is, I prefer to give 5 star ratings if you’re amazing and 3-4 stars if you’re fine (I don’t bomb anyone with low ratings), but I know that in some places that 3 or 4 star rating still gets you in trouble! It’s ridiculous.

      2. Filosofickle*

        As a customer, I hate being asked to rate workers. In my book, a 4/5 or 8/10 is a good review but I know if I give anything less than perfect, the worker will get busted down. I shouldn’t have to inflate everything to a perfect score! So I avoid them where they’re not mandatory (like a store survey) but give top marks when forced (like Lyft).

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Percentage of surveys completed by customers is another metric we’re held to, fwiw. :(

          I agree with you that 4/5 or 8/10 should be a good score and you’re right that it needs to be perfect. At the call center where I worked anything below a 9/10 counted the same as a zero and at the cell phone stores (both Verizon and AT&T) anything less than perfect was a zero. Too many zeroes lead to write-ups, PIPs and firings. Fun times.

      3. Sleve McDichael*

        I hate the surveys that ask ‘How would you rate your experience with Teapots Inc. today?’ Like Teapots Inc. as a business is 6-7/10 but is the rating secretly going to the staff member? Because your policies suck but your staff are lovely, so what do I say?

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Yes, that rating reflects on the CSR. We’re “representatives of the company,” so whatever negative feelings you have about the company are considered our responsibility to turn around. It’s not great.

          The best advice I have is to rate everything as high as you feel comfortable doing and then give whatever real feedback you have in the box at the end where they let you type something. Whatever you type there won’t change the numbers or hurt the CSR (yet!) and I’m pretty sure no one cares but it’s cathartic for CSRs to read because we hate the policies too.

    3. 1234*

      I had overheard a comment being made at OldJob about how we (as a group) are not mature/too dramatic for Secret Santa and therefore didn’t do gifts at all. What a relief.

    4. New Job So Much Better*

      My SS was fired right before a party years ago, and boss felt so bad he went out and got something on my wish list. Then she stopped by and also gave me the intended gift, so I got 2 nice things that year.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        That’s nice! My boss was like, “Oops, sucks for you.” (We had a sarcastic banter normally, but I was actually disappointed until the other employee stepped in.)

  10. First Time Office Job*

    I have to go to my Very First Office Party next week so come back to me for that but once when I was working at a pet store we had one of the dog trainers put on a Santa outfit so people could have their dogs take pictures with Santa. Then this lady came in, PULLED A CAT OUT OF HER PURSE and plopped it in his lap without a single word.

    It was a cute picture but none of us saw that coming.

      1. CheeryO*

        Legend has it that a former employee at my office brought a cat in a purse (he’s a dude, so no judgment, but extra unusual) to his interview, and he took a break during the interview to check on it. This was during the 80s when apparently anything and everything flew because our agency was growing like gangbusters and couldn’t hire enough qualified people.

    1. Catsaber*

      Reminds me of the first time I saw someone carrying a cat in pillowcase. Pillowcases can be useful to calm the cat if you are still holding the cat properly….but this person had it like slung over her shoulder, holding it by one end, like Santa’s sack. I was at the vet with my own cat, and I thought, what the hell does she have in there? It was the poor kitty.

        1. Poetic*

          As in, “As I was going to Saint Ives, I met a man with seven wives – said he, I think it’s much more fun than getting stuck with only one!”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        When one of my grandcats was prescribed pills, we were all new to being cat owners, so I printed instructions off the internet on how to pill a cat. They started with “Simply put the cat in a pillowcase…” and we were all like, “which part of that is simple?”

        1. Fikly*

          This is also the starting instructions for how you put stitches in the face/head of a toddler! (also not simple)

        2. nonegiven*

          What’s kind of funny is my sister’s cat, many years ago had hyperthyroidism. She had a specialist vet in the city that irradiated it’s thyroid, then it had to stay there for 2 weeks for the radiation to go away.

          Then, the cat needed thyroid hormone replaced every day. She held the pill and the cat came and took it from her hand.

          I’ve never had a cat take a pill willingly.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            I have known two cats who somehow realized either that the pill was inevitable or that it actually made them feel better! One was my parents’ asthmatic boy – I often ended up having to give him pills myself because he seemed particularly prone to getting wheezy in the mid-afternoon, after I came home from school but before Mom and Dad were home from work. He would actually come and nudge me for the pill!

      2. Asenath*

        That reminds me of the time I was at the vet with one of my cats, and everyone in the waiting room was eyeing the guy carrying a pillowcase and wondering what his pet was. It was a snake. He was having difficulty finding vet care for it, and had heard that there was a vet who took care of snakes at that clinic. Unfortunately, either there wasn’t, or wasn’t on duty. He should have called first. I have to admit the snake didn’t cause any problems, other than some startled reactions when he revealed it.

        1. JustaTech*

          That’s the standard for carrying snakes.
          In college my adviser was the resident herpetologist-ecologist (lizard guy), so every summer we’d be out in the desert with our fishing poles and pillow cases catching lizards. Oh, and since there’s no money in academia they weren’t plain white pillow cases, no they were Thomas the Tank engine or Barbie or hideous flower prints from the thrift store.

      3. Queer Earthling*

        I was on the Minneapolis train once, and some guy had some flower-patterned wheeled luggage, with the zipper slightly parted. Perfectly normal…until a cat paw reached out and waved around, withdrew, and was replaced by a sniffing cat nose. He kept trying to reassure the poor cat. I guess he had to get to the vet and didn’t have a carrier…

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          I can’t laugh, this was me once. Except I was a broke grad student at the airport, going home for Christmas. My cat pawed open the zipper of the gym bag where I’d stashed him (I could afford neither a real carrier nor the pet fee), leaped out of the bag, and took off running.

          I chased him through the terminal for a good 5-6 minutes, ducking and dodging though other passengers, before I cornered and caught him. A few people applauded as I carried him (me: triumphant; him: yowling) back through the terminal and stuffed him back in the gym bag.

          Me: “Thank you. THAT? Is why I work out.”

      1. Catsaber*

        It’s not weird, I think it was just surprising to see a cat suddenly produced from a purse when no one was expecting it. Keep getting kitty Santa pictures! :)

        1. Karo*

          I’m honestly more amazed that the cat was chill with it, and was okay with being in the purse until being pulled out. I can’t imagine my cats staying in the purse long enough to get out of the house!

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        It’s not the Pet Santa Picture that’s weird, it’s carting around your pet in your purse.

      3. Silvercat*

        I don’t think getting your cat getting a Santa picture is weird, it’s the Surprise! Cat from the purse! that’s unusual

    2. FormerFirstTimer*

      I don’t want to know what would happen if I tried to put my cat in my purse. It is hard enough trying to get him in a carrier.

      1. Kiwiii*

        we don’t even try to get our littlest cat in a carrier anymore. She’s much more handable than her sisters (who were adopted at about a year old and are very, very nervous about movement even a year and a half later) so we just put a harness on her and scoop her up as needed.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      Once I was riding the bus and I kept looking at this man because he was wearing a belt bag and it kept wiggling. He saw me looking, reached into the bag, and pulled out A FERRET. At first I thought maybe it was a rat but its body just KEPT GOING.

      Then he asked if I wanted to hold it and that sounds like a creepy euphamism but it wasn’t and I got to pet a ferret… which is unfortunately how I found out that I am allergic to ferrets. :(

      1. Filosofickle*

        I briefly dated a guy in college who had two ferrets, Charles and Diana. They were so cute! But yes, very wiggly. They stayed in the house, thankfully.

      1. First Time Office Job*

        Surprisingly it was! After her picture the lady took her cat to the dog wash station where costumers can wash their dogs themselves and asked if she could bath the cat. I was stood there going “O.o if you really want yeah…”
        And then she bathed the cat, blow dried it and put her cat back in her purse and I wondered if I was high.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          I’ve owned a lot of cats over my lifetime, none of them would have reacted well to any of that!

    4. Venus*

      This was in September, not December, but this reminds me that I have brought foster kittens to a work social. It was outdoors (so no issues with allergies) and they were very social, so it worked out really well.

    5. DrRat*

      I used to have a pet chinchilla. I had a long duster style jacket with big pockets that I wore a lot. I would put him on a rabbit leash and take him with me, but he either liked to be up on my shoulder (or on the headrest of the car) or he liked to be in my pocket. One time I took him to the vet and everyone in the waiting room was looking at me strangely. Finally the receptionist asked, “Do you have your pet with you today?” and I said, “Yes, he’s right here!” and lifted my hand to show the leash leading from my hand to my pocket. Everyone edged away from me. I’m sure they thought it was a reptile, not a ball of fluff.

    6. Glitsy Gus*

      Huh, so how exactly does one go about procuring one of these Purse Cats? Asking for a friend…

    7. Help Desk Peon*

      I had a small cat that was very skittish, and coincidentally had a pullover windbreaker with a big kangaroo pocket in the front that zipped on the top. So, I put the cat in the pocket, zipped it up and went off to the vet. I got some strange looks when I checked in but didn’t think anything of it until the vet tech came out to take me back to a room and asked where my pet was. Lots of laughs when I pulled a cat out of my pocket, let me tell you.

  11. C Average*

    My partner, who is a doctor, took me to his office’s holiday party last year. The highlight of the evening was an event called the Saran Wrap Ball game.

    The office manager explained to the guests that she had taken a hundred-dollar bill and wrapped it in two Costco-sized rolls of Saran wrap. The ball was about twice the size of a basketball. It was to be passed down the table along with a pair of dice. When it was your turn, the person next to you would roll the dice and count to the number indicated. While they counted, you would unwrap the ball. When they stopped counting, you would pass the balk to the person next to you. The person who unwrapped the hundred-dollar bill got to keep it. There were also small items like scratch-off tickets and candy wrapped in the ball; if you unwrapped those, you got to keep them.

    These people all make good money, but they tore at that ball like absolute animals. It was hilarious and so, so much fun. It is the best party game I have ever witnessed.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        As someone whose MIL tried this with the under 10’s in the family there is a lower age limit, well a maturity limit. It did not go well with a few of the younger ones who didn’t understand why others got more time to unwrap than they did and thus got more gifts and the slightly older ones didn’t want to trade items.

        1. M*

          It’s a version of Pass the Parcel, a very common children’s party game in Australia. If playing with small children, instead of dice use music – an adult controls it, the parcel gets passed around the circle while the music is playing and when the adult stops the music the kid with the parcel gets to remove a layer. (Paper is preferential to saran wrap for a wide variety of reasons, and it’s a good reuse for old newspapers.) Because an adult is controlling where the parcel stops, it’s very easy to make sure each kid gets to unwrap a layer and therefore get a treat.

          1. Sleve McDichael*

            Until your comment I had no idea that pass the parcel wasn’t played everywhere in the world. Mind blown!

            1. Our own sweet selves*

              Me either, but I also just thought about how it works with my Australian accent (PARSE the PARCEL), maybe it doesn’t catch on if the name doesn’t rhyme and alliterate?

            2. MsSolo*

              Yeah, I had no idea. It’s THE party game for kids in the UK. Wrap up something relatively cheap but nice (like an age appropriate children’s book) and then put a mix of sweets and forfeits between the layers, and control who gets to open it with music so everyone gets a go, and have the main prize go to someone who’s not the birthday kid (usually someone who hasn’t had a fair share of sweets so far).

        2. DataGirl*

          For kids a game I have done is buy cheap gifts and wrap them, 1 for each kid. Have them sit in a circle and I read a book and each time I say a specific word, ‘dog’ or ‘red’ or whatever, they pass the gift they are holding one to the right (or left, you do you). Whatever gift they are holding when the story is over they get to unwrap and keep. It works really well as they get the excitement of a game but everyone ends up with a present, and bonus they have to sit still for 10 minutes while I read!

    1. Gidget*

      This sounds like a really fun activity but part of me is cringing so hard about all that plastic. I am wondering what some good eco-friendly ways to pull this off would be… maybe leaves or fabric. *thinking face emoji*

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        I have the same reaction to this as you, and the whole gift-giving thing gives me the same willies. Why buy or exchange things that are just designed to be thrown into the trash? It really triggers my climate anxiety.

        1. Filosofickle*

          This is probably my biggest objection to these games. In order for them to be affordable, that means inexpensive stuff bought for a random person. Most won’t be used, and much of it will be tossed straight in the bin. I get that it can be fun, lighthearted way to spend time as a team, but it’s so wasteful. And even if it’s a “give something you already have” it’s just trading stuff you didn’t want.

          It doesn’t help that I’ve never really enjoyed them anyway. I always feel a little out of sync with the group — what’s perceived as a funny / terrible / awesome / gag gift varies wildly. By the nature of the game the gifts don’t necessarily go home with someone who appreciates it.

          Once I had a Secret Santa who gave me what I perceived to be meaningless junk. I felt insulted since I’d put a lot of work into my gift, and I complained to a couple of work friends. Oops. One of them was my Secret Santa gifter, and she was really hurt. She gave a lot of thought to finding me what she thought were perfect gifts, given our super low limit. (Something like $10, and she made that into 5 gifts, one for each day of the week.) Once she explained what each gift meant, I could see that each one was based on a little observation about my life and she was indeed very thoughtful. I felt like such a heel.

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            I feel so seen!

            Seriously, though: I also spend the entire exchange (which goes on forever; we do multiple rounds) feeling like oddball out because I don’t understand why some of the gifts are funny and I don’t need any more crap in my house. When I get stuck with the “funny” gifts, I leave it them my office until the new year, then hide them somewhere in the office suite when no one’s looking.

        2. MsSolo*

          The UK equivalent, pass the parcel, is wrapping paper and usually the between-layer gifts are sweets (or forfeits, though usually light stuff like “run twice around the circle”, since it’s generally considered a children’s game), so much less waste, especially if it’s done with newspaper.

      2. Mama Bear*

        My cousin does a version where you wrap a box many times in paper and wear oven mitts trying to get each layer off. The one who gets into the box at the end keeps the contents.

      3. Bagpuss*

        Layers of newspaper or non-confidential waste – stuff that is due to be recycled anyway but gets re-used on the way
        .And make people wear over-sized mittens and / or use implements such as a picnic knife and fork, or chopsticks, to unwrap the gift.

      4. MoopySwarpet*

        You can recycle the saran wrap at any grocery store that has the recycle bin for grocery bags.

        1. The pest, Ramona*

          You can put plastic wrap in some stores recycle bin. But in my town those “recycle plastic” bins end up being thrown in the garbage bin. They are there just for ‘feel good about the chain store doing their part for the environment’ show.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          You guys all know “recycle” is the last one on the list (after “reduce” and “reuse”) because they’re in order of most to least beneficial, right? Two entire rolls of Kirkland Signature cling film for no other purpose than a party game is wasteful whether you recycle it after or not (and Ramona’s point is also super accurate: the cost of recycling in some areas is prohibitively expensive, so the recyclables get trashed instead).

