the bootleg CDs, the rare books department, and other stories of holiday mayhem

All this week I’m going to be sharing holiday stories from years past. Here are 12 more.

1. 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.”

2. 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.”

3. The mushroom casserole

“My first ever work holiday party (for a small elementary school, at the principal’s house) was crazy. I had gone back and forth over whether or not it was appropriate to bring a bottle of wine along with our potluck contribution. I decided not to. Our admin was already drunk when we arrived. Throughout the night several people got very drunk, another teacher hit on my partner in front of everyone, and my coworker’s spouse got into a weird argument about dogs with the principal. One guest had brought a mushroom casserole, which he admitted was entirely foraged from the woods by the school- after everyone had eaten it. The highlight of the night was a preschool teacher’s husband dropping his pants to show off an almost life-size, full color tattoo of the cast of a certain Netflix original scifi 80’s show. The inebriated admin disappeared halfway through the party and from what I heard spent the night in the principal’s daughter’s bed (she was away at college). If anyone from said school is reading this, I’m sorry for spilling the beans, and I had a GREAT time :)”

4. 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.”

5. The holiday party tears

“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.”

6. The unintended message

“When I first started college I got an on-campus job so I mainly worked with other students. As an 18-year-old freshman, I was the youngest person there, and most of the other student workers were between 3-5 years older than me. There was a guy Fergus who was one of the older student workers and I remember thinking that he was very cool and I was much less worldly than he was. He had mentioned going camping several times so I also was impressed that he was outdoorsy (I was easily impressed at the time, and clearly pretty sheltered).

We would all attend the same parties and one weekend Fergus was having a birthday party and he invited everyone from work. I was excited to be invited to the party and went to get him a small birthday present. Since I was too young to buy a bottle of wine and didn’t have a lot of money I went to a store that sold novelty shot glasses because that was the only thing I could think of.

I saw a shot glass that said ‘I Hunt Beaver’ with a picture of a beaver on it and since I was so naive and sheltered I took it at face value and thought it was perfect because he was into “the outdoors” and I assumed that meant hunting. This was also during the time that everyone had “vintage” t-shirts that had random expressions. I did NOT know the other lewd and true meaning of the statement.

So I bought that obscene shot glass and gave it to him at the party in front of people. I remember he looked a bit perplexed but I didn’t think anything of it until another coworker told me what it meant and I was so mortified that I really don’t even remember much about that night afterward and I was too embarrassed to explain to him. I think I avoided him at work for a good two months afterward. Shudder.”

7. The mistaken gift

“At my first job, we had a secret Santa and my friend drew my name. On the day of the event, he accidentally brought his boyfriend’s gift instead of the one for me. We get to the point where folks are opening gifts and he realizes his mistake. He literally tackled me like he was jumping on a grenade to stop me from opening the gift. The gift was a holiday themed butt plug. He explained, apologized, and brought my gift the next day.”

8. The dog brush

“So my supervisor and his wife are known for the big annual holiday party they host at their home: great food, great booze, and lots of interesting conversations/stories/gossip (academia). For the first two years I worked with them I had missed their party to visit my inlaws for the holidays, but the third year the party was held a week early so I was able to go with my husband. Now, all of the people I work for and with are really nice to start with, so we were given a warm welcome and glass of wine as soon as we walked in the door. THEN everyone learned that it also happened to be my birthday that day, and pretty much EVERYONE decided they needed to bring me a drink or do a shot with me to celebrate. I got hammered pretty quickly. Fortunately, my husband was there to be my designated driver and keep an eye on me while I gave a passionate speech about how much I loved my job, and had one of those ‘You’re so amazing! No YOU’RE so amazing! I love you so much! No, girl I love YOU so much!’ conversations with a similarly smashed colleague. I then discovered my supervisor’s ancient and adorable golden retriever, shouted ‘Somebody get me a brush for this dog!’ and spent the last hour or two (?) of the evening cuddling and brushing him, telling my boss that I was going to kidnap his dog (I didn’t) and that this was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! Not gonna lie, it is still, in fact, one of my favorite birthdays.”

9. The bootleg CDs

“In the mid-2000s, I was a receptionist for the C-level suite. For some reason, the exec who was in charge of holiday gifts for staff that year decided I needed to help them instead of their assistant. I was directed to make bootleg copies of Josh Groban’s Christmas album, complete with a custom sticker on the CD and CD case with our company logo and ‘Happy Holidays!’ on it for every one of our employees. I created the sticker and case artwork and sent it over to exec for approval. They decided they wanted to make their own… using WordArt and such. It was awful.”

10. The rare books department

“I’ve changed up a couple of details from this being super recognizable, but I used to work in a rare books department in a library. People who work in rare books tend to have pretty esoteric passions that lead them there, and these were always on full display at said party. My favorite selections from over the years:

-The brand new head of the department wanted to show off a bit at his first Christmas party, give a speech… and sing ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ with his 21-year-old, fresh out of college secretary. I was on the party planning committee and tried to veto it politely by asking an HR assistant (also on the committee) who sang part-time in a professional choir if he’d prefer to lead everyone in some secular holiday songs instead, but the secretary thought I was insulting her singing ability, angrily told me that she’d been singing since she was a little girl, and burst into tears. The meeting then awkwardly ended.

(In the end, we printed out the lyrics to ‘Let It Snow’ and had a very, very bad a cappella sing-along after the bar had been open for a while.)

-Staff members made medieval hot possets based on a recipe found in a book in the library. Possets are basically cream, egg, spices, and white wine. I didn’t care for the taste since the medieval palate is very different from the modern one, but others did, and didn’t realize how much wine was in the recipe. One of the fellows I only vaguely knew by sight got extremely drunk. He broke the thermostat off the wall, looked at it confusedly, and then in what I can only describe as ‘a Mr. Bean-esque fashion’ stuck it back on the wall. Surprisingly it held there long enough for me to fetch facilities.

-I wasn’t here for this one, but after the posset incident, I heard about a previous party where staff members decided to make a Victorian flaming punch bowl, one where you mix of bunch of different spirits together and stick a sugar cone in it, then set the cone on fire. Fire, sugar, and the Victorian equivalent of a Long Island Iced Tea? What could go wrong?

Quite a bit! As soon as they set the sugar cone on fire, the whole thing went up in a FWOOM of flame and the curtains behind the punchbowl caught fire. I always got different answers about what happened next– either the sprinkler system went off, or someone fetched the emergency fire extinguisher from the break room, or possibly both– but that staff party ended very early, and with no one eating or drinking anything.”

