let’s talk about unusual office traditions

One of the most interesting things about offices is how they develop their own subcultures, complete with rituals and traditions. Here are some interesting office traditions that have been shared here in the past:

•. For close to 15 years now, dressing up as one of your coworkers has been a Halloween tradition where I work. It actually started when someone came dressed as me the first year. A year later, I waited until I saw what a coworker was wearing that day, got a co-conspirator to bring a matching outfit, and sat down next to them. People have worn the CEO’s face printed out as a mask. Nobody’s ever gotten offended by it, it’s just a strange tradition now. I think it has more to do with the culture and the intent than anything else.. our clones are in a spirit of fun and respect.

•. I live in a rural, farming community. We have an egg lady. Once every two weeks she stops by and delivers fresh eggs to a rotation of people who order from her. She is so cute – she wears a patchwork, brightly colored bag over her shoulders where she keeps all her eggs. When I first started, I asked a coworker who she was and they just said “That’s the egg lady.” No other explanation required, I guess!

•. I don’t know if this is strange, but I worked for a company that had an office massage therapist who came by every Friday. The massage lasted about five minutes focused on your neck, shoulders and back. Now that I think of it, I guess the strange part was all the moaning and groaning on Fridays! If you were unfamiliar with the office culture and walked into the cubicle farm and HEARD the massage but didn’t SEE the massage therapist, there must have been so many questions!

•. A weird tradition I’ve seen in several NYC law firms, pre-pandemic: A shoe shine guy going around the office on a regular schedule. He sits on his little box in the hall to shine shoes.

•. In Iran we had a tea man who was continuously busy bringing people very small glasses of tea, and sugar cubes to place in your teeth as you drank the tea. I did not develop that habit, but it was a necessary role in every office. This in 1972, thereabouts. It may be different now.

•. We have interns who graduate into permanent employees after finishing their PhDs. We have a strange tradition of making people recite their thesis topic in iambic pentameter.

Let’s hear about unusual office traditions you’ve seen or experienced. (Note: we’re looking for fun and interesting here, not depressing.)

{ 806 comments… read them below }

  1. Bronze Betty*

    These are all great and make me just a little bit sad that I have nothing to offer. Looking forward to all the comments.

    1. NYCRedhead*

      Agreed! My financial services firm in NYC has the shoeshine guy but I would happily trade that for an egg lady!

      1. The Rafters*

        We used to have a chicken lady. That died along with the freezer on a long holiday weekend when people forgot to bring their frozen chickens home. The stench was eye-watering.

          1. Alice*

            Over fifteen years ago, I worked as a temp for about 6 weeks at a financial planning office near Pittsburgh. The brother of a woman who works in the office would bring boxes of MalloCups that were seconds from the factory. MalloCups are like Reese’s cups except they contain marshmallow cream and coconut rather than peanut butter. They are made in Altoona, Pennsylvania. This office always kept the MalloCups on hand and people would eat them out of the box kept in a file cabinet on a regular basis. I was not from Pennsylvania originally and never developed a taste for MalloCups, even though later I briefly lived in Altoona as well. I guess regional foods bring offices together!

            1. Pat*

              I loved MalloCups as a kid. Would choose those over Reese’s any day. What a treat for that office staff.

            2. MissMaple*

              I’d love that! MalloCups are my favorite but you can only get old chewy ones if you can find them at all where I live now. I didn’t even grow up near Altoona, just had lots of family in the region :)

          2. Alex*

            I had a similar experience with pork chops. It was about 5-6 years before I could eat them again.

      2. Mona Lisa Vito*

        Same! I worked for an NYC investment bank about 10 years ago, and it wasn’t uncommon to see one of the partners heading into a meeting in their stocking feet, having left their shoes with the shoeshine guy!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        When I worked at a cafeteria in my hometown, I WAS the egg lady. My ex and I had many chickens and more eggs than we could eat. So we sold them to people at work. :)

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I was briefly the zucchini lady at my workplace when I planted a couple of “summer squash” and accidentally grew way more zucchini than one family could eat.

          1. Gumby*

            There is a reason that we joked about leaving a bag of zucchini on a neighbor’s porch and then pulling a ding dong ditch. And we were a family of 7 so “more than one family could eat” was an above average amount especially considering that my mom grated and froze a ton of it (for zucchini bread and zucchini egg foo yung). I feel like it’s nigh impossible to *not* be overrun with them if you grow any at all.

              1. magc*

                I found this poem in my freshman year of college (lo these many years ago!) and sent it my mom. The prior summer was the first time she lived in a place where there was adequate space with good sun for a garden, and she planted WAY too many zucchini plants. Thank goodness for the sweet zucchini relish recipe she was given, because even the enormous freezer she had wouldn’t have fit all of that year’s crop.


              2. Trombonish*

                I had a coworker who one year was bringing in grocery bags of summer squash, daily. We finally asked, “Mike, how many zucchinis did you PLANT?”
                “Well, the seed packet I think said 25 seeds…”
                *incredulous stares all around*
                “You… you planted them ALL?”
                “Yeah… Did you know, they grow really fast?”

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I grew up in a small town, and there was a joke that the only reason to lock your car while leaving it unattended was to avoid having it filled with unwanted zucchini.

              I was fortunate that my Year of the Bountiful Zucchini was a bad year for zucchini, so there were lots of takers for my “local organic zucchini – free!”

            2. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Citrus fruit is the zucchini of the Palm Springs area, while mangoes are the zucchini of Oahu. (seriously, there are abandoned mango orchards in out of the way places there).

            3. Lizzie*

              I did a CSA this year for the first time, and struggled to use the TWO zucchini I got. I made two loaves of bread, ate another half of one, and gave half to my mom. Thankfully it hasn’t shown up in my box since! Although this week I did get two huge eggplants. For one person, that’s a LOT. going to make a double batch of eggplant parm, and some ratatouille

              1. JSPA*

                Baba ganoush freezes OK (not perfectly, but pretty well) and because the eggplant is so cooked down, it’s the most compact option.

              2. Jessige*

                Diced zucchini in spaghetti sauce is one of my very favorite things. Might help you use it up next time!

            4. Single Noun*

              Man, I need to find a zucchini lady- all these stories about being overrun with zucchini, and I would happily take several sacks and return a token loaf of bread or jar of pickles, but I haven’t seen anyone trying to get rid of any lately. Perils of a college town?

            5. Princess Sparklepony*

              I remember doing zuke drop offs…. Always better if you could leave them without having to interact with the neighbor and possibly hear that they don’t need them. Every zuke given away was one less zuke we had to eat.

              Never plant more than two plants, but one is good. They reproduce like bunnies.

          2. Old Admin*

            I actually slice and dehydrate surplus vegetables for the winter. Takes up way less space (keeps easily for 6 – 12 months without blanching before drying) and frees up the freezer.
            They rehydrate nicely for cooking soup, stew, curry, pasta sauce, or “dirty” rice .

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Egg Lady made me start singing “Feed the birds…tuppence a bag…” to myself!

    2. SaraV*

      I worked in the IT department at a large health care system once upon a time. We’d sometimes get people to come in and just massage our arms and hands for five minutes. It was lovely.

      1. OMG, Bees!*

        I worked IT for an MSP. We had a lot of old hardware that we wouldn’t throw away. This included a Netgear switch that sparked when powered on, so naturally we had it unplugged to not start a fire. In order to remember which one that was, we labeled it “Dr. Sparky.” I think it lasted until the MSP was sold years later.

    3. Alex the Alchemist*

      Same here! I’d love to see the coworker Halloween costumes implemented at my job though. Mostly because I work in a church and I’m the lone blue-haired, tattooed millenial in an office of Church People (TM) and I’d find it very fun for us to swap for a day.

      1. JustaTech*

        A few years ago at my work one department all dressed up like their boss (he basically wears a uniform so it was easy). It was done in a kind and light-hearted manner, and the best part was it took him seeing like 5 people to notice.

        Another time my team all dressed up as people who had left our department (for other companies) in a “ghosts of [Department] past” way – we got wigs and wore their usual style and had giant print outs of their badge photos around our necks. It was again, done kindly (not mocking) and frankly, it was a dark and weird time at work so it made sense.

    4. allathian*

      About 10 years ago when WFH required special permission and a good reason like the visit of a maintenance worker, we had a massage therapist come in once a month to give neck and shoulder massages. I only took advantage of the opportunity once because a massage leaves me pretty much unfit to work for the rest of the day, my vertigo got so bad that I had to rest on the breakroom couch for a while. I’m very glad that my office is right next door to a main commuter railway station so I always commute by public transit to the office, I seriously doubt I’d’ve been fit to drive home.

      But many of my coworkers were very sad when the massage therapist stopped coming. My employer pays half of the price of a massage 5 times a year for any employee, although with a scrip from our occupational physiotherapist you can get more sessions with the same discount.

    5. Erin*

      Egg Lady sounds absolutely lovely, and reciting one’s PhD in iambic pentameter would be hilarious to watch!

      I’ve worked in the fashion industry for 20 years, which is quite quirky in itself. I’ve worked in several countries, and I’m at a loss because the most unique/strange thing I’ve ever done is a round of applause for employees entering the office area at one company. It happened at random times, and it was quite fun! The entering person could wave at their adoring fans, bow, curtesy, blow kisses, work the runway, whatever sort of victory dance, or they could just go to their work space, and work (there were no actual guidelines for it). It took about 10-20 seconds, and people would just applaud from their workspaces. The runway walks were fierce!

    6. Katherine*

      We used to have a tamale lady who would show up once a week with a cooler on wheels full of tamales. She’d take special orders too.

    7. Samosa Perk*

      Ooh, we often scored samosas on Fridays. One of our team leads had responsibilities at his mosque on a Friday morning, and the mosque ladies would make amazing, massive, delicious samosas. Our guy would bring the spares back to the office – sooo good!

  2. Keyboard Cowboy*

    Maybe not so unusual, but when someone new joins my org, we make them write “2 truths and a lie” along with their brief introduction and the rest of the team guesses. After a day or so the newbie reveals which was the lie. Usually when the team guesses, they explain why they think that thing was false, which can lead to some fun insights about the more tenured team members :)

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      I saw a comedian doing a bit about “two truths and a lie.”

      She said her response would be pointing at different people, saying “I hate you, I hate you, and I hate you” and then walking out. :D

      1. Rainy*

        I have lived a very weird life and I do three truths and just sit back and watch the argument.

      2. Kyrielle*

        I *yearn* to do “two truths and a lie” given how improbable/ridiculous some things I could use for truths are. But…not at work. Nope.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          I agree.

          “My father was a professional kidnapper for 15 years. My mother was involved in bootlegging in Saudi Arabia. And I don’t think that ‘two truths and a lie’ is stupid in the workplace.”

          1. Pippa K*

            Ok, their last one must be the lie, so I’m really curious about the first item! (But totally don’t doubt the second, as I happen to…er…have some firsthand info about illicit alcohol in Saudi Arabia. Ahem.)

            1. Magenta Sky*

              My father worked for the pipeline in Saudi in the late 50s (one more contract, and I’d have been born there). All Americans in the camp, and they are certainly going to have booze, even if they had to make it themselves (which they did). The local officials knew better than to mess with it, so they would drop not so subtle hints when the mandatory inspections were coming up, and the booze makers would hide the still in the one-room schoolhouse my mom was the teacher for (to have something to do – she was a teacher before they got married). I mean, who would put a still in a school house, right? It was the one place the inspectors could easily get away with not inspecting. A lot of wink-wink-nudge-nudge going on, because they liked Americans (or, rather, American money) a lot.

              As for the first part, until about 1980 or so, the federal government was prohibited from getting involved in interstate custody matters by a decades old Supreme Court ruling, so if your ex didn’t like losing custody, they could grab the kids and headed to another state (where they’d get their own custody order), and the only way to enforce the original custody order was . . . privately. My father was the best. (It was a serious problem, with 100,000-150,000 kids/year being taken across state lines in violation of custody orders, and about 10% of them ending up either dead or injured seriously enough to require medical attention in the process. Took nearly 20 years to convince SCOTUS to reverse that ruling (which is pretty quick, actually) through a lot of legal maneuvering and bad publicity.

              He never bothered to write a memoir, because nobody would have believed it. Hell, if it was written as fiction, nobody would have believed it.

                1. Goober*

                  Sadly, he’s no longer with us, and I don’t recall (or never knew) enough detail to make for much more than an occasional anecdote. You can get some of it with a search for “mean Gene Austin” (be sure it include it inside quotes, and even then, you’ll get some references to a pro wrestler), but keep in mind, about 90% of the news stories were BS he deliberately fed them for publicity purposes.

                  (And I have doubts that you’d really want to read some of what I do recall, because the nature of the work means a lot of the tales involve accounts of child abuse that will give you nightmares.)

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      They did the two truths and a lie thing at a leadership training I was at. The wife of one of the trainers was taking the training. (this was for a philanthropic org not work). Said wife has a VERY expressive face — and both trainer and wife are friends. I just watched her to see which was the lie her husband told.

    3. Just a Minion*

      We did this as an ice breaker once when a new person joined our team. It was SO awkward with certain people depending on what they said. One guy said three things and there was no polite way to say any of them were a lie. And the new person used the exercise to announce her pregnancy -how could we possibly respond to that? Later we found out the it was her idea.

    4. Essess*

      We tried to do that as an icebreaker in a team meeting. One coworker became horribly offended and said “I never lie” and refused to participate because they refused to tell a lie about themselves.

        1. allathian*

          Some people are very strict about not lying, the furthest they’ll go is not telling the whole truth, or simply refusing to say anything at all like this coworker did. These people are also often very unpleasant to be around because they don’t understand the reasoning behind white lies as a social nicety (I’m not saying this coworker is like that). Someone asks them “Do I look fat in this dress?” and if they think that the dress makes the asker look fat, instead of deflecting and saying a social nicety like “You look great!” they’ll say something like “Absolutely, I wouldn’t wear it again if I were you.” People like that take pride in always telling what they think is the truth even when it hurts someone else’s feelings.

          1. KateM*

            What’s nice about telling someone that they look great and therefore letting them to go around days with everyone thinking how awful they look?? Don’t there exist some neutral sayings like “this dress is not a good fit for you” or whatever?

            1. Salsa Your Face*

              There are kind ways to phrase it, certainly. “I don’t think that dress shows off how beautiful you are,” for example. But it also depends on the context. If you need to be out the door in literally two minutes and there’s no alternate dress to change into, I think it would worse to tell the truth and trash the person’s confidence for the night. The more kind thing to do in that situation, in my opinion, is to lie and let them feel great about themselves.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I think that depends on how you define a lie. If you includ stuff like saying “oh, fine” when asked “how are you?” then it’s likely they have lied at some point (though I worked with somebody who would avoid the question rather than do that, which…was sort of an answer in itself if you knew her well, but people like customers tended not to notice), but if one takes it to mean “saying something you know is untrue in an attempt to convince the other person it is true,” then I would easily believe somebody didn’t lie. I wouldn’t include stuff like the above, because generally when people reply “fine” to “how are you?” they aren’t actually saying they are fine; they are just giving the standard response to the greeting.

    5. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I love that game! I always slide in ‘I once did a barrel roll in the back of a T-38″ and er, I don’t look the type. But I did!

    6. Lily*

      Late to this but in case anyone is reading through – I LOATHE “2 truths and a lie” as an ice breaking activity.
      “Hey new person, meet some strangers and let’s test how good we are at lying to each other.”
      Doesn’t feel like a great way to feel safe with a new group!

    7. Former Horse Girl*

      My org has monthly multi-department meetings and each department is assigned with one meeting to do an icebreaker for. I’ve used a version of two truths and a lie as an icebreaker, but to avoid awkwardness we make specific topics, like “concerts you’ve attended” or “books /TV shows/Movies you love/hate”.

      For example, I’m an old goth, who is still a bit gothy, so when i said “Cyndi Lauper, Nine Inch Nails and The Cure” everyone assumed the first one was the lie, but she was my first concert when I was 12, LOL. I’ve never seen The Cure. It’s also how I learned my sports bro boss has a soft spot for soft soul music. Not the sort of dude that on the surface would be attending BoysIIMen concerts, LOL. So it was a decent way to get insight into coworkers, without anyone revealing anything overly personal about themselves

    8. Anon Y Mouse*

      We have a “Christmas seminar” in which we do something educational in the morning and then have a nice lunch and games in the afternoon. We have done “two truths and a lie” and the first time I was there, we did “match the fun fact”. Unfortunately that was the first office social gathering after lockdown (we were still all masked and it was held in a huge hall so we could socially distance) and the newer members of staff were mostly meeting the rest for the first time… so we were all a little at sea!

  3. Jamajeans*

    Most popular article in our publications gets the “Crawdaddy”, which is a mug with a crawfish on it. You get to use it for the month then wash it for the next winner. No idea of the origins but I’m damned excited when I win.

    1. Anonymous*

      hahahaha our office had (pre-pandemic, I am not sure whether it survived 2020) a giant inflatable pink/purple unicorn, like…pool-float sized? That would be brought out whenever we won something, and whoever had led that proposal effort would have it sort of hovering on the wall of their cubicle for the week.

    2. Anonymous*

      This is so charming! Though I think I would be so afraid of breaking the Crawdaddy that I’d just leave it on my desk like a trophy.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes, Crawdaddy would live in a velvet prison if I won it, out of fear of shattering.

    3. CW*

      We had the inverse of this at a software development firm – the Build Breaker Trophy. It was a spectacularly ugly statue of a merman riding a seahorse, which somebody had fished out of the office dumpster. If you broke the build (translation: messed up the shared project code so that it blocked everybody else’s work) then you got presented with the Build Breaker Trophy, and had to display it on your desk until you could pass it on to somebody else.

      1. Gumby*

        Our equivalent was the dunce bear. He was maybe 4 feet tall. Though, frankly, he moved around a lot even when no build breakage was in play and after a while he became just a fun office mascot thing.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Our Jaycee chapter had a giant, ugly rock that had to live in your yard till you recruited a new member. Every time, it tried to kill my husband whenever it had to be transported.

    4. KikiWanders*

      Similarly crustacean-themed, my office has a “talking shrimp” that we use instead of a “talking stick” in brainstorming meetings where we otherwise run the risk of all talking over each other. It’s a foam replica of a cooked jumbo shrimp– headless and legless but we’ve added googly eyes. The tradition has evolved to the point that now in virtual meetings people will sometimes put a shrimp emoji in the chat when they want to talk and the meeting leader will recognize them saying “you have the shrimp”.

      1. Buffy will save us*

        “You have the shrimp” is literally one of the best things I’ve read today

    5. Elsewise*

      At an old workplace, we had a bowling trophy that was presented to the winner of the ugly Christmas sweater costume. The winner held on to it and added something before passing it on to next year’s winner. The tradition had been going on for years by the time I got there, and when I left there was a slide made out of cardboard running down the side, a few plastic pokemon at the player’s feet, the bowling ball had been painted, the bowler was wearing a bright pink bow in his hair, and the whole thing was an ugly mess of ribbons and glitter and string. We loved it.

    6. AnonORama*

      We have a gold winged pig that is placed on the desk of the person with the biggest, most recent, and/or most improbable win. (“When pigs fly.”)

    7. Noblepower*

      We had a trophy of the front half of a squirrel mounted on a wooden board (it was a plastic squirrel, and it’s dimensions were a little odd) that was traded from department to department for seasonal teambuilding events. the squirrel was given a crown and a pink tutu. competition was HIGH and the trophy proudly displayed.

    8. YetAnotherMLIS*

      When I took over managing our library branch, I was mystified by a life-sized, realistic iguana statue near the cash register. Took me a couple of months to ask “what’s up with the…iguana?” Turns out he lives by the cash register and there is no backstory. When we move workspaces, he moves with the cash register. He cannot be separated from the cash register for any length of time. This is his kingdom, and he is a kind and benevolent ruler.

      1. Space Coyote*

        I can tell that “there is no backstory” is going to be the greatest thing I read today. :D

  4. spuffy*

    “Who’s that lady with the eggs?”
    “We call her the Egg Lady.”

    *cue Twin Peaks music*

    1. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

      I was coming to say something similar! Either that or make a John Waters reference. :D

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        My mind immediately went to Ginger Minj and Trixie Mattel doing their egg skit on RPDR!

  5. anononon*

    Not my office, but one I flew over to the US to visit a few years ago to do some training. Every Hallowe’en, not only does everyone come to work in a crazy costume (the theme the time I was there was dinosaurs…) but there’s also a pie-baking competition. Anyone who wants to bakes a pie and then everyone (whether they have baked or not) gets to try each pie and votes for the winner.

    This British person left the office about three kilos heavier and with approximately 15 handwritten recipes that afternoon! I still make the Key Lime regularly.

    1. Peon*

      Our office has a chili cook-off! There can be anywhere from 5-15 different chilis to try, and we buy those little dixie cups for samples – think twice the size of a shot glass. Everybody on the team (about 50 people) comes to taste and talk and vote, and then you get a proper bowl and have more of your favorite.

      Some years the overall best dish isn’t even a chili.

      1. not a hippo*

        Our office has a chili & curry cook off. I don’t have it in me to make enough chili to feed 100+ people but it’s a fun tradition.

        1. Peon*

          No one person has to make that much chili tho. We each bring one crockpot worth and through the magic of potlucks we feed everyone who shows up and still have leftovers for someone to take home.

      2. Rage*

        We do an annual chili cook-off too, but it’s now expanded to include chili, soup, cornbread, sides, and desserts.

        We also do an annual Trivia Contest, and my team (“Snapes on a Plane”) was the reigning champion for the first 3 years. We happily gave up our title for the 2nd place last year (by one point) because we were tired, and the 2nd place prize was better. LOL

        One year we did Swedish Chef Snapes on a Plane, and dressed up as Swedish Chefs with pots, wooden spoons, and stuffed chickens. It was great. Our CEO just shook his head at us.

      3. blupuck*

        We did this to celebrate that big football game with our own: ‘Soup OR Bowl” showdown.
        Mostly chili, but some soups and other things.
        The company supplied cornbread, crackers, bowls, etc.
        Prize was a brightly pointed wooden spoon and bragging rights.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Exjob had that too. Everyone loved chili day. They served hot dogs too so you could have a chili dog.
        I didn’t gaf about the competition, I just wanted to eat the entries, lol.

      1. HigherEdEscapee*

        Same with my former office. Pi(e) day involved the office purchasing an outrageous amount of pizza and then the staff bringing in a huge variety of pies and posting the recipes afterward for sharing.

        The December Cookie Fest got oddly competitive sometimes, but we all got a lot of cookies, and other tasty baked goods. Also a lot of recipes and stories about where the recipes came from were shared.

    2. FG*

      anononon It’s my understanding that dessert pies as we have in the US aren’t really a thing in the UK? If so it tickles me pink that you are evangelizing Pie over there.

      1. UKDancer*

        There are pies for dessert in the UK, but they tend to be warm rather than cold. So I’d make an apple pie (pastry case filled with stewed apple) or a rhubarb pie (similar). I make a lemon meringue pie sometimes (biscuit crumb base, lemon filling and meringue topping) but that’s an exception because it’s a right faff.

        We don’t make key lime pie or things like Mississippi mud pie as much. Or at least I don’t.

        We do make desserts like tiramisu or trifle but those are gooier.

        I’ve always attributed this to England being rather cold so people like warmer desserts to keep them warm.

        1. Anonymous*

          I just had to google this phrase: it’s a right faff
          And now it’s part of my lexicon!

    3. Anon*

      We have a periodic International Snack Battle, where people bring food in a given theme from a place they have lived or a culture they like (including here). It’s done during an extra long tea break. Themes have included milk, dessert, (non-alcoholic) drinks, pineapple, lemon…

      Everyone gets the chance to try new things and learn about new recipes / local bakeries / unique products, as entries need not be homemade. Each person present can vote for top three on presentation and on taste. Spreadsheet tabulation ensues. Winner chooses next theme.

      (People usually include allergen info on a label without being prompted, and they sometimes bring something that stretches or doesn’t fit the theme, if that’s what they’re feeling.)

    4. No lizards allowed*

      The law firm I used to work for had a baking contest every year as part of our floor’s end-of-the-yeqr holiday party. People took it really seriously–there were strict rules (no ringers, no premade, etc) and the trash talk started in November. There was a substantial metal trophy of a pizza baker, and the winner got their name engraved and got to keep he trophy at their office or desk for the year.

    5. Distracted Procrastinator*

      I worked at an office that had a homemade fudge contest in December. Only rule was it had to be homemade. I won the second year. After that it expanded to any kind of homemade candy, not just fudge. No one minded.

  6. Unfortunately Fed*

    We have an office Olympics and there is a trophy that is passed around. It’s a football trophy even though that is not an official office Olympics sport. We race chairs, compete for who can do a puzzle the fastest. I still have my party store gold medal proudly displayed in my cubicle.

