the Christmas tantrum, the dirty elf, and other tales of holidays at work

Over the years, readers have submitted a tremendous number of amusing stories about holidays at work. In lieu of any more posts today since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some of my favorites from the last 13 years.

1. The duet

“The organization I work for often holds its convention just a couple of weeks before Christmas, and several years ago, as part of the entertainment for the closing banquet, we had a quartet singing mostly Christmas songs. In the banquet room right next door, though, somebody was holding a very large and loud corporate Christmas party that included a very loud D.J. playing very loud music, none of it Christmassy, as far as I could tell.

And I do mean LOUD.

So this, I swear to God, is what it sounded like to those of us sitting closest to the wall that separated our sedate Christmas quartet performance from the very loud D.J. performance of ‘Brick House’ by the Commodores:
Quartet: ‘Oh, hooooooly niiiiight! The stars…’
DJ: ‘Owwww! She’s a brick…HOWWWWse, she’s mighty-mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out’
Quartet: ‘It is the niiiight of our dear savior’s…’
DJ: ‘Owwww! She’s a brick…HOWWWWWse, well put-together, everybody knows.’
Quartet: ‘A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for…’
DJ: ‘She’s a brick…HOWWWse, owwww, that lady stacked and that’s a fact…’

I love ‘Oh Holy Night,’ but come on, that was HILARIOUS.” (2019)

2. The come-hither pirate

“This wasn’t a White Elephant gift, but one a coworker who didn’t last so long gave to all the unpartnered women under 40: A studio portrait of himself, semi-80s background, with lasers, soft focus, standing, with his hand on his chin, a ‘come hither’ look, and his parrot on his shoulder.” (2018)

3. The grief poinsettia

“It was one of those lunchtime holiday parties where people sat in groups around round tables. At the center of each table was a poinsettia. The big boss/emcee announced that she realized that some in the crowd must have experienced hard times that year. She invited people to share their tales of woe, and whoever told the saddest story at each table would win the poinsettia. No one volunteered.” (2018)

4. The elf’s vice

“The dreaded Elf on a Shelf got passed around the different departments. At the end of the day, someone from the department that had it last would go to another department and pose the elf. For the most part, it was okay: cute poses with rubber duckies, a little bathroom humor (the elf pooping a Hershey’s Kiss), that sort of thing… until my department got it. He was snorting hot cocoa using a $1 bill besides a naked Barbie doll. I work in HR. The department that left it was Legal! I don’t work there anymore and I’ve banned Elf on a Shelf from my current job.” (2017)

5. The Christmas tantrum

“A woman who had worked at our office for more than twenty years pouted and threw tantrums like a child if she didn’t win a door prize at the annual Christmas dinner. Every time someone else’s name was randomly drawn, she would yell, ‘FIX!”’ or ‘CHEAT!’ or something similar. And one year, she just snatched a prize she really wanted from the table and told the person who won the prize, ‘I DESERVE this,’ and walked away with it.” (2014)

6. The flush

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

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

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

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

My company handled it really well – called a car for her to go home, followed up with me then and there, and had separate meetings with us on Monday, as the party was on a Friday evening. Her intentions were honestly good (if not soaked in alcohol) and given the weekend I was beginning to find it funny that I’d effectively mooned all the higher ups and they had to be professional about it, so in the end I think she just went through some sensitivity training. She was also MORTIFIED, apologized nonstop for the next week, etc. I’m no longer at that job but what an intro to the world of Corporate Christmas Parties.” (2018)

7. The Christmas carols

“At my first job out of college, I worked at a small transport-related company of about 50 employees that was privately owned by a couple … One year, Wife Owner, who fancied herself an artist and would often sing in the office (her voice wasn’t terrible but it was still really weird), decided we should make a CD of employees singing Christmas carols. Keep in mind that we did not have a bunch of moonlighting Broadway extras working there. I felt pressured to be on the CD and ended having to drive 25 miles on the weekend (unpaid) to a recording studio. I did draw the line at doing any solos and only signed up for the multi-voice songs, where I desperately tried not to stand out. Fortunately, I got accepted into grad school after that and never had to witness any further embarrassing company gifts. Apparently, the gift ploy worked in a sense, as I have run into people from the same industry who laughingly remember this company despite the fact that 10+ years later, they are no longer in business.” (2017)

8. The reply-all

“My organization hosts an annual Christmas party where staff, spouses, volunteers, and board members are all invited. We get an email sent out when tickets are available so that we know when to go ahead and get them.

A few years ago, one of the board members accidentally hit Reply All to the ticket announcement email and asked the organizer to ensure that he wasn’t seated with our volunteer firefighters, since he was stuck at their table the year before and none of them wanted to talk to him. Within a minute, someone else had hit Reply All again saying that he would be honored to be seated with those firefighters, as they’re willing to risk their lives to keep our community safe. A few other emails went flying back and forth congratulating the firefighters for their hard work, and the board member soon sent out an apology email.