11. The incident

“One year, after an (I thought) perfectly normal Christmas party, we received a company-wide email stating that alcohol would now be banned at company events due to “the incident.” I asked around, and it turned out that one of the guys from another department, who everyone had assumed had just left early, had actually… not done that. Instead, his supervisor noticed that his car was still in the parking lot two hours after he’d ‘left,’ and gotten concerned. She eventually found him passed out on the floor in the breakroom, naked.”

12. The rescued rib

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

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

{ 221 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. The Smiling Pug*

    Reading these holiday party stories makes me want to go and thank everyone in my department for being sane humans around this time of year.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia*

      they are all pretty funny except the mushroom casserole — once you have eaten a poison mushroom you are dead; it may take a week to die, and you may ‘get better’ for a couple days before your liver shuts down, but once you have eaten it, there is no medical treatment and you die. This one is terrifying.

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      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Agreed. My dad majored in botany when he was in undergraduate, and to this day, he doesn’t eat mushrooms.

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      2. Anhaga*

        It really depends on the mushroom–there are fewer super-dangerous ones than people realize, and the vast majority of ‘don’t eat those’ mushrooms are toxic (meaning they’ll make you gastrointestinally unhappy) rather than full-on poisonous. The biggest danger comes when a person tries to forage mushrooms on a new continent, as the lookalike mushroom problems often vary significantly from continent to continent.

        It sounds like the co-worker actually knew what they were doing, given that the poster didn’t note that anyone got sick. If you’re an experienced, careful mushroom hunter, you can make really delicious food from foraged mushrooms (many of which do *not* have dangerous lookalikes). The saying in the myco-hunter communities here in the US is “there are bold mushroom hunters and old mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”

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        1. La Triviata*

          I once heard a story – supposedly true – about a family that were experienced mushroom hunters. So they made a dish that was pretty much foraged mushrooms. The family cat was begging for some of the mushroom dish, so she got some. Then the cat started yowling and writhing around; the family assumed they’d mis-foraged something and headed for the ER. They tried to catch the cat to go to the emergency vet, but she eluded them and they wanted to get themselves to the ER as soon as they could. They had their stomachs pumped and kept overnight so the doctors could keep an eye on them.

          The next morning, they were released from the hospital and headed home, expecting to find a dead cat. She was fine, met them at the door … and introduced the family to her new litter of kittens.

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          1. Autumnheart*

            They didn’t know she was about to give birth?! Very pregnant cats look like bowling balls with ears.

            Better safe than sorry though.

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        2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

          I came here to comment something along these lines. As long as the forager is experienced, I’d be delighted to eat a wild mushroom casserole! There are a ton of really delicious mushrooms you can only get wild-foraged because they’re not farmable or are generally not in enough demand to be farmed. Chanterelles, morels and lobster mushrooms all come to mind as commonly seen on menus at fancy restaurant examples.

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          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Agreed – very impressed with their safety precautions. Also super happy that the kitty is okay. Maybe now a visit to the vet for a spay is in order?

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        3. Metadata minion*

          Yeah, I happily took variously-prepared batches of hen of the woods from my neighbor this fall since we had an absolute bumper crop in this area. I trust him, and most of the lookalikes for that around here are just not particularly tasty rather than actively toxic. I would also be confident myself picking either morels or giant puffballs, since seriously nothing looks anything like either of them once you’ve seen one in person. But if a random coworker I didn’t know particularly well brought in foraged mushroom casserole, I’d want to ask a lot of questions to make sure they really did know what they were doing, rather than find out afterward.

          My assumption is that someone bringing mushrooms to a staff potluck knows what they’re doing and cooks with them all the time, but the consequences for someone turning out to have unexpectedly bad judgement are pretty dire.

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          1. DJ Abbott*

            Late to this thread, but I just want to say there are a lot of people who think they know what they’re doing when they actually do not. I would not trust anyone who says they know what they’re doing with poisonous substances and less I had seen them work and understand it well enough to be sure they actually do.

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        4. Love to WFH*

          The issue is consent. If someone wants to gather mushrooms and share delicious food with friends in their own home, with full disclosure up front, that’s great. There is no way to be sure everyone at a potluck knows that they’re about to eat something potentially dangerous — and they didn’t even try to let people know. I would have been LIVID if this happened to me. I would have wanted them fired.

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          1. Mid*

            You would try to get someone fired over a casserole? That’s….very over the top. It’s not like he snuck pork in the casserole after telling his Muslim coworkers there was no pork in it, or lied about peanuts to someone with a peanut allergy. He made a mushroom casserole, with mushrooms in it, he didn’t slip arsenic in the dish.

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          2. SimplytheBest*

            Would you also expect someone to tell you up front the food they brought was made using vegetables they grew in their own garden or the chickens they keep?

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            1. Mongrel*

              How many of those have the potential to be poisonous if misidentified?
              The mere fact that they’re homegrown would imply that they’re already curated before a potentially hapless co-worker gets their hands on them.

              Bringing a dish of foraged anything means that you have to trust, with zero knowledge, that the person is competent enough in identifying what they’ve foraged and prepared it correctly rather than gotten enthusiastic after a weekend binge of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

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            2. marvin the paranoid android*

              No, I think foraged mushrooms are actually a whole different deal. Mushroom identification is really, really difficult and the consequences for screwing up can be fatal. To be a good forager you absolutely need to have a strong sense of caution. I wouldn’t trust anyone who didn’t have the sense not to bring foraged mushrooms to a potluck.

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              1. Kal*

                In my experience, responsible foragers are exceptionally happy to talk about all of the details about how and often where they foraged the specific mushrooms in a given dish, and will make sure people are aware before anyone eats it. If someone doesn’t tell anyone that the mushrooms were foraged before it was eaten then I don’t trust them to be a safe, responsible forager.

                Even aside from the specific dangers of mushroom foraging, ingredients really should be disclaimed when it comes to potlucks. When my partner brings even something as simple as chocolate chip cookies to work events, they always have a written label with potential allergens and such, as well as a label that my partner is the one who made it, so anyone who is concerned about the conditions they were prepared in can ask about it. Its not really that much work.

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                1. IndustriousLabRat*

                  “responsible foragers are exceptionally happy to talk about all of the details about how and often where they foraged the specific mushrooms”

                  ^^^^This!!! ^^^^ I’m a mushroom forager and still won’t eat other experienced foragers’ finds without grilling them first (the forager, not the mushroom; though the latter can often also be grilled to lovely effect). This is because edibility can vary from person to person and can depend upon the growth substrate. The example that comes to mind is one of my favorite mushrooms around here (New England), orange chicken-of-the-woods, a large and delicious tree-shelf mushroom with no lookalikes, and which makes me REALLY sick to my stomach if it grew on pine. So if someone brought undisclosed wild fungi to a potluck, I’d be miffed, at the very least.