    1. Anon a Fed*

      Does anyone ever tip over racing chairs? Are there chair crashes? Just having spent 9 watching people operate office chairs, I feel like people would crash or fall, because every once in a while people crashed just trying to SIT on a chair, much less race one.

    2. Becky*

      There used to be a office Olympics in my area but it was companies in our area competing against each other – the events were some traditional sports as well as a golf event but there was also a Pairs Scrabble event! My partner and I took gold one year!

      I haven’t heard anything about the competition since Covid so it may have died out.

    3. A Becky*

      Ah, you reminded me of the Master’s student Olympics we did! There were only the six of us, and we did NERF target shooting and a really weird homebrew table football game with encyclopaedias marking out the game board and marbles for balls :D

    4. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

      We used to do that, but also included things like typing speed tests. One year, after some comments were made about those of us with relatively long nails (mine are generally at most 1cm beyond the length of my fingers, so not excessive but noticeably ‘long’), we added a category where we made everyone without long nails put on cheap press-ons and try to do the speed test. Watching people who aren’t used to long nails try to type was hilarious, especially since the long-nail-crew had already proven that you could type 50+ WPM with acrylics.

  7. Veryanon*

    Pre-pandemic, we used to have a chair massage person come in once a week and provide chair massages – neck, shoulders, upper back. You’d pay $20 for 20 minutes and it was wooonnnddderful. I miss the chair massage lady.
    We also have several employees who belong to an organic farm coop near our office and every two weeks, the Vegie Lady (similar to the Egg Lady) shows up with various crates of vegies for those people who ordered them.
    Even though my office is in Delaware, we’re a tech company based in Silicon Valley and the hippie vibes are very strong here, LOL.

    1. Chair Massages*

      Our chair massages just started back up a couple of months ago.

      It’s subsidized as part of occupational health so it’s $5 for 15 minutes. The slots are limited and you have to sign up in person and pay cash, so there’s always a stampede to the admin desk when the email goes out announcing that the sign ups are available.

      1. Tupac Coachella*

        There are free chair massages available here at traditionally high stress times of year (higher ed), but they’re done in the middle of the lobby of our busiest building, so big nope from me. I would happily pay $5-15 to get one in my office, though.

        1. Chair Massages*

          For ours, they book a windowless conference room and dim the lights, so it’s private. I was a little weirded out by the idea at first, but now I am a big fan.

    2. Rebecca*

      We have that too, and they’ve added a manicure person once a week. It’s $10 for a 15 minute manicure, you just have to come with clean nails.

  8. Black cat lady*

    Our lab had ice cream on Friday afternoons. We’d rotate who bought the treat and enjoy a sweet break in the lunch room. Miss those afternoons!

    1. Lizzo*

      My brain glitched while reading this and interpreted “lab” as “labrador”. I know many a dog who would be excited for regular ice cream on Fridays!

      1. Black cat lady*

        Nope – lab – as in collection of nerds. We also celebrated Pi day every March 14th.

        1. ICodeForFood*

          We (my team, rather than the whole company) celebrate both Pi Day and Star Wars Day (May the Fourth)… Since we’re all hybrid and mostly working from home, it’s just with memes in our Slack channel, though.

    2. Buni*

      I temped for a while somewhere that did this, only it was a Wednesday – Hump Day Treats. I love ice cream but I particularly looked forward to the lactose-intolerant lady’s turn because she brought in some amazing sorbets.

    3. Ophelia*

      We also had ice cream Friday! I am not 100% sure if we still do, tbh, as I’m almost entirely remote these days. There would be an announcement over the PA system and then you could hear the stampede of feet to the kitchen!

    4. My Cabbages!*

      One of my grad school rotation labs was at a research facility that had a campus-wide beer break every Friday afternoon, where the office paid for a keg and people sometimes brought a six pack of something. It was a nice social event, because it’s easy for labs to get isolated and this helped you meet people from other labs.

      At my permanent grad lab, during the World Cup they repurposed the auditorium to constantly broadcast the games on the big presentation screen. People would pop in whenever you had to wait on an incubation or something. I don’t know if this counts as a tradition because it only happened once while I was there, but it was memorable. Especially since this was the year of the 7-0 Germany/Brasil match and my boss was German.

      1. Silver Robin*

        The office I was in had a glass-walled conference room dedicated to the games that year. It was almost always full, with a rotating crew of folks. Very funny seeing folks walk past and linger…and linger….

    5. Janne*

      We have chips on Friday afternoons. We don’t have a schedule but people just bring chips on Friday whenever they feel like it (my colleague actually just announced that she wants to bring some) and we eat it in the biggest office that we have. Normally we don’t take a break in the middle of the afternoon, so Friday chips break feels extra special.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      That reminds me when I worked in the office of my grad school, it was closed on Fridays in the summer, but the Dean had Ice Cream Thursdays. He provided!

    7. Eater of Hotdish*

      Awww, this reminds me of a place I used to work where we had a tradition called Bad Decision Friday. It was a small, very casual nonprofit. We’d either go somewhere together and have greasy, regrettable food, or–if it was busy–we’d order greasy, regrettable food delivered. The camaraderie! The indigestion! I miss that place.

    8. Lepidoptera*

      We have Sunday Sundae at our lab. We all bring in different components, and it is super nice because it doesn’t pressure any one to have to cook/shame people for bringing store bought food. Generally we run it any Sunday it is not fun to have to work (Super bowl Sunday etc.) or just because.

      We also have our biggest potluck of the year for Halloween. The science we do is kind of creepy to a lot of people so it fits. Also it isn’t a holiday where people are super busy cooking or traveling to see family.

    9. Irish Teacher*

      I worked in one school where there was a tradition of each member of staff taking a turn to bring a cake (or similar) on the Friday. Technically, the idea was that you baked it, but they were laidback about that so long as you brought some kind of a treat. The deputy principal brought a chocolate fountain with marshmallows and strawberries when it was his turn. (It malfunctioned and sprayed chocolate everywhere, but…that’s another story.)

  9. The Person from the Resume*

    I was in the military and worked for NATO’s military organization. I made a trip to an office in the Netherlands and they had a tea cart. A lady would push a tea cart through the halls (old fashioned office building and not cubical farms) and when she got near your office you’d go out and purchase tea if you wanted it. Her cart had hot water, variety of tea bags, sugar, milk, cream, whatever you need for a complete European tea experience.

    In the Belgium office’s cafeteria, you could purchase little bottles of wine for lunch because a glass of wine at lunch was not frowned upon.

    1. londonedit*

      The tea trolley used to be a common sight in British offices, too, but it had gone (from my industry at least) by the time I started working 20 years ago. Boozy lunches are also (sadly) largely a thing of the past in publishing, but no one minds the odd lunchtime trip to the pub.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        Apparently my office (Civil Service) had a tea trolley up until the pandemic, but now we’re just one of the lucky ones that still has an onsite canteen. Being able to get a full hot dinner, dessert and drink at lunch time for under £7 still blows my mind.

        1. Jules the First*

          Ours never had a tea trolley but I was mystified when arriving at my new company (many years ago now) to discover that there were two sacrosanct break times you could not schedule a meeting in – at half past ten the whole company went for coffee (an assembly-line espresso) and again at 4pm everyone descended on the canteen for a tea and a slice of the cake of the day. We still do cake of the day but tea time has been a casualty of the pandemic (or there are now too many of us to do it practically…it was nearly a thousand people when I started and we’re almost double that now)

          1. allathian*

            I’m in Finland, and our coffee breaks are usually at 9 and 2 pm. Many people at my office leave by 4.30 at the latest because we have very flexible working hours. Others arrive at the office just in time to start with the coffee break, or even later.

            Now with the flexible working hours we have people do schedule their coffee breaks for times that are more convenient to them, but I try to take my breaks during the traditional times, because when I go to the office, I go there mainly to socialize with my coworkers, and taking a break at the traditional time ensures that there’s someone else in the breakroom to talk to. My employer prioritizes community building, and it’s the primary reason for trying to get people to come to the office at least once a week. I get a lot of work done working remotely and I don’t have any tasks that require going to the office, so socializing with my coworkers is basically the only reason to go in. I’m a translator and my basic job requires very little collaboration, and when collaboration is necessary, it’s pretty much always asynchronous proofreading. Sometimes my translator coworker and I consult each other on terminology, but that’s best done in chat.

            But standard office hours for jobs that require coverage are 8-4.15, with an hour off for lunch, meaning that the standard daily working time is 7 hours and 15 minutes, and that lunch hours are staggered so that there are fewer employees at the desks during the peak lunch hour, which can be a bit inconvenient for people who want to run errands during their lunch hour…

      2. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Yes – I only know the tea lady from the telly.

        Although I’ve had several American friends comment on how much like the trolley on Brit trains

        1. londonedit*

          The best one is the Pullman restaurant on GWR trains towards the Westcountry. If you’re in first class you can automatically reserve a seat in the restaurant car, and there are sometimes also seats available for standard class on the day, if the first-class passengers don’t take up their seats. About 10 years ago I’d had a particularly bad spate of GWR (or First Great Western as they were then) delays and problems, and then I was making a trip to the south-west for my birthday, so I decided to splash out on a first-class ticket and book myself in for dinner on the way. It was brilliant – white tablecloths, proper crockery and glasses, and a lovely menu featuring Westcountry produce. I had smoked salmon, sole with dauphinoise potatoes and leeks, and a Somerset cheese selection, and a couple of glasses of wine. THAT is the way to do it!

      3. Storm in a teacup*

        We used to have a tea and snacks trolley in my old hospital. It was aimed at patients and staff working on the wards and was great. We also had a secondhand and hospital library books trolley which I loved. Sadly they disappeared in the early 2000s

    2. Forty Years In the Hole*

      I miss working with NATO – sitting in the cafeteria with umpteen other countries’ reps, having a beer or wine with lunch. So.civilized.

    3. Jamjari*

      The tea person might be unusual in most places nowadays, which seems too bad. In my last job, I visited our offices in India for a couple of weeks, and they had a couple of tea men who would come around with tea and biscuits, or, for us foreigners, coffee (one made decent coffee, the other not so much).

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Not in India, but several of my company’s overseas offices still have “tea men.” The first time I visited one, I asked others if I was supposed to tip him or something. Nope — just take the tea graciously and make sure to drink it!

    4. Helvetica*

      As someone who lives in Brussels and works for a different international organisation – wine and beer are available and freely consumed. Not only in the cafe/canteen but perfectly normal for a business lunch.

    5. AlwhoisThatAl*

      I worked for the Tax Office in the UK as a teenager in 1985, as the lowest of the low, it was my job to make the tea in the urn and push the tea cart. I got into trouble the first day as the typists had their tea 20 minutes after everyone else and I should have known that.

  10. Savoury Creampuff*

    I worked at a US law firm, and once pulled up our Hong Kong office’s org chart for some reason. Listed there was “tea lady.” I was so intrigued I asked someone about it, and it was just what I was hoping for. This was a full Harry-Potter-esque trolley lady who brought around tea (and occasionally coffee) to, like, the 12 people in this tiny satellite office. I was so jealous.

    1. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

      As someone who just watched – in horror – a bug fly into her cup of tea, I desperately wish for a tea lady to come ’round with a fresh cup of tea, cream, and sugar!

    2. Sc@rlettNZ*

      In the ’80’s I worked briefly for a government department (I’m in New Zealand). We had a tea lady who used to come by twice a day at 10am and 3pm with her tea trolley and plate of biscuits!

    3. Madame Arcati*

      Tea trolleys used to be very much a thing in British offices. Your Hong Kong office probably had it from pre 1992 practices.
      And speaking of the Harry Potter lady – refreshment trolleys on trains still very much exist. Shorter services like city/commuter trains won’t have anything and many longer services have what we still quaintly call a buffet car (counter on train with food hot and cold drinks and alcohol, ruinous prices) but some trains still boast a trolley service so you can get a nice cup of tea, maybe a gin-in-a-tin, and a snack or sandwich, from a person wheeling it all down the aisle asking, “any refreshments?/anything from the trolley?”

      1. FrogPenRibbets*

        Back in the 90s they had them on some coaches too (That’s the last time I was on a coach in the UK so no idea if it’s still a thing). That was eye opening to me when I would take a coach from Edinburgh to London.

  11. ooOOooOOooOO scary ghost*

    In college, I worked at a haunted radio station. The ghost loved Mardi Gras beads so we’d hang them up all over the place to keep her happy. Even the people who didn’t believe in the ghost did it.

    I came back once and talked to a guy who didn’t even realize the place was haunted – he just thought people really loved to decorate with necklaces and stuff.

    1. La Triviata*

      I’ve heard of IT people who keep little action figures and specific snacks in their server rooms to keep the servers happy (they have to get fresh snacks periodically or the servers react badly).

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I love this because I love superstitions that have a practical reason/origin. By making sure the snacks are refreshed regularly, they’re making sure someone is walking into the server room periodically and will notice if something is awry (A/C out, something smoking/sparking, weird noises from electrical problems). And those are easily explained by the servers not getting their snacks! It’s way more fun than just telling people they have to check on the server room every X number of days.

      2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        I work at a live theatre who has a haunted tech booth. Anytime anyone scoffed at the notion of a ghost the tech equipment would glitch in weird and unusual ways. And sometimes follow the scoffer home.

        I learned this the hard way years ago when I was woken up in the middle of the night with my home paper shredder randomly running. I apologized to the ghost and the shredder has never glitched again.

        I also do set up a mini altar to the ghost when I am the tech director.

        1. Zephy*

          I know you meant the ghost follows the scoffer home but I’m imagining someone walking down the street being followed by a switchboard scooting along behind them, and it’s extremely funny.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I love this. Someday when I become a ghost I will bug people like this just for laughs.

        3. Dasein9*

          People say my apartment’s haunted. I’ve been here 247 years and haven’t seen anything weird, though.

    2. spooky scary*

      I worked in a TV newsroom many years ago that had a gargoyle statue on the corner of the assignment desk. He was the “Breaking News God” and every time someone touched him, some major incident would inevitably happen that would require reporters and photogs to rush out the door and producers to completely re-tool their rundowns. It was a workplace full of skeptical journalists, but everyone was wary of the BNG.

  12. CommanderBanana*

    We also have a massage therapist who comes to the office! It’s actually pretty awesome (once you get past the weirdness of getting a massage in an empty office). He brings his massage chair, and the fee is way more affordable than it would be to go anywhere else. As someone with chronic back problems, it’s great.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I misread that as “we have a therapist who comes to the office” and was prepared to be horrified. Massage therapist is much more work-appropriate.

  13. Serin*

    We had The Team Plant.

    It was a nice ordinary office houseplant in a basket, and it didn’t belong to anyone in particular. Most of the time it lived on a credenza in the middle of our open space. But sometimes the team would just decide that you deserved or needed to have The Team Plant on your desk for a while.

    You might find it on your desk if you got a promotion or had a new grandchild, or if your car was damaged in a fender-bender or someone on your account team left the company, or if you had a cold and were dragging. It appeared on my desk the week my father died and stayed there for a while, and then one of my co-workers completed a difficult project and I passed it on to him.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        I love this. *gestures to entire garden* These are my emotional support plants.

    1. Please remove your monkeys from my circus*

      We have a Team Plant, too! Someone named her after an elderly British actress (name withheld for anonymity) and started watering her with leftover tea. She thrived for a while, but someone else “fed” her tea…with milk in it. It did not go well. But then! A third teammate carefully placed the plastic baby from a king cake in among her leaves, and she revived and is now thriving. The combined names of the actress and the baby are now the foundation of all shared passwords on our team.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I love this! I have two philodendrons, Rapunzel and Son-punzel (an offshoot from a sprig that broke off when his sire was being repotted) and Husband keeps them watered and notices when new leaves appear. Rapunzel is well over twenty years old at this point.

    2. Percysowner*

      That is so sweet and I would kill it if it was given to me, because I have ZERO plant skills

      1. Serin*

        Oh, me too, but we had an office maintenance guy who was a plant wizard, so all I had to do was remember to leave it alone and let Maurice handle it.

  14. Clown Eradicator*

    My floor has all of the lights off. We don’t like fluorescent lights. New people get a handful of poop emoji erasers to use as weapons to toss when you need someone’s attention but they have headphones on.

    1. Anna*

      My team also hated the fluorescent lights, but we weren’t allowed to keep them off. We sweet talked the custodial staff into letting us keep the older, dimmer bulbs, though, and I’m so grateful to them for that!

      1. Zephy*

        My office has fluorescents and I managed to avoid Maintenance coming to replace my bulbs until they were almost entirely burnt out. When they did come in and replace them, as soon as they left I got up and unscrewed half of them. I cannot deal with six full-strength fluorescent lights in my little 10×10 office.

        1. MissMaple*

          My new office does not have a light switch (?) and the bulbs were on full strength. I have also unscrewed them…all of them, and now I lurk in the dark when it’s cloudy :)

    2. Bilateralrope*

      I’m night security at a company where it seems that most of the staff prefer dim lighting in their workspaces. While other offices are fully lit.

      Though this is a business where colour accuracy of what they see on their computer screens is important, so that might be why. I don’t know what specific parts of the business are in each room.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      Not entirely relevant to the thread, but this just reminded me of my first couple days at my first Admin Assistant job. I was looking for something to help with, I guess to prove I was a go-getter?, and I realized a bunch of our fluorescent light fixtures were missing bulbs. Found the ladder and started replacing several before a coworker found me and kindly explained that if the bulb was gone, it meant the employee preferred it that way. Quickly removed the ones I’d added and apologized to those folks, and thankfully they were all very understanding!

  15. LadyAmalthea*

    I love the Iambic Pentameter tradition. My sister had me write the academic poster for the medical library where she works in sonnet form, which was kind of fun. (#boredformeractingmajoractivities)

    1. Minerva*

      The iambic pentameter tradition is absolutely fantastic.

      And yeah, we former theater majors do wild stuff when we are forced out into the “real” world

      1. Secret Squirrel*

        My mum (paleontology student at UC Santa Cruz in the 70’s) wrote her Honours thesis about trilobites entirely in rhyming couplets. Got accepted into the Masters program :)

        1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          That is the kind of amazing interdisciplinary shit that I can see my students doing, I love it!

  16. Umiel*

    I used to work in non-security role in a prison. The inmates at the prison had a shoe-shining service. They also manned a barbershop that staff could use. I never felt comfortable getting my hair cut at work, but I would let them shine my shoes. They would also wash, wax, and detail our cars (under security supervision) for a small fee. I don’t miss working in a prison, but I do miss the car washing service. The guys who had worked in chop shops on the outside were really good at cleaning up a car.

    1. Distracted Librarian*

      My mother was an accountant for a minimum-security prison for a few years. She told me about one of the inmates who had amazing gardening skills–took care of the office houseplants, the landscaping, everything. One day she asked what he was in for: growing pot.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        That sounds like one of those little stories they used to run in Reader’s Digest. I love it.

  17. ThatGirl*

    I mentioned this a couple years ago and some people thought it was hazing, but honestly, it wasn’t that bad. My company has now been acquired and the old ways are all but gone. It used to be a family owned company who genuinely celebrated its employees, and at Christmas we got bonus checks as a gift. But your first year, you were “required” (not really – plenty of people avoided doing it) to sing at the company Christmas party to get your check. They grouped all the new people in each department and you could sing a Christmas song or make something up on your own. A lot of people got creative, wore costumes, made the lyrics fit. It was silly and the chairman of the board (member of the owning family) clearly delighted in it.

    1. Mandie*

      Ew, no. There’s something really humiliating about being forced to sing for a bonus check. Just ick.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I get why people might not want to do it, but literally nobody was being forced. It was encouraged, but it was also in a group, and if you just happened to not be around that day you still got your bonus.

        1. Llellayena*

          I’d rather sing solo than with a group, but that’s very much just me. I sing with multiple choirs (including solo singing at church) and singing with people who can’t hold a tune…

    2. Name Under Development*

      Before the pandemic my office had a tradition at the annual Christmas party where everyone had to take a number between 1-12. Then at a certain point in the party, the 12 Days of Christmas is sung, and you had to sing – often solo since we’re a small agency-the line that went with your number. The party didn’t happen during the pandemic and the tradition did not resume when the party resumed. It was painful but in some ways I miss it.

    3. Distracted Librarian*

      I think I could work this tradition to my advantage. I’d keep singing till they increased my bonus to make me stop. On a related note, if you ever need to empty a room, invite me to sing.

  18. The Wizard Rincewind*

    In a previous office, we had a tamale lady. Just like the egg lady story, this was a local woman who made enormous batches of tamales and sold them at nearby businesses. She was the only solicitor the office staff was ever happy to see, because those tamales were amazing. Usually she had either cheese or chicken to choose from, but during the winter holidays, she made sweet cheese and guava that people practically came down to fist fights over.

    1. JB*

      My dad had a tamala lady at his office, and they were so good. We were sad when he retired!
      My office used to have a breakfast taco lady, but she retired.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! You must! Red Chile Pork tamales are my execution day meal choice. With a side of Frankenberry cereal.

    2. Texas Teacher*

      The best tamales are always sold like that, or sold out of someone’s trunk, I think. A neighboring church used to sell tamales one December Sunday at our church as a fundraiser and you never saw such aggressive lining up from our otherwise placid Lutheran women.

      1. PhyllisB*

        At our former church, it was giant cream puffs. (They called them eclairs, but they were cream puffs.) The lady who made them made a huge production out of it, and had men from the church process down the middle of the fellowship hall carrying these huge trays of them. People would fall in line behind them and practically get in fights when they ran low. Sadly this tradition stopped when she passed away because she would not share her recipe or methods with anyone.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        My best one came from a burrito joint in OldCity. I went in one day after skating practice for an early lunch and the proprietor made me breakfast — a big tamale with a fried egg on top. Damn, that was good.

        Also a friend from our nerd group is from Mexico City and makes great tamales. We would badger him to bring them to Food Day.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        The local farmer’s market used to have a tamale booth, but I couldn’t find them last time I went. :(

      4. Macropodidae*

        My kid’s school was on top of a big hill and at the bottom of the hill was a trashy little strip mall and a small food cart selling tamales with a pretty decent line. It took me a month to screw up my (pasty white, non-spanish speaking) courage to stop and stand in line. Best tamales ever.

        She had pork, chicken, cheese, lengua, nopales. I can get tamales about everywhere but I think the difference is that the ones you get in restaurants/groceries are chilled or frozen first. The trunk/food cart/etc. ones are made that day and kept hot. There’s a texture difference.

    3. Samwise*

      OMG, I’d kill for tamales brought to the office…I can get them on the weekends from the parking lot of a local latinx grocery. If I get there early enough… Pork and red chile…

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

        Another similar but different, we had an Empanada lady for a while; someone’s aunt I think.

      1. Texas Teacher*

        Huh. Good to know! Kind of like the singular kolach of kolaches. But I still say kolache.

        1. Eater of Hotdish*

          A very Texan comparandum. (And now I want a few tamales, followed by a kolach(e) or five! It is lunchtime, and I live in the frozen and tamal-less northlands. Alas.)

        1. Spanish Prof*

          Oh, how did I not know this one? I’ll have to tell it tamal my students and friends :P

    4. umami*

      In south Texas we had a fruit guy. He would come around with cups of fruit, along with limes and tajin. It was a great snack in the summer!

    5. Sharkie*

      Omg I love that. We just have the Thanksgiving turkey lady who brings everyone a frozen turkey the week of Thanksgiving as a thank you.

      1. Just me*

        Wow, how many people is “everybody”? I feel like I’d struggle to carry in even two or three frozen turkeys at once.

    6. MCL*

      Ooh, our former building mail delivery guy would sell tamales that his wife made. He technically was not supposed to be doing this side hustle but I definitely bought his wife’s tamales under the table – they were so freaking good.

      1. WFH FTW*

        We had a fudge lady who was IT guy’s wife. She’d even have an order form at the end of year holiday season. So good.

    7. Trudy*

      At a past job (corporate office setting) my department had grilled cheese day once a year. It wasn’t regular grilled cheese. Everyone brought in different fancy cheeses, bread, and toppings like sauteed mushrooms, onions, bacon. Then each person would get to build their sandwich and a coworker would make it in the panini press.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        I worked in a department that did something similar but with baked potatoes on St Patrick’s Day. Dept head brought in baked potatoes and everyone else brought toppings. We looked forward to this day all year.

    8. texan*

      In Texas it’s not unusual for small businesses to have signs that say “NO SOLICITORS (except Tamale Lady!)

    9. Kimmy Schmidt*

      At my previous (rural) university, we had a taco guy, a lamb lady, and a group that sold full steers to freeze. The vet students would also spay and neuter pets for super cheap so they could practice.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        The way this is written, I read it as the spaying and neutering pets also resulted in meats for people to eat, which would be extremely unusual.