To make things even more awkward, one of the people making a speech at the company Christmas party did take a few minutes to commend our volunteer firefighters. I’m sure the board member couldn’t have looked any more uncomfortable as the rest of the room toasted them.” (2018)

9. The swingers

“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.”

This follow-up added further details:

“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.” (2019)

10. The Christmas countdown

“I once had a coworker who lodged a complaint with her manager’s manager that her manager was making her take her hours to Christmas countdown (yes hours, not days) off a whiteboard that was needed for something else. Wasn’t even like it was the week before Christmas at that point, pretty sure it was at least a month before. She was getting up and changing it a few times a day.” (2016)

11. The sex toy

“A Christmas party I was at had a Secret Santa … and one of the ‘presents’ was a huge dildo which, as most attendees were utterly plastered, was thrown around and, eventually, somehow stuck to the ceiling and wouldn’t budge despite various things being thrown at it.

Most people thought this was OK, but it wasn’t as we had not hired the venue exclusively and families with children were present. So a colleague and I got a ladder and eventually pry the thing off the 13-foot-high ceiling.

All Christmas celebrations were banned for the remainder of the eight years I was on the project.”

In response to a question about why it stuck there:

“We found out when I got to the top of the ladder. The ceiling had evidently been painted recently with gloss paint and was not fully dry. It was just tacky enough to hold the dildo (I cannot believe I am writing sentences like this :)” (2019)

12. Hanukkah balls

“I am a Jewish 26-year-old. I’ve been on the job about a year, and I moved from a large city to a smaller suburb of New York City for this job. My family is not super religious but we certainly never celebrated Christmas growing up.

My boss, a usually nice lady, has taken it upon herself to educate me about Christmas this season. She is super into the holidays, which I appreciated for Halloween, but has been declaring to the whole office how this is ‘Jane’s First Christmas’ and taking that opportunity to spend well over $500 on Christmas decorations which she has strategically placed mostly around her and my office. She has bought me my own Christmas stocking and ornament which says ‘Jane’s first Christmas’ with a date and her signature on it. She has placed red velvet bows around anything they will stick to and she has replaced our office coffee K-cups with eggnog. She has put up lights in the hallways and decked my door with some kind of tinsel that keeps sticking to my clothes and following me home.

She keeps reminding me what ornaments are and is amazed when I told her that I know the words to some Christmas songs.

She also has invited me to her home for Christmas because ‘no one should celebrate their first Christmas by themselves.’ When I mentioned something about celebrating Hanukkah instead of Christmas, she went out and bought this Hanukkah inspired contraption, which was really just eight round traditional ornaments with a light in each of them. She said they were Hanukkah balls.” (2014)

13. The strong opinions

“Our Christmas party planning (once again) ended in tears over an argument about whether body-part-shaped gummy candy was an appropriate table decoration. It was apparently Halloween candy (think bloody zombie arms and legs).

For reasons which I dare not know, there is a small contingent of people in my department who all have strong personalities, strong opinions, and no chill. Everyone hates each other, but they all must be on the various party planning committees. Our fall potluck was simultaneously ‘sports jersey,’ ‘Halloween,’ and ‘Richard Nixon’-themed because I accidentally ended up in charge and did not have the energy to veto anything.” (2016)

14. The club kid

“The year the club kid software developer INSISTED on everyone doing tequila shots, like ‘come on bro, it’s not cool if you don’t!’ — he saved his hardest pressure tactics for the CEO, who was like WTF. Same club kid tried getting down and dirty on the dance floor with a female high level exec, and then drunkenly knocked her over onto the floor.” (2016)

15. The frozen boobs

“One time I worked at a government agency where the head of HR was a reformed alcoholic who had found religion and was thus now very religious whilst also being teetotal. Every year before the party we’d get an email about how under employment law the party was an extension of the workplace and bad behaviour would not be tolerated, etc. etc. She wasn’t very well liked in the office for other reasons but no one hated her and often she didn’t come to the parties as she found them too rowdy.

The year her marriage broke up she came and got so drunk at the party she flashed her boobs over the metal railings of this rooftop bar we were at…..and because of the snow/light rain the side of one of her boobs fused to the railing (kinda like if you lick something frozen and your tongue gets stuck!). Seeing her two (female!) HR admins blowing on her boob to release it whilst shielding her modesty with scarves is a sight that will never leave me.” (2016)

{ 161 comments… read them below }

    1. Jack Be Nimble*

      You know, it’s a really effective way to get out of ever having to do the damned elf on a shelf ever again. My hat’s off to them.

    2. Berkeleyfarm*

      “Jane’s first Christmas” is cringe-o-matic, but the Hookers and Blow Elf in HR made me chuckle for about three minutes straight (soooooo totally Not Appropriate, but I didn’t have to clean up afterwards as it were) and I agree that Very Social is a pretty well-rounded individual!