          3. tamarack & fireweed*

            Yeah, I dunno. Being transparent about the ingredients in the potluck food you bring should be standard think – I’ve lately always delivered a piece of paper with my contributions. And unlike pound cake, brownies or apple pie, or mashed potatoes, where you’d have a good idea of what the range of standard ingredients is, anything that contains non-obvious really has to be labeled (meat in a not-obviously non-vegetarian dish, egg, milk, nuts, and, yes, wild-foraged foods).

            An incident like this I think should lead to a labeling policy. However, how serious this was really depends on whether the person actually endangered someone or not. An experienced mushroom gatherer who once a year goes out to the same spot to get king boletes or chanterelles (super safe mushrooms) would quite possibly not realize that others are mistrustful of this any more than being mistrustful of a roast chicken, a salad (salmonella!) or deviled eggs (food poisoning!). Because this is where king boletes and chanterelles come from. I think actual danger matters – and if there is none, he should be admonished to label things clearly in the future. Now there are definitely colleagues who, if they claimed to have made a wild foraged mushroom dish, I would have eat from it first and observe them for an hour or so…

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            1. tamarack & fireweed*

              *I would have *them* eat from it first…

              (Where I live wild foraged foods and hunted meat is standard, considered a delicacy, and also being iffy about it on principle would be problematic given the cultural demographics. However, mushrooms aren’t part of traditional foods here, and other than morels and chicken-of-the-wood, I am particularly careful about them event though I *used* to forage for mushrooms a lot back in Europe. The same species in a different region can lead to GI upset. Now when my co-worker who is running a whole research project around community-foraged morels after wildfires brings a mushroom dish, I will tuck in happily – and wouldn’t even expect it to be anything other than wild foraged.)

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        5. PeanutButter*

          Yeah, I must be a bit too PNW to understand why it would be a big deal – in my circles foraged mushrooms were a totally expected ingredient, especially around chanterelle season.

          IME as a paramedic for almost 10 years, the only mushroom poisonings I saw were small children who saw something colorful in the yard and put it in their mouth.

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        6. Artemesia*

          A young member of a California winery family managed to kill himself with wild mushrooms a few years ago . Mushrooms are not worth the risk. In France pharmacists are trained to assess the safety of mushrooms, so if you gather them you can take them to the pharmacy to be vetted. I still wouldn’t eat them.

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          1. Annonikins*

            When I lived in the PNW about 30 years ago, it was common for people to forage for magic mushrooms. To avoid accidental poisonings, people were allowed to take the mushrooms to the Nearest Local Hospital ER so they could be evaluated as safe psychedelics or toxic.

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        7. Grethe*

          Yeah, a family of immigrants died from that in Denmark a few years back. They were experienced mushroom hunters in their home country but the safe ones they thought they were gathering were actually poisonous look-a-likes here. It was so tragic.

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          1. Grethe*

            Correction: Just found the article. 11 out of the family of 12 from Congo was poisoned but “only” 2 of the children died. Still tragic.

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          1. Mongrel*

            And that still doesn’t make it right.

            “Oh this thing that could have had consequences didn’t, therefore it was OK” is just gaslighting

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      3. MSB*

        It’s pretty easy to learn to distinguish edible (and delicious) mushrooms. My husband and I forage 50lbs+ of porcini every year.

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      4. allathian*

        It really depends, but some mushrooms can be very dangerous. One of my dad’s coworkers ate poisonous mushrooms by accident and her kidneys failed. Luckily she got a transplant from her identical twin, but AFAIK she’s never eaten mushrooms since.

        Foraging for berries and mushrooms is a traditional activity here. I went as a kid with my family, but haven’t done it as an adult. The number one rule is that you only pick mushrooms you can identify 100%. Chanterelles are easy.

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      5. Beth Jacobs*

        This is probably a cultural thing. Here in Eastern Europe kids start foraging for mushrooms with their family once they start walking and mushroom taxonomy is a part of the science school curriculum. I would have no qualms eating a casserole made by an experienced forager.

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      6. BeenThere*

        Every couple of years a few folks die from eating death cap mushrooms foraged in my home country unfortunately these look very similar to straw mushrooms. It’s always sad because it’s usually folks that have migrated to the country within recent years and you can imagine them being homesick for certain dishes.

        If someone fed me foraged mushrooms without my permission I would never speak with them again. I couldn’t imagine that would ever be acceptable.

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      7. Dr Sarah*

        Since it’s being presented as a comedy and not a tragedy, I assume that in fact all the mushrooms were OK. However… my goodness, it would have been terrifying at the time.

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    2. FrenchCusser*

      I’ve never been to a work party where alcohol was served. That’s just never been the culture anywhere I’ve worked.

      These stories make me glad of that.

      Reply
      1. Metadata minion*

        Some of the all-campus events have alcohol but they’re on campus and right at the end of the work day, so they’re the sort of thing where you might have one glass of wine or cocktail. Getting noticeably drunk is Not Done and I’ve never felt at all left out for picking the hot chocolate or (nonbooze) cider or whatever instead. Having a serious-alcohol type party through work would just feel so bizarre.

        Weirdly, my profession (librarian) is notorious for getting *plastered* at conferences, but only conferences.

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        1. Love to WFH*

          A friend who was an English professor once mentioned how much she enjoyed going out drinking with the librarians. ;-)

          Reply
        2. Anon for this, but trust me, I know...*

          Librarians and children’s book authors: people who cannot be trusted with an open bar, in the best possible way.

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        1. londonedit*

          Also publishing! These days actually drinking at work is pretty much not the norm anymore but most offices in publishing companies will have a few bottles of fizz and/or gin and/or wine lying around from the last end-of-day birthday drinks for someone. There’s a whole wine fridge where I work which is mainly used for book launches but also for any other events that might be happening. Work lunches always involve wine and so does the Christmas party (in normal times, we haven’t had one for two years now). I mean obviously there are people who don’t drink at these things and that’s not a problem, and it’s not like everyone gets wasted the whole time, but alcohol is definitely on the menu (helps that this is also Britain where alcohol is generally on the menu anyway).

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        2. TardyTardis*

          Our accounting section had an open bar *once*. Nothing flashy at the party, and yet the first DUI was at 8:30 pm despite the presence of taxis laid on for the Temporarily Bewildered. Oops.

          Though even the ticket system can be manipulated, because you can always talk a co-worker who doesn’t drink out of there, and some would be left on tables as guests left for the evening.