    10. Dog momma*

      Wiz,this sounds wonderful. we were visiting family in TX yrs ago. Cousin came by with breakfast tamales in a bag to share… like a Mc’Ds bag except it was for tamales. Awesome. I had no idea!
      Niece we stayed with made fresh corn tortillas every day, and fresh Pico de gallo. incredible!

    11. NotAnotherManager!*

      I would be so excited to have someone selling homemade tamales at my office! A friend in high school’s grandmother used to regularly send them tamales from Mexico packed in dry ice in a styrofoam cooler wrapped with duct tape. Seriously some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.

    12. Flak Jacket*

      I played softball for my company team and we had a guy who would ride up to our games on a bicycle and sell us $1 beers from a cooler. His wife then started joining him and would sell empanadas. Long live Hector and his wife.

    13. Sunshine Gremlin*

      My office was relocated at the beginning of the year from inside of our warehouse in a very industrial area to the back of our open-to-the-public location in a very urban area (I’m in a major city). The best part about this (besides the commute) is that there’s a tamale lady, a baked potato lady, a fruitero, and a couple others that come by every so often.

      I’ve been told that there also used to be a DVD guy that came around years ago, before streaming services. There was also an elotero, though he stopped coming during COVID and I’m devastated that I missed him.

    14. Wowza*

      We had a tamale guy that came in on a specific day of the week. I was working reception at the time and he always gave me the creeps. One day he didn’t show. The next week the news ran a story about how he had been killed by the girl he molested her whole life and her boyfriend and shoved in a 5 gal drum. Turns out he had gone to court over it just a couple of weeks before and got a slap on the wrist and released.

  19. Dials Mavis*

    I can confirm that the tea man (or tea boy) is still common in offices in the Middle East.

      1. Llama Lover*

        I think it has to do with the insane amount of caffeine in the drinks. Turkish coffee cups are also very small.

      2. maybe*

        Is water harder (more expensive) to come by? I think of the middle east as being dry. Maybe that’s how the tradition started.

        1. Dom*

          Parts of the Middle East are dry but if anything that means people need to drink more liquids, not less. (And also a lot of the Middle East, especially Turkey, is quite temperate and could easily be mistaken for Mediterranean Europe going by the climate).

      3. Some Words*

        Many years ago I read that it had to do with very old rules of being a good host. To serve a large cup of coffee or tea was sending the message “drink up and get out”, whereas serving a small amount at a time was more of an invitation to stay and be sociable and engaged.

        I’m probably not describing this well but I hope you get my point.

      4. Chirpy*

        From what I gathered in Turkey, the tea glasses are small because it’s intended as a finish to the meal, not as hydration.

        I assume it may also be more like the equivalent of other Asian countries’ tea ceremonies, where you’re making it special, and not like Americans who just chug tea/coffee/etc in large portions. (or Europe. Generally a lot of other cultures tend to savor their food in smaller portions more than Americans do.)

    1. Midnight*

      Thank you for this comment. I was thinking what some might consider unusual practices could just be cultural differences.

  20. OrdinaryJoe*

    A previous job was at a private school and free lunches were part of the benefits. Our offices were in an old but very nice renovated house with a full kitchen used for catered events. In the summer, the Headmaster would grill out for everyone almost every Friday. Nothing fancy – burgers, hot dogs, brats, etc. – and several other people signed up to bring dessert and side dishes every week on a rotating schedule. It was fantastic sitting out on a patio, in the shade, and having a fun casual and good lunch for those 8-9 weeks when it was just admin staff on campus.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I once subbed in a private school that was like something out of Enid Blyton. The building was like a castle and there were a lot of English and Anglo-Irish members of staff and a lot of Anglo-Irish students. Before the staff went home in the evenings, a lady from the cafeteria would come in with an old-fashioned tea-trolley of cakes.

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      Sounds perfect!

      My job was once based at a small offsite location, where we realized no one from the main office was visiting us, so the site manager took it upon himself to bring a small grill to work. We would have Dog Day Fridays: grilled hot dogs and potluck sides provided by anyone who wanted to participate. One Friday we all brought ice cream treats – fudge pops, ice cream sandwiches. It was only for one summer because we got moved back to the main office, but it was fun while it lasted.

    3. Retiring Academic*

      When I worked in Beijing in the early 1980s, our office was in the Peking Hotel, so we all had lunch in the hotel’s main restaurant every day (the company paid). One day a week the daily special was Peking duck (the British boss liked to have Peking duck and ‘Faguo [French] fries’, but that’s not the tradition, though I suppose it was one for him), and because the deputy boss and his wife, who were Chinese, had taken care to be on excellent terms with the head chef, the next day our table always had a special tureen of Chinese-style duck soup, made from the previous day’s duck carcases with rice vermicelli and Chinese cabbage. It was delicious, and we felt very smug that no-one else in the restaurant qualified for it!

    4. SemiAnon*

      I had a work trip to a remote facility recently, where there are various visitors and the staff rotates on two week shifts. Every Sunday lunch is BBQ day – they fire up the charcoal grill, cook up a bunch of meat, roast onions and peppers, and provide freshly toasted tortillas, big bowls of salsa and guacamole, and the weekly ration of coke (cola, not drugs), and we eat out under the trees.

      At Caltech, the faculty club pub is normally located in a rather dingy basement basement, but during the summer break they turn it into a beer garden, so you could go after work, sit at tables on the lawn, and have a pint of good beer and some dinner.

  21. Forking Bullshirt*

    I worked at an office where the field of work was one that was often thankless and difficult, and where one would sometimes have to put themselves in difficult situations to fight for a greater good.

    Occasionally, there would be a circumstance in which someone really went above and beyond in fighting the good fight, often a losing battle, but done with integrity and bravery. On those occasions (maybe once or twice a year), they would be given possession of a large ceremonial fork, until the next time someone earned the fork award, when it would be passed on.

    Why a fork? Urban Dictionary will explain: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fuck%20your%20canoe

    The specific utensil used in the joke and the award works even better now, thanks to The Good Place.

  22. Engineer*

    My former office has the New Hire Frog. Every new hire, regardless of experience, is bequeathed this guady frog statue from the former new person, along with a list of Rules of the Frog. Rules include “rub frog’s belly for luck but no more than once a day” or “don’t place frog on your cubicle’s wall because he is afraid of heights” or “bring the frog with you to workload meetings so Head Boss remembers you don’t know all the ins and outs.” Silly, simple, occasionally practical stuff.

    Supposedly the frog was liberated from a tequila bar in Mexico by a former employee, but no one ever got a straight answer from him so no one really knows where it came from. But faithfully does the frog stand upon each new hire’s desk.

    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      That’s such a great idea!

      We had Pietro, the code duck, that would rotate from desk to desk based on whose project was being the most recalcitrant at the time. When the office shut down, Pietro came home with one of us, and we still occasionally ask for him when we get stuck. Maybe we should make him his own Discord profile.

    2. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      That’s actually kind of brilliant! It’s a great way to visually remind people that “hey, this person is still new and could probably use some additional context and/or help” without the new hire having to verbally say anything. For me that’s one of the most difficult things about being new at a job, I don’t like admitting that I don’t know something so having the frog would be great for me! It’s also a charming way to introduce new hires to the office culture. I mean, if you were given a new hire frog and a list of rules for the frog on your first day it’d probably clear up a couple questions on office culture & expectations.

      1. Engineer*

        Yep! Most people were pretty good sports about bringing it along, even the experienced folk. The frog’s attendance at meetings would trail off after 6-7 weeks or so, but by then people at least had a decent grasp on how the office workload meetings went, and he still kept his faithful place in their desks.

        We only ever had an issue where we hired three people who all started in the same week, and they figured out a custody arrangement on their own.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Custody Arrangement of the Frog sounds like the kind of dry comic British novel I would buy in a hot second.

    3. ferrina*

      That is so helpful in reminding people that someone is still in onboarding! My organization has a terrible tendency to forget that new people don’t magically know everything.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I love this! But question – what happens if two or more people start on the same day?

  23. Anonymous for this*

    We had a huge oil painting donated by a board member long ago, it was an amateurish coastal harbor scene in odd colors, with a pink lighthouse with beams shining out from it that looked a bit … well, phallic, in a way that once you noticed it you could not un-see it. If you were out on travel or vacation and had enough wall space in your office, you might come back and find it hanging there. Then you had to keep an eye out for an opportunity to pass it on to the next lucky staffer. Nobody ever discussed this directly, it was just a thing that happened as if by magic. When we moved to a much smaller office space it was discreetly (and well) hung in the building’s common area.

    1. UKgreen*

      I have just spat my tea out at the use of well hung here. Thank you for the best laugh I’ve had all week!

  24. Breaking Dishes*

    At one place I worked, new employees were welcome at a staff meeting. They were always asked if they were a cat or dog person.

      1. La Triviata*

        A place I used to work, new people would be introduced at staff meetings – just a brief introduction as to where they’d worked before, important personal things. One woman would ALWAYS ask if they were married.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’ve started answering that question “no, and I’m not going to” just to watch those people’s heads spin (and avoid the awkward potential matchmaking).

  25. Chocolate Teapot*

    Every summer, there is a large funfair in town, and most companies will organise an evening on the rides and perhaps a meal in one of the restaurants.

    Once, we managed to win a toy panda which became the office mascot. I still have the pictures somewhere of our new monochrome colleague hard at work on the computer.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Oh, this isn’t about anywhere I’ve worked, but about ten years ago, mysterious teddy bears appeared around my town. As far as I know, it was never revealed where they came from, but like there was one with a fishing rod on a local bridge, one dressed as a postman outside the post office, etc. A number of the businesses kept and displayed the one left on their doorstep. The post office definitely still have theirs.

  26. Peon*

    We have the “free” table and we have to warn new hires about it because it’s just outside of our kitchenette and you don’t want to leave your lunch there by accident (there’s plenty of counter space available for that). We use it to share food, coupons, anything we think other people will want.

  27. neeko*

    We just have this stuffed elephant in the office – I don’t even recall why, it predates me and I’ve been here for 8 years. He usually lives in the front area and has a few different hats he wears – literal hats, not different jobs. Anytime a new person starts, elephant in his fancy hat stands at their desk to welcome them to the company. The new person is always a mixture of confused and delighted.

    1. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

      An elephant in a fancy hat greets new hires?! I may need to consider switching jobs!

  28. GythaOgden*

    I miss the food sellers at our office. They keep ringing us up to ask if we want them to come back, but there’s not enough people here after the general WFH exodus to make it worth their while.

    The main thing in our office in the Before Times was the car park. The building had long outgrown it and so there was a regimented system of parking passes to make sure we could get hold of anyone at a moment’s notice to get them to move their car. One of my first jobs as a temp was to make and laminate a new batch, which was pretty fun. There were all sorts of wacky things happening, but the stand-out occasion was when the chief exec’s car was one of the blockers and we had to get her down to move it. Trouble is, she was in a meeting, so she sent her PA to do it. Her PA came to reception and said she was in a bit of a hurry too…so could one of us move Chief Exec’s car?

    We looked at each other and (truthfully) told her that neither of us could, you know, drive — you know that thing where you get to operate a motor vehicle? Not only was this beyond us, neither of us would have wanted to touch the Chief Exec’s car — insurance only covers us for driving a specific car rather than all cars and if we dinged it there would be hell to pay.

    The PA looked rather disappointed in us. She wasn’t that bad — I mean, everyone has their little out of touch moments and I’d be lying if I said I’d never said anything that foolish — but it was nevertheless a bit frustrating. But I guess being Chief Exec means never having to move your own car…

    Other than that, the best tradition each year was the Macmillan cancer coffee mornings each September. Again, it fizzled out with the pandemic, but if there’s any cause close to my heart it’s cancer support, and Macmillan were there for us when my husband had cancer and died of it. They do therapy for couples living with the disease and actually extended my free sessions when they saw I was neurodivergent and needed more help grappling with the fallout of the diagnosis.

    Popping a few quid in a teacup and having a nice slice of cake is something that no-one is pressured to do but, with a lot of us knowing someone who had or has it, most of us do chip in. You never know when you might need the help of charities like these and them and the local hospice are the main recipient of my money and hubby’s legacy. The autumn my husband died, I’d been crocheting little butterfly ornaments to keep my hands busy (that was the main motif at our wedding, and it ultimately reflected the fragile beauty of our life together) and they sold well in hubby’s honour.

    1. Emma*

      I’m so sorry you went through that, but glad they were there for you. Macmillan are a fantastic organisation and it’s always good to hear of people supporting them.

      1. tired*

        their coffee morning campaign used to fall in the first week of the new academic year at the uni I worked at, and we’d always take part – anyone who had time would bring in treats to donate (homemade or store bought, no judgement), someone would ensure the kitchen coffee machine was freshly filled and kettles freshly boiled, and people would bring their own mugs, get a drink and treat, and put a donation in a money-box for the charity. If you brought homemade it was customary to include some copies of the recipe (or the url or book reference of the recipe!) which could be had for a small extra donation. it was a great opportunity to get together with colleagues in what is normally a very hectic week, and since we have lost several much-missed colleagues to cancer over the last decade, it was always a nice time to remember them as well with other longer serving colleagues (usually, by local custom, us being northern Brits therefore prone to relatively dark humour and sarcastic utterance, by saying something like what a jammy beggar DrX was for no longer having to tackle all the chores and stresses of first week of the year).

        And who doesn’t need cake in a busy week?

  29. LibrarianScientist*

    When I worked in an undergrad admissions office, we had a two week period where all our regional staff had to come to campus and we were in the office all day, every day for 2 weeks straight with a huge recruitment event all weekend.
    We started calling the second week of this Spirit Week and came up with fun things to do so we didn’t lose our minds on each other after 14 hour days and smiling the entire time. People would sign up to bring in fun food, we staged an office olympics with these weird Nike wristbands that I had this huge surplus of from a family white elephant as prizes that became strangely prized, twin days, anything that might liven things up a bit.
    It went a long way to making a very stressful time of year more tolerable for everyone and I know it continued after I left, although no idea if the pandemic lock down finally did it in.

  30. Elizabeth*

    In a prior job, we had the Tree. It was a dollar store artificial Christmas tree. We decorated it for everything. Every holiday, every event in the office. We actively searched for reasons to decorate it and found appropriate choices.

    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      This reminds me of Cookie Whiteboard.

      We had a very good artist at our old office, who for no reason I recall, drew up a full-board comic of Cookie Monster calling tech support and being told to delete cookies. It was so good, nobody would ever erase it, but Cookie occasionally got refreshed with different lines, and Tech Support Guy would get seasonal hats drawn on.

    2. I edit everything*

      I might have to start doing this in my office. Decorate it for all the random holidays. National ice cream day, international red panda day…

    3. NeedRain47*

      One of my coworkers sends out a daily email and in addition to relevant work information, puts what “official” day it is- for instance, today is National Big Forehead Day! (really). LOL imagining us decorating a tree about it daily.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do this for my team in their daily assignment emails — today is also National Watermelon Day :)

    4. Mother of Corgis*

      One office I worked at had something similar: the Money Tree. It sat in the reception area and people would paperclip money to the leaves throughout the year. Once a year we would “harvest” the tree and donate the money to a local charity.

    5. thatoneoverthere*

      Not work related but my MIL does this with my kids. They all love it. Right now its a beach theme for summer. Soon it will back to school, then fall etc etc. They make all the decorations themselves.

    6. Worldwalker*

      I work from home, but sometimes I send my co-workers pictures of my octopus. It’s a huge (~meter-wide legspan), very lifelike, plush octopus. I dress it up for holidays, usually with things like decorative socks from the dollar store (Oc needs 4 sets, of course!). There is just something inherently funny about a plush octopus wearing a Santa hat on his visceral hump and striped Christmas socks on his appendages. Oh, and a scarf, can’t forget the scarf.

  31. Eeb18*

    I worked for a small org (about 20 people) where the CEO would write a rhyming poem any time an employee left the org that she would read at the employee’s going-away party. The poems were pretty good when written for senior employees who had been with the org for decades – a bit less so when written for summer interns who the CEO hardly knew.

  32. Beth*

    In the costume shop where I worked for a big chunk of my first career, the sewing machines were all individually named — mostly for black singers, such as Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Marian Anderson, etc. — even though most of the sewing machines in question weren’t Singers. It had started with a couple of actual black Singer sewing machines and developed from there. The hemming machine was named Ray Charles, a beige machine was named Barry Manilow, and a Brother machine was named Brother Rat.

    Later machines were named along operatic themes — two Pfaffs were named Pfafnir and Pfasolt, a smaller one was named Alberich, and a petite machine in a Victorian-style stand was named Lady Jane. We used a label-maker to mark the machines with their names.

    It was actually REALLY useful being able to immediately identify the machines by name, as opposed to saying “I need to use the Pfaff Model 461” or “Does anyone have an extra bobbin for the Singer model 241?”

    Of course, such a useful system couldn’t last, and a new manager eventually ordered us to stop using the individual names. Most of us kept on using them, though, informally, except when we had to request repairs or maintenance at an official level.

    1. Bob the Builder*

      I work in construction and we’ve done this with the company trucks, which are all the same make and model. They are leased and get swapped out once a year, but we keep the same names on them. Named them all after animals (unicorn, black bear, crawdad). So helpful to call out “Who’s driving the Unicorn today?”

    2. Snubble*

      I had a vacation job in a pathology lab where the big haematology analysers were called Tigger, Kanga and Roo. They had their names on laminated cards on the chassis.

    3. Liz W.*

      Our HPLC is called Garfield because it sounds like a cat meowing…on the production floor the mechanics got in trouble for naming one of the machines Edsel.

    4. Dragonfly7*

      We had similar fun names based on a TV series for the printers in my library. It was easier for students to remember they sent their print jobs to “Donna” or “The Doctor” (sadly not the actual show) than to the standardized building and string of numbers names we were required to give them later.

      1. Suz*

        The printers at my company were named for animals and every floor had a theme. The ones on my floor were all fish. Walleye, Trout, etc.

      2. a.n.o.n.*

        My old office was Peanuts characters! “Hey I sent something to Linus – can you grab it on your way back from the kitchen?”

      3. Nightengale*

        My women’s college computer center named the printers after famous women. I remember Ada Lovelace and Admiral Grace Hopper and there was a third I have forgotten. This was back in the days when most people did not have their own computers (and most of the people who did have their own computers did not have their own printers)

    5. Worldwalker*

      Your manager was a fool.

      It’s a fact that people can remember names more easily than arbitrary model numbers. That’s why IKEA started naming their products — the founder couldn’t remember the numbers, and then realized that a lot of the customers couldn’t either.

      There is no difference in technical terms if you call a machine “ABC-123” or “Fred” — but there is in usability terms. It’s easier to remember which is Fred and which is Charley than which is ABC-123 and which is ABC-124. There are fewer mistakes and less confusion.

      Somewhere I’ve been fairly recently — the Atlanta aquarium, maybe? — has the levels of their parking garage labeled with big silhouettes of various aquatic creatures. It’s a lot easier to remember that you’re on the shark level than you’re on level 3, I’ll tell you.

      1. tired*

        All the shared drives and servers in one university system I worked in were named after Star Wars characters and new names were hotly debated as many believed (or claimed to believe) that the name might affect the performance of the hardware. Chewie always TRIED to do jobs but sent back incomprehensible error messages – there might have been something in the superstition… :D

    6. curly sue*

      Fistbump, fellow costumer!

      The machines in the student studio where I work earn their names over time – for a while we had Larry, Darryl, and Other Darryl (all Brothers, of course).

      One of the oldest machines had a very rapid jump in speed when you hit That Point on the clutch – it went from a very sedate tock…tock…tock…tock stitch to TOCKTOCKTOCKTOCKTOCKTOCK-OWMYFINGER in the blink of an eye. One of the students who gave an inadvertent blood sacrifice named her Lilith.

    7. Noseybrit*

      We have 2 card printing machines called Thing 1 and Thing 2 because they are always messing about!

    8. Goody*

      The lab at my old job had instruments all named after Lord of the Rings characters, so Frodo, Sam, etc, even a Shadowfax (it wasn’t a fax btw). Prior to that I believe the theme was Star Wars, but after a period of high personnel turnover we decided it was time for a refresh, people got into it and I think it boosted morale

  33. Statler von Waldorf*

    A few decades back when I was working as a computer technician the place I worked had a fun tradition. On the last Friday of the month, the boss would buy a case of beer, and around 4:30 we would gather in the loading dock and drink some beers while we took turns using a The Official Company Bat (TM) to beat any malfunctioning equipment into small pieces of scrap.

    I honestly miss that one.

    1. RubyJackson*

      When I worked in the film industry, we had a tradition called ‘Five Dollar Friday.” If you were scheduled to work on a Friday, someone would pass around a brown paper bag and you had to option of putting in a $5 bill with your name written on it. At the end of the day, one bill was drawn and if it had your name on it, you got all the money in the bag!

    2. Galadriel's Garden*

      Oh man, I used to work in a music store and one of my most treasured memories was smashing a violin and a guitar too busted to be of any use to anyone to smithereens against the loading dock. I’m a violinist by night and the instruments at this store were…well, we’ll say student grade at the absolute best, and dealing with the general public in a retail sales job was already stressful, so…yeah, smashing stuff like you’re Mötley Crüe is very cathartic.

      1. La Triviata*

        At one time, years ago, there was a shooting range and you could use anything you could get through the door as a target. Seemingly, printers and copiers were among the favorite targets.

      1. Noseybrit*

        Around 5 years ago I went to a rage room… boiler suits baseball bats and stuff to smash for half an hour. You had the option to buy extra things to smash- plates £1 keyboards £5, monitors £10 and £30 for a printer. Our boss was feeling generous that day and purchased them for us to smash up.

        The satisfaction of smashing a keyboard and the keys going flying was so satisfying!

  34. Dobermom*

    This is all post-pandemic remote meeting stuff. I work on an internal creative marketing team, and we have scrum meetings 3x/week. After the creative director says we’re all done, everyone says “BYE JOHN!” “BYE SUSAN!” “BYE PHIL!” to a handful of other people. I don’t know why this started or how it started. But my husband sure had questions for me after he heard me scream, “BYE ARTHUR!” at the end of a meeting one morning.

  35. Amber Rose*

    Used to be (when we were a smaller company) if you went on vacation, we’d decorate your space. Our accountant came back to a Harry Potter wonderland, our sales manager came back to streamers of fish and a Gone Fishin’ sign on his door, one of the service guys had his truck covered in prints of an actor he liked.

    Not a prank (or at least not totally a prank), but like legit we’d figure out something you liked and turn your space into an homage to it so you’d have something to smile at when you got back.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I once turned a coworker’s office into Margaritaville for his birthday (sans actual margaritas) and hid a bunch of inflatable flamingo koozies for him to find. I think it took him 4 or 5 months to find all of them.

    2. whimbrel*

      One of my colleagues still has the lifesize printout of Tom Cruise in Top Gun getup that her coworkers at the time stuck in her cube as a joke, easily a decade ago.

      The remote control spider was less of a hit though lol.

    3. JustaTech*

      The first time my boss went on vacation we decorated his office with Jolly Ranchers – great for everyone because we had fun and he got three bags worth of his favorite candy.

  36. MM*

    I don’t know how weird this is but it was unusual and delightful – at one workplace we had Salad Days in the summer. A coworker had a large garden (maybe actually a small farm?) and several times during the growing and harvesting season he’d announce a Salad Day and then bring in a HUGE amount of greens and veggies and other people would bring in things like dressing or cheese or croutons or fruit or bread or whatever might go on or with a salad and we’d all just eat giant salads for lunch.

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      That’s awesome! In my old office we would celebrate National Croissant Day (Jan 30 I think)—I would buy croissants for all of the staff. I’d also make blueberry muffins for National Blueberry Muffin Day in July. I’ve been wondering if they kept up the Croissant Day tradition since I left, it really livened up the winter.

      Similarly sometimes on summer Fridays I’d have a late afternoon team meeting where we just went out for ice cream.

    2. Hereforplants*

      I love that! In my old office had a plant guy, who had boatloads of plants at home and would make cuttings and bring them in to the office to share. That guy was great, especially when he’d pop his head in the office and shout “violets in the breakroom!”

  37. Sassenach*

    Ok, this is not depressing but may or may not be amusing depending on your perspective and the current social climate today. I was not amused but more…flabbergasted maybe? A client of mine, every Christmas, put a Christmas tree in the lobby. Customers, vendors, employees etc contributed “ornaments”. The ornaments? Women’s panties and bras. It was proudly displayed in the lobby for all to see…every.single. year.

    1. say WHAT*

      The absolutely only way I could see this being even remotely ok is if you worked at a bra company.

      1. Sassenach*

        If anyone from that company is reading this they would recognize themselves right away so I will just say it was a traditionally male dominated field.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Oh gross. I’d say its a particular brand, but pretty sure that wouldn’t necessarily be a “male dominated business sector”.

    2. GythaOgden*

      The mind, it boggles. It’s definitely in keeping with the spirit of the thread.

