share your funniest office holiday stories

We have once again entered the season of forced workplace merriment, holiday party disasters, and other seasonal delights! Thus it is time to hear about your office holiday debacles, past or current.

Did you pass out naked in the break room? Did your manager provide you with a three-page document of “party procedures”? Did a drunk Santa stumble into your party off the street? These are all real stories that we’ve heard here in the past. Now you must top them.

Share your weirdest or funniest story related to holidays at the office in the comments.

{ 813 comments… read them below }

  1. Holly Day*

    December 2019.

    Our usual potluck/white elephant exchange was well underway.

    On the gift table was this almost comically large box. Now, anyone familiar with such exchanges would most likely know that “large, ornate gift” is probably a trap. Despite that, a colleague gleefully picked it – she was the sort of person who was always looking to get the best of everything and whined if someone else got something she deemed “better,” so no one was surprised to see her make a beeline to that perfect box.

    Anyway, she opens the package and it is a GIANT box of Angel Soft toilet paper. G.I.A.N.T. So many rolls.

    For the rest of the party, she complained quite bitterly to anyone who would listen (and even to those who did their best not to listen!). It wasn’t her preferred brand, you see. She wanted a “good” gift. She tried to get someone else to take it and, eventually, someone did (I think to get her to be quiet, frankly).

    Fast forward a couple of months to March 2020 – when she begins to complain that she can’t find any toilet paper in the stores, preferred brand or otherwise!

    It was a bright spot in the dark times, at least for me.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      Heck, I’d be thrilled to get a humungous box of toilet paper any time, any brand. Even when there’s not a shortage, it still means I don’t have to buy it myself for however any months or a year maybe.

  2. Not a communist*

    My first job was at an affiliate of a large, well funded organization focused on commerce and free trade. Every year, we were invited to the parent org’s Christmas party, which was lavish but only served finger foods (DC rules related to meals/lobbying). Full bar and finger foods (hearty though they were) meant that every year, lots of junior (and senior) staff got very drunk. Vomiting in the bathrooms-level drunk. Cab vouchers were provided as a matter of course.

    I enjoyed the parties responsibly until after I left the org for a new role. A friend invited me as her plus one to that year’s Christmas party. A number of things happened that night that I don’t fully remember. One thing that I do remember is singing the Soviet anthem (in Russian) on the steps of this trade and commerce institution. There was no real ideological reason for it… I was drunk and knew the words — maybe someone egged me on. I was very glad I didn’t have to face anyone at work the next Monday, but my friend sure did…

  3. kixosplb*

    Years & years ago, spouse & I were in the military stationed overseas. At our squadron Christmas party, the commander gave a little speech & reminded everyone to not drive home under the influence. The military police & the local police take this very, very, very seriously. He offered to drive anyone home if necessary.

    Of course we all understood this wasn’t a serious offer, it was intended to convey how seriously we should take his warning. If someone needed a ride home, they could get a ride with a co-worker or supervisor or could call a taxi. Everyone understood this wasn’t a serious offer except one very young, new enlistee. He proceeded to get quite intoxicated & at the end of the evening sidled up to the commander & informed him he’d be needing that ride. The commander had not choice bo to be true to his word. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, the guy puked in the commander’s car on the way.

    1. The+Cosmic+Avenger*

      Serves the CO right, he should have said what he meant: I expect you all to make your own arrangements to get safely home. Some of us have trouble with jokes like that if we don’t have context/history with the joke teller, and then even sometimes if we do.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes – he shouldn’t have aid it if he didn’t mean it, especially if dealing with younger staff members.

      2. MEH Squared*

        This was my immediate thought as well. It’s not always easy to see shades of gray, especially for a very new enlistee. The latter did what he thought he’d been told to do (in a system that follows hierarchy very seriously). The CO could have said “call a cab or ask someone to drive you home” and just stopped there.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Did the CO make the same speech next year? Hopefully he learned his lesson to change it to some version of “call you a cab”

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

      Honestly, if a high ranking official gave such a warning, I’d assume they really meant “don’t get so drunk you need a ride home at all” and not just “my superficial offer of a ride is not serious.”

      1. KatEnigma*

        Sure but you aren’t an 18 yr old on your first assignment away from home. OP specified “very new enlistee”

        1. Falling+Diphthong*

          Classic “When Person says X, what they are really telling you is Y.” That thing “everyone knows” not because it’s encoded in dna, but because they’ve been around people who modeled it, or explained it outright.

          Unknown unknowns do you in every time.

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

          True, but kixosplb was the one who indicated that the subcontext was only that the offer of a ride from the CO wasn’t serious; I was more commenting that I would think the real subcontext is don’t get ripped period.

      2. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

        Yeah. It’s never a good look to get puking drunk in front of any big boss.

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I mean, the commander could have ordered and paid for a taxi or asked someone else to drive the guy home. I would take the offer to drive me home to mean, he would make sure I got home safely, not that he would literally drive me.

    5. NorthBayTeky*

      All the commanders say that at the squadron parties. Sure, they mean it. They hope you will find your own way home, without his help. They would be derelict in their duty if they 1) Allow young (underage) E-1s or E-2s to drink and 2) Leave them to their own devices to get back home.

      1. Elizabeth Naismith*

        Exactly. They will drive you home if you need it. But… you don’t ever want to show off your drunken antics in front of your boss like that, civilian or military.

    6. CurrentlyBill*

      “The commander had not choice bo to be true to his word. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, the guy puked in the commander’s car on the way.”

      The fact that the commander did follow thru, though, does say a lot about him. Even if he could have communicated better, it sounds like he took responsibility for that which seems to be setting a great example.

      1. Happily+Retired*

        To be followed immediately the next morning with a meeting in the CO’s office, beginning, “Now, son…” (signed, a grown-up Army brat)

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Although this reminds me of the story my brother told me about the middie at the Army-Navy game who threw up on the shoes of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (they say his ghost haunts Annapolis still).

          1. Elizabeth Naismith*

            Oh, that poor boy! He was polishing shoes until the leather was shining like the top of the Chrysler Building after that one!

  4. Notmyrealpseudonym*

    At a Christmas party, one of the office ladies and a shop technician got so friendly in the men’s bathroom, they pulled the cubicle walls off and caused 10k in damages. Which my company paid, no questions asked.

      1. Lirael*

        ….. that’s a bra company in the UK, I thought for a second you’d already heard this story and were sharing where it happened!

    1. EmmaPoet*

      Part of me wants to know exactly how they pulled a wall off, but the wiser part of me says that your company made the right call by not asking.

      1. Notmyrealpseudonym*

        Not just one. The center wall between two stalls and the front with the door. It goes beyond not asking, it was an emphatic please do not volunteer any information. For a multitude of reasons!

        1. EmmaPoet*

          …wow. I am reminded of an office party at my old job where someone decided to rip multiple toilets out of their stalls in one of the men’s rooms. I don’t know if they were asked why. I do know that they were canned afterwards (they were caught on camera walking in solo and walking out solo, and the facilities had been fine before.)

  5. Keymaster of Gozer*

    The one where my colleague showed up in an outfit comprised of server parts and network cables definitely fits.

    A) he couldn’t sit down (soo many metal pointy bits up the bum) and only found this out later

    B) he got royally drunk and there was an incident with a Swiss Army knife and a lot of the cables that didn’t physically harm him but he ended up topless for the rest of the night

    C) he got absolutely screamed at the next day when the infrastructure guys found out WHERE all that server stuff had come from. Their stores.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Sewn/glued/taped to a normal item of clothing? A lot of costumes involve starting with a base of a cheap t-shirt or leggings/tights the wearer doesn’t mind trashing.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        So, things like external hard drive or CD drives are big enough for a fig leaf if the guy isn’t hung like a porn star. A few strategically placed cables could hold it in place. But I’m not sure how he would be attaching stuff to his backside…

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Hence the incident with the knife: it very nearly wasn’t decent!

        He wore some black leggings under but the chest? Was network cable as far as the eye could see. All different colours too, very festive.

        (He’s still employed there as I recall, I left a few years ago)

    1. Phillippe II*

      The three requirements of a successful costume:
      1) Can use the restroom, preferably without assistance
      2) Can sit down, preferably comfortably
      3) Has pockets

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Oh yeah. Made that mistake this last Halloween. Went as a mandalorian with a costume I made based off black overalls. I had to peel myself out of my armor and flight suit every time I needed to use the restroom.

    2. nm*

      Oh my god if someone in my office used the office supplies to make a server parts outfit I think I would simply faint from secondhand embarrassment and horror

    3. As Per Elaine*

      There are some bins of network equipment that you could raid with my blessing, but some of them… I’d better NEVER see you again after.

    4. Beth*

      My best ever Halloween costume was Gates O’Malley, the Software Pirate Queen. I did NOT use any components borrowed from my company; I had plenty of access to enough recently-obsolete technology for the purpose.

  6. T-Rexlibrarian*

    Not hilarious, but one time we went off site for a pizza lunch to celebrate the holiday. We had substitutes and people helping out from other locations so we could leave the building and keep our location running. We didn’t realize it, but apparently a snow storm had rolled in, and the mayor had ordered an early closure. So our helping hands back at our location were frantically trying to get ahold of us, because they couldn’t lock the building and leave without one of us there (the back door had a deadbolt that required a key to lock from the outside behind us). We all scrambled out, some back to close up shop, and others to get home while the getting was good!

    Honestly mostly holiday parties are boring potlucks in the break room.

  7. Brain the Brian*

    I really don’t have many from years past, but — as I said in a thread yesterday — our HR lead is forcing employees who live in other states to “participate remotely” in our holiday party this year by sitting on camera for several hours and watching the rest of us eat a catered lunch and take part in work-appropriate games. I may have some stories after that, of course.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        Or one of those giant cardboard cutouts they use to take picture with celebrities and politicians.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I’d probably be tempted to make it a REALLY obvious bobblehead/fake to get the point across.

          Realistically, I just wouldn’t sign in, using whatever excuse was convenient at whatever level of honesty I thought the people trying to force it to happen would bear. (Ie, anything from “sudden connection issue” after being visibly and audibly present for 5 minutes to “No really, this will not be fun or encourage team building.” depending on the person in question)

          1. Foxy Hedgehog*

            I would be tempted to go the exact opposite direction–malicious participation. Just shout out questions to the group until they tell you to leave. “Hey Wakeen, what kind of sandwich is that–pastrami? Corned beef? Sansa, is that ciabatta bread? Looks good, but how does it taste on a scale of 1 to 10? What’s for dessert–do you know?” And so on.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        Nope – do what my friend’s 9 year old did during virtual school: she took a screenshot of herself sitting at her desk then made it her background. When her mom came into her room to check on her and she was on the floor with her books she freaked out a little because she was afraid her kiddo was going to get in trouble. Her kid said – in total seriousness – “mom there are like a bajillion kids in my class. Our pictures are so tiny on her screen she can’t tell. And I’m still participating!” She was just super uncomfortable in her chair so she improvised. I’m sure she was not the only kid to do this but I was so impressed by her creativity because it would NEVER have occurred to me.

        1. Meganly*

          It’s even better to make a 30 second to 1 minute video of yourself looking at your screen and set that as your background. That way, you’re breathing and blinking and thus look more like you’re actually there compared to a static picture.

          1. RT*

            Yeah but now you can’t claim your internet froze if you’re caught :)

            This is probably just me, but I would feel more self-conscious about that than a picture for some reason….

      3. Me (I think)*

        During the pandemic I discovered that Zoom allowed one to use a video as a background. I also discovered that I could make a video of myself with my built in webcam on my Mac. That video might have been 20-30 seconds of me looking at the screen, nodding occasionally, looking away at my other screen, etc. That video might then have been used as the background in Zoom, and it might have looked just like I was totally engaged.

        This works until someone asks a question, of course. So probably best used for very large meetings or presentations.

        1. DiplomaJill*

          I used to make one of these of myself before each staff meeting so it has the right outfit, etc!

      4. Smrt*

        A devious friend of mine has a screen cap of himself that he has as his background during long, boring public service meetings where his presence is required, but he isn’t asked to contribute.

    1. Artemesia*

      Tell me that holiday lunch packages are being sent to them along with a half bottle of bubbly? Otherwise, this is so hilariously odd.

    2. I’m screaming inside too*

      Seriously, this is where you develop “connection issues” that can’t be fixed. (No need to specify that the “connection issue” is your lack of interest in being onscreen backdrop for the event.)

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Time to learn the trick of taking a photo of yourself and setting that as your background. Then just pop in for 5-10 min periodically (turn off the background then turn camera on) and if anyone notices just claim your internet must have frozen!

      1. ferrina*

        My camera happens to break at times like these. I guess the camera has a low tolerance for nonsense.

    4. XMasVacation*

      Last year we had the same thing. I was the one who had to set it up and I didn’t even want to go. And then, I had to see who couldn’t make the trip (2 hour drive for some) and then set up a WebEx and bring a laptop to the lunch so people could watch us eat at the restaurant. I had to call the restaurant to make sure they had WiFi and a plug near our reserved table to keep the PC going.
      Praise Jesus we had a Covid spike in our area and we canceled the lunch. There were actually a couple people on the team who were looking forward to sitting online and watching the rest of the group eat.

      1. Charlotte+Lucas*

        Our party is hybrid this year (fully remote the past two), & optional. I am astonished that some people want to attend online to watch the rest of us eat. (I assume they want to take part in the game we’ll be playing.)

        1. Brain the Brian*

          If this were optional (as our pre-pandemic parties were), I’m sure that half the office would not attend. But our HR department turned over entirely during the pandemic, and this year, we have a hard-and-fast requirement that everyone attends either in-person or (with a “valid” excuse) virtually.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            If I had any capital to use I would push back very hard on this, starting with flat informing them that I would not attend. I’m not driving to an office to cavort maskless with an unknown number of people, and I’m not going to spend an evening on camera watching people give each other Covid.

            But I’m old and cranky like that. Ironically, I usually showed up, with spouse, in person to company holiday parties when I was in an office. Free food, games and seeing people’s spice, plus showing the department flag is why I went. But I can’t see mandatory, camera on “fun” working very well.

            1. Brain the Brian*

              My manager — who has a *lot* of capital — has already tried, to no avail. Remote attendance at lunchtime in the office’s time zone will mean logging in at 9pm for some remote employees and 6am for others, and even pointing this out led nowhere (the HR lead said something to effect of “They moved there and knew the consequences” — even through the company *required* some of them to move abroad). For myself, I’ll be there in person but masked, and I have a medical appointment that will force me to leave midway through. *shrug*

              1. turkey time*

                I would like for Alison to sit down with you and go through every detail here because everything new I hear is just..WOW

              2. Zelda*

                How is HR issuing *orders*? Most places, they’re not in anybody’s chain of command. One is baffled.

        2. Princesss+Sparklepony*

          If there were big time cash prizes for playing the game, I could see doing it. Otherwise… I’m guessing my internet went down after saying hi to everyone.

    5. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      My previous employer had an “employee appreciation” day. As we were in one of the satellite offices, we had pizza and I think some other very generic “fun” that actually meant we all ate at our desks while we ate and participated. We were also required to call in to the home office and listen while they had food trucks, a DJ (playing, admittedly, fun music that I didn’t mind listening to), and raffles of gifts like iPads and TV’s while every once and awhile a gift card for smaller amounts of money was pulled from amongst ALL the satellite offices. I think my office had one winner of a card. It was a very bizarre way of doing things- “Ha, look at how much fun we’re having! We’ll throw you a bone every now and then.”

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Take a picture of yourself sitting at your remote workstation and set it as your background in the video chat software.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        This suggestion has come up several times in this thread, and I’d just like to say that I wouldn’t put it past our HR lead to have someone monitor the video chat specifically to prevent people from doing this, or at least to check the recording later to see who had set a background and what that background was. The video chat will be done using company-administered software.

        1. Meganly*

          Best way around that is to take a video of yourself using a festive background and use that video as your background. The software would say you’re using a background and they’ll just think it’s the festive one, not the whole screen.

          But that does overall seem like a huge waste of HR’s time.

    7. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I always wonder how the people making these requirements would react if the roles were reversed and THEY were the ones being required to do something so stupid and pointless. A lot of work problems could be avoided if the people in charge took even 10 seconds to have that thought.

    8. OK with a bit of chaos*

      I’m trying to decide if this is better or worse than the fact that I (a remote employee) didn’t even know that the office holiday party existed until they moved it to Zoom during the pandemic. Now I win prizes every year.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Were there no firm- or office-wide emails about pre-pandemic holiday parties? I’m so curious about how they planned it so carefully as to avoid telling the remote employees!

        1. OK with a bit of chaos*

          It’s is a very small office, so it would have been easy to just chat with everyone as they moved around the space during a normal work day. So easy that it might have felt overly official to an org-wide email.

    9. Veryanon*

      Any HR person worth their salt would not force people to do this. I work in HR and most of the employees I support are scattered all over the US; I would never force anyone to participate in something “fun” remotely.

    10. AV Maria*

      I don’t want to sit on Zoom for hours, but my team has made no effort to include the handful of remote workers and that also sucks. Between the two being excluded is better, but still, some kind of acknowledgement would have been nice.

      1. JustaTech*

        In the before times if my site had our holiday party any time other than Saturday night it meant that some people couldn’t come because they were on call.

        So to make up for those people having to miss the party (whether they would have gone or not) the party planners always made sure to order them an extra special dinner (nicer food than what was served at the party) and have it delivered to the office during their shift.

        Back then our only fully remote workers were the sales team, and they did their own thing.

      2. Brain the Brian*

        I think it would be fine to offer the option for our fully-remote folks to attend remotely for a portion (or the whole thing) if they want, and potentially provide them with a gift card to purchase a meal for themselves. That seems a nice happy medium. But what do I know?

    11. Polka Dots and Stripes*

      At my last job at former company, we had an all-day planning session via Zoom. (This was in December 2020). Everyone had to be on camera for the whole thing, even lunch.

      The boss had a team of about 10 people including myself. He surprised everyone by having lunch delivered to their house….except for me. I had to awkwardly sit there and watch everyone eat. It was the cherry on top of a very crappy sundae that was that job and team.

