the Hanukkah balls, the swingers, and other tales of holiday woes

All this week I’m going to be sharing holiday stories from years past … and then updates season starts next week! To kick us off…

1. 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.”

2. 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.”

3. The doobies

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

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

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

4. The surprise

“I work in academia, and at the last place I worked, we used to plan a small holiday party for some of the students who majored in our field and were graduating in December. One colleague was usually in charge of the food (because she was a control freak who didn’t trust anyone else to prepare it hygenically, but that’s another story). One particular year, she refused to tell anyone what she was bringing and insisted it would be ‘a surprise,’ but also insisted that no one else bring a single scrap of food.

The ‘surprise’ turned out to be her fat, overfed dog dressed up in a Santa Claus hat and a harness that was covered with hanging cookies—that had been banging against her fur and were also licked and sometimes half-chewed by the dog where she could reach them. My colleague was expecting everybody to worship her dog and happily eat the cookies. Instead, everyone else went, ‘Um…okay,’ and drifted off to the holiday party upstairs that had actual, clean, non-dog-tainted food.

My colleague was bewildered.”

5. 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.”

6. The mom

“My coworker’s mother decided it was a good idea to join us for drinks at our holidays party. She the proceeded to tell me how long it took her son to find a job, how it was not what he wanted to do or was good at, and how his lack of self confidence was due to the way his father treated him for most of his life. I wished I would have heard what she later on told our CEO.”

7. The instructions for wives

“One year the school I taught at gave all female staff members a copy of Created to Be His Helpmeet as our Christmas gift. It is an extreme Christian fundamentalist book about how to be a good wife and includes directions on how to belly dance for your husband and what to do if your husband wants to do illegal things. All female staff – married and single – received this book. My roommate, a fellow teacher, mailed hers to her mother. I shoved my copy under my roommate’s bed, and months later she found it, forgot she had already mailed hers, and sent this copy to her mother as well.”

8. The hostage videos

“My old boss that told my old coworkers had to each record her an individualized holiday greeting video for her saying how much they appreciate her and then played it on a loop on her computer until the next Christmas. Thankfully I no longer worked there because I would not have been able to do it without swearing or getting snarky.”

9. The fist fight

“We had an office fist fight over some particularly smelly cheese.

Not so much a holiday story so much as the aftermath. During my first year as a PhD student, we had a little office party just before we all left for Christmas and someone brought in some very nice cheese and crackers. Unfortunately, it was a pretty ripe cheese to start with and it got left in the office fridge over the break. Come the new year and the day we’re all due back, Bob is the first to arrive in the morning. He opens the fridge to find the festering (and presumably by now sentient) remains of the cheese and takes it out intending to dispose of it. Before he can remove it to a safe location, the phone rings. Bob answers the phone, leaving the cheese on Jim’s desk which is next to the phone. Jim is the next to arrive and is greeted by a horrific smell, and the sight of the cheese from the black lagoon sitting on his desk. Chaos erupts and the accusations start to fly.

By the time I arrived, I could both smell the cheese and hear the shouting from the end of the corridor. I entered just in time to see Jim punch Bob on the arm and then storm out of the office. Bob stormed out not long after and after I finally disposed of the cheese in the park (it was the nearest accessible outdoor bin), I spent the rest of the morning working alone in the office with all of the windows open. I don’t miss academia.”

10. The wrapped ears of corn

“White elephant gifts from holidays 2017:

1) A crumpled Starbucks bag with a mug purchased 5 minutes after the exchange stated.

2) A mug and a notebook featuring the photo of an employee. The employee pictured was not the employee that brought this gift.

3) A vacuum-sealed bag containing two fully cooked, intact ears of corn.”

Also, a photo of the corn was submitted.

11. The disaster(s)

“I work in a blue collar industry for a company that boasts many couples as well as parent/offspring connections and our Christmas parties are wild.

The first one I attended was on a boat in a town about an hour or two away from the work site and a bus was organised to pick everyone up and bring us home. The party started on the bus with a large group of people passing bottles around and getting that light predrinks buzz. We get onto the boat and as the cruise goes on, everyone is getting super wasted due to the open bar and very, very limited amounts of finger food. It’s also mid December so very very hot and while I mostly stuck to soft drinks, most people were drinking. Because we’re all trapped on this boat in the middle of river, we all get to see a couple of people threaten to fight the bar staff who cut them off and a coworker who was convinced that he could swim to the river bank and wanted to jump off the boat. The most awkward one, though, was between a newly appointed manager and the guy who thought he was a shoo-in for the job. She was emotionally apologising for getting it over him, saying over and over that she’d only interviewed for the experience and hadn’t thought she’d get it. His wife had a firm grip on his arm and was trying to reassure her there were no hard feelings. He is drunk af, bright red and seething but not about to try anything in front of his wife. (Dude did finally get a manager’s role, but was passed over about six more times and only got because they had no other applications, I currently work under him and he totally sucks.)

As if that all wasn’t bad enough, the cruise ends and we all pile back onto the bus home. One former coworker who was very much like a small yippy dog starts stirring up new manager’s husband (who also works at the company) and would have probably got his head punched in if another manager (who’s actually his stepmother) hadn’t sat on his lap(!) to physically restrain him. He and new manager get off the bus at the town before ours, stumbled almost home, and end up falling in a ditch (she had like a week off with a sprained ankle).

Meanwhile on the bus, everyone else is still drinking. The coworker who organised the party is showing everyone ‘two girls, one cup’ on his phone. (Note: If you don’t know it, your life will be better if you don’t google it. Very NSFW.) There’s a fight between another couple and the guy who wanted the managers role is passed out so some one draws a phallic object on his face.

As far as I’m aware no one was punished over the event, but the grand boss who’d attended made it clear that the next one needed to have a proper meal attached to it. We were also asked to not come back by the boat company.”

12. 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.”

{ 446 comments… read them below }

    1. EPLawyer*

      that seems tame in retrospect. Plus if the company is where I think its located, it may be legal to light up now. Whether you want to do it with the CEO standing right there is another question (kinda like how much to drink at these events).

        1. tangerineRose*

          I don’t want to breathe in *any* kind of smoke, so someone lighting up on stage would be a problem for me.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Never mind that – have you seen his episode of Storybots? I learned more about computing from Snoop in ten minutes than from my tech husband in over a decade.

    2. Coenobita*

      That one always reminds me of the Mitch Hedberg bit, where he smokes a pipe and he’s like “They told me you can’t smoke in here unless it’s part of your act. So I had to make this part of my act. Here I am.”

        1. PeanutButter*

          The one I identified hardest with was “Everyone looks cooler under blacklight, except for me, because I was under the impression the mustard stain came out.”

          1. Rainy*

            I hate turtlenecks and Mitch pretty much summed it up. “Wearing a turtleneck is like being strangled by a really weak guy. All day.”

  1. Dust Bunny*

    So I used to work for a veterinarian. Weekends were insanely busy–he ran one of those low-cost vaccination clinics in the lobby–so our bosses would buy lunch fixings and we all just ate on the fly. We also had clinic cats who had the run of the place. So I didn’t witness it but I am 99% sure that I have eaten sandwiches that had been nibbled by cats when I wasn’t looking. (I’ve also ingested plenty of hair from my own pets over the years.)

    I am still not going to eat cookies off your dog’s harness. Nope. Sorry.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes – in my own home and when cooking solely for myself, I may decide not to stress if one of the cats gets too close when I’m cooking or eating, but never if you are cooking for others.

      (Also why I always clean the counter before I start any food prep. The cats know they are not allowed on the kitchen counter, I’ve never caught either of them on the kitchen counter, I’ve never found any evidence to suggest they’ve been on the counter when I am out, but I don’t trust that that means they never go onto the counter, so I work on the assumption that they might have done, and clean it before use! )

      Also I am 100% sure I’ve eaten food that has been nibbled on by cats. One year when I was growing up we had a large turkey which in a cool box overnight. Turns out our cat had managed to get in through a broken window in a different part of the outbuilding, found the cool box, managed to open the cool box and helped himself to a portion of turkey.

      The turkey was therefore wiped down with booze, as being the easiest food-safe disinfectant , and all obviously nibbled bits were cut off and disposed of, and then the turkey was cooked and eaten. No one got sick, but it’s probably as well that we weren’t having any non-family guests (the family guests were told what had happened and offered that alternatives if they preferred, but all that happened was a lively conversation about the disinfectant properties of heat, alcohol and time…

      1. Allornone*

        Yesterday, I was eating chicken soup in front of my T.V. I stupidly placed the bowl down on my coffee table for a moment. Catsby the cat did not waste a second of this opportunity, immediately jumping on the table and sticking his paw in the broth to then lick it clean. Yes, I finished the soup (and left some broth for him).

        1. Thursdaysgeek*

          When I was a child I would share my ice cream cone with my cat. I would lick it, let the cat lick it, I would lick it, etc.

          Now that I am an adult, the cats do not get close to food prep, I wash anyway, in case they were there without me looking, and I do NOT share my ice cream cone with my TP tongue companion.

          1. Dasein9*

            My cat lived with someone else before she moved in with me. She always shows interest in my empty ice cream bowl, then always gives me a look of saddened disappointment when she finds out it’s oatmilk ice cream.

        2. Nanani*

          My cat does this with milk out of my cereal, regardless of whether there’s any cereal left.
          Nobody told him he was supposed to outgrow milk when he was no longer a kitten.

        3. tamarack & fireweed*

          My partner and I started out in a long-distance relationship and would use Skype to connect every few days or so. She’s a big tea drinker, and there’s usually a mug of tea on her desk. Once in the middle of our call her doorbell rang. She got up to answer, and somehow banged the computer so that the camera ended up centered on the tea mug. I was waiting with my headphones on on the other side oft the Atlantic. Suddenly an enormous nose comes into the field of view of the camera, a tongue emerges, and a slurp-slurp-slurp noise comes out of the headphones. It was Jack, one of her Siberian Huskies, then just an energetic youngster, going in for his caffeine fix. Yelling at him through my headset didn’t deter him in the least.

          (Jack died somewhat prematurely at 12.5 of an aggressive cancer last January. We miss him very much. He was also the reason we had childproof latches on our fridge, and once I had to call the after-hours vet to find out the lethal dose of onion for a ~50 lbs dog. He had an excellent stomach.)

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I had a husky as well. Had to first replace the handle on my gates from the backyard (and install a 6.5 foot vinyl fence to boot) and then replace them with another handle style. Finally, we got a third style that you could put a carriage bolt thru a hole on the opposite side to prevent her from opening the gate doors and heading out for a run all on her own.
            She was the second smartest dog I’ve ever known (excluding Service Dogs). She was also the highest jumper – but got it honestly. Her dad looked like he had pogo springs instead of legs, and Aurora inherited them.

          2. Salymander*

            My ferret used to dunk his head in my teacup or coffee mug. Not a sip. The whole head. Every chance he had.

        4. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          Years ago, I learned to not get over-absorbed in a book while eating tuna sandwiches, because when I finally glanced up, there was my cat on the other side of the sandwich I was biting into, doing the same.