      That wouldn’t even have been appropriate for the window dressing at Ann Summers or Victoria’s Secret, never mind an unrelated corporate office.

      Juuuuust no.

    3. Forrest Rhodes*

      Immediately I want someone to have quietly added several jockstraps, in varying sizes …

  38. word nerd*

    Didn’t someone here post a few months ago about a little trolley that would go around with tea and scones and such served on real china? That sounded amazing…

    1. WS*

      My dad’s office (from the 70s-90s) had a tea lady with a trolley with real china, tea, coffee and biscuits who would do the rounds three times a day. It was a government job and the office was all planners and drafters and surveyors, so I have no idea why they in particular had a tea lady, but they did. She’d come back half an hour after each round to take the china away again. When my brother and I were there (we sometimes spent an hour or so after school tucked away behind my dad’s desk if mum was working) we’d get a biscuit! This was great, as we never got biscuits at home.

  39. Piñata 4 EVA*

    My old company was in a boring office park. And my team was around 30 people with half living out of state. A few of us who worked in the main office decided to celebrate our small Christmas lunch with a piñata. I should note we are in the Northern US. So we went outside in December to find a tree in the parking lot and had THE BEST TIME smashing the Christmas piñata and claiming our candy. Our small team then started celebrating most events with a piñata (which we bought ourselves) and my send off lunch when I left the company definitely included one! I hope the piñata tradition lives on.

  40. not a hippo*

    There used to be a white elephant tradition at my job. One year someone put in this hideous ceramic teddy bear that was in danger of cutting your hands if you handled it the wrong way. He was dubbed Mr. Shard because of how sharp the dang thing was.

    He would move around the office and appear on your desk until you could find the next unsuspecting victim. Sadly he disappeared during COVID and so too has the white elephant tradition

  41. b-reezy*

    About 10 years ago, the place I worked had a Tamale Guy. Never knew his name, just that he’d stop by with a cooler of hot tamales for sale. I miss him.

    When I worked in the office, the team I was on always had a Halloween costume contest, ugly Christmas sweater contest, and a chili cook off. There were trophies. Teams were formed. I totally miss that (but I do prefer WFH).

  42. JR*

    We celebrate Pi Day (3-14)! We have a pie baking contest and Pi Day Olympics. The Olympics consists of 1. trivia competition (topic varies from year to year) 2. math puzzles 3. write down as many digits of pi as you can in 1 minute.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      My new company did the Pi Day baking (at the other office where I started). I went home kinda full, lol.

    2. Vio*

      Sadly our date format prevents a pi day in UK as there’s no thirteenth month or forty-first day… we do have pancake day though (shrove tuesday/mardi gras).

  43. There Once Was a Worker From...*

    At one of my previous workplaces, whenever someone left for a new position we would solicit limericks in their honor. It made farewell parties a lot more fun, and a lot more well-attended!

    1. MondayMonday*

      I love this!
      We had someone in their resignation email write haikus about their time at the company. The email pretty much was forwarded around to the whole company: 10K + people.

  44. Peanut Hamper*

    We had a rock (about twice the size of your fist) at my last office that was spray-painted gold. If it ended up on your desk, you could keep it for as long as you wanted and then surreptitiously place it on someone else’s desk.

  45. h*

    I work at a public interest law firm. Lot’s of amazing devoted attorneys, although lawyers aren’t especially known for their creativity. In 2019, we had seven Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s.

    1. Mim*

      I assume you mean for Halloween, but I also want to believe that there were 7 attorneys who just dressed like RBG as their everyday look.

      1. UKDancer*

        This should definitely be a thing. I’d love to see an office of RBGs wearing the dissent collar.

  46. Chloe*

    At my old job, for the entire month of December, we had to sing carols every day at noon. Then, in the twelves days leading up to Christmas, we would sing, you guessed it, the twelve days of Christmas, each day adding another verse until the last day we ended up caroling for like a half hour.

    It was an accounting office.

    1. Beth*

      I would have loved it, personally, except for the part about making people sing who didn’t want to.

    2. an infinite number of monkeys*

      You’d think accountants would be detail-oriented enough to know that the Twelve Days of Christmas are December 25 – January 5, anyway.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I would personally like the singing (memories of my HS/college choir days) but I don’t like the idea of making everyone do it, particularly ones who didn’t celebrate the holiday.

  47. Bird Lady*

    I used to work with a museum with a lot of outdoor space for the public to enjoy free of charge. One summer day I decided it was far too hot to eat lunch in my office without any climate control, so I took my sandwich to the gazebo. This woman with about 10 macaw parrots climbing all over her, sauntered up the path. She then entered the museum, and began placing the birds on people.

    Now, as you can tell from my name, I love birds. I even have my own parrots! Never would I think of bringing my girls to a public space and just put them on people. And yet, everyone acted like this was a perfectly normal thing. And everyone stopped what they were doing, even giving tours, to play with the birds they had been handed. The birds were delightful!

    When she left, I kept asking people if it really had happened, and their response was, “oh, that’s just the parrots for peace lady. she comes here sometimes to give the birds some shade.”

    1. Resident Catholicville, USA*


      WHAT?! This is *amazing*. I’m a little iffy on big birds, but I probably would get over it really quickly if they were friendly and not bitey. But also? Other animals? I mean, if someone just showed up and handed me a fluffy bunny? So would make my day!

    2. Sc@rlettNZ*

      Oh, hell no. I’m terrified of birds and would have screamed the place down if someone came up to me and just put a bird on me. I hope she at least asked first!

  48. Michelle H*

    Before my time (20+ years ago) office legend has it that a new employee had what seemed to be a great first day, then never showed up or called off the next day. Now we ask each new employee at the end of their first day “Are you coming back tomorrow?” It’s always met with looks of confusion.

    Also dog or cat person and coffee or tea.

    1. Mitford*

      I worked in an office once where one of the employees said she would be about two hours late one day, no reason given, and then had to call back later and say she’d be later than expected because she and her boyfriend were down at city hall to get married and it was taking a lot longer than anticipated. Ever afterward, if someone was going to be late or was leaving early, someone would say, “Are you off to get married?”

    2. Beebis*

      An ex has a similar inside joke with his workplace

      He was training a new guy one day and the guy never came back after saying “be right back, I’m going out to my car to get a boxcutter”

    3. Hell Job Escapee*

      At one of my old jobs, new people used to get asked if they were coming back the next day all the time. That was because the place was a toxic hellhole and the question was borne out of the several times people left for the day (or lunch) and never came back. If anyone were to ask me that question today, it would be a sign to keep looking for a job.

  49. Janeric*

    My old office put on a conference where the best speaker won a three foot trophy called “the golden cattail”

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’m only familiar with the reed (or, I suppose, the kind that comes attached to a cat). What is a homemade cattail?

  50. Kacihall*

    I worked at a bank where we had Pink Fridays. it started as a competition between two men as to who had the brighter pink tie. They both wore them one Friday, we declared a tie tie, and the next week the women in the office wore hot pink as well.

    We never got the branch manager to join in, but for about 6 months the rest of us wore something pink every Friday. Our customers loved it. We had Mean Girls quoted at us every week. (Some people complained it should have been on Wednesdays, so they could properly quote it.)

    It was great. Helped greet the upcoming weekend cheerfully. Sometimes even now (8 years later) that none of us are at the same job, we’ll have virtual pink Fridays via Facebook. it’s not the same, but still nice.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      A coworker at a previous job started Geeky Tee Tuesday as an excuse to buy some novelty shirts with puns, movie references, etc. It spread to a good portion of the staff including one of our bosses and was always fun to see what everyone was geeky about!

  51. Iridescent Periwinkle*

    Well this got me thinking about our own office traditions and we haven’t had anything real remarkable.

    One coworker used to bring in all of the needed goodies for an ice cream sundae bar. She has scaled back to bringing in ice cream treats in recent years. This is the first year that she hasn’t brought anything in because she’s horribly sick and on LOA with impending retirement, if I understand correctly. (Her prognosis is good as far as I know.) She has worked here probably 30+ years so it’s missed.

    My birthday is in two weeks (about) so I’m thinking I can undertake that tradition!

  52. iNot*

    In my department, we have a monthly award passed from one person to the next in recognition of their work. The recipient then adds clothes and accessories to the statue and takes random pictures with it throughout the month before passing it on to the next person.

    1. iNot*

      Also, whenever someone new starts in the office they get a giant cutout of the rapper Pitbull. It was leftover from a boat race decoration we had a while ago.

  53. Bozo*

    About a decade ago at a county gov agency, our boss randomly brought in a Bozo the clown inflatable punching bag. Which we proceeded to move around the office in funny poses. Then Bozo was joined by an inflatable dinosaur, a moose head, and a few others. The moose would be hung on the door of new hires. The dino was in a window and some folks in another office across the parking lot (not our org, no idea who they were) got their own inflatable and posed it in their window. When I announced I was leaving, my colleagues got me small inflatables of animals common to where I was moving. Every so often, I get updates on Bozo and the dino. I have the moose. :)

  54. Juicebox Hero*

    The birthday scarecrow.

    One office in my building was shared by three employees, Cranky, Grumpy, and Goofy. Cranky was the stereotypical grouchy old man and had a problem with everything; I could write a whole blog just about him. Grumpy was great at her job but rather brusque and didn’t have much patience with Cranky. She found a scarecrow at home, one of those on a pole that stand maybe 4 feet tall, and brought it in because it was fall and why not.

    Cranky of course hated the thing and was kind of freaked out by it, but would never ask her to take it out of the office because his MO was to grouch a lot until people got the hint. When she was out of the room he’d move it out into the hall or put it in the closet, and she’d put it back where it was.

    All this cracked me and Goofy up. One of us got the idea to stick it outside Cranky’s window to scare the daylights out of him. He didn’t actually react at all except to stick it outside the window of Amazing, the admin assistant, and succeeded in scaring the pants off her. He went from window to window for about a week until everyone got bored with it and it got shoved back into the closet.

    We have a tradition of chipping in about $5 per person to buy a small gift on their birthday and singing Happy Birthday at them. Amazing’s birthday is at the end of December, so Grumpy had the bright idea of stapling a “Happy Birthday” sign to the scarecrow’s hat and sticking it outside her window to greet her when she came in.

    After that, the scarecrow started appearing at every birthday person’s window or office door on their birthday. I made him a mask during the mandates (we were considered essential workers and were in-office during the lockdowns). His hat fell apart so we replaced it with a hipster straw trilby. He nearly got shot when we put him in the boss’ window and the police chief walked in and thought someone was trying to break through the window. Goofy tries to hide him in imaginative places before his birthday, and then pouts if we don’t find it in time.

    I should note that Amazing thought the prank was funny as hell and joined in happily, and that everyone enjoys the birthday tradition. Trust me, the people here would have zero problem speaking up in very direct language (swearing) if they didn’t.

  55. No longer the old buzzard*

    In my office we have a stuffed buzzard that is given to someone when they turn 50 which is to be passed down to the next person who turns 50. We sign the attached tag with our birth year. Most people are happy to display it on their desks until they have to part with it.

    1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      Please help me picture this properly, are we talking a cute plushie made to look like a buzzard, or a full-size taxidermied ACTUAL BUZZARD?

      1. No longer the old buzzard*

        Ah – sorry – a stuffed buzzard! I should have been more clear! Lol.

  56. Helen B*

    Fika, the Swedish tradition of coffee-and-caking with your co-workers. During covid we kept up e-fika, we’ve continued to do so with working from home post-covid, and it’s a nice opportunity to catch up with colleagues around the world.

    1. allathian*

      Yup, a similar tradition exists in Finland, although we typically stick to just drinking coffee. Occasionally someone brings biscuits, individually packaged chocolates, or a bag of tiny Pågen cinnamon rolls to share. In this case “tiny” means two small mouthfuls if you’re a dainty eater and one large one if you aren’t.

      1. allathian*

        It has to be said, though, that the coffee breaks are a tradition here and even included in collective agreements as a statutory perk that unionized employers aren’t allowed to opt out of. According to our collective agreement, I’m allowed to take two paid coffee breaks per day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

  57. nope*

    Our office is coverage bassed and open from very early morning to almost midnight. My manager started a tradition with one of our huge whiteboards. People can write how they are doing, like a little check in that everyone sees.

    My favorite thing is that we will draw pictures based on what people say. Folx will add a little star, and a week later that becomes a galaxy with a UFO and shooting stars and Nyan cats. I love it.

  58. You never walk alleng*

    One of the first questions new employees will be asked by us is their football (soccer) club.
    No matter what the answer, next step will be a complaint to the boss that he forgot to ask about it in the interview and hired wrongly. Again.

    Jokingly, no actual hazing is happening, and that is also immediately obvious to the new people. Most people here are fans of the wrong club or – even worse – not football fans at all.

  59. GovSysadmin*

    I don’t think this is really weird, but pre-pandemic, one tradition we had was that if it was your birthday, you brought in treats to share with everyone. Since we are a government organization, my employer is prohibited from spending money on any sort of gifts for employees, so this tradition ensured that people get snacks without anyone having to keep track of anything other than their own birthday. It’s pretty much ended since we’re all still mostly working remote, but I think the tradition was dying anyway since most of our newer folks didn’t participate.

    1. Maotseduck*

      When I worked at a big city fire department this was our tradition too. Cake and ice cream were expected.

      Now that I’m in a smaller city, we get an extra day off in our birthday month. I think we all like that more.

    2. SemiAnon*

      One of my work terms in undergrad was for a government lab that had the bring-doughnuts-on-your birthday tradition (also if you gave a talk, and we managed to hit a random selection of cultural holidays). When a not very loved prime-minister announced his resignation, someone stuck his head out the door and announced that he’d buy the wine if someone else bought the doughnuts, which resulted in going to the LCBO and asking the puzzled clerk what kind of wine went best with doughnuts.

  60. gingerbread*

    Not all that unusual, but at my old job there were two certifications you earned after so many years of service and passing written exams. When you passed each certification, you had to take your team out to lunch.

  61. Mel*

    All of our baby showers are veggie themed. It started several years ago when the pregnant person and the office clown were talking about gift baskets. Clown said, “Wouldn’t an onion basket make a nice gift!” It went from there. I started a week before the shower, which did in fact feature a basket full of every kind of onion known to man. Showers since then have included sprouts, potatoes, and turnips; the most recent one was asparagus.

    1. GoryDetails*

      OK, the “themed vegetable gift basket” concept is now my new favorite thing; that would never have occurred to me, despite my having sometimes done “heirloom apple variety” gifts.

    2. A Becky*

      I’d have cried at an onion basket. I love onions, and it’s the ONE food I can’t eat when I’m pregnant without 8-12 hours of sincere regret!

  62. The Christmas Creative*

    I worked at a creative agency where every Christmas it was a tradition for everyone to take part in a desk decorating competition. Not unusual in itself except that the first year one designer joined she REALLY went for it with a very elaborate design and ever since the staff became more competitive and therefore more elaborate in their designs (and often with little to no reference to Christmas at all). With desks being transformed into a pirate ship (that was a full working bar), a german style chalet (that had a roof and door to enter) and even the Glastonbury pyramid stage. It was absolutely fantastic. The desks stayed decorated for the whole month of December meaning you didn’t see much of your colleagues that month as they were obscured by so much cardboard.

  63. RYNE*

    Our workplace had a favorite tradition for a while – a “Joy Wagon”! One of the teams in our office (the one that managed a lot of our client events) had the idea to, on random afternoons every few months, to load up a wheelie cart with drinks and snacks left over from their events and spread joy through the office. There was usually beer, wine, sodas, seltzers, chips, nuts, candy – something for everybody. It was a nice little 20-30 minute break to socialize and celebrate.
    Really became a beloved tradition, but it seems like new leadership put an end to it because we haven’t had a joy wagon for a couple of years. Now its just a legend we wistfully tell our new hires about and hope it makes a triumphant return someday.


      I completely and 100% forgot that we had one of these at my first professional job. No alcohol, but stocked with snacks and drinks and went around at random times. I think monthly, but always at a different time.

  64. yum*

    I interned at an accounting office that had an ice cream truck to come every Friday afternoon in the summer. It made those summer Fridays a little more bearable.

  65. lurkyloo*

    In a former role, we had the Yodawards! There was a mid-sized Yoda stuffy (pre-baby Yoda days) and at the weekly team meeting, the person who had previously ‘won’ the Yoda would do a grand ceremony of passing on the prize. Usually it was to a co-worker who had done something awesome that week, but it might just have been passed on because you haven’t had it in a while! It was a very friendly and close knit team. And guaranteed, if there was a newbie in the room, they’d be the ones getting Yodified. :D

  66. cabbagepants*

    When people in my office come back from travel, they always bring snacks or treats from the place they visited. My favorite treats have been Turkish delight with halwa and rose water from Istanbul and dried candied apricot with ginger from Vietnam.

    1. londonedit*

      This is a very common tradition in British offices (or it was before hybrid working became more of a norm, anyway). If you go on holiday, you bring back something nice to eat for your colleagues (usually some sort of sweet or biscuit for people to have with a cup of tea).

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, my office does this. If you go somewhere you bring something back to share. I mean you don’t have to, and nobody minds if you don’t. If you go somewhere with no particular culinary delicacies you can get something locally, e.g. my colleague who goes to Tibet annually usually doesn’t bring anything but gets doughnuts at Tescos instead.

      2. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        Is this a British tradition? That would explain why my office here in Sweden does it; half the staff is from the UK/NI. Most of the time the expectation is for chocolate, but occasionally other exotic treats make their way to the break-room table.

        My favorite one was when a particularly adventurous co-worker went to Peru to see Macchu Picchu and brought back a bar or two of chocolate with coca extract in them. The big boss was running a bit late that morning, and commented on how lively the chatter seemed to be when he came out of his office for coffee.

        1. allathian*

          Before the pandemic, this happened at my office in Finland, too. I work for a government agency and most positions, whether you’re an employee or a civil servant, require citizenship, or at least a permanent residence permit and fluency in Finnish (theoretically fluency in Swedish, our second official language, is sufficient but in practice it isn’t).

      3. radiant*

        My friend came back from India with durian flavoured sweets (chewy ones, like Starburst/Chewits but a bit harder) and those were… an experience. Especially if someone from another department wandered through and picked one up without really checking what it was.

        1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

          One of our co-workers did the same thing. It was probably the only bag of treats that lasted longer than the work week in which it arrived.

    2. Jane*

      I love doing this! When I went on vacation to New Orleans, I brought back pralines for the office I was working in at the time. (I would have loved to bring beignets, but I can’t imagine they hold up well over a cross-country flight…that, and I probably would have just devoured the whole bag myself en route to the airport ^^;;)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Mmmmmm, beignets. My parents used to buy beignet mix boxes and my sister and I would make them on Sunday mornings.

  67. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

    At a prior job at a university library, on the first Friday before our first football game, we had “Tailgate at the Library” and there would be different stations set up on different floors. Among other things, we’d give out popcorn and hot dogs, show off whatever new stuff we had to offer students, give out library/university swag, our mascot(s) would visit (both the costumed person and actual animal with their trainer), the band would march through and back out the main entrance, there was a bounce house *inside*, and my favorite: a tree-rolling* area set up so people could practice/show off/teach new students their tree-rolling skillz (it’s a major tradition to roll the trees in a specific location at the edge of campus if the team wins –or really for any major positive event). We created the “trees” inside the library by taking every single fake plant normally used for decoration and putting them on top of chairs that were stacked on top of a set of study tables.
    Those were absolutely the single most fun days at work I’ve ever had (and if you did not want to participate, you could just work in your office/cube in the staff areas; no one was made to participate).

    *I think a lot of people call this TPing, but at this university it was exclusively called rolling.

  68. the.kat*

    At my fine arts job a few years ago they instituted happy hour. On every Friday at 4:00 PM, someone from the Fun Committee would wheel around a cart full of company provided wine and beer. You were encouraged (if you weren’t working an evening event, wanted to drink, and were legally allowed) to have a drink while you finished your day.

    1. Mim*

      Same here in my neck of the woods.

      That reminds me — I had been on my egg-co-worker’s egg distribution list pre-covid, but never got back on when folks returned to the office. She probably has a waiting list again, but I need to get on that. It was so convenient, cheaper than cruelty free eggs from the store, and actually cruelty free instead of just words on a box.

    2. ThreeSeagrass*

      Yup, we have an egg lady in my midwest office. She does duck and quail as well as chicken!

    3. Eater of Hotdish*

      It’s mostly Egg Kids where I live–a rural community, lots of people farming/ranching. The kids all do FFA and/or 4-H, and a lot of them are responsible for the family chickens.

      This time of year they’re giving away eggs. It’s glorious.

  69. FlyWithMe*

    I work for a domestic airline in the US. We have a lot of crazy traditions, but my favorite has to be the Turkey Fry. Every Thanksgiving, the airplane mechanics spend all day and night frying up hundreds–and I mean HUNDREDS) of turkeys. We get the sides and desserts catered in, clear out the engines in our engine shop, set up tables, and the entire department (500+ employees) sits down to a Thanksgiving lunch. It is my favorite day of the whole year!

  70. Another Chris*

    The first story reminds me of one of my first jobs out of school, which has a casual dress code of Fridays. One guy, Bob, came in wearing cargo shorts, except:
    • shorts were not allowed per the policy
    • he was responsible for taking photographs during the bi-annual board meeting that day
    • It was actually Thursday.

    The most popular costume at the Halloween party that year was one person’s “Casual Thursday Bob” costume, and it became a running joke for many years thereafter.

  71. Minerva*

    In pre-COVID times we would have a White Elephant gifting at Xmas time that involved the ceremonial Lucky Duck (a large rubber ducky with a 4 leaf clover) as the gag gift (usually with a few lotto tickets attached). It would be expected to sit on your desk the entire year, and you had carte blanche to say things were “ducking awful” if you were having a bad day. One year the recipient started saying that things were “just ducky!” when things were going well, and that got added to the tradition.

    Sadly, the duck vanished while the office was closed during COVID and we didn’t resume the White Elephant due to mgmt changes in the interim. I wish you well Lucky Duck.

  72. gingerbread*

    At a different job, the Controller had a little whiteboard in her office that said: “CURRENT HERO: _________”. Anytime someone did her a favor (completed a tricky task, went above and beyond, or just generally came through for her on something important) she would update the blank and put that person’s name on the board, to be replaced the next time someone else came through. When you did something deserving, she would send you an email saying “THANK YOU, YOU ARE MY NEW HERO” and your name would appear on the board.

  73. MigraineMonth*

    I worked at a white-collar office where, for no obvious reason, we had sheep and goats penned in a field next to the building. I guess it was to be quirky? They would eat out of my hand on my lunch break. (I just offered them some grass I’d picked; I guess they thought the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.)

    1. Bread Crimes*

      I’ve seen it done for the sake of abusing a tax loophole: get just enough livestock to classify the whole property as “agricultural” and pay much lower property taxes.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        That particular company moved from a city to a nearby town in exchange for a tax deal, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

  74. Mim*

    This got me thinking about some traditions at a volunteer job I held as a teenager. They had many (dozens) of summer volunteers, mostly teenagers, and at the time the person who coordinated that volunteer program was just a few years out of college herself, and really understood what made us geeky summer volunteers tick. (Funny looking back, because she seemed to grown up and wise at the time, but she was like 25. Just a baby herself!)

    While that person was the volunteer coordinator there was a tradition of really fun scavenger hunts at the end of year celebration, taking advantage of our proximity to a fun touristy area to really get us moving and giving us the opportunity to do a lot of fun things. She also supported a project that was started and run by many of us kids, of making a yearbook of sorts (run off on the copy machine), with fun memories and quotes and things.

    Those were the big things she did for/with us, but really everything helped to turn a couple of months of volunteer work into a memorable time in our lives where we were given the opportunity to not just to celebrate our hard work with each other, but to also celebrate what we had learned and experienced, and to celebrate each other. I don’t think I’d remember the details of what I did on a daily basis during those summers nearly as well if we hadn’t been given the opportunity to celebrate and wrap everything up in nice bows at the end, like that.

  75. Frutcakeandcheese*

    at old job we had a market every two weeks set up on the campus including a local farm and several yummy cake stalls

  76. Sharkie*

    Important background- I work in sports.

    In our office we have multiple bottles of champagne and nice liquor floating around the office for when the team I work for wins a championship. These bottles have been handed down for years. There is a strict rule about who can inherit these bottles or the current holder leaves. If someone touches a bottle during the playoffs, they are blamed for cursing the playoff run. The bottles are of course not out in the open, they are in people’s office or desk.

      1. Sharkie*

        They haven’t won since the tradition has started a few years. In the event that we win, we will drink them, and get replacements. I will be sure to update yall when that happens, since the “winning” rules aren’t really well know since we are all so superstitious (We all want our championship rings :) )

            1. Yikes Stripes*

              Oh GOD, if your user name is indictive of your location, may I just say that I’m hoping our rebuild doesn’t last *too* long and that y’all are back to not touching the bottles within a couple of years. Sigh.