      5. FormerFirstTimer*

        Fabric is a good idea! Festive and reusable. Also harder to see through so it is harder to see what you’re about to unwrap.

      6. Mimi*

        If you work somewhere that gets a lot of packages, those strings of inflatable packing material would have a similar effect (either deflated, or perhaps inflated, if you have a lot of space). It would take a lot of them, though, and a good bit of effort beforehand to save them.

    2. Red Fraggle*

      This is equally hilarious to play with family. My mom introduced it as post-Christmas-dinner entertainment and it has VASTLY cut down on the number of awkward arguments every year.

      1. Antennapedia*

        Aww! It’s like the human equivalent of those treat-dispensing toys you get to distract your pets and keep them from tearing up the house while you’re gone! I love it!

      2. Shhhh*

        Yeah, I kinda want to introduce this to my family now, both to stave off arguments and to get my sister to shut up about being bored after we eat early on holidays

    3. Madeleine Matilda*

      We did something similar a few years ago where the prize was in a box which was then wrapped with many layers of wrapping paper. As it passed around the room, each person unwrapped one layer and the person the unwrap the last layer won the prize.

    4. BrotherFlounder*

      My uncle would absolutely be That Guy who pulls out his pocketknife and starts cutting into the ball.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I know you said “pocketknife” but I’m imagining something more along the lines of Crocodile Dundee.

    5. just a small town girl*

      We play this every year at my family christmas! Obviously the prize at the center is smaller but it’s amazing fun! We added that you have to wear oven mitts while unwrapping because my brother would start growing his nails out and literally rip into the ball with his werewolf claws.

    6. Pineapple Incident*

      My friends and I do this every year with saran wrap and candy/tiny gag gifts that fall out as you unwrap the layers of the ball. We trade off making it every year so it’s always a little different. SO much fun!

    7. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      My lab did this once, and you had to wear oven mitts to do the unwrapping for an extra level of difficulty.
      Much hilarity ensued.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        I misunderstood for a second and was extraordinarily charmed by the mental image of a Labrador in oven mitts.

    8. Murphy*

      I did this once and it was a great game…but there was candy and other small prizes (small university branded items) not actual cash.

    9. Strelka*

      My husband’s family does this! I think it’s an awesome holiday game. And sounds really fun for a work group!

    10. Sleepytime Tea*

      We did something very similar, but you had to wear oven mitts for opening it. People were tearing at it like idiots and not getting anywhere because… well… oven mitts. When I got it I grabbed an edge of the saran wrap and just yanked. The ball rolled off the table and across the floor and started unwrapping. Repeat. Everyone copied my incredible skill after that and I didn’t win what the the prize in the center was. Still feel like I should have gotten credit for being the only one in the room apparently able to figure out how to open this thing.

    11. DivineMissL*

      I love this idea, but I have to ask… is it one continuous sheet of plastic rolled up around the middle; or is it individual squares of plastic wrapped individually?

      1. Colette*

        I did this with family last year and I used a roll of the plastic they use to wrap pallets of stuff. So one roll.

        1. Ain't Miss Behavin'*

          The friend I played with used individual squares so the next person had to start over peeling it and the game would last longer.

    12. Lalaith*

      I do this with my in-laws! (minus the hundred dollar bill, but with all kinds of stuff in the layers). It really is a lot of fun. I just used up my candy-cane flavored chapstick from last year’s, I’m bummed that it gave out just shy of a year!

    13. MoopySwarpet*

      We did this at a family gathering this year and it was pretty fun. Instead of counting, the person it was being passed to next rolled until they got doubles.

      The ball had stickers in between layers. (40+ vinyl decals for about $5 on Amazon – many themes to choose from). There were also small candy bars, a couple of matchbox cars, gum, etc. I can’t remember what the center gift was, but the whole thing was pretty fun and everyone had fun with ages ranging from 4-65. The best was the 4yo negotiating trades for matchbox cars and candy after it was over. Was totally prepared to get told no and absolutely LIT UP when the trades were made.

    14. FormerFirstTimer*

      I’ve played that before, but we had to wear oven mitts while trying to unwrap it. It was hilarious.

    15. Ain't Miss Behavin'*

      I just played that for the first time last month! We had to wear gloves to make it harder. The friend who’s house we were at said they usually wear oven mitts.

  12. yikes.com*

    It definitely won’t be the funniest, but it for sure made an impression on me: At my last job, the tiny dept I was in had major work/life boundary issues. I was one of the only staff members who actually tried to maintain a separation. At our staff party, my boss gave me an heirloom ornament his mother handmade when he was a child, and it came with a whole sentimental story about family. Particularly uncomfortable because I’d been job hunting for months to escape this really unhealthy work culture (that I won’t get distracted and go into detail about), and at the time of our staff party knew I was about to advance to the final round of interviews for a position I ultimately took in the new year…. yeah, I never took those ornaments home and left them in the office when I departed.

    1. Gidget*

      Yikes.com is an appropriate username for this story. Oof. How uncomfortable and weird on your boss’ part.

    2. Lime green Pacer*

      In my head, he got it at a craft fair with the idea of using it to emotionally manipulate someone.

      1. yikes.com*

        I’m sorry to say that I’d been in his home and he was a borderline hoarder who assigned far to much emotional weight to inanimate objects – I had no reason to believe it wasn’t actually his mother’s.
        He was blindsided by my notice and made a highly inappropriate “joke” implying self-harm if I left. I actually gave my notice to his boss first and there was a week of departmental preparation behind his back before I told him to try to make it easier on my colleagues. Such a nightmare place. Everyone knew it was really messed up but just worked around him hoping he’d retire soon. Last I heard my position remains unfilled.

        1. AMT*

          Something similar happened to my mom once. She was gifted a truly ugly Santa cookie jar that belonged to someone’s dead mother, so she didn’t feel that she could throw it out. For all I know, it’s still sitting on her kitchen counter. If it had been me, I’d either have not accepted it the jar in the first place or thrown it out. If something has emotional significance, keep it, but don’t foist it on me because you don’t want it in your house!

          1. yikes.com*

            Makes me think of my mother, who gave me a bag of Masonic and Shriner accoutrements from her father and told me up front “I know we probably don’t need to keep most of this, but you have a better sense of distance from it than me. Can you decide to what to pitch and keep?” And I was happy to help. Much better than presenting it to me as family gold and asking me to save it forever!

            1. Mimi*

              My grandma is doing this right now. I’m pretty sure that she’s aware that a lot of the things she gives to my mom will be re-homed, but *she* gave them to family.

          2. Quill*

            Oh god, I just remembered that my flea market addict grandmother’s cookie jar is still sitting in my basement… and I don’t even know what it looks like!

            (This is a woman who thought Precious Moments figurines were sweet, for context… and who once publicly gifted me an electric razor while all my other cousins got jewelery, perfume, or toys.)

      1. Ama*

        Honestly given how inappropriate the boss seems, if it had been taken it home I would not have put it past him to call and try to demand it be returned.

        1. Yorick*

          I had a former boss who tried to give away her possessions but then asked for them back. My colleague had to pretty forcefully turn down a Barbie house for her daughter that she knew Doris would just want back.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      Maybe he’d been watching the episode of the West Wing where the President gives Charlie (his assistant) a family heirloom carving knife at Thanksgiving?

      1. MayLou*

        But Charlie WAS family! He was dating the President’s daughter! (Which, now I come to think of it, was a massive conflict of interest and a poor decision…)

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Yeah, big issues with that show. I love it and it will still be my go-to when I’m sick or something, but I would never want to emulate their boundary issues in a real workplace.

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            Please, don’t burst my bubble. I never watched it in its original run.
            That show has been getting me through the last three years.

  13. Mimi Me*

    Last year I went to my husband’s work party. We were seated with one of the office staff and his wife. They proceeded to get hammered on the company tab. His wife literally ordered drinks off the menu she didn’t even like and then tried to foist them off on my husband and I (both of us had ordered sodas as we’re not big drinkers). Then when the company owner was making his rounds thanking everyone for a year of good work she kept the poor man captive at the table by drunkenly explaining his own business to him. She then started trying to get the owner to agree to 1) hire her and 2) give free services to her parents for the next year. It was a train wreck moment for sure. We are headed to the company party this weekend and I’m really curious if the drink policy will have changed or if this employee will even bring his wife again. I did tell my husband that I want to get there early this year so we’re not seated with them again.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      Ugh, I would probably not want to go back if that was my first experience! Hope it’s far better this year!

  14. Helena Handbasket*

    A newly hired salesman got so very drunk after downing about 1l of beer in 20 minutes (to start). He pushed our Sales Director into a wall, referred to another colleague by a racist slur, and when my boss called him out for all that, he swore at my boss too. He then went on to trash the bathroom of the venue in retaliation (?!)

    I think this all happened within about an hour of the party starting even.

    I was surprised to see him at his desk the following Monday morning, after formally informing him that he was suspended from duty pending disciplinary inquiry due to his actions, and sending him home in a taxi after the incident.

    He was just as surprised, because he didn’t feel his behaviour was that bad! I fired him, obviously, and we deducted what we could of the cost of the repair to the bathroom from his final paycheque… so he phoned me to literally scream at me for underpaying him. Legally, due to local legislation, we weren’t allowed to deduct more than a percentage of the costs from his paycheque, and I said “You owe us money!” and put the phone down on him.

    Human Resources was a real ride, and very glad I don’t have to do that anymore, though I have a lot of these kinds of stories.

    Never work in office automation, gang, they’re a wild bunch!

    1. Lance*

      Told outright to stay home, yet coming in anyway because ‘it wasn’t really that bad’… that’s some gumption right there.

          1. Helena Handbasket*

            He was definitely not able to use the excuse of not remembering, because I took the time to type out the letter of suspension, have it signed by management, and e-mailed it to him later that day! He just thought I was over-reacting. The mind boggles!

  15. Seifer*

    At the last holiday party we all got hella drunk (I know…) and my exec and I ended up accidentally throwing a shoe at one of the directors. I was holding a pair of bowling shoes and my exec and I were arguing good-naturedly about something and eventually I was like, “DUDE!” (in response to what, I don’t know) and he smacked the shoes out of my hand. One fell to the floor. The other went sailing, and we all watched in slow motion as it fell right on the head of the director of purchasing.

    I looked at my exec. He looked back at me. It is not my proudest moment, but he threw an arm around my shoulders and we bolted as everyone else howled in laughter.

    I did come back and apologize to the director but ohhhhhh my god I was 100000% sure I was dead for that. She was totally fine with it, everyone was drunk as hell, but moral of the story is, don’t get drunk at the holiday party.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      It wasn’t a holiday party but at my last employer we had an annual all-company training event where we all stayed in a hotel and had a huge company dinner… at the dinner the execs got PLASTERED. They somehow got shitfaced before dinner was finished (how much wine did they manage to drink in an hour???), and AFTER dinner they started doing shots. And running around trying to get the rest of us to do shots while making Definitely NSFW Jokes.

      My entire table of like 8 people looked around at each other, increasingly horrified, and straight up fled. We didn’t even say goodbye to anyone, we just grabbed our coats and bolted.

    2. TooTiredToThink*

      I kept reading this as “my ex” and I was like heh – then I realized it said exec and I’m now howling.

    3. Quill*

      Oh my god, that totally beats the time I fell during a school play and beaned the head of the PTA with my shoe.

  16. Erin*

    I can’t think of anything outrageous, but one of my jobs had a fantastic Yankee swap tradition. Most of my colleagues would by nice, thoughtful gifts (there was always a plush throw or a bluetooth speaker in the mix), but we did have one coworker who was fantastic at buying joke gifts that weren’t garbage. Before I started his gift was a framed professional photograph of himself (the real gift was the very nice frame he used), but when I was there his gifts included a Twinkie maker and an 8-track of an Andy Williams Christmas album (plus a Starbucks gift card). There was always anticipation to see what he would come up with each year.

    1. Catsaber*

      That’s hilarious! I like to give my friends a framed photo as well in a really nice frame, but I usually put the picture of Danny Trejo holding a dove in it.

    2. Jessica*

      This is SUCH a skill! One of my colleagues has the same knack for Yankee swaps. One year it was a weird bath-shower contraption, the kind you find on the discount shelf at a drugstore, and it quickly became the hot gift to steal. He topped it the following year with an enormous stuffed unicorn that wound up becoming our company mascot.

      This year some of us have agreed to contribute skills/time to the pot, a mix of things people might actually want and bizarro stuff. “A palm reading by [someone who learned palmistry].” “A hand-drawn portrait by [someone who actually does know how to draw].” “Five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact with [good-natured employee].”

    3. Facepalm*

      At a small non-profit, one coworker gave a framed headshot of our director with a tiny ball and chain attached to the frame. She tried to laugh, but it was clear she was Not.Amused.

    4. ObsidianDragon*

      My most successful yankee swap was for the in laws. I bought a…well, a flying f*ck from ThingGeek. It was totally The Hot Thing that year.

      I never did manage to top it.

      1. Working with professionals*

        My best work swap gift was the year I found a mini-drone for the agreed upon amount of not more than $10. I won the coolest gift given that year. Never did top it.

      2. IdeaGrinder*

        Mad! I think they’re all out of flying fucks!
        Please share any flying fuck URLs you might have to give.

    5. Former Govt Contractor*

      We’re having a white elephant exchange at our holiday party this year, and I ordered some custom made socks with the company logo and the face of our CEO on them! You know how you can order those socks with your pet’s picture (Divvy Up is one, there are several). I’m so excited to gift them, I hope folks think it’s as funny as I do.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        I love it. If I did that at my company, the CEO would probably steal them from whoever unwrapped them. And wear them.

    6. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, my old job had both the most brutal and the most fun White Elephant games at our holiday party. It was a hoot and everyone had a good time. I miss those.

    7. Paige*

      My brother does that when he has white elephant parties–only if it’s a cheap thing, he’ll also find a way to put some money in it so no one feels like they were cheated. It took one person several months to realize there was a $20 bill inside the frame behind his pic, and another didn’t realize there was a $5 bill in each of the custom socks until they were packing up to leave.

  17. Anna*

    At a previous job (first job out of college) my somewhat creepy boss gave me a very fancy necklace for Christmas whereas the other assistants were given gift cards or candy etc… but that wasn’t even the weird part. When he gave it to me, unwrapped, he said “I thought you might want this, my wife doesn’t want it anymore”. LOL Like he bought it for his wife or maybe she had it for years and never wore it? No clue, but it was super awkward.