  1. Ann Onny Mous*

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

    OMG, I’m dying. This one made my morning.

    1. I take tea*

      Yes, that summing up was brilliant :-D

      I just loved this, as a story, that is. I think I’d be a lot less amused if it was my stort. It just is a lot more TMI than I would ever want to know about a colleague.

  2. lb*

    The boob one makes me kind of sad & I hope she got help after her relapse, but Very Social is truly amazing. Also I am desparate for more details on why the Halloween party was Richard Nixon themed..?

      1. Sarahnova*

        I feel awfully sorry for Frozen Boobs Lady. Like, she got divorced, she relapsed, and now embarrassing stories will be told about her until the end of time. I’m thinking that was not her year.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      +1 for hoping the boob-flashing manager got help.
      Re Nixon and Halloween, some people find it therapeutic to poke fun at public figures whose behaviour they find either frightening or amusing. Masks of U.S. Presidents appear almost every year at this time.

      A quick history lesson: Nixon was President during part of the U.S. siding with South Vietnam against North Vietnam. He was first elected in 1968 during a period of extreme cultural turmoil and polarization. Society fractured along lines of race, class, and age. Leaders on each side of any given issue said terrible things about the other side. During his reelection campaign in 1972, Nixon and his associates engineered a break-in into the office of the opposing political party, and then led a cover-up that lasted for almost two years. Nixon finally resigned in August 1974 after being convinced by the U.S. Senators in his political party that his only other choice was to be impeached. (Note to non-U.S. readers: Presidential impeachment happens when the U.S. House runs a trial and the U.S. Senate votes to determine the President’s guilt or innocence. It doesn’t carry consequences of imprisonment but it’s an Enormous Disgrace.)

      1. Vichyssuave*

        FWIW, I very much know who Nixon is and I was still baffled at a workplace party with him as a theme.

        1. Grits McGee*

          That was me! We are an organization that deals with presidential history, so it was slightly less ridiculous than it might appear. (Still ridiculous though.) It was a fall bbq cookout (separate from the tears-inducing Xmas party), and I think it was part of a belabored pun- think “I am not a cook!” instead of “I am not a crook!”

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          Some of us history geeks are happy to celebrate humanity’s highs and lows at any opportunity…no matter how inopportune. But I’m speaking for myself, not speculating about lb’s colleagues. Although “I am not a cook!” is not such a stretch for a bunch of presidential historians (or folks employed by a presidential history organization).

      2. Felis alwayshungryis*

        “Society fractured along lines of race, class, and age. Leaders on each side of any given issue said terrible things about the other side. ”

        Sounds familiar.

      3. ThatGirl*

        Well, and if the senate convicts the president is removed from office. That hasn’t happened yet but it could.

    1. TardyTardis*

      I know. One year my company went to an open bar, and had taxis on call and everything, but the first DUII was at 8:30 pm!

      Back to tickets…though someone determined to drink could always wangle tickets off the non-drinkers, that took enough effort apparently to slow the worst down.

  3. Amorette Allison*

    Nothing says the Holiday Season like the annual Hanukkah balls story! Some of the others are delightful, too. Makes me glad I am retired due to COVID this holiday season.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Howdy from one Jean (the one whose name is followed by words in parenthesis) to another.
            Yes, the expression Holy Hannukah Balls makes me smile to myself.

          2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            I said, “Oh, goody!” to myself when I realized it was THAT story. Definitely one of my all-time AAM faves! :-D

  4. Robin Ellacott*

    The “come-hither pirate” and the adventurous accountant both made me laugh delightedly. I’d seen some of these tales of drama before but they are always delightful.

    Ah, life’s rich tapestry!

    1. UKDancer*

      The adventurous accountant sounds rather a lovely person. It’s good to have a wide range of interests and she obviously didn’t hold the refusal to participate in swinging against the OP if she quilted a blanket. I guess a bit on the over-sharing side but I’ve met a lot more annoying people through work.

      1. Sara without an H*

        That was my thought, too. While the OP said she wasn’t well liked at the office, at least she was interesting and non-judgemental.

      2. Junger*

        Could learn a few more boundaries though. Proposing near-strangers with BDSM group sex while they’re stuck at a table with you is really inappropriate.

        But otherwise she seems like a nice person.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Yeah, the OP seems to be fine with it, but the lady could have made some other people really uncomfortable. In fact, she probably did, if she propositioned as many people at the office as it sounds like.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, me too. She sounds delightful!
        By a weird coincidence my three best friends are all accountants and delightful people. They aren’t swingers unless they have a side to themselves that they’ve kept well hidden from me, but they definitely don’t match the stereotype either.