      There is a happy ending though – i already had a job offer I had accepted a few weeks prior but was waiting until January to give my notice. When I gave my notice, my manager flipped out but did I care? Not one bit.

      1. Albert "Call me Al" Ias*

        “Hey boss, since you neglected to order lunch for me, I’m going to order doordash and submit the receipt with my expense report.”

    12. nm*

      I cannot imagine anything less fun than this. Queue convoluted sitcom scheme to force the HR lead to attend the holiday party remotely.

    13. Liz*

      That is so wrong. I work in the home office of my company and we have a number of regional offices. Last year, I heard the admin on the phone, ordering food from multiple restaurants, for pick up, delivery, all at the same time. I finally figured out, it was lunch, for everyone not in our office, so they could ALL do a zoom call, and everyone would have their own chosen holiday lunch.

    14. higheredrefugee*

      I think it is time to learn to knit, and keep yourself on mute while watching <> of choice on another screen.

  8. Daddy'sGirl*

    In high school I worked for the company my dad owned. I had a few drinks at the holiday party and ended up making out a bit with one of the warehouse guys who, as it turned out was married with kids. Oops. I was fairly certain he didn’t know I was the owner’s daughter. When he asked for my number later on that night, I gave him my dad’s pager number. He quit a few weeks later.

    1. A.D.+Kay*

      You GAVE HIM YOUR DAD’S PAGER NUMBER! Brilliant. I would have loved to see the guy’s face when your dad called him.

        1. No+name+yet*

          Dad doesn’t “answer” a pager – he gets a message consisting only of the caller’s number. Dad then calls the number.

    2. Raw Flour*

      I am absolutely screaming at the poor judgment of everyone involved in this party/situation. Of course you can be excused due to youth, but as for the adults in the room…

      1. Robin*

        Oh good I am not the only one. Bananacrackers! Who let a *minor* get drunk? Who makes out with a minor??

        Giving out dad’s pager number…inspired

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          I’m mostly side-eying Dad.

          Some teenagers look older than they are. When I was in high school people routinely mistook me for a college student or working adult. If people didn’t know she was the owner’s kid, they probably assumed she was a youthful-looking adult coworker… it would be pretty inappropriate to police a coworker’s drinking just because they look young.

          Dad should’ve either kept an eye on his kid or at least let the employees know she was his minor child.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Or even just tell the bartender(s) that you have some underage employees, please ID everybody who looks under 40ish.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I’m just horrified at the idea of a guy old enough to be married with kids making out with a high schooler. A high schooler who’d been drinking at that. I’m hoping he just thought you were a lot older than you were (though he would still have likely been going behind his wife’s back). The guy sounds like a creep all ’round.

      1. West coast snow*

        In some places legal drinking age is 18, so it is possible to be of age and in high school. The likelihood of this is a different conversation.

        1. allathian*

          In most of the world outside the US where alcohol is legal at all (it’s illegal in most of the Muslim world for obvious reasons), the legal drinking age is either 18, 19 (Sweden), or 20 (in Finland for hard liquor). In the UK, a 16 year old can get beer, a glass of wine, or alcoholic cider *with a meal* provided they’re accompanied by an adult (usually a parent, but it’s possible a manager/coworker would qualify, someone in the UK can probably provide more details).

          In Finland kids start in first grade the year they have their 7th birthday, and in K-12 schooling that means that most people are 18 or 19 by the time they graduate. For my generation, getting drunk as a skunk when you graduated high school was the norm. I did it, and most of my classmates did it. Fortunately these days it’s less of a norm. It still happens, but it’s also absolutely acceptable to choose sobriety instead.

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            It’s also legal in the UK to give alcohol to anyone over the age of 5 in your own home. Most of the parents among my social circle seemed to think 16 a reasonable age for drunken house parties. Which given no one could officially learn to drive for another year meant lots of late-night pickups to laugh at their idiot kids.

    4. Clisby*

      This is great! I mean, giving him your dad’s pager number. I’d love to know your father’s reaction.

  9. Serah*

    I worked at a motorcycle parts distributor about 15 years ago. This lady who worked in the sales department was in her late 50’s, but tried to badly play off she was in her 20’s. Let’s just say lots of sun tanning and chain smoking made her look more like 70. She loved the holiday party with lots of free booze. She’d not bring her husband and clearly use it as an attempt to try to get tanked and try to get one of the 20-something warehouse guys up to the room she rented at the hotel the party was held at. She painstakingly planned a fancy outfit. It’s all she talked about for weeks.

    One year she turns up to the party and someone from a different department has the same dress on as her. She was livid. Absolutely livid. She more drunk she got, the angrier she got. She ended up losing her ever-loving mind on the poor woman who had no idea the insanity of this woman and tried to fight her. Needless to say, as usual she went to her room alone that night (as usual) but also after that year, there were drink tickets and the event was scaled back immensely.

    She blamed the woman who wore the same outfit as her.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I once wore the same top as a colleague to our call centre Christmas party (We were all students and the party was a complete bacchanal, where everyone too drunk to pay attention to clothing). She was in dark jeans and I was in a skirt, so different outfit but she absolutely made a big deal of it and was doing a loud sulk in the hallway so people would come and comfort her. I remain pretty baffled by this.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I always think it’s hilarious if I end up wearing the same outfit as somebody else. I have the same dress as one of my coworkers and anytime one of us wears it we make a joke about it. The one day we both wore it, we took a picture together.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Heck, whenever one of my coworkers wears the same color shirt as I do I will joke that we are doing the twins thing that day, or “Great minds think alike!” I guess it’s just one more reason I’m an enby – I don’t get obsessed with “fashion”.

            1. Shira+VonDoom*

              Samesies, Minimal

              pre-Covid, I would plan outfits if I was seeing a MOVIE on opening weekend, not even anywhere fancy, just…if it was a movie with a Theme that I could glom onto for fun, LOL

              I will take any excuse and none to dive into my (extensive) wardrobe and costume stock

          1. DannyG*

            “I see you got the memo on the uniform of the day” is my favorite comment when I twinned with a colleague.

        2. Robin+Ellacott*

          Agreed! I’d love it if I was at a party and someone wore the same dress.

          I have a satin bomber jacket that has an identical pattern to a Hawaiian shirt one of our older male managers wears sometimes. We didn’t realize how similar we looked, shirt wise, until someone saw us together, and yes, we delightedly took photos. So similar and so different at the same time!

        3. Storm+in+a+teacup*

          Same here! Last f2f annual conference we had a black tie dinner and myself and a colleague had the same exact dress on. We got the official photographer to take a load of pics and still joke about our great taste in fashion!

        4. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

          I once worked in a department with four other ladies and one day we ALL showed up in basically the exact same outfit. Our ages spanned 20 years or so, making it extra hilarious. I am sad we didn’t take a picture.

          1. MAC*

            My best friend and I frequently shop together and frequently buy some of the same items. Several years ago, when we still worked at the same company, the inevitable happened and we both wore our caramel colored corduroy skirt on the same day, and we’d both paired it with a back turtleneck and black tights. Even funnier, another one of our close friends had worn a caramel suede shirt with black pants. The three of us were walking to a meeting together and looked like we had planned our outfits the way we did in middle school!

        5. Not Australian*

          There was one memorable day at my workplace where three of us suddenly decided (separately) that it was ‘red top and floral skirt day’, but apart from a passing remark about us all having really good taste it barely caused a ripple. I honestly don’t understand the fuss that’s sometimes made about turning up in similar outfits unless it’s something like a wedding where a bit of pre-planning is usually advisable…

      2. Lenora Rose*

        There’s a limited number of stores in the world and a limited number of outfits to suit every person’s build and style. It’s not even close to a disaster to match, it’s real life if you shop any store anyone else shops at.

        It would be wild on the red carpet or the like when every outfit is personally tailored, but anywhere else…

        1. Pallas*

          Ha! Meanwhile all of the biggest fashion horses in my friend circles are nonbinary or gender non-conforming — we just wear the pieces we like from any clothing line regardless of the gender it may be marketed for. :)

      3. EmmaPoet*

        It’s especially ridiculous when you consider that the guys are probably all wearing the same thing and nobody cares.

    2. Not my real name*

      I really don’t get this. Occasionally at my job, two people will wear the same (or similar) shirts and the common reaction seems to be to make jokes about being twins or about large amounts of effort to coordinate outfits.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I was in a conference room with fourteen people, all of whom normally work remote and were wearing black and red. We ended up taking a picture on the stairs.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          Same!
          Those who aren’t wearing the same color on our team joke about ‘not getting the memo.’

          1. pandop*

            Speaking of Britain, I am sure that at one point some of my office colleagues had the same M&S cardigan, only in 4 different colourways!

      1. Reality Biting*

        So this was how I figured out that different people can make the same article of clothing look very different.

        Two women on a team I used to manage showed up in the same skirt one day. But one was the tall, voluptuous type and the other was a small, waif type. It took me a surprisingly long time to figure out what everyone was joking about.

        1. Liz*

          This happened at a wedding my parents went to. BOTH the MOB and MOG wore the same dress, but in a different color. the MOB has dark hair and her dress was a deep red. the MOG was blonde, and wore it in a beautiful blue. Unless they were right next to each other, and even then, you really couldn’t tell it was the same dress!

          1. Sharpie*

            I went to a cousin’s wedding, many years ago, and I and my sisters all wore various shades of purple, totally unplanned (I was in the Army at the time and had gone dress shopping on my own). And what’s more, when the wedding party came in, all the bridesmaids were wearing the same shade of purple as my dress although, thankfully, in a very different style. I don’t think anyone apart from my immediate family realised!

            1. 50 years and counting*

              At my wedding, lo these many years ago, both my mother and my husband’s mother wore not only the same dress, but the exact same pair of shoes. There were lots of smiles and no drama. And we both knew that we were going to get along fine with our new mothers-in-law.

              1. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

                One of my mother’s favorite stories about her mother-in-law was the time that my parents flew from the US to Australia (where my dad’s from) to attend his brother’s wedding. My mom and grandma managed to accidentally coordinate in color-blocked navy and white dresses but the color locations were switched.

        1. No name yet*

          I once had occasion to say “Oh, I didn’t get the memo,” only to find out there had actually been a memo and the girls in QA and Admin had completely forgotten there was a woman in Development. The organizer was mortified and apologetic, but there was just no way to make it better.

          1. Aliendial*

            Where is my “like” button! And yet the hypothetical memo actually turning out to be real…the horror!

      2. SeluciaMD*

        In our office we generally frame it as “oh you got the memo!” when anyone matches and we find it amusing. What’s the deal with all the drama? Do people really think they get dibs on that dress or top (that was surrounded by 25 exact duplicates in other sizes on the rack the picked it off of in a store/selected on a website that presumably other people they know might also shop at)? And even if they did somehow presume all of these things, WHY BE MAD? I just do not get the anger. Seriously flummoxed by that response.

      3. As Per Elaine*

        I had a job where people would delightedly take photos any time people “matched,” which usually consisted of wearing approximately the same color and cut. I think someone had a wall of printouts somewhere.

    3. Veryanon*

      The only experience I have with this is when another girl and I showed up in the same exact dress at our senior prom in high school. That went about as well as you’d expect, but it was HIGH SCHOOL, not a work event.

      1. LTR+FTW*

        I showed up in the same dress as another woman at our 10 year high school reunion, and we laughed and laughed.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        That happened to me too. I didn’t care but the other girl was pretty mad about it and I have to say objectively that the dress didn’t look as good on her as it did on me so that’s probably why. I did feel bad for her but, like, how was I to know she was going to buy the same dress?

      3. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        My senior prom, the principal was in the same dress as one of the students! It was actually plenty age-appropriate on the principal (mid-40s-ish, definitely an adult black tie gown and not trying to dress like a teenager) and looked better on her.

    4. Anonosaurus*

      Her behaviour at the party is one thing but your contempt for this woman, just for not dressing or behaving in a way you consider age appropriate, is rather unpleasantly palpable.

      1. Hound Dog*

        Desperation isn’t a good look on anyone. Neither is a married woman preying on younger coworkers. That deserves contempt.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          The preying on coworkers is my problem too. They aren’t your dating pool – if you are that desperately single go join a dating app or speed dating event.

      2. Roland*

        They didn’t say anything about how she was dressed beyond “She painstakingly planned a fancy outfit”.

        1. Zelda*

          But the implication is that she shouldn’t have. Like, women over 35 are supposed to accept that their time is over and fade quietly into tasteful invisibility.

          I am hoping Serah doesn’t actually think that, and it’s just a case of Tone Is Hard in Text, but it certainly was how it read to me.

          1. EchoGirl*

            For what it’s worth, I didn’t read it like that at all. I just assumed that part was mentioned because it helped to set the stage for the extent to which she flipped out when someone wore the same dress (as well as for further emphasis on the larger pattern of her obsessiveness), not as “she planned a fancy outfit which is an inherently bad thing to do”. I think it’s one of those things where the context is key.

        2. Giant Kitty*

          “was in her late 50’s, but tried to badly play off she was in her 20’s”

          Yeah, that’s really ageist and insulting.

    5. Event+Coordinator+and+then+some*

      I showed up with the same Halloween sweater as a fellow student at our MBA’s Halloween mixer. It was a complete rendition of that Spider-Man meme where they are pointing at each other. There was drinking; but zero violence.

    6. Francie Foxglove*

      I can’t track down the year, but at one Bush2 White House Christmas reception, three. different. women. had the same outfit as Laura Bush. Mrs. Bush followed perfect-hostess protocol by going upstairs and changing into something else. And she was the one it looked best on! What I wonder, and I think was never mentioned at the time, is whether the invitation stated, “The First Lady will be wearing red Oscar de la Renta”? That’s supposed to avoid this.

    7. allathian*

      Reminds me of junior high. When I was in junior high in the mid-80s, colorful sweatshirts were a thing. I got one for Christmas. The first day of the spring semester one of the popular girls and I, whose existence my classmates barely acknowledged unless they absolutely had to, wore the same shirt. I wore it frequently after that because it was my favorite shirt, but my classmate never wore hers to school again. Apparently she was too embarrassed to be seen wearing the same sweatshirt as one of the uncool kids.

  10. cabbagepants*

    This was a planned party event, not hijinks, but funny enough that I think it was worth passing on!

    I work in an area where knowledge is highly valued, and also people often give presentations accompanied by PowerPoint slides. As people get more senior and experienced, they get really good at adapting their presentations to a specific audience, often adding and subtracting slides from a standard deck. They get very good at speaking semi-off the cuff and recovering from potentially awkward moments.

    In this party event, someone really senior and established (in our case, a late-career tenured professor) gave a talk — using a deck he had never seen before. The deck was put together by the party planners to combine standard stuff like our department’s favorite buzzwords and pretty stock images of our university’s campus, with pictures of totally silly stuff like crabs. So this really august guy had to keep a straight face while attempting to spin a coherent narrative with these ridiculous slides.

    I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.

    It’s important, of course, that the person chosen to present is very senior and established and comfortable floundering in front of an audience. I loved this event because, besides being funny, it poked gentle fun at cliches in how our department talks about itself and also gentle fun at the stereotype of the pontificating professor.

    1. Falling+Diphthong*

      This reminds me of the graduate student puppet show from my spouse’s PhD days. It’s 100 times funnier if you are steeped in all the specific things being referenced.

    2. Siege*

      Oh my god, I’m going to use this forever. I do Toastmasters and you just themed our next meeting.

      *digs up old legislative briefing deck (the bad one with 41 slides of dense text because the maker had a PhD but zero common sense)*
      *turns to the internet*

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      That reminds me a lot of the powerpoint parties that are becoming trendy, each person presents 5-10min on any topic they like. Tiktok has some funny videos of what topics got covered

      1. Event Coordinator and then some*

        My friends and I have done this a few times. I end up almost needing an inhaler because they are so funny. You get to really know someone when they present on what’s most important to them. My last one was about farming in Stardew Valley.

        1. Elenna*

          Ooh, I haven’t done anything like that but if I did I would probably also present about Stardew Valley. I’m curious, are you involved in the min-max/speedrunning community at all?

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

      I love this as a legit work game. I’d HATE being the public speaker, and would limit the deck to no more than 20 slides I think, just because the schtick could get old quick, but this would be funny.

    5. OrigCassandra*

      In my field this is (well, was pre-pandemic) a conference game, a riff on pecha kuchas. Competitors get a certain number of random slides they’ve never seen before and have to spin a yarn fitting them.

      1. cabbagepants*

        I am really happy that this is A Thing! I had never seen it before or since but the fact that it’s A Thing means I can dream of it repeating itself in my life sometime.

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      A recent non-festive variant on this was an event where researchers had to do a 1-minute, 1-slide talk on their work. One of our researchers participated and I have a video of him talking very, very fast.

    7. Elizabeth*

      We’re actually looking for team building ideas for our next quarterly meeting. I think something like this could be doable. Particularly if teams had to draw ideas out of a hat and come up with the presentation on the fly.

      1. Zelda*

        Ooh, can the teams submit some of the slides to be shuffled in randomly? Then you get to see what your distant colleagues make of an out-of-context snippet.

    8. HigherEdEscapee*

      We call that Battle Decks! Someone makes up random slide decks that are fairly short, no more than 12 slides usually. Then people sign up to present on something they’ve never seen before in front of a room of friends. Non-presenters and the person who made the decks, who can’t present, vote for the winner. The winner gets bragging rights and makes the slides next time. It’s a LOT of fun!

    9. Scientist*

      This is lovely! I work in big pharma with many scientists who are VERY good speakers. I can immediately think of several colleagues, who I would like to hear doing ”Powerpoint karaoke”. I would volunteer as well! The slides should have as many scientific diagrams and charts as possible!

      1. cabbagepants*

        We had fun taking well-known types of graphs and changing the labels on the axes. So for example, labeling an electron diffraction pattern as an x-y scatterplot of shear modulus vs. LD50.

    10. Autistically Anxious*

      There’s actually a Jackbox game that does this! It’s all the same format, and being Jackbox, it’s often a lot less work-friendly, but it’s a blast.