      1. Anna*

        This is true!! LOL on that note, I worked at a very high-end spa while in college and the owner’s husband gave me lingerie as a random gift and then asked if I would model it for him. When I said no he showed up at my apartment the following day with the lingerie and asked again if I would try it on. My feisty roommate made him leave and shortly after that I was let go by his wife…. there are some major creepers out there.

        1. Observer*

          Well, of COURSE. Because she can’t fire her husband, so she’ll fire his victim. THAT will take of the problem!

          Of course, that will work till the next victim shows up.

        2. Quill*

          Honestly that guy has gone past “sic my roommate on him” and straight into “call the cops.”

        3. VictorianCowgirl*

          Thank the dark gods for feisty roommates!
          That is very creepy and I’m glad he didn’t escalate.

    1. ContentWrangler*

      Super creepy. To me it sounds more like a cover story. Like he bought you this inappropriate gift and was trying to pretend he was just giving away an unused item.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My (infamously noted here on this site a few times before) Creepy Boss gave me a lot of his wife’s hand-me-downs in the two or so years that I worked for him. There was a dress, a watch, some jewelry, a comforter somehow (though that one probably came from both of them). Thankfully no lingerie. All the items did in fact appear used when he gave them to me. We were super broke and I was, to be honest, thankful for any secondhand goodies.

      He also, one day, designated the My Heart Will Go On song from Titanic to be “our song”. Then he started for-real dating another one of his subordinates. Then one day I walked into her cube to ask something and found her listening to the same damn song on her boombox. “Creepus says it is our song,” she said to me. I felt hurt for some reason, that he’d regifted the song, that I didn’t even like, to my teammate behind my back.

      1. Caliente*

        This is totally insane! also hilarious, re-gifting the song, I don’t know why but that in particular is cracking me up…
        I think these creepers guys just cast a wide net and see who bites? Wow

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          This guy told me that one of the reasons he’d chosen to hire me at my first job (I was qualified, passed the test he’d given me, etc) was that “your jacket didn’t match your skirt and it was obvious from the way you were dressed that you were struggling financially” and I guess it made me a target right away.

          He wasn’t wrong, we’d been in the country three months by that point and my interview clothes came from a trip to Goodwill the weekend before.

          1. Caliente*

            Its weird how its, like, nice? Kinda? But also creepy? I guess this is how boundaries get crossed…SOME boundaries.

              1. Sally*

                If it was really benevolence, he wouldn’t have said anything to “I Wrote This in the Bathroom.” I think he might have been trying to get “points” for being a “nice” guy, but to me it’s just creepy. Plus, it’s pretty rude thing to say to someone.

      2. DataGirl*

        This reminds me of the creeper I worked with about 10 years ago who gifted me a CD of himself singing love songs. I gave it to my husband.

      3. AnonForThis*

        I was once given a piece of jewelry by a boss. His wife owned a shop or made these or something and they “had a bunch lying around.” But we had a lot in common; music, a specific sport, food so we talked a lot and I had mentioned needing something like that specific jewelry. So I thought it was weird but other than that he never seemed inappropriate.
        A year or so later he had an affair with a co-worker. So looking back I then wondered if he was hinting at something and I didn’t take the bait.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      This somehow made me flash back to the biggest scandal in my middle school, in which a 12 year old boy stole an expensive necklace from his mom’s jewelry box to give to his 12 year old girlfriend and no one was the wiser until his mom showed up after school one day to repossess it.

  18. DrunkenDebauchery*

    I worked for a smaller tech company that was big into drinking and the Christmas party was no exception. It was your standard dinner/dancing sort of party but they decided to have an open bar before dinner hoping that there would be less drunken debauchery than an open bar all night. The sales team took this as a competition and all were plastered before dinner.

    With dinner they give each person a couple of drink tickets so most start to sober up a bit – except for one who took it upon himself to find all the people who had drink tickets they wouldn’t use and became even more drunk.

    This leads us to the CEO getting up on stage to make a speech after dinner and the drunken guy stumbling up to the stage, grabbing the microphone from the CEO, and holding it over his head going ‘can’t reach it, you’re too short’ over and over. To put it in perspective the CEO was maybe 5″4 and the drunk guy was at least a foot taller. Eventually a group of us convince the drunk guy he should get off the stage and give the microphone back.

    The truly shocking part was the drunk guy still had a job come Monday and it was never talked about in the office.

    1. Commercial Property Manager*

      This one had me ROLLING. “Can’t reach it, you’re too short!” Oh my god, I would pay for video evidence of this!

    2. Yarrow*

      That is insane. Also, why would anybody think having an open bar BEFORE the food would keep people from getting drunk?? Just give out tickets and then every other drink you have to pay for.

      1. DrunkenDebauchery*

        I wasn’t there but I heard the year before it was an open bar all night and there was some sort of vomiting incident that they were hoping to avoid but they didn’t want to get rid of the open bar entirely because the execs were big drinkers.

        1. Liz*

          “some sort of vomiting incident” I’m dying.

          This reminds me of when I worked for big pharma, and my company was merging. My location was one of the main ones, but my dept was based in another location, so my dept only, was kind of a satellite location. so TPTB decided it would be nice to have both depts come together for one last time, for a nice dinner. We were in NJ; they in NY state, and the dinner was in NYC. my wonderful manager arranged for us admins to have a car service in and home.

          so we went in, had dinner, where there was wine, and then we left. Rumor has it, the big execs, aka the lawyers as it was a legal dept, got rip roaring drunk to the point of having to be carried, as well as some “vomiting incidents” they were the high ups in our dept too, and I just recall being amazed that they’d do that.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        One Ex-Job would give just 2 drink tickets per employee (none for guests), but then they decided to hand out sparkling wine before the dinner – with no regulation on how many anyone could get!

        1. Kiwiii*

          We did the 2 drink tickets thing this year, but early in the day our one extra quirky programmer was (literally) running around the office collecting tickets from whomever he could sweet talk into it. Last I saw he had a good fistful.

  19. FaintlyMacabre*

    At former workplace: On a Wednesday, my direct supervisor told me that she was buying lunch for me and her other direct reports as a holiday party. Okay, sounds good! Then she tells me it’s a secret and if anyone asks, to say it’s a meeting. Okaaaay, little weird, but whatevs- free food.

    Thursday, as planned, we all go to her office. There’s food, but we’re all crammed into her office, the door is closed and she mentions that her boss doesn’t know that we’re having this party and she doesn’t want him to find out. Errr, okay? She tells us that we’re doing a great job (yay!) no matter what anyone else might say (wait, what?) and to eat and enjoy. It’s awkward.

    At one point, there’s a knock on the door and my boss sidles up to the door and sticks her head out. It’s the person who handles payroll and she is clearly confused why she can’t come in the office, but nevertheless she tells boss that she has processed the paperwork  for the raises and just needs my boss to sign off on them. So now we’re all wondering who is getting a raise. (Spoiler: It wasn’t me!) My boss is clearly regretting trying to hold stealth meeting/party and more or less kicks us all out after that.

    I appreciated the thought, but it was some of the most awkward time I’ve ever spent at work. And I consider being in awkward situations to be my super power.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      bet you anything holiday parties were not in the budget so she tried to game the system and get food for a “meeting” on the company dime

  20. TypityTypeType*

    Well, at a holiday party after a really difficult year, including an office move, our CEO, who was inclined to be theatrical, gave a little speech about the “one person who got us through this long year” and glowed on about this person’s generosity and skills and general wonderfulness and (most to the point) the special gift the company had for this unnamed miracle worker.

    So when she got to “And that person is … Fergus McMarvelous!” two and possibly three people blurted out “Sh*t!” at the same instant. Fortunately, it struck everybody funny, including the CEO and Fergus.

    1. CM*

      I’m assuming they were upset it wasn’t them? Or were they upset because they didn’t think Fergus was so wonderful?

      1. TypityTypeType*

        Yes, they were upset it wasn’t them! The CEO was very coy about details that would narrow it down, and she got a few people’s hopes up. (And Fergus actually was a really good guy.)

    2. Lizbetann*

      “Fergus McMarvelous” is the best name ever. I am so stealing that for a placeholder name. “Fergus ‘Holly Jolly’ McMarvelous” for the holidays, yo.

  21. Holy Moley*

    Worked at a small financial institution in the middle of no-where Texas in the late 2000’s. My boss who was always combative with me gave us, a team of 6 people, bibles for Christmas. I was shocked because I was like “this isn’t happening, this isn’t okay” but all of my coworkers were excited about it. She then said starting in the new year we would do bible study before each staff meeting. Told HR and they didn’t see a problem with it. Because you know…… small town west Texas. I was so happy when we moved away.

      1. Holy Moley*

        Not by a long shot. My annual review stated I had to “volunteer” for minimum 5 events to promote the company in my free time. I would not be paid to work at these events. I got written up for not wearing make-up (Im allergic, had to get a doctors note) and for wearing a button down shirt that had a scoop to the hemline and wasn’t square.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          This makes me think of the time I was told in my performance review that I shouldn’t wear blue pants because they can be mistaken for jeans and that I didn’t smile enough…

          1. Filosofickle*

            Guessing Holy Moley means it’s a “shirttail hem” — curved bottom hem that’s higher on the sides than front, rather than being cut straight across?

            1. Mimi*

              I’m just boggling that you both had to wear makeup and a very specific style of shirt that, at least from that description, doesn’t sound particularly femme.

    1. BenAdminGeek*

      Duuuuude. Even as a Christian who attends bible studies in my free time, I would have reported this to HR. I mean, c’mon. Totally inappropriate. Also, who wants to dive into the intricacies of your faith with your boss and coworkers? “Well, I’ve really been struggling with coveting, and that’s why I’ve been stealing things from my coworkers. Glad this is a safe and holy place to discuss this!”

      1. Mimi*

        “I’ve been really thinking about Jesus’s call recently, and I keep feeling like I’m just not doing enough for others in my llama grooming job, and I should find something that aligns with my values better.”

        I’m sure that would go over really well.

    2. Dasein9*

      I worked for a place with a similar culture in Virginia. Whenever I wanted some quiet time (or even a brief nap!), I’d open the Bible on my desk and bow my head over it. Folks left me alone.

      1. Quill*

        At job from hell I once managed to wedge myself in under the security camera and read the entirety of The Disposessed by Urusula Le Guin over a two day stretch. (I was supposed to be training, but no one would give me the training material because it was “on my laptop” which didn’t work at the time.)

    3. Mop Head*

      LOL I can see myself dropping it and pretending to be in pain while saying how much it burns if someone handed me a bible.

    4. AnonForThis*

      Not that bad, but there was the year the new CIO recited a very Christian blessing before the holiday lunch, ending with, “In Jesus’ name, amen.” When I got back to my desk, I wrote a short letter to him pointing out that not everyone is Christian, and even if we were, we’re a public university.

      I am pleased to note that it never happened again. There is still a blessing before the meal, but it is reasonably sectarian.

      1. SarahKay*

        And, on the opposite extreme, back when working retail, we had a staff meeting finish with the Store Manager telling us all, entirely seriously, “Okay, everyone, now go out there and sell, sell, sell! After all, that’s what Christmas is all about.”
        (Note: I’m in the UK, so at the very least we’re nominally a Christian country.)

        1. Amy Sly*

          Not only a Christian country, but technically a Christian theocracy! (The queen also being the head of the Church of England.)

      2. Pomona Sprout*

        About 7 years ago, I had a temporary job helping set up a new store for a large craft store chain that shall remain nameless. It was fun. Then one day they ordered in some pizza and gave us all a free lunch. Cool, right? Except that before it was served, the manager got up in front of everybody and said grace. I didn’t know much about that chain back then, so I was kind of like “Wtf just happened?” (in my head, not out loud), shrugged it off, and enjoyed the pizza.

        A few years later, they made news with the big lawsuit over including contraceptive coverage in their employee health insurance benefits. So I presume that saying grace was probably company policy. Not that that makes it any more appropriate, imnsho.

  22. Emi*

    I worked in a print shop with less than 10 people including the owners. One year, the Christmas party was picking us up in a limo, taking us to dinner, then drive to look at the Christmas light display in a nearby town. Sounds nice, right?

    It was nice, but as everyone drank more and more, things got a bit heated. I sat in the limo trying to be invisible while one person got so drunk that he got into a screaming match with the owner. The employee ended up getting out of the limo miles from his home, in the middle of winter. The owner spent the rest of the time badmouthing the employee, but everyone showed up on Monday, like nothing happened.

    The good news is that the drunk employee is now sober. The company went out of business a few years after that, and everyone found greener pastures.

  23. Sabina*

    I worked for a VERY SERIOUS government-adjacent employer. Our Christmas party was held at an expensive fancy restaurant, people got very dressed up…it was nice! The last Christmas I worked there a co-worker got smashed and got up and obscenely roasted her boss for like 20 minutes. You could have heard a pin dropped. Husband declared it BEST CHRISTMAS PARTY EVER!

      1. Sabina*

        A very weird thing happened. The drunk employee went home and discovered that her apartment had been burglarized during the party and all her kids Christmas presents stolen (she was a single mom). She came in crying the next day about it and the sympathy this trauma engendered sort of cancelled out any major blow back from the getting drunk and trashing the boss incident. I do think she eventually lost her job for other, n0n-party related shenanigans.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I’m so cynical, I’m wondering if she made up the robbery to take people’s attention off her bad behavior.

    1. irene adler*

      Twenty minutes?
      No one thought to intervene, or maybe walk the co-worker off to another part of the room?

      Classic!

  24. Pretty Fly for a WiFi*

    Dunno if I shared this one: I used to work for a deeply dysfunctional insurance broker. We were about 20 employees. One of the VP’s invited all employees plus partners to his house for a Christmas party. It was BORING, as I was relatively new and only interacted with the people I actually worked with (I used to be shy, also, in my early 20’s), plus I didn’t have a partner, so I went with a friend from work who also didn’t have a partner. Then the white elephant gift exchange started. That’s when I found out the lengths that some people will go to in order to obtain the VHS of one of the raunchiest XXX movies available in the early 2000’s. As soon as the tape made its debut, everyone started stealing it from the other person. The wives that were invited were rabid. The VP’s kids were there (it was their house, after all)! Finally, my work friend ended up with the tape, to much cheer from the crowd.

    I won’t share what happened at the July 4th party… let’s just say, it can only go downhill from XXX movies.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      All I can think about right now is the “The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers” South Park episode. Lots of quotes running through my head, none of them appropriate for this site.

      Second/3rd, 4th etc. the request for the 4th of July story.