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      2. thatjillgirl*

        I have been to several, but I’ve never encountered someone who didn’t have the self-awareness to realize that getting very drunk at a work event was probably not a good idea. I’ve seen some tipsy people, but never someone as drunk as what you hear in these stories. Most people practice a little restraint in front of the boss.

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    3. Candace*

      Yes! Had the same response, and am SO glad my staff are basically sane, and that we usually hold the annual holiday party after Christmas, since everyone is holiday-partied out by then, as there are usually a few dozen get-togethers on my campus. We have a quiet get together in mid-January, kind of themed as “Hey, we made it through another year!” It’s been harder lately – a beloved long time staff member died of cancer just before Christmas last year, and several people have lost family and friends to COVID -so no one feels totally celebratory. Hence, the quiet parties. No alcohol is allowed on our campus at all, except for specific licensed events, and staff parties don’t count. So at least no one is drunk.

      Reply
  2. Red Wheelbarrow*

    I’m especially fond of the dog-brush story (#8) because the drunken escapades end up being so wholesome and happy!

    Reply
        1. Metadata minion*

          Yup, same here. Or sleep deprivation. Usually not getting enough sleep makes me cranky, but when just the right balance of neurotransmitters hits I am happy and fluffy and I love EVERYONE.

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          1. quill*

            I learned the hard way that after 11 pm I get stupid no matter how much sleep I have had.

            I was a hit at high school and college parties…

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      1. SelinaKyle*

        Came here to say the same. I would have found the dog within seconds of arriving. Then I would have stayed with dog all night stone colder sober. That dog would have been bored of me first.

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    1. Rainy*

      Yes, me too! It’s just so cute, and I love the mental image of a smashed colleague demanding a dog brush and then spending the rest of the night snuggling with the dog.

      Reply
    2. Ally McBeal*

      I love those moments. I didn’t go out a lot pre-pandemic anyway, but the “drunk girl lovefest in the bathroom” was one of my favorite experiences when I did go out. I once drunkenly told a girl I loved her nose, and she started crying (with joy but also drunkenness) because she’d always been so insecure about the shape. I’m also well-known for disappearing during parties and being discovered in a quiet room with the cat or dog of the house.

      Reply
      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I have done this before as well. Animals are (frequently) sources of quiet companionship and love. Some holiday parties have made me believers that cats are frequently better company than drunks.

        Reply
  3. Empress Matilda*

    #5 is a classic. WE WILL HAVE ALL THE THEMES AT OUR PARTY!

    And #7! Hopefully OP’s friend was able to stop the gift-opening in time to avoid too much embarrassment. Also I assume OP, friend, and friend’s husband are sharing this story every chance they get, because it’s hilarious!

    Reply
      1. Archie Goodwin*

        I’ve said it before…you bring something store-bought, and when questioned respond: “I am not a cook.”

        Sorry. (But not very.)

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      2. Grits McGee*

        That was my story! The Nixon theming ended up being somewhat of a surprise; at the end of the planning meeting, we had 2 themes (sports jersey for the 2 people who wanted that, fall for the rest of the office). One guy volunteered to make the fliers, and when they went up on the bulletin boards I saw he’d decided to contribute his own theme. (Think big photo of Nixon, “I am not a cook!”, small print details for the potluck, fine print footnote about wearing sports jerseys.) And the Nixon theme ended up being oddly appropriate, since flier guy served everyone under-cooked chicken!

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        1. Archie Goodwin*

          All these years I’ve been making that joke whenever I see the story, and it was nearer the mark than I realized.

          I don’t know how I feel about that, to be honest.

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        2. Grits McGee*

          The holiday party after the zombie gummi fiasco was simultaneously “brunch” and “wear an animal onesie to our public federal building” themed. But that was after I had managed to extract myself from the party planning business.

          Reply
          1. Archie Goodwin*

            Well, regarding “public federal building” – I used to work for an agency whose legal office had a reputation, every holiday season, for putting on a spread that involved, shall we say, substances I wouldn’t expect to find up for consumption in a “public federal building”. The one year I went to check it out myself, apparently they decided it was a Bad Idea and went straight.

            I had…questions.

            Reply
            1. Love to WFH*

              Thanks to the pandemic and turning cameras on in Skype, I now know that three of my coworkers have animal-themed onesies. The shark one is the best.

              Reply
            2. Quoth the Raven*

              I do! I have a shiba inu one and it’s the most comfortable, warmest thing ever. I only really wear it during Winter because it’s a bit too warm during the rest of the year, but I want to get myself another one just to be able to switch models. I’ve also been known to walk my dog early in the morning (like around 5:30 AM) while wearing it.

              A friend of mine also received a dinosaur one for his last birthday, and he wore it throughout the get together (we’re all in our late 20s or early 30s, for the record).

              Reply
      3. Phony Genius*

        Well, if combined with sports jerseys and Halloween, I’m picturing Richard Nixon wearing a hockey jersey (probably Boston Bruins) wielding a bloody chain saw.

        Reply
  4. Robin Ellacott*

    I am just cackling at these, but especially the hijinks (FWOOOM!) in the Rare Book Department.

    I will be using “Mr Bean-esque” as a descriptor in future. So many uses.

    Reply
    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yup – esoteric hobbies and alcohol. Gotta love it but, yeah fire and alcohol are a very predictable outcome.

      Reply
    2. JB*

      I’m picturing Mr Bean trying to reattach a thermostat, looking proud when he achieves it and once he walks off someone comes because it was supposed to be replaced even before it came off.

      Reply
    1. Bananagram*

      All of them, but especially the historic booze and dedicated consumption thereof (source: am early modernist).
      On the other hand, for anyone who’s interested, that “Feuerzangenbowle” thing can work great and is very festive! When done… outdoors.

      Reply
      1. Industrial Tea Machine*

        My reaction to 10 was absolutely to chant FEUERZANGENBOWLE, FEUERZANGENBOWLE…

        I do Feuerzangenbowle indoors with the burner OFF, and we all say together “Pour from the ladle, not from the bottle” before I start adding the rum to avoid just this sort of thing. Safety first, flaming tongs punch second.

        Reply
    1. m m*

      Good thing that I wasn’t having my regular cup of post-lunch tea, as it would have been all over my keyboard and screen after reading this story!

      Reply
  5. Pipe Organ Guy*

    Reading these makes me thankful that we have a simple, pleasant catered lunch at (often) the home of one of the deacons, with a glass or two of wine, and some pleasant words, and that’s it.

    Reply
    1. CalypsoSummer*

      Well, yeah, but you don’t get any good stories out of it! A nice lunch, a pleasant few hours, and jovial camaraderie doesn’t lend itself at ALL to being able to start a tale, some years in the future, with, “I will never forget the time — “

      Reply
    1. Cat Tree*

      Since they all hated each other, it was probably suggested just to stir the pot, but the person got so into winning the argument that it ended up being included anyway.