        1. Observer*

          She doesn’t sound delightful at all. Propositioning your coworkers or coworkers’ spouses is NOT a “delightful” thing to do. Especially in a situation where the other person can’t easily walk away. The fact that she may very well have made others at the table uncomfortable is also a problem, although the propositioning is the real boundary crossing.

        2. Ally McBeal*

          I’m a fan of the TikTok meme where exotic dancers and other sex workers are putting on makeup (or miming a conversation with someone, or whatever) while lip-syncing to the song “I’m an accountant” – the implication being that no one will ask you any further details about your job after you tell them you’re an accountant, so it’s the perfect cover story for someone who isn’t comfortable or safe to tell their family about being a sex worker. If your friends aren’t familiar with the meme it might bring them some amusement.

          1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

            It’s true though. You say “I’m an accountant” and then you refreshingly get to talk about pretty much anything else! Especially if you’re not a tax accountant. All my social interactions with new people go something like this:

            Them: “What do you do?”
            Me: “I’m a corporate accountant.”
            Them: “LOL taxes, am I right? Bet you’re relieved when April 15th comes around!”
            Me: “Yeah, I don’t actually know much about taxes, I count widgets.”
            Them: “Oh… have you tried the signature cocktail they have here?”

  5. Jean (just Jean)*

    How nice to have a shake-my-sides-GOL (Guffaw Out Loud) reunion with the mashup of “O Holy Night” and “Brick House!” Last year I recall sending a friend into gales of laughter by retelling that story. This year I’m sending her the link. :-D

    Alison, thanks to you and the community here for these corona chuckles. These light-hearted moments ease the corona gloom.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’ve heard about the Hanukkah balls many times but couldn’t find the original. Now at last my curiosity is satisfied!

  6. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    I drove an hour to a port for a swanky, black tie Christmas party on a boat in the bay, and waited on the dock in 6 inch heels for another hour while hundreds of my colleagues boarded, as my date said he would meet me there. They were literally pulling up the ramp when he ran down the dock screaming at them to wait for him. Everyone on deck got to witness me give a ticket to a guy in a suit coat and glittery ALADDIN pants and flip flops. When the captain told him he didn’t meet dress code, said date had no reason why the top half met code but he just couldn’t finish the outfit. He begged the captain on the premise that his ride had already left, then got on the boat where he ditched me for another group.

    1. ceiswyn*

      How grateful are you that he ditched you and you could pretend thereafter that he was nothing to do with you?!

      1. LuckyPurpleSocks*

        Oh my goodness, yes! I would be SO relieved not to have to deal with him for the rest of the party!

      2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Hahahahahaha you are so right! And then I could take those heels off and just dance (because heels on a boat is a joke). I can’t even remember his name anymore, just those pants, billowing in the bay breeze.

  7. Anonymousy for this*

    Ah, this just puts my job in perspective; it’s not as nutty as these. Just one of our regions is sending out a cookbook of recipes from employees to clients/employees. Multi-million dollar company, and we’re doing a cookbook like an elementary school PTA. Taaaaaccckkkkyyyy.

    1. UKDancer*

      I think that’s actually quite a nice idea. I like sharing recipes with people and seeing what they’re cooking. I’ve had a lot of fun in lockdown expanding my culinary repertoire and sharing with my friends the ones that worked.

    2. Artemesia*

      A place I worked once did this and they asked people for their ‘favorite recipe’ — now most grown ass adults know that means something that might be tasty or interesting for other people, but one guy brought in the directions for making chocolate pudding from a box of mix — ‘because, well, that is MY favorite.’

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Some people just don’t cook things that require recipes, particularly if they’re supposed to be your own (or family) recipes rather than something straight from a cookbook. I mean, assuming participation was optional Pudding From a Box Guy should have maybe just sat this one out, but it’s one of those lifestyle things where for some of us it’s easy but other people would have no idea what to say. I would easily be able to contribute things, but I have no idea what my dad would come up with if asked to contribute a recipe since I’ve never seen him cook something more complicated than “cook meat until done, also cook some vegetables to go with the meat” or “cook meat until done, then add spice packet or jar of sauce, plus some noodles or something” type dishes that you don’t really use a recipe for.

        1. TardyTardis*

          My recipe for Spaghetti for the Legions is fairly simple, but feeds multitudes. I think it’s probably related to the ‘cook meat till done then add sauce and noodles’ though I probably use more basil than he does.

    3. allathian*

      This works for people who enjoy cooking and like trying out other people’s recipes, but not so much for others. When I cook, I keep it simple enough that it doesn’t need a recipe, my husband likes more complicated cooking, like making lasagna from scratch, including making the tomato sauce and white sauce from scratch. He draws the line at making the pasta himself, though!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Sending it to clients is a little weird. But we did something like that internally with our team and three others and called it a virtual potluck. :)

    5. WFH with Cat*

      Hmmm … maybe that region is on to something. Some people like that kind of thing – especially these days when so many people are relying on their own kitchen skills to get thru the day. Granted, it’s not the standard corporate gift, and how it’s presented will matter a good bit, but this might be a nice gesture as part of a larger, ongoing communications program.