      2. SarahKay*

        I remember reading a huge thread (on LiveJournal, I think, rather than here) some years ago debating what to do if the cat got on the counter and ate some of the icing (frosting) from one side of a large still-to-be-cut cake. There was a fairly even split between ‘throw the whole lot in the bin, urggh, horrible!’ and ‘cut off the nibbled bit and just serve the rest’. Having grown up in a household where the cats weren’t allowed on the table, but, being cats, took this to mean ‘don’t get caught’ rather than ‘don’t do it’, and having cut off my fair share of nibbled bits of butter, cheese, and sometimes bread and then eaten the rest, I fell on the side of ‘cut off the nibbled bit and just serve the rest but warn the guests’.
        I’ve also polished off my toddler godson’s half-sucked /slightly chewed biscuits when he’s put them in my hand having eaten enough. (His mum would also eat them; his dad thought we were both gross for doing so. We didn’t care.)
        I still wouldn’t have eaten the biscuits from off the dog!

        1. Anonym*

          Informed consent! Let the people choose. (I’m in the cut it off group for cats, but dogs can be saliva fountains, so I might be more reluctant with a canine culprit.)

          1. SarahKay*

            Our dog was a very good dog, and wouldn’t even steal food from our plates if we put them on the ground, so thankfully sprays of saliva weren’t a concern. Her only weakness was Polo mints (Lifesavers, I think, in the US) which she adored and would eat from anywhere she found them – floor, bag, pocket, wrapped gift, you name it.

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              LOL! Our first dog was addicted to Hall’s Mentholyptus cough drops. If I foolishly left my bag where she could get it, we’d come back into the room and there she would be, surrounded by wrappers, inhaling and exhaling with a blissful, somewhat cross-eyed, look on her face!

              1. Fitz*

                Ye gods, I wonder what the dog thought was going on. Someone once gave me a mentos when I was young and heavily intoxicated, and I was absolutely convinced it was going to burn a hole right through the back of my head. I can’t imagine how a dog would interpret that feeling!

              2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                My childhood dog used to bark furiously at any open jar of Vick’s Vapor Rub. All these years I’d assumed the problem was the menthol. Now I’m wondering!

                1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

                  My dog will usually give a quick sniff to any new scent I wear, but he leaves the room when I put Biofreeze on. Once it’s dry and the smell is mostly gone, he’s fine with it. I guess we’re both lucky I don’t use Icy Hot or one of the other sinus-clearing, eye-watering rubs.

          2. allathian*

            Yeah, informed consent, absolutely. I’ve eaten stuff that my parents’ cats have nibbled on, with the nibbled bits removed. But I still wouldn’t eat what the dog dragged in.

        2. tangerineRose*

          “being cats, took this to mean ‘don’t get caught’ rather than ‘don’t do it’,” Yep, that’s cats. I’ve found that if I set my food on a shelf in a nearby bookshelf, they *usually* don’t bother it, but I try to avoid putting anything very tempting there.

          1. Helenteds*

            That reminds me of the time when we started giving one of our cats an appetite pill because he was losing weight. He started climbing on the counters looking for food, at one point nibbling on some corn bread. He did understand that the humans didn’t want him on the counters or the dining table because he would generally do it when we weren’t around, but he often left muddy footprints and sometimes I would walk into the dining room to find him nonchalantly sitting on the dining room table, though one time he jumped on the dining room table when I was in the room, I just literally had my back turned and was not moving much staring at my computer, so perhaps he didn’t notice me.

          2. I take tea*

            The bookshelf doesn’t help if the content is interesting enough. I just caught one of the cats happily licking away on my sandwich, that I had put on the bookshelf to keep it safe. I had literally turned my back for just a couple of minutes. But she’s a ninja cat.

            1. old curmudgeon*

              I have put food into a cabinet with a latching door, used a heavy rubber band to bungie the door handle to a nail, stepped out of the kitchen for under one minute, and have returned to find my garbage-pail cat halfway into the cupboard, rubber band still in place. The little b****** uses one paw to pull open the door, sticks the other paw through the opening so it won’t close back up, and then wedges first his head followed by his entire body into the opening.

              Any food in my house is stored either inside the refrigerator or else inside locking plastic totes. He did get one of the totes open once, and then we took to stacking heavy books on top of them.

              So we’ve never had the “cut off just a piece or throw the whole thing out” debate here, because if that cat gets hold of something edible, it’s not just nibbled – it’s GONE. Devoured.

              1. Cat Toys*

                For the cat food we have the plastic storage containers where to unlock it you have to lift the handle. They WERE on the floor. One cat figured out if he ran and jumped at the side with the handle, sometimes when it would fall the handle would pop open and the cat food would spill out.

                And the younger cat, who hates anything else other than DH, has learned that skill from him. Now the containers are somewhere the cats can’t jump on them.

                1. old curmudgeon*

                  Ah, I feel your pain. Though if the only thing your bandits go after is cat food, you may wish to count your blessings.

                  Our brat has eaten and enjoyed raw corn on the cob, marinated tofu, raw green beans (a special favorite), raw and cooked eggs, bread, piecrust, cookies, raw pasta, raw and cooked potato, raw broccoli, corn tortillas, raw cabbage, muffins, curry-seasoned Rice Krispie treats, and an entire rum-soaked fruitcake. All with no apparent ill consequences aside from being rather a chonk.

                  Hence, all non-refrigerated food in this house is stored in locking totes with heavy books piled on top.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  Weirdest things I’ve ever seen eaten by the dogs either I or my parents have owned:
                  -Grapefruit (peel and all)
                  -a bowl of banana pepper rings
                  -a whole jalapeño plant (ignored the rest of the garden – just ate my jalapeños)
                  -two habanero plants (a week after she ate the jalapeño plant, vet was amazed at the iron stomach)
                  -cayenne pepper slurry (to try and convince puppers to leave the bookcase alone)
                  -a 12th grade English lit book (yup, the dog literally ate both my homework and the textbook and my teacher said in 29 years that was a first, I took in the proof to get an extension)
                  -an original vinyl copy of Srgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (but that one did necessitate a trip to the emergency vet)

                  This was four different dogs, four different breeds, over the span of 27 years. I keep asking my parents if they will ever get a normal dog.

              2. MineOwnTelemachus*

                I have to use baby locks on my cupboards because of the cats figuring out how to open them. I’ve discovered my two cats will actually work together to steal food, and aren’t deterred by anything – not even foil. They will literally pull the foil off covered things to eat them.

                1. Salymander*

                  I had a cat that could open doors (with circular doorknobs or with the other kind), open dresser drawers, and untie plastic grocery or trash bags no matter how well I tied the knot. She could open the refrigerator until we bungees the door shut. we had to wedge the doors shut, and lock the front door with a deadbolt. I think she was magic. No food was safe, so making Christmas cookies or other complex, time consuming recipes at my house involved a great deal of effort to keep the cookies cat-free at all stages of the process. I went to my mom’s house to bake and decorate cookies, because otherwise my cat would have to be quarantined in the bedroom and terrible things would happen. Cat had made it her mission to destroy all my knitting projects, and I usually kept them in my bedroom in a bunch of heavy plastic bins with lids on and heavy books on top, which usually sufficed to keep her out. Keeping her locked in the bedroom all day, though? My yarn stash and all of my projects would have been toast. And not for the first time. Imagine coming home from work to find out that the cat had unzipped the knitting bag, untied the plastic bag inside that held a 3/4 finished knitting project, unraveled it and turned it into a giant spider web covering about a third of the apartment. She was like a tiny criminal mastermind. Her sister was just your basic cat, so I don’t know how the naughty kitty got this way. Science experiment gone wrong? Bit by a radioactive spider? Escaped from the circus? It remains a mystery.

              3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

                We had a gerbil who figured out how to open the top door to his plastic home. We started putting cans on it so he couldn’t, but that Mighty NotaMouse just shouldered the door up until they slid off. Determined little bugger.

              4. Salymander*

                My ferrets stole most of a 12 pack of beer. They stole one can at a time, dropping it out of the cupboard and rolling it across the floor and under the cabinet in the dining area. They hid all the cans and would gnaw on them until they opened one. They licked a little of the beer, but didn’t really like it. They just liked the sound it made when it popped open, and thought the spraying beer was fun. They danced around in it and made all kinds of noise, which is what I found them doing when I got home from work. No idea how they escaped from their giant cage (about 4’×6’×6′, with a heavy latched door). The beer was left over from when my boyfriend’s dad came over, and it wasn’t something I liked, so I just got rid of it once I realized that the ferrets were now freaking obsessed with the beer cans and wouldn’t stop stealing them, hoarding them, and gnawing them open to dance in the spraying beer. No one wants a beer that has been gnawed on and played with by partying ferrets.

        3. ceiswyn*

          Yeah, my rescue cat clearly knows he isn’t allowed on the counter, and equally clearly doesn’t care. The only way to keep him off is to not put anything up there that he might find interesting.

          Unfortunately, he finds all sorts of unexpected things interesting, and thus I once turned around (on hearing the subtle sound I have learned to interpret as ‘ginger chonk trying to jump surreptitiously’) to discover him with his mouth in the pickled egg I’d just been chopping up.

          I salvaged some of it…

      3. Dust Bunny*

        We discovered belatedly–we’re not sure just *how* belatedly–that our childhood cat liked to lick our decorated gingerbread houses at night.

        My cats are not allowed on the table, either. They’re pretty good about it but, yes, there is definitely a “don’t get caught” element. And we don’t leave food out to tempt them.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            We did start covering them at night when we found out, but we’d already been making them for several years.

      4. Texan In Exile*

        The cats aren’t allowed on the kitchen counter in our house, either, but – we have given up the battle. The cats won. Laverne’s Favorite Peach Box even lives on the end of the counter.

        My solution – as I, too, do not want to eat cat butt, foot, or tongue infused food, is that I do all food prep on a clean cutting board. The cutting boards live inside a cupboard behind a door. Even though Laverne has figured out how to open a cupboard door, she doesn’t waste her time with cutting boards. She exercised her talent when we kept – for a very short time – the cat food in a floor-level cupboard.

          1. Kat in Boots*

            This Is The Way. I love that a child’s homeschool science project has use an empirical approach to answer a question I never knew I NEEDED the answer to!!!

        1. Avery*

          My family’s similar with our island in the kitchen: officially, cats aren’t allowed up there. Unofficially, as long as they’re not too close to the end we regularly use for food we won’t blink an eye, and we often leave soft stuff on the other end for our Zippy to lay on. (That started with her claiming a pile of clean clothes sitting there as her resting place. We just ran with it.)

      5. Sporty Yoda*

        We found out the fun way that the family dog liked buttercream frosting when he licked some of it off the cake for my sixteenth birthday. There was some cleverness involved in the traditional photo of me holding the cake (my mother always scratch made my birthday cakes and liked having something to commemorate it), but everyone (immediate family only) just sort of ate the bits of cake the dog hadn’t gotten to.
        Thereafter, we paid the “spaniel tax,” wherein if you were eating something with dairy, the dog got a little piece (he particularly liked the creme frache on Starbucks frappochinos).

        1. Avery*

          Around here, it’s the cat tax–our Floyd is especially fascinated with milk, and has an oddly-dainty way of drinking it by sticking his paw into the glass and then licking the milk off of his paw. Before him, it was Jet, who learned that being an elderly cat who spent years hiding in the basement meant that we were easily coaxed to let her lick our ice cream after we were done (unless it was chocolate, in which case she’d still beg and then sulk afterwards).

      6. Momma Bear*

        One Thanksgiving my DIL’s cat put a paw on the pie, leaving a clear print. DIL was mortified. We ate around the pie print. I wouldn’t do that with a coworker, though.