  25. Digley Doowap*

    Your story perfectly summarizes how the.com industry operated. Burned the money as fast as it comes in (pets.com) and then someone turns around and said have you balanced the check book lately?

    Oops!

  26. Anna*

    Ok so same creepy old boss… on the previous holiday season asked me how I would be spending my holiday. I told him that I was going to visit my grandparents for Christmas dinner. He looked at me puzzled and said “Hmmm I thought you were Jewish”. I just sort of looked at him not knowing what to say… I mean we had never discussed religion before and I am not a very religious person at all so it seemed odd that he would have dubbed me as a certain religion. Then he adds “yeah I thought you were Jewish because of your big nose” OMG I about died. Here I was 19 years old and already super self conscious so to have my boss tell me that I had a big nose… I about died. He was such a gross person on so many levels.

      1. Creamsiclecati*

        I just yelled something out loud I shouldn’t have and now I’m explaining to the people around me why… that’s horrible

      1. QoS*

        I once had a coworker who told me that for her eighteenth birthday, her father paid for a nose job for her because he said her nose looked too Jewish.

        Their last name is Weinberg. They *are* Jewish.

        1. Agnodike*

          Yeah, this one is less about a quirky family and more about a long and sad history of Jewish assimilation for self-protection. :(

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            The way I got into the school that I graduated from was that I changed my dad’s (super ethnic) middle name on the college application. The school had a long-standing tradition of not accepting Jews. Unofficial of course, they’d just fail you on your very first entrance exam and you’d never be able to prove the real reason why. I passed my exams and got in and they were none the wiser. You had to list your ethnicity on the application, but I had a Polish grandfather whom I’d never met, which made me Polish too.

            And the reason why I knew I needed to do it was that, that university had a prep-school-type boarding school for gifted children affiliated with it, and I was supposed to get into that because of how well I’d done at math camp when I was 15. All I had to do was fill out an application and wait for my admission papers to come in the mail. I put my dad’s real name on the app and the paperwork from the school never came. I thought it’d gotten lost in the mail, until the next summer, when I came back to my math camp and found that I was a mini-celebrity. People were pointing and going, “she’s the one that got cut from the boarding school for being Jewish”. My home country was quite an experience. I don’t blame the family that got their daughter a nose job. I mean it’s certainly easier in the US (assuming they were in the US), but you never know I guess.

        2. D. B.*

          I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that the craft of rhinoplasty was largely pioneered by Jewish surgeons for precisely this reason. They wanted to help members of their community achieve more social acceptance. So I guess it’s a tradition of sorts, though it’s sad to think that people still find it necessary.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      We *are* Jewish (secular) and my mom does have the hook nose. (As a kid, I thought it looked dignified, and regretted not having one like hers.) She worked at a manufacturing plant that made electronics, mostly electronic microscopes, but also some stuff for the defense. She was a team lead in QA and her job involved meeting with the representatives of the orgs that used the plant’s products, if they had complaints, etc, to troubleshoot those issues and also to do the damage control I guess.

      She had some of those customers, in those work meetings, asking her about her nose, and trying to subtly figure out if she was in fact Jewish.

      Those were wild times. Though I truthfully don’t know if anything has changed in my home country in that respect.

    2. Jen*

      It was awful and I already had a complex… and I ended up getting a nose job a few years after that. Not due to his comment, but it sure didn’t help. I always cringe when I think of that creep. I’d also seen him making fun of other people’s accents and mocking them on several occasions.

    3. pancakes*

      I have a big nose and something similar happens to me every year. I somehow didn’t really realize what was going on until a friend who also has a big nose & also isn’t Jewish described it happening to him. It’s stopped me from wishing people “Merry Christmas” because now I know that when they hesitate before saying “happy holidays” back, they’re studying my face and trying to decide my religion based on my bone structure, and I hate it so much. My friend said that last year in his hometown, neighbors slipped a “Happy Hanukkah” card under his parents’ door despite there being a Christmas wreath hanging on it, which is even stranger to me—do their neighbors think they’re so ashamed of being Jewish as to pretend to celebrate Christmas just to blend in?! Madness.

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      WTeverlovinF? Was his name Jack, surname Aayss? Or just a garden variety schmuck?

  27. Ingenting*

    My mother worked in an office and there was a coat rack there that she wanted. It was a freestanding coat rack, with hooks at the top and a stand at the bottom. So she offered to hold the Christmas party at our house and told them that she wanted to use the coat rack instead of having a tree. She decorated the coat rack with garlands and ornaments, and then never returned it. She used it to hang clothes on for many years.

    This was in southern California and I doubt the coat rack was rarely used in the office. As far as I know, no one ever asked her about it.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      I would prefer to pay for a coatrack over having the office party at my house – – and huge props to all of you out there who DO host the office party!

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      ROTFL. The coat rack in our office is one I bought. It used to be in my office, but when we got shoved into an open plan I brought it with. My boss uses it more than I do.

  28. infopubs*

    Back when I was a baby engineer, in the mid ’80s, I worked for a rather conservative manufacturing company. My usual office wear was nerdy and sedate, with cat-eye glasses and a side order of steel-toed shoes. I’ve never been a big makeup wearer and kept my long blonde hair pulled back and out of the way. At the end of my third year, the office holiday party was pretty fancy-shmancy, so I dressed up in fine ’80s style: black velvet dress with a big flamenco ruffle, lots of gold sequins and HUGE shoulder pads. Heels. Big, dangly jewelry. I floofed my hair up, put on my contact lenses and even had “evening face” done at the makeup counters at Macy’s. It was quite a Dynasty look and the antithesis of my everyday one.

    It was also the first time my boyfriend and I appeared as a couple in public. He worked in another department but had started in my department. At least a dozen people didn’t recognized me and figured BF was just visiting for the party. One of the people who didn’t recognize me was my grandboss, Pete. I’m not sure he ever figured out who I was, so I asked him to dance after a few drinks. To Janet Jackson’s “Nasty Boys.” I’m one of those people who sing along loudly with the music while I dance, so I basically recited the lyrics to my grandboss. I’m also an, um, animated dancer. He did pretty good with the wild dancing, too, for an old dude (who, in hindsight, was probably younger than I am now.) But yeah, it was pretty cringeworthy.

    1. kathyglo*

      So funny! I did the same…plain at work, for our big party I bought a fancy brown velvet dress, puffed-up my hair, did nails…the girl who hired me (who I saw every day) didn’t recognize me until I spoke!

  29. AdAgencyChick*

    I shared this one a couple of years ago and anonymized some of the details. Eff it, I’m not at that company any more and I can spill the full tea.

    At Yankee Swap at my last agency, one of the production managers got really up in arms that we weren’t playing by HER rules of swap. (I don’t remember what they were but I think she was very indignant that her idea of how many times a gift could be stolen was the Only Right One.)

    One of my very junior employees picked a box that turned out to contain a $20 bill. Production manager got the next pick. She SNATCHED the $20 bill out of my employee’s hands, stuffed it down her bra, and then tried to walk out of the room.

    I mean, by the rules everyone except her had agreed on, the money was still fully stealable, but nobody wanted to reach down her shirt and get it…

    1. Creamsiclecati*

      The worst part about this is how much more the junior employee probably needed an extra $20 than the manager did…

      1. kathyglo*

        From yankeeswap.com:
        The game is said to have come from the civil war holiday tradition of trading prisoners of war with the enemy. Although the origin of the game is disputed, the term “Yankee Swap” in written form itself dates back to the early ninetenth century.

      2. Zephy*

        A “Yankee Swap” is a type of gift exchange without designated recipients. There is usually a price limit, generally in the $10-20 range. Participants each bring a wrapped gift, and then a turn order is established (clockwise around the circle, draw numbers, draw tickets similar to a raffle, etc). On your turn, you may either choose to open a still-wrapped gift, or steal a gift from someone who has already opened one. Most of the time, there is a rule about how many times a gift can be stolen (because otherwise this will literally go on for hours). If your gift gets stolen, you may choose another gift to unwrap. Also, sometimes there is a rule that states that the person who went first has the option to steal a gift after everything has been unwrapped, as they never had the opportunity to steal on their own turn.

        Other names for this kind of exchange are culturally-insensitive at best (“Chinese gift exchange” was the first name I encountered, big yikes). I started seeing Yankee Swap sometime in the last 3-5 years, I think.

        A lot of people use “White Elephant” when they’re talking about this kind of game. White Elephant means the gifts should be useless, ugly, or gag gifts, and has nothing to do with the mechanics of the exchange. But people conflate “white elephant” (useless gag gifts) with “yankee swap” (stealing presents), and you get stories like the ones all over this post, where some people bring decent gifts and some people bring terrible gifts and some people bring literal garbage and someone gets their feelings hurt.

  30. HailRobonia*

    On the topic of GOOD holiday things, one year I gave a friend a really tacky tikki-style coffee mug as a spur-of-the-moment surprise gift. He was like “uhhhh… thanks?”

    A week later I had a voicemail from him saying that was the best gift ever! It turns out he had just started a new job that week and did not know that there was a gift exchange/yankee swap at work – luckily he had left the mug and gift bag in his car, so he regifted it as if he knew about the exchange all along. What’s even better was the tacky mug was a hit and people kept taking it at the swap.

    1. ContentWrangler*

      A few years ago, my family went to a friend’s family holiday party. Walking in, we didn’t know that they usually do a yankee swap. But luckily I had brought a personal gift for my friend in this huge gift bag. So we asked to borrow the gift bag, my mom threw in a $20 dollar bill and then added some rocks from their yard to give it some weight. It turned out to be very popular.

  31. Jen*

    At a former workplace we would have these very elaborate holiday parties. Every year there would be a theme and we would go all out. One year the theme was the 80’s. We hired a band and even some actors to impersonate famous 80’s icons. After everyone had a few drinks in them, we all got to witness the CEO’s father getting frisky with the Madonna impersonator.

  32. Jamie*

    I didn’t find this funny but others did.

    Former workplace after we picked for Secret Santa there was an email circulated where everyone listed 3 ideas to help the givers with ideas. Think ‘hello kitty, dunkin gift card, candles’ kinda thing.

    The guy whose name I drew just had one thing on his list, a local place. I went online to buy him a gift card and saw it was a strip club. Apparently I was the only one who didn’t know that.

    Needless to say I didn’t get that for him.

    However, when opening the gifts someone else had gotten him a naked Barbie in heels and a stack of fake singles and apparently everyone thought that was hilarious. I looked around to see if anyone, one person, was even a little appalled but no…just me. Even the owners were laughing. And even creepier, his own daughter worked there and she found it funny. If that were my dad Idk who would have died of embarrassment first…he or me.

    One of hundreds of moments where I knew I had no business working there.

    1. Shocked Pikachu*

      Oh, you mean his daughter worked at the office, right ? Because at first I thought his daughter worked at the strip club and thought, wow, this totally wins the Secret Santa creepiness award. I mean it’s a totally a top runner the way it was….. Holy cinnamon pumpkin.

    2. CM*

      I confess, I find that funny. I mean, it was super inappropriate of the guy to send out the idea by email to everyone in the first place. The gift seems like it was was making fun of him, even though it’s also inappropriate.

  33. HerNameWasLola*

    I worked for a catholic school some years ago where the teaching and support staff consisted of priests, nuns and laypeople. We decided to do a white elephant exchange at the staff Christmas party. Since most of the group had taken a literal vow of poverty, the gifts had to be below $5 and re-gifting was strongly encouraged, just bring the item to the party fully wrapped. We drew numbers and picked gifts but you could “steal” a gift if you had a higher number. There was one gift that was relatively big and the wrapping was very, very fancy so you know it was the most popular. We had nuns attempting to hide the gift with the skirts of their habits, priests making side deals on taking over the less popular mass times in exchange for the gift, it was hilarious to see how far they were willing to go to get this gift. It was all in good fun and (sorry) no one devolved into tears over any of it. One of the older nuns ended up winning it and she did a victory lap around us holding it in the air. The gift ended up being a used pair of running shoes from one of the priests that was an avid runner. She did another victory lap wearing the shoes.

    1. Gidget*

      This is a lovely story. I have never done a swap where the gifts weren’t opened until the end– that seems a lot more fun because then it’s not about what’s inside but literally which gift wrapping spoke to you the most. (Or at least it would be for me.)

    2. Anon for this one*

      I used to work at the chancery for our local diocese and I gotta say, I met some really terrific and hilarious priests and nuns. This fits right in with what I would expect!

      Although speaking of the holidays, one year for the Christmas party, they hired a local, and I cannot stress enough I am not making this up, Catholic stand-up comedian to perform. It was really something. It was simultaneously awkward, wholesome, and surreal.

        1. Anon for this one*

          Ok the one I can really clearly remember was a story about trying to find her car keys and the different succession of saints to pray to, starting with like the saint of lost objects and ending with St. Jude (the patron saint of lost causes). It got a big laugh!

        2. Amy Sly*

          A man is considering holy orders, so he asks a Dominican and a Jesuit about it. First, he asks what’s the same about them. The Jesuit answers, “Well, our orders were both founded by holy men to combat heresies, Dominicans for the Albegensians, and Jesuits for the Protestants.”
          “Okay, so what’s the difference?”
          The Dominican replies, “Haven’t met many Albegensians lately, have you?”

    3. wickedtongue*

      This is so wholesome, I cannot.

      Which were the less popular Mass times? A former altar server wants to know.

      1. HerNameWasLola*

        I would love to hear funny altar server stories! Hmmm, from what I remember the least popular mass times were the crack of dawn daily masses – 6 a.m., I think, early enough for them to attend and have enough time to get ready for class. The other was the Sunday family mass where you were completely drowned out by crying babies and chatty toddlers.

        1. amcb13*

          I started altar serving in…maybe 4th grade? It was Too Much Responsibility and generally extremely stressful (there are a lot of pieces you have to remember! different priests liked things done differently! sometimes you’d split the job with another kid and sometimes you had to fly solo!) but definitely the worst of the worst was the time we were celebrating a major anniversary/vow renewal for an older couple with tons of family/friends in the parish during a regular mass. The whole clan got involved so between the readers, the eucharistic ministers, a few extra altar servers (why didn’t they just send me home when they realized they had like five kids to altar serve? I was not related to this family in any way!), etc–there were like 30 people on the altar just before Communion.

          It got pretty hot up there, and all of a sudden I didn’t know what was happening except that everything was wrong. I passed right out and never understood how I had avoided cracking my head open on the marble floor. I came to in the back room with assorted members of this nice family giving me Dixie cups of water and apple juice.

          A few years later in middle school I was telling this story and a kid in my class, a super popular basketball player, said, “Oh! That was you!!! Yeah, you landed on my foot, that’s why you didn’t hurt your head.” Thank God for basketball players with big feet, I guess!