    11. Curmudgeon in California*

      That sounds like a total blast! I don’t do a lot of presentations, but I would love the challenge of this, and to watch all the others.

    12. Cat*

      Ihaven’t finished scrolling through all the comments yet but based on the selection so far this deserves to be featured

    13. noncommittal pseudonym*

      I’ve heard it called Academic Karaoke. A scientific society I belong to had that as basically a hazing for the incoming society president for a couple of years pre-pandemic. It’s hilarious.

    14. JSPA*

      I’ve heard it called powerpoint roulette, and often done as a final presentation by the organizer or the guest of honor soliciting one image or graph from each of the participants. Good fun! (Also useful to prevent participants from leaving early.)

    15. Bryce*

      Reminds me of the Turbo Encabulator. Started (I believe) by Bud Haggert, a presenter in many technical films, to poke fun at what all the scripts sounded like to a layman like himself. It’s complete nonsense delivered with a straight face, and has become a meme among other speakers in similar roles.

    16. Aliendial*

      The James Corden show does this as Ted Talks on late night. You find out what comedians (and talk show hosts) are quicker on their feet…

    17. Harper+the+Other+One*

      OMG I would both love to be present for this and would absolutely volunteer to be the one giving the talk. It reminds me of party games like Snake Oil!

    18. Labdude*

      This is such a hilarious idea that I’m going to hold it as a suggestion for next year’s dreaded “holiday” party; it sounds like so much more fun that our usual games. There are several folks I work with who would probably slay at this, and I would love to try it myself!

  11. Needmorename*

    I work for a large publicly traded company and during one Christmas party there was a game where people wore a Kleenex box as a fanny pack and had to twerk out all of the snowflakes that were inside. The person with the fewest snowflakes left was the winner. The CFO, who was present for the party but not paying attention, was visibly none too pleased as he stood next to others and finally figured out what he was going to have to do. The Christmas miracle was that once his discomfort was over, he had like 100% commitment and just twerked like his life was on the line. He won. After the party another executive went around and extracted promises that none of the videos taken would be released, though I can’t help but think it would’ve bumped share price up a little.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      I love stories like this, where the C-Suite show they can be just as hokey as the mere mortals. (like the one from last week where the CEO and VP got drunk and knocked each other out trying to do a Dirty Dancing catch, and wound up in the ER.)

      1. Merci+Dee*

        I still randomly find myself laughing at that story. I have this whole image in my head where they’re dancing, the crowd parts, they lock eyes, and . . . . THUD!

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        And they then send out pictures just owning up to the fact they were probably too drunk for what they did. And no employees got blamed either.

    2. The+New+Wanderer*

      I love this! I think the game sounds terrible myself and it so easily could have gone the other way with the exec refusing to play along. But it makes me happy that if it was gonna happen, the exec just owned it.

  12. Kate*

    My soon-to-be ex-husband came to my office Christmas party with what we would soon learn was the flu.

    It was a small office, the party was held the day before the office closed for two weeks and everyone went off for vacation.

    Unbeknownst to me, soon-to-be ex-husband puked and puked and puked and puked all over the men’s bathroom AND DIDN’T TELL ANYONE.

    No one checked the bathrooms before closing up shop for two weeks (why would you?), so when we came back to the office in January, the entire place smelled of fermenting vomit.

    …our facilities manager had some stern words for me about that. There was a forensic cleaning crew involved.

    1. Artemesia*

      This isn’t even the worst part; the worst part is he probably ruined the vacations of dozens of people with norovirus.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, speaking from (horrible) experience, that amount/distribution of puke makes me think norovirus rather than flu!

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Why on earth did the facilities manager “have words” with YOU? Presumably if you’d known, you’d have told someone!

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        And not only that, why *wouldn’t* you check the bathrooms before closing up for two weeks????

        1. WellRed*

          Yeah, did no one need the restroom? I’d also want to be sure no faucets or toilets running etc.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s what I was wondering! I’m guessing after they discovered it they went back and reviewed security video, to see if someone broke in and vandalized the offices while they were closed?

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That is my thought as well – and while looking for a break in accidentally found soon to be ex, and possibly saw him headed there with abrupt great urgency.

    3. OK with a bit of chaos*

      Why would you check the bathrooms after a big party??? So many, many reasons.

      Also, before closing a building for two weeks, you should check everywhere. Every room, every nook and cranny.

    4. Purple Jello*

      No cleaning crew in the facility for two weeks – after a party? No one checked out the building before locking it up?

      Not just your ex’s fault.

    5. Temperance*

      How was that YOUR fault when they didn’t CLEAN THE OFFICE BATHROOM before shutting down for two weeks? That’s disgusting.

  13. Clefairy*

    I used to work in theme parks, and one year, my boss took our team to a park (different than the one we worked at) known for it’s amazing alcohol offerings from around the world (despite being a pretty family-friendly establishment). Our boss was kind of cagey about booze at first, but we ended up at a tequila bar all taking shots, with him taking his shots at a different table because he didn’t think it was appropriate for us to all drink together lmao. We all ended up pretty blitzed. One of my coworkers ended up telling a line full of children waiting to meeting Winnie the Pooh that he wasn’t real and “the little shits need to learn someday”. We ended the day pretty quickly after that and our boss never took us anywhere with alcohol ever again.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It’s what it’s designed for as far as I’m concerned. Drink your way around the world!

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Sadly I’ve never been able to go to Epcot after turning 21, it was per my friends “the boring park” that was a waste of ticket money.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I’m now half-way across the country, so the odds are low. But I always enjoyed Epcot as a kid, at least partly because it wasn’t as crowded as the main park.

    1. Name (Required)*

      Haha this one speaks to me. I worked at the same place and had the same experiences when your team went drinking together at the other park.

      Usually it was great but someone always thought they could handle more than they could.

      And expensive too! Even 15/20 years ago.

    2. squirreltooth*

      My mom had a story about some drug-spiked brownies at a Disneyland holiday party. The extra ingredient was not disclosed and some people who tasted them had to be hospitalized, but luckily for whoever did this, they never found out who the culprit was, though my mom suspected someone who worked on Matterhorn. This would have been more than 40 years ago, but I still look askance at those cast members in their devious lederhosen. ;)

  14. The Eye of Argon*

    My first job out of college was at a department store. One of my coworkers, “Carol,” was an older woman who was nice but quirky: she hoarded paper products like toilet paper and paper towels, and this was 20+ years before Covid so that wasn’t her reason. She also hoarded underwear – unopened packages of Jockey women’s briefs. She admitted to having about 100 packs of undies in one closet, and every time Jockey came out with a new color combo she had to add it to the stash. When we had to evacuate our town due to a flood threat the first thing she made sure to pack up to take with her was her underwear stash.

    Come the holidays, each department had a little party on Christmas Eve and we exchanged gifts with each other. Usually fairly inexpensive things, with slightly fancier gifts given by the manager. When Carol was handing out her gifts, she handed me a bag and solemly said that she hated to give it up, but I deserved something special.

    So I dig in and pull out a 3-pack of Jockey women’s briefs, one size too small, taken from her precious underwear stash. In front of all our other coworkers from the department and any customers who were around.

    I knew how much it meant to give up a package from her stash, so I thanked her fulsomely and spent the rest of the day shaking my head.

    Yes, I did wear them because they were nicer than anything I had at the time, even though they were a size too small and given to me by a coworker.

    (There wasn’t anything sexual or pervy about it. It was just Carol being Carol: she had no boundaries, no shame, and was just a bubble out of plumb overall.)

    1. peanuts*

      when I got to your second paragraph and saw where this was going I started saying “oh no…oh no…oh no…” and kept reading. As awkward as that had to be it does seem like it is just a weird quirk of hers. so funny.

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

      “a bubble out of plumb” is such a great expression. I hope Carol is okay though, because that sounds like more than just a quirk.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        She’s 92 now, retired, and sharp as a tack. She’s a bit feeble physically but her personality is still the same old Carol. She still has her closet full of underwear, and her paper products stash was a lifesaver during the Covid lockdown.

        1. Charlotte+Lucas*

          That means the Great Depression was during her formative years. Between that & WWII rationing, her behavior totally tracks for me.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – I have a few of those relatives too, and they also have stashes of emergency non-perishable supplies. One was actually really popular recently because of hurricanes- they had still edible food that you didn’t need power to keep and prepare.

            1. Trawna*

              I have those relatives, too, and now I am one. I will forever have my large stash of Covid toilet paper that will not be touched by others. It came on an international move with me. So, there.

            2. The Original K.*

              My grandparents all hoarded canned goods – they all came up in families of at least 5 kids during the Depression, so the rest of us understood. My paternal grandmother came from the largest family and would reuse foil, tea bags, wrap gifts in newspaper (comics for the kids!) and was a skilled seamstress – she learned out of necessity for mending things, altering hand-me-downs, etc.

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yup, reminds me of my grandmother who was a bit older than that but also grew up during the Depression and often gifted me underwear, socks, deodorant, and odd assortments of things from her attic.

          1. Raw Flour*

            Well, I haven’t considered it before, but now I am.

            I “hoard” flour and instant yeast, but that feels downright practical after 2020.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              I “hoard” canned meat and paper products. I had let my stash of TP dwindle in late 2019. early 2020 because one of my roommates complained about us being “over run with TP” and I mistakenly listened. We nearly ran out and had to scramble that summer.

              The part that I didn’t really register is that she shops for food and other stuff at least every other day. She doesn’t have a concept of a “deep pantry” where you don’t always have to run to the store to fix a meal or get a new bundle of TP before you run out. I, OTOH, hate going shopping, so I make lists and only go out every other weekend for groceries. I’d love to make it just once a month, but there are too many stores we use for that to work.

              1. Timothy (TRiG)*

                I’m happy to shop pretty frequently, because I live in the middle of town and shops are a two-minute walk away. If I lived in a car-dependent suburban hellscape, I’d want to stock up more rarely.

                Still, I probably should keep a better stock of long-lasting goods, in case of emergencies.

          2. Just some chemist*

            As Charlotte Lucas said above, she lived during the Depression and WWII. I believe during the latter, underwear specifically was rationed (there were definitely rations of certain types of cloth)

              1. Not Australian*

                Yep. My mother had ‘half a German parachute’ which she was still using fabric from in the mid-1960s. (Apparently you could tell the difference by whether or not there was a grey line in the weave???)

            1. VeritInMe*

              My grandmother and her friends practiced just casually walking out of their underwear if the elastic (also needed!) broke unexpectedly, so they wouldn’t have to draw attention to the fact that their undergarments fell off!

              It apparently paid off, years later, when my pregnant grandmother’s elastic broke – due to baby instead of rationing! She just stepped out of them and kept going, head high!

              1. Giant+Kitty*

                My mom actually *did* have the elastic give out on her underwear when she was a little girl during the Depression. Walking to school, she said she wanted to sink into the ground but kept walking with her head held high.

          3. Squidhead*

            With the way brands change the cut or fabric at will (while often keeping the same part number!), I’m wishing I’d hoarded some more of my favorite comfy style. The new ones have a seam in a weird spot and ride up, while the old ones of the same size do not. I should’ve listened to Carol!

            1. Though the Claith Were Bad*

              So true! Also a fan of women’s Jockey brand. Old ones lasted years– a decade even, always true to size; new ones– so not! More recent purchases have been flimsy, unreliably sized, misshapen in the cut, and wear through to the elastic in a year or so.
              Even better (for me) were Mervyn’s. Wish I’d bought several dozen before they closed shop.

            2. Giant Kitty*

              When I find underwear that I like, I’ll buy some every time I go to the store that sells it. It adds up and then I have enough to last for years after the style is discontinued.

          4. starting my own hoard now*

            I like jockey briefs and confess early in the pandemic to panic buying a couple of extra packages, which I still haven’t worn yet since my old ones are still in great shape. But I also panic bought batteries, canned goods, TP, dish soap. My grandfather grew up during the depression and was famous for his frugality and saving everything “just in case” My mother took after him and had a cellar full of paper products, canned goods and 87 bars of soap before 2020. We all used to tease her about the soap… until 2020 when she took great satisfaction in telling us all “You all made fun of me and my 87 bars of soap. You better be nice to me if you want to stay clean.”

            1. Le Sigh*

              This reminds me of my mom. I was helping her with her grocery shopping at one point to save her time — I tend to stock up on big soap refills and stuff like that, because the less I have to go to Target or Walmart, the better. However, my mom is very much a streamliner and hates clutter, even in her pantry, and kept saying, “What am I going to do with all of this soap and toilet paper? This is way to much for just a few people!” It was December 2019, so little did she know.

      2. Vio*

        It’s certainly an interesting expression, I’ve never come across it before. I can guess the meaning from the context but I wonder where the expression comes from, google search gives lots of quotes but little else

        1. Rocket Raccoon*

          In carpentry, you use a device called a level to make sure your walls are straight up and down, not leaning. The tool has a little bubble of air that, when plumb, hovers between two marked lines. If a level gets damaged, the bubble won’t line up when plumb – it will give be centered when the level is *out* of plumb.

          I know that’s clear as mud but I hope it helps!

    3. Minimal Pear*

      I wonder if she has any of the discontinued retro stripe collection… I wish I’d snapped up more of those when they were being sold, they’re the best underwear I’ve ever had!

        1. Minimal Pear*

          They’re amazing, so comfy and cute! Mine are wearing very thin, and I’ve had to get rid of a few pairs, but I’m hanging on as long as I can… I really liked the string bikini cut and I’ve found that the Cacique “Cotton String Bikini Panty With Wide Waistband” is a pretty good dupe. Not sure about the other styles, sadly.

    4. The Eye of Argon*

      While I’m at it, I’ll share my other favorite Carol story. She’s also very loud.

      She was having problems with a neighbor walking his dog, letting it poop on her front lawn, and not picking up after it. It didn’t take long for her to get fed up with this so she sat on the front porch where she couldn’t be seen from the street and waited for the dog-walker to come around. As usual, the dog pooped on her lawn, and as the guy was leaving she popped up and yelled, “I hope you’re going to clean that up!”

      The guy was so startled he picked up the dog poop with his bare hand!

          1. The Eye of Argon*

            Ok, then I’ll tell you about the time she hitched up her shirt to adjust her bra, only to realize she was right smack in front of one of the security cameras. The security people had a field day with that one (and so did she, because no shame).

            And the time when someone put a mannequin in the stockroom, and when she went back there she let out a scream you could hear in the next county.

            As to the hoarding, she couldn’t explain why she did it. But it wasn’t the kind of hoarding you see on TV shows so whatever.

            I just imagine that after she goes to her maker, Goodwill is going to get one HECK of a donation! (that they’ll probably be happy to get, since decent underwear is so darn expensive)

            1. Momma Bear*

              Or a homeless shelter. But of all the things…better than having to unearth someone’s cubicle after they retired, though.

      1. Veryanon*

        Carol sounds awesome. We all have our little quirks, and hers happens to be hoarding brand new underwear and paper products. Honestly, it could be much worse.

      2. AmIcranky?*

        At one point I had a neighbor who let their large dog run loose in the neighborhood and poop on everyone’s lawns. Talking to them never solved it. One day I grabbed plastic gloves and a bag, picked up the freshly laid poop from my yard, and smeared that poop all over their cement patio with a note saying “Stop letting your dog poop everywhere but your own yard!”
        Problem solved, it never happened again.

      3. Le Sigh*

        I think I would love to have coffee with Carol. Also, I gotta say, you really handled that whole secret stash underwear situation with grace and compassion.

    5. Reality Biting*

      Hate to be a word nerd here but I noticed this:

      so I thanked her fulsomely

      “Fulsomely” implies you thanked her in a way that was over the top and came across as insincere, which I don’t think is what you meant.

      Carry on!

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        So, (a) don’t, and (b) fulsome is also used to mean fully or completely or generously.

      2. linger*

        The Oxford American Dictionary entry for fulsome states that the more neutral meaning ‘abundant’ is also the original (C13th) meaning, with the secondary (but now more common) meaning ‘excessive’ being a later development (essentially, adding a negative connotation). It specifically notes that “fulsome praise” is entirely ambiguous between the two interpretations as genuine compliment vs. insult, giving rise to miscommunication.

    6. Katie*

      Just don’t think of it as “hoarding” but “collecting”. How is it so much different from collecting action figures or Pokemon cards? In fifty years, her vintage full collection of NIP Jockey briefs will cost a fortune.

  15. Chichester*

    A few years ago when I was still working in retail we had a store holiday party with a white elephant exchange. The rule was that you weren’t allowed to buy anything, it had to be something that was already in your house that you felt like giving away. I baked a loaf of challah (the ingredients were in my house already so I assume that counts), someone else brought some Dnd miniatures (most of the staff played, though not with each other), someone else brought a half-empty jar of tahini (ew), that kind of stuff.

    One person brought a street sign from a couple towns away, which they cheerfully admitted was stolen. Another person brought one of those canisters they send your money in at a bank drive-through, which they abashedly admitted was also stolen. Let’s just say the competition for those items was fierce – I mean, where else are you going to get a bank canister? I tried to get it too!

    My favorite coworker ended up with the challah, which I was pleased about until I asked her a few days later how she was liking it. She told me it was good but she might not be able to finish the loaf because she and her husband didn’t eat a lot of sandwiches. I told her it wasn’t really a sandwich bread but that interaction still haunts me a little bit.

      1. Kacihall*

        I usually end up using challah for grilled cheese. What doesn’t get eaten as just bread, or turned into French toast, at least.

        1. Robin*

          I will take the grilled cheese into consideration, that sounds good! Challah definitely is not supposed to be a base for like, a lunch sandwich. I eat it as french toast, as bread pudding (should it somehow not get completely devoured), or sliced with butter + jam. I think the fact that I make it fresh every week helps with my non-Jewish partner getting invested in Shabbat XD

      2. Koifeeder*

        I have used challah for french toast and I am not ashamed of it. Someday I will successfully make the cinnamon swirl challah one of my classmates used to bring in for potlucks and I will be so so powerful.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          Challah is canonical for French toast, and we sometimes buy challah specifically to make French toast with.