        1. Mars Maybe Me*

          My mum put the pumpkin pies on the table to cool one thanksgiving and covered them with a dishcloth. We rescued the pies from my dad almost putting things on them. Did not get to them in time to stop the family cat from walking across them. Thank god for that dishcloth, and the cat being a very small one.

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          One of my coworkers brought in homemade cookies that looked like Spritz ones that had spread and blurred. Nope, he cheerfully informed us that his cat had walked across the warm cookies. No thank you, I won’t be having any cookies.

      7. Princesss Sparklepony*

        One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories – we are over at another family house. The mom isn’t the neatest person on earth. Sort of a hippie, they live in a lovely rambling villa with their five kids and assorted pets. The mom has this sort of plummy English accent. So we have dinner and haven’t yet gotten to the clean up but there comes a call into the kitchen which I guess the mom can see from the dining room – “Peter, get the cat out of the turkey!” So, we all look and the cat is waist deep into the turkey cavity. He wasn’t bothering to nibble on the edges, he went full on cavity search. We did not bring home any leftovers from that dinner.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I love this story because my dog would have been so ecstatic. People! And food! And the people are letting him have all the food!!!!!

    3. Jackalope*

      What gets me is that even if everyone HAD been cool with eating the cookies off her dog, that still wouldn’t have been enough food to feed everyone. Why did she forbid everyone else from bringing food in? That seems really odd.

    4. anonymous73*

      The irony is that she insisted on bringing food because she didn’t trust others for hygienic reasons.

    5. Denver Gutierrez*

      I work in an animal shelter and have definitely eaten food that probably had cat hair in it, lol. I eat lunch with one of the cats and she may or may not have snuck a lick in my food now and then.

      But I too draw the line at dog slobber cookies hanging from a harness. I love dogs but they eat poop for goodness sake! What was she thinking?! Just get catered food. She could still bring the dog in the Santa hat though. Just away from the food.

      1. Salymander*

        Yeah I mean my dog would get into the cat litter to eat cat poop whenever he got the chance. He loved nothing so much as rolling in trash or poo. No way am I eating anything a dog has had actually hanging from it. I love dogs, but that is just nasty.

        1. Avery*

          One of my dogs will eat cat poop, our other dog’s poop, his own poop… and yep, rolling in dirt, trash, poop, and what have you… there’s a reason we don’t allow that one on our beds!

    6. The Editor-In-Chief*

      We made a cake one warm summer day, but needed it at 5:30 p.m. and it was already nearly 5 when it came out of the oven – not much chance to cool in a hot kitchen. So we placed it outside.
      Brought it in to ice it, and there were two (2) bird footprints smack in the middle, and a missing hunk of cake in a spot convenient to a beak.

      We just poured the chocolate icing. No one was the wiser.

    7. Asenath*

      A while after I adopted my first cat, I noticed that the peanuts sitting in a small bowl on a table in the living room didn’t taste very nice. In fact, they tasted exactly like all the salt was missing…. I’ve learned since that while cats (unlike, apparently, dogs) can be picky eaters, it’s still not a good idea to leave food lying around. To be fair to the cat, she didn’t eat the peanuts, she just licked off all the salt. I don’t obsess over pet spit, but I wouldn’t eat dog-chewed-on cookies, or even cookies with dog hair (or cat hair) on them!

      1. pancakes*

        My cat is like that too. I was a dog person all my life before adopting her, and had been led to believe cats are much less interested in people food. She cannot be left with unattended toast because she’ll lick the butter off, and comes running if she hears a bag of chips opened. She also once ran off with a briefly unattended leftover Ma La chicken wing. I suppose they don’t have receptors for all the spices, but that was a surprise. I can’t imagine trying to pass on something she’d licked to other people, eww!

        1. Avery*

          As somebody who’s lived with both cats and dogs, it really depends on the animal in question. We have two, maybe three, animals of the five in our household that will gladly steal any food they can reach, no questions asked. Only one of those culprits is a dog.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Um, I don’t think dogs react to spice the same way either (or at the very least one of my childhood dogs and my now departed from adulthood husky were spice lovers).

          Childhood dog adored cayenne powder – even better if you tried to make a slurry out of it. The cayenne slurry was suggested to mom because Thumper loved to chew – spoiler, it actually made the chewing worse. In the end mom would every other day put more cayenne slurry on Thumper’s favorite chewy toy. It was the only thing that ever worked.

          The husky – well, Aurora loved peppers: cayenne, banana, Anaheim, poblanos, but her favorite were habaneros. Every year we had her the locks for the gate on the garden had to be more elaborate because by the end of the season every year she had figured out how to open the locked gate to get to the pepper plants (which she would then eat, fruit and all). She ignored as unworthy every other plant in the garden, it was only my peppers.

  2. Allornone*

    Okay, as batshit and tone-deaf as everything in #1’s letter is, replacing coffee K-Cups with eggnog seems like a crime against humanity. Eggnog (preferably alcoholic) has its purpose, and it’s not to replace caffeine.

      1. Salymander*

        I know, right? Why must we all suffer because one person has turned into the Christmas Evangelizer? That is just mean.

    1. calonkat*

      I am not a coffee drinker and have never used a K-cup machine, but aren’t they a heated process?

      Warm or hot eggnog seems wrong.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        I interpreted this as eggnog-flavored K-cups (dunno if those actually exist) — because yeah, actual literal eggnog does sound gross in that context.

        1. Le Sigh*

          I really hate flavored coffee so this doesn’t sound much better. Just give me boozy egg nog separate from my hot coffee. Blech.

        2. Jaid*

          Bigelow makes holiday themed Eggnog Tea. I never drank eggnog, so I couldn’t tell if that’s horrible…but I like the blend of flavors involved.

          1. Lab Boss*

            Ah yes, “Nogg’n” tea! I got some as a gag gift a few years back. It tastes essentially nothing like eggnog, but it’s actually kind of a nice spice blend (if a little sweet). The concept is still a crime against humanity as far as I’m concerned.

        1. Lab Boss*

          A gallon of eggnog, 1-2 cups of Kahlua, 0.5-1 cups of spiced rum, and a few dashes of vanilla. It’s an Eggnog Russian and it’s dangerous :)

      2. Ally McBeal*

        Oh I LOVE warm eggnog! Heavily dosed with bourbon or brandy, sprinkle of nutmeg on top… perfect. It’s the same concept as the glass of warm milk your mom made you when you couldn’t sleep. I’ll drink cold eggnog too, but warm is my favorite way to drink it.

      3. Goody*

        Actually, I find steamed and frothed egg nog (think Starbucks latte without the coffee) to be rather lovely, especially with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Hard disagree. If I were used to regular k-cups, and the office replaced them all with eggnog flavored ones for holiday season, I would be grumpy.

        1. Kat in Boots*

          Agreed. Eggnog is not for everyone (alcoholic or no): it has a distinctive flavour that many do not appreciate!

    2. Le Sigh*

      I haven’t even finished reading the rest of them and I came here with this exact thought. I like some egg nog fine but mess with my coffee and you can shove your Hanukkah balls where the sun don’t shine.

    3. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Oh man, I saw what happened with a mismarked batch of coffee (it was decaf, but you had to open the sealed box to know that, the individual packets were all marked decaf where the manufacturer sealed box stated it was 100% Columbian Blend!) on a construction site. Caffeine withdrawal headaches make for CRANKY tradesmen….

    4. EmmaPoet*

      Google tells me that eggnog spice flavored K cups from Dunkin Donuts are a thing, so they do have coffee in them. That said, yuck.

    5. EmbracesTrees*


      My fave AAM line of all time, though, has to be from #2:

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

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That was hilarious. I can see the person who brought it in some weird dollar store going, “Hmm, what oddball thing can I bring to a white elephant gi—OH MY GOD THAT’S PERFECT.”

        1. quill*

          I once brought a literal white elephant to a white elephant and it didn’t go over as amusingly as this corn.

        2. Gumby*

          Until I saw the photo, I was envisioning corn that someone had home-cooked and then brought in. I was imagining a last minute, morning-of-the-party panic and grabbing leftovers out of the freezer on the way out of the door. I don’t know if that is better (hand made gift, someone put effort into it) or worse (ew someone else’s leftovers and who knows how clean they keep their kitchen).

    1. bishbah*

      My office had a White Elephant party every year and there were some true stinkers (one brought by me, who didn’t realize that not everyone would find a book on how to felt hand puppets out of cat fur to be as amusing as I did), including the time a very junior employee brought a package of dry spaghetti from his cupboard, wrapped in gift paper with a bow on it.

      The bottles of wine, bags of chocolate truffles, and gift cards were always far and away the most popular.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        My last company did white elephant exchanges. I usually got the worst gifts.

        My first year I got a used and broken ice scraper. Another year I got a very used and dirty parrot toy and some monkey butt itch powder. My last year I got a home waxing kit with packaging straight out of the seventies.

      2. Denver Gutierrez*

        I work at an animal shelter and the cat fur puppet book would be very popular at our party! I don’t think we would actually make the puppets but it would get a great laugh.

        1. SarahKay*

          I discovered the existence of said book from a previous commenter here, and bought it as a gift for my sister. She loved it!

    2. TJ Morrison*

      My all time favorite white elephant gift was a package of really short extension cords. (Less than a foot.) They look like a gag gift, but are actually useful for plugging chunky power bricks in without blocking other outlets.

    3. Salymander*

      Yep. I think that whoever brought the corn must be a fun person to know. It makes me snort-laugh every time.

  3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    I’m just laughing inanely at the sentient cheese!

    (Once took a particularly…elderly…block of what I think was originally Stilton into the labs to see what I could grow out of it. My lab supervisor shoved the entire experiment into the autoclave before I could perform a Turing test on it. Ahh well)

    1. EPLawyer*

      I love the sentient cheese. Did you name it Horace? Was it really dumped in the bin or just let loose to run free?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Autoclaved to flattened lump of melted plastic status I’m afraid. The original cheese had been in one of the student fridges for a few months and I’m pretty sure was the cause of the entire fridge being dumped!

        (I would have loved to name it. Big fan of Pratchett)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          (Btw, common sign you’re living with any kind of microbiologist: at the first sign of mould their reaction isn’t ‘ewww’ but ‘wonder what I can culture out of this?’. Also why I preferred virology: virus cultures don’t smell)

          1. Retired Prof*

            In grad school I shared an office with two guys who would hide a dessicated McDonalds burger in each other’s desks. Astonishingly, the thing never got moldy or smelled. It was over 6 months old when I met them, and they kept on doing it for a couple years.

            1. jiggle mouse*

              I had a Burger King rodeo burger (it has onion rings on it) on the dash of my truck for almost a year, after leaving it there by accident before climbing Mt. St. Helens. It petrified but never decayed. A coworker finally removed it from its wrapper, sailed it at an upright dumpster lid, frisbee-style, and it shattered into dry fragments of ??? still as brightly colored as the day it came off the assembly line.

              1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

                “It shattered into dry fragments of ???” Is now my favorite line from my (admittedly short) time on this site.

            2. The Prettiest Curse*

              If you enter “undecayed McDonald’s” into your favourite search engine, there are a TON of examples of this phenomenon. Pretty certain this is because they put so many preservatives in their food.

            3. Mockingjay*

              My friend is a HS bio and life sciences teacher. Every year she buys a McDonald’s burger and puts it on a shelf. The students monitor the deterioration throughout the year. Yep – no decay.

              I don’t eat at the Golden Arches anymore.