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      This nun sounds like an amazing human being, and wow I want to be friends with her and do all the victory laps.

    5. Just Sayin'*

      If these had been my priests and nuns when I was growing up Catholic, I might not have jumped ship for the Episcopalians! They sound like people I want to know!

  34. Fabulous*

    An old job threw their holiday party at a restaurant – they basically rented out the entire place. A dance floor was installed and everyone got two drink tickets. Boss man was not well-liked as he regularly had a superiority complex and a stick up his rear end. Well, within an hour he got plastered and took over the dance floor. It was a riot and everyone just watched him make a fool of himself. I ended up not staying to see the outcome of it all, because in the midst of all that, our pregnant co-worker went into labor! I ended up driving her home to grab her stuff and then to the hospital. It was an eventful night to say the least!

  35. Lygeia*

    While I was job hunting after grad school, I went as a plus one with my friend to her company’s holiday party. It was a big event with loud music and a lot of drinking. I had one drink (I had an interview the next morning. As a lightweight, I did not want to get drunk/hungover).

    My friend’s boss and many of her coworkers were less restrained. I met her boss who was a very nice man but also a very drunk man.

    A couple of days later, my friend let me know about a position that opened up in her company, also under her boss, but in a different office. I applied, and she gave me a recommendation. Soon after, I was interviewing with the very same man I had see drunk the week before. When I greeted him at the interview, I said something along the lines of “nice to see you again!” and he looked blank. I reminded him that I’d met him at the holiday party, and he looked uncomfortable.

    The conversation got better after that, and I got the job. But I will never forget my first impression of the man who would be my boss.

  36. AnonimableSnowman*

    More of a horror story… at my old position we did a team Secret Santa one year.

    All the managers who got their friends in the drawing went way beyond the limit ($20 I believe) to get nice, expensive gifts that they knew the recipient would appreciate. The assistants and support staff? A few did get decent items, but most of us got office supplies. I even got candy “so you can refill the candy dish!”

    1. Murphy*

      That’s when you do that thing where you refill the candy dish with loose M&Ms, Skittles, and Reese’s pieces and let them figure it out.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Ugh. Office supplies? Unless it was a nice tape dispenser, stapler or pen caddy, that’s just tacky. This is from someone who is an office supply connoisseur.

  37. Party in shifts*

    My favorite is for this year’s party- my boss of the division doesn’t do holiday parties. Like ever. This year we bought a rival company and are in the middle of merging and moving to a new space on the other side from my current office. Well, the other company invited us to their party to celebrate the future and get to know each other the only problem is that the party is during work hours and my boss doesn’t want to close the office so he told us we will attend the party in shifts- I and the rest of the team of 20 people go for the first-hour drive back to work ( and past my house) so he can go for the second hour and then go home. When I asked why we don’t close an hour early so we can all go and I wouldn’t have to drive 100 miles that day he told me “What if there is an emergency ?” (highly unlikely and I or anyone on the team doesn’t have the authority to make decisions like that ). Since I don’t really care about this I ended up declining the invitation and citing now not logical the whole thing was for me and the CEO stepped in since he had no idea this was going on and is currently having a very heated debate with my boss and how my team is never able to do things like this because of his unwillingness to be flexible…. This is getting interesting

      1. Party in shifts*

        Boss ” WE ARE HERE TO SERVICE CLIENTS! IF IT WASN’T FOR CLIENTS WE WOULD HAVE TO CLOSE OUR DOORS!!!”

        CEO ” I think they would understand if you close a bit early for the party. Also when was the last time you checked email after 4:30? I guess we need to start being a 24/7 operation just in case a client needs us! “

        1. BrotherFlounder*

          Oh jeez. Is your boss the type who’s going to get super annoyed if the CEO overrules them?

            1. BrotherFlounder*

              Yikes. Good luck. Hope you do all get to go with a minimum of blowback. And please let us know what happens!

        2. ThatGirl*

          I worked in customer service for two years; our holiday luncheon started around noon and we were considered done for the day after that — we just put up an out of office message on the voicemail and that was that! It was fine!

          1. Party in shifts*

            Exactly! I have never encountered anything like this. We are not in a field where coverage is needed. Heck at my old job at a major brand our whole office shut down and c level people rescheduled important meetings so we could have a march madness beer pong tournament at the bar next door.

      1. Party in shifts*

        So we are all allowed to go to the party when we want and we don’t have to do shifts. I got pulled into the meeting because it was my email that started this. I told them that I didn’t mean to start this, I just wanted to be honest about why I wasn’t going to attend because I don’t know any of my new coworkers and I don’t want my absence to be misconstrued. My boss is mad that someone held him accountable for his quirks (Trying to get time off is a nightmare because every time someone requests time he is suddenly taking that day off) This whole thing is insane.

        1. LCH*

          for what reason could you possibly not have time off when he is also off? so is the new CEO over your current boss? if so you could ask them why the boss gets to use PTO and no one else can.

    1. JKP*

      So the shifts are divided out as shift 1: all 20 employees, then shift 2: the 1 boss? That’s not really what attending in shifts means.

      1. Party in shifts*

        My boss would go with other managers after their prescheduled meeting after my team were to come back. This is such a cluster

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Mostly, I hope you keep this user handle, so that in May I see it in an unrelated thread and wonder how on earth one parties in shifts. I have partied, and I have party hopped, and I have partied in dresses, skirts, and pants … but I have never partied in shifts.

  38. Peaches*

    Last year for our holiday party, my office attended a home Thursday night Chiefs game (we live in Kansas City) against the LA Chargers (a bit untraditional, I know). The Chiefs lost the game on a last second play after leading the entire way. One of our account managers, John, who was pretty drunk at this point was stomping angrily through the parking lot after the game. He continuously walked straight into the traffic of the parking lot, with cars dodging him left and right. Several cars honked at him, had to slam on their breaks, etc., but he didn’t care – he just continued to rush angrily through the parking lot.

    At some point, Jon was inevitably injured. A car drove by right as John was one again walking through traffic. the car rolled over his foot, and zoomed off, (understandably) angry that a drunk man had walked out right in front of his car. My husband and I who happened to be close behind were the only people that witnessed this. The 20ish people in our work party were close to where we’d parked at that point. When we all returned to our spots in the parking lot, John began SCREAMING how “a car had been driving crazy and injured [him]” and how he “was going to f***ing sue.” Everyone was shocked and angry on his behalf, not knowing that he was injured by his own stupidity of walking into traffic.

    John complained of foot pain for the next several weeks while in the office, and continued to talk about “the idiot that was driving erratically” through the parking lot after the game. I just let it go. I still just think about how much worse it could have been!

      1. Peaches*

        I’m not sure the driver actually knew he ran over Jon’s foot. Also, he was going about 10 MPH since it was in a parking lot. I guess technically you’re right though…it was just hard to sympathize with Jon since there was absolutely nothing the driver could have done to avoid it.

  39. What's with Today, today?*

    Well, I leave this one every year but here goes again.

    The small family-owned media company I work for used to host a big, fancy holiday party at their home, with lots of food and lots of wine. One of our employees’ wives had a lot of wine and got pretty darn drunk. As they were leaving, my boss jokingly asked if she was sure she didn’t want another glass of wine, to which she responded “Why don’t you eat my ass?”

    We’ve never had a Christmas party in their home again and there hasn’t been alcohol since.
    The employee went on to work for us for several more years and left with glowing recommendations. It’s a funny story we still tell and my boss? Well, he’s now one of the most influential members of the Texas State House, so I imagine it’s a pretty good story for her too.

    1. Mrs. Psmith*

      I have a sneaking suspicion I know exactly who this person (the employee and wife) is and it makes the story even better.

  40. C Average*

    Several years ago I worked in the running department for a major sportswear company.

    The whole running department had a huge swanky party with tons of booze. It kicked off maybe around 8 and went into the wee hours.

    Around midnight the VP of running got up and announced that he was issuing what he called “the hangover challenge:” the five people who got up and ran the most miles before 9 a.m. the next day (using our proprietary app to capture digital proof) would get one of our spiffy new really expensive jackets plus bragging rights.

    Being a light drinker and a serious runner, I went straight home, crashed, and ran 16 miles before the deadline. I got my jacket and I wore that thing to death. Apparently every time my name came up in conversation, the VP of running told that story.

    He went on to get MeToo’ed out of the company. I don’t know the details, but the way that guy partied, I can’t say I’m surprised. (I know drunken mid behavior =/= sexually inappropriate behavior, but in my experience the two do often correlate.

    1. Shocked Pikachu*

      That sounds both like great fun and great liability ;) I live in the desert and if I was to run even little tipsy ( I am very light drinker) I would probably end up running into a saguaro.

      1. Quill*

        “Run into a saguaro”

        I can’t run anymore but I did once run directly into a low cut shrubbery…

      2. Princesa Zelda*

        One Christmas when we were kids, my brother biked straight into a yucca. I don’t recommend it!

        1. Sally*

          Well it wasn’t a cactus or a shrub, but once when I was walking down the street in Seattle reading a book (before reading on phones was a thing), I walked right into one of those big blue, rounded on the top mailboxes. Wow, did that hurt my knees! At least no one was around to witness my stupidity.

          1. Quill*

            I was reading while walking home from the bus stop after school one day, and, in full view of the entire bus, proceeded to brain myself on a stop sign and fall in a ditch. The bus apparently drove off with none of me visible but my hand and book sticking up in the air, and a bunch of people plastered against the back window laughing.

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      I would totally be up for that challenge, but I would have been asleep by midnight. I am not a night owl lol.

  41. nonanon*

    One of my favorites – At the holiday after party, it was common for people to get loaded and completely out of control. Several years ago one of the office admins got wasted and, while sitting on the bar, told the main owner he was going to “lick her as****le” by time the night was over. Instead of any sort of ramifications, she was shortly thereafter promoted to a position way beyond her capabilities, education, and pay grade.

    1. ContentWrangler*

      Wild speculation – maybe they were already having an affair and she got close to spilling the beans and the promotion was a hush-bribe.

        1. Caliente*

          Thats…somethin’ all right, yeesh.
          These types off boss stories are always so gross to me, mostly because I’ve never had a boss that I would even consider letting touch me with a ten-foot pole.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Back in my day, we just pounded the pavement and walked right in and offered to toss their salads for free!

      1. Recreational Moderation*

        Female admin told male boss that before the evening was over, male boss would be licking female admin’s butt.
        Right?

          1. International Holding, Unlimited*

            If you read it as: One of the office admins got wasted and, while sitting on the bar, told the main owner he (the admin) was going to “lick her (the owner)…”

            It’s an ambiguous sentence because no gender markers are assigned to the office admin or owner when they’re originally introduced, so the pronouns don’t actually refer to the players with any specificity.

            1. nonanon*

              I’m not certain it’s all that serious, but rather discouraging to hear that everything needs to meet academic standards of grammar before attempting to share their humorous stories.

              1. Mimi*

                Honestly, I find it encouraging that we’re de-gendering roles enough to potentially interpret the owner as female and be confused.

  42. anycat*

    ok. i’ll bite. i have a few.

    my first year working had been a huge year for the company i worked at, so we were rewarded with a bonus and a weekend trip away at a resort. the first night there the resort had to call our bosses because they walked in on two people from two different locations getting busy in a bathroom in the main resort area.

    at previous company that shall not be named one of my coworkers got so drunk that we had to put them into a cab home. they did not want to go. this was after saying how much they loved me, hanging off me, and almost jumping off a railing. we went another coworker home with them and they proceeded to try to jump out of the taxi multiple times and then slapped said coworker. the best part? we were in HR.

  43. Stackson*

    The first year I was at my current job, I was doing clerical work, and it fell to me to both put up and take down the Christmas tree. I’m a little on the short side, so I was standing on a chair in the cafeteria after the New Year trying to take this thing down and some of the pieces of the tree were proving difficult to disassemble. One of the managers walked by and since he’s a bit taller than I am, I asked him to help me take the tree apart. He came over and was wrestling with it when I heard him go “Ahh!”
    I asked if he was ok and he said yes, he was fine, one of the branches caught him in the face.
    We got the tree taken apart and I thought that was the end of it, but a couple of hours later I was back at my desk and I heard someone say something about his name and the first aid room. I went in there and this guy is lying down on a cot with his arm over his face. I was like “what happened?!”
    He said “the branch must’ve hit me in the eye and scratched it.”
    Well as it happens, this particular guy is blind in one eye to begin with, and as you might’ve guessed at this point, the Christmas tree had scratched his GOOD EYE so now he couldn’t see at all.
    He ended up having to leave work to go to the doctor and had to miss a day of work as a result, so it became the first OSHA recordable injury of the new year.
    What’s more, I was also doing some translation at the time, so I would have to sit through these monthly presentations of every department and translate them for the president, and when we would get to the Health and Safety group each time for the next several months, top management would go “what was that OSHA recordable injury in January?” and then they would go “ohhhh yeeaaaahhh the Christmas tree” and they would all look at me.
    And that was the year I poked someone’s eye out with the Christmas tree.

      1. Stackson*

        We laugh about it now! He actually brought it up earlier today and told me that another manager told him to avoid the Christmas tree at all costs if he wasn’t going to wear his safety glasses lol.

  44. Rookie*

    At our office holiday party last year, we played a game where people put celebrity names into a hat and everyone had to describe the celeb without saying their name. Keep in mind there were children at this party, it was at someone’s house and people brought their kids. One coworker got Michael Jackson, and out of all the things they could have said, they said, “beat it…fentanyl…CHILD MOLESTER!” I about died from laughing but I also wonder if any of the parents that night had to explain to their children what a molester is. (shakes head)

  45. Dust Bunny*

    This wasn’t super hilarious but one place I worked did a gift exchange–the kind where everyone who wants to participate donates a gift, then when your number gets called, you pick a gift, or you can take a gift from somebody who already got one, but that gift can only be “stolen” twice, so this doesn’t go on endlessly. It’s not as bad as it sounds, or at least my coworkers were really reasonable about it.

    Anyway, I contributed a themed (I forget what the theme was) Monopoly game. I’m not big into board games but it seemed fun/inoffensive/not alcohol and was under the price limit.

    Y’all, it was mayhem.

    It turns out we had some board game freaks, or maybe somebody really, really, wanted to regift it, because I had thirty-year-old men dragging each other across the floor to get/avoid giving up that game. Everyone was laughing but it was a lot more enthusiasm than I expected over a board game.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      The people at mine went nuts over the G rated adult coloring books and colored pencils that I brought.