          There’s at least bakery local to where I now live that makes both braided challah, and squarish loaves of challah baked in loaf pans, and those work for sandwiches for sandwiches.

      3. Brain the Brian*

        My very sweet Jewish mother uses challah for sandwiches — “better than the other nonsense,” she says. My very WASPy dad even likes it.

    1. HannahS*

      Huh, maybe she wasn’t familiar with the fact that it makes excellent french toast and croutons, if you can’t finish it just by tearing off piece after piece…after piece….after piece…

      In my house growing up, we actually did use challah as sandwich bread–bilke challah for the week, braided challah for Shabbat. When “bakery-style” bread first came into grocery stores, I remember my parents being excited about it and me thinking “wtf is this dry, bland stuff; where’s my soft golden loaf?”

      1. modhousewife*

        “if you can’t finish it just by tearing off piece after piece…after piece….after piece…”

        …in the car before you even get home!

    2. TJ Morrisson*

      Where to get a bank canister!? My first thought is the same as yours, but this is the internet, you can get anything on the internet. So I had to check and of course you can get them. And where would someone go to buy such a thing? Bank supplies dot com Such an obvious answer to a question you’d never think to ask! What a fun story.

    3. curly sue*

      Ouch!

      It reminds me of the time I gave a good friend a copy of my best challah recipe. She and her mother made it and reported back that it was heavy and not very good. On shocked interrogation, I learned that they’d wanted it to be ‘healthy,’ and substituted whole wheat flour.

      I didn’t end the friendship over that, but I sure as heck never gave her any more of my recipes.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        On shocked interrogation, I learned that they’d wanted it to be ‘healthy,’ and substituted whole wheat flour.

        I find white flour bland and would totally have made that substitution, but you’d need multiple firearms to get me to blame the results of my change on the recipe….

        1. curly sue*

          In *challah*? It’s already a heavy bread, already partway along the slippery slope to being a cake, and intended to be an eggy, luxury indulgence to welcome in the weekend. Whole wheat flour would turn it into a cannonball abomination.

            1. curly sue*

              You can, but then it’s not my challah recipe any longer, which is what she’d asked for.

              She can google some weird thing if that’s what she wants to make, but telling me she wants to try challah, taking my recipe, and turning it into a boat anchor because she doesn’t actually want to follow the instructions at least once to see what the original is like? And then claiming that she didn’t like challah? (because you didn’t make challah, Chelsea…)

              I’ll be annoyed about that forever.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I understand your annoyance. I think her swap was fair, and blaming you asinine.

                What she should have said was “I appreciate your recipe; I tried to tweak it, but ruined it in the process.”

                If she were really trying to make it “healthier,” I’ll bet she reduced or eliminated the salt, maybe the egg yolks, any fats… if it came out a cannonball, I’ll bet she was trolling the yeast, inadvertently or not.

              2. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

                That’s like some friends of my mom’s wondering why they couldn’t get her pancake recipe to work for them – they removed all the sugar, used only skim milk in place of full fat milk+yogurt, and only put in 1 egg instead of 2 for the same size batch. Of course it doesn’t work the same way! I get annoyed with commenters on recipes that do the same thing and then give it a 1 star review.

      2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        This kind of response on recipe sites baffles me also. “Don’t bother with this recipe! Not good at all. I didn’t have eggs or olive oil so I used mayonnaise and gasoline. 0/10 stars!” WTAF do people think when they make a million mods?

        1. starsaphire*

          There’s a cute poem about that, which used to end up in a lot of those fund-raiser cookbooks in the ’80s. It went (roughly) something like this:

          I didn’t have potatoes, so I substituted rice
          I don’t like paprika, so I used another spice
          Didn’t have tomato sauce, I used tomato paste
          A whole can, not a tablespoon; I don’t like to waste
          My friend gave me the recipe, she said you couldn’t beat it
          There must be something wrong with her; I couldn’t even eat it!

          1. hamsterpants*

            I am so pleased and gratified that this phenomenon pre-dates online recipes! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  16. PDB*

    I had a girlfriend who worked in a law library and a Christmas they got goody baskets and chocolate. The manager made up sign up sheets for everything and you had to sign up for a piece of chocolate. Really.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      Good grief. I’d be tempted to bring in my own box of candy at eat it at the manager just to be spiteful.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I’d be tempted to bring a big box of chocolate and send round an email inviting eveyone to come and help themsleves – no sign up of pre-planning needed.

      2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

        Except the manager probably did this not to be spiteful, but in reaction to problems in previous years from people not knowing how to behave prosocially around gifted food. (I.e. one greedy person taking the entire thing, fights/meltdowns, etc.) I’ve read this blog long enough to know that this is an extremely common phenomenon.

        1. JustaTech*

          Sadly, yes to this. A few years ago my contact at one of my super-specialty item vendors asked how my group had liked the Christmas chocolates (in a not-very-subtle reminder for a thank you note). “What chocolates?”
          “Oh, you didn’t get them? The delivery was signed for.”
          “Let me check around, maybe they got misplaced.”

          It turned out that the chocolates had been delivered, but our coworker Frank (who also worked with this vendor, just less than my group) had been the one in the office when they arrived so he took them. And not to share with his team, he just took them for himself! And then he forgot to thank the vendor.

          Sadly that was also the last year we worked with that vendor, so we never got any Christmas chocolates.

        2. rubble*

          seems like this problem could be solved by just dividing the chocolate up equally between everyone, instead of needing a sign-up sheet

    2. Anne Wentworth*

      Let me guess, that was to make sure that the vendor candy was shared with everyone on staff, instead of what happened in every library I worked at: tech services eats it all and no one else hears about it until everything is gone.

  17. Snarkus Aurelius*

    At one of my first jobs, I worked for a wealthy trade association in the energy industry, which was booming at that time. The bar bill alone for one of the Board of Directors meetings was more than the receptionist’s bimonthly paycheck.

    But the CEO was notoriously cheap when dealing with lower staff: raises, bonuses, office space, etc.

    During our Christmas party, I was running late because of a work project. By the time I got there, the reception part was almost done so I decided to get some wine with lunch instead. We were ushered into the dining area, and the waitstaff literally shut the doors to the reception area where the bar was. I asked for wine and got told, “We are only serving one glass of wine per person during the reception segment. There is no wine served with lunch.” I explained I never got a first glass, and the answer was a firm no. We literally weren’t allowed to physically go back to the reception area.

    Lunch was okay. The entree options were clearly the cheapest on the menu.

    Dessert came, and we were all served this very lonely, pathetic single scoop of vanilla ice cream. By the time I got it, half of it was soup. That’s it. We didn’t even have a choice.

    I wasn’t expecting the Michelin five star treatment. But I was part of the team that picked out the eating options for all the BOD meetings and multiple conferences. I can assure you all the food options weren’t that paltry.

    CEO was genuinely shocked that half the party cleared out after dessert. I wanted a goddamn glass of wine. A couple of the vegetarians needed to get lunch because the CEO didn’t bother to provide that option.

    I wonder how much money he saved.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Please tell me that you took his food choices as an indication of how he wanted future meetings catered in a frugal manner…

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Oh I tried! He wasn’t having it.

        Because of course he didn’t.

        This is the same guy who gave the lowest paid person a raise that amounted to $20 more a paycheck. And expected that person to be thrilled.

  18. DisneyChannelThis*

    We had a optional white elephant party in a mixed academic department (so broke graduate students, medical trainees, tenured professors, faculty, lab techs). The white elephant had a strict 10$ maximum. The chair of the department (who makes like 8-10 grad student salaries combined) apparently has a very fancy wine collection worth a decent bit of money. He decided to play in the white elephant too. He ended up with a 5$ bottle of wine which he was extremely appalled by! To his credit though, after loudly dismissing it as awful he went and got dixie cups and shared it with everyone and he did drink it.

    1. JustaTech*

      Most years our white elephant went really well as far as gifts, well enough that one year, as the (involuntary) organizer, I didn’t send out the very long set of instructions about what constituted an acceptable gift ($25 or under, new or like new, Safe For Work).
      We had also just (like 2 weeks before) gotten a new Chief Medical Officer, a generally nice and good guy, but with a bone-dry sense of humor.

      So everything is going along swimmingly until we get to one of the last gifts, this big, well, wrapped flat thing. One of the well liked, long standing guys from another department gets it and opens it up only to find a well used, heavily worn laptop backpack from our competitor (where our CMO had just worked). Knowing that sometimes gifts like this were a joke, and there would be a gift card inside the bag he looks through the bag to find a single USB cable.
      “Oh, that’s where that went!” says the CMO, taking the cable back.
      There is no gift card. Just a dirty, used backpack with someone else’s logo on it.
      The recipient is *pissed*. His coworkers are annoyed on his behalf, and the game is almost over, so the chances of anyone stealing this thing so he can get something better are essentially zero.
      Thankfully I had brought an extra gift (just in case) and as the organized was able to invent a new rule to let this poor guy swap out the bag (which I think ended up in the trash).

      It took months and months for the CMO to overcome that first impression, and several people never really forgave him.

      (And from then on I made sure to be painfully clear about what did and did not constitute an acceptable gift.)

      1. There You Are*

        For years and years, we did a Dirty Santa gift-stealing game thing at a friend’s house. Similar rules as your work place.

        After 15 successful years, my friend got it into her head that it was a “joke gift” game, with the biggest laughs coming from some poor soul getting literal trash. It took three years of jaw-dropping garbage for her to finally get back on track.

        Those three years, her contributions were: a grocery bag full of beer bottle caps (which maaaaaaybe could be used for crafts but wtf), a used toilet plunger with a broken handle, and — even worse than the plunger — her deceased father’s Rolodex, complete with yellowed, nicotine-stained cards.

        The Rolodex is what made everyone finally put their foot down and tell her she couldn’t participate in the game she was hosting if she couldn’t provide a gift that she, herself, would like to receive.

  19. Bunny Girl*

    This wasn’t a Christmas party per say, but when I worked at a car dealership, a couple of my coworkers were in a band and they had a holiday show at a bar and a bunch of us from the service department went. I was younger at the time and my mom ended up coming with me. It got wild. Some KISS impersonators showed up, my supervisor has too many drinks and threw her hands up so enthusiastically that she ended up slapping a woman walking by in the face, and when I went to the bar to grab some drinks, my coworker came over and asked “What my mom had going on.” I responded “Um, my dad?”

  20. Ann Onymous*

    At my first post-college job they hired a Santa for our holiday luncheon. Santa roamed from table to table handing out candy canes and telling reindeer jokes. Turns out there aren’t a lot of reindeer jokes so Santa had to tell them quietly because he needed to tell the same jokes again at the next table. The thing that was really weird about having a Santa there is that this was an employee-only party during the workday, so there weren’t kids or families in attendance. Also, there was something wrong with the candy canes – they were mushy and everybody just ended up throwing them out when we got back to the office.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I’ve had it happen…with 2-year old canes that I thought would be acceptable for cookies. They were not.

          1. A Name*

            Only if they’re unpreserved. Which makes them the best ever! Modern candy canes, which could survive a nuclear attack, can’t compare.

  21. Amber T*

    Unrelated to work but I am so very tempted to steal a street sign. My mom has a common name but with an unusual spelling (which she lovingly passed along that tradition to me, and I joke that if I ever have a daughter I too will spell her name wrong). Needless to say, a pre-made item with her name on it is difficult to find. There’s a street where I used to live called “Firstname Ct.” – I am very much not a rule breaker and very much a goodie two shoes, but man do I want to break the law and steal that for her…

    1. Amber T*

      This was supposed to be nestled under a comment that included funny items in a gift exchange, including a stolen street sign… whoops…

      1. GoLightly*

        I cannot stop laughing at the fact that this comment seems TOTALLY out of the blue without context, haha. Like this has been weighing on you and you’ve been dying to get it off your chest!

    2. Meep*

      I had a coworker that had a stop sign, street sign, and several heavy-duty traffic cones in his house, but no vacuum cleaner. He and his roommate apparently liked to steal signs when drunk. On their bikes nonetheless lol.

      1. Butterfly+Counter*

        Yikes. If anyone got hurt or died because of a lack of stop sign, your coworker would have been liable, both criminally and civilly.

        1. Meep*

          I should’ve clarified that they weren’t bolted down, I suppose. Do you think they carried around power tools? lol

          1. Meep*

            *and not in use. Should probably clarify even more for someone who thinks two drunk guys are rolling around on their bikes with power tools looking to steal signs. :S

        2. HoHumDrum*

          not to defend stop sign theft, but I learned a fascinating fact years ago that researchers have found that neighborhoods without stop signs tend to have FEWER accidents than neighborhoods with them.

          They observed that when drivers encountered a stop sign they would obey but not necessarily use their own senses to decide if it was safe (the classic “I tapped my breaks now I can go” move vs. actually looking around). Whereas drivers approaching an unmarked 4 way intersection tended to display more caution, and would stop and make sure the roadways was clear to cross.

          The fact that it was unmarked made the drivers uncertain and in turn that made them much more careful, vs the stop signs seemed to actually decrease caution, because people felt if they obeyed the sign they were safe and didn’t need further care.

          1. June+bug*

            Correlation, not causation. Stop signs are generally installed because too many accidents are happening or there’s congestion due to higher traffic volume leading to lots of intersection encounters. A neighborhood that doesn’t have stop signs likely has fewer intersection encounters due to low traffic volume. To conclude what you’re claiming, you’d need to measure accidents before and after installing stop signs in several different neighborhoods, controlling for traffic volume.

          2. Aliendial*

            I lived for many years in a neighborhood that had several such intersections. And they did indeed work really well for decades (like since the 1950s), and then the burbs started getting really denser and the overall traffic heavier (I am hypothesizing root causes) and eventually it became untenable. People were side-swiped, many car accidents. They (the community) gave up after 20 years of increasing incidents and put in 4-way stops, Which are not perfect because some many people roll through stop signs. Ruins a great stop-sign-less route through the larger community, but with fewer injuries.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        A stop sign and a couple of milk crates makes a effective, if slightly unethical, college coffee table.

    3. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My brother had strong feelings about a political issue in our hometown that occurred when he was graduating HS and that resulted in a change in the name and designation of the town. The day after the new “Welcome to….” signs went up, one of them somehow appeared in my mother’s basement.

      It was still there when she died 35 years later because she was afraid if she got rid of it, he’d get arrested. We decided the statute of limitation had expired and put it at the curb for garbage pick-up. It was gone two hours later, well before the garbage truck came. Someone scored.

    4. ferrina*

      When my dad was growing up, there was a street in his small town called Dad’sLastName Rd. My dad and his four brothers each took a turn stealing that sign.

      1. Lalaith*

        This story doesn’t involve any theft, but yours reminded me of it. My husband’s family has a common last name, and there was a street in their town that had the same name. One day the delivery guy from their favorite pizza place showed up at their door with a pizza… that they hadn’t ordered. Turns out, someone on LastName street had ordered it, and the pizza place just saw the name and brought it to their frequent customer!

    5. Grandma*

      There is a street in my town named “Corona Ct.”. Starting in, oh, early 2020, that street sign got stolen over and over and over. Finally, someone who lived there just put up the side panel of a Corona beer box to mark their sadly signless street. I recently saw that they have an official street sign back up, but it doesn’t quite match any other street sign in town – not a bad mismatch, but a “which one is different?” kind of sign.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      My family had a farm on a road with a unique name. Somehow, a sign from that road ended up in a local flea market. A remarkably thoughtful family friend spotted it, bought it, and sent it to me. She wanted to emphasize that she had NOT stolen it! It’s one of my most cherished possessions. If I don’t close my curtains, you can see it from the street at night, so I imagine that people who pass it on the street think *I* stole it.

    7. Robin+Ellacott*

      In university my friend and I stole two in a one-night planned heist. (They both had street names that worked as gifts for our significant others/crushes at the time). I still am shocked we did this as we were two very nerdy, very respectable English Lit majors.

      I will say that street signs are both far larger and far higher up than you’d think.

    8. Deborah*

      In the late 80’s a friend of mine lived on Joshua Tree Lane. Her street was mostly signless for YEARS.

    9. Bryce*

      There was a street in my hometown with my first name as well, and they were replacing the signs so an ideal time for a rules-obsessed guy. I chickened out of stealing one, went back two hours later and was too late.

    10. Bronze+Betty*

      There is a street sign with my maiden name on it, several counties away from me, where my family can trace its US roots when they emigrated from Canada. It’s in a rural area, surrounded by cornfields (what urbanites and suburbanites would call The Middle of Nowhere). I’m a little tempted to steal it, but not enough to go to the trouble to do so. Plus, breaking the law just isn’t for me; I’m sure I would get caught because, of course I would. But, yes, tempted.

    11. Bob-White+of+the+Glen*

      Why not photograph it and turn it into a cool piece of art. Lots of design ideas out there.

  22. tree frog*

    I used to work in a fairly remote area in Canada. One year, the night before our holiday party, a bear broke into an outdoor cooler and ate a package of Lindt chocolates (managing to remove the wrappers somehow). My boss showed me the box with a perfect set of claw marks slashed through it. We had one coworker who was terrified of bears and I think she returned to the city not long after that.

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

      This story ended too soon; I was expecting more than bear claw marks after eating the chocolate…

    2. West coast ice*

      Last year a a bear was breaking into vehicles near my work site. It tore the door handle off a locked car and damaged the interior. Luckily the work trucks were left unlocked. I showed up one dark December morning to an open truck with stuff scattered everywhere. I was puzzled as to why the person had left his truck open and had littered. He had not. The next day my work truck door was found open, the seat was damp from the rain and there were incriminating paw marks on the drivers seat. The center consol had a single puncture on its padded top and was also open. Had the bear closed the door behind them I doubt I would have noticed the paw marks or the puncture.