              1. Kat in Boots*

                This tracks with what I’d heard about the insane amounts of ammonia (?!?!) and other products to kill microbiological life forms they put in McD’s food. Once you kill all the microorganisms, what’s left but dessication?

          2. ScruffyInternHerder*

            You’ve met one of my university roomies, I see. Because this is 100% accurate. (Well, I don’t know about virus cultures not smelling, but any bacterial experiments in the fridge were met with “I wonder what this is…”)

            1. TardyTardis*

              The people at my husband’s school in the science department were not always…careful. That’s why he got his own fridge for his pop.

            2. Salymander*

              We used to take cultures from our shoes, bags, lunches, whatever. Two of us in my lab group in microbiology class had jobs at a doctor’s office, and we got some pretty crazy stuff. But the worst ones were from the person who worked part time at a preschool.

          3. quill*

            Family will shove any sort of fruit mold at me and ask me what it is.

            My reply is always something along the lines of “aspergillus cantalopicus” and they still haven’t figured out that I’ve forgotten all my latin.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Another reason I love virology: virus names are rarely in Latin (and my Latin is rubbish)

    2. Bagpuss*

      My immediate through was “Horace” (for any Pratchett fans out there) so I am picturing it in it’s own little kilt.

      1. Kat in Boots*

        You can only name it Horace if you sing to it and it starts humming along (“Mnam, mnam, mnam”) . Love Pratchett.

      1. TardyTardis*

        One can only imagine the meeting of Horace and “Bob” the obnoxious sourdough starter in A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking.

        And running faster than Rincewind.

    3. Artemesia*

      I had a very uptight roommate in college — there were 3 of us– and we had stored some cheese on the window ledge — but although cold out, there was also sun and so it began to fester. The two of us who were terrible roommates hung it in a plastic bag in the middle of the room where we could see it transformed by increasingly colorful and ornate fungal structures. Our other roommate wasn’t amused but oddly didn’t throw it out either.

    4. Lab Boss*

      On your deathbed if you don’t have a Nobel Prize, you can blame that supervisor. I would never do such a thing! :D

  4. Meep*

    I love all of these.

    The worst I have is my Toxic Coworker wanted to have a Thanksgiving party last year (in the middle of the pandemonium). Luckily, she got COVID and actually stayed home for two weeks (seriously, this alone is a miracle as whenever someone was exposed she would run to me UNMASKED to check her temperature (like I physically had to put the thermometer to her head) and she is an anti-vaxxer to boot).

    Unfortunately, she also wanted a Christmas party that I took the reigns of so it wasn’t in the conference room. (We are in AZ so outside is fine). I planned it for right before everyone was going on holidays and got everything set up the day of, and then got a call from my now-husband to come home because he was in an immense amount of pain. The poor guy had a kidney stone, but boy was I glad to get away from that super spreader event. I heard from my other coworkers, they double-masked and refuse to eat anything around Ms. Anti-vaxx who complained about the pandemic the entire time.

    1. Meep*

      For clarity – everyone but me and her were working from home at this time. She made EVERYONE come in for this stupid party.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        What was the coercion? You wrote Toxic Coworker. This suggests she isn’t a manager. What could she do apart from pout, if people simply didn’t show up?

    2. Fiddle_Faddle*

      “The worst I have is my Toxic Coworker wanted to have a Thanksgiving party last year (in the middle of the pandemonium).”

      I assumed you meant “pandemic”, but after what we experienced in 2020 I decided that “pandemonium” is a better word for it.

  5. Keyboard Cowboy*

    Somehow in #1 I missed that boss TOOK AWAY THE COFFEE. Sorry, but eggnog is not even close to an acceptable substitute for a hot black cup of bean juice.

  6. hayling*

    OMG the door prizes. I am pretty sure at one company I worked at, the door prizes were the only reason people went to the party. People went *crazy* when the raffle tickets were drawn. The grand prize was a giant flat-screen TV. One year people were *so* mad that a new hire won it.

    1. many bells down*

      I have absolutely NO luck when it comes to drawings and raffles. I will only ever win if the prize is something I cannot possibly use. So at my spouse’s party, I hand him my tickets and then I don’t even LOOK at the prizes. The only times we win anything are if I stay as far away from the raffle as possible. It’s actually funny how bad my luck is!

      1. Zephy*

        Yup. OldJob would do raffles at quarterly staff meetings, very transparently as a ploy to make sure people came and stayed the whole time – they were always raffling off whatever crap someone dug out of an office closet somewhere. Old branded swag from last year’s event, a random trucker hat from ????, other detritus that found its way into the building, probably donations from well-meaning but very confused members of the community (animal shelter, no idea why someone thought we might need a huge box of expired Revlon cosmetics but okay). The one thing I *ever* won at these godforsaken things was a Walgreens-branded(???) Herbert Hoover bobblehead figurine. I still have him, he has a place of honor on my kitchen windowsill.

        1. Artemesia*

          I once won the complete speeches of Jimmy Carter on Microfiche at a conference — we could put it next to the Herbert Hoover.

      1. banoffee pie*

        I remember winning a raffle at a pub quiz and I was involved in running the quiz somehow (can’t even remember how). It really was just by chance, but for appearances sake I felt like I had to spin the thing again and let someone else win. It was nbd because the prize was rubbish anyway ;)

      2. Cold Fish*

        For several years we had games organized at the Christmas party that people could take home a little extra prize. It was totally voluntary to play the games and we made sure everyone has a little something to take home without playing. Managers weren’t technically excluded but it was understood they didn’t play.

        Unfortunately, the owners dad worked in the back and was VERY competitive. All came to a head one year when thru sheer cussedness won a game gift several people wanted (something like a nice bottle of whiskey) then came back to work after the holiday to tell anyone who would listen that he just tossed it (he didn’t drink). Even before that a lot of employee’s had issues with him playing; believing that as the owners dad he had other privileges throughout the year that a typical employee didn’t get (Which was very true). But he would complain loudly and for months if he wasn’t allowed to participate. The owners solution was to have us fix the games/drawings after that so that he “mysteriously” never won a major game gift again.

        Still not 100% on how I feel about it, but I wasn’t too unhappy about doing it.

    2. Generic Name*

      Why is it bad a new hire won? I think it’s great. I’d be pissed if the CEO or a high paid manager won, but not a new person. Assuming the new person isn’t the new CEO or something.

      1. Liz*

        My guess is a sense of entitlement; “how dare the new hire who’s only been here a few weeks or months win it” because in their minds, it should have gone to a more “senior” employee, as was their right. I certainly don’t’ feel that way, but I know many people who do!
        In that same vein, a group of friends and I used to go to several tricky trays every year. And when the same tables would win multiple prizes (as always seems to happen), and others didn’t, there was a lot of grumbling etc. about how it was rigged, blah blah blah. But its essentially gambling, and no different than putting 20 dollars in a slot machine, and you win nothing, and the person next to you keeps winning!

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          I’ve never heard the phrase tricky trays and, having searched it, I know that we have similar raffles here. I just…don’t know what they’re called.

    3. MeTwoToo*

      At one Friday evening Christmas party the tv was won by the new HR director who was scheduled to start the following Monday. She no-showed. We never heard from her again.

    4. A Library Person*

      I won an Instant Pot as a raffle prize about a month into my new job. It actually worked out well, as people I don’t really work with remembered it for a while and would know my name and ask me if I’d tried any recipes.

    5. Lucky noob*

      I’m my job, we get these scratch off safety cards with secret letters on them that when you get enough to spell the word SAFE, you can submit them for a monthly prize drawing. Only some of them have points that equal an instant cash prize. On my day of hire, they gave me safety cards and I happened to win an instant hundred bucks. It’s been 5 years and it’s still the running joke in finance that they’re happy I turned out to be a good employee because they were all so mad I won.

    6. SuperDiva*

      At a previous job, the CEO’s college-age child won the top prize. People were annoyed and thought they should re-draw, as it looked really unfair, but the CEO grabbed the prize and handed it to her child before anyone could make a move.

    7. Law School*

      I was on stage when the CEO won a door prize one year. Everyone was shocked that he accepted it and several people afterwards told me that they expected that he would give it to me, because I planned the party and was standing next to him. Even weirder, several days later I learned that he did give it to an employee, just after the party rather than in front of everyone.

    8. geek5508*

      LOL, at one company party, I won an iPad! My wife yelled out “You gotta be shitting me” in front of everyone!

    9. Lab Boss*

      We used to have a “Grand Prize” that was an autographed photograph of the CEO (yes it was a gag, yes there were good prizes as well). One poor guy won that grand prize two years in a row. He claimed he hung one on either side of the bed at home to “balance the room,” I’ve never been sure if his wife actually allowed it.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I love this line: Data entry, people cages, nipple clamps, hand-embroidered baby quilts. She was very well-rounded for an accountant.”

      Don’t pigeonhole people.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I mean, I think propositioning LW & her husband was not cool. But everything else is pretty awesome!

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        Why not cool? They asked, they were told no, they didn’t ask again. Uncool would be persisting after being told no, or in the face of obvious disinterest. How are you going to find the other BDSM swingers if you don’t ask?

        1. Le Sigh*

          Maybe not your work colleagues, though? That’s a perfectly fine policy otherwise but it’s generally not fair or a good idea to introduced your sex life into the workplace — it puts your coworkers in a potentially uncomfortable or even upsetting position, and I can’t see HR being a fan either.

        2. Ana Gram*

          I had a coworker ask me to have sex with him and his wife. Not being a hater of threesomes, I said no thanks and we never discussed it again. Honestly, it wasn’t much different than being asked out at work. We were peers so that was fine and he was very polite about it. Now it’s just a funny story I tell my friends.

          1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            That’s how I’d look at it. It’s not like Very Social has any supervisory responsibility over LW. I suppose there’s an argument that the unconventional nature of what they were being “asked out” to might deserve special treatment, but really it’s the same thing as asking out a colleague on your level. As long as you graceful accept the first “no” and don’t make a pest of yourself it’s usually fine.

          2. Salymander*

            I joined a hobby group, and within the first month I was propositioned by two separate couples for sex. Then, a couple of months later another couple propositioned me. I’m not poly, and wasn’t attracted to any of these people, but they were nice and respectful and backed off when I said no, so no big deal. What was kinda funny was that they all asked me to not tell any of the others in the group because the others were “not into that and wouldn’t understand.” I didn’t tell anyone, but I always thought it was a shame that they didn’t realize that they were all a whole heck of a lot more open to different relationships than they gave each other credit for. Haven’t seen any of them in years, though so who knows?

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think the only one that comes remotely close is “I will confront you by Wednesday” boss.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Oh. My. GAW. :’D

      I must have missed that one; looks like it was posted after I moved in early November and I was sick for three weeks after that. The ending is just *chef’s kiss*

  7. Anon for this*

    Smh to the cannabis pearl-clutching. In modern times this story doesn’t really land as something to be shocked about.

    1. Scarlet Magnolias*

      Years ago I worked at a cookware company in Fairfield County Ct. Every year the owners gave us a week off with pay, an amazing Xmas party at a restaurant and a fresh turkey. One co-worker who wished mightily to be a ladies man (it is possible that his corduroy pants with little fox heads on them worked against him) received a turkey. Most of us cooked them quickly, he popped his into the trunk of his car and forgot about it. Months later a vile miasma floated out of his car and no one would accept a ride with him. The stench began to attach onto him no matter how many little pine deodorizers he hung up. Finally he took the car to a mechanic who popped the trunk and discovered a large, pale green, wet mass. The car was never the same.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Wow, I think it was both the fetid turkey AND his taste in clothing that ensured he would never be a ladies’ man.