      Reply
  6. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    These are classics! And, in the general holiday spirit, I have my own story to contribute:

    Several decades ago, I was working at a small nonprofit preschool for special-needs children. In early December, the director assembled the staff and announced that we’d be holding a “Secret Santa” gift exchange – with a twist. Each of us was to bring one small present (a $3 amount was suggested) every working day for TWO WEEKS for our Secret Santa recipient (yes, that’s 10 presents) and, on the Monday following those two weeks, to bring a really nice present for OUR Secret Santa. She also announced that anyone who didn’t think they afford this could speak up and be excused from the gift exchange.

    Nobody wanted to look poverty-stricken so nobody spoke up – but plenty of us resented the daylights out of this “tradition”! (Teachers at nonprofit preschools are NOT paid princely salaries, to say the least.) We wound up each spending about $50 that we could ill afford while quietly seething at the tone-deaf assumptions of the administrators.

    Reply
    1. TypityTypeType*

      Oh, my — not only the expense, but the TIME involved in all that! Many people can hardly find time to shop for the people they love, much less find nearly a dozen gifts (with one of them “really nice”!) for an office exchange.

      Reply
      1. CalypsoSummer*

        I’d have been wrapping up stuff from the Dollar Tree. Been yearning for a $1.99 ladle? Here you go! Wishing you had a cheap, ugly, plastic Christmas ornament? You’re in luck! Sad because you don’t have any Matchbox cars? Be sad no longer! Hoping to have a tiny bottle of shampoo? Your dreams have come true. Wishing you weren’t being laden down with a bunch of really awful, cheap junk? Umm, sorry, but —

        Reply
        1. Annonikins*

          @Calypso Summer I’d buy the cheapest box of holiday flavored hot cocoa or instant coffee packets and gift them 1 packet per day. LOL.

          Reply
      2. Gumby*

        I will say that I have had some really creative secret gift givers at one workplace where the expectation was a few small gifts rather than a big one. Not daily for 2 weeks, but around 3 or 4 over December IIRC. One person had candy delivered by different co-workers throughout the day so a bag of, say, mini-Snickers arrived at my desk over the course of several hours. Another made me a mix-CD of excellent dance music (by which I mean swing, waltz, redowa, tango, etc. because both she and I were part of the social dance scene which was big at college and we were both recent grads; I still listen to this ~20 years later). Another baked cookies in the shape of our company’s logo which he had to hand trace/cut since it’s not like it was a common cookie-shaped logo.

        Reply
    2. Cat Tree*

      I don’t think I would even want to receive a bunch of cheap gifts. I imagine most of them were junk? Maybe you could buy a nice Lego set and give a few pieces each day? Or maybe various snacks, tea, and candy? I just can’t imagine this going right for anyone.

      Reply
      1. GammaGirl1908*

        One of my offices did a secret Santa that went on waaaaaaaaay too long, but most people wandered away from it after a few days, instead of the month it was supposed to last. I think I was the only person who actually gave my recipient something every day, and that only because I figured out something free to do for her every day — I printed out a joke every day and left it for her.

        Reply
      2. Lunch Ghost*

        Yep, small candy and snacks. My middle school homeroom and a group I was in in college did Secret Santas this way. And you still weren’t required to give a gift every day! (Twice I had someone who I knew would appreciate me being ‘extra’, so for one I printed out a picture and cut it into puzzle pieces and one I printed a seasonal poem he liked and cut it into stanzas, and each got a piece a day, sometimes with candy.)

        Reply
      3. Love to WFH*

        One office did a Secret Santa where you could choose to sign up or not. I did, and didn’t enjoy the whole “find something they’d actually like but is really cheap” aspect but the STEALTH was so fun!

        Reply
      4. Filosofickle*

        I once had a Secret Santa who gave me a gift every day instead of one bigger one. From my perspective it seemed like a bunch of random junk from a dollar bin at a drugstore and said so to a friend…who was my Secret Santa. She was really hurt! From her perspective, she worked really hard to pick little things, like a pack of oyster crackers because I eat a lot of soup, but little cheap gifts didn’t appeal to me.

        Reply
    3. Dark Macadamia*

      This is way too much! I worked at a school where we did a week of gifts but the expectation was that M-Th you give a candy bar or other small item and the “big” Friday gift is like … $5 instead of $1.

      Reply
    4. anonaccountant*

      I also worked for a special education school about 5 years ago and we did something extremely similar! We did it over 4 weeks- one $5 gift a week for 4 weeks, then on the final day before we went on holiday break we had to present the main gift in front of the group at our Christmas party. The final gift had to be $25 minimum!! It was so ridiculous. I’ve never heard of a Secret Santa having a minimum before that!

      Reply
      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Yes to all the reply comments! I now work at a nonprofit educational organization that runs living history museums in the historic Hudson Valley region. One year a staff member suggested that, since all of us were lucky enough to have what we needed, perhaps we could make contributions to our local food bank instead of doing a secret gift exchange with each other. We all liked that idea; our contributions were, of course, up to us and no one was pressured to give anything. It was the perfect suggestion!

        Reply
        1. Asenath*

          I once worked in a place which was officially a single group, but (trying to be vague for anonymity) there were actually two sub-groups, informally. No serious rivalry, but they dealt with two similar groups of clients (and so didn’t actually work directly together although we shared office space and break areas etc.), and had rather different gift and celebration cultures – sort of lots of decorations and things like Secret Santa vs, well, none. It was surprising to me to see how easily a group can drift into two different cultures, or friend groups, or whatever you want to call them. I was in the “none” group. One year, one of the other members of the group suggested we (in our group) all pool the money we would have spent on little gifts for each other and give it to a charity. Within minutes, we’d all agreed with this and picked a local children’s charity to donate to. Quite unlike some of the workplaces described here, in this case both groups went along with their different ways to mark the holidays, and no one tried to pressure people from the other group to change how they did things.

          Reply
    5. anonymous73*

      I am in no way materialistic, but I don’t want 10 pieces of junk nor do I want to shop for 10 pieces of junk (because outside of a candy bar what can you buy for $3 but junk?). Ain’t nobody got time for all that. I’ve done the Secret Santa thing and it was fun, but not that involved. Not to mention the ONLY reason you could opt out is if you claimed you couldn’t afford it? Yeah that’s crap.

      Reply
    6. Butterfly Counter*

      Not Christmas, but we had to do something similar for high school softball. On the junior varsity team, we were each assigned a varsity player and before every game, we had to decorate their gym locker with something clever and some kind of candy. So, as a freshman, I had to purchase candy for WEEKS for a senior who I never even met because our practices and games were always completely separate. This was over two years before I could start working to earn more money than my allowance.