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        “incriminating paw marks”

        two, three, four…

        Granddad’s truck got looted by a grizzly
        Parked behind the house on Christmas Eve…

  23. H.Regalis*

    Old Job had a Christmas party in the banquet room at a fancy restaurant. We were all pretty excited. Then we found out we had to chip in money to attend (the equivalent of half a day’s work for most of us). We got there and instead of catered food from the fancy restaurant, they had cheapo grocery store pizzas, which ran out halfway through the night so a lot of people didn’t even get to eat. My boss and I were chatting about how crappy the food was when my alcoholic coworker came up to us and was like, “BossName, H.Regalis wants to apologize to you because they used to think you were way older than you are because you have bad skin and don’t work out,” and then wandered off.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I will never pay to attend an office party.

      No thanks.

      Reminds me of a Miss Manners column. The holiday “perk” one year was that management made a reservation at a pricy restaurant across town and gave everyone an extra 30 minutes for lunch. Employees had to pay for their own lunch though. The entire trip was an hour so you only had a half hour to order and eat. You couldn’t come back late.

      MM advised no one to take “advantage” of this “gift” because it wasn’t one.

      1. JustaTech*

        This year my work is asking people to chip in if they want to bring their plus one to our holiday party, but this year the holiday party will be at a really cool trapeze show (so, a thousand times more interesting than our previous holiday parties).
        It’s also a weekend evening in January, and I’m honestly bummed that I won’t be able to go.
        But it’s not very much money (less than the cost of food alone), and there will be a legit show, so it’s not totally unreasonable.

        (Well, it’s unreasonable that each location gets the same amount of money per head, even though we’re the smallest location in the most expensive city.)

      2. Chris+too*

        You have to pay for it yourself if you work in government, where it would often be a lunch. Their actual gift to us is getting paid for time we’re spending eating and talking and not working.

    2. Random+Biter*

      Many, MANY moons ago I worked at a nice restaurant (okay, okay, it was a Brown Derby). The original owners had amazing Christmas parties for staff at the restaurant. They would close early and host employees and their significant others. Open bar, full salad bar, prime rib dinners, it was fantastic. Then new owners came. We all looked forward to the Christmas party and were excited that these new owners would probably host an even better party as they were kind of snooty and much-more-important-than-thou. Tickets for well drinks and canned beer (not so bad but not up to the usual goodness), and the food was a bowl of tuna salad, a bowl of chicken salad, and a couple loaves of white bread that had just been pulled from the cooler. Yep, that’s it. I’d say at least half of us never even got that to eat as it ran out pretty quickly. Not a lousy potato chip or celery stick to be had.

  24. Minimal Pear*

    This one is pretty mild, but I’ve only worked one place where there was a Proper Holiday Party, and I only worked there for about a year. I was so excited to go–I think I even commented on one of the Friday threads asking what I should wear. I did my hair the night before… and the day of woke up feeling a little off. By the time I was halfway through the workday I could tell I had a cold, so I went and told the woman organizing it that I needed to bow out of the party, since I was sick.
    Everyone who heard me telling her this tried to persuade me to come anyways, it was just a little cold, no big deal! I was still feeling okay, pretty perky, so my main concern was getting others sick. I pointed out that we were going to be eating from a buffet, and it would be a terrible idea for me to go and breathe all over the buffet. They all insisted that it would be fine, but I still didn’t go.
    The thing that makes me laugh is that this was, I think, December of 2019 or January of 2020. That interaction would’ve gone very differently just a few months later!

  25. Elf On The Shelf*

    Our office did Elf on a Shelf last year to determine who worked the holidays and who didn’t. The office had always closed for a week at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year with pay but the brass had decided they wanted people working in office during the holidays. Instead of telling us months in advance so we could mitigate our plans and come up with a fair way to distribute work and time off, they told us the week after Thanksgiving and thought it would be fun to get a bunch of those creepy Elf on a Shelf things, put them in every department and have the “Elf” decide who works.

    Every morning we’d get a company wide email from different department “Elves” narcing on people and whoever has the most Elf “demerits” had to come in over the holidays. Technically the managers were the “elves” in scenario so as a manager I got stuck with a lot of rightly angry staff.

    Demerits had nothing to do with performance, other managers chose thing like “being late”, “not enough holiday cheer” or “Sara wore blue and Elfie hates blue!” Deadass serious. We’d get dinged as a department for not having the most creative Elf scene. Other departments made a huge mess with powdered sugar and ketchup of all things trying to make an “elf scene” so after maintenance gave us all a slap on the wrist I told HR I’m not making my staff participate because they all plans in place for months and that this whole thing was weird and exclusionary to our staff who didn’t celebrate the holiday and that I was not making my staff come in unless they volunteered. To be honest, I was very angry about the whole thing. I had people in tears in my office daily, and one of my best employees came to me and very politely and professionally explained that this was a final straw for her and she would be looking elsewhere.

    Apparently I wasn’t the only manager to protest this because HR sheepishly admitted everyone was getting the holidays off anyway and that “Santa” was going to email us all with the surprise later in December but it was such a disaster they were going to pull the plug on it. They just wanted to raise morale I guess.

    They nixed it to everyone’s relief. My best employee stayed for a while but left on much better terms. Our department kept the Elf. They named him F*ckface (which I allow so long as we keep it chill) and blame him for errors and system outages. This year FF lives in a tissue box turned outhouse in the supply closet and comes out on staff work anniversaries. So it did raise morale, just not how they thought.

    1. Bird of Paradise*

      I’m called to mind of a story from a law firm in which the elf was staged doing blow off a naked Barbie. If is too late for your department to stage an elf scene?

    2. ladyhouseoflove*

      I will never understand workplaces that think mind games are the way to go for boosting morale. I have half a mind to ask this HR is they had lead poisoning in their offices.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        One of the reasons I never want to be a manager is that I have a hard enough time understanding people. I don’t want to forget the little I *do* know about them.

      2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

        My thought was that they were compulsively huffing large volumes of canned air, but lead poisoning works just as well

    3. Aggretsuko*

      This is the most flabbergastingly bad Elf story I have EVER HEARD. I look forward to Alison’s post on this, big time.

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      The absolute dearth of professional judgment on display here is stunning. I can’t even imagine how anyone thought this would raise morale.

    5. Lizard*

      Wow… it’s hard to imagine how anyone could think that a holiday themed Hunger Games styled approach to PTO would bring people together in a festive spirit, but then this blog wouldn’t exist without egregious examples of HR & management behavior. Yikes.

    6. The Eye of Argon*

      ……………….ketchup?

      Was it an elf murder scene, not that I could blame anyone for wanting to murder the little b@stard? An elf having their time of the month? Vampire elf?

      Anyway, I hope this one becomes one of AAM’s ongoing holiday legends because it’s horrible and hilarious all at the same time.

    7. Blue Balloon*

      This story is solid gold from the first sentence to the last. I’ve read it four times since yesterday and I am still struggling to process.

      It’s like someone took classical conditioning way, way too literally and decided that technically, the removal of a punishment is a form of reward!

    8. Pam Poovey*

      I really want to know what the scene involving sugar and ketchup was, because my brain went to some cocainey and murdery places.

  26. Over It*

    Nothing too outlandish, but I’ve somehow managed to work at two different organizations that tended to hold their Christmas parties in January more often than not. For no other reason than they were too disorganized to throw it in December.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I actually think doing it in Jan is a great idea – people are not as busy, venues are less crowded and you can often get better deals, and it’s easier to make it a staff party not a christmas party and be more inclusive to any employees who don’t celebrate christmas.
      I have tried, and failed, to persuade our office to hold ours in January!

      1. Not Australian*

        It can backfire, though. One year our boss was in hospital over Christmas and we decided to delay celebrating until he could join us, but when the time came (a) we were virtually alone in the restaurant and there was no holiday atmosphere – the organisers had even forgotten to bring crackers – and (b) other departments objected to covering our phones because we ‘should have had our party at the proper time’. At which ‘proper time’ we had, of course, covered everyone else’s phones for them because we weren’t having a party…

        There were definitely planning failures involved, which is ironic considering that we were a Planning Department…

    2. Chichester*

      That’s a good way to do it though! December is such a busy month anyway, it makes sense to stretch it out

      1. Charlotte+Lucas*

        It’s common in retail, too. And I know people in the hospitality industry whose holiday parties are held during the summer.

    3. Oxford Common Sense*

      Non profit fundraiser here… in my world, the party happens in January or not at all. December is way too busy.

    4. TeaGirl*

      Any “holiday” thing I do for my (very small) team is done in February. Because of our weird structure as a team that does things for other teams, everyone gets invited to multiple other department’s holiday celebrations. Then, half the department spends January working all out to get out reports with a tight timeline. So, in February, we celebrate that we have gotten through it all.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I’ve been to a couple of company “winter events” in February for various reasons. I actually like it because December is madness and there’s not much to look forward to in Feb if you’re single.

    5. Catherine Tilney*

      I briefly worked for a company that had their “holiday party” in March. The branches were pretty spread out and that way no one needed to drive far in snowy weather. I thought that was really a good time.
      The parties were very nicely catered and had an open bar for a couple hours until dinner started. Which meant that at dinner there was barely room on the table for the food since everyone got extra drinks (like 6 or 8) to get them through the evening. And the alcohol was sorely needed because this company seemed to pride itself on bad entertainment. There was a bottom-tier Elvis impersonator one year, and an awful comedian another year (not tasteless or vulgar, just stupid). I guess since even the C suite was getting trashed, they didn’t have the money or interest in providing decent entertainment.

    6. gloom and doom*

      I would LOVE a January party! December is so crazy busy with everyone trying to cram things in before people take off work and different departments gatherings.. then January is just gloomy. I think a January “shake off the gloom” party is a great idea.

    7. JustaTech*

      At this point I don’t think my office would ever bother doing a party in December again.
      January is way cheaper, people aren’t nearly as busy, and it’s got a built-in secular theme (New Years!).

  27. Gigi*

    Not really “funny”, per se, but interesting in hindsight.

    I worked at a large international firm at the time, with a good contingent of our overseas counterparts flying in for the party, so it was held at a huge hotel. While there, we also occasionally crossed paths with people just staying at the hotel. Large groups passing each other in hallways, crowded elevators, a lively lobby. A lot of intermingling with a lot of people from all over the world, is what I’m saying.

    Nothing exciting happened at the event itself. But in the subsequent days, people started getting sick. Everything from colds and flus to serious hospitalizations. People from admins to the C-Suite was calling out. Not a lot, but enough that we could feel it. Was is it the food? Had there been a gas leak? For a while, we were stumped and terrified. In early January, I was ended up being the next victim. As a temp, I didn’t qualify for any benefits and ended up getting let go while absolutely bedridden.

    The party date? December 2019. We were probably one of the first super spreader events and didn’t even know it.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      In late 2019/early 2020 there was “the cold from hell” going around. I got it in December, then worse in January/February. It tried to turn into pneumonia, but I managed to avoid that. Yet I would easily get out of breath just walking up a slight incline in the months after. A friend got it too… and ended up with Long Covid.

      People try to say Covid wasn’t in California until February? Baloney. We had people at work flying to and from China in November and December, including to Wuhan. I believe it was here in November 2019, it’s just that they didn’t know what they were looking at. One acquaintance in Sacramento was found dead in his apartment in February from natural causes. I suspect that was Covid, too.

      1. no longer working*

        I had something awful the 2nd week of Feb. 2020…. In one weekend I was at both a crowded hotel conference and at a Broadway show where they had us packed like sardines in the lobby before they opened the theater doors. A few days later I came down with something that knocked me out and I had a fever up to 102 at times. It was the sickest I’d been in years! I always wondered if it was really covid, but when I took an antigen test months later it was negative.

      2. no longer working*

        Apologies, Curmudgeon. So sorry about the loss of your friend. I didn’t read your second paragraph before I replied.

      3. Hound Dog*

        Oh yeah no, it was definitely in California well before February. A friend of a friend got sicker than hell around Christmas after her boyfriend came back from band touring overseas, and the doctors could only say it wasn’t the flu. I was at Disneyland at the same time and ended up with what I thought was a head cold and lingering cough. I suspect now we both had Covid, though we’ll never be able to confirm.

      4. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        Oh yeah – I worked on the Strip in Las Vegas at the time and you can’t tell me Covid wasn’t there by January 2020. The whole office sounded like a TB ward with all the coughing and I got sicker than I had in YEARS in early February.

      5. Hard Agree*

        In the North Bay a great-aunt was hospitalized Christmas 2019 and passed away from what was pretty clearly (in hindsight) COVID. A parent in our community lost their infant son in January to what was pretty clearly (in hindsight) COVID. My mother experienced the worst “cold” of her life during the same window. It was here all right.

    2. Momma Bear*

      I think that the official “first case” date is wrong. It had to be here long before then, just given the amount of international travel. Sorry you got let go but glad you seem to be OK.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        This is curious to me as I was the sickest I’d been in a very long time in Nov 2019 and have suspected that it might have been Covid. Can’t confirm now, though, of course. I’m on the east coast, so not CA but a friend from CA got really bad pneumonia in summer 2019 and a doctor friend of ours thinks that also might have been Covid. I’d love to know when the first case really did get to the US.

        1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

          Me too. I was the sickest I’d been in years, with something that began with an unshakable dry cough, in mid-November 2019. I’m in the Bay Area.

          1. Harper+the+Other+One*

            I got an awful “cold” in January 2020 that I still suspect was Covid, but by the time people were realizing it had been around earlier I had gotten a confirmed case so testing wouldn’t have told us anything.

            I was still coughing when I went on a much-anticipated trip in early March and my husband joked I might get a row on the plane all to myself since Covid was really just starting to hit the news. At the end of the trip I went to see a play and emerged after 3 1/2 hours to discover the world was shutting down. It is still one of the most surreal experiences of my life, having things change from “I hear there’s this weird virus” to “everyone get home, lockdowns are coming” in the space of a few hours.

            1. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

              *nods*

              We were in North Carolina visiting my mom and getting in some good college basketball. The championship game was on March 8th.

              They started canceling conference tournaments on March 9th.

    3. Will's Mom*

      Same here. I got very ill just before Christmas in 2019. My “regular” doctor was booked up so I went to an urgent care center after work. I tested negative for both types of flu. The doctor was surprised that I tested negative for flu. She said that I was the only one of all the patients she had seen that day. Thankfully, had already planned to take a couple of weeks off so I did not go to work until Jan 2020. I started feeling worse, so I went to my PCP in late January. Again, I tested negative for the flu. It took me until April 2020 to completely stop coughing and to be able to do things without losing my breath. I’ve often wondered it I had it back then. I did end up with Covid this past August. I qualified for being able to take Paxlovid. Game changer, y’all! I still have issues with Covid brain. It’s a real thing.

    4. KB*

      Yup, I had similar things happen. I travelled to Germany in December 2019, and was 100% fit when I got on the plane the previous day. I woke up for my first morning in Germany feeling absolutely horrendous with fever, aches, pains, chest and congestion issues, cough, etc. It lasted for the first two weeks of my holiday and I was still low energy for the rest of the time away. I’m convinced it was covid.

  28. AmberFox*

    Many years ago, my boss at the time decided to invite the whole team (plus spouses and children) to his house for a Christmas party. And just us – no one else.

    Now, you have to understand – the boss was one of those guys that exuded both “rugged country man’s man” and “enough money to have fancy things,” like some sort of discount Tim McGraw. He was managing a team of programmers. Which is not to say anything negative about myself and other programmers, but… well, the closest any of us got to “rugged country” was “having a back yard.”

    So we show up at his home – in a pretty nice subdivision in a fairly rich town – with our spouses, and a few kids, for this Christmas party. And it was… well… Ever been in a room with six introverts and a taciturn man’s man who all know each other from work but don’t really socialize outside of work, a pack of kids who don’t know each other but at least there’s xbox, and a group of spouses who don’t know each other at all, one of whom is trying to keep socializing going because it’s her house and her husband is failing at being a warm and welcoming host? For a Christmas party in a big house with minimalist spotless furniture and holiday decorations to suit, with the adults standing around the kitchen counter and breakfast nook table idly picking at overly fancy snack foods and trying to make small talk?

    Yeah. It was like we’d all forgotten how to Human. You couldn’t cut the awkwardness with a knife, but only because we were being suffocated by it.

    Eventually, one of our more extroverted coworkers had to leave to take their kids somewhere and started making apologies. That opened the floodgates. Simultaneously, and without consulting each other, all of the rest of us programmers and our families ALL said our goodbyes and fled the scene like the house was on fire.

    …The next year, the boss ordered pizza and made us watch “A Christmas Story” in a conference room instead.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Oh no. I’m cringeing with second hand embarassment and social anxiety. It sounds as though he was trying to do the right thing and just not skilled at throwing a party.

      1. AmberFox*

        Given the way the man was, I suspect it was more that he mentioned to his wife that he needed to do something for us for the holidays and she volunteered to do the party. It wasn’t really his style, but she seemed like the kind of person who would enjoy throwing holiday parties. (Just… maybe not for introverts, lol.)

    2. There You Are*

      Oh, lordy. A million years ago, I worked at a tech company (in sales) that was expanding into the southwest. They hired me, two other salespeople, a manager, and, after many months, a Sales Director.

      The Director lived in the outer, outer, outer “suburbs” on the north side of the local major city, in what had been a rural area but was in the process of being overdeveloped. [And which was two counties away from the major city.] He invited all of us to a mandatory breakfast at his house as a “friendly” get-to-know-you overture. Arrival time was 7:00 AM.

      I lived in the established south side of the city… two hours away.

      But, sure, I can do anything once, so I got up at 3:00 AM to make sure I’d be out of my house by 4:45 AM, in a full skirt suit and heels because that was expected, and arrived to see a house divided.

      As in, *his* taste leaned toward mirrored surfaces, vibrant Lassen sea life paintings, and… well, kind of a 1990’s Vegas look (?).

      His wife’s taste, however, was country, shabby chic.

      So the kitchen was all rusty roosters and partially rubbed-off paint finishes, and the living room was shiny metal, mirror-covered end tables, and black velvet curtains.

      It. Was. So. Weird.

      Then his wife served us Costco / Sam’s Club pastries straight out of the plastic packaging in the formal dining room that was nauseatingly decorated in both their styles.

      It was winter and the temp in their house had to have been hovering around 80F. I got light-headed from the lack of sleep, the heat, and having only what amounted to sugary desserts to eat. I had to excuse myself — twice — to go outside and get fresh air. I eventually just said I wasn’t feeling well and left.