    6. Ally McBeal*

      I agree with the others who think this is a nice idea – especially this year, when many people are cooking at home much more often. It may also fit that region’s local culture – this would fly VERY well in the South and Midwest.

  8. Anonny*

    Good to know there’s very little difference between a bunch of employed adults and a bunch of 14-15 year old girls when there’s a large phallic gag gift involved.

  9. Tasha*

    “Just tacky enough to hold a dildo” and “very well rounded for an accountant” gave me a much needed LOL today.

  10. Chinook*

    OP #6 – As someone with similair genetic skin paleness, I am glad you had a sense of humour about it, especially since an epi-pen can cause major issues if you do not need it.

    I have had a similar conversation with a doctor when I went in with a 2nd degree burn on my leg I got while ATVing (accidentally put bare skin on engine cover). He took one look at my flushed face and was concerned that I was ill and needed immediate treatment. Never mind the giant blister on my calf, the butterfly rash on my face was more important! It took five minutes of explaining that I am half Irish and that the blush was perfectly normal during the heat of summer before he even looked at the burn I came in for.

    Once he realized his bias, we both started laughing because he admitted that he had heard about skin so pale that it reacted like mine did but he had never actually seen it on a healthy patient before. I then pointed out other anomalies that go with it like my eye colour changing the more tired/drunk (they turn more green) I am and how it is impossible for me to tan (I go white – red- white). It made for a great distraction while he bandaged up my (very white but bubbly) burn.

    1. Amber Rose*

      My eyes also become a more vivid green when I cry. Eye color is weird. I’m not Irish but I do have some distant ancestry from my dad’s side and I guess that was enough to give me the same skin and eyes.

    2. KnittyKnerd*

      Wait, this is a thing?! My eyes have always changed colors between blue and green and I get incredibly (and embarrassingly) flushed at the slightest exertion. I also can’t tan to save my life. I thought it was just me lol

      1. Les yeux pers*

        When I lived in Montreal I was told my eyes are “pers” (pronounced rather like “pear”); more specifically, “Tu as des yeux pers!” It was described as a light eyed version of “hazel.” My eyes vary between blue, green, & gray depending on the weather & what I’m wearing. Haven’t had anyone tell me they vary with mood or temper. I was glad to know there’s a name for it, if not in English.

          1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            I had no idea! I have that too. And my eyes go a vivid green when I cry!

            1. willow for now*

              I have no idea if my eyes change color when I cry, because they get swollen almost shut! I’m an ugly crier.

        1. alienor*

          My eyes are like that too – I have photographs of myself with blue, green, grey and hazel eyes, and in direct sunlight or if I cry, they’re bright , bright green. Every time I read complaints about how it’s unrealistic for characters in fiction to have eyes that change color, I’m just…maybe not as unrealistic as you might think!

        2. Falling Star*

          Pale skin, sunburn at 7 am, red cheeks!!! Only one I have ever known with that skin! I am not alone! My eyes vary in the amount of green. If they get a brilliant green and I am not smiling, just back away slowly. (does not happen often)

    3. Ann Onny Mous*

      Ah, yes. The lobster red to pasty white with no tan in-between. I know it well. A product of my British and German genes.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Me too (UK). I always thought it was very unfair that both my sisters are able to tan, and neither has the blush/flush at the slightest provocation skin, either.

        Although in fairness I do *also* have lots of skin sensitivities and one serious allergy so it’s not totally out of the question that I might need my EpiPen, although the time the I did have an anaphylactic reaction I was much redder than even the worst sunburn, (at least until I started to turn blue round the edges) and covered in hives as well. And would definitely not have been saying that I was fine, had I been asked!

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        I am British, Welsh, Scottish, German, Norwegian, and Swedish by ancestry. In other words, as white as you can possibly get.

        I’ve tanned so well in summer that I’ve been mistaken for Native American – which I have zero. Zip. Nada.

      3. Liz*

        this is me although I DO freckle. i joke that’s my tan. when the freckles come out. But other than that, i am paler than pale.

    4. Kelly L.*

      I’ve panicked a lot of people when my skin turned red over this or that. Nope, not sick, this is just my face. I flush when I’m hot, when I’m cold, when I’m drinking, when I’m happy, when I’m mad, when I’ve exercised, etc. Pretty much the only time I *don’t* look like a tomato is when I’m actually sick and get this pallid greenish look instead.