      Gosh, I’m still a bit mad about this.

      Reply
        1. PeanutButter*

          If it’s softball in the US all the players are most likely women. “Varsity” and “Junior Varsity” refer to the relative skill of the players, not their genders.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia*

            ah yeah my biases showing. I have been around high school and college sports programs where the cheerleaders or pom pom girls have to do elaborate goodies for the varsity team. Totally missed that this was softball and the second team honoring the first team — so I’m just wrong on this one.

            Reply
    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yup – betting the dog just soaked up all the attention. I’ve known a few older goldens – you will sit with me a love on me – please.

      Reply
      1. OyHiOh*

        I met a young golden once whose favorite pastime was to find a pair of human feet to sit on, and then quietly, sweetly expect lots of love and cuddles. He was the shop dog for an auto mechanic that catered to families. I suspect the dog was one of the reasons families liked his shop! (He did excellent work and was one of the more trustworthy mechanics I’ve known. Dogs don’t lie ;-)

        Reply
  7. mcfizzle*

    Who needs fiction when real life is so entertaining / horrifying? The frozen boob one is my current fav. Literal shudder.

    Reply
  8. the cat's ass*

    My workplace’s holiday parties are pretty well behaved; in the past they were at a posh waterfront bistro and everybody got dressed up. Then one of the principals, who has a side gig in a rock and roll cover band decided they were going to provide the entertainment (and they were terrible).

    After 2008 (that year was a potluck in the office lobby and a White Elephant exchange), we shifted to one drink-ticketed lunches a local places. One memorable lunch was a lot of fun, with a pre-chosen menu-squash bisque, veggie pasta with a romesco sauce followed by a citrus dessert. That’s right, the whole meal was ORANGE! Tasty but weird.

    Reply
  9. TimeTravlR*

    I always love people’s holiday party stories. The themed one reminds me of the time our new admin assistant decided the best theme for a winter holiday party would be… Mardi Gras. Beads. King cake. Everything in Mardi Gras colors. Including the Christmas balls hanging from the ceiling. I was very confused!

    Reply
  10. Blarg*

    I assume someone surreptitiously recorded the Nixon themed party? Everyone secretly backstabbed the others while Nixon sat in the corner nursing his grievances despite having managed to be elected *twice*?

    Also. Just so y’all know, the Nixon Library in California hosts weddings. Which … WHY??? I have so many questions for anyone who chooses to center a man who resigned in disgrace at their wedding.

    Reply
    1. Archie Goodwin*

      Hmmm. You’re making me want to consider getting married at the Warren G. Harding Presidential Center in Marion, Ohio.

      Mostly so that I can tell people, “Well, we got married at the Warren G. Harding Presidential Center in Marion, Ohio.” And then watch them respond, “What???”

      Reply
    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I think all of the presidential libraries host events don’t they? I know the Regan library, also in California, does. I think the generations removed from Nixon’s era would be less…IDK offended…by Nixon and his shenanigans. I’d raise an amused eyebrow at a wedding at Kennedy’s library only because he was well-known for not really taking wedding vows seriously.

      Reply
  11. Cute Li'l UFO*

    I’m in tears at all of these but someone insisting on someone having an allergic reaction is too much! Having had to stop a do-gooder from plunging one into my sternum was bad enough.

    Reply
    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I’m actually shocked that in this story – someone KNEW where the he!! you’re supposed to inject an epi-pen, and apparently were holding it in a way where they hadn’t already stabbed themselves with it!

      I carry them as an adult. I wind up showing those sitting nearest me that I trust how to use them with the trainer pens (no medicine or needle in those, they have the injection mechanics present so you learn how to use them) and make sure that the drawer they’re in is labeled. The number of times where I’ve said “uh, Wakeen, Fergus, you’d BOTH be bouncing off the walls by now because you’ve just injected yourself with the epinephrine….” is SIGNIFICANTLY greater than zero. I’ve also clarified that “this can go through a layer of denim, don’t worry about clothing”. Still, one out of two isn’t bad.

      Reply
      1. Ace in the Hole*

        A coworker of mine was accidentally stabbed in the thumb with a used epi-pen (not while attempting to use it… we’re garbage workers and it was in a trash bag). Even just the residual amount left in the injector was enough to send him to the ER for monitoring and they said he was lucky not to lose his thumb. Epinephrine is NO JOKE.

        Reply
  12. But For The Grace*

    This may be an unpopular opinion – Alison, can you put #4 to rest? This isn’t a funny story, it’s tragic and painful. I’m sure I’m not the only reader thinking “but for the grace of god go I.” As someone who has struggled with alcohol and just connived my way out of an office party for exactly this kind of fear, it’s a bit like being stabbed in the eye every year.

    Reply
    1. anonymous73*

      I fail to see how this story is tragic and painful, and the majority of these involve alcohol. Nobody is forcing you to read them.

      Reply
      1. Victoria, Please*

        I think it costs nothing to be kind. Yes, the majority of stories involve alcohol but #4 seems to be the only one that involves someone with a protracted painful and troubled relationship with it. If a member of the commentariat asks, gently — and courageously — as BFTG has done, for a story to be removed from the yearly amusement lineup, why not? There are sure plenty of other funny ones.

        Reply
      2. limotruck*

        I agree with But For The Grace. The story would probably be funny if not for the detail of a recovering alcoholic experiencing a relapse. There’s no comedy in that, and as someone with more than one addict in my family who’s had to fight tooth and nail for their sobriety, I really struggle with this story as well.

        Reply
      3. Ace in the Hole*

        This is a story about someone who struggled with a serious addiction, through great effort managed to stay in recovery for many years, and then had a humiliating and public relapse during a very stressful time of her life. For anyone who has struggled with addiction themselves or watched loved ones go through this, it certainly comes across as tragic and painful.

        The event itself would be humorous except for the context. If the same thing happened because it was someone’s first time drinking and they didn’t know their limits, or because there was a mixup about just how strong the punch was, etc. it would be a different story. But with the context we have, I can’t feel anything but sorry and horrified for the poor woman and I don’t like using people’s pain for entertainment without their express consent.

        Reply
    2. Empress Matilda*

      Yeah, I don’t love #4 either. If it were just “drunk lady gets her boobs frozen to the balcony railing; hilarity ensues,” I think it would land differently. It’s the first part, about a reformed alcoholic who started drinking again to cope with the breakup of her marriage, that makes me uncomfortable. You’re not alone in that, But For The Grace.