  29. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    About a decade ago I worked for a local property management company that always had a huge Christmas party–all of the managers, assistant managers, leasing staff, and maintenance staff from the various properties would meet up with the executives and HQ staff at a fancy restaurant and enjoy a nice meal and an open bar, and the evening would culminate in “Dirty Santa”–one of those games where everyone brings in a wrapped gift, and then people blindly pick one and open it but everyone who goes after them can steal any already unwrapped gift.

    Well, only executives and property managers were allowed a plus one, and this one executive was famous for bringing her husband and having him participate in Dirty Santa every time, making sure they always went last or almost last, and stealing the two best gifts–generally from people who made waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less money than they did. It was just really kind of mean, they were SUPER obnoxious about it (and they never brought decent gifts, either, it was always something that was clearly on super clearance at the saddest last chance clearance warehouse–possibly while it was actively on fire or something). I happened to work for the largest property, staff-wise, and one year after two of our employees had nice gifts taken from them by the gruesome twosome (12 year old bottle of scotch, a giant fancy Godiva assortment) and got stuck with a battery operated head warmer and a fart noise machine, respectively, we decided we had enough. The next year we each brought random stuff from the dollar store to the party–and did a blind draw out in the parking lot for the real presents before we all went in. So we all got nice stuff, the Dirty Santa game was flooded with stuff no one could be unhappy about losing, and the vulture couple were noticeably crabby and complained about how bad the gifts that year were.

    1. Merci Dee*

      Hellmouth, I miss your stories of property management on the simmering gates of Hell because you are a talented writer and have a very charming turn of phrase. Also, just about the time that I thought you couldn’t possibly have any crazier happenings at the complex . . . well, there was your next story, and it was weirder than the last. But I’m so glad that you got out of that situation, so I will happily take stories that are nothing but memories of the bad old days, and continue to pray that your employment situation treats you better and better by the day. You deserve it, after some of the raging-dumpster-fire garbage you put up with.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I didn’t read Hellmouth’s stories but I’m sure they are epic, as evidenced by this one gem right here: “and they never brought decent gifts, either, it was always something that was clearly on super clearance at the saddest last chance clearance warehouse–possibly while it was actively on fire or something.”

        1. Merci Dee*

          Oh, I looked forward to the Friday open threads, because there was a good chance that Hellmouth was going to leave the latest entry in the saga of the most out-of-control apartment complex I’ve ever heard of. It was truly amazing, some of the stuff those residents would get up to, and the property manager!

    2. ICodeForFood*

      Reminds me of the time we had that sort of gift exchange, with a dollar limit of $15 or $20, and my poor boss wound up with a Santa Claus dog toy that his director had bought on sale at a pet store… and my boss didn’t even have a dog! I think the $1.99 price tag was still attached.
      My boss was NOT pleased!

  30. Nonny Nonny*

    Normally we don’t get anything more than a Happy Holidays email from administration. But one year, they decided to send gift boxes to each branch. Our branch, with a staff of 16, received a single pear, three ounces of smoked salmon, and a few ounces of cheese to share. Also, it came without any card or acknowledgement of who it was from. Needless to say we were all baffled.

    1. Bagpuss*

      How strange. I wonder if that was supposed to be for a single individual working from home and the eliveries got messed up?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Ha! I’m having fun imagining the one remote staffer opening up a box with 16 pears, 3 lbs of smoked salmon, and a few pounds of cheese, also with no note of who it’s from XD

    2. Chichester*

      Oof. That reminds me of my old retail job – we usually didn’t get anything from corporate but one year they sent us this enormous cardboard box supposedly full of “swag” that we were supposed to open at our store holiday party. We opened it as soon as we got it, of course.

      Inside, for a staff of eight (8), was one (1) beanie with the store logo, two (2) cheap plasticky drawstring bags, also with the store logo, twelve (12) of the ugliest button pins you’ve ever seen that said “you are amazing!” in an almost unreadable font, and six (6) small unmarked boxes. When we opened the boxes they contained unbranded pop sockets which might have been cool except they were covered in dirt. Totally grimy. I don’t even know how they got like that inside the packaging.

      Someone got the beanie (I forget who), a few people took the ugly pins and wore them as a joke, and everything else went in the trash. Our manager was so disgusted that she damaged out a bunch of candy and snacks and gave them out at the store party. Corporate never sent us anything again.

      1. Nonny Nonny*

        We have often gotten useless plastic swag for staff appreciation days, but at least none if it has been dirty. Yuck!

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

      I’m guessing someone mass ordered Harry & David boxes (because pears) and didn’t care if the food covered the number of employees? Pre-pandemic my department would receive 3-4 H&D gifts from various vendors and we would pile them up in the break room to share but it would still just come out to 1 chocolate covered cherry, 2 slices of fancy cheese, and 1/4 cup of candied popcorn per person…and 10 pears that no one really wanted.

        1. Damn+it,+Hardison!*

          Right? They are the best pears. A couple of years ago my Trader Joe’s had boxes of Harry & David pears for $7.99!

    4. MagicEyes*

      So you each get 1/16 of a pear and less than 1/5 of an ounce of salmon and cheese. It would be a good breakfast, for a mouse.

  31. Guest*

    Long before he met me, DH worked at an office where the holiday parties were notoriously wild. One year, the boss’s wife got schnockered and proceeded to boast about her husband’s, er, anatomy and abilities loudly enough for everyone to hear. At least they knew boss and wife were happily married!

    1. AGD*

      One year at our thing, Boss brought Boss’s Husband. Boss’s Husband helped himself to beer and more beer, eventually ending up sitting in a corner loudly refusing to go home. Boss was mortified.

  32. Sharkweek*

    Last year, the head of our department brought leftover seltzer water from her wedding to the department potluck, slammed it on the counter, and said, “I brought this in because nobody wanted it – it tastes like cough syrup.” Prior to the party, she mandated that the Christmas tree could be no taller than one foot, and demanded a written plan for where we intended to store the department snow man (made out of scraps from a previous project, approximately 10″ tall). I even got a panicked Saturday slack where she needed to discuss holiday decorations with me asap. Needless to say, I left this job shortly afterward.

    1. MovingMom*

      Not my office party, but my husband’s. He worked for a smaller law firm (e.g., about 20 lawyers plus support staff), and in addition to his paralegal duties, organized the annual holiday party. The head of the firm was a bit of a curmudgeon, but had money, liked to drink, and spent lavishly on firm parties.
      One year, the party was held in a large hotel downtown. Lots of food, even more to drink, and partners teamed up with support staff and spouses to drunkenly out “sing” each other with the karaoke machine.
      The trouble began at the after party, which happened at the hotel bar and lounge. One group of us took over a comfy section of chairs and couches. One of the (female) file clerks went to the bar and feeling social, chatted up a guy there. What she and we didn’t realize though was that the bar was a popular spot for local escorts, and the guy had been on the path to becoming a client of one of them. When the file clerk and the guy started to leave together, the escort’s “boss” tried to step in, and put his hands on the file clerk. Her sister, who also worked for the firm, saw from our area around the couches and went in swinging. In the end, there was an actual brawl (I ended up pulling the file clerk out by grabbing her around the waist). Police were called. The escorts and pimp disappeared, the mark was arrested after trying to punch a cop, the file clerk was taxied home, and her sister disappeared after saying something about getting a weapon and didn’t come back until work the next week.
      My husband kept his job (the fight wasn’t his fault) and left the firm shortly after the next year’s party, which was a lot quieter and a lot less fun.

  33. irene adler*

    After many years of real trees placed in the breakroom for our holidays, management had opted for a fake tree. Less mess, less maintenance, less costly. Many missed that lovely scent of Christmassy-pine that would fill the breakroom and waft down the hallways.

    So I decided to remedy this.

    Ya know those car air freshener trees? Figured that would do the trick. Purchased a full dozen since the breakroom was way bigger than a car.

    Before the first arrival the next morning, I open them all up and placed them around the tree.

    At first, I noticed they were a bit strong. So much the better! I figured. Everyone will delight in that lovely pine scent as it fills the room and hallways!

    As the morning wore on, it soon became apparent: I had gassed the entire company out of the breakroom with that no-longer-lovely pine scent.

    1. urguncle*

      Oh my god, this brought up a smell memory I didn’t know I had. I used to work as a service writer in a garage and whenever someone had to pull a car in with good dozen or so of those on their rearview mirror (and it literally happened daily), we’d refer to it as “taking a walk through the felon forest.”

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Ah but remember Jordy? He of the corduroy pants with little fox heads? He found that pine air fresheners do not work in a car with a rotting turkey in the trunk
        Too bad, so sad

      2. LaLa762*

        OMG – right?
        I always want to tell my Lyft drivers that I’d much rather smell their weed than their nasty Glade vent things.
        Or their cologne.

  34. talos*

    Not laugh-out-loud funny, but this one always brings a smile to my face to tell.

    I graduated from college 2-3 years younger than you might expect based on my level of educational attainment. Specifically, I had an M.S. and a full-time job lined up when I was still 20. I was set to start the full-time job in January (as I was graduating in December), and before I started I was invited to the team’s holiday party. This is generally, during pandemic times at least, a low-key affair where the manager buys everyone a beer of their choice, drops it off at their home, and you just hang out on Zoom for 60-90 minutes while drinking your beer. Some years the manager plans, like, trivia or a slide deck of good moments from the year or something, but it’s all very relaxed.

    My manager contacted me ahead of time to ask me about my beer preference, and I decided to be truthful and tell her that I didn’t have one because I wasn’t yet 21.

    She bought me a beer anyway and just told me I had to promise not to drink it before I turned 21. I kept my promise, and if I recall correctly I drank a La Croix on the call and my beer the next month, when I was 21.

  35. Chip Biffington*

    This is a fairly benign one:

    My coworker got quite drunk on a holiday riverboat trip. Mercifully, she was a happy drunk. At one point, she pulled me over, told me my boyfriend was a “capital S Stud” and to let her know if I was ever “done with him.” I managed to keep this hilarity to myself until we were off the boat and then told my boyfriend. I think for about two weeks I exclusively addressed him as stud.

  36. Hawk*

    About a decade ago, my husband started a new job at a semi-start-up (it was a branch of an international company but treated as a start-up). He started in the fall, and was invited to a holiday party at his new CEO’s house. I went with him (we weren’t married yet).

    We walked into something straight out of The Sound of Music. First off, we were welcomed into the area where the food was by the CEO, who talked about how he built this portion of his house. He was former military, and was a big fan of hunting. He showed us the kids’ play area (he also built it himself). Then back to the area where the food was, to have the chili from the buck he shot on his property (the chili would make an appearance regularly at the office). And then… the performance started. Yep, his kids performed for us (dancing). And then all of the children present were asked to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. And then there was the gift exchange. Everyone had drawn names. Had I mentioned the company had only existed about 6 months? It was… a night. My husband and I came out of there laughing about our very strange experience.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Why do I imagine this as a scene from a Wes Anderson movie? Maybe juxtaposed with the unsuccessful “party for introverts” above.

    2. Jaid*

      Glencairn Museum used to be a home(castle!) and Raymond and Mildren Pitcairn had their children entertain people. They even had a balcony designed as a stage in their library.

      Fantastic place, closed for renovation, but worth a visit when open.

  37. Bird+Lady*

    I worked for a non-profit that would host a volunteer thank you luncheon each year. It was primarily a pot luck, but the organization purchased the mains (the year we had pulled chicken from the BBQ place next door was the biggest hit). It was a lunch, so we did not serve alcohol. No one thought to!

    One of our board members made a hard ask for beer, knowing we had some left over from a fundraiser the week before. No one felt comfortable telling him no. He proceeded to sit with a tub of cold beers, tossing one back every so often, and cheering loudly for each volunteer who received an award. And because every volunteer received an award, he made a ton of noise for about 50 people.

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        It is indeed! I was expecting the worst right until the second-to-last sentence, but he looks like a genuinely kind guy.

  38. Heffalump*

    I don’t have any stories remotely like this. I must have been working at the right companies–or the wrong ones, depending on your viewpoint. I’m reminded that in ancient China, “May you live in interesting times” was a curse.

    1. Siege*

      Back in the oughts I worked for a company in the post-notorious-party phase. At the turn of the century, they were making money hand over fist with a couple of accidental VERY lucrative hit products. (Apparently in 2000 or 2001, the week after bonuses were given out the parking lot was filled with New Beetles because the lowest-level bonus was exactly the cash price of one.) They’d had a holiday party so wild that several couples were divorcing, it was written up in an online gossip mag, and by the time I started, several years later, I was warned about The Couch which they still had but no one would use, since it had featured quite prominently in at least one divorce case’s cause. There had also been a lot of relatively incidental property damage – nothing major, mostly people just always mentioned the sex couch – but the annoying kind where now someone has to patch this hole, and then they have to come back and paint it, etc.

      Our parties were very classy high-end affairs at some of the top spots in the city, and drink tickets were strictly limited. Quite honestly, call me Ms Boring, but I was not and am not up for seeing my coworkers in flagrante.

  39. Midge*

    Many years ago, I was in the military. We had a holiday party and one particularly drunk colleague received a 40 of Jack Daniel’s in the secret Santa. He chugged it on the spot with other drunks cheering him on. He had to be hospitalized with alcohol poisoning which the guys found absolutely hilarious. So, the following year, a new recruit got this guy’s name in the secret Santa and asked around for gift ideas. She was told to get him a 40 of Jack Daniel’s. All part of some long running joke with these jerks. Anyway, he was super drunk again and , you guessed it, chugged the 40 to laughter and applause. A couple of less irresponsible people dragged him outside and forced him to vomit several times to avoid another hospitalization. The new recruit ended up in tears because she didn’t know the history and had been told that this would be a “great” gift.

  40. urguncle*

    The worst company I ever worked for did a holiday t-shirt exchange. I joined at the beginning of December and it was 2 weeks in that I had to buy a t-shirt for a coworker of mine. I thought this was supposed to be like a White Elephant sort of deal, so I found one of the funniest ones I could: a shirt that said, “Yes, I really do need all these chickens.” I thought it was hysterical. We start opening the gifts and they were all super thoughtful shirts. Someone who was involved in Planned Parenthood got a shirt that said “clinic escort.” Someone researched my background and got an unofficial shirt from the college I went to. Then my recipient opens up her gag gift.
    I didn’t last long at that company and that is a-ok. I still would wear the chickens shirt.

    1. Someone*

      I hope someone gets me that shirt this year. I specifically asked my sister for something with a dumb joke on it, so maybe?

    2. Turtlewings*

      Lol, I would get my sister that shirt unironically. She started off saying she would like to get 2 or 3 chickens and currently has 17.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        This is a big part of why, as tempting as it is, I haven’t explored the idea of keeping chickens. I know myself, and I would rapidly become the crazy chicken lady.

      2. Evan Þ.*

        I would get my sister that shirt only half-ironically! She has multiple conures, and sometimes jokingly refers to them as chickens.

  41. Miss Havisham*

    We’re a nonprofit org with a small office staff and a much larger field staff. Every year, our office staff hosts an afternoon Christmas party for our field staff, on the day before the office closes for the week between Christmas and the new year.

    During last year’s party setup, one of our office workers jammed the pieces of the tree stand too hard while putting it together, and the whole stand broke. Without time to go get a new tree or stand before people started to arrive, we just did a little emergency triage, duct-taped everything together and threw a tree skirt over it. And it held! …Right up until the final moments of our Director’s thank-you-for-coming-thank-you-for-contributing-now-enjoy-your-holiday wrap speech, when the whole tree just collapsed spectacularly to the ground. Ornaments shattered, the lights and bluetooth speaker plugged in behind the tree went dead, and the Director narrowly escaped being hit.

    It was so well-timed that some of our field staff just assumed that it was a Bit meant to officially usher in the holiday office closure.

  42. Marianne*

    My sister and her husband were invited to a holiday party at the place they both worked (large organization – they didn’t work together) and the invite said to dress up like rock stars. My brother in law loves Kiss so he carefully did makeup for my sister and himself. When they arrived they saw that no one else had dressed up and immediately fell embarrassed. Well, a while later one of the top managers arrived dressed as Tina Turner, was immediately annoyed at everyone who didn’t dress up, and proceeded to do karaoke with my sister and BIL. My BIL felt like his career got a major boost!

  43. Oh What Fun*

    Worked at a restoration & remodeling company- their Christmas party was an ugly-sweater one, on site in a large upstairs boardroom, catered food but open bar was one of the guys mixing drinks from bottles and mixers people brought. I *love* parties, especially around the holidays, but was sort of newer to the company so I kept it to one drink and wanted to just go home and spend time with my boyfriend

    Apparently about an hour after I left, it got very lit and then out of control– beer pong, flip cup, singing, etc. and ended up with one of the technicians stripping down and crawling through one of the ducts in the building, crashing through the “HR” manager’s ceiling a la Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club. I came to work on Monday feeling like Troy in Community’s Remedial Chaos Theory episode, and was both relieved and sad that I had missed it.

    1. Momma Bear*

      My former company had a fancy dinner at a hotel party with an open bar. It was a great event. Many people got hotel rooms but my spouse and I went home. I must have missed something because HR sent out an email saying that in the future there would be a two drink limit, beer and wine only, no shots or hard liquor.

      And as a side note, almost exactly 9 months later there was a minor baby boom in the company.

  44. Thin+Mints+didn't+make+me+thin*

    A former boss was talented on the piano, and our upper management drafted him to play Christmas carols at the holiday gathering. Only they didn’t tell him ahead of time and he hadn’t practiced them, so he was winging it and flailing a bit. And they kept him at it all evening and everyone had to sing along. He didn’t get to spend any time with his wife, who was left by herself amid a group of strangers. The Christmas sing-along went over particularly well with the Jewish employees…

    1. NotTodaySatan*

      “The Christmas sing-along went over particularly well with the Jewish employees…”

      And?