              Sincerely, a long suffering STH from section 218 at the Tank and 111 at the Reef

  77. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Every September when the local fair opened you could leave early on the Friday no questions asked or time off being submitted. It was Fair Day Friday.

  78. don't panic*

    At a former job (not in Louisiana), I had a coworker who was originally from New Orleans. They’d order a huge king cake from a bakery in New Orleans every year around Mardi Gras and have it delivered to work for everyone to share.

  79. Nom*

    I can’t speak to modern Iran, but the tea lady is definitely still a thing in many non-Western countries.

  80. Beebs*

    My college division had a baking contest at the start of each semester at the all-hands meeting. Maybe 10 people entered (anonymously to the tasters) and 75ish got to taste and vote. The perpetual trophy started out as a painted spoon but the tradition became that the winner had to add something before the next competition so the thing got quite elaborate. It had a tiny apron, chef’s hat, and Christmas garland, among other things, before the pandemic took it all away.

  81. Wendy Darling*

    In my office if we notice someone got a haircut, everyone applauds.

    I suspect but am not sure that this started after the bit of the pandemic where nobody got a haircut for like a solid year.

  82. Storm in a teacup*

    In an old workplace we had a long-tenured and much liked colleague who would write a poem for when people were leaving. The poem would form part of their leaving speech and was a much loved tradition.
    The panic however when the poet was leaving the organisation as we realised one of us would need to write a poem for them!

  83. Baska*

    I used to work in the administrative offices for a world-renowned medical school. Near the entrance to one of the common areas, there was a full-size skeleton (plastic, not actual bone!) wearing a lab coat. Standing on a frame, hanging out, as though greeting the staff and students. I must have walked past him 20 times a day. I was informed his name was “Fred Skeleton.” I was only at that job a few months since I was on contract, but I was informed that the students sometimes dressed him up for holidays.

    1. Mari*

      My husband’s team has one of those; his name is Napoleon Bone-y-parts. And yes, dressing him up for holidays is part of the fun ;)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have Holidaysaurus Rex who lives on my front porch and Edgar (also a full-sized plastic skeleton) in my office, both of whom get decorated for the various holidays :) Edgar looks bangin in his Easter bunny ears.

  84. Daisy-dog*

    A past employer had a vendor who also had a peanut farm. (The product we bought and our company were not related to food in any way.) At Christmas, he went to all of his customers and brought peanuts. They were roasted and there were 3 choices of flavors: spicy, honey, and salted w/ skins – all of them delicious. He would walk around the office with our Buyer and every employee could take a gallon-sized bag of their choice. We implemented a gifting policy at one point and everyone panicked that it would include the peanuts, so the CFO had to assure everyone the peanuts would continue.

  85. Anon, but if you know, you know*

    In my department, we celebrate a wide variety of made up holidays. For example, a policy such as Policy 9.13 Nepotism would be celebrated on September 13 with your relatives’ favorite treats. There are also a variety of other holidays, such as Toast Day and Fa-La-La-Latte Day.

    1. Anon, but if you know, you know*

      Correction: It’s not Toast Day, but OcTOASTber. How silly of me to forget :)

      1. Bettyboop*

        oh god I have so many

        1. word of the day board where we have a new word for every day
        2. birthday presents and signed cards for everyone in the office on birthdays
        3. some days we have a wear a specific colour day and everyone has to wear normal clothes but something in a specific colour for charity

  86. TPSreporter*

    My company has a two week long holiday break every year, from before Christmas to after New Year. Every year on the last day of our working year, my Filipino coworker would make us fresh lumpia at lunch. As in- made the dough and the pork and rolled them all the night before and fried them fresh for each person at lunch. It was wonderful and no work got done the rest of the day afterwards

    1. I Have RBF*

      That beats me out.

      When I worked in an office, I would make two or three flavors of low sugar jam during the Thanksgiving break. I then bring about three cases of half pints of jam to the office and hand them out as holiday gifts just before the holiday shutdown.

  87. buddleia*

    We have a “Wall of Same.” If two or more co-workers happen to come into the office dressed very similarly, they’ll ask someone to take a picture and add it to the board. It’s fun to notice with someone “Hey we’re wearing almost the same thing! Let’s take a picture.” One day, a few years ago, there were about 6 of us who happened to wear something burgundy on the same day – a sweater, blazer, pants, or skirt. I’ve moved on from that office but I still have that picture!

    1. soundslikecowboys*

      We did this too, except there was a slack channel and corresponding tumblr blog! One day we had 6 people with grey pants and a blue button-down.

      I carried the tradition to my next office. It was super fun.

      1. hydrangea macduff*

        We call this a “catalog shoot” in our department, I guess because it looks like we’re themed for a catalog layout. We also save all the photos. ❤️

  88. Silicon Valley Girl*

    One company I worked at had a Halloween tradition of a turnip carving contest — because turnips went back farther than pumpkins & my dept. was full of deep research nerds ;) They were so tiny & hard to carve, but folks made some amazing lantern-like creations.

    At another company, there was a large brass ship’s bell hanging in the sales & marketing area, where I worked. When someone made a sale, signed a contract, or achieved some other big win, they got to ring the bell. Mostly it was the sales folks, but one time I got to ring it because of a marketing milestone.

    1. Sharkie*

      right? although some of these will be depressing to someone out there. I just hope it doesnt derail

  89. KayDee*

    This was way pre work from home, but in 2006-2014ish, every time someone in the office has a birthday everyone would put on leis and walk over to serenade the birthday person. The birthday person would then put on a sombrero and a grass skirt and have their picture taken with 1-2 of the ringleaders who kept the tradition going. Sometimes people didn’t want to be serenaded and would try to evade it. Then some people decided it was fun to pretend to not want to be caught just to have excuses to do silly things. Eventually the team grew to the size that the tradition faded away, but I still have some pretty amazing pictures from that tradition.

  90. Avid Reader*

    In my old office, we celebrated Pi Day (March 14) with pies. Homemade , store bought, all pie was welcomed. Friendly debate on savoury pies occurred every year. We were not a math or numbers organization but we loved Pi Day! Max pie slices eaten by 1 person was 6!

  91. ghost of anon 5928*

    We have a gingerbread decorating contest every year. People go all out.

    One year the maintenance department made a working model of one of the machines we use. Out of gingerbread and candy.

  92. JMR*

    We have a company-wide White Elephant gift exchange every Christmas. It’s absolute madness, and a lot of fun. One year, an intern submitted several beautifully framed photos of himself. The recipient proudly displayed them at his desk until the following White Elephant, when he wrapped them up and put them back in gift pile. And the same thing happened the year after that, and the year after that… It’s now been more than 15 years, and the photos of Intern Nathan have showed up in the White Elephant every year since.

  93. Student*

    I was working in a lab where a key part of our work was looking at these cool 2D color-scaled graphical images to interpret data from our sensors. Think of a plot with some blobs on it, where the color of the blob is intense near the center and fades towards the edges to show lots of counts in the center, tapering off toward the edge of the blob. Each blob told us important information.

    We had a cherished tradition of pranking senior scientists using these plots. You’d pick an otherwise quiet moment at work, download a copy of the senior scientist’s photo off the staff directory, switch it to grey scale and cut the image down to the right size for our graphs. you’d convert the grey scale coloring into some plausible version of our normal data scaling, so it’d come out in our normal graph colors but the values wouldn’t look to suspicious. You’d probably add some normal data features into the background of the photo so it’d be a little less obvious. Then you convert it into the data format we used. You’d make the rest of the data file look normal and legitimate.

    Then you send it to the senior scientist as part of an urgent email. Senior scientist! We just got this unusual reading at {location}! The background seems normal, the readings on this and that look normal, but the readings on these other features are off the charts! We think it might be {event we try to measure}. We need a second opinion as soon as you can fit it in. Could you take a look and let me know?

    The scientist on the other end of the prank would open up the data file in our analysis software. This program always started on a tab that shows a bunch of line graphs and summary values, where the joke is not yet obvious but the readings will be unusual. Then after they’d started digging into it, they’d switch to the program tab that shows the 2D image – of their own face.

    1. tired*

      Ah, nerds at play… I miss working in busy labs in a lot of ways, especially because this sort of thing

  94. GoryDetails*

    This was a team tradition, not company-wide: I worked at a software company that was affiliated with a major diesel-engine corporation that sponsored a NASCAR driver who was very successful and popular back in the day (shout-out to Mark Martin). I’d never been particularly interested in NASCAR but managed to become something of a fan during my time there – and when the team began having the occasional lunchtime “recreation day” at a local amusement park’s Go-kart circuit I’d join them in trying to be the first to nab the car with Martin’s number on it. We’d enthusiastically race each other around the track and then go for beers – and then back to work… (It was generally either a “celebrate the latest release” thing or a “this week’s been really rough, let’s go let off some steam” thing.)

  95. Mattress planet*

    I once interned for a company that held an annual limerick contest, with the first prize of a paid day off. Competition was fierce. The limericks generally were about something that had happened at work in the previous year. (The workplace was weird enough that there was a lot of material.)

  96. Anonymous*

    At our summer potluck every year we play office mini-golf. Each group of cubicle clusters comes up with a hole using a cup and objects from their desk. Some get very very elaborate. Everyone competes to get the lowest score and the winner gets a gift card.

  97. Notthemomma*

    As people left, their nameplate would go on the wall outside of the most senior person. This was for almost all the teams in the building.
    Alas, a senior person walked down the wrong cube aisle and was horrified at what he referred as our ‘body count’.

    Perhaps unrelated, nameplates later went to paper inserted into a plastic holder.

    1. Anonymask*

      For clarification: does senior mean the person who’d been on the team longest, or the person higher up in the hierarchy? Either way, I love this.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I worked somewhere that people did that, too. It was on a customer service call floor, so you can imagine how many nameplates there were. Senior management put a stop to it once they became aware.

    3. Day is Done*

      We used to have cubby-style mailboxes with laminated paper tags with our names on them velcroed to our box. When someone left, we would pull their name off their box and put it in the last box, affectionately called the graveyard.

      Once, when someone was actually there on their last day (post-pandemic, when most of our roles shifted to hybrid or fully remote), I went to their office to ask if they would like to retire their tag themselves. When we walked back to where the mailboxes were, another co-worker had a recording of “Taps” playing for the ‘ceremony.’ It was ridiculous and hilarious.

  98. there are chickens in the trees*

    All of these traditions are sadly BC (Before Covid):
    If you went abroad (whether for a personal or business trip), you brought
    back chocolates for your whole team.
    On your birthday you received a card (often hand-drawn) and balloons from the team, and you were expected to bring in baked treats for all.
    My spouse, as a team leader, would bake a birthday cake for all direct reports.

  99. Turanga Leela*

    I worked in a law office that had a “trial dog.” It was a stuffed dog, and if you won a trial, you put the dog in your office. It lived there until someone else won a trial.

    In my current office, if you win a case, you are expected to bring snacks for everyone else.

  100. Dan*

    I used to work for a very fancy architecture firm and the company had a cleaning person named Yolanda who cleaned the office in the morning while everyone was at work. Apparently she was also the owner’s house cleaner and had been cleaning the office for a looong time when I got there.

    It was a kind of open plan office of about 30 people and you could see her going from desk to desk cleaning up. When she got to your desk, you had to get up and take a little break while she cleaned. We all called it taking your Yolanda break.

    Nobody mentioned this during onboarding and on my second day, I was very abruptly shooed away from my desk without any warning. I had no idea what was happening. So strange. She was sweet but I was also kinda terrified that if my desk was messy, I’d be disappeared by a cranky Brazilian hitman.

  101. Hiring Mgr*

    One startup I worked at every year April 20th (420) was a day off so that we could (according to CEO) “learn about new ways of creating and breathing”.

    Not sure what the point was but we were happy!

  102. Sarah*

    I actually have something for this! At the government agency I support, we celebrate every successful rocket launch with beans and cornbread! The tradition began in 1981 when the Launch Test Director brought in a crock pot of beans for his launch team, and it’s continued through every success launch since. After our latest success with Artemis I, we served about 54 gallons of beans :)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I adore this. Thank you for sharing–especially funny for my family because of my teenager’s love of the “Beans…not for astronauts” commercial. I think I’ll watch for future launches and plan the same. :)

  103. Kiwi*

    when I left my company, we found a large superhero action figure abandoned on the sidewalk during my goodbye happy hour and took it back to the office. 5 years later and I’m back at that company, and the superhero still makes the rounds appearing in people’s cubes unexpectedly

  104. Janet Pinkerton*

    I worked in an office whose acronym was something like SPIDR. We always did a white elephant gift exchange and it always included the same silver spider Christmas ornament

  105. Anon for this*

    Our department used to have a pig roast every summer. In the building courtyard, there would be a big concrete block “pit” with (I assume; I never checked) an entire pig. It took more than a day to roast and was constantly staffed by certain coworkers. When it was done, we would have a picnic with catered sides.

  106. The frogs are okay*

    My old office had a ghost. He was a young boy, maybe 5-7 years old. He would prank office staff but was otherwise friendly. We routinely had to tell newcomers about the ghost so they would know not to be too alarmed. Since we were a child friendly office, young kids were often in and would wave/laugh/talk to the ghost. His pranks included locking things, hiding things, etc. It became part of the culture to encounter a locked door and say “please unlock the door” before going to open it a second time. Or the lights would go out and someone would say “please don’t turn off the lights” before looking for the light switch.

  107. DawnShadow*

    I worked in, say, a llama feed store. One lady who was a regular came in for special worms (yes really) but she didn’t have llamas, she was feeding them to her turtles (for real). She insisted that we put her in the system as “worm lady” and when she came in if someone new was working, she would say “I’m the worm lady” and make them look her up in the customer/retail system that way. Also, if they were new, she would insist that they dump out the container and “count out 500 worms for me” and if they said we don’t do that, they’re pre-measured she would act surprised and say “But how do I know there’s really 500 worms in there?”

    I should make it clear that she didn’t really expect anyone to count the worms out, though she would insist a few times before laughing and telling the story of the one time a new worker “fell for it.” Experienced co-workers always warned new people when they saw her coming so no one would be flustered.

    Personally I don’t think it’s funny to try to fluster or upset a retail service worker as a prank, but she was harmless and I tried to look at it as her eccentricity, which it certainly was! She tried to get me to count out worms for the first five or six times I served her.

    I think she was one of three customers the whole year I worked there who actually bought worms, and the other two were non-profit organizations and only bought them about twice yearly. She bought enough worms to keep us stocking them, so I guess it was worth it!

    1. not a hippo*

      I’ve worked in a pet store before and there customers who were 100% serious about making us double count mealworms and crickets. That woman is an ass.

      1. Polaris*

        Never did ask the feed store clerks to double check the number of crickets. Typically there was always a bonus one or two in the bag, apparently they just thought it darling that a teenaged girl would own a lizard who ate them! (The store was owned by an older couple, thing Mr and Mrs Claus personified)

  108. Sad Desk Salad*

    I don’t have any silly office traditions, aside from the famed ho-hos put on by a large biotech company, but I’m looking forward to reading these comments!

    But regarding the first one–our legal operations guy always wore jeans, a blue button-down shirt, and carried around a clipboard and a white Hydroflask. One year the whole legal team dressed as him for Halloween and the entire company knew who we were on sight. We won second place in the costume contest.

  109. Owned by the cat*

    My workplace has a cat. He was not originally ours, he moved in at some point.
    We are a very secure site, with badging in everywhere, secured perimeter, 24/7 security guards etc., and a cat who is just allowed to wander around. He has a Facebook page which has more likes than that of the institution’s leader, he features in the Newcomers’ Guide and if we have visitors, we sure check whether he is at his usual spot, to show him off. He has an official entry on our website. Search for Micky the Space Cat!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      We also have a cat on our campus! He’s a big ginger boy owned by some folks in a nearby block of flats and we can sometimes spot him sunning himself on the lawn by our office. Seeing him always makes my day.

  110. Safely Retired*

    My first post-college career job was with a large corporation in their new headquarters in Greenwich CT, not far from NY City. The new building was featured in architecture magazines, very contemporary. Previously the offices had been in NYC, where a shoeshine guy come around, mainly for the executives. The same guy was taking the trip once a week up to the new building. Two guys in another branch of my department always got their shoes polished.

  111. Jules the First*

    Another company had something called “car park drinks” one night every week if the weather was good. These were confusingly held, not in the car park, but on the roof. Apparently they were called car park drinks because once upon a time many offices ago the drinks *did* take place in a car park and when the business moved, the name stuck.

  112. random_object42*

    my small liberal arts college did a “dress like someone you know” party at the end of every school year. best party of the year and i’m glad that the tradition moved onto the corporate world.

  113. Sweet Tooth*

    We have a turtle pond in the middle of our main campus. When someone is getting married, then get dunked in the turtle pond!

  114. l*

    I worked at a state medical board for a while and for some reason, every event with food included crunchy Cheetos. Like, lunches, yes, but also at brunch when there were early board meetings, and as part of otherwise fancy catered dinners. It was a pretty formal office, aside from that, and it was always kind of entertaining to see a big bowl of Cheetos in with the yogurt, muffins, and fruit in a morning meeting.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I feel that this was probably due to someone who accidentally ordered 99 boxes of Cheetos in error. They expire faster than you think – in my last job, we had lots of Cheetos left over from events and they go stale pretty quickly.

  115. ConstantlyComic*

    Back in 2019, an outside organization that was using our facilities put a note on the whiteboard in our public kitchen saying that the food on one shelf was theirs. However, they used an acronym for their organization that no one recognized, so everyone started writing on the whiteboard speculating what that acronym stood for. Since then, someone will periodically write a set of 3-5 letters on that whiteboard and others will write down what they think it could stand for. It’s a small tradition, but it’s survived the building being shut up for COVID and several changes in lower management.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      That’s a game I play on road trips — the letters on license plates can stand for SO MANY things.

      1. tired*

        sometimes at my office people do a similar thing with synonyms/rephrasings – so a notice appears on the copier which says “Paper Jam” and quickly gets annotated with alternatives like “Cardboard marmalade” or “Sticky Stationary”

        1. ConstantlyComic*

          Oh, I love that! Seems like the kind of thing that might take hold in my workplace… now I just have to find an excuse to get it started.

  116. Space Cadet*

    Our little team is remote and spread out across different states, but we work closely together via Teams. The past couple of years, we have done a Secret Santa and then sent each other a pair (or two) of socks at the holidays. We also have a Teams party to celebrate Fiscal New Year, complete with party games. :)

  117. Ann. On a mouse.*

    When I worked on a team that was responsible for user acceptance testing for software used by our company, we would have release day pancakes. Anytime there was a new release, someone would bring in their electric griddle, and cook pancakes for everyone at the start of the day.

    (The pancakes were almost universally better received than the actual software updates.)

    1. Blarg*

      There are few software tools I can think of that I’d prefer to some pancakes. Now I want pancakes. Thanks a lot. :)

  118. soundslikecowboys*

    At a previous workplace, my team instituted Double Denim Day on the first workday in May for a number of years. People got creative, coming in head-to-toe denim – shoes, hats, dresses, vests etc in addition to the more traditional jeans and jackets. There wasn’t much to the day besides taking a group photo but since it was 10+ people, we usually attracted some attention.

    At another workplace, the team recognition award was a curling trophy that someone had, ahem, liberated from a bowling alley a few years earlier. It became tradition that if it was bestowed upon you, you would dress the curler up in a different little hat (think: sombreros, top hats etc.) or outfit before passing it on to the next winner. When it was my turn with it, I knitted it a tiny cardigan, which became a permanent fixture.

  119. Thunder*

    Every Friday afternoon, a set of manager have their weekly status meeting. At the start of this meeting, they play AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”. It is loud enough where all the cubicles outside the manager’s office can also hear the song. Occasionally they play a different pump-up style song.

    This is the only meeting with music in our office but it’s just part of the culture haha

  120. Heffalump*

    Nothing really exciting to report, but I once worked at a company where people wore Hawaiian print shirts on Fridays.

  121. Food for days*

    Back when I worked in the office – the site had a full kitchen. Three times a year: Thanksgiving, the friday before the Superbowl, and a random day during the summer we’d have a full foodie celebration. We’d bring in ingredients and one of our sales people would cook all morning and then we’d all lunch together. She was an exceptional cook.

  122. Cindy*

    A long-time staff member writes and recites poetry for people’s milestone anniversaries/birthdays at all-staff meetings that tell the history and accomplishments of the person. Love it!!!

  123. Desk decorations*

    At one of my past jobs, we used to decorate people’s desks when they went on vacation. For one person, we gift wrapped their desk and computer monitor and put everything else back where it had been on top of the wrapping paper. For someone else, we covered the top edge of the cubicle wall with novelty rubber ducks (this was a library, the ducks were leftover prizes from the summer reading program). Another person was into true crime, so we made a fake crime scene at their desk. Once we made a model solar system out of balloons. I went to Disneyland and came back to find that there were paper Mickey ears attached to my desk chair, computer monitors, and my nerdy action figure collection.

    It was really fun, and we tried to tailor our decorations to something the person would enjoy. We also helped clean up the decorations so the person wouldn’t be stuck with clean up tasks when they were trying to catch up after vacation.

  124. ThreeSeagrass*

    This is maybe not so quirky per se, but I work in academia where people stay a long time (think 35-40+ years). When people retire, it’s tradition to have a slideshow with all kinds of pictures from various points in their careers. People CAN opt out of having a retirement party, so it’s not like they are forced to relive all their questionable fashion and hair choices from years past. I honestly find it kind of moving to see what how people change through the years. Plus I enjoy all the ’80s and ’90s hair! I sometimes wonder what will be on my retirement slideshow if I end up staying that long (in a tenured job, so that’s not out of the question).

  125. knitcrazybooknut*

    At the beginning of each year, our department of 20+ would send around a list of national food days. Everyone chose their day, and we would celebrate that particular food on that day during lunch. We would all bring some version of that food, or random items to flesh out the potluck. It was always random but a good excuse to get together and eat food.

  126. Green Dress, But Not Real*

    Years ago my old office had an annual “funky soda day” in the week before Thanksgiving. People would find the most unusual sodas they could (often from World Market down the street) and people would taste-test and try them out. I definitely remember there being a mashed potato soda one year.

    1. Hosta*

      I’ve ordered corn soda a few times from the Mexican place down the street from my job, but none of us have gotten far enough along to actually try it. There’s been plenty of sniff tests, though! We’re all afraid of getting upset stomachs and having to work the next six hours desperately lurking outside our single staff bathroom.

  127. Ihmmy*

    At one job, when it was someone’s birthday we would sing them the classic happy birthday song… as badly as we could. Off tune, not really in sync with each other, warbly, etc. Thankfully no one went for volume.

    Another job: we used to get spam / robo calls a ton there. We would transfer them to each other whenever we thought we could get away with it, just for some silly light pranking

  128. Omni*

    I used to work in an area not in but near Louisville, KY, home of the Kentucky Derby. Every year on Derby week my coworkers would design paper racehorses and “race” them by rolling dice to see how far your horse got that day (continuing through the week). The horses and their racetrack were displayed proudly on one large wall, and we would assemble when we heard the “call to the post” played over the intercom. Competition was FIERCE with debates over who would roll for whom if someone couldn’t be there that day and (light-hearted?) arguments if someone who was rolling for someone else did a “bad job” and rolled a small number for them. There were gift card prizes for the winners, but it was mostly about bragging rights. And seeing who came up with the most creative name and design for their racehorse.

  129. Anon for This*

    I love all these!

    We don’t have any weird traditions in my office that I can think of, but I do love the way we’ve developed our office equivalent of a familect.

    We have “the mystery closet,” (which isn’t even in our building). “A mystery closet” can also be used as a generic, but it’s not “the” mystery closet.

    “Doohicky” refers to one of two very specific types of object (one of which replaced the other, so you can say “old doohickies” or “new doohickies” to differentiate). You can’t use that word to refer to random thingamabobs, that would be confusing.

    If someone says “Have you seen Marvin?” they’re looking for a USB drive (shaped like Marvin the Martian).

    I’m not sure these are the best examples but they are the ones coming to mind.

  130. Here for the updates.*

    When I was in grad school in London I worked reception at a digital agency two days a week. The office was near the Thames in an area where there were no convenient restaurants for people to grab a quick lunch, so there was a Sandwich Man who would come by with a little cart selling sandwiches, crisps and drinks. My counterpart who worked three days a week and set up all the procedures had left me a notebook with instructions for almost every situation, including the Sandwich Man. I was to “loudly” announce his arrival to the back (open seating) where all the employees were sitting. I’m American, so I read the instructions and took it very literally. I went to the back and LOUDLY announced (in a singsong voice) “The Sandwich Man is here!” interrupting meetings, client calls, etc. The whole office burst out laughing, but they were grateful because they didn’t miss their opportunity for lunch!