      Reply
    3. logicbutton*

      I agree, honestly. It was almost certainly one of the lowest points of that person’s life and it’s just kind of sad to think about.

      Reply
    4. Nanani*

      I agree, this one always leaves a bitter taste to read and feel a lot more “laugh at” than “laugh with” compared to the other stories.

      Reply
    5. Dr Sarah*

      You know, that’s a good point… and this also sounds like a really recognisable story if the boss in question ever comes across it. Imagine going through something that horribly embarrassing and then knowing the story was forever online.

      Reply
      1. But For The Grace*

        Oh my god I hadn’t even thought of that, especially as something we laugh at every year. I vicariously want to be swallowed into the floor just thinking about that.

        Reply
    6. But For The Grace*

      Thank you everyone <3 I was a little worried about getting wailed on here, and the support is appreciated.

      Reply
  13. Usagi*

    I somehow missed the rescued rib story until now! Love it! I had a coworker who would do very similar stuff: ask for people’s left over food (like he would come up behind you and ask, “are you gonna eat that?”), once fished a half eaten sandwich out of the trash (to be fair, it was right on top, and it was in a container), and he would often volunteer to clean out the fridge at the end of the week so that he could take home all the mostly-empty bottles of dressing, etc.

    But the thing I will forever remember him for was at a bbq with several people from the office. I was hanging out with the person manning the grill, and one of the burgers fell down into the charcoal. Oh well! Grill-master and I called it our sacrifice to the bbq gods, when the coworker rushed over (apparently he had seen the burger fall FROM ACROSS THE YARD?), wrenched the tongs out of the grill-master’s hands, fished the now white-with-ash burger from the grill, shook it like a polaroid picture, and then started munching on it. It was enough of a commotion that the whole party was staring at the guy; if this were a 90’s movie there would’ve been a record scratch.

    Reply
    1. Suzuke*

      The person eating the rib off the floor was bad but can we talk about the person who DIDN’T CLEAN UP THE RIB THEY DROPPED??? Who just does that and walks away? Argh, I was howling!!!

      Reply
  14. Matt*

    #4… I’ve gotten drunk at parties with a few heads of HR friends of mine and boobs always seem to come out when they’re involved.

    Reply
  15. Mary*

    I don’t have any wild holiday shenanigans to share. At my first corporate job though, the Corporate Secretary was always trying to cultivate more of a sense of community than other people in the department wanted, and she forced us all to do a white elephant exchange that was physically painful to sit through even while drunk. It was just all of us silently passing around a bunch of alcohol-related gifts (wine glasses, decanters, stoppers, accessories, etc.). Apparently our big boss hated it so much he put a stop to it and we never did one again.

    Reply
  16. holiday survivor*

    Oh boy do I miss being a spectator at greed-is-good era holiday parties at the stock brokerage I worked for. Party budget was bottomless, as was the bar (and the coke in the bathroom).

    Reply
  17. quill*

    I love the rare books department and the mistaken for allergies story, but the one thing I relate to is the dog one.

    Given a sufficient level of drunkness, I probably would have done the same thing.

    Reply
  18. skeezix*

    Now I need to go back and find the story about the woman who was someone’s date to a school holiday party, and ended up getting driven home by the “# RelationshipGoals” principal & spouse! :D

    Reply
  19. Robin Ellacott*

    I work in something addictions-adjacent so it’s never boozy-rowdy for us, but we do one of those gift exchanges at the party where people draw numbers and can steal each other’s wrapped gifts, and then we all unwrap en masse when the numbers have all been drawn. It’s usually quite raucous with people yelling out suggestions and shaking the packages.

    One year it had a surreal element added by the fact that, unknown to us, the hotel had put decorative wrapped “gifts” under the tree in the room we’d rented. Of course people chose them because they were big and pretty. So there was huge confusion at the end when people a) found there were gifts left over and b) started opening to find empty boxes that said TOILET BRUSHES: PACK OF 6 and similar.

    We still laugh about it every year, and specify no decorative gifts, please, to the hotel.

    Reply
    1. Rainy*

      This is amazing. We do a white elephant but you open the gift and there are elaborate stealing rules etc. One year there was an extra gift because a staff member had come down with a cold the day of the party but had her husband drive the gift over to the closest coworker’s house, and the coworker forgot to mention it, so there’s just one last random gift hanging out. It was donated to the person who had somehow ended up with the gag gift that was pretty much aimed at her, which no one wanted to steal, and was sitting in the corner with all the warning flags of being on the verge of throwing one of her epic tantrums about it (in case you wondered why there was a gag gift aimed at her in the first place). It was something nice, so no tantrum. She retired the next year because she was mad about some organization-wide changes that none of her tantrums could prevent.

      Reply
      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Oh dear! That kind of drama was why we made the “keep it wrapped” rule – we didn’t want people to feel sad or slighted if nobody liked their gift. At least she quit eventually!

        Luckily people here tend to honour the spirit of the thing and get nice gifts, and also cheerfully gloss over it when they end up with something they really don’t care for. But I’ve been in offices long enough to know that people can… surprise you.

        Reply
    2. OftenOblivious*

      I love it! Meanwhile the hotel staff is all, “They unwrapped the decorative gifts??? Ugh, now we have to wrap them again.”

      Reply
    1. Sabina*

      Me too! Can you imagine being Fergus in that scenario? A quiet, sheltered, overawed 18 year old coworker presents you with an obscene shot glass, then hides from you for the next 2 weeks, and there’s never any explanation? :D

      Reply
  20. Environmental Compliance*

    “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.”

    Every time I read this, I cannot help but crack up.

    Reply
    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I love from that story that the OP was able to find the humor in the incident (after the fact of course).

      Reply
  21. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #5 is great because “accidentally ended up in charge and did not have the energy to veto anything” hits me deeply in my soul

    Reply
  22. Name of Requirement*

    I misread “department” in#5 as “apartment” and enjoyed the idea of a set of four roommates having numerous party-planning committee meetings.

    Reply
  23. anonymous73*

    Even if you’re new to the working world, or don’t know the company culture yet, if someone won’t leave you alone about something, it’s okay to just tell them to STOP. And if they won’t stop, go get someone who will handle the situation, especially when someone is drunk. Intentions are irrelevant. I’m not a medical professional, but I imagine getting stuck with an epi-pen when you’re not having an allergic reaction will not have positive results.

    Reply
    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Best described as: Approximately six Red Bull’s worth of caffeine.

      There’s been one time where I’ve used mine when it was a false alarm. Typically I feel “normal” upon use, whereas the allergic reaction feels distinctly NOT normal. We opted to err on the side of caution that one time, and it was…uncomfortable until it wore off. Higher BP than I’m used to, and it felt like I’d slammed half a dozen energy drinks.