    2. just a random teacher*

      This reminds me of when I was teaching at a school full of evil bees, and I got a call in the middle of class one morning asking if I could play the piano and lead the school in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at the assembly they had planned that afternoon. While I was briefly curious if they had sheet music or expected me to pull this off from memory, rather than asking I instead declined this exciting opportunity on the grounds that I didn’t have time to practice since I was busy teaching, plus I wasn’t a particularly skilled piano player to start with.

      Note that I was not the music teacher. I assume he had already turned them down.

      I wonder how many “maybe they know how to play the piano” teachers were called before they gave up and had us sing along with a recording at the assembly…

    3. ICodeForFood*

      Wait… I’m Jewish, and I LOVE Christmas sing-alongs! Doesn’t anyone remember the Saturday Night Live skit where Elliot Gould was a rabbi at some interfaith gathering was the only one who knew the words to Good King Wenceslas?

      1. starsaphire*

        Yes! John Belushi as the Knights of Columbus guy, giving the end-of-year sports awards at the Christmas, er, Holiday awards banquet, and Elliot Gould the rabbi was there as the coach of the team from the local shul. It was hilarious in how it pointed out a few awkward elephants in the room.

        1. ICodeForFood*

          Thank you! I didn’t remember the details of the skit… But I was pretty sure I wasn’t making it up!

      2. Minimal Pear*

        Non-Christian who’s tired of carols and would prefer not to celebrate Christmas here, and alas I must admit… Good King Wenceslas does slap.

        1. Merci Dee*

          Every year, my company shuts down between Christmas Eve and New Year’s, and my parents decided it would be great to take my daughter and me to Disney World for the Christmas break — it was amazing and a lot of fun. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort on-property, and they were playing a bunch of Christmas songs in theme-appropriate formats. Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve jammed along with an up-tempo version of Good Kind Wenceslas played on the steel drums with a bit of a calypso beat. I had totally forgotten about that until this conversation.

          1. Merci Dee*

            This was, like, 12 years ago, when my daughter was 6. So they may have changed the music by now. I kind of hope not.

  45. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Oh my, the only thing I can think of is the last year of big holiday parties, due to Sock Girl.

    This was when I was working for a hotel, and they would rent out a nearby fancy restaurant for the evening and get coverage from a sister property, so literally everyone who worked there was able to attend. That year they went with an ice theme for decorations: so ice skates, frozen ponds, icicles, and an actual ice sculpture at the bar of several snowflakes. It was all really nice – sit down dinner (with vegetarian and allergy friendly options for everyone), open bar, for a hotel holiday party it was way more than I’d have ever expected.

    So after dinner they opened up an area for a dance floor, and it quickly became apparent that despite IDing people, somehow one of the underage front desk clerks had been able to get her hands on some alcohol anyways, and she was now pretty drunk. She had also worn a strapless jersey-material dress that sort of resembled a tube sock. So she heads out onto the dance floor, and she’s having a blast – but the married guy she was grinding was trying with all his might to get away without letting her fall. He made a break for it at the end of the song, and someone else grabbed Sock Girl to try and get some water into her and get a phone number to call a ride for her.
    Well, she escaped from the person trying to sober her up – got another glass of wine from the bar somehow, and then headed for the dance floor again. This time fortunately there was no grinding, because she decided to try and breakdance instead (again, wearing a strapless dress). The housekeeping manager grabbed her before she did any truly revealing damage to her dress, and try two to get her home to sober up started. And it was no more successful than the first. Sock girl got away again, got another glass of wine somehow from the bar, and got back to the dance floor again. This time, it was back to the dirty dancing but this time it was too much for her dress and it just fell off, and she was so drunk she was oblivious, till she tripped over the fabric around her feet. A few of us went out to help her up – and that’s when the puking started, and all of us who went out to help got sprayed. And then I started reacting allergicly to the shrimp pasta she’d had for dinner…..
    Oh, and witnessing all of this – was the family that owned the hotels (they owned six or seven).

    Next year, we got a lunch, prepared in the hotel kitchen, in the largest meeting room, and the owners didn’t show up.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – that was not fun, my manager gave me the next day off paid to get better. Fortunately I don’t need to go to the hospital, but I was really itchy for the next few days.

    1. I edit everything*

      Shame on the bartender(s)! I can’t imagine why they would continue serving her. Maybe she was just picking up random drinks off the tables.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Honestly, the bartenders were carding me (I was 26, looked 19) and they had been told to watch out for underage staff. I have no clue how she was getting the alcohol, but she definitely had way more than she could handle that night.

    1. FrogEngineer*

      My first ever office Christmas party is tomorrow night. I certainly hope I won’t have anything to report, but if I do it’s definitely getting posted here!

      1. Brain the Brian*

        That’s a lousy excuse cooked up by stingy administrators. The parties at federal agencies are the stuff of legend.

  46. ferrina*

    My old job had a yearly Secret Santa. It was purely optional and the gift limit was $20. When you sign up, you fill out an online form and include some gift suggestions. Suggestions could be vague, like “craft beer” or “puzzles”, or a link to a specific website or item.

    One of the top-paid SVPs provided the link to a $200 massage chair. His poor secret santa reached out to ask if there was anything else he wanted- for example, something in the budget range- and he insisted all he wanted was the massage chair.

    He got a $20 Target gift card.

  47. hohoholidaytrauma*

    2020 brought the first of many office “virtual holiday celebrations.” There we were, on Zoom, suffering through holiday trivia, when our Executive Director announced he had a holiday gift for us. He then proceeds to pull out a HARMONICA. Thank the gods my camera had been off or else the face I made would have gotten me fired immediately. Dude plays the harmonica at us for a full five minutes – he is Indian so I guess this was a traditional Indian song? It was absolutely surreal and will haunt me to my dying day. I don’t work for that department any longer so at least I can laugh about it now.

  48. FashionablyEvil*

    We had a white elephant gift exchange with a $10 limit. Things were going fairly normally (some ugly gloves, a snowman making kit, etc.) until one of my very religiously conservative (no drinking, no smoking, no dancing, definitely no on non-marital sex) co-workers selected a gift bag.

    First thing she pulls out is a bottle of wine. She shrugs good-naturedly.
    Someone pipes up and says, “Keep going!”
    She pulls out a box of chocolates. She smiles and turns to the next person in the exchange.
    Person pipes up again, “I hear there’s something else in there too!”
    She pulls out a 12 pack of “Extended Pleasure” Trojan Magnum condoms.

    We never had a white elephant exchange again.

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

        Yeah, that wouldn’t be cool for even a non-religious person.

          1. Taking the long way round*

            Yes right. Also why give a gift to someone who isn’t going to use it? How thoughtless.

      2. Daisy+Avalin*

        My fellow night shift worker no longer attends our Christmas meals or participates in Secret Santa, after one of our coworkers*, two years in a row, got him tasteless and very sleazy-sex-shop style gifts, one being a blow-up sheep sex doll type thing, and egged him on to blow the sheep up in the middle of the meal…

        Spoiler: he did Not blow up the sheep, and I suspect he binned it all as soon as possible.

        *Have to admit, I do not like this coworker at all, and had great pleasure, last year, in quashing her attempts to have a Naughty Secret Santa.

    1. Essentially+Cheesy*

      I understand how that was intended to be funny but I wouldn’t want to be the person that inflicted that on someone.

    2. Robin+Ellacott*

      Terrible professional judgment on the gift giver’s part – but very impressive bargain hunting if that was all under $10!

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I looked it up! The condoms alone were at least $15 retail. (I shudder to think about the condoms being a regift or something he just had lying around at home. Yes, the culprit was identified.)

    3. Azure+Jane+Lunatic*

      That reminds me of a gift I gave a friend while we were both in high school. At one point he’d said that a particular brand of popcorn was “better than sex”. Several months later, before winter break, I handed him two wrapped things taped together and advised him that they were related, and to open the smaller one at home.

      He opened the larger package, saw the popcorn, turned distinctly pink, and didn’t unwrap the other one. Since he was notoriously impossible to embarrass, our crew demanded answers but was still unable to come up with why microwave popcorn could possibly have any sort of subtext.

  49. Blarg*

    This is actually a heartwarming story that despite it being > 15 years ago, still makes me really happy.

    So mid-2000s. I worked at a pediatric hospital. Anyone who is inpatient on Christmas Day is SICK. There are no scheduled surgeries, everyone who can be safely discharged for a day generally is. It is rough for families who observe. This is when American Idol was THE thing. And a contestant from our city had done well the prior season — hadn’t won, but kind of ‘hometown hero.’ I didn’t watch the show so wasn’t super familiar, but I’d heard about him.

    We heard he was visiting with his family. Figured that they’d stop in a couple rooms, get some photos/PR, and go on home.

    Readers, I kid you not, this man, his brother, and their parents visited every single child in the hospital. They were there for hours and hours. They put on gowns, masks, and gloves and took them off again. They held babies. They sang carols with families & staff. The singer guy was, uhh, surprisingly handsome in person. He made the adults and teenagers blush with his charm – including me.

    I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since. It must have been so exhausting for him and his family — both physically hard, rough on their voices (so much singing!), and emotionally fraught — so much heartache and sadness. But the joy they brought to everyone, including this pessimistic Jewish woman who always works on Christmas cause it isn’t my holiday … well, it was certainly my most memorable Christmas.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      This is the best…..such a good group they were, and you know they brought a ton of joy to a bunch of sick kids and worried families.

    2. Marni*

      I love this story so much I had to look and see if my favourite American Idol contestant has a brother. (He doesn’t. )

    3. Robin+Ellacott*

      That’s so delightful. I hope his career has taken off, or other good things are happening for him.

    4. West coast ice*

      You are the kindest bestest pessimistic Jewish woman who allows others to enjoy their holiday. Not to mention you work in health care. I hope your colleagues show you equal respect and you get all your holidays off.

  50. asteramella*

    I cannot top these stories but I offer my humble contribution.

    I worked at a company with a miserable culture and many unpleasant coworkers who were highly paid and tended to treat service workers poorly. At the company holiday party, hosted at a fancy country club, I was one of very few attendees who was pleasant to the bartender and actually tipped when redeeming my drink tickets. Consequently, the grateful bartender poured my drinks with a very heavy hand. I was also a vegetarian and could eat basically nothing but iceberg lettuce at the catered buffet dinner. Even though I only had 2 drinks, this accidentally ended up being one of the tipsiest evenings of my life. I have bleary memories of propping myself up against a wall and trying to act sober and dignified while saying as little as possible.

    1. Siege*

      Ha! I got asked to cover a tip once (host had stiffed the waitress for reasons that remain unclear, mostly because I never bothered to ask). I didn’t know how much the bill was because he’d been with a group of hangers-on and I didn’t know whether everyone had had their own bills or what, so I wrote the tip for as large as I could conceivably lose in my incidentals because this was at a conference halfway across the country. I honestly figured I could strong-arm my boss if needed; he would have been happy to figure out how to get me reimbursed. The tip must have been way off because the waitress was super grateful and thank god everyone else from my company was partying hard and equally drunk (though they had to pay for theirs :) ) because I don’t think I sobered up again until after my plane landed back home.

      Also, I learned valuable lessons about hosting breakfast business meetings on two hours of sleep and a lot of booze. It’s helpful to memorize where the tile starts in your hotel so you know when to open your eyes.

  51. Tupac Coachella*

    My company hosts a popular and well attended holiday party. It’s mentioned often enough that I (incorrectly, it turns out) got the impression that it was a Big Deal that I go, and I already knew I didn’t want to (my coworkers and the party are all very nice, it’s just not my thing). When my first December rolled around, I managed to dodge most discussion of it, and no one asked directly why I wasn’t going until the day of the party. Somehow unprepared for this, I blurted out the truth: “Because…Star Wars.” My coworker nodded knowingly and moved on. I found out years later that I was one of several who skipped out on the party that year to prepare for the midnight showing of The Force Awakens. I regret nothing.

  52. The Prettiest Curse*

    All of my holiday parties have been relatively boring, but in 2016 my husband’s law firm had a white elephant gift exchange. After all the rounds of stealing gifts, a very liberal lawyer who’d volunteered for the Clinton campaign wound up with a knockoff MAGA hat and a 6-pack of Coors beer. Luckily, she thought it was funny. (This was in San Francisco, so there was a pretty good chance that whoever got that gift would be a Democrat.)

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

      I’m trying to picture what a knockoff MAGA hat would say…”MEGA” “MANA” “MASA” “WAGA”

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I didn’t get to see the hat, but according to my husband it had the same colour scheme, but a slightly different slogan. The person who bought the gift swore that they hadn’t donated to get it, so maybe they got it from a street vendor.

      2. Merci Dee*

        This reminds me of an episode of the tv show Sam & Cat. One of the characters was a bit of a wheeler and dealer, and he had gotten a load of knock-off hats with the names of the states, but the state names were wrong. Like, one of them was for Montuna, there was one for Alababama, and one for Mouth Dakota.

  53. Polka Dots and Stripes*

    Several years ago, I worked for a large corporation. This was during the last recession, so the days of having large fancy parties was a thing of the past.

    Our team of about 30 people would have happily done nothing or had a simple potluck in the break room, but our VP loved parties and insisted on doing something. He ended up planning a party at a local bar downtown.

    I called out “sick” the day of the party, but my coworkers filled me in later of course. VP let everyone leave early at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon to walk the bar. VP said he had enough budget to buy 1 drink per employee but no appetizers or food. Staff complained so he ended up buying one order of chips and queso for folks to split.

    Some people didnt stick around too long, but some did. A guy who was relatively new to the team decided to order a bunch of drinks and put it on VP’s tab without him knowing. Drunk guy proceeds to hard core make-out with another coworker in front of everyone. Drunk guy is married and has kids – the woman he was making out didnt know this and got really upset when someone told her later.

  54. Life of an Engineer*

    Back in my college days, I interned as an engineer a couple summers at a manufacturing company close to my home. Small town, everyone knows everyone type places. The end of my last summer there, they offered me to come work over my winter break for a few weeks. Since the internship was paid and I could always use the money, I took them up on the offer. Unfortunately, the company Christmas party was held at the beginning of December, before my winter break started so I missed out on what I had heard was always an interesting party due to free alcohol.

    First day of winter break, I arrive at work that morning and within the first hour the stories were flying around. Apparently, one of the late-40-something-year-old married, manufacturing floor workers was bragging about hooking with a mid-20-something year old single, engineer after the party. From the stories, both were quite drunk at the party and seen getting friendly with each. Married floor worker had not brought their spouse to the party. The floor worker and engineer were also spotted leaving at the same time and the story she shared is they drove off to a popular make-out spot, hooked up, and then passed out, waking up early the next morning in the back of his vehicle, both missing a few articles of clothing and some uh….evidence….as to what happened.

    Her bragging spread like wildfire and pretty soon a couple of engineer’s buddies approached him to ask if it was true. The look on the engineer’s face was enough to confirm, but he for some reason sputtered out that he didn’t think the 40-something floor employee would say anything as her absentee spouse had a reputation of having a bad temper and being a violent drunk. Once he confirmed the “rumor”, a few people had no problem continually teasing him about the incident. Meanwhile, the rest of my winter break there, 20-something engineer was in constant fear that 40-something’s husband was going to find out and randomly show up at work and beat him up. Nothing happened during my remaining time there and I never did find out if the husband ever found out. But small town, I would be surprised if he did eventually.

  55. Mrs Peaches*

    At my job ~10 years ago, the HR person was leaving and the holiday party she planned was her final middle finger to the company. It was held at a Moroccan restaurant where we were expected to sit very close together on the floor and eat from communal dishes with our hands. I used to enjoy going to this restaurant with my boyfriend and close friends, but with coworkers…no thanks. Our table asked for utensils and the server acted so put out by the request.

    We were all trying to drink away the awkwardness with our two drink tickets when they brought out the karaoke machine. At first it was fine, a few groups got up and did fun songs and laughed at themselves. Then the office jerk with the big ego got up and did a (comically awful) rendition of Love Me Tender. Meanwhile some folks continued drinking on their own dime, including the CEO.

    And then the belly dancers came out. They started performing in the front of the room, but then they started making their way around the room, dancing in front of individual tables, putting hands on the men, some of whom were utterly horrified. The CEO, however, didn’t mind at all. He took out some dollar bills, first tossing them, and then tucking them into the dancers’ bra. At that point even the dancer was uncomfortable. I don’t remember how the whole thing ended, but I could never bring myself to dine at that restaurant again, and the story lives on among my former coworkers.

    1. Koifeeder*

      I’ve been to a restaurant with a belly dancer, and they were very clear there that you did NOT touch or throw things (or even start yelling at) the dancer or you were REMOVED. Removed with extreme prejudice by the owner’s two very large cousins (well, okay. I was in third grade. they may have just been normal-sized cousins.). I’m definitely side-eyeing that restaurant for not having that policy.

    2. Aitch Arr*

      At the rehearsal dinner the night before my (first) wedding, we went to a Greek restaurant. (My family is Greek, ex-H’s was not, but he does have a Lebanese BIL.)

      Anyway, there was a belly dancer and she did encourage dollar bills in her waistband. My (85+ year old) Yia Yia (grandmother) obliged joyfully. It also helped that we knew the bandleader.

      (The Greek-American community is the Boston area seems VERY small sometimes.)

  56. DannyG*

    Working first position after residency at a smallish regional heart center. The head chef for the cafeteria was a retired Navy cook. Started out on destroyer, finishing as the chef for an admiral. This Christmas dinner at the hospital he went all out for the staff: steamship round, roasted turkey, all of the fixings, all from scratch. His finale was Cherrys Jubilee . He made a great show of the preparation at the center of the cafeteria, then flambéed the concoction, setting off the sprinkler system and soaking all assembled there.

      1. DannyG*

        To top it off the CEO, CFO, and department heads were all there to serve the staff working the holiday.

        1. HannahS*

          I mean, I think the hospital CEO getting drenched in sprinkler water is something that might feel like a real gift to some of the staff :P

  57. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I’ve only ever worked one place that had a proper holiday meal at a restaurant. And it was my first job (it was the 80s!). And they served chocolate mousse and it was the first time I had ever had something so exotic and I did not know what it was and I LOVED it and it was a whole thing! People explaining it and me wondering what magic could create something with that texture, it really went on and on.