  46. DC Cliche*

    At my last job, several of my coworkers and I were quite close and very friendly outside the office — think baby showers, wedding invitations, etc.; years later, I vacation with a few of them. It was never anything cliquey since it was the bulk of the same-age-cohort midlevel staff, wasn’t exclusionary, and it never crossed lines at work, so nothing about the friendships between us becaome professionally problematic, but 4-5 of us were really good friends to each other, which was lovely when you’re in your late 20s in a big city.

    I invited the entire office to my personal holiday party annually, which was always on a Monday night, and most of the office, interns to president emeritus, would swing by. The 2nd or 3rd year, a few of my close friends stole a family photo, in part because one of them hadn’t had a chance to buy a gift for the Secret Snowflake at work the next day. Imagine the surprise when a new, not particularly good at his job, employee got the family photo! Everyone had a laugh, but the thieving coworker expected me to “steal” my photo back, and had gotten me a nice set of lotions to trade. I refused, since I had drawn a Mickey Mouse chia pet, which I thought was cooler. So she had to give the nice set of lotions to the male coworker, who thought this was funny, thank god (she bought him whisky a few weeks later). My coworker then said, “Here’s your photo back” at which point I told her she could keep it. Which she did in good spirits, for three years, in her office.

    However, this story was *not* funny to my mother, who immediately was like “what have you said about us that your coworkers would find so hilarious?” (which … there was a lot.) And she was irrationally mad at my very lovely friend, and brought it up both times that she met her and the photo was in her possession. Stealing stuff from my apartment became a bit of a org-wide joke after that, and every year I could expect that something silly, like a college pennant, would go missing during a social activity, only to be displayed prominently somewhere in the office soon.

      1. HerNameWasLola*

        This one took turns I did not expect! It’s so funny to imagine someone walking into your colleague’s office and asking about the family in the photo. “Oh them, I won them at a gift exchange.”

        1. Quill*

          I just threw out my terrible private elementary school pennants! (We were divided into ‘tribes’ for school spirit day purposes. Because Harry Potter wasn’t out yet so the concept of houses wasn’t mainstream and it was 1997 in the midwest so clearly the administrators hadn’t twigged to the fact that this was really, really racist.)

            1. Quill*

              The fact that they made up the tribes with weird cutesy sounding names and had us wear “war paint” and put feathers in our hair.

              Said school was 95% white.

    1. JKP*

      To my utter embarrassment, my parents gave my college boyfriend a shirt with my picture on it for Christmas. He wore it proudly until someone stole it out of his laundry. For the rest of the year, at every college event, a different random person would show up wearing the shirt.

  47. AnonEMoose*

    So, this is a holiday story not related to the winter holidays. This happened years ago, and not to me personally, but I thought the group here would appreciate it.

    There is a long-established local science fiction convention here (not the one I volunteer for; this one is older), held over Easter weekend. The host hotel also held a fancy Easter brunch (and some of the stories of the overlap are hilarious on their own). But this particular one involved an ice sculpture.

    As I said, this was a fancy brunch, and the table decorations often included an ice sculpture of a rabbit. This particular year, it was an ice sculpture of a rabbit…leaping. Now when an ice sculpture of a leaping rabbit begins to melt…guess where the icicle develops?

    Yep…after awhile it was an emphatically male leaping rabbit. According to my spouse, who is the one who actually saw this (he was attending the convention), the rabbit sculpture the next year was a seated rabbit.

    1. Arts Akimbo*

      :-O …I think there’s a strong chance we know each other IRL! The world of sci-fi cons is small, and the world of cons over Easter weekend is even smaller! But I know we don’t dox each other on this site, so I will just go forward with the warm and fuzzy feeling that I might have a RL friend on AAM! :)

  48. Buttons*

    This was years ago. I worked for a university, the department head hosted a mandatory Christmas party at her home every year. I booked PTO for the same day because I didn’t want to go. She came by my office with a calendar and made me pick a day that would work. She changed the party date and invite because I said I couldn’t make it. She did it three more times when other people tried to get out of going. Also, she called it a Christmas party, despite it being a multi-culture office and there were even several Jehovah Witnesses, who she pressured and required to attend. (note: They were students, so I don’t think they felt like they could stand up to this.)
    On arriving at her house she insisted on taking everyone on a tour. It was a normal middle-class 2 story house. It wasn’t a mansion, it was a normal house, decorated in a very normal way. The master bedroom was 100% IKEA. I think we were expected to “oooh and aww” over all of it, did she think we were all these poor peasants who were impressed by her totally normal house?
    We were also required to participate in a $5 White Elephant style gift exchange. I absolutely hate these, I will never take a gift from someone no matter how often a gift is taken from me. I find them awkward and mean. I happened to get her gift- it was a $4.99 shelf-stable smoked sausage. The one year no one stole a gift from me.

        1. Buttons*

          I totally laugh every time I think about it, it was such a weird and bizarre thing to give- and to leave the price tag on! My colleagues and I talked about it for years.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Who takes people on a tour of their house, including the bedrooms(??!!), for a party? Honestly, the most a host usually does is point out where the bathrooms are and have some indication as to which rooms are “public” for the party.

      1. Buttons*

        If it is a brand new house and your family hasn’t been over yet, ok, fine, they probably want a tour. But work people? No.

      2. Ellex*

        My exboss did this when she held our office christmas party at her house!! She lived in a super fancy townhouse and one floor of her house was entirely a walk in closet and she had a floor to ceiling shelf of Christian Louboutin heels ($1K per pair) that she wanted to show off.

      3. No thank you*

        So many people do this and I do not understand! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a party, or just to someone’s house for the first time and they give me a full tour of their very normal house. I honestly don’t care. I have no interest in seeing someone’s house in great detail when there’s nothing out of the ordinary about it. Show me the bathroom, where you want me to put my coat, and the room with the alcohol, and I’m set.

        1. Quill*

          I know some people use this as a tactic to get the dog to chill out. (My mom would do this because a dog following you around the house with a tennis ball stuffed in each cheek is a dog that isn’t jumping on the guests.)

        2. nonegiven*

          Usually if it’s new, or just remodeled or redecorated.

          One BBQ we went to, out in the country, they were building a new house and said anyone could go in and look if they wanted. We went but didn’t go upstairs, the master, two bathrooms, his office, their closets, and a safe room. Nothing was finished, the wiring and plumbing was in and covered but no paint or texture, light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, etc.

      4. Nekussa*

        I live in New England, where the older houses can be weird and funky, so it can be amusing to tour someone’s regular house if we’re all on the same wavelength about having a sense of humor about its quirks.

    2. Lady Jay*

      dear lord, the sausage. the WORST yankee swamp gift I got was at an event when I was in college; somebody bought a package of pork rinds from the local deli, wrapped it up, and threw it into the mix. I was the one who unwrapped it.

      The teacher took pity on me and took it off my hands, but I still remember it, 15ish years later.

  49. KayDeeAye*

    This won’t, I’m sorry to say, equal the gold-painted nude Barbies, but here goes.

    I work for an organization that tends to be quite prim and proper – mostly in a good way. I mean, I don’t personally want to hear at work, say, dirty jokes or people discussing their favorite strip club, so this is generally fine with me.

    Every year we have a Christmas party organized by an employee committee. Membership in the committee rotates, so with all the different personalities involved, we’ve had various bungles and bad calls over the years (e.g., a Santa who made risque jokes – I personally disliked that quite a lot).

    But the most infamous remains the PG-13/R Comedy Club Christmas Party. The committee had talked to the club, made it clear that the comedian had to keep it clean – G or maaaaaybe the conservative side of PG, but no more – and the comedian was given these instructions and had agreed to this stipulation. This particular year it was extra important because our retired president *and* his wife was going to be in attendance, and while he is a very, very, VERY nice man, he is incredibly conservative, socially speaking. I mean, the only way he could be more conservative is if he was actually Old Order Mennonite or something. (Not kidding.)

    So there we all are, having finished our lunches and (in my case, at least) waiting to get the heck out of there because let’s face it, the best kind of Christmas party is one that lets you go home early, and the comedian comes on, and he’s very funny. Truly. But as his gig goes on, he starts tiptoeing really close to “G or maaaaaybe the conservative side of PG” line..then he starts tap dancing on that line…then he goes past the line…then he goes far past the line…then he STOMPS way, way, waaaaaay past the line, and by that, I mean things like jokes about orgasms.

    You could FEEL the horror radiating off the former president, not to mention his wife, not to mention alllllll of the members of the Christmas party committee. It was both hilarious and awful. The members of the committee kept trying to signal to the comedian that he had gone too far (one woman in particular kept trying to catch his eye while making a slashing mark across her throat), but it took, I don’t know, maybe 15 jokes about orgasms for the comedian to finally say, “Hey, I get the feeling that I’ve gone a bit too far?” Way to read the room, dude.

    I personally treasure the memory, but the committee members were a bit twitchy for days. In fact, I happened to be on the committee the following year, and some of the members of that committee were still twitchy months later, even though they had nothing to do with the PG-13/R Comedy Club Christmas Party.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      You could very well be right. It was hilarious, I will say, so at the very least, he entertained *me* – and some of the other attendees, too, though not the members of the committee, obviously.

      And at least this guy (I can’t remember his name) wasn’t actually tasteless, unlike some more famous comedians. I work for a statewide organization, but the national organization hired Jay Leno once – spent thousands and thousands of dollars – and included a “no profanity or obscenity” clause in his contract. And yet Leno reportedly dropped the F-bomb over and over again, and to make it worse, he wasn’t even very funny. I wasn’t there that time, but apparently lots of people walked out, and the national organization took the unprecedented step of sending an apology to every member who’d registered for the convention. They tried to get at least some of their money back, too, though I never heard one way or another if they actually did.

  50. FormerFirstTimer*

    This is “funny”, more just rude. I was working in a department that was not doing well (long-term bad management that was not remedied quickly enough combined with a 20+ year-old business model) and we were all notified in the second week of November that they were going to shut us down and we would all be out of jobs by the end of the year. The week prior to this, the reminder that the Christmas party would take place in December went out and we should look out for the formal invite. Everyone was looking forward to it because it’s when we got our bonuses and they were always at a nice restaurant in the middle of the day so we would have half a day off. Couple weeks go by and no invites. Then someone in another department is overheard mentioning it. They decided not to invite ANYONE from my department, since “there wasn’t really any point”. My end date ended up being before the party anyway, but everyone who was still there for the date of the party said it was super awkward because apparently the rest of the company had not been told that we weren’t invited. Or being laid off. I guess the CEO had to explain that the company was not in fact going under and that no one else was going to lose their jobs to a room full of very angry employees.

  51. Catalin*

    My organization had a talent contest which involved one department, rife with professorial-types (mainly psychologists) performing a very special rendition of part of The Nutcracker. That’s right, middle-aged men in tights (we saw more than we wanted to) and women in leotards and pink tutus (again, more than we wanted to see). So two-dozen professionals prancing around on a stage.
    They won, of course, because no one can beat the department head that dresses as a FULL SIZED HUMAN NUTCRACKER and a wide selection of aged curves.

  52. A Tired Queer*

    My department has been a hot mess with a ton of turnover in the past two years, so it’s been a struggle to keep morale up. We were all looking forward to the holiday party last year as a way to keep us united and afloat in the middle of our figurative and literal 6 month long winter (the north of North America, man). In early December, they sent out a message that due to management’s health issues and travel schedules, the holiday party would be postponed until January. This was fine.
    Well, mid January rolled around, and there was no word of the holiday party. February hit, still nothing. March and April blew by, and with them our first all-staff meeting of the year, and although it had become a joke in my part of the office, mention of the party in public became taboo. After one of the managers lost her lid at someone for asking, we never spoke of it again.
    Finally, winter broke and gave way to summer, and round about June we got an email inviting us to a party at a local bar! My part of the office whispered “holiday party??” but no one actually dared to ask.
    I didn’t go, but I’m told that the event was a flop. It was too hot, with too little AC. The only drink served was lukewarm water and there was hardly any food ordered for the table. Conversation was tense and stilted. Most people who showed up left early, and it was never mentioned again. Until this year, when we’re vaguely holding out hope for an actual holiday party. Someday…

      1. A Tired Queer*

        Not even soda! There was water and like… chips? I think? And no one wanted to order anything because it wasn’t clear whether or not things would be ordered for the table. By the time it became clear that the answer was “not”, no one was much interested in sticking around.

  53. banzo_bean*

    Every year my husband’s office plans a Christmas party that spirals completely out of budget. We tried to escape the debacle last year by planning our honeymoon for nearly the entire month of December, but his boss made the party planner wait till January so we could come.

    The party planner, let’s call her Cersei, is a youngish employee in her first post school role, and she will always complain and threaten to quit until their boss caves and expands her budget. Last year they purchased tickets to a basketball game that cost the company a very pretty penny. My husband, who sets and manages the budget is always forced by his boss to go to war with Cersei over the Christmas party to keep expenses down, but after an hour of trying to convince her to cut costs his boss will swoop in and approve all of Cersei’s demands. It’s maddening.

    When we got to the arena because of the way Cersei had purchased the tickets, the ticketholder had to be present for anyone in our group to enter the arena. Several staff members ended up showing up >1 hr late, and so Cersei’s boss ordered her to wait outside for them (no reentries allowed), she threw such a fit and demanded that my husband wait outside. My husband immeadiately pulled my hand and walked inside and said “sorry no reentries.” Cersei was forced to miss half the game waiting for the late employees (I personally think no one should have waited and the late employees should have just missed out on the party).

    This year Cersei planned a nice, low-key event in the company’s banquet room.

    1. Ama*

      I mean I agree with you that the late people should have just missed the game (although if the arena didn’t make that clear to Cersei that’s their fault, and if the arena did make it clear to Cersei, she should have made it clear to everyone else), but if that’s what it took for Cersei to plan a low-key party at least she learned her lesson.

  54. Jessica Fletcher*

    We should do a thread of good experiences, too! Here’s the best employer gift I ever received:

    Years ago, I worked in a research office, and one of our data collection methods was telephone surveys. Researchers designed their studies, and then contracted with the office to gather the data. We conducted surveys both for studies with participants who had already enrolled and studies where we were contacting numbers randomly to recruit participants. (No, I don’t mean spam.)

    Anyway. The holiday party was really nice and fun. We did a grab bag gift exchange and a potluck. The company got all of us the funniest gift: a stainless steel coffee tumbler with a stencil drawing of a person in a call center, and the message, “Company Name: If we want your opinion, we’ll ask for it!”

    A decade later, I still have that tumbler. I don’t even drink out of stainless steel. It just makes me laugh.