    5. allathian*

      I don’t have any Irish ancestry or the extreme light skin, but I do have grayish-blue eyes that change color a bit depending on my mood and the light. They don’t turn green or hazel, but various blue-gray shades. I try to avoid too much sun and use sunscreen religiously in spring and summer and stay in the shade, but I freckle rather than tan. My mom’s the same way, she freckles even more than I do. My face flushes very easily too. Unfortunately in my case it’s also combined with heavy sweating to the point that ordinary makeup won’t stay on and I refuse to use waterproof makeup that can’t be washed off with soap and water. So I’ve pretty much quit using makeup altogether.

    6. Mockingjay*

      Yep, I have rosacea flushing so severe to the point that I had to quit drinking alcohol altogether. The flush concentrates around my throat and my dermatologist and allergist were terribly alarmed that my throat could swell shut. They’d never seen anything like it. It’s instantaneous. Literally one drop of alcohol will trigger the reaction. English, Irish, and German ancestry, by the way. I carry Benadryl instead of an epipen.

    1. Media Monkey*

      oh i love that one. the vision on him glaring at her while playing “you’re so vain” and she is getting plastered with his colleagues!

    2. Argye*

      I love that one, but would LOVE to know what happened on Monday at that school. It sounded like, from the update, that paino dude wasn’t working there any more. Did he leave in shame? Did the nice teachers smack him with a clue-by-four? It might almost have been worth it for the OP to out herself just to get that info.

  11. Amber Rose*

    I love these stories so much, but it really bums me out more that we had to officially cancel our whole Christmas party yesterday. We were still going to do food and music, but since indoor gatherings at work are now banned it’s a no-go.

    I always have a lot of fun at our parties. I know that’s kind of an unpopular opinion, but I enjoy the alcohol fueled madness and the chance to let loose a little. I’ve definitely got those kinds of stories, but they’re funny with no lasting harm done.

    1. I Need That Pen*

      I love my company parties. Drinks, dancing, dinner, fun, and yes an occasional, “Did you hear what happened,” on Monday. I’ll miss it this year.

    2. Artemesia*

      Ours were great too — my boss did a really nice thing at her home and retirees were also invited — it was really lovely.

      Our local small opera is doing a Zoom Christmas party — since they have been endlessly creative in this time when you can’t do opera I am looking forward to it. They had to cancel this year’s season but they have a lot of young artists under contract who have seen their big chance go up in smoke and they have raised money to keep them paid and are doing concert like performances on line to substitute for the season — they will be singing at the party — so no food and drink but the singing part if always wonderful. I do appreciate brave people making the best of things.

      1. Les yeux pers*

        Oh, I’m so glad to hear that! Very cool that they have been able to pay them and find a way for them to perform. I wonder how many programs will keep their current young artists for next year, how many will keep to their regular cycle, & how many will find other ways forward.

        1. old curmudgeon*

          There is a local theater group in our area, just got up and running about ten or eleven years ago, and they have moved their entire 2020-2021 performance season to Zoom, along with committing to honoring ALL of their artist contracts. They do constant outreach to their audience, holding pop-up Zoom readings, Zoom trivia contests, just anything to keep their audience engaged and paying for performances, allowing them to remain in business and pay their artists and production staff.

          That particular theater company has gotten significantly larger donations from us this year than in most years. We’re not spending money on other stuff, and we want to support what they are doing because we appreciate their support of their artists.

  12. Mike B.*

    I feel kind of bad for reply-all, assuming he had really been snubbed by the firefighters earlier. He might not be a reliable narrator, though.

    1. Vichyssuave*


      This comment is not a knock against the volunteer (or paid) fire service, and I’m sure his comments weren’t meant to be one either. As someone who has spent many years adjacent to the field, being the odd man out amongst a group in a social setting can be real awkward. A lot of times our friends and family not in the industry will have to put a moratorium on shop talk at social events because otherwise it is ALL anyone will talk about. And often, even though it’s without any kind of malice, you will be excluded from the conversation if you don’t have anything fire-relevant to add.

      1. Brett*

        Yep, I worked in a firefighting adjacent area for several years, where I routinely ate lunch and occasionally dinner with them. As soon as you reach a critical mass of firefighters at a table, you might as well sit somewhere else because it will be nothing but shop talk. Some might think that every group does this, but firefighters were far worse than other groups. I think only the hydrologists and meteorologists were as bad as them about shop talk in a social setting.

    2. Cercis*

      I do too. I’ve been put at tables where no matter what I try, they totally freeze me out. Usually because they are so busy talking amongst themselves that they won’t try to figure out something we can all talk about (like the time I ended up in a group of skydivers, I’ve never jumped from a plane, I don’t ever want to jump from a plane, but that was all they wanted to talk about – comparing stories about jumping from planes, I tried to laugh and bring up that I have trouble stepping off the platform when I zipline so I can’t imagine jumping out of a plane and they just rolled their eyes and explained that ziplining is NOTHING like jumping out of a plane which led to me going “ummm, no shit, hence why I can’t imaging jumping out of a plane” luckily in that situation there was an open seat at another table so I just made an excuse and switched tables).