        1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

          Which is so disgusting – the self-marinating turkey or the fox-head pants? Sounds like a tie to me!

      2. Jessica Ganschen*

        I think that “large, pale green, wet mass” is easily the most viscerally horrifying sequence of words that I’ve been subjected to all year.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          ^without the trunk being broken.
          I’m very glad that when the hydraulics went out on our old car’s trunk, the only things inside were car tools & some broken computer bits intended for electronics recycling day.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        True confession: I once inadvertently left a frozen pizza in my trunk. After a week or so I noticed how it always smelled like I was driving past a pizzeria. It wasn’t until I opened the trunk and the smell was overwhelming that I realized it was there.

        1. Clisby*

          I once left a bologna & cheese sandwich in my car (in a paper bag) – I think I intended it for my lunch and forgot about it. A couple weeks later I finally figured out why my car smelled so bad.

          1. pancakes*

            I haven’t done this as an adult, but as a little girl I hid an Easter egg much too well in a spare room. Not good!

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          A coworker was wondering why no one would ride with her when we went to lunch. Her car had developed a dreadful smell and she may have gotten used to it, but nobody else had. She finally took it to a mechanic, thinking something was leaking. He finally found the month-old catfish in her trunk that had fallen out of a grocery bag and into the spare tire well. It smelled like a mobster’s abandoned car with an old corpse in it. But fishy.

      4. quill*

        *shrieks in “coworker put their turkey in the biosample fridge and I never recovered but this is far worse.”*

      5. Artemesia*

        They would have to burn down the car. Last year a roll of breakfast sausage got loose in my trunk and under some beach chairs and although I searched, I missed it. I decided I had just not managed to get it in the bag at the store. A few weeks later I got in the car, smelled death, knew exactly what it had to be and unpacked the trunk. The package was round as a balloon but not burst — but what a stench. I shampooed the trunk carpet and sprayed it with animal waste products — and eventually it was okay. The turkey would have destroyed the car. At minimum you would have to remove all of the trunk carpeting etc but it probably infested the upholstery as well. Yikes.

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          It was almost as memorable as going to a co-worker’s home for a work Christmas party. There was a large ornate brandy snifter filled with home made cookies. Another office person started eating them and exclaiming how good they were. She had some difficulty separating them as they were pretty stuck together. The hostess pulled me aside informing me in a horror filled voice that she had told her husband to put the snifter away before the guests arrived. The problem was that her two large dogs drooled on and licked the cookies. Hence the stuck together. As soon the eater was distracted the tainted cookies were whisked away.

      6. Tin Cormorant*

        Reminds me of a story my husband told me of him and his college roommate. They shared an apartment, and at one point bought a roast chicken to eat. The leftovers were put in the oven for some reason and then forgotten. Since neither of them cooked, it wasn’t found again until they were cleaning out the place the following year, at which point it had completely mummified.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      Cannabis is legal in Canada, and I work for a very large liquor retailer. And I *still* wouldn’t smoke up in front of my boss, let alone the CEO.

      I didn’t read #3 as pearl-clutching, so much as amusement at the idea that somehow this possibility didn’t occur to the party organizers beforehand!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed – I got more a “you are surprised by this state of events” than “pearl clutching” from the OP.

    3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      Shocked? No. Definitely inappropriate at a formal event for what appears to be a pretty buttoned up company that appears to be in a state where cannabis is still illegal? Yes. As someone else said though, I can’t imagine what else they were expecting when they brought in Snoop Dog though.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        My guess is whoever made the selection didn’t know the first thing about Snoop Dog other than that it would be a prestige booking.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That was my read as well – big name booking by somebody who knew nothing about Rap Artists.

    4. LouLou*

      LOL!!! I’m living in modern times and in a jurisdiction where MJ is legal…it’s still definitely not done to light up inside at a work party. Are you by any chance writing to us from the future? If that’s what’s in store, would be dope (no pun intended)

    5. EmmaPoet*

      Having spent my career working for various government entities where this would be a firing offense, I think it lands exactly where it should.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. I’m also in the EU, where recreational cannabis remains illegal in most countries, the Netherlands and Luxembourg being notable exceptions. Technically it’s still illegal in the Netherlands, but effectively decriminalized, at least for residents. They aren’t keen on foreign tourists consuming edibles in their coffee shops. It’s also legal in non-member Switzerland.

        But even if it had been legal where Snoop performed, I assume it would be just as illegal to smoke pot indoors as tobacco.

  8. Cafe au Lait*

    I’ve thought this before, but I’m not surprised the BDSM accountant remained friendly with OP #2. A core philosophy of the BDSM world is enthusiastic consent. And if you don’t express enthusiasm, move on to someone who does.

    1. a tester, not a developer*

      And I think she has a logical overlapping of interests – you have to be at least a bit of a masochist to hand quilt something for someone who may turn out not to be quilt-worthy.

        1. a tester, not a developer*

          Mme too! but I only do utility stitch with perle cotton nowadays. Otherwise I’m quilting by credit card. :)

        2. Tessie Mae*

          Fellow quilter here (but not a hand quilter). I recently found labels for crafty souls which read: Made With Love and Swear Words. Alas, they are sold out. I keep checking and plan to buy a bunch when/if they are in stock.

      1. The Starsong Princess*

        Only for the quilt worthy! I read in a recent forum of how a quilt recipient used a hand quilted quilt as a dog bed and then threw it out when the dog chewed on it. The angels wept! Anyway, I have made baby quilts for coworkers that have been much appreciated, at least to my face. But they are machine quilted, not hand.

        1. Tessie Mae*

          I love the quilt-gifting policy of my sis-in-law, who has been quilting (but not hand-quilting) for decades longer than I have: The quilts are meant to be used with love, which of course will mean wear and tear. The quilts are not heirloom quilts and are meant to be used. Of course, this approach evolved over time. She has progressed from gifting more labor-intensive quilts to simpler ones after hearing about how the “fancier” ones were treated.

          *Non quilt-worthy occasions merit something like a pillow or small wall hanging.

    2. Malarkey01*

      I read friendly as still polite and nice to work with, not that she kept trying to engage with her in a sexual context. I’m friends with a few people in the community even though I don’t partake and I’ve never thought of them as only able to be friendly or actual friends with others in the community.

    3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      Ehh, just because someone does not want to play with you and your husband doesn’t mean you can’t remain friendly with them, or even very good friends. Most swingers I know will fish to see if another couple they’re attracted too wants to play, but will also happily just get dinner or go to a movie on double date if that’s offered. An offer to play isn’t an ultimatum on the friendship, it’s an offer.

  9. Xenia*

    It’s the mo~st wonderful time of the year!

    Huzzah for update season and also stories of holiday disasters past. I’ve somehow never seen #7 before. All of these are great!

  10. pope suburban*

    I always forget just HOW BAD the Hanukkah balls story is. I get this creeping unease every time I read it. Just…how can someone be so oblivious?! But the BDSM accountant lady sounds sweet. A trifle awkward, sure, but very sweet. She genuinely seems like someone who’d be pleasant to know- from a distance, sure, but still. Someone who’d generous enough to make a quilt for your baby sounds like a decent person overall.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Seriously! People continue to reference the Hanukkah balls but I always forget about all the “Jane’s first Christmas” stuff, as if OF COURSE poor Jane would love to celebrate Christmas if only someone cared enough to introduce it to her.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        It would be JUST understandable if Jane had just converted to Christianity – but there’s no indication that she did that or that her clueless colleague thought that she had. Otherwise, it’s as weirdly tone-deaf as you can get!

        1. fluffy*

          It’s so weird how many Christians think that Jewish folks are, like, from another planet and don’t spend their entire lives awash in Christian culture.

          I’ve always been pretty cyclic with how much I’m annoyed by the default-Christianity thing, and how much I care that people realize that Hanukkah isn’t “Jewish Christmas,” and is in fact a festival commemorating the fact that we successfully fought against being forcibly converted to another religion!

          1. Edwina*

            What’s even more weird is that most of the best-known Christmas carols were WRITTEN by Jewish people. “White Christmas”? written by Israel Beilin, also known as Irving Berlin, who also wrote “God Bless America.”

            “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)? “Holly Jolly Christmas”? “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Let It Snow,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”? “Santa Baby,” “Silver Bells”?

            Even “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”? ALL WRITTEN BY MY PEOPLE. How I wish Mr. Hannukah Balls had had the presence of mind to let Miss Anti-Semite Boss know.

      2. Jessica Ganschen*

        If I were ever faced with a Hanukkah Balls Boss of my own, I would be deeply tempted to start waxing poetic about how the reason I love Hanukkah so much is that it’s a story of our people resisting assimilation into a dominant culture via any means necessary, up to and including armed conflict. I wouldn’t actually do it, but the thought would be there.

    2. Batgirl*

      I somehow missed the detail that the Hanukkah balls lady had the ornament for Jane’s “first Christmas”, signed and dated on earlier readings. It strikes me as one of the creepier aspects now; like she was officially authorising Jane’s entry into the realm of Christmas celebration? Now Jane is no longer barred from taking part, outside in the cold, her nose pressed against a frozen glass pane? It just boggles me that she doesn’t realise Jane can take charge of her own celebrations, and figure out for herself which ones interest her.

      1. Edwina*

        A lot of die-hard Christians literally think other religions are so sad because they don’t have “Christmas.” As though (1) we don’t have Christmas (it’s impossible to avoid) and (2) other religions don’t have their OWN celebrations. Christmas is an invented holiday anyway! Invented in the 9th century as a way to compete with the pagan winter celebrations. They borrowed quite a bit from the pagans–the word “Yule,” “Yule log,” the whole concept of a winter fir tree! (Much like the tokens of pagan spring celebrations, with their symbols of fertility, rabbits and eggs, somehow appear at a holiday ostensibly celebrating a resurrection)

    3. iglwif*

      I would happily work with BDSM Quilter Accountant. I would not want to work with Jane’s First Christmas Lady. One of these people can’t take a hint and doesn’t respect people’s boundaries, and it’s not BDSM Quilter Accountant!

      It’s a mystery to me how people think anyone can grow up in North America and be unfamiliar with Christmas. It’s in all our faces starting in November every year, whether we want it or not!

    4. it's-a-me*

      For some reason I’d mis-remembered it as a funny misguided attempt at inclusiveness, now I know better.

    5. zaracat*

      Yeah, the boss comes across as ickily controlling/proprietorial about “educating” and “including” the LW, in a way that can’t just be written off as obliviousness.

      It is possible to not really understand the extent to which you’ve accepted Christian celebrations as the default and even to have a mindset that anything outside of “going to church to attend a religious service” is secular or neutral, if you’ve grown up with very little exposure to other religious beliefs. I remember a particularly cringeworthy conversation I had when I was in my early 20’s and working with a Jewish colleague for the first time ever. He mentioned he’d be taking holidays and travelling back to Israel to visit family in late December and without thinking I cheerily replied “Oh, that’s nice. You’ll be home for Christmas”. He just looked at me silently, and waited for it to sink in what I’d said. But I did realise, and then wished the earth would open up and swallow me. Thankfully he forgave me.

  11. Ferdinand the Dog*

    Story No 12 is less funny in 2021 than when I read it last time, given that this is now expected behavior in the US apparently.