    1. The Starsong Princess*

      In years gone by, I had a lovely boss who would take her direct reports out for lunch and give them a gift card. I was the only offsite so she always gave me something that was obviously regifted. One time the gift tag addressed to her was still in the box! But I’m not complaining-the gifts were great! Like a beautiful cashmere hat, scarf and gloves. Another time it was a brand name leather carryall bag. All new stuff with the original store tags. She’s retired now but I still miss both her and the gifts!

    2. Ama*

      Wow. And I thought the stress ball my employer passed out one year that said “Be Kind Be Calm Be Quiet” was a poor choice of words.

      (It wasn’t for the holidays, we had just moved offices and it was absolutely a passive aggressive move by our then-COO because of widespread complaints about how the move was managed and communicated.)

    3. London Calling*

      Reminds me of this one in Frasier

      [Frasier and Niles are looking through brochures for rest homes for Martin, and Niles is trying to talk Frasier into taking him in]

      Niles : Golden Acres. We care, so you don’t have to.

      Frasier : It says that?

      Niles : Well, it might as well.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      When I was in college, I worked under the table for a boot store and shoe repair. I was so inexperienced that I didn’t know it was under the table, and my boss was a grouch yelled if I walked into his work area, told me not touch the gun he had behind the counter, and who drank too much (but only passed out at work once).

      There was a pair of boots there that were beautiful, and were way out of the price range of a poor college student, but I pointed out to everyone how beautiful they were. Then they disappeared, and since I only worked part time, I knew he’d sold them. It was just as well – it’s not like they were ever for me. They were about $100 (and this was over 35 years ago), and I was getting $30 each Saturday I worked.

      Near Christmas, he said he had a Christmas bonus for me, and pulled out those boots from his work area!

      I still have them, and they are still some of the most beautiful boots I have ever seen.

    5. nonegiven*

      >contacting numbers randomly

      Being legal, (surveys are exempt from the Do Not Call list) doesn’t make it not spam.

  55. Tau*

    So my first job was at a company providing professional services to clients, with most employees (me included) away at client sites for most of the time. Every year, they sent seasons’ greetings to their clients. In past years, this had been a short animated film made by our in-house graphic artist. These were uniformly gorgeous, but unfortunately the guy who made them had quit and it wasn’t clear what they were going to replace them with.

    So one day in December I come into the office to find all my coworkers looking rather shocked and an e-mail by management in my inbox with this year’s holiday greetings. It turned out that what management had done was rounded up the staff who were still back in the home office, forced them to sing a Christmas song (text adjusted), and sent the video to all current staff and all clients. The “forced” part was very obvious from the facial expressions. These were not people who were happy about what they were doing.

    All of us were thanking our lucky stars that we were off on client site. The most senior guy possibly less, because he was the one had to try to explain this to our clientside manager when he came around going “WTF did your company just send me?”. He told me afterwards that when he quit this job in future, when asked in his exit interview why he was leaving, he would point at this video. All things told, I can’t blame him.

    1. Quill*

      I’m imagining him not only telling them “remember the christmas forced carol” but actually getting up, dragging in a TV and a vcr, and playing the relevant tape

  56. aqua arrow*

    Not me, but one of my good friends. I work with her husband, so she was at our Christmas party. It was a very high-end affair, women in gowns, men in suits at a really nice hotel in the city. They provided cabs for everyone to and from the party and it had an open bar, so consequently everyone tended to get pretty intoxicated. She got quite drunk and ended up at the bar with our VP and her husband’s grandboss. The three of them spend most of the night ripping tequila shots and pretty much harassing people over to take shots with them. Eventually when the night ended, her husband and another one of our friends at work had to literally carry her away. It all worked out well though, her husband’s grandboss now loves my friend and her husband because of how much fun he had and constantly invites the two of them out for dinner.

  57. Just a Thought*

    My father worked at a large corporation that had a history of lavish departmental holiday parties. In the weeks running up to Christmas, at least one (if not more) department was out of commission for the day because they were having their party. New boss came in and decreed that all the parties had to be on the same day (my dad was pissed because he was popular and got invited to a lot of the parties and now he could only attend one).

    Well, the tradition at the company was the boss showed up and had at least one drink at each department’s party. Not a problem when you only had one or two a day, but when you have about 25…next year, all the parties went back to being on different days!

  58. Sternoblaze*

    At the risk of outing myself, my office has an annual holiday party and for the past four that I’ve been here, it’s been held at a restaurant after work. I hear tales of when the party was held in the office and why it isn’t anymore – mostly that the last year it was in the office, someone knocked over a table with food and a lit sterno caught the carpet on fire.

    Imagine my surprise when I got the invite to the party this year and it’s being held in the office. Can’t wait.

  59. It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon*

    My spouse is a firefighter/EMT in our city, and their department hosts their annual party at a local restaurant in their banquet hall. It’s a very formal affair, with guests in suits or gowns and FFs in their Class A uniforms (the ones they wear for parades and funerals). However, it is also an open bar where alcohol flows freely and there’s always at least a few dates or FFs blacked out in the dance floor. Our first year attending, someone from my spouse’s academy class was exceptionally… affectionate… and proceeded to run around the dance floor and grab every ass he could reach. When he tried with me, I turned him around and lightly pushed him toward his lieutenant to deal with. His date was NOT happy with him and made a scene, and I don’t blame her. No consequences or repercussions for him at all, so I keep my distance from him at all social events.

  60. Young Drinker*

    Not using my usual screen name for this, partly because I’m sure I’ve told it elsewhere and don’t want to cross streams.

    First proper job, aged 18, in the UK where the drinking age is 18. A few dozen staff live on site, and have a *very* drunken party on the last Saturday night before Christmas, knowing that nobody has to stagger more than a couple of hundred yards home.

    I sat with my close coworker whom we’ll call Laurel, sharing a bottle of wine she’d grabbed, sitting on dining chairs at a table, discussing whether or not I should be encouraging the attentions of a department head (not my boss) whom we’ll call Ash, eventually concluding that 30 is generally not a good match for 18.

    I was one of the first to leave, at the point where I realised the carpet appeared vertical and one of the walls horizontal. Yes, I had fallen flat and not noticed. I went home, slept long and well, and woke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

    So far so harmless, yes?

    Only:

    (1) it wasn’t wine but port (double the alcohol %)

    (2) it wasn’t a cheap party bottle but a special vintage her boss had been saving

    (3) they weren’t dining chairs but laps

    (4) the laps belonged to Ash and a comparably senior colleague, both laughing their heads off

    I didn’t find out any of 1-4 until a couple of weeks into January, at the first work night out of the new year. You know that shot in a film where the entire background suddenly zooms leaving the protagonist isolated in the centre? It was JUST like that.

    1. La Framboise*

      oh god that is just brilliant. I’m so sorry for your younger self, although what a great story!

    2. Annabelle*

      Oh no oh no OH NO. I saw this as a movie in my mind (similar to Bridget Jones) and the ending had me laughing wayyyy too loudly at work.

    3. Young Drinker*

      I’m glad I’ve amused you so much – it amuses me at this distance but at the time I was absolutely mortified.

      The other laughing colleague gently pursued me later that evening – I was oblivious as I hadn’t realised he had heard every word and he kept telling me he was still in his twenties (twenty-twelve?).

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        That adds and even funnier level, “just remember, I’m 29!” “Why on earth do you keep telling me how old you are? That is just weird!” “OK, but I’m not 30!” “Yes, I get that…”

        1. Young Drinker*

          That’s exactly how it went! Little did he know I probably would have thought 25 too old at that point anyway.

          With hindsight I can see that the employer probably should have had some guidelines about relationships between the 18yos (who typically do one year then move on) and older staff – I’m not aware of any catastrophes among those brief relationships that did develop while I was there but I think that was luck. I think it likely they are all better at that nowadays.

  61. ElizabethJane*

    Several years ago I went to a holiday party for a company I’d worked at for a year. I was an analyst in the sales organization. This company was horribly dysfunctional for a number of reasons, and the clueless manager didn’t help.

    At the dinner we were subject to an “awards” ceremony where all 33 of us got an individual award. They were supposed to be “funny” awards, probably about personality quirks (where the goal would maybe be something like “Most likely to time travel” for a Dr. Who fan) but they all ended up being passive aggressively insulting and it turned into the airing of the grievances. There was also a 5-10 minute speech for each award. This is not an exaggeration. And to make it all more awkward, the three women in the department (myself included) all received awards relating to motherhood.

    One woman was “most likely to mother the men” (she was in her late 20s and did in fact have a child, but also was the department admin and not actually prone to mothering. It was more like they relied on her to make sure basic functions happened).

    The next was “Most likely to adopt others children” (she was a single woman in her early 30s but happened to display an appropriate amount of enthusiasm if another co worker would bring in their kid. She didn’t actually like kids but she knew how to be socially normal. Also she was the department director and had literally hundreds of other accomplishments).

    And me. I was “Fastest to go into labor” because I happened to be pregnant when I got hired and had my daughter 6 months after starting the job. Never mind that I was their lead analyst. Nope. My award was about my ability to birth a child.

  62. Jo*

    This is funny now, but was Not Funny at the time.

    I was working in a customer services call centre. I had blue hair. Another girl, let’s call her Myrtle, in the call centre also had blue hair. This becomes relevant.

    After my first christmas party with the company, I left at midnight because I was in work the next morning. While I was tucked up in bed, Myrtle and a group of other customer service agents went back to someone’s house to party further. At this post-party party, dear Myrtle had a 3-way with 2 guys from the call centre. Can you see where this is going?

    Obviously the story of the 3-way spread faster than a rumour of doughnuts in the staff room. Except do you know how these conversations went?

    “Did you hear about Myrtle having a 3-way at Bertie’s house after the christmas party, with Percy and Sebastian??”
    “Who’s Myrtle?”
    “The girl in the call centre with the blue hair”

    I found out about a year later that half the company believed I had had a 3-way with Percy and Sebastian, far too late to address it. Now its hilarious but I was mortified at the time!

  63. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    When I worked in community fitness, one place liked to do “active activity” Christmas parties. Which is fun…but we ran a lot of adaptive programming (people with various disabilities or health issues, and seniors) and thus we had a lot of staff who had adaptive needs themselves. But whoever planned the party forgot or didn’t care, and thus it was held at a ROLLER RINK two years running. Even though the bulk of the people who worked there were medically contraindicated from participating in an activity where they were likely to *fall down on a hard surface.* On top of that, a good number of people had jobs with a physical component, and if they broke a wrist, elbow, etc., skating, they would be out of work on unpaid FMLA until it healed.

    Maybe 20% of the company showed up the first year they held it there, and 10% the next year. The person who ran it didn’t buy a clue from one year to the next. It made me angry.

  64. Commercial Property Manager*

    A company I used to work for would hold huge, elaborate holiday parties for all of their employees. But as the company grew (they expanded from around 50 people to 200 over the course of two years), they started to make some changes.
    To justify flying in the new, out-of-state crowd, someone made the determination that the majority of the day should be devoted to career-building endeavors. This was mostly okay, as I was getting paid on company time to network (even if I had to play teamwork Pictionary and listen to motivational speakers), and we were promised that the evening would end with a banquet dinner and socializing.
    But my boss, and many of the other old-timers at the party, were NOT into it. Halfway into motivational speech #2, I saw my boss wildly gesticulating at me from the door to the hallway, so I followed her out. Turns out she, and probably 15 other people, had decided to ditch the lame conference. I killed the afternoon with them, drinking shots of Jim Beam and playing pool, before we all slipped back in for dinner (which was alcohol-free).

  65. Annie Porter*

    I don’t know if this falls into the “funny” category or the “just plain disgusting” one, but…here goes. And yes, this is real; any incident I didn’t see first-hand was corroborated by a good friend who was in charge of building maintenance.

    We had an office pooper. I don’t mean the kind that leaves behind an unpleasant smell without a courtesy flush or spray; instead, our office pooper was a vengeful, awful, gross human who left poo logs carefully placed on toilet seats in the ladies’ room multiple times, and, once, explosive diarrhea ALL OVER the men’s room. Floor, walls, etc. (Since the bathrooms were “oners” they were gendered by label only, and employees routinely used the opposite gender bathrooms, so we made the leap that the pooper was the same person in both bathrooms. We couldn’t have had two angry office poopers…could we??)

    In no way could these be construed as embarrassing accidents that someone fled because they were mortified. The seat logs were clearly deliberate and not even a cursory attempt at cleanup of the diarrhea disaster was made. So after a few of these incidents, management (including me) was on high alert. Fast forward to the office holiday party, and there was commotion near one of the restrooms just as employee plus ones were arriving. Since I (the only female manager! DO NOT GET ME STARTED) was in charge of the party, everyone was trying to hide from me the fact that the Pooper had struck AGAIN, and with key timing. Other managers were hurriedly rounding up cleaning supplies, and the news eventually made it over to my group. After explaining the background story (because honestly, at that point, I was out of fucks to give) one of the spouses casually mentioned, “Oh, yeah. We had that problem at my work, too.”

    WHAT?

    1. Alli525*

      I really, REALLY want that spouse to have met their partner at work. Unwittingly married to The Pooper!

    2. *Shudder**

      Sadly, we had that problem at my work as well. Called her The Mad Pooper…randomly located poo…all over the wall poo…it was horrible!
      I can’t believe there is more than one adult that is like this!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Shivering.

      That’s literally a sign of serious mental illness when you decorate with feces.

      1. Annie Porter*

        Nope. Cameras were installed after the holiday party incident so management could see who went in and out of the restrooms, so the inappropriate pooping stopped.

        Positive outcome: we got toilet seat cover dispensers installed because several employees were understandably hesitant to use the toilet seats.

  66. PDB*

    My girlfriend once worked in a law library and lawyers would send baskets of food and boxes of chocolates as a thank you for their help. The boss had a sign up sheet for food items and chocolates! Individual pieces! You literally had to sign up to get the chocolate you wanted or the cheese ball.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I’m trying to think of something that would make my coworkers mutiny faster than this but, nope, this is a winner. Loser. WTAF.

  67. Anonymous gift*

    I’m sure this story can’t compete, but I’ll share it just for the weirds.

    I carry a small notebook to meetings–think a mini Moleskine with an elastic strap that keeps it closed. Last Christmas eve, I received an almost identical notebook, in wrapping paper, placed on my desk in my locked office while I was out. I checked around, but nobody else in the office had received any gift. I emailed the whole staff to say thank you–hoping that the giver would come forward–but no one did.

    A year later, I am using this notebook. Still no one has acknowledged giving it to me. I know it has to be a coworker, because no one else would have access to my office, nor would they be able to match my past notebook so exactly.

    We are a small staff of almost entirely straight women. Why did someone do this, and why anonymously? Am I going to get another notebook this year?