      It’s a horrible experience and I know I’d ask for a change of tables too. Hopefully I’d figure out a more tactful way to say it, but if it’s someone not used to being on the outside looking in like that, it probably wouldn’t occur to him to be tactful.

      1. tangerineRose*

        At a table full of strangers, as long as the conversation is going well, I’m usually OK with it. I can get kind of shy (maybe very shy), and this way I don’t have to try to make conversation. I can mostly smile and eat.

        1. Bagpuss*

          A table full of strangers is OK, if they (or some of them) are strangers to each other as well as to you.

          A table of people who all know each other very well, where you don’t know any of them, is much less fun, as even if the group doesn’t exclude you deliberately you are liable to get left out and to feel like an intruder.

      2. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Ugh, I once got stuck at a table with four Ironman athletes. These were people who, when they weren’t at work, breathed and ate Ironman. And they clearly had no use for me when they discovered I don’t even do triathlon. I can usually find some sort of common ground with people and get chatting about something, but not these people. It was perhaps the most socially awkward night of my life.

        1. Cercis*

          It just leaves it open to interpretation. And people will leap to interpret it to mean “he hates firefighters, he’s such a jerk, doesn’t he know that they’re volunteers and we need to fall all over ourselves loving them”.

          So if I did it, it’d be something like “hey, let’s switch up the table assignments this year, I want to be sure I spend time with as many employees as possible. Last year I sat with the volunteer firefighters, this year why don’t I sit with the tree planters?”

          1. TechWorker*

            Right – but clearly he made the reply all mistake and thought he was replying to one HR or events person that he trusted, not to everyone. I do also feel some sympathy for him! The audience was the offensive bit, not what was actually said.

      3. tamarack and fireweed*

        I think this story illustrates the value of tact. Being able to make this request without stepping onto anyone’s feet is a useful art. If the board member had written “Could I request to be seated at a table that has a group of diverse people so that no one is the odd one out?” it would not have been nearly as embarrassing when it accidentally went to everyone. Try to formulate a request as a positive – what you want, not what you want to avoid. There’s no need to complain about firefighters or skydivers specifically, even if they happened to behave with less than expected levels of social and conversational grace in the past.

  13. danr*

    Thinking back to my first Christmas party at what became my dream job. I agreed to participate in a Secret Santa (and had it explained since I had never done one.) I had just started working in September, I was the only male in the department and I have a full beard. The person who drew my name was stumped so they got the typical fall back present for men. Aftershave.

    1. allathian*

      Oh dear. This is why I don’t like Secret Santas and refuse to participate in them. I’m not overly keen on buying presents for my loved ones or friends, so buying something for a half-stranger is far too much work. When I participated in our office Christmas parties I did bring a present that could be handed out at random. The most fun was when people took a look at what others got and did swaps, no big deal.

  14. Urdnot Bakara*

    Absolutely dying at number 1. Also, I have seen number 13 on here before, but “Our Christmas party planning (once again) ended in tears” gets me every time.

    1. Arts Akimbo*

      I’m picturing Angela Martin and her philosophy of party planning, which was “to prepare for every possible catastrophe.” xD

    1. Finland*

      If she did, this would be the song:

      OOW….she’s in a brick…HOUSE.
      Her God is mighty with the Holy Birth planned out.

      She’s in a brick…HOUSE.
      That lady’s blessed above the rest
      Got the Wise Men impressed.

  15. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    This morning I was thinking about impending holiday work events and thought to myself, “I swear I read about a grown woman throwing a tantrum and stealing a prize.”
    Yep. It wasn’t a dream/nightmare

  16. Gray Lady*

    #7 clearly took place at a failing paper company in Scranton, PA. The boss’s wife was Jan and LW was one of the long-suffering interns.

  17. Elizabeth West*

    I remembered the boobs but thank you so much for repeating the Hanukkah balls story.

    (Newcomers to AAM: if you ever see anyone say “Holy Hanukkah balls” here, that is the origin of that phrase.)

  18. Green great dragon*

    Some truly delightful turns of phrase (as so often with AAM comments). From the well-rounded (for an accountant) person to “I accidentally ended up in charge and did not have the energy to veto anything”

  19. Felis alwayshungryis*

    The dirty elf is exactly the sort of puerile thing that would make me break out in snorts periodically for the next week.

    Props to that legal team.

  20. Works in IT*

    Mom once had a boss who was Jewish. His wife loved Christmas trees and the way they look, so every year she put up a tree and called it a “Hanukkah bush”

      1. Rayray*

        There was a story of someone using Christmas ornaments as “Hanukkah Balls” so Works in It was sharing a similar story from their own life because a similar event happened.