    A few months after I graduated and had returned to the States, I was told that my replacement just wasn’t the same, and they missed me making the announcement. I recorded a clip of myself saying “The Sandwich Man is here!” and sent it to the entire office with the subject line “this made me think of you all.”

    1. ICodeForFood*

      Oh, you just reminded me! I worked in a small tech firm at one point, which was in a building that housed a printing plant. There was a coffee and food truck that came around every morning, referred to by one of the guys as “the roach coach.” So when the truck came, he would loudly yell “Roach!” and we would all head downstairs to the parking lot to get snacks!

  131. DW*

    I work in Boston Mass, and for some reason, a majority of apartment leases in the area start on September 1—which is also typically around when dorm move-in starts for the many local colleges and universities. Every late August into early September, my office hosts our Moving Truck Challenge, in which the goal is to count the number of moving trucks (aka any vehicle with a piece of furniture strapped to it) you spot during the 3-4 days around September 1. The winner gets to keep the trophy (a toy moving truck) at their desk until the following September. The winner last year, who happens to live on a busy road that runs between two major colleges, counted something like 200+ moving trucks.

    You get an instant 1 million points if you see someone get Storrowed, which is its own Boston tradition: the Storrow Bridge has numerous warning signs stating that trucks CANNOT fit underneath it and therefore CANNOT take Storrow Drive, despite what Google Maps says to do. But of course the many out-of-town college kids and their parents who are driving in Boston for the first time tend to miss these signs. So at least once per year, a truck gets sandwiched under the bridge (see: wgbh.org/news/local-news/2022/09/01/how-to-avoid-getting-storrowed-on-move-in-day). Sadly, no one in my office has ever been near Storrow Drive at the right moment, so no one has ever won that way.

    1. Adultiest Adult*

      But are there also points for getting your moving truck stuck on the Green Line tracks? To me it seems like that happens almost as often as people getting Sorrowed!

  132. Minimal Pear*

    okay when I have some time later this week I need to reread my undergrad thesis and sonnet-ify it

  133. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    I have just joined a team where people have huge adult terry cloth bibs to wear at lunch time. (The kind that can be bought in bulk for nursing homes.)

    Mine was bestowed on me this week and I am surprisingly happy about it.

    1. Anon for this*

      I gotta admit I would love this. My hands shake a bit and I have a large, ah, chest shelf, so maybe I wouldn’t have stained so many of my uniform shirts.

  134. Li-berry*

    At my work we had a yearly “soup day” tradition. Everyone who wanted to participate brought in a crock pot of soup to share. We also had other non-themed potlucks. This one was started by an employee who just loved soup and she got everyone else excited about it. I loved it!

  135. awing*

    When I lived in Mobile, AL, our bank office had a “shrimp guy.” I was new to the Gulf Coast, and the idea of buying shrimp out of the back of some guy’s truck was absolutely foreign, but I quickly adapted!

  136. JustMyImagination*

    At my old job we had a bad luck monkey (stuffed animal). It seemed to cause lab experiments to always go awry and machines would break down. So when that started happening, you’d hide the monkey and then things would return to normal until some unsuspecting person happened upon the monkey’s hiding place and then bad luck would happen again. People got really into finding creative hiding places. To this day, though, I’m not sure why nobody just took the monkey home and ended the bad luck.

    1. Silver Robin*

      (Assuming that is a genuine question) Because taking the monkey away would remove the “fun” of bad luck; monkey provided a reframing of frustration and gave folks something silly to do that lifted their spirits when things inevitably went a bit wonky. Otherwise, they are just left with complaining and negativity, which is less fun.

  137. AustenFan*

    My academic department celebrates Festivus (from Seinfeld) with a potluck during the last week of classes before final exams during December. We have a Festivus pole, a sign for the airing of the grievances, and feats of strength. Our office manager retired, so I’m not sure we’ll continue the tradition. It was a fun way to connect during a stress time of year. Typically, this is the week a number of undergraduate students ask about extra credit to make up for of the work they haven’t completed in the previous 14 weeks; for most, it’s mathematically impossible for them to earn an A.

  138. Sleeping Panther*

    One of the custodians who worked in my dad’s building made tamales with her family every Christmas. Each year, dad and several others in the building would place an order in early December, and she’d bring in their tamales about a week before the Christmas/New Year’s break.

  139. Anonymous*

    Rubber Chicken Award. At monthly staff meetings, one person would win a dinner for their family on the company credit card for doing something great, another person would win (and have to display for a month) the rubber chicken for doing something not-so-great. The next month those winners choose the next recipients. One time a salesman traveled to the correctly named city, but in the wrong state, for a meeting. The two cities were very far apart. If you screwed anything up, you were careful not to tell that months rubber chicken winner. It was all in good fun, no one ever was called out on a serious mistake, just the light-hearted laughable “oops” moments. Someone won both awards in a month and took the rubber chicken out to dinner.

  140. Former Themed Employee*

    When I worked at a theme park, the mechanics who maintained our ride vehicles had an office and shop near our ride. They had a grill that they kept outside the shop. On Friday afternoons, they would grill. You had to bring your own meat, but they did a pretty good job. Occasionally had a much better burger than what was served in the cafeteria. And a very occasional steak. (Unfortunately, due to security restrictions, we couldn’t bring steak knives in, and eating steak with a plastic knife is not recommended.)

  141. Cathy*

    I worked for a company that has had a deal with one of the local farm share places for years. They use part of the parking lot as a pick-up spot for non-employees, but they deliver the employee shares to the mailroom and you can pick them up and return the boxes right there. This is so popular that they mention it in job postings as a benefit. (Any box left in the mailroom more than 24 hours gets put in the kitchen and anyone can take the contents.)

    Also, the burrito/tamale person is a fixture at most of the offices I’ve worked at (in SoCal). Around 10:30 or 11:00 a couple of days a week someone walks through the office announcing “the burrito guy is here” and you coordinate with one or two co-workers to buy a pack of 3 burritos out of his trunk. Or you just buy a pack yourself and then you have lunch for the next two days, but if you do that, you have to carefully label them and hope they don’t get stolen from the office fridge, because these things are good!

  142. Spicy Tuna*

    Re: tea service. It still exists. I have a friend who works in Dubai and they have an office “tea boy”

    At my last job, they had a monthly birthday celebration. Someone whose name started with a J had to cut the cake. Why? No idea!

  143. slashgirl*

    At my smaller school, we have Snow Day Toonies. (Toonie=Canadian 2$ coin). The day after a snow day (if it was on Friday we do it Monday), everyone who wants to contributes a toonie. The names go in a bag/box and one name is drawn at the end of the day–that person wins the pot. If there was more than one snow day, then you put in a toonie for each day. That doesn’t happen often.

    The take is usually between 20-30$ depending on how many play. Gives us another reason to look forward to snow days!

  144. HR Exec Popping In*

    I used to work at a company where the offices and desks all had an item that was passed on to the next incumbent. It was non-negotiable. My office came with a foot tall dinosaur that was painted gold. When I asked about it, it was explained this was actually office and nobody knew where it came from. Other people had: painting of birds, baseball, tall grass basket, etc. It was all fairly random and just one of those things that everyone accepted. When I left, I left the dinosaur on the window sill where I kept him for my 3 years there. I’m guessing he is still there to this day and that makes me kinda happy.

  145. SereneScientist*

    I’m part of a global department at my company but there are about a dozen of us in my local office. We have a local department mascot named Oliver who is a big stuffed giraffe with a very cute mini hat and star sunglassses! There was a little friendly drama when he got kidnapped earlier this summer to participate in shooting a fun video for our summer meetings and it turned into a whole stealth “Save Oliver” campaign for three days afterward haha.

  146. Lunch Leftovers*

    At a previous employer we had an empty desk designated as the “Share Table” – this is where we put food we brought in, pens we got as swag, lunch meeting leftovers. Anything you wanted to share with coworkers. One day we discovered someone had taped a picture of Cher to the table. Now it was literally the Cher Table.

  147. Jamie Starr*

    Many years and jobs ago, for our department meeting (which was maybe monthly?), whomever had been the last person to arrive for the previous meeting brought sweet treats for the next week.

    Yes, I guess people could see it as problematic – people having to spend their own money, people may not want sweets, etc. but it was fine. There were about 10 people in the department so it wasn’t a lot – you could buy a dozen donuts and be fine- and if you were never last to arrive at the meeting, you never had to do it!

  148. Anne of Green Gables*

    Community college library, when we were in a stand-along building on campus. One guy started playing a song over the PA system every morning about 5-10 minutes before we opened. It turned into a tradition. When a musician died, we would play a song by them for a few days. There were themed songs, like “Everybody Plays the Fool” on April Fools’ Day, “Ring of Fire” on the day of the total solar eclipse in 2017, and the guy who started it was a huge Halloween fan so there was a whole themed playlist the month of October. He would take requests; I asked for “Rockin’ Robin” on the first day of spring and “Centerfield” on baseball’s opening day. Occasionally the song would be a reference to something at work, though the only example I remember was “Beautiful Boy” the day after a coworker had a baby. We all loved it, and it was a nice incentive to come in early. Sadly, we are in a new building now and it’s not just us, so we have not been able to continue.

  149. Slinky*

    At an old office, we had a long, oddly-shaped hallway. It had a couple of corners but not full right angles and a weird hump in the middle. I’m not sure when this tradition started, but for a long time, the staff would play a game of mini-golf in that hallway the day before the Christmas holiday. It was intense, with brackets and everything.

  150. Anakalia*

    I worked for an industrial supply company for a few years and we’d have summer Friday barbeques for staff and invited customers. Only, we were in the Seattle area and one of our customers would gift us multiple 50 lb boxes of frozen crab legs each week. Our “BBQ” was a crab boil with all you can eat snow crab or king crab. Very little work was done on summer Fridays, as all the managers would work together to figure out the best way to boil the crab, staff would wander through and offer suggestions, and generally the set up took most of the morning and eating took most of the afternoon. It was amazing.

  151. thatoneoverthere*

    I worked at this company for a while that had some of the strangest culture traditions. I still can’t tell if they were charming/fun or obnoxious.

    1. The company was basically divided into a sales unit and administrative/business unit. For holidays like Black Friday or Christmas eve the sales unit was given them off, but the admin side was not. The reason being is “everyone else was closed on those days so the sales people could make no sales”. The admin side still had to come in. This was a non-essential business, so it often angered people.

    1. On Black Friday, almost everyone was required to come in (admin side). Instead of working they made us decorate the building for christmas. This made alot of people mad. So instead of showing up, in regular clothes we all wore PJs. We ordered pizza, that we expensed back to the company and left early.

    2. Every month each month took turns planning a small activity. Sometimes it was Hot Cocoa, Coffee tea and cookies (December). In the summer our team did a Beachy/Island themed snack break. We got a guy to bring (Non-alcoholic) frozen drinks, and beachy themed food.

    3. There was a huge catered Irish themed lunch for St. Pats Day. Everyone went all out and dressed in green. St Patrick’s day is pretty big in our city (not Boston). People loved it.

    4. Really nice Holiday parties at super nice hotels

  152. Lightbulb*

    Our building had “Pie Week”. The letters of the alphabet were divided up among the days of the week. If you wanted to participate you had to bring a Pie on your assigned day. It was marvelous. We had every type of Pie imaginable, including Pizza…. This was originally started after some layoffs and during a particularly glum winter to help boost morale (by the employees, not management). Now it is a looked forward to tradition. I have retired and miss Pie week.

  153. Anecdata*

    Our (startup) CEO made everyone French toast on release nights (breakfast for dinner), and then we toasted the release with fruit juice — but each release was named after the juice and therefore required a new flavor, so we got very creative in finding new ones to try!

    1. Blarg*

      Combine this with the pancakes from above, and now I need to go find a diner to eat at. Y’all are making me hungry.

  154. TooIdentifiable*

    We do an opt-in secret Santa every year. One employee was once given an electric toothbrush (as … idk a joke? The gift giver panicked?). The next year someone decided to continue the joke & got him a normal gift and a non-electric toothbrush. …and so it continues. Now he gets a toothbrush every year despite no longer even taking part.

    1. Troubadour*

      We do one of the “stealing” Secret Santa varieties so no-one knows who’s getting any particular gift. One year, someone got a joke gift which was unique enough I won’t specify it, but it was hilarious and their reaction to it was even more hilarious, so it would have been legendary even if that was the last we heard of it. But next year it turned up re-gifted. Next year people were warier of selecting large boxes (since it was fairly big) but someone opened a small box to find a note saying “look under the coffee table” and lo and behold there was a big box containing the same gift. Another year someone managed to squeeze it into a surprisingly small box. The tradition continues to this day!

  155. AnonAnon*

    I work for an agency that has offices around the state. Different offices have different traditions when someone wins a trial: there are pirate flags, stuffed dogs, and even (if I recall correctly) toy crabs that get visibly posted outside the victor’s office until it’s time to pass it to the next victor.

  156. Banished*

    Former company. We had a remote control balloon shark that lived in our tiny little closed off area. Every now and then someone would start playing the Family Guy “duhnduhnduhn I am going to eat that hairy leg” Jaws scene and suddenly the shark would come to life and start visiting people in their cubicle.

    This is could be why they took away our centrally located and very visible offices and moved us to this dungeon far far away from everyone else.

    That was such a great team. We had a lot of fun together and really respected each other.

  157. Chocoglow*

    Oooh, ooh!

    We had a tradition at our (red haired, braided mascot) restaurant around the holidays, where our GM would fire up the gas oven in the back and bake/stew a massive Christmas dinner for us all. Potato soup, two to three hams, a whole roasted chicken, and just all sorts of goodies, and she hosted some fantastic prizes for trivia games and board games. 36inch TV great.

    It might have been fast food, but it was the best staffed, best managed place I’ve ever worked, and had my living situation been better, I’d have stayed a lot longer.

  158. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

    I used to work at a place where, during your first staff meeting after being hired, you shared a bit about yourself and might be asked a few questions, but the last one was ALWAYS “Star Wars or Star Trek?”

    There were passionate fans on both sides, as well as some rather indifferent folks, but everyone had to declare for a side. Nothing really happened regardless of what you chose except for cheering in the meeting by the side that gained another member for their team. Many new hires were confused, but others were happy to claim their allegiance, as we were a generally nerdy bunch.

  159. Alanna of Trebond*

    My office (a local television station) used to have an annual Junk Food Day around the December holidays in which people who would bring in breakfast and/or “junk”/dessert food to share. Everyone would set out their items in the break room when they arrived for the day and people who graze throughout the day. I work normal 8:30-5:30 hours so when I arrived the morning news folks would already have brought in several things because they arrive closer to 4:00 AM. The Junk Food Day smorgasbord would be refreshed again in the afternoon when the evening news team arrived.

    Sadly, the pandemic seems to have permanently retired Junk Food Day. We haven’t had it for the past 3 years (for obvious reasons in 2020 and 2021!).

  160. Bit o' Brit*

    Not sure if this meets the brief, but we have an annual “unloved christmas gift auction” in the new year for all the flopped gifts and a few pieces of office history. We’ve had “kindness rocks” from an office activity and the same tin of mushrooms was entered for several years, including after it expired.

    All proceeds go to charity, so it’s a good cause as well as a junk clear-out.

  161. Knighthope*

    The “Mushroom Buyer” faculty member had family in Kennett Square, PA, self-declared “Mushroom Capital of the World,” and took weekly orders for her mushroom run.

  162. Manders*

    Our floor at work used to have Soup Day once per year in the fall. Our entire conference room would be lined with Crock Pots, and we had to bring in power strips for all of them to be plugged in. The inherent issue with Soup Day, however, is that you waste a whole lot of bowls – it’s not like normal potluck food that you could pile onto a plate.

  163. Blitzen*

    I used to work at a company where the execs were all church-going Christian types. During the office holiday party, they used to have us all stand in a circle, hold hands, and sing “Silent Night” together. One guy played guitar accompaniment. It was awkward, but I love sharing this tidbit of history so I can see the looks on people’s faces. I’m not sure what caused them to stop.

  164. Somewhere in Texas*

    In a similar vein to the egg lady…

    I interned at an ag-based company in a rural community in college. Every few days they would come over the speaker and say the breakfast taco lady was there and everyone would flock to her to buy some of the beer breakfast tacos around. Evidently it had been a daily occurrence, but they asked for her to come only a few days a week because they were all gaining weight.

  165. on the couch, with the cat*

    my favorite office tradition was the hot chocolate festival “club,” which ran for several years across several divisions of my then-employer.

    every February, a local food place (hot bar, salad bar, baked goods, a few tables, but mostly takeout) ran a hot chocolate festival. their regular hot chocolate was delicious (and they made their own marshmallows, which were amazing), but in February, they would offer both the regular chocolate and a special flavored chocolate each day. they didn’t have 28 different flavors because a few really popular flavors would be repeated, but they got really close every year. some flavors repeated year-on-year but there were always new ones.

    anyway, someone in my company put together an email group of people who liked hot chocolate and we began to make group purchases. in later years this turned into a Google doc and the number of people participating grew to more than 20.

    the flavors for each date would be released at the start of the month. if you were interested, you put your name on that line, along with the size cup you wanted, if you wanted a marshmallow, and where in the building you were located. if you wanted the regular hot chocolate instead, you could order that, but most people ordered the special flavor of the day.

    someone always volunteered to be the runner. sometimes, for really popular flavors, we’d need two people to go. if you were the runner for the day, in the morning, you’d email everyone in the club to tell them when you were going, so that people had time to fill in the sheet.

    if you weren’t the runner, at some point in the day, someone would appear in your office doorway and hand you a cup of amazing hot chocolate–still hot, because the place that sold it was not far away. you’d pay them (cash first, later PayPal and Venmo were accepted) and be happy.

    if you were the runner, you got to wander all over the building and meet people whose names you knew but whose faces you might never have seen.

    the staff at the food place was amused by us as well, because it was pretty unusual, even during the festival, for one person to come in and order a large quantity of hot chocolate. they took good care of us, putting little stickers on the mouthpieces of the lids of the cups so the liquid wouldn’t slosh out.

    the person who originally organized the group left after a few years and other people took over setting up the Google doc every winter. new employees were invited to join every year.

    it was such a bright spot in the middle of NYC winter!

  166. AnonymousDuck*

    Going anon for this, but my office has a tradition of decorating our cubicles/offices with rubber ducks. I received a branded duck on my first day, and have received them for various other occasions since. Now I work from home, but I still have all my ducks in my home office. Some of the people who have been here a long time have dozens of ducks.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’ve had ducks delivered to co-workers in another state when they have helped me. I’ve received ducks. Our team now has a duck icon to identify us. My best is the squishmallow type duck that showed up a few months ago — it’s perfectly professional to hug a stuffed duck at work, right?

  167. Cloverleaf*

    Someone I know works in an office in Berlin where, if you want to announce you‘re going to be a parent, you put a bowl of Kinder Surprise in the break room. (Since „Kinder“ means „kids“ or „children“ in German .)

    One new hire didn’t know about this tradition, she just thought it would be a nice gesture to bring in something sweet on her first day and picked Kinder Surprise. Fortunately, her boss noticed fairly quickly and clued her in.

  168. Bird Caller*

    I worked in an office that was terrible for many reasons. While not one of the worst of them, there was some pressure to purchase something from the Avon Lady, who was a close friend of the owner. This was in the late 90s, so not exactly in the Avon heyday.

  169. PhillyGirl*

    Soft pretzels every Thursday. And an office-wide email when the arrive in the morning. (Today they were still warm!)

  170. FrogEngineer*

    My office has company lunches about once a month, cooked by the members of one of the departments. After serving the meal (which have all been delicious in the 4-5 times I’ve experienced one), the chosen department passes on a decorated toilet seat to a different department. That department keeps the toilet seat until it’s time to serve another company lunch, when they pass it on to a new department.

  171. Anna Banana*

    This was more of a team tradition than an office wide one, but whenever we had a new team member come on board, we’d give them a list of “rules” about our team/office that were completely made up and half way through the list, people would realize it was a joke. Some rules included:
    -The third floor and fifth floor can only fraternize between the hours of 10:15-11:15, Tuesdays and Thursdays
    -Hats are not allowed except for fedoras
    -You must contribute to the hot sauce wall (we had a small collection of hot sauces along one wall)
    -No laughter is permitted on Monday mornings

  172. TK*

    A few from my past:
    * New hires were required to tell everyone what was the most wings they could eat in a sitting. (Yes, gross and inappropriate, on a number of levels.) And there was a quarterly wing-eating competition that was very bro-code normative. As a fat woman, I declined to participate but even doing that was very uncomfortable and I was called out in a weird way for it.
    * One company had an annual cookie exchange that was legendary in that it barely had anything to do with cookies. It apparently started as a cookie exchange between departments, but then a department did jello shots one year, and then everyone started doing jello shots…and then a department upped the game by having elaborate theming and decorations. So, by the time I was there, every department would have elaborate themes, decorations, cookies that were in theme, shots that were in theme, and often some kind of participatory game or event, or several. There were committees to plan for each department and an overarching coordination committee. Tons of productivity lost but it was also incredibly fun and silly and ridiculous. I was blown away by how much people did for it, especially since in many cases, it was on their own time and sometimes with their own money. (There was a budget per department, but it usually didn’t fully cover what folks did.)
    * A little more normal, but it’s a tradition I kind of miss in my now-FT-remote world — one of my offices had the consistent tradition that if you went on vacation for more than a week, you brought back some kind of treat to share with the office from wherever you went, even if it was a staycation. We got to try some really interesting foods from around the world, and we also would find out about local gems.

  173. WorkplaceSurvivor*

    Oh, I’ve got a good one- Lobster Claus, the crustacean Santa.

    At a previous office, our CEO would dress up as a Lobster (aka Lobster Claus) and give away gifts in a raffle at Christmas time. Most of the gifts were really great actually- TVs, vacation days, KitchenAIDs, speakers, etc. And of course the grand gift… live lobsters.

    I have no idea how that started. But as a vegetarian, I lived in fear every year of winning those gosh dang lobsters and being launched into some lobster rescue sitcom b-plot.

    I should also add that this company did nothing related to seafood. I truly don’t know why it was a lobster, other than the claw/claus pun.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      My husband’s uncle goes fishing every year and once we received, with no notice, an ENORMOUS foam cooler type package from him that said it contained lobsters.

      This was very generous, but; I HATE seafood. With the burning passion of a thousand firey suns. Plus, we had no idea if they were alive in there or not–I could not cope with giant sea bugs that had passed to the great beyond, let alone live ones!

      I ended up taking them to work and gifting them to a coworker who couldn’t believe he was getting easily a hundred bucks’ worth of lobster, the only condition being I didn’t want to hear their ultimate fate.

      1. WorkplaceSurvivor*

        hahaha that’s exactly what I’d have done in that situation. I know they’re a great gift for a lot of people, but I think it’s probs best to stay away from gifting live creatures of any variety!

  174. Cedrus Libani*

    At my first “real job” (college intern to full-time hire), there was a charming tradition: if the boss asked you to do something, and you thought it wouldn’t work, you could bet $1 on the outcome. You still had to do it, but if you were right, the boss had to admit it and pay up.

    At one point, I was so confident that I argued it up to $5, an astronomical sum in context. I was back in my boss’ office the next morning, with results and a $5 bill…his method worked perfectly, mine didn’t work at all.

    There was an older lady working there, a true TurboTech who had been doing the job for longer than I had been alive. She had a line of $1 bills taped over her bench. Those were her trophies, acquired over years of being right. None of those dollars were mine; I was never foolish enough to argue with her.

  175. Anne of Green Gables*

    Two of my colleagues have “fancy sleeve Thursdays” where they wear shirts with some form of fancy sleeves–lace and flounces are most common. I have no idea how this started.

    1. Anonymask*

      We had Burgundy Wednesdays at my last company on my small team, because one Wednesday we all wore the color by coincidence. That might be the explanation? Lol

  176. Alex*

    Where I work, if you go on a vacation of a week or longer, when you return you are to bring in a box of donuts for your team. It’s sort of a “thanks for covering my work so well, guys!” kind of thing.

  177. a nonny mouse*

    I once worked somewhere that had a very large annual event that was basically all hands on deck for the duration of the event. The week prior, they’d bring in someone to do free Vitamin B12 injections to give people a bit of a boost. The line was always out the door of the meeting room where they did this, but I never partook because I couldn’t get over how weird I thought it was, even though I was actually getting B12 injections from my doctor at the time.

  178. PennylaneTX*

    A previous job: someone along the way started passing an object to a new hire that they then had to add to and pass it along to the next new hire. The object? A decorative birds nest with fake birds. People added things like a paperclip necklace, Easter basket grass, little hats to the birds. I added a tiny bottle of tabasco sauce. A few new hires after me, it died when the new hire just didn’t do anything (thought it was weird, I don’t blame her), didn’t pass it along and I assume tossed it when our office was getting renovated.