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      I love it! Someone was out and about and saw something you use regularly and just …bought it. It’s sweet!

    2. Alli525*

      How weird! After a bad breakup a couple of years ago, someone(s) sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers “from your multitudinous friends.” I posted it with gratitude on social media and no one fessed up. To this day I have no idea who was behind it, but the card is tacked to my fridge so I always remember how much my chosen family loves me.

      1. DrRat*

        I got flowers at Valentine’s once that were anonymous. (Probably an ex boyfriend I had dumped, but I never knew for sure.) I mentioned it to a male friend months later and he said, quite seriously, “I have to admit it…it was me.” I completely fell for it and said, “Really?” and he laughed and said, “No. Damn, I could have gotten away with that, couldn’t I?”

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      I had a baby this year, and by month 7 it was pretty obvious to everyone who I hadn’t told (that was when people I was friendly with but not friends with started asking me about when I was due, etc). I found a copy of Green Eggs and Ham on my desk one morning. I still haven’t tracked down who left it for me, I suspect one of the janitorial staff as I am friendly with most of them. It was sweet but I wish I knew who gave it to me/kiddo so I could thank them.

  68. Ptarmigan*

    I was working in Denver, but a bunch of coworkers from Canada came down for our annual Christmas party. I was slightly inebriated and sitting at a table with all of them when I referred to their country as “Canadia.”

      1. AnonForReasons*

        Speaking on behalf of all Canadians, we’re sorry we didn’t notice and hope you had a great time at the party!

      2. irene adler*

        That’s okay.
        Not a Christmas event but relevant to the Canada theme:
        Decades ago, a friend and I were in a gift shop in Detroit. For the geographically impaired, across the border is…Canada. I’m meandering up and down the aisles looking at the key rings, candles and the like.

        A few aisles over, my friend exclaims loudly, “This is just shameful! It’s everywhere! I can’t believe they sell this here!”
        I come running over to her, concerned. She’s staring at the wall of key rings.
        I ask, “What’s wrong?”
        She says, “Look at this! I can’t believe they put pot leaves on everything! Every single thing here has a pot leaf on it! Disgusting!”
        So, I explain, “Um, Michelle, that’s the Canadian maple leaf. Like on the flag.”

      1. Clawfoot*

        I often call us “Canukistan.” Especially when talking about how dangerously and recklessly socialist we are in comparison to the States.

        1. Lucien Nova*

          I’ve got a friend in Nova Scotia who’s fond of saying “Socialist Canuckistan”.

          It tickles me a bit to know this is a Thing, and not just something she says.

  69. Funbud*

    Years ago, I worked for a huge financial services company (Fortune 500, household name). Our department was split between Manhattan and a smaller group in NJ, so the employees lived in a wide geographic range. The holiday parties were always lavish, hosted at high end venues with open bars, cigars, fancy party favors. You get the idea. One year, the organizer booked a beautiful venue in Jersey City. I don’t remember the name but it had incredible views of the Manhattan skyline.

    Anticipating the amount of drinking, she ordered cars to arrive at the end of the party to drive home anyone who desired (this was long, long before Uber). Now, we are talking a crowd of several hundred attendees. We exited the building to find cars from every car service in the tri-state area blocking streets in this entire neighborhood of Jersey City, causing massive gridlock, horns blaring, drivers shouting at each other. It was a mess. I walked to the PATH station and took the train home.

  70. AnonForReasons*

    This story is just sad. One year both my husband and I had lost our jobs when the start-up we were both working for went out of business. I went from having an awesome creative job as VP at a start-up to basically taking any work that would help keep food on the table.

    Because I was pretty much willing to do any kind of office work, a temp agency had been sending me out to fill in where needed at offices. Shortly before the holidays, I was sent to the head office of a large international company in the financial services industry. I was brought in to do filing in the human resources office.

    I did the filing quickly and accurately for several days, then told the HR manager I could possibly help in other areas in which I’m skilled, including writing. She gave me some writing assignments to do in addition to the filing, and told me she was pleased with my work. I spent several weeks working for the company and the HR Manager told me they needed me for the foreseeable future.

    Then one of my writing assignments involved writing something that the CEO of the company had requested. I submitted it to the HR Manager who passed the work on to him. He came into the HR office, which I hadn’t seen him do before in all the weeks I had been there, and commented on how delighted he was with the writing work. With me sitting right there, the HR Manager told him I had done it. The CEO and I chatted briefly, and he asked if I was coming to the office Christmas party. I said I was just a temp so wasn’t expecting to go, and he replied that he was inviting me. It felt like I might have a future with this company!

    That night my temp agency contacted me to say that the HR Manager at the financial services company had called to say they would no longer be needing my services, and not to return to their office.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      That was so cruel. Some people are just really twisted. I’m really sorry that happened and hope that you are doing well now. Wishing you and your loved ones all the best for this holiday season and new year.

    2. mlk*

      Okay, maybe I’m weird, but because the HR Manager gave the proper attribution for the writing assignments, there could be a different reason why OP was let go. If the HR Manager knows that there have been incidents with the CEO in the past…. Christmas party, CEO, temp AKA someone in a vulnerable position…

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Which makes it even worse – when the CEO creeps on temps, the right thing to do is NOT fire the temp!

  71. Grossedout*

    Not at the party, but the aftermath. One of the staff went home incredibly drunk and vomited out their bedroom window.

    Nobody would have known about it, except their apartment was literally across the street from work which was a building with entirely glass walls. It took a long time for the rain to wash the wall clean. In the meantime we were all treated to the view…

  72. school of hard knowcs*

    In the 90’s I was working at a small company and they asked me to help a coworker John who was very behind on his work. He was a very quite and polite person. He went into a meeting and the receptionist transferred his calls to me. I told the caller he was in a business meeting and she started screaming at me that her husband was avoiding her and I was helping. She also implied he and I had a relationship of sorts. It was ugly. A few months later we had our Christmas dinner at a ‘fancy’ french restaurant with 6 people to a table. And there we were with John and Brunhilda. For the next 2 hours she explained in great detail how John had ruined her life…. rabid women’s lib stuff. I changed the subject constantly to no avail. The stove was divided and they each only used 2 their 2 burners was one of the few things that stuck in my mind. A few months later she threw all his clothes in the parking lot.

        1. Turtlewings*

          Feminism is good and wonderful, but literally anything can be twisted into ugly shapes, and wife has certainly not sounded like a stable person so far.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah, I would have side eyed this comment except that I’ve now met plenty of women who seem to think that the purpose of feminism is that everyone, regardless of gender or sex, should swear fealty to them in particular. These heavily coincide with the “you aren’t a real woman unless you have sex/have kids/have a 100% functional uterus” self proclaimed feminists.

  73. Confused*

    Anyone else extremely weirded out by how trivializing the CEO email story seems to be of the situation? The man’s wife was *sexually assaulted* and his son was called a *racial slur* at an office party – these aren’t funny things. The fact that they happened isn’t titillating. “To be a fly on the wall of that party…” How can you feel anything but horror and discomfort hearing these descriptions? The email isn’t ‘epic,’ it’s horrific in the need for writing it. And the fact that he started out by apologizing himself shows how much thought he put into it.

    1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      I haven’t seen a CEO email story…and I believe I’ve read every post in this thread up to this point (though not every comment). Where did you see this?

      1. LCH*

        it’s a link in the post referred to as an epic email. it’s a comment on the post “tell us your strangest office holiday stories.”

    2. Kelly L.*

      I’ve seen it a few times, and to me what makes it funny is how perfectly dry it is while describing a trainwreck, and the equally dry way he goes about mentioning that he misbehaved too. You just don’t expect something that WTFy to be that…professionally written? IDK.

    3. san junipero*

      The racial slur is indeed awful, but IIRC the ‘sexual assault’ was actually misconstrued grinding on the dance floor.

  74. Andream*

    Not exactly funny but I have sort of a holiday party story. My last year at my former employer we did a secret Santa. Our team, of about 15 including Team Lead, decided to do a Secret Santa with the stipulation that we cant spend over $10. It was ours to decide if we wanted to do one gift or a week of gifts/ little notes. I considered the person I got a work friend. We would talk when it wasn’t busy and commiserate about stupid stuff new management had started. I was really excited because I’d never done this at work before. I am a bit crafty and made 5 cards and went to the dollar store and picked out 10 little things. Some were candy, but there were a few ornament type of things that I picked out. She made a big deal because she was getting stuff each day. In the end I revealed that I was the Secret Santa. She seemed to appreciate the thought I put into it. She kept some of the ornaments on her desk.
    Well, 5 months later we learned that the company was consolidating and that our center was closing. We still had about a month left and she asks everyone if they wanted stuff she had on her desk. She actually came up to me with the ornament and asked if I wanted it. I know it was only a work Secret Santa but it kind of irked me that she would give it away right in front of me and ask me if I wanted it too. (not if I wanted it back, just that if I wanted it. Like I didn’t give it to her) She made some comment that it was going to be thrown away otherwise and that she didn’t like it. I later found out she was a bit two-faced.

  75. Phillip*

    A couple of years ago, the CEO of the company (I no longer work there) held a mid-afternoon sales call before our Christmas Party. It resulted in him screaming over the phone for half an hour, banging his fist on his desk and then calling me into his office and screaming at me because I was annoyed that he yelled at us. The crux of the yelling was that we were ending the month exactly where we had forecast and not above our target. We were then expected to put on party faces and, in his words, “boogey.”

    He gave an impassioned speech about the company’s progress YTD and how he truly appreciated each and every one of us. We were at a restaurant that we could ill afford and wound-up drinking copiously. As the night progressed, the CEO’s wife called him a “mean little shrimp” and the Sales Director got into a verbal war with him, resulting in the Director being suspended. I took my dessert to go and went home. Left the company the following year.

  76. your favorite person*

    A few years ago my husband was working for large domain company… to remain nameless. They host large fancy blacktie indoor christmas parties each year with special, secret performers. Big name acts like Ludicris, Pitbull, Fall Out Boy, etc. There’s food and fun and then they invite out the surprise performer who sings an hour set.

    A few years ago the surprise performer was Snoop Dog! FUN! We all went to the stage and were having a great time singing along to old hits in our blacktie suits and gowns. Then, well, you know how snoop dog is rather famous for a certain recreation? One that’s illegal in many states still? He obviously lit up on stage which we chuckled at but then he started to pass them out to the crowd. With the CEO right there. What to do?! A few people actually said, “Thanks Snoop but my boss is right there!”

    Anyway, they now explicitly state in the contract no illegal substances on stage.

    1. Eloise*

      Pretty sure Snoop is responsible for that clause in contracts everywhere! He’s the reason a music festival in my hometown had to add one too.

    2. Yamikuronue*

      From the stories I hear about the christmas parties where I’m working now, that would have gone over great. Certainly better than the copious amounts of alcohol that are the norm!

      1. Sarah Jane Liberski*

        So a couple years ago, just before the company Christmas party there were *wild* rumours that the year end employee bonus was not going to happen. This was in a terribly run non profit, where turnover was high and raises didn’t happen, not even cost of living increases, so those year end bonuses, while small, were pretty much the only compensation other than our wages.

        The day of the party we all get informed of a mandatory team meeting, where we then are informed that there’s no bonus coming. But we’re expected to attend the mandatory Christmas party and snooze nice with the board… unpaid. Those that did show up (me, unfortunately) were treated to a cold dinner of dry roast beef, gluey mashed potatoes and a terrible atmosphere. A few of us banded together, stayed for an hour and then hit the adjacent bar.

        Fast forward to a week later, and the office intern discovers that the office admin, the intern herself, and our ED are the only one who got bonuses. The intern was the ED’s niece, but she did us a solid by snapping a photo of the bonus statement, including the worded line that said bonus would be confidential.

        Staff RIOTED. There were clandestine meetings outside of work, anonymous letters were typed regarding the poor leadership, board directors were yelled at by employees in public, and like 12 people quit before Christmas holidays. I ended up working through the season, and by February end we had a new ED, new admin and our intern never came back, either. Those who stayed were treated to a slight wage increase plus a small “appreciation bonus”. The new ED was pretty great, introduced medical benefits and fought for a larger wage increase for us top earners.

        1. NoLongerinNonProfitMgmt*

          I joined a nonprofit as executive director replacing the founding ED. Shortly before Christmas, I was told by the staff that last year the ED had given the staff $50 gift cards to WalMart. They weren’t really complaining about that but said that the ED gave himself and he favorite staffer $100 gift cards to Best Buy. Then later I discussed this with the Board President and said I would handle it differently this year. He told me that he had instructed the ED to give everyone a $100 check. The previous ED was not a nice man which is an extreme understatement!

      2. Sharkie*

        My mom was a stockbroker in NYC in the 80’s and my dad is an Attorney. One year coke was busted out at BOTH their office Christmas parties. After that, they both prefer normal copious amounts of alcohol since you can’t be arrested for being in the same room as wine

      1. your favorite person*

        I know, right?! I’m guessing he didn’t think Snoop would be so generous. I mean, the CEO was very cool, but the workers didn’t want to touch it because this is one of the places that does drug testing.

    3. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      A server at the concert venue told me that the entire staff got stoned over secondhand smoke during a Snoop concert.

  77. Campfire Raccoon*

    In my mid-20s, I worked in a fairly conservative accounting department (think government contractor engineering firm) but we had a couple of strange characters. I’d been warned about one mid-50s accounts payable lady, that she was “Very Social”. She wasn’t popular in the department, but was nice enough at work, so I didn’t think anything of it.

    Being the youngest and lowest rank in the department, my husband and I were seated at the “accounting outcasts” table, which included Very Social and her husband. The whole party was super-swanky. Very Social and her husband were good company, complimentary, and didn’t ping ANY of my warning systems…

    …right up until she learned that my husband was a welder. Then she let out a delighted squeal and asked him to build her custom steel people-sized cages, with brackets for harness hooks. She also let us know they were VERY interested in having us over try out their other “equipment” for additional Christmas Merriment.

    That Christmas I learned “Very Social” = Unabashedly Enthusiastic Swingers into BDSM.

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        We turned her down, and she was still very nice. She even hand-quilted a baby blanket for my second child.

        Data entry, people cages, nipple clamps, hand-embroidered baby quilts. She was very well-rounded for an accountant.

  78. Goldfinch*

    I am pretty sure I will have a contribution for next year. My department holiday party is going to be paintball, and the group is currently heavily skewed towards new/young employees who make terrible decisions (constantly getting loaded and sleeping with each other at trade shows, including the newlyweds). There is a lot of bad blood in the group, fights over who was and who wasn’t technically cheating, etc. So, of course the solution is to give everyone firearms.