  12. Jessica Ganschen*

    I think, in general, “cookies delivered by dog” could be a fun thing for a holiday party, assuming it was set up in such a way that they weren’t resting directly on the dog and the dog couldn’t get to them. Definitely not worthy of being the only food at the party, though.

    1. iglwif*

      I agree it could be fun, IF you already know everyone well enough to know they’d be cool with it, IF the cookies are double-wrapped in cellophane bags or similar, IF they are not within range of doggo’s jaws, and IF they are not the only available food at the party.

        1. Saradactyl*

          And have been bathed multiple times before being bedecked with cookies. And even then, I wouldn’t touch them!

  13. Dark Macadamia*

    “A mug and a notebook featuring the photo of an employee. The employee pictured was not the employee that brought this gift.” I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS

    On the other hand, the 80s parrot glamour shot would probably bring me more enjoyment than most office gifts because I’d definitely need to display it forever as a conversation piece

    1. PeanutButter*

      I have worked in places where the 80’s parrot glamour shot portrait would have been a HUGE hit as a white elephant gift, because it’s so delightfully zany and utterly useless. The random family portrait mug as well. I could see it showing up every year, in increasingly elaborate gift-boxes in an attempt by the person who ended up with it last year to disguise it and get rid of it.

      As a present given to every single young woman in the place? EEEEEK.

    2. Shan*

      I’m late to the party here, but re: the portrait… about 12 or so years ago, my friend was working at a video game company, and had a coworker he always joked around with. He managed to get the guy in the secret santa draw, so he got a professional photographer to recreate the George Costanza “Timeless Art of Seduction” picture, and got it blown up on a huge canvas. It was a hit at the party, wound up on the wall at several companies over the years, and then… disappeared. Until earlier this year, when someone posted a photo of it in a local subreddit “DOES ANYONE KNOW THIS MAN?” and explained that they’d discovered it in an alley, carried it home, and desperately wanted to know the story behind it. Truly a “timeless” conversation piece.

  14. Weird spelling*

    I tell this every year, but…

    I work for a small family-owned company. Each Christmas, the owners, would host a fantastic Christmas party at their home with A LOT of wine. Years ago, a co-worker’s wife got really drunk. As she and co-worker were leaving, my boss said in a joking tone, “Are you sure you don’t want one more glass of wine?” To which she replied, “Why don’t you eat my ass?”

    We haven’t had alcohol at a holiday party since.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you for posting this. A real public service! You have single-handedly rescued my day from the Bin of Toxic Waste.

    2. allathian*

      OMG. The poor coworker… Did they ever bring the wife to another party? Or were the parties restricted to employees only from then on?

  15. EPLawyer*

    The dog cookie delivery system. From someone who refused to let alone else plan food because of hygiene. Just no words.

    Hannukkah Balls is so bad I missed she replaced the k-cups with eggnog. I mean she is over the top as it is, and even I as someone who LIKE decorating for Christmas would have told her where to shove her Hannukkah balls. This is just someone who the idea of diversity does not even register.

    1. EPLawyer*

      And oh yeah, the boggling of the mind over the book. WHO IN THE FREAKING 21ST CENTURY THINKS this is a good idea? I mean unless it is at a school run by that particular flavor of Christianity just NO.

      Again, diversity never freaking crossed their minds. I do want to know the mother’s reaction upon getting TWO copies of the book from her kid.

  16. Essentially Cheesy*

    In the Good Old Days (over 10 years ago by now), my employer used to host a Christmas party at a very popular local dining hall that was well known for throwing spectacular parties and the fabulous, much loved food. All of the employees and one guest were invited so it was probably over 200 people. There were limo rides that drove around town to see the Christmas lights. It was epic and wonderful.

    The final year this party was held, there was a comedian as the entertainment. He was typical, snarky observational humor, I remember the act being entertaining. He was nearing the end of his act and he was highlighting members of the audience and finally settled on teasing the plant director (top leader for the location) and was joking about romantic relationships. Somehow he asked if his date, who also worked at the plant, if she was his ‘lady on the side’ and she actually was! It was a very open secret. They both about sunk into the floor and many coworkers about died from the joke.

    I miss those parties!

  17. StoneColdJaneAusten*

    I once worked at a patent law firm (notorious for having lots of money and partners who are much better lawyers than managers).

    They had a white elephant, except the prizes were real prizes of actual value that people really wanted. A full six months into the new year, there was a lady on the support staff who was still angry about some expensive spa treatments being “stolen” from her and replaced with tire rotations.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      The angst here at our last white elephant soiree was over a coffee mug with E. coli printed on it and a plush E. coli from Giant Microbes. Those two were “stolen” until they could no longer be. But we do all work at a sewage treatment plant.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, I have had a plushy MRSA (with a cape, because SUPERBUG) on my desk since I started working in hospitals 17 years ago. (Seventeen …??? Yes. Wow. Okay.)

        1. thatjillgirl*

          I have the MRSA plushy! (And the syphilis plushy.) I love it, but it drives me crazy that the tag says that M.R.S.A. stands for multiple resistant staph aureus. It’s *methicillin* resistant! Come on, plushy people!

      2. quill*

        I love them and also I wonder what happened to my cell and molec cohort’s assorted petri dish plushies…

        I dibsed the anthrax but it probably all ended up in the professor’s office anyhow.

    2. Tessie Mae*

      As much as I would adore some expensive spa treatments, the pragmatic part of me would greatly appreciate tire rotations.

    3. Maid Dombegh*

      See, on the rare occasion that I’ve been a given spa-type gift certificate, I leave it on the break room table for anyone who wants it. A free tire rotation– now that I could use.

  18. ThatGirl*

    I started my current job in January, so ALL year people have been telling me “oh, it’s your turn to sing!” “oh, you get to sing this year!” It was always referenced as part of a Christmas party. I am STILL unclear on exactly what’s happening, but as best I can tell:

    a) all the new hires in each department get together and sing something Christmasy (?) for the c-suite
    b) everyone gets a holiday bonus after they sing (so does everyone else, but it’s played as a ‘sing for your supper’ sort of thing)
    c) it’s not an actual off-site or after-hours Christmas party, just a Thing that happens during the workday in December

    I don’t embarrass that easily and I have a “good enough for church” voice so I’ll play along but the whole thing is very weird to me.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        If I sang in public, they’d probably revoke any bonuses coming my way. I am… Not a good singer. But I am excellent at lip syncing in a crowd.

    1. Tessie Mae*

      If I had to sing, but it wasn’t solo but along with all the other new hires, I’d be OK with it, because I would just pretend to sing or sing very quietly. Like I have “done karaoke.” I give the illusion of singing when I have to. Unless you’re talking about singing Happy Birthday to family and close friends (which we often sing purposefully off-key, so I fit right in).

      1. ThatGirl*

        as far as I can tell, it’s in a small group (however many new hires in your dept – I think there are 4 or 5 of us?) so I don’t necessarily have to be loud or super-on-key, but yeah.

    2. SarahKay*

      May I recommend singing “A Christmas Carol” by Tom Lehrer ;)
      When I worked retail I used to hum that to myself whenever the unending Christmas music piped into the store got to be too much.

      1. PeanutButter*

        Or learning a few of the songs from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society’s Christmas album. My favorite is “It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Fish-Men.”

    3. jiggle mouse*

      Just ‘mishear’ sing as sting and go around whacking people with one of those electric bug-zapping fly swatters.

    4. Your local password resetter*

      That sounds embarrassing for everyone involved, and possibly a weird power play thing since it’s for the executives.
      I’d personally try to wriggle out of that one (and fake a minor illness if necessary). But I would really hate doing it, so I’m willing to burn political capital on it.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Mandatory singing by the new hires is totally a power play. It is a form of hazing. At least it isn’t physically dangerous, so there is that, but it instantly marks as jerks the people mandating it.

        1. ThatGirl*

          This company is kind of old-school but honestly makes a lot of efforts to be a place people want to work (good pay, bonuses, random extra days off, ERGs, etc). My strong suspicion is that if someone pushed back, they would not be required to participate to get their bonus. It is a mild form of hazing, as far as I can tell, but I am quite sure the intention behind it is “this is a fun and silly tradition” and not “let’s make the people who started this year very uncomfortable”. Even if it doesn’t always play out that way.

    5. Undine*

      I think I’d be tempted to learn a Hanukah song and sing that off key while everyone else was singing their assigned tune. “Siiilent niight (dreidel dreidel dreidel)”

    6. Chirpy*

      I am a decent singer and quite used to singing in public, but forced singing…when someone demands I “sing something!” I generally respond with a nice awkward “LAAA!” :P

  19. Anon4This*

    Not a holiday story, but #3 reminds me of a Gala at the theatre where I work. We had a fairly big celebrity as our entertainment for the night. After the event, the celeb ended up in one of the offices smoking weed with some staff members (I had left by this point). I’m told our Board President had been looking all over for the celeb to get a photo with him, and that’s where she and the staff member helping her found him (she was unfazed).

    1. anonymous just in case*

      In the mid-1960s my extremely buttoned up father in law, a professor of English, toked up with Allen Ginsberg, who was at the university for a reading.

      We have a picture.

      We never let him forget it.

      He primly explained that a good host makes a guest feel welcome…

      1. Bananagram*

        Oh my God that’s a seriously spectacular story. But also, is it possible your father-in-law has been overstating his buttoned-upedness all these years? :)

  20. Spicy Tuna*

    We had the gift exchange in the office one year where you could “steal” someone else’s gift. Everyone in the office was all highly paid, and the limit on the gifts was $20 or $25. Basically, if someone really wanted an item from the exchange and didn’t get it, buying it for him or herself wouldn’t really be an issue.

    My co-worker had picked a bottle of Mama Juana and I stole it from her. After the exchange, she came up to me and said, very earnestly, “I was going to give that to my dad”, and then just stood there looking at me, like I was supposed to hand it over to her? Frankly, it was a very cheap brand of Mama Juana; if I was going to make a nice gesture of an alcohol gift to my dad, I would have sprung for a nicer bottle!

    Anyway, I just said to her, “that’s not how this works” and went back to my office.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Illegal? A big yes in the US. The Feds have had tight tax- control on alcohol sales since George Washington put down the Whisky Rebellion.

    1. anonymous73*

      Good for you. I can’t stand when people give in to bullies or boundary pushers to “keep the peace” at work.

  21. Empress Matilda*

    My husband doesn’t smoke pot, but he has decided to allow himself a one-time exception in case Snoop Dogg ever offers him a joint. I’ll have to let him know about the missed opportunity there!

    1. jiggle mouse*

      My sister & her husband got to partake with Snoop when he did appearances at their two weed stores. They all had a great time.

    2. Blarg*

      I stopped drinking when I was 20. I was fortunate to see where I was headed and just, stop. Because I didn’t fall fully down that rabbit hole, I am able to have a single drink from time to time if I wish, without it being a relapse situation. But I just … don’t. So primarily, I stick with just not drinking.

      Until favorite singer, of favorite band, who is known for drinking wine on stage and sometimes sharing it with audience members, poured some wine into the empty cup of the dude standing next to me at a show. Who I don’t know. He took a sip. I took a sip. I didn’t, like, ask him for permission. There was no way I wasn’t sharing that nasty, stranger-spit-infused, bit of red wine. Not my proudest moment, and yet also, my proudest moment.