        1. PizzaBagel*

          Honestly, as a Jewish person, this read as an offensive comment. I was trying to get more context.. Some Jews do have Hanukkah bushes. It’s not a funny joke or the same as having a coworker try to throw their religion down your throat at work.

  21. Analyst Editor*

    I don’t know, one of my favorite holiday decorations I’ve seen was in a Russian neighborhood – a tree decorated entirely with Hanukkah-themed ornaments, in blue and white.

    1. Rebecca1*

      If they were Russian, that would be a New Year tree, which is a secular symbol distinct from Christmas.

  22. Bilateralrope*

    I see the link to the dragon video call story and I’m wondering how many times something like that happened this year.

  23. Anon for now*

    I’m imaging #14 with some of my former coworkers. Except the CEO banned shots after one infamous holiday party

  24. Zelda*

    Thanks to the wonders of the Roman alphabet (and maybe a bit too much Riesling while waiting for the turkey to be done), I read the end of #6 as “what an intro to the world of Corporate Christmas Panties.”

  25. WS*

    I’m from a warm climate and I had no idea that you could blow on a frozen body part to remove it from metal! I thought you had to pour warm water on it!

    1. Bryce*

      Water is tricky because if it’s too hot it’ll cause harm, and too cold it’ll just freeze and add to the problem. Usually better to avoid doing that. General warm air and time.

  26. Angstrom*

    Ah yes…….there’s always someone for whom the words “open bar” completely eclipse “work event”…….

    Unrelated but fun: If anyone is thinking of singing for their Christmas party from atop a piano, here’s a master class in doing it gracefully:

    Happy Holidays!

  27. HarryBadger*

    Reminds me of the Secret Santa that got Secret Santa’s banned at one of my first “real jobs”. Despite being fine in previous years, the admin assistant was organising it for the first time and the gift giving became farcical as people tried to score points or embarass each other.

    Some highlights :
    A ginger haired guy got hair dye
    An older gentleman with terrible breath was given breath mints. He was pretty unkind but even then it was too much.
    An attractive early 20s woman got given massage oil.
    As a scotsman – someone got me a haggis. Didn’t refrigerate it either.

    Me? I got the admin assistant and because I knew he’d got the early 20s woman, I bought him the same gift he bought her to freak him out. It worked.

  28. Former Employee*

    I may be one of the few people who did not think that Hanukah story was funny.

    It wasn’t “Jane’s first Christmas”. It probably wasn’t even the first time that some Christian person tried to get “Jane” to abandon her religion and celebrate Christmas.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      I think there are a lot of people, including Christians, who don’t find it funny. I don’t think it was necessarily meant to be ha-ha-funny – but it’s the kind of situation that, hopefully, Jane is able to find some humor in now, several years later.

      I mentally flagged that “Jane’s first Christmas” thing in the same way you did, and it might not have even been the first time someone’s tried to force Christmas on her. My college’s interfaith council had exactly zero Jewish members when I was a student, because a few years previously, the Baptists on the council had attempted to convert all the Jewish members, so they quit in protest – and that was one of the reasons I (a Christian) chose not to join the IFC.

  29. OkapiFeels*

    Related to Hanukkah balls…

    I work in a public library. Last year I had a coworker who was planning an ornament-decorating program! Great! Until she told me she was buying blue and white craft supplies specifically for Jewish people. To…decorate ornaments.

    After some gentle prodding, it became clear that she’d just never been in a position to consider that a Jewish person, without a Christmas tree, really doesn’t have anywhere to stick ornaments. She tried to suggest that maybe they hung them from their menorah, or other locations, and I very gently was like…I don’t think so, hon. Order blue and white supplies if you want to, just don’t call them Jewish ornament supplies.

    She debated with me about this, and eventually I conceded the fact that there are blended families out there who celebrate both holidays, and might, conceivably, want blue and white ornaments. (At this point I should mention I’m married to a Jewish person.) She specifically ordered the supplies for those blended families, and nobody came to her program, and I only died inside a little.

  30. homework*

    I had a job in the financial industry right out of university. Some of the company’s Big Wigs were in town for our Christmas party and to fill some high level positions within the company. The Christmas party was held was at a fancy club with a comedian, dinner and dancing. What could go wrong? My frat-boy coworker was already heavy into the sauce during dinner and was laughing like a donkey at the comedian’s lame jokes. The best part of the evening was the dancing after dinner. The company had hired a “Santa” to walk around and give out candy canes, and when Frat Boy (who was going all out on the dance floor) saw Santa across the room, he yelled out “F&$K YOU, SANTA!”

    Evidently, Frat Boy did not get the big promotion he was hoping for as the Big Wigs were not impressed.

  31. Umiel12*

    I think in future lists it would be kind to leave out the story about the woman who lost her sobriety and humiliated herself. That’s actually a tragic story.

Comments are closed.