  179. Onelia*

    I don’t know if its really that unusual, but we have a campus cat. He technically lives across the road from the school but he spends all day on campus roaming through the buildings (which are all connected by pedways). Everyone keeps treats for him, he naps wherever he wants, and he has a food/water station set up at our Security desk.

    He also seems to have a fine sense of when events are taking place. He shows up at big presentations, Convocation, etc. Everyone acknowledges him whenever we see him (even in the middle of formal presentations) and we make sure someone kicks him out of the building at the end of the night so he doesn’t get locked into a classroom.

    He’s become our mascot really, even though our formal school mascot is a dog. We use the cat in all kinds of social media ads for our library and everything. He’s a celebrity – and he knows it!

  180. Professional Cat Lady*

    When I worked at an animal shelter, every year before the Christmas open house fundraiser we would paint the cabinets in the clinic a new color. All year we would make suggestions, and then in the weeks before our department supervisor would put out swatches of the colors and you would vote for your favorite. 2 days before the event we would spend the morning painting. It was always exciting and refreshing, we usually picked bold jewel tones :)

  181. Lily Rowan*

    My old job had a Friday trivia tradition, where they didn’t really keep score — the organizers stood at the front of the cafeteria, but everyone else just sat around and yelled out answers. The winner was selected on vibes, mostly.

  182. anonnymice*

    My last workplace had a piece of lovely “artwork” that they would hang in the new hire’s office/cubicle, and there it would stay until the next time we hired someone. The “artwork” was a large wall hanging (probably 2 feet tall) of orange felt flowers. Think 1960s-70s orange, vintage, made in felt. The felt was dusty and discolored from decades of use. It was hideous but it was a prank to see how the new hire would react – pretend it was beautiful just to be nice on the first day or admit the truth? I heard many different origin story rumors of the art, the funniest one being that our most famous, long-term client handmade made the wall hanging decades ago and we can’t offend them so we must keep it up. In reality, it was probably someone’s actual office decor in the 1970s and when that person left the company, it just stayed… people had a really hard time throwing anything away there… but that’s not as exciting of a story. :)

  183. Jigglypuff*

    I worked closing shifts at a Target while in grad school, and about twice a week we’d have a visit from Biscuit Lady. Biscuit Lady worked at the local Red Lobster and occasionally was able to take home leftover cheddar biscuits. She’d bring them to Target and give them to the first team member she found. That person was supposed to find their teammates and offer them each a biscuit. Twice I was lucky enough to be the Biscuit Fairy who got to give their coworkers a treat.

  184. Anonymous for Justin*

    Going anonymous for this because I know some of my coworkers read AAM.

    Someone who works in another department of my company brought in a lifesize Justin Bieber cutout. I don’t know why. I think it was their tweenage daughter’s and, when she outgrew it, Justin came to work probably as part of some inside joke I am not in on.

    Justin was the unofficial greeter of the department space for a while before being borrowed by another team. He hung out in people’s offices when they were on vacation or longer leave – his presence behind one new mom’s desk scared the crap out of someone who’d come in on a weekend and though there was a man lurking in the dark in her office. After that incident, Justin’s owner relocated him to their new team space, except the new space had a weird corner to walk into it, and Justin caught many more people off guard. He was moved again after the second time housekeeping had to shampoo the carpet when someone startled by Justin dropped their coffee in surprise. I have seen Justin a few times in dim light and he does look a little too life like.

    Somehow, in all this shuffling (and an office move), the Bieber is still around. He lost some limbs and his neck had to be reinforced to stay upright, but he’s still making appearances in common spaces, people’s offices, and conference rooms. I’m pretty sure management knows about Justin, but no one’s ever thrown him away or insisted he be removed from the office.

    1. ILoveLlamas*

      I had a full size cut out of Kathy Lee Gifford from her Carnival Cruise days (talk about old). We used it to take team photos and all sorts of nonsense with her. She lived behind my office door, so whenever anyone came into my office and shut the door, she spooked the crap out of them. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing grown men jump out of their skin…LOL.

  185. ThursdaysGeek*

    I worked at a place where you could nominate a co-worker for a “Jacksonian Award”. At the end of the month, the owner would read all the nominations, and hand a $20 bill (which has Andrew Jackson on it) to who he thought was the winner. Or winners. And one time he had an all-staff meeting where he asked us if we thought we were doing good jobs, and then handed out $50 bills to everyone. It was a short but happy meeting. (And he paid well, had profit sharing bonuses, covered all insurance costs, so the base level was good to start with.)

  186. Jennifer Strange*

    Not sure how unusual this is, but my previous position was with an academic non-profit which is UK-adjacent (but located in the US) so every day at 3pm there would be tea time in our specially designated tea room. Just hot tea (iced tea in the summer) and some pre-packaged cookies, but it was a nice pick-me-up.

    My current place of employment used to have Fromage Fridays. We still have them, they’re just not limited to Fridays anymore.

  187. Godbert*

    I worked at one office where, instead of the usual fantasy sports that a lot of offices do, the entire office did a Bachelor/Bachelorette bracket, complete with intense shop talk (and occasional sh*t talk) on company time.

    But this also came with its own sub-traditions. When a new season started, it was a different coworker’s turn to get a rose for everyone in the office. About half the people would just buy fake roses somewhere, but the crafty types in the office would make them instead. There were some very lovely roses made of folded paper, carved wood, knit/crochet, woven ribbon, etc. If you were playing, you had to have your rose for the season visible in your work area. Some people would pick them up and wave them like batons or magic wands for emphasis, especially while talking about the show.

    The real kicker was the bonus office game of trying to sneak _your_ rose onto someone else’s desk without them noticing. If you did this, that person then owed you a minor favor (really minor, like, getting up to reload the paper in the printer for you).

  188. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    We played cards at lunch. Everyone was welcome to join in and the card game would change based on the number of people around. And it was truly a case of everyone was welcome. I was invited to join in mere days after starting and gee, I love a good card game, so I was in. I learned a couple of games, and improved my skills on others.

    And we were loud too when it got heated! But it was never more than a lunch hour and it was all in good fun.

    It was such a part of lunch time that this one time, I played cards while this determined reverse osmosis water vendor who showed up just around lunch time made his sales pitch while watching us play. I was too nice to turn him away, I wasn’t the final decision maker anyway and he was warned before he joined us to make his pitch. He was rather amused, if I recall.

    That office is long closed, company was bought out, I was laid off and for those who were left, COVID did a number to work schedules and the younger peeps suddenly became parents and priorities and schedules changed even more. But I sorely miss those very social card games to this day.

  189. NotAnotherManager!*

    The M&A group of my former law firm used to have a weekly putting contest (open to all) in the hallway of their floor. You didn’t have to be an good (just not break the glass walls or hit anyone), and nonalcoholic refreshments were served.

  190. Garblesnark*

    I was the office manager once at a construction company where all of the install crews would revolt if there were not airheads in the fridge. No work could be done if the company fridge didn’t have airheads in it. Just the idea gives me cavities.

  191. Spacks*

    My team has push buttons purchased by one of our managers that we keep on our desks–you can record up to 30 seconds of audio on them (and re-record over it, if you wish). The danger is that once you push the button and the audio starts, there’s no way to STOP the audio, and they’re quite loud! Sometimes we’ll change the audio of someone’s button if they’re on vacation or out for the day, and it’s always hilarious when they come back and discover what we’ve done.
    A coworker who had had an unfortunate incident with a microwave last year has had her button audio changed for her to 30 seconds of Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys. Sometimes a visitor who isn’t aware of what the buttons do will come by and press one without realizing the consequences, and then we’re all subjected to whatever audio is currently on there while the owner of the button tries their best to muffle the audio by holding the speaker against their shirt or whatnot.
    And we’re in an open plan office.

    1. TootSweet*

      My office would have so much fun with this! And props to the recorder of Girl on Fire. That made me laugh out loud!

  192. A person*

    We celebrate National Mike Day. It’s our most important holiday. We have treats and make Mike uncomfortable. He loves it.

    *names have been changed to protect the innocent.

  193. Mitford*

    We didn’t have a tamale lady (which sounds awesome), but….

    I worked at a Catholic girls high school in Baltimore, and a number of the Catholic churches in the vicinity had crabcake box lunch fundraisers where they’d take orders for a box lunch that included the aforementioned crabcakes and a couple of sides, then deliver the box lunches to you. We’d let them come in and take orders at the school, and we looked forward to those boxed lunch days so much.

  194. Dona Florinda*

    My office unusual tradition was actually started by me, by accident!
    We have weekly meetings to discuss the results of the previous week and one time, after a particularly awful week results-wise, I (anonymously) added a picture of a dog wearing pantyhose at the end of the presentation with the numbers. It just thought it would be funny and lift everyone’s spirits.
    Next week are numbers are better, so no dog or anything at the end of the presentation, and there was an AVALANCHE of complaints. Not because someone added an unexpected dog picture the week before, but because they didn’t do it again. Apparently the dog was a big hit and people were antecipating what would come next. So the week after that, I added another funny picture at the end of the presentation. And apparently I created a monster.
    Now we actually have a rotation (!) of which employee will be in charge of the picture or meme of the week, and after the meeting is over, my boss announces it’s meme time like he’s announcing an Oscar winner.

  195. Fine with WFH*

    My law firm does a lot of annual events, but one of the best is the birthday celebration we throw every year for our stairs! Yup, stairs. We just celebrated it’s 13th birthday by throwing a Bar Mitzvah party during the middle of work day. It sounds silly, but it truly is just a fun time to celebrate together and have cake. Now why stairs? Because we’re proud! We’re the only law firm in our area with a set of stairs that internally connects all our floors together. We’re downtown, so like most office buildings, you usually have a set of elevators and emergency stairs accessible if someone pulls fire alarm. So while other businesses in our building need to take elevator to go between their floors, we have our own personal staircase within the firm.

  196. PDB*

    I’m not sure if this qualifies but here goes. I worked for NBC when it was owned by RCA and, being TV, we worked every holiday. Remember, while you’re watching the football game several hundred people are working to bring it to you and missing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner UNLESS you worked for NBC. If you did you got a fully catered dinner with all traditional dishes.
    And yes, I know the caterers are working but they got big tips.

  197. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

    During the annual food drive at my university, my department would hold a Jello contest where you could enter your Jello masterpiece and coworkers could vote in various categories (funniest, most creative, etc.) by donating a can of food or a dollar to the food drive. No one actually ate the Jello creations and the donations helped raise the department’s donation total for the drive (each department on campus was in competition to raise the most for the food drive).

    We would also form teams to go bowling one Friday afternoon during the drive and you could pledge funds to your group’s results – for example, you could pledge for each strike, spare, or for each point your team scored (pledges ranged from .01/point to .10/point). One coworker would pledge $1 for each gutter ball (we had some spectacularly untalented bowlers over the years).

  198. Misstheolegang*

    I really miss the end of year get together of all the divisions under the VP of Operations.(Each VP took out his divisions for an end of year get together) We would eat a great lunch, have lots of conversation with everyone and always a quick word with the VP who would thank people for contributions touching on examples from the previous year as you received your gift. Then at 3ish we’d roll back into head office and pretend to “work” until 4:01 when everyone took off like a shot.

    1. Misstheolegang*

      I’m Misstheolegang… Sorry I’ll clarify why this tradition was so unusual. I moved out of a role where it was 24/7, required overtime, working late to create reports for clients until we finished.
      The first year at my new job I attended luncheons, then the VP’s luncheon and other events in December. I was overwhelmed by the sheer normalacy of what a work life could be.

  199. Anonymouse for Identifiability*

    I used to work somewhere that there was at least a full table of Setback players in the office cafeteria every day — for decades.
    There was a regular tournament where the winning partners got 2 matched cartoon people clocks to put on their desks until they organized the next tournament.

    (I learned to play but never got very good — turns out I needed that time to recharge for work.)

  200. AnonForThis*

    I worked in an office in Cleveland where the boss brought in a Cleveland cassata cake for each person’s birthday and we all got big slices. He didn’t even restrict it to birthdays – any happy occasion was a reason to visit Little Italy and acquire a cake for all.

  201. Wisconsin*

    We keep a descriptive photo list of the local chocolate company’s offerings. That way anytime a box of chocolates is delivered (which happens several times a year) we know exactly what we’re getting. For example, the circle shaped chocolate with a R means it’s filled with raspberry cream. And the square chocolate with a straight line across the top means its chocolate covered caramel. Of course, those shouldn’t be confused with the rectangular chocolates with a line that are the chocolate crisp meltaways. There are about 30 different descriptions and our whole office knows where the list is kept.

  202. Agile Phalanges*

    I worked in a very casual workplace (shorts, jeans, basically anything goes as long as it’s not too revealing), and we would occasionally have a “Formal Friday” (like casual Friday, but the opposite, get it?).

    Some people would just dress office snazzy, some would wear something you’d wear to a cocktail party, and some people used the opportunity to bust out their 80s/90s apparel with shoulder pads and gaudy chunky gold jewelry. Good fun. (And, of course, totally optional.)

  203. Anonymouse617*

    The Dean of our campus gifts faculty and staff a pie each Thanksgiving. Since they needed to distribute it, they would have a “Thanksgiving Gathering,” which colloquially was called the Pie Party and is now referred to as Pie Day. Pie Day is not the most productive, as people spend the day discussing which pie flavor they will get, what the best flavors are (leading to some hot debates), if any new flavors are available this year, and the correct pronunciation of “pecan.” We also write little “thank you notes” to our colleagues, but the discussion is usually focused on the pies.

  204. pally*

    Lab tests ALWAYS work on Fridays. Without fail.

    If I’m a little concerned that a batch of product won’t pass QC testing, I make sure to run it on Friday. Something could fail repeatedly all week long. Then Friday comes. Voilá! Everything works!

  205. Jo March*

    My last job had a bedazzled iron that was awarded to the team who came up with the best time or money saving idea each month.

    The reason it was an iron was because it was found out the purchasing department had years ago been given the job of ironing our logo on items and was spending hours doing this each month. Current management assumed items arrived with the logo already in place and had no idea. So they got to stop ironing on logos and the iron became the trophy. I’m uncertain who decided to bedazzle it lol

  206. labracadabra*

    Some twists on the “PI hosts a 4th of July cookout for their lab”:
    -in one lab about half the attendees left a few hours in to go check on their bacteria samples
    -in another, the PI invited us into our house to show off the nightclub he built in his basement. It had black lights, lasers, fog, disco ball… the works. This was all recently hand built by him, a man in his 50s with two young children. It was so bizarre.

    Ahh, academia.

  207. Cristinutria*

    One year someone in leadership came up with the idea of a trophy to be passed among departments whenever anyone had an excellent accomplishment. They came up with a very tall taxidermied rooster, no idea why; we don’t have an Egg Lady, we don’t produce eggs, we’re healthcare. The entire idea was inexplicable.

    At some point, after being passed around twice, Payroll did something amazing and were awarded The Rooster. It languished & collected dust in their office for months since they were the most apathetic bunch and everyone else forgot the damned thing even existed. The Rooster ended up in the dumpster in a department move. I’m salty my department never earned it or I would’ve dressed it up or decorated it with christmas lights. I had plans for that dusty thing.

  208. zolk*

    Employee of the month at an old job was called “rock star”. Since I have photoshop skills, they had me photoshop the employee of the month’s face onto a photo of a rock star they liked, and this print out was handed to them along with a certificate and a small branded gift.

  209. Tuna Casserole*

    We too have an egg lady! It started because so many of our staff were visiting her booth at the local farmer’s market, that she offered to bring eggs to us once a week. She’s so friendly and upbeat. She loads all of the eggs into our staff fridge and then leaves us little notes about how the chickens are doing. “The chickens are moody and aren’t laying as well this week.” Or “Extra eggs today because the chickens love the sunshine.”

  210. Anon for this...*

    Anon for this as I know a coworker reads AAM…

    Our office has a bunch of engineers – somehow (honestly Im not quite sure why/how) Hawaiian shirt Friday became a thing. Mostly the engineers but also sometimes some of the rest of us wear the most obnoxious Hawaiian/tropical shirts on summer Fridays….

    1. Anonymask*

      I have a party shirt that looks like a Hawaiian shirt, but if you look a little closer… Pokemon! Has that come up in your office yet?

    2. GarbageCanRocketShip*

      My office does Hawaiian shirt Friday in the summers too! Do we work at the same company? Hahaha

  211. Ann O'Nemity*

    I work for a very large employer that offers an on-site daycare for 3-5 year olds. For the past 30 years, they do a Halloween parade in which the little kiddos dress up and trick-or-treat around the various offices. It may have started small, but at this point the employees get Very Excited about this.

    Departments compete on decorations and pass out candy. Adult employees dress up in elaborate but very kid-friendly costumes (e.g. a 200+ lb, 6ft4in bearded man dressing up as a pink unicorn with a horn that literally shoots glitter). On the day-off, there is so much anticipation! People will line-up waiting, and then finally someone will call out, “They’re coming! Get ready, the kids are coming!!” and everyone goes nuts with excitement.

    There is something heart-warming about how much effort goes into this, and how much joy it brings to both the children and the adults.

    1. buddleia*

      So cute. My employer has an on-site daycare as well but they don’t have the kids go into offices for trick or treating. They held a parade on the first floor to walk with the kids in their costumes. My kid was in the parade several years ago and it’s cute to see the parents and other staff coo over the kids.

  212. libellulebelle*

    Not exactly an office, but I used to belong to a (rather niche) professional organization. Our big event each year was an annual conference, which featured, among other things, a silent auction. Every year, there would be a major bidding war over the same item: a vintage LP of Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell.” Whoever won had Meat Loaf bragging rights for the next year, and would proudly display the album in their office.

  213. AFormerIntern*

    My office has a chili cook off every year between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Nominally it is to encourage people to donate to different charities through a payroll program, but it has devolved into a full on competition. People bring in multiple vats of chili and everyone votes on their favorites. Not-serious arguments break out every year about what actually constitutes a chili :) It’s actually quite funny, despite being an accounting office, we have a lot of food-based competitions. One year a Director and her deputy got into an argument over who made the best cookies, so the 300ish person office took part in a cookie-off.

  214. Indolent Libertine*

    A colleague of mine had a job where they did a Yankee Swap every holiday season. One year, a Chia Pet in the shape of Homer Simpson’s head was one of the gifts. Then it reappeared the next year… and every year thereafter it would return, in ever more elaborate and concealing packaging/wrapping.

  215. Orora*

    When I started this job (in academia) we had Tea Time every day at 3pm. The administrative assistant would make sure we had coffee brewed and tea available and put out a few boxes of cookies in the break area. Anyone could come by to grab a quick snack or stay and chat.

    It disappeared during the pandemic and never really came back. But now we have a snack closet, which is just fine with me.

  216. Snooch*

    We had a manager whose family owned a corn farm downstate (we were in a non-agriculture related industry). Every summer she would load up a truck with fresh sweet corn and bring it into the office. It was absolutely amazing (just picked that morning) and people would load up shopping bags with it. There was always plenty to go around and it was such a nice thing to do!

  217. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    I’m part of a shift work team, so we have a daily handoff meeting, any problems morning shift ran into, upcoming work projects, heads up that we’ll be getting a new employee, and other basic good to know info. But the fun tradition is that we have closed that meeting every day now for two years with the daily “fact or crap” trivia question*. One of the higher up managers had his shift altered so that he straddled both A and B shift’s hours – and the fact of crap question that day was something to do with cow poop. And it turned into a twenty minute tangent when somebody brought up cow pie bingo……

    Most of the Fact or Crap questions aren’t to do with poo though.

  218. My Brain is Exploding*

    I’m enjoying these, and it’s nice to hear some really fun/sweet/bonding office traditions. Especially when, on this site, we do hear more about dysfunction.

  219. hanners*

    My first job after uni was in the office for a manufacturing plant and we had LOADS of food related traditions.
    1. Any retirement or special anniversary required a cake and speeches and everyone gathered in the cafeteria. The cake was always baked by the engineering manager’s wife who was an excellent baker.
    2. Office workers needed to bring in treats for the office on their own birthday. It started with donuts or something store-bough, but got competitive with many home-made goodies. Inevitably a month like May or November with loads of Birthdays would involve having treats at least 3x per week.
    3. The Friday before Christmas Shutdown we had a fully catered Christmas Dinner that was referred to as Turkey Day and looked forward to all year.

    I’ve since moved on by my spouse and I (we met while working there) often lament the lack of cake days at our new jobs.

  220. chagrined yet feeling seen since i got it this week*

    We have a very large, very ugly statue that travels around the office. Ever few months it’s bestowed upon someone who has achieved something noteworthy. It’s acquired a laminated rule sheet specifying that it must be prominently displayed in your work space, passed on with a fancy certificate, and that you have to add something to it before it’s rehomed. The darn thing gets uglier and uglier every time – it now has reading glasses, a bandana, a political button, a necklace, shiny stars, and more

  221. Whyamihere*

    We had Momma who brought homemade burritos in to sell. They were very good and when she stopped coming in I asked the employee who always sent the group chat she was there where Momma was. He said his mom got a job. I had no idea it was his actually mom not someone we took to calling momma.

  222. TootSweet*

    At a former job, each new hire was treated to a performance of “The Story of Henny (cluck!) Penny.” This was a well-rehearsed, uninhibited telling by “Dr. E.,” with flapping arms, full-on chicken-style walking, and chicken voice (her version, anyway). What we never had the nerve to tell her was that she was actually acting out the story of Chicken Little. It was so enjoyable to watch, we didn’t want to bust her balloon!

  223. Elizabeth West*

    So many memories, haha.

    At the testing lab job, we would close up the office and walk up the street to a small bar and eat lunch together. We also had a large cut-out of a Frankenstein’s monster we used to scare each other with, and a big rubber squeaky rat that someone brought for Halloween.

    Someone gave one of the chemists a little stuffed duck she named Bertram. I made him a tiny desk out of a shoebox and a little green felt coat and we put a picture of him on the org chart.

    When that workplace closed, the rat and Bertram and his desk came home with me. I still have them — the rat is on the windowsill in my apartment. That was my favorite job ever.

  224. Nudibranch*

    Not a tradition, but still fun:

    Many years ago I was working for a very serious Fortune 500 company. A very popular new CEO took office, who was evidently known for his snappy dressing (this was the late 80’s/early 90’s, I believe) with coordinating ties and suspenders. He also wore glasses and had a mustache.

    Lo and behold, completely unexpectedly a large shipment of boxes was delivered to our local office, one for each employee. They were passed out in the next all-employee meeting. Upon opening, there was a large teddy bear dressed in pin-stripe trousers, with flashy coordinating suspenders, tire, dress collar (no shirt though?), large silver aviator eyeglass frames, and a small mustache. Every employee got one.

    Best swag ever! I still have it somewhere and it makes me laugh when I see it.

  225. Post Script*

    We had a monthly birthday party in a conference room. Many people brought snacks & the department provided some. The people with the birthdays that month all got hugs from the department head, and got first crack at the snacks.

  226. CzechMate*

    I am American, but I used to work for a US company owned by a Brazilian family. Most of my colleagues were from other countries, but the majority were from Brazil. For a long time, a Brazilian woman the owner knew used to come in and make us breakfast and lunch everyday–usually something simple, like scrambled eggs for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch, but sometimes she would come in early to make something more intensive like Feijoada (Brazilian bean stew, something like chili) or Empadão de Frango (basically, chicken pot pie). We also had a bread fund, where every day or so the cooking lady’s husband would go to the Brazilian bakery down the road and buy giant bags with these amazing crusty loaves of bread to eat with your breakfast. When I first started I spoke no Portuguese, and one of my job duties was to collect the bread man’s receipts and to reimburse him from the petty cash. It wasn’t the *best* job, but I miss the food!

    1. CzechMate*

      sorry, I spoke no Portuguese and the bread man spoke no English, so we would do this dance using mostly hand gestures where he would give me his receipts and I would reimburse him for the bread.

  227. Choggy*

    When I worked in a law firm in Boston, we had these breakfast wraps every week that were incredible, it did not last very long, probably because the big wigs did not get many and they were paying for it.

  228. Ev*

    My library branch has a haunted object gift exchange at our December staff meeting. It started as a fairly standard white elephant but then, years ago, one coworker brought in a clearly haunted framed painting of something that is either a giant-eyed clown child or a giant-eyed pig dressed as a clown. The recipient refused to take the painting home so we named the clown Frances, put the painting in the break room, and declared that they are now the guardian spirit of the library.

    And now, every year we each individually go to a thrift store or something and buy the most obviously haunted object we can find, then wrap it, and bring it to the white elephant gift exchange. Frances is ritually placed in the center of the table as we choose and unwrap increasingly terrifying ‘gifts’. It’s hilarious and I love it. Last year, I managed to find an extremely awful clown marionette and I’m afraid I’m never going to top that one.