    3. MK*

      Not that I’d ever find myself in the same place as Snoop, but I am now relishing the thought of declining and offering him a cuppa instead :)

  22. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    One year, our office had a number of things going on. There was a “design a Christmas card” competition, a “Best Christmas cake” competition and a charity event which comprises buying a Christmas decoration, nominated a charity, and hanging the Christmas decoration on the Christmas tree, with one charity being drawn to receive the proceeds. You may notice a certain recurring word here.

    There were some other events – quizzes etc, which were put under the banner of “Winter Festival”.

    Cue outrage that “we weren’t allowed to do Christmas”, with people sulking and refusing to take part in any events, even the ones named Christmas, and loudly criticising anyone who did take part.

  23. LifeBeforeCorona*

    The Christmas cookie dog story never gets old and always makes me laugh. I’m picturing the dog at the end of the day happily eating all the remaining cookies that he had already licked and/or nibbled.

  24. anonymous just in case*

    In the mid-1960s my extremely buttoned up father in law, a professor of English, toked up with Allen Ginsberg, who was at the university for a reading.

    We have a picture.

    We never let him forget it.

    He primly explained that a good host makes a guest feel welcome…

  25. CommanderBanana*

    Look, I love a good cocktail, but honestly starting to think that during-work-hours-with-no-alcohol-or-guests is the way to go. If it’s not a coworker, it’s a plus-one. And some people show up to the parties already drunk.

    1. Anon For This One Because Yikes*

      I was on a government contract where everyone ended up getting banned from drinking at the holiday parties after someone on our contract got merry with wine and decided to hit on the the agency head’s personal assistant by inquiring exactly how personally she assisted her boss, and then groping her. In public. At the agency head’s party. Said person was promptly removed from our contract.

  26. Heffalump*

    Apropos of #2: Ca. 1978 I was working as a typesetter for a print shop in Los Angeles. One of our customers wrote, edited, and published books of gay BDSM short stories. There was one about a guy breaking a teenage boy in as his slave. At one point the proofreader said, “I’ve read only a few pages, and I’m already sorry for the kid.”

    The customer also had a mail order business selling the hardware, and I got to typeset the catalogs. “Tit clamps—they hurt so good, sir!”

    Definitely a vicarious look at how the other half lives.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Oh the fun of being a graphics or printing person!
      My friend (a graphic designer) created a whole website for people who use certain medical/dental instruments as part of their BDSM. I don’t even want to think about that one! I’m just hoping it was nothing they could seriously injure themselves with.

      1. Heffalump*

        Yep. Our customer published a newsletter for his customers, and regarding one particular item he said, “I get these from medical supply houses, and that’s a hassle and a half.”

        He was willing to fill small credit card orders as a courtesy, but he asked his customers not to put small orders on their credit cards if they could avoid it, as such orders were a PITA. He added, “The bank doesn’t like it either, but piss on them.”

  27. Florp*

    OOOH. The Helpmeet book is some seriously creepy isht. I can’t figure out a non-triggering way to say this so I’m going to be vague, but the people who wrote that book have written other books full of abusive family “advice” supposedly based on the Bible. Awful, awful stuff.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I looked it up just now because I wondered if it’d make a good gag gift. Nope. As soon as I saw the author’s name, I gave up on my idea. She and her husband have also written a series of books on parenting, that people who’d tried them as parents of young children, later needed therapy and support groups to get out of their system. (Not to mention how traumatized I’m guessing the children were.)

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I visible just cringed when I looked it up, guess I’d pushed them out of my head. Those books were “how to abuse your child and get away with it by claiming religious beliefs” (my summary anyways).

      2. banoffee pie*

        IMO stuff like that is too close to the bone to be a gag gift anyway, traumatised children or not (and it must be really bad if it traumatised people! almost scared to google it)

        1. Nina*

          my mom had alllll those books when I was a kid. She never used any of the techniques in them (that I’m aware of… certainly none of the violent ones), but I was a voracious reader from very very young and the books were stored very very close to the floor… that was some traumatizing shit to read, never mind have your parents completely buy into.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Good gag gift: “English As She is Spoke.” This is a Portuguese-English phrase book written in 1855. The thing is, the authors did not speak English, nor did they own a Portuguese-English dictionary. They did, however, own a Portuguese-French dictionary, and a French-English dictionary, so there you go! The result is a classic. Mark Twain was enchanted, and rightly so.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I bought a stack of them as gifts for my groom’s party. We spent the evening before my wedding taking turns reading out loud. Good times. It helps that we were each and every one of us a total nerd.

        1. Heffalump*

          I’ve read that the author knew that he didn’t know what he was doing, but he needed the money.

          One chapter is titled “For to Visit a Sick.” When you know that he went to English by way of French, it makes perfect sense: Pour visiter un malade. Correct English: “To visit a sick person.”

        2. allathian*

          Books on Franglish by Jean-Loup Chiflet (a.k.a. John-Wolf Whistle) are hilarious as well. I got “Sky, My Husband – Ciel, Mon Mari” for Chrismas one year and laughed myself silly.

        3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          That sounds even more fun than my bored-at-work pastime of entering our mission statement into a translation website, then running it through several languages. The results were always hilarious – like a multilingual version of the old telephone game. Or just translating it into Dutch, that’s a language that improves everything.

          1. Jessica Ganschen*

            One of the podcasts that I follow is a recap/review of a popular Chinese web novel, and they have a segment where they take fanfic and other content that was originally written in Chinese and read out the machine translation. I have to imagine that the average writer of these works is as competent as any average person writing in their native language, but boy, machine translation sure does mangle it.

    2. iglwif*

      Yeah I would be VERY VERY creeped out to discover I was working for people who thought that book was (a) a good book and (b) appropriate to hand out to people you work with.

      ENTIRE FOREST of red flags.

    3. Jackalope*

      Yeah, the story itself was amusing, but the fact that they thought this was okay to give out is seriously not. I’ve heard it referred to as a domestic violence and rape manual, and the parenting book as a child abuse manual. There are children who have actually died because their parents followed the advice in that book. So evil.

    4. EmmaPoet*

      I googled it last time this came up, but I’d forgotten how terribad the whole thing is. Just cringe.

  28. Echo*

    I’m half Jewish and have a very identifiably Jewish last name, but my mom is from a Christian background and I grew up celebrating Christmas. I would have loved to play along with the boss in #1 and pretend I’d basically never heard of Christmas before. The idea that a Jewish person should be thrilled to enthusiastically participate in their “first Christmas”, at work(!!!), is bewilderingly offensive to me but given my own background it would just bring out my inner troll.

    1. Anon4This*

      Seriously. I ADORE Christmas/the holidays – it’s my favorite time of year. I may or may not already be listening to Christmas music in my car and at home when I’m alone. But that’s MY choice and I only inflict it upon myself. No one should have it foisted upon them any more than someone should have Halloween or the 4th of July or Talk Like a Pirate Day foisted upon them.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        But those holidays don’t cross into religious harassment territory, so that would be completely different.

  29. SparkleBoots*

    “Also, a photo of the corn was submitted.” I died laughing at this part. It’s just so ridiculous. And I need ridiculous things to laugh at today.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      For some reason, until I opened the picture, I thought it was corn that had been vacuum sealed in one of those home machines. I did not realize that… An entire factory apparently was devoted to making this item, which is then sold in stores. (Raised in a corn-growing part of the country. In my world, corn comes from farm stands or in big bins in the grocery store. And you husk it yourself, dammit!)

      1. Shiba Dad*

        I thought that the corn was vacuum sealed that way as well. That would have at least taken some effort.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          Actually, home grown corn, fresh picked from the back yard, rushed to the sealer and then to the freezer to be enjoyed in the colder months sounds promising. Maybe shuck and blanch it first?

  30. Nea*

    #7 is the one that makes my flesh crawl, but I know more about the author of Exist To Be His Doormat than I want to. The thing that gets me is – even if it’s a conservative evangelical school, it’s giving all the career women a book about how women shouldn’t have careers!

    1. EmbracesTrees*

      Two words: Phyllis Schlafly

      It’s a amazing how people can compartmentalize and justify horrendous “values”

      1. Nea*

        There’s a long, long list of conservative women who have made lucrative careers out of telling women they can’t have lucrative careers!

      2. Heffalump*

        I once read that if her husband had said, “Phyllis, I want you home every night,” she would have complied in a heartbeat.

        I’m a bit chagrined that her degree (JD) and mine (BA) are from the same university.

  31. Jam Today*

    #1 is actually seriously bad, but this part ” is amazed when I told her that I know the words to some Christmas songs” makes me laugh because of the number of “Christmas standards” that were written by Jewish songwriters in the early 20th century.

    1. iglwif*


      I am both Jewish and a choral singer, which means have I spent 1/4 of every choir season since the mid-1980s on Christmas songs, and I frequently refer to songs like White Christmas, We Need a Little Christmas, and the “chestnuts roasting” song as “the Jewish content on this program”.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Neil Diamond & Carole King have both released Christmas albums. (King’s includes the very sweet Chanukah Prayer sung with her grandson.)

  32. RabbitRabbit*

    The only one that comes to mind this week for me, from a few years back, is when a coworker asked a Native colleague what she was doing for Thanksgiving. Said colleague just said, “I don’t really do much for that…”

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      What I am reading: “This Land is Their Land” by David J. Silverman. It is a history of the first Thanksgiving from the Wampanoag perspective. It is excellent. The text is less tendentious than the title, at least on the explicit level. This, in my opinion, makes it all the more effective.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        In just the last week or so, I read a newspaper article to the effect of ‘the Wampanoag still regret their choice to help’ and which discussed things like how their museum near Plymouth, MA is basically almost entirely unknown and overlooked. (I went to Plymouth several years ago when I was visiting a friend who lives there, and wish I had realized one existed. The “rock” itself is not worth the trip.)

        1. Shiba Dad*

          I kind of remember reading something that said a years ago descendent of the Wampanoag was uninvited to speak at some event in Plymouth. He was going to say that this encounter didn’t work out so well for his ancestors.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Hah! My town was the site of a skirmish in the Civil War. The tourism bureau makes the most of what it has to work with, including an annual encampment by reenactors. The local Episcopal churchyard has the remains of a Confederate officer killed in the skirmish. One of the activities of the encampment is to gather around the grave and look solemn. Then somewhere along the line someone noticed that one of the other graves was an enlisted man in a “colored” regiment. This did not itself present a problem. The reenactors were happy to expand their standing around looking solemn to include another grave. The mistake was when the organizers decided to bring in a historian to put in context the experiences of this soldier. The problem was they got a real historian rather than a hack, and they didn’t vet what he would say. As he was speaking, the reenactors were horrified when they realized he was suggesting that the Civil War and slavery were somehow connected. They were so outraged that the color guard lowered the colors and turned their backs on him. In retrospect I am sorry I wasn’t there, as this is hilarious! But I generally avoid Civil War reenactors, as the strong Lost Cause gives me the creeps. Also, I would have to restrain myself from breaking out in a lusty chorus of Marching Through Georgia. It is probably just as well I stay away.

  33. Lizy*

    DYING lolololol…

    except… where’s the Christmas party teachers date? That absolutely should be included! “Maybe there’s two of us? I hope there’s two of us…”

  34. Canadian Librarian #72*

    Those wrapped ears of corn are from Dollarama. Yes, as in the grocery section of the dollar store. That’s truly scraping the bottom of the barrel for a gift!