    At home, my grandma made boiled new england dinners and my mom made a lot of roast chicken with green beans and box mashed potatoes. She thought lasagna was exotic and that it could only be made by a chef and all cakes would fall unless made from a box. Grandma sulked and ate snacks in her room when we had pizza (it was sooo Italian and low class! and also apparently not as good as meat and cabbage boiled to death).

    I’m still not embarrassed because I was so young. And no mousse has ever tasted as good as that first one!
    PS it was probably really badly made with jello or something!

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      I hear ya. My maternal grandmother refused to buy red bell peppers because they were “too hot” (when bell peppers of any color have zero capsaicin therefore zero heat) and refused to buy even canned spaghetti because she wasn’t eating that foreign Eye-talian junk. Luckily my mother ended up being a far better cook, because she couldn’t stand her mother’s cooking and so when she got married she stuck to followig recipes out of cookbooks.

      My paternal grandmother’s signature recipe was pea soup, made from a can of peas, a can of water, and some egg noodles, all boiled into paste.

      Most people get all nostalgic for their grandmothers’ cooking. Nope.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh I hear you. Neither of my grandmothers were great cooks. One was famous/infamous for the way she could stretch the food budget (leftover cheerios in the meatloaf), and the other just didn’t like to cook. Both of my parents are much better and more adventurous cooks than their moms, mostly out of self defense.

        So one time my mom and I are visiting her mom, who was about 93 at the time, and I have made dinner, which included ratatouille. And my grandmother starts complaining to my mom (while I’m in the kitchen and theoretically out of earshot) that the vegetables are mush and there’s *garlic* in the food. Yes, the vegetables are soft, because they’re supposed to be, and also my grandmother is missing a lot of teeth so soft is better, but what’s this about the garlic?
        She’s a Texan. She’s eaten Mexican and TexMex food her whole life. She’s not afraid of flavor and spice. But apparently 2 cloves of garlic was just too much.
        Then my mother leans over the table and hisses “do you know how many mushy boiled to death vegetables you served me? Just eat it!”

        I did not use any garlic when I made chicken soup the next day.

      2. rubble*

        my grandmother learnt to cook from her mother who had to re-learn how to cook during the second world war when they couldn’t have a housekeeper anymore. suffice to say, all of her food was reasonably bland, and they mostly ate soup (some of her soups were apparently good, if you like lentils and peas, which I don’t) and meat-and-three-veg when my mum was a kid.

        but because this was australia in the 60s and 70s oma did broaden her horizons a bit to try the most basic of italian foods, spaghetti bolognese. she made this by cooking some ground beef in tinned tomato soup and serving it over whatever pasta they had.

        luckily, mum married an italian, so I never had to endure this. by the time I was old enough to stay the night with oma, she mostly would give me freezer lasagna – which I liked because it was premade and I thought that was incredibly fancy. she made nice biscuits (cookies) and cakes, though.

        1. JustaTech*

          My mom’s mom got to be very fond of Italian food, mostly because her second husband was very good at cooking it (he was stationed in Italy during the war and learned to cook there). She was also a reasonably adventurous traveler and loved Spanish food. (Which was why the whole garlic thing was so strange.)

          My dad’s mom, well, she tried. She really, really tried. When my second-oldest aunt was getting really serious about this guy she was dating my grandmother decided to have him over for dinner, and asked his mom what he liked to eat. “Lasagna!” “What’s in lasagna?” “Meat sauce, pasta and cheese.”
          Somehow she got the meat sauce and even the lasagna noodles figured out, but, well, cheese is expensive. So Uncle D comes over for dinner and grandmother proudly serves him her “lasagna”, made with knock-off Velveeta.

          He married my aunt anyway.

        2. Mim*

          My paternal grandmother had an interesting combination of recipes – classic English dishes alternated with Malaysian curries and stir-fries. Her husband was stationed at the Australian Air Force base on Penang for a while, and they’d do cooking classes for the wives so they could use the local produce.

  58. Phrose*

    Last year was my first year out of college, and I’ve been working at a really good office job in my industry, but intensely out of my skillset. It’s an admin role that I’m leaving at the end of the year due to a restructure, but part of the duties include ordering client gifts for the holidays. My boss had me order our biggest client who brought in the biggest job they’d seen in years a large box of really really nice steak. I’m talking almost 500$ CAD in steak.

    This being december 2021, I assumed said client would be around, because who the hell is traveling right now? well, as it turns out, the client and his family were. The meat was delivered on the 21st, and I got a very confused email from my boss january 9th asking why the client came home from disneyland to find a box of meat on his front doorstep.

    I apologized profusely and was fully prepared to be fired then and there, but have not heard a word about it since, so lesson learned! Assuming does in fact make an ass of you and me!

    1. Tired+of+Working*

      You reminded me of the time that I worked at a CPA firm, and one of the partners arranged to take three weeks off right after April 15. The first day he was off, one of his clients called for him, and I told her that he would be away for three weeks. She screamed and screamed, because she had sent him a big box of pears, and now the pears would be rotten before he returned. She kept screaming at me. I don’t know why. It wasn’t my fault.

  59. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

    I hope this is funny and not just aggravating.

    Once I was a long-term temp at a huge private finance company, and at the end of the very nice holiday party, one of the prominent EAs stood by the coat check, looking at her phone, waiting for her Uber to arrive. Our billionaire boss walked up and said, “Oh wow, you’re arranging Ubers for everyone?”

    Because this was the vibe of the place, and also this EA’s personal vibe, she just said, “Oh…yes.” And gave him her Uber. Which also meant she couldn’t order another one until he got home. So she paid for a billionaire’s ride and delayed her own trip home by 20-30 minutes, watching in the app as he inched towards his gorgeous home so she could call herself a car.

    I don’t know if she was so loyal to Uber that she didn’t have Lyft on her phone, or if she was just too stunned that she’d let that happen.

      1. Tired+of+Working*

        Me, too. I guess she was lucky that the billionaire boss didn’t call out, “Hey, everyone, EA will get you an Uber if you need one!” I’m wondering if the billionaire boss ever reimbursed her. My guess is probably not.

  60. Taquito*

    The Last Holiday Party:
    So, in 2019 having just started a new job, I joined the staff appreciation committee in a burst of naïve optimism. I was going to be outgoing and social! I was going to meet people! This was a commitment of just a few hours a month, and I’d get more involved at work. During the first meeting, the committee chair asked for a volunteer to be co-chair, and, unable to stand the long silence that followed, I raised my hand. For the first year of my two year term I’d do nothing but observe the chair, but during the second year, when the chair cycled off, I’d run the meetings. Ok, not too bad, and by next year I’d be brimming with confidence and self-possession. In September, four weeks after we first met, the chair abruptly quit after an unexpected bereavement.  

    So now I’m planning the holiday party for 200 people! Not only was it catered, but it had live music, a dessert potluck, a raffle that required not just selling raffle tickets to staff across several buildings, but also soliciting raffle prize donations from staff and local businesses, a food drive and a winter clothing drive that were coordinated with several local charities. I have no background in event planning. What I did have was an assortment of cryptically labeled documents in a shared google drive that I kept getting locked out of since it was linked to a past chair’s phone number and an inability to get a direct answer about our budget. 

    Despite it all, the party went very well. Then, it was 2020, and of course we closed down. During that time, planning of the holiday party was moved into the administrative office, rather than having staff work to plan their own events. However, due to COVID precautions, the hours-long orgy of eating and drinking has been replaced by sign-up shifts of stopping by to grab minimal refreshments before returning to work, which everyone agrees is not the same. So, I have the dubious honor of having planned the last holiday party. Was it so good they felt it couldn’t be topped? Was it so bad they said we will never let a random person be in charge of this again? Who knows!

    1. Brain the Brian*

      I, likewise, have the dubious honor of planning the Last Holiday Party. Actually, the final three, as no one else would volunteer to handle it and everyone on the staff party committee agreed that my 2017 effort was The Standard To Be Met. I won two awards — yes, with frames certificates and a cash bonus each — for my work in staff morale as a result of these parties, which were really just glorified, catered lunches with some wine. Apparently, my selection of music and decorations from our basement storage bins really won people ober…?

      Now that we’re partially back in the office, HR has taken over the planning, which — if you see my comments upstream — looks to be less-than-stellar. I will always wear my badge with honor. I advise you to do the same.

    2. Rob aka Mediancat*

      “I have no background in event planning. What I did have was an assortment of cryptically labeled documents in a shared google drive that I kept getting locked out of since it was linked to a past chair’s phone number and an inability to get a direct answer about our budget.”

      Did anyone else hear that in Liam Neeson’s voice from Taken?

  61. Choggy*

    One of our contractors hit on one of the vendors that our company VP had his eye on. I guess said contractor got really drunk and very inappropriate, and he and the VP got into it. Contractor walked into the President/CEO’s office the next day to plead his case, but to no avail. This guy was a very loose cannon, and we always told him to knock it off, but he was the type of guy whose motto was “I gotta be me.” Well, it was finally realized he gotta be gone before he did any further damage.

  62. Lynn*

    Coworker got extremely drunk at a holiday party. There were several of us who were planning to get a ride home from a sober friend, so when we realized he was not well we worked together to get him out before he could do anything to embarrass himself in front of anyone else.

    Instead he just embarrassed himself in front of us. We got him back to a friend’s apartment, where he went on a rant about how math is taught wrong, and then got very ill. He ended up taking all of his clothes off and requiring help to shower off.

    My former-RA skills came in handy and I taught the group the bacchus maneuver and then we practiced in the living room and we sent someone in to bacchus him and monitor while we made an emergency middle-of-the-night trip to Walmart for saltines, pedialyte and gatorade.

    The next day he did a drive of shame and delivered cookies to everyone for helping.

    1. AmIcranky?*

      Long ago I was an RA and then a Hall Director and I’m curious of this “bacchus maneuver” of which you speak. Never heard of it!

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I assume it’s positioning someone on their side so they don’t accidentally choke on their own vomit.

      1. Elan Morin Tedronai*

        Bacchus Manoeuvre: Wherein the dead-drunk person is put either –

        1) Facedown, kneeling, over the toilet bowl. Long hair pinned back. Cushions to kneel on may or may not be provided depending on how much they deserve it; or

        2) Lying facedown on any non-carpeted portion of the floor.

        Not an RA, but my dorm room was the Drunk Tank of its day.

  63. Bort Simpson*

    At a former job at a heavily male-dominated distribution company, our sales department took the term “open bar” as a personal challenge to drink as much as they possibly could and remain standing. One particularly ambitious sales manager was ordering Heinken BY THE CASE at the bar. Unfortunately, he shamed some of the support staff (mostly women) into trying to match him drink for drink. This culminated in our ambitious, brand-new office manager (who regrettably cultivated the fashion aesthetic of a life-size Barbie) getting confused as to the location of the rest rooms. She ended up on the outdoor patio, and accidentally triggered the outdoor motion-sensor lights, making her visible to all the party guests with her pants around her ankles as she took a dump in the freezing cold. Who gets called in front of management the next day for an angry discussion about appropriate behavior? Me, because my department “planned” the party. And did I mention it was held at the company president’s country club?

    1. Slipping the Leash*

      I’m just now reading my way through this thread from yesterday and I gotta say, so far you are definitely winning.

  64. Dirty Chai Santa*

    I worked for a non-Starbucks coffee shop franchise in my university town the first two years it was open (until I graduated). All of the employees were university students, and the franchise was opened by the parents of one of the employees — they were retired and wanted something to do. The first year we were open, they closed the shop at like 5pm on a Thursday for our Christmas party. After dinner at a nearby restaurant paid for by the owners, we went back to the shop and did a Dirty Santa gift exchange. The gift limit was $5 or $10, and it was a raucous great time but the absolute best part was that 1) the owners participated in the gift exchange and 2) one of the employees, let’s call him Ian, didn’t know they were going to participate.

    I will never in my life forget the puzzled look on the sweet, quintessentially Southern lady owner’s face when she picked and opened the gift Ian brought…it was anal beads, y’all. We were all crying we were laughing so hard, half of us falling out of our chairs.

    That job remains my all-time favorite job.

    1. Taking the long way round*

      Seriously, who do people buy sex gifts for coworkers? It’s totally inappropriate!

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        Well, the “totally appropriate” holiday party stories and gifts just aren’t as funny.

  65. MissAgatha*

    One memorable year which surprisingly was not grounds for canceling Christmas forever, one of my coworkers had just turned 21. The guys, upon hearing that he hadn’t gotten drunk like, ever, decided that they were going to show him how it was done. I don’t know what time they started pregaming but I do know that mere minutes after my husband and I left the party, he projectile vomited ALLLL over the room we had booked at the country club. I received this info via text and went into work on Monday expecting that to be all any of us were talking about. Nope! As soon as I got in, the person across the hall said “hey go check the newspaper website.” Turns out a different coworker decided to continue the party elsewhere and his night ended with him getting arrested for attempting to assault a bartender with a broken beer bottle when they wouldn’t serve him.

  66. Library+Lady*

    This is such a small thing, but it’s something I think about on occasion and wonder why I’m allowed to manage other people…

    At the holidays, one of our vendors sends us a little bag of stuff (pens, snacks, stickers, etc) One year I looked in the bag and saw these little pale green rectangles wrapped in plastic. Out loud, I said (to myself) “Is this food or an eraser?” So I unwrapped one, popped it in my mouth, and said “Oh good, it’s food!” Unbeknownst to me, one of my coworkers had overheard me and was practically falling out of her chair laughing!

  67. Veryanon*

    I used to work at the corporate office of a convenience store chain that is well-known in my local area. Every year, they’d spring for a giant blow-out holiday party at the corporate office, with different themes, unlimited open bar, fun activities, etc. Needless to say, there were a lot of inappropriate things that happened at these events (the number of people having adult relations with other people they weren’t married to in the parking lot was legendary).
    One year, the theme of the party was a Western theme – everyone was supposed to wear cowboy-type shirts, they gave out cowboy hats, etc. Someone had the brilliant idea to provide a mechanical bull as part of the fun activities. Well. Let’s just say that unlimited open bar and mechanical bulls do not go together. We had a record number of work-related injuries from that party.

  68. Anonyme*

    At a small, remote hospital, one of the members of the party planning committee emailed the WHOLE hospital asking for people to contribute ideas for the party. She ended the email with “Be sure to reply all!”

    There were a bunch of generic responses and then someone responded requesting a family-friendly, alcohol-free event. The next response was very harsh and along the lines of “No children, some of us actually want to have fun at the party, which we can’t do with your brats running around.”

    There were no further responses. I did not attend the party. I believe it had both children and alcohol.

    1. Tom*

      I will never understand people who think that they can’t have fun unless “adult” things are involved.

  69. Irish Teacher*

    Probably not that funny, but…my student teacher year, the school I was working in had a Secret Santa (they told us the gift price limit was €5; I suspect it may have been €10 and they rounded it down a bit for us, as they also only asked us to pay half the price the actual qualified teachers were paying for the night out, but that’s beside the point).

    Anyway, the difference between this and other Secret Santas I’ve been involved in is that we all handed our gifts in with the name of the recipient and the giver on them and one guy did Master of Ceremonies, called out each person, gave them their gift and told them who gave it. Except…he also made a little speech about each person, complete with really bad dad jokes. Like our principal’s surname was Dunne, so he joked that “when this person first started working here, we thought we were all ‘dunne.'” There were probably about 40 members of staff so this went on and on.

    Another teacher called out “who do you think you are? De Valera?” (De Valera is a figure from Irish history, known for his long boring, very intellectual, to the point of sometimes being incomprehensible, speeches and he also founded the party that the guy doing Master of Ceremonies was an active member of and had run for local politics on behalf of.)

    The guy, however, did not take a hint and every time somebody interrupted him (the other interruptions weren’t humorous, just people sighing, whispering to the person they were sitting beside, etc), he’d go back to the start of whichever commentary he’d been doing which just made the whole thing even longer. It was pretty boring to sit through.

    (I will add this teacher was massively unpopular with the kids. One of my classes had his class next and they’d be hanging around at the end of class, asking me more questions about whatever we’d been doing in class, just to delay getting to his class. So…I’m guessing he was just as boring when teaching.)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        No, he actually taught woodwork. My students once asked if they could make the villain in a story I was having them write “a tall thin woodwork teacher.” My response was “no!”

  70. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    Fortunately, this did not happen in front of the rest of my department.

    I was fresh out of college in my first professional job. My manager was hosting a department potluck at his home. So my SO and I get all dressed up, and knock on his door at the appointed hour… THE DAY BEFORE THE PARTY. Yes, I got the date wrong. The manager was a bit surprised, but quite nice about it. He invited us to come in and chat for a bit.

    1. JustaTech*

      Years ago I had a coworker from my academic lab show up quite late to our lab holiday party at our PI’s house.
      It turned out he was late because he’d put the address into mapquest wrong and ended up across the city, at the address of some random strangers who happened to be having a Christmas party, so my coworker and his wife (neither of whom spoke much English) spent 40 minutes at the *wrong* party before realizing their mistake and leaving.

  71. No Ugly Sweaters*

    I worked for a bank, one that was fairly upscale in clientele, meaning most of my co-workers dressed very nicely for the office. I was struggling as a young professional to fit in as my previous positions were very business casual. To “let loose” for Christmas, someone thought we should do an ugly Christmas sweater party. I was nervous about buying a cheap ugly sweater, so I was excited when my sister found the perfect sweater at a thrift store. Despite its ugliness, the sweater was brand new with tags on from a high end department store. Unfortunately I never wore it because two days before the party our VP of mortgages wore the same sweater, gushing unironically about the beautiful Christmas sweater her stepdaughter had bought her.

    I ended up in a plain red sweater I decorated with white snowflake beads and silver tinsel garland.

    1. ggg*

      My boss has one that her grandmother made and even though she loves it and it’s beautifully made, she wears it to the “ugly sweater “party, because hey, when else is she going to wear her Christmas sweater?

      I like those classic “ugly” sweaters much more than the ones they sell now that are designed to be ironic and hideous.