      (I also explain to my child that I’d rather her err on the side of caution…because using when you don’t need it is a fairly neutral result, but waiting to make sure can have severely negative results. My own reactions tend to go from about a 1 to life threatening in minutes so my experience is very much a result of this, and I admit it!)

      I’m honestly wondering if the inebriated co-worker has allergies herself…at least in the US they’re not OTC, and though some places have non-script required stock ones (think schools), most places don’t. I’m not even aware of laws that allow for it (yet) in most states in non-educational settings. I would never ever ever hesitate to offer mine in case of an emergency, even for a stranger.

      Reply
      1. just a random teacher*

        In my state, you can go through a 1 hour training and then be certified to administer epi pens to others, similar to a CPR or first aid training. I’m allowed to get a prescription for an epi pen to carry if I want one as someone who completed the yearly training. In my case, this is a training I often end up being required to do as part of my job if I have an allergic student that year with an epi pen, but if I wanted to carry an epi pen around in general to administer to random members of the public in the event they were having an allergic reaction, that’s a thing I’m legally able to do. (If they were cheaper I actually would, but that’s because my mother is also severely allergic to things and carries an epi pen, so having my own as a backup to hers would be appealing.) I don’t know if non-school businesses tend to require anyone at work to be trained, but I could see it happening in some cases.

        Reply
      2. Annonikins*

        I grew up with asthma in the early 70s when standard ER treatment for a serious attack was adrenaline, administered by IV. I was a really little kid and absolutely hated the way it made me feel (except for the “being able to breathe” part)

        Reply
      3. allathian*

        I drink coffee by the pot, or almost (6 cups a day is pretty standard), but half a can of Red Bull gives me palpitations. It’s the taurine that does it, so I don’t drink Red Bull. If I want an energy drink, I’ll have to check the contents, and I avoid those with taurine.

        Reply
  24. Lalaith*

    I think I’ve shared this before – probably when the story was originally posted – but the last part of #10 (flaming punch bowl) reminds me of a story in my husband’s family. Husband’s older brother was graduating 8th grade and they rented out the local American Legion to throw a party for him. They brought in catered food and set it up with sterno heaters under them, and then I think the family had to go pick something up so they left.

    As they’re driving back up to the building, they hear sirens and see fire trucks, and pull up to see people throwing trays of food out the windows onto the lawn. Apparently while they were gone, either an open window or the air conditioner blew the curtains into the sterno heaters, and the curtains went up in flames. Husband’s dad was banned from renting the American Legion hall ever again.

    Four years later, the same brother was graduating from high school, and they had another party – at the same American Legion hall. Someone else in the family had rented it in their name. No one there at the time remembered the family, so everything was going fine until they were bringing food into the kitchen. Oh no, the guy running the hall said, you can’t cook anything here. There was a fire 4 years ago and we haven’t allowed fire or cooking of any kind since.

    My father-in-law looked the guy right in the eye, and completely straight-faced, said of course not! I’d hate to be known as the guy who burned down the American Legion!

    Reply
  25. PurpleHeartRed*

    #1- Back when I worked HR for a pharmacy I witnessed what happens when someone gets an accidental and unnecessary epi pen injection. That LW is super lucky she got away. One of the weirdest workers comp claims I’ve ever done.

    Reply
  26. Perilous*

    #3 – “full color tattoo of the cast of a certain Netflix original scifi 80’s show.”

    Can anyone clarify this for me? Is there a Netflix original scifi series that takes place in the 80s? I feel like a failed geek for not knowing what it is.

    Reply
      1. Perilous*

        Thank you! You win Auntie Perilous’ helpful commenter of the day award! No cash prize, but bragging rights to impress your friends and intimidate your enemies!

        Reply
  27. PT*

    The Christmas countdown one always makes me laugh, because you can go to timeanddate dot com and create a countdown URL.

    That countdown nutter could have just made a countdown and saved it as her homepage and saved herself a ton of work.

    Reply
  28. Unicorn Parade*

    Re: #12…I once did this. I worked for an agency that worked with at-risk youth, and our first year open we threw a big holiday party. We ordered platters from Chick Fil-A but not nearly enough. After about four hours dealing with nonstop waves of 250+ kids, someone brought more platters. I was in charge of dishing out one tender and one biscuit per child so it would last. I was starving and exhausted and over it, so when one child flipped her plate and the tender and biscuit hit the floor, I got her a new plate and tucked the dropped food away. As soon as I had a minute to myself, I ate the hell out of that tender and biscuit and ten years later I have no regrets.

    Re: holiday parties, I worked as an HR manager for a retail store for ten years, and learned the hard way that when it came to holiday parties, I just really shouldn’t be there. I would show up, make the rounds, say hi to the district managers, grab some crab balls, then leave and drive to a bar or restaurant or friend’s house nearby. One year I just sat in my car. I’d hang until it was gift time (holiday party) or cake time (summer party) which I established with the woman who planned everything. Then I’d grab my gift or eat my cake and head home.

    One time at our summer party they couldn’t find cake plates and during the 5-minute delay I saw three staff members dry humping each other vigorously on the dance floor, several people from one department smoking a blunt on the outside patio, and a very drunk employee (Jane) aggressively dropping it like it was hot while she had the (married) Assistant Store Manager cornered against the bar. She then turned to drop it like it was hot at another employee who was not in the mood and poured her beer over Jane’s head. I later heard that Jane hooked up with one of the dance floor dry humping threesome.

    Reply
  29. Deanna Troi*

    “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.” I remember when this ran originally, I thought it was one of the best sentences ever written! Perhaps partially because I fear I might be a member of that contingent where I work, although I have no interest in party planning.

    Reply
  30. Dennis Feinstein*

    #9 For Christmas this year you’re all getting… copyright infringement!
    Reminds me of a friend who used to get bootleg DVDs from coworkers.
    She was a legal secretary…

    Reply
  31. Dr Sarah*

    ‘Our fall potluck was simultaneously ‘sports jersey,’ ‘Halloween,’ and ‘Richard Nixon’-themed…’

    Does anyone else now have the urge to design a sports jersey with a picture of Nixon as the Pumpkin King?

    Reply
  32. Andrea*

    At one of our corporate mining company parties two people got so drunk the administrator had to book a hotel room for them. They promptly threw up all over the bed.

    Reply
  33. Generic Elf*

    Unless I am misinterpreting it, number 1 seems really serious and it bothers me. Not just because of the inappropriate touching (bad enough!) but…was the drunk co-worker trying to inject the OP with a drug? I would be super pissed off about that.

    Reply

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