    1. allathian*

      Vacuum-packed pre-cooked corn on the cob is the only kind we get in this climate. Sure, some gardeners grow hardy Canadian varieties, but they don’t have time to mature every year and there are no domestic corn producers here, at least not yet.

  35. Shiba Dad*

    #11 – This happened before I started working there: a food fight broke out at the company Christmas Party. The venue asked that they not come back.

  36. Anon for this one for obvious reasons!*

    Okay, I worked at a company with SO MANY PEOPLE like this. LOL

    12. 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.”

  37. Shiba Dad*

    One of my coworkers is at jobsite today near the site where I work. Another coworker and I met him for lunch. the three of us worked together at an old employer.

    One of our Christmas parties with the old employer came up in conversation. It was at a nice restaurant where I had eaten before. Our meal included sliced turkey and roast beef, which was technically correct. They were lunch meat slices, and not particularly good lunch meat.

    Another memory from that party was a conversation with another coworker’s wife. I said hello and asked her how she was doing. She responded by telling me about this homemade laundry detergent recipe that she got from that reality show with the Duggars. That was…something.

  38. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I may have told this one last year, but: One year our parent company, owned by some old-school Texans, decided it would be a nice gesture to give everyone canned hams for Christmas. Went over particularly well with the Jewish employees …

        1. Gumby*

          They would have gotten a few from other employees too. Because while I eat ham, I probably wouldn’t eat a canned ham. Who knows? Maybe they are delicious. I have eaten ham lunch meat which is probably worse in the grand scheme of things. But something about the whole “canned ham” just seems gross to me.

          1. Retired (but not really)*

            My mother in law used to make a delicious barbecue ham by punching holes in the top of the can, pouring in BBQ sauce and baking the ham in the can. It was a family favorite.

  39. RabbitRabbit*

    Ah, I remembered a better story than the one I posted above – many years ago, we had a just-after-work office party, held in our large office suite, with an impressive food spread and an open bar… and some colleagues drank so much that the next year, we had 2 drink tickets each. Considering that someone threw up in a garbage can (admittedly, at least it was his own?), I’m kind of surprised we even had a bar the following year. I learned later that some of the chief culprits had gone to the hotel bar a couple blocks down the street to “pre-game”, which makes no sense because they had to pay hotel prices for that alcohol when free alcohol was coming up at the party. (Considering our manager at the time, slipping out to drink – regardless of the day – makes more sense in retrospect.)

  40. Berkeleyfarm*

    Like a lot of people, the more I read the Hanukkah Balls story the more I cringe. I mean, it’s not like Jane was ignorant of over-the-top Christmas stuff growing up in the culture!

    Jane was a really good sport. At the point where my coffee got replaced I’d be grompy, but it seems like boss was “in charge” enough to not be challenged. (Or if there was a grandboss the message would be “don’t hurt her feeeeeelings”)

  41. Managing to Get By*

    LW #2, I think the reason this couple didn’t ping any warning systems is because even though they are unabashed swingers into BDSM they aren’t creeps. When you said no they took it graciously and were still nice. They weren’t trying to force anything on anyone, they have an interest and don’t hold it against anyone who doesn’t share that interest. They overshared a bit but took no for an answer right away.

  42. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    7. The instructions for wives: I think I would’ve held my own little book burning party for that “gift.”

      1. Not Your Sweetheart*

        Tessa Dare writes a romance series where the women of a small village collect copies of a how-to-get-a-husband type book. The books are used for any and every purpose except what the author intended. Wobbly table? Put the book under one leg. Need tinder to start a fire? Use the pages of the book. They get pretty creative, and it’s a fun series.

        1. Jackalope*

          This is kind of late so maybe you won’t see this, but which series? I just read my first Tessa Dare book and am interested in reading more.

          1. MsSolo (UK)*

            Not the previous commenter, but off the top of my head I think it’s in her Spindle Cove books, but I couldn’t tell you which one.

            (and enjoy! They’re great books for the pandemic, I’ve found, because there’s just the right about of peril and complicated characters while still being light and warm and reassuring)

  43. The Bimmer Guy*

    I remember the Hanukah Balls (seriously, let’s indoctrinate the Jewish person who doesn’t celebrate Christmas into doing so. Gross.)…but not the rest of these.

    The one with the dog was particularly funny, because I know several people who would think it was wholly appropriate to do something that nutty.

    As far as White Elephant gifts, I once received–at a work function–a jar of Vaseline. Used. With a single, curly red hair in it. And no one in the room had red hair (allegedly). But that’s what happens when you work at a car dealership.

  44. Egmont Apostrophe*

    This wasn’t a workplace one, but it was a social group of foodies. We’d have a drawing for gifts– some of which were quite spectacular, think baskets of homemade cookies for the holidays. Then there was the woman who gave two used paperback cookbooks. And at the last minute, wanted to split them into two gifts, because I guess she thought her gift was too lavish for a single winner?

  45. Interloper in a Pear Tree*

    At spouse’s office party a couple years ago, as everyone’s sitting down for meal after a few drinks and cold appetizers, the owners got up to say a few words. First, they spoke of their financial success over the past year and received mild, reserved applause from the couple-hundred employees. Then they spoke of their performance compared to competitors, and again received mild, reserved applause. Then, “Finally, we want to be very clear. This Is Not a Holiday Party,” and at top volume, “It’s A CHRISTMAS PARTY!” This was met by a standing ovation with roaring applause and shouts of approval. I’m Jewish, and while it’s not an inclusive message, it’s fully their prerogative to decide what kind of party it is. So while I didn’t begrudge the sentiment, the tone of the delivery and response made me feel incredibly uncomfortable and unwelcome.

    1. banoffee pie*

      Yeah that sounded very pointed and rude. Can’t believe they did that actually (figure of speech, of course I believe you). It sounds like they were yelling at ‘political correctness’ in general.

  46. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I must say I feel a bit cheated that nothing even remotely interesting has happened at any of my work parties! Everyone is well behaved, no inappropriate gifts or comments (that I know of anyway) … I feel like I need more out of life.

    1. quill*

      As a veteran of two objectively horrifying office christmas parties, don’t make wishes! (one was at pinstripes, and it would have been lovely if I was ALLOWED TO GO HOME after dinner went south, the other was at a screening of “office Christmas Party” which is not the movie you want to discuss with your boss for the next month…)

    2. it's-a-me*

      The most interesting thing to ever happen to me was being told after the fact that a guy I’d been talking to was flirting me. I don’t doubt that he was in retrospect, though at the time it just seemed like casual conversation to me, (do you like to dance, what are you drinking, do you want to go to the after party, etc.) but the most stand-out thing is… we also spoke about his wife!

      The only other interesting happening I couldn’t reveal because it would immediately be identifiable to anyone in my company.

    3. Anon Here for the Past*

      I was about to agree that I’d never been to a company holiday party that inappropriate happenings – but then I remembered Sock Girl.

      I was working at a hotel shortly after getting married and moving to a new state. I took the job for something to do while I tried to figure out how to transfer my teaching license to the new state, and it was also a good way to meet people.
      So the holiday season rolled around, and they held two separate parties: one was blatantly Christmas themed for the kids of staff members aged 12 and under. It was at the hotel, in the middle of the day, and even ended with a visit from Santa who had a present for each child in attendance (hence the age cap). It was always a good time had by all the kids.

      The second was far more neutrally winter themed, and was for staff and a plus one only. Well, one of the folks who worked the front desk with me was just barely 18, but acted like a young 16. The adult party had a very nice food spread, dance floor, and an open bar. Well immature girl came in a tube-top strapless dress that looked like an enormous tube sock (complete with the double red stripe at the top on a ribbed white cotton background). She also somehow got the bar to serve her well past the point where she should have stopped drinking. She ended up dirty dancing with her date out on the dance floor, in the process both flashing and then mooning everyone in attendance. Two songs later she closed the dance floor by volcanically throwing up all over it. I don’t know if more happened after that – Spouse and I decided that the vomit was our cue to call it a night.

      It was really hard to look her in the eye two days later while working a shift with her. That was also the end of the Annual Winter Party.

  47. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    The way my eyes bugged when I saw “Created to be His Helpmeet”. That book and the couple that wrote it are considered somewhat fringe even in more conservative Christian circles. It used to be suggested a lot more in my circles, but I think we all learned. I read like…two chapters of it I think before just up and quitting because something seemed off.

    All the copies need to be burned, but they are ESPECIALLY inappropriate to give out as gifts AT WORK. Holy cow.

    1. banoffee pie*

      There’s no way I can even look that up without driving myself up the wall so I’m not gonna even try. It would make me both sad and mad.

  48. Denver Gutierrez*

    Was the colleague in 5 Vladimir Putin? I still remember how, during the Sochi Olympics, he had the staff put a framed photo of himself, shirtless on a horse, in all the athletes’ hotel rooms.

  49. Won't Get Fooled Again. Maybe.*

    My holiday story is that we get 2 days off at Christmas, but. because Christmas is on a Saturday, we only get one. Not amused. At. All

  50. Chirpy*

    #5 I would have immediately handed the “gift” back. Creepy.

    #7 would have also been returned immediately to sender. Ideally on fire, or with my resignation attached.

    1. Chirpy*

      also, for #7 – as someone who was discriminated against at a previous job as the only unmarried, childless woman there, and who has multiple times been told what a “failure” (or “abomination”) I apparently am for “not lowering my standards to get a man”* (because being unhappily in a relationship is still supposedly better than being single to these people, I guess??) – I might pick some verses from 1 Corinthians 7** and blow them up to poster size for the office before I left.

      ** to paraphrase: “it’s better to stay single than to get married, unless you’re too weak to control your desires (in which case you should so you don’t sin), but generally marriage distracts you from God”, and “God, not your marital status, defines your life”.

      * my standards include such shockers as “we must be mutually attracted to each other” and “guy must treat me as an equal partner, not as a cook/cleaner/babymaker”, not that these people ever asked.

      1. Jackalope*

        Years ago I had someone close to me with bad relationship instincts tell me that I’m too picky and should lower my standards. I spent a lot more of my life single than said conversation partner but I also ended up very happy with a good spouse in the end so I’m happy with my pickiness.

        1. Chirpy*

          Right? I’d rather be permanently single than get stuck with, say, my coworker’s mechanic who was “just looking for a nice girl to finally settle down and have some kids”, for example. Kids or no kids, I want a partner who loves me and not my housekeeping skills….and preferably someone to travel the world with.

  51. Lately I've Been Late*

    Does #1 count as making it a hostile work environment for /harassing the Jewish employee? Seriously an so appalled.

  52. Wesley Smasher*

    I want to know how the others at the accounting outcasts table reacted when the cage conversation was going on.

  53. Rainy Day*

    Disregarding the disturbing content of the book in #7, I laughed myself silly at the idea of roommate’s mum receiving two copies, months apart. That’s hilarious!

  54. HeavensToBetsy*

    My favorite are the staff that act like they don’t want to be at the holiday party when it’s been mentioned more than once that the parties are OPTIONAL. There are staff that don’t go and that is totally fine, we’ve mentioned that to them! I mean, we would like to see them at the holiday party but we get it. Maybe they want to relax outside of work or have other commitments. We don’t pressure people into going. Who knows, maybe at other jobs they’ve been expected to attend these sorts of events and it’s engrained in them to attend. Regardless of what we tell them some will attend to be polite or because they think it will paint them in a bad light. But at our last holiday party, there were a few people that were highly critical of how things were handled as well as acting like they didn’t want to be there. So why show up??

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