    So far, none of us appear to be cursed, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

  229. Kv Virtue*

    Restaurants have all kinds of traditions. One of the hotels I worked in had a tradition of on your last day, bring an extra set of clothes and shoes to work . Sometime thruoutout the day, the departing employee would end up in the Bain Marie ice bath. Generally they were 60×30 and 18-24 inches deep. Filled with ice to rapidly cool product.

  230. OtterB*

    We have an anniversary song. At some point during the pandemic, our senior leadership began emailing the staff whenever someone hit a work anniversary (there are about 20 of us, so not too overwhelming). The email says how long the employee has been there, has a sentence or two about their work or recent accomplishments, and has a link to the video of the song. There is one singing guitarist plus two additional vocalists, all staff, each singing separately (in separate boxes on the screen, the audio has been mixed), each wearing an organization t-shirt, singing a “Happy Anniversary” song to the tune of (I think) The William Tell Overture.

    If this was done in person at a staff meeting I think it might be annoying, but via email, I enjoy it and it can be disregarded by people who don’t want to hear it. :-)

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      I think you’re probably right about it being the William Tell Overture.

      For decades, no matter how far apart we were geographically, I would phone my parents on the morning of their anniversary; when they picked up the phone, I’d immediately burst into a singing W.T.O. version of “Happy anniversary”—the words do fit!

  231. Not Mindy*

    This wasn’t so much a tradition as much as an amazing perk.

    A mobile oil change guy would come to our office once a month. One of the admins was the contact person for scheduling (basically, you’d put your name on the list, as long as it wasn’t completely booked). You signed a release form, left your keys and a check (HAHAHAHAHA) with the receptionist, and at the end of the day you picked up your keys and a receipt.

    The company didn’t pay for it or subsidize it, but they allowed it to happen in the parking lot. Oil changes are one of those things that somehow seem to take up an entire day, and this way they happened like magic!

    1. Anonymask*

      Ooh, that’s good! We have a mobile car wash guy, but I think the oil change one would be more appreciated for me (frees up some Saturdays the few times a year I need to go to the shop).

  232. Saved by the Chicken*

    In fundraising offices, sometimes folks will ring a bell to celebrate a big gift coming in. This particular office didn’t happen to have a bell on hand, but someone did have a large novelty rubber chicken. So when we “rang the bell” we’d actually just be making a horrible squawking sound.

    1. RedinSC*

      Hahahahaha, one office I worked in had a Duck! You’d get a big gift and the duck would quack, really loudly!

  233. Holly Golightly*

    My office is fabulous at finding reasons for luncheons: “Picking squares” for NCAA tournament, the Super Bowl and the Masters. Gender reveal, fundraiser BBQs, milestone birthdays, employment anniversaries, bon voyage for people moving on. The best part? FREE FOOD!

  234. Huzzah!*

    Oh man, I used to work in an office where every Tuesday and Thursday was popcorn day. For a mere $1 (USA) you could have a brown paper bag of freshly popped popcorn from a professional machine and any topping you desired. The person who ran the program FOR YEARS was let go, and while it kept up for a bit, it was never regular again, until it finally stopped. Still the best popcorn I’ve ever had.

  235. mariemac*

    The church that I went to growing up had a tradition where the newest staff person would have to put a bust of this sad clown in their office. There were only 8-10 staff so depending on who left and when, you could have this sad clown in your office for years.

  236. Fantasy Football Failure*

    A department I worked in for many years loved any kind of sports bracket, fantasy sport team, or just anything that remotely involved picking winners. The catch was, none of us were sports people AT ALL. Strategies ranged from selection based on mascots, flipping coins, asking random other departments for advice…you name it.

    It was entirely unserious and because no one hoped to win, the goal was to just not come in last. There was no prize for being the winner, only a loser’s penalty of the person who came in last/scored lowest had to buy donuts for the group from our favorite local bakery. We spent a lot of time updating brackets (which were lovingly taped to the office walls) and would proudly display them until the next sport-themed event came around.

    I luckily managed to never be last but I did happily eat a lot of donuts!

  237. Globe hopper*

    Back when I taught in Japan about 10 years ago there was an equivalent to the egg lady, but for– yogurt? I’d forgotten all about it until I read these so I don’t remember specifics.

    Also not a specific office culture but more of a cultural difference, whenever someone goes on a trip it’s customary to bring back お土産 (omiyage), a local specialty or souvenir bought as a gift while traveling​ (they generally sell those at airports, train stations, souvenir shops etc, which are individually wrapped – cakes, cookies, candies, you name it!).

  238. goddessoftransitory*

    I work in a call center, with lots of exposed beams. My manager created a teeny tiny little cardboard ghost one Halloween and stuck him up high on a pipe, near the ceiling. He’s so small you really have to know where to look.

    He’s been up there since the start of the pandemic, and the tradition is to put seasonally appropriate headgear and such on him with the change of seasons. In spring a flowery bonnet, in summer a straw hat and sunglasses, in winter a ski cap.

  239. Sick of Workplace Bullshit (she/her)*

    For the holidays at my work, we draw names and buy a present for that person, to be given at our holiday party. But when we were a smaller team, we would have to leave three clues for our giftee in the three weeks leading up to the party of who we were. People got really creative in their clues, and it was a lot of fun trying to figure out who your gifter was. We’d interrogate each other over hints in the clues trying to decipher them. People would make puzzles, draw pictures, set up dummy email accounts, and get other people to write clues for them. It was tons of fun. I miss doing that!

  240. Anon for this*

    My department (high school math) has a full “Mathsgiving” dinner on the Monday before Thanksgiving. There are 12 in the department but about 20 are usually involved. One person roasts a turkey and reheats it in a huge slow-cooker. Everyone brings something; some sides are heated in classrooms during morning classes. The hallway smells amazing. And then we inhale it all in the 25 minutes we have for lunch!

  241. I miss this job*

    I used to work in a department that had a strong tradition of bringing in snacks and treats for everyone to share — for any and every kind of occasion, including no reason at all. This was all very nice stuff. Some of it was even lovingly homemade.

    And always, no exception, the department members referred to these treats as “sooey.”

    Yes, like pig food.

    I have no idea when the department began using that nickname, but I’m assuming it referred to people’s excitement and hurry to grab their share, not to the quality of the snacks.

  242. Sabrena*

    I don’t think the massage thing was that weird. Our company was always trying out perks from free chair massage to free ice cream trucks at lunch. Though it did seem more food centric since there were always free snacks and at least once a month a free lunch of some sort.

  243. Sales Geek*

    Not exactly a “work” thing (although I did work in the school cafeteria for most of my undergrad education)…

    I want to a small liberal arts college located where going home meant a twelve hour bus ride or eight hour drive. I’d stay over any holiday other than Christmas since the campus pretty much shut down for two weeks. My freshman year we found out that the cafeteria staff would whip up a seriously good Thanksgiving dinner. The staff got to bring in their families and take home leftovers. It was delicious food and a chance to meet the cafeteria staff’s families.

    My sophomore year the college administration decided to use a service instead of hiring actual cooks from the local town. In the spirit of keeping down costs, Thanksgiving dinner was some kind of turkey loaf (imagine a turkey put into a blender), with obviously “boxed” stuffing and equally awful potatoes. The topper was the “gravy” which came in huge cans. It had a faint greenish cast to it and tasted like industrial waste. And of course, the cafeteria staff weren’t permitted to bring in their families or take home leftovers. Given the food served it was probably best not to subject ones family to this prison-food class of dinner.

    The students who were there for Thanksgiving put up a hailstorm of complaints to the college administration.

    The next year they still kept the cafeteria service company but it but the menu for a real Thanksgiving dinner was written into their contract. And they reinstituted the staff privilege of allowing their families to attend.

  244. Ruffles the Taxidermied Cat*

    (Warning: mention of pet death, but I promise this story is not a total bummer)

    I work at a small nonprofit. About five years ago, our executive director “Jane” came into work crying, which was unusual bc she’s typically pretty unflappable. It turned out her beloved cat “Ruffles” had been struck and killed by a car that morning. Everyone was really sad, as Ruffles had been widely appreciated as a friendly and chill cat. Despite her emotional devastation, Jane decided on an…unusual… plan of action. She immediately put Ruffles in their large garage freezer (!) for six months (!) until he could be “accommodated” by her “preferred taxidermist.” In hindsight, I can see why that dude was her top choice because he did a GLORIOUS job…. stuffing Ruffles. The result looks just like a live cat, sitting calmly with its eyes closed.

    Jane is extremely amused by Ruffles and brings him to the office, staff parties, training sessions, etc — usually in costume. Ruffles has shown up wearing sunglasses, feather boas, face masks during the pandemic, you name it. He wears bespoke, handmade outfits for Christmas, Hannukah, Pride, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. At least one of his looks was created by a professional designer. One time Jane hosted an event for high-level funders at her beautiful house, with Ruffles sitting prominently on a stately chaise in the foyer. Multiple people stopped to greet/pet him, only to realize “holy sh*t, this thing is stuffed.” That was a really, really funny series of facial expressions to witness from across the room.

    Anyway, I am obsessed with Ruffles. He is a shining light born of love and weirdness, bringing WTF to all he meets.

  245. RedinSC*

    When I worked in Bolivia there was a tea lady. THe tea was already sweetened, so no sugar cubes for your teeth, but I did really like having a tea lady.

  246. Formerly in HR*

    Maybe not in the same vein as the original examples, but two examples come to mind – both are from the same company, but at different times and with different teams.
    1. One team member brought to work a screaming monkey (stuffed animal with sound making device inside) and kept launching it at people. In addition to being hit with the toy on your head when you least expected it, the sound was atrocious. The screaming monkey got absconded and its owner never knew where it was. But, from then on, when team members left on vacation, they took the toy with them and took pics of it with major sightseeing. Then another team member would use these pics and craft a message (sent from a mail address that was something like kindnapped.monkey@, if I remember correctly) to the owner, advising of what happened in the life of the monkey and attaching the photos. Those read fun. I happened to travel to Vegas during that time, so I: 1. purchased a second monkey, 2. took pics of original monkey sitting on airplane seat (buckled up) and reading the Skyline Magazine on the page where they showed the pics of the toy, 3. took pics of both monkeys in front of a Vegas chapel – that was described as the monkey feeling lonely, ordering a mail bride and eloping.
    2. We had a whiteboard in our space and someone started adding a theme/ question at the top, then we then answered below (then changed weekly). Think ‘what’s your favourite cheese type’, ‘your perfect wedding destination’ etc. Some of those themes were funny, they all elicited interesting answers. After a while it was known that we did this and people would wander to our floor area to check what was on the whiteboard, or add stuff themselves.

  247. Pīwakawaka*

    My office (a museum) has a grand tradition of hiding our two resident historical mannequins Vernon and Jake in primo spots to terrify each other/visitors. The story of the scream let out by a visiting conservator coming face-to-face with Vernon when she opened the door to the goods lift is legend…
    We also have a slightly less terrifying tiny cut-out of Wally (of Where’s Wally/Waldo fame) that gets hidden around the building – whenever you find him you hide him somewhere else. My favourite location was finding him in a storage compartment in our sewing machine!


    I worked with someone who decided to attack the near end of the day slump by instituting “4 o clock fruit” where announced it was 4pm, walked around with fruit to share, and gave a friendly hello.

  249. KatieJ*

    We have a harvest dinner every year, usually lands around end of sept, early oct. People are encouraged to bring in a dish created from something they hunted, grew, sourced locally from farmers markets, etc. But it is not required to bring anything. It’s held in our office we have a nice kitchen on site, so people can cook their dishes at work if they want. There is always great food and a decent turn out (no one is required to attend). We also pair it with a food drive for a local charity.

  250. Andrew*

    When something good happens to you (promotion, marriage, baby, work anniversary, successful project completion, etc.) my group’s tradition is that you bring in doughnuts (or other comestible) so all can celebrate.

      1. Andrew*

        and something I totally forgot about – about 5 years ago someone in the group won a full size standing cardboard Spock – who has stood in our hallway ever since, with a Santa hat, Easter bunny ears, and other seasonal attire as appropriate (he had a Covid mask for quite a while, too)

  251. Brain the Brian*

    If an employee has a close family member die, the company will donate a small sum to their memorial fund — a nice gesture, of course. Employees often write thank-you notes to our HR department for doing this… and HR then hangs them on the office bulletin board. At one point, we had five such notes on the board. I know Alison said no depressing stories, but this one is just wacky to me, not depressing.

  252. ex guest service*

    Our workplace has a stuffed dragon that is passed each quarter from one department to the next. The “winning” department adds something to the dragon, such as clip-on calculator for our accounting department, or the front-of-staff team who sewed a tiny version of their uniform for the dragon to wear. It makes each quarterly meeting fun to see what little addition that department added on.

    1. Pdweasel*

      The religion dept at my undergrad school had a red velvet statue of Jesus that would appear randomly around the department. If you found him, you had to hide him somewhere else.

      1. Expelliarmus*

        I know you mean red velvet like the fabric, but I just briefly imagined an edible statue of Jesus made of red velvet cake.

  253. Pdweasel*

    I’m a pathologist. When I was a resident (registrar for y’all in the UK/Ireland/Commonwealth), the department took two holidays extremely seriously: Halloween and Lab Week. For Halloween, we had a gory snack food potluck in the break room (think cookies frosted to look like blood spatter, peeled grapes, spiders made out of pretzels & chocolate, that sort of thing). Costumes were allowed as long as they were lab safety compliant and allowed for proper PPE. We even had a movie night in the morgue (it was one of the old amphitheatre-style ones with benches).

    For Lab Week, we hosted hospital-wide activities and learning sessions. I once won 3rd Place in a fashion show wearing an outfit made of (clean) stuff I found in the morgue: biohazard bag dress, face shield with lines drawn on to look like a veil, gloves with the fingertips cut off, a necklace made from broken histology cassettes, etc. It was fun!

  254. Suz*

    During March Madness my office has a cutest pet contest. People submit photos of their pets, which then get placed in brackets to be voted on every week.

  255. TechWarbler*

    Our office has a lot of fun traditions! A lot have been killed since COVID…but here are some that still remain:
    –Back in the 80s, McDonalds released a “McDonalds Board Game”. Somebody announces an order, and you have to fill it out as fast as you can with the “items” cards you have. Every year in January-ish the newest hires from that year play the board game
    –New car donuts – if you buy a new car, you bring in a dozen donuts
    –“The bus” – we work as developers, if you break production you get a little toy bus on your desk until the next person breaks production

    Some fun older traditions that have since died was a Cheese of the Week (we had a Wisconsin-ite who lived next to a cheese shop – stopped during covid and then Wiscosinite got a new job), Burrito Thursday (since stopped since our burrito shop closed down, and would often be accompanied by Hot Ones sauces that were bought new yearly), and a jar of spicy pickles that we would compete for who could eat the most (this one is probably for the best it died).

  256. ChixPie*

    I used to work at a place that had a company softball team, which is not unusual, but the level of obsession over the softball team was. The company was probably 60-70 people total and about 15 of us were on the softball team, but everyone was fully invested during the season.

    The morning after each game, a newspaper-style article was emailed company-wide, complete with box score, photos, and quippy headlines. Physical copies available at reception. Any coworkers who came out to cheer would also be noted in the postgame report. At the end of the season, a yearbook-like tome was produced with all the stats, player bios, and all the articles. Every player on the team had a nickname on their jersey and a song that would be played on a boombox as they approached the batter’s box.

    At the end of each season, there would be a banquet paid for by the company and attended by the owners and most employees. There were trophies and prizes, both for legitimate athletic feats like best batting average and for things like “most likely to show up without a mitt.” Every player and the more dedicated fans all received an award for something. The owners made speeches about how proud they were. There were themed cocktails and photo booths. During softball season the team manager must have spent fully 50% of his working hours on softball business.

    We weren’t very good. We had a few superstars and a few people who had never touched a ball in their lives and a bunch in the middle, and everyone who played was treated as a hero whether they were good or not. It was a really fun environment and I have great memories of it.

    Perhaps the best part: We were a publishing company and our team name was the Stets.

  257. if you know you know*

    For a while we had a large decoration (think like a stuffed animal, though it wasn’t a stuffed animal) from one of our parties that became kind of an office mascot. People would dress it up for different holidays and events and we joked that he was an intern. One of the higher ups did not like this and kept hinting to someone that our mascot had maybe been around long enough, only the person they were hinting to was not the owner of the mascot, and the higher-up somehow never picked the right person to hint to.

    Eventually I took him home, not wanting the other people to get in real trouble for something that wasn’t their doing, but he still returns now and then for parties and people seem to remember him fondly.

  258. Avocadospoon*

    We had a Cake Club. There was a rotating schedule and every month two people brought cake for the other members to share, homemade preferred but no judgement on purchased. We had our own special plates, cake forks and cream jug kept in the office. For a long time it was a secret group where you had to bake a cake for entry to prove your worth and then after a number of years it was outed and anyone could join. At Christmas we made themed cakes (famous raindeer cookies etc) and invited all staff to feast, with donation to charity for entry.

  259. Willow Pillow*

    Not my story, but this comment from another post belongs here!

    August 3, 2023 at 2:07 pm
    Before my job went fully remote, we’d often leave things that needed to be approved taped to a giant inflatable penguin someone brought back from a conference. You’d go to lunch and come back to Approvals Penguin sitting on your chair.

    The big difference being that everyone at my company liked Approvals Penguin and no one had offices – we all just had cubes so you weren’t going into someone’s office to leave stuff.


  260. Lost in the Flood*

    After Christmas our office as an unwanted gift auction for charity. It was a simple procedure, you brought in your item, listed it in a book, and then people put their bids under the item name. Highest bidder at the end of the aution won the item.

    One year some one brought in a tin of own-brand mushrooms (!) from a cheap supermarket. The bidding on this item went wild, although it is highly likely that people were faking bids and putting someone elses name down to increase the price.

    At the endof the aution, the book said that the CEO had bid nearly £20 for the mushrooms!!! She paid up with good humour, and we thought that was the end of it.

    But, from then onwards these mushrooms made an appearance at each Christmas auction being “won” by different people each year…until the CEO left.

    At her leaving event she was presented with said mushrooms (now very out of date) in a pink satin lined box for her to keep in perpetuity!!!

  261. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

    I worked in an office where there were lumpia ladies. A couple of the clerks were Filipino and would take orders from everyone for lumpia, and people would older, say, 5 dozen. Then on the appointed day they’d come in with a shopping cart and deliver everyone’s orders. Everybody thought it was a great tradition!

    In another job, after I became a tech writer, we had the Terminology Turtle. He was a hand puppet who would live on the desk of whoever owned a big manual the described terminology. The company kept cutting back and switching to remote contractors, so he’s mine now by default (and I don’t work there any more).

  262. ES*

    I worked at a 25-person nonprofit where they would have an annual all-staff meeting to brainstorm the theme for our annual member conference. HR, the IT guy, the policy folks, the CFO, everyone. The staff invariably chose lowest common denominator, anodyne themes like “Strengthening Our Community” or “Impact for the Future,” but I guess everyone felt good about doing it after spending two hours brainstorming on it. (The staff were also hopelessly innumerate. Once they were coming up with a theme for our 20th annual conference and everyone was throwing around ideas related to working the “20th anniversary” of the conference into the theme/graphic design. I finally pointed out that it was the 20th conference but only the 19th anniversary… everyone looked at me for a silent moment like I had three heads, then returned to talking about the “20th anniversary.”)

  263. Anonymous*

    My pre-pandemic office had a tradition called “Clarking.” Whenever a coworker would go on vacation, we would cover or replace the photos of their loved ones on their desk with pictures of Clark, a not-much-beloved former coworker who had been gone before I even joined the company. Sometimes it took people a really long time to notice, so Clark enjoyed pride of place on their desks for days, even weeks. Some people expected it, and even felt slighted if they returned from a day off and *hadn’t* been Clarked.

    This all culminated when half the office, including the usual ringleader of the Clarking operation, traveled out-of-state for a professional conference. We gathered photos from every desk, scanned them, and photoshopped Clark’s head wherever it would fit. Clark celebrated his 8th birthday at Disney World! Clark looked great in a bikini! The piece de resistance was a photo our CEO had on display of his first skin-to-skin contact with his newborn son, who now sported Clark’s manly visage. I’m proud to say that that one went unnoticed for a hilariously long time, until someone finally broke and pointed it out to the boss.

    After that, we collectively agreed that Clarking had peaked and run its course.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I worked in a department that “dog faced” photos, very similar concept! We’d cut out pics of dog heads and place them over people’s faces in their desk photos — if you got the scale and lighting right, it was amazing how much people didn’t notice. A tiny John Travolta disco dancing also traveled around photo-bombing.

  264. Anonstronaut*

    I work in the space industry and for every launch my team eats Double Stuff Oreos to ensure a successful launch. We try to ensure every member of the launch team gets an Oreo (multiple bags per mission are procured for this purpose)

  265. Ciela*

    Whenever anyone drops something, which is often, someone else will yell “When you’re done with it, just throw it on the floor!” Or variations on that theme. “I was done with that.” This was a running joke for years. Then we got a new bunch of employees, and I think that the joke got lost in translation. They were all HORRIFIED when they heard “When you’re done with it, just throw it on the floor!” But I did explain, in very bad Spanish, that it was just a joke. Solamente una broma!

  266. Third or Nothing!*

    I just joined a new team at my office and apparently they have a monthly incentive program they call Jar Jar Binx. The idea is that when you do certain tasks, some of which are expected like meeting KPIs and some of which are above and beyond like spending at least one hour helping a coworker, you get a ticket to put into the “jar.” Tickets are pulled once per month and the winner gets a $100 gift card to the place of their choosing. Thought it was a good idea to boost morale and also provide an actual incentive to do more than what is required if you have the bandwidth. And you get a reward you actually want! I’ve already won one and plan to put mine toward a new Garmin watch to replace the one that died last month.

  267. Waiting on the bus*

    At a previous workplace an investor would send one of his assistants to our office with ice cream one hot days.

    Apparently, our CEO and the investor once made a bet about something. The CEO won the bet and for his victory asked that the investor would buy ice cream for our company on hot days.

    For years, without fail, someone from the investor’s company would come on afternoons when it was 86F/30C or hotter outside with a selection of frozen treats for everyone (think popsicles and the like).

    It was the most welcome tradition on a hot summer’s day and even continued even after the CEO had left the company.

  268. Raisineye*

    Peeps (marshmallow treat) dioramas for lab week (frequently near Easter, so plenty of Peeps). I work with very creative and talented people. the CEO, CFO, and CMO would blond judge. winner got candy and a gift card. We would also make a CD- the first 15 people or so who submited a mostly sfw song/artist would have their song put on a CD. Then a worksheet would be made listing song/artist and everyone who submited a song. Anyone who wanted to play would grab a copy of the CD and try to match song to employee. Great fun and maybe you discover new music that you like (I certainly did!)

  269. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I remember a themed Secret Santa that ended up with a colleague gifting a large, heavy garden rake. The theme had nothing to do with gardening, and there were no relevant inside jokes between the giver and the recipient (who looked pretty puzzled, and probably didn’t keep it). It was a completely random choice out of a wacky sense of humour, so or course, it was the talk of the holiday party.

    For years afterwards, the rake would keep showing up at every company social activity that involved prizes. There would inevitably be a recent joiner who didn’t know the story, and there would always be someone around to retell it with extreme delight (usually several people at once).

    During the pandemic, we had a virtual Christmas lucky draw with some pretty expensive gifts in the mix, and all the side chats on the Zoom call were about who’d get the rake. There was also much speculation about whether the lucky winner would receive it for real, and how the logistics of it might work.

    I no longer work at that place, but I’d be sad to find out that the tradition is no longer alive.

  270. DJ Abbott*

    I so wish a Friday massage therapist was a tradition around here! Especially if they would just come to my desk and massage me without having to make an appointment or leave my office.
    I moved to a new area a few months ago, and I need to figure out where is a convenient place to get a massage.

  271. Just a Minion*

    I may have mentioned it here before:
    When I first joined my company/dept nearly ten years ago, they celebrated Every Single birthday with a potluck food day. It was a MASSIVE spread that was put all day long (anything that would go off was kept in the fridge) and would often last for days. There were over 20 people int the at dept. at the time. It didn’t matter if two birthdays were just a couple days apart. They would STILL have the same amount of food both days. As the dept expanded this got increasingly mind-boggling.

    Eventually, there were 3-4 of birthdays really close together (like a two week span). As one of those people, I was able to suggest, and the other birthday people agreed, doing just one food day for that month. ‘Naturally’, everyone brought in even MORE food to make up for there only being one food day.

    This eventually evolved to one food day a month (think every second tuesday). There is a lot less pressure to be sure to bring good in too.

  272. LauraK2000*

    We celebrate Green Week every spring right before St. Patrick’s day. If you wear green, you get a prize. Different Green/ Irish food/sweets are bright in each day as well.

  273. Just a Minion*

    Under a previous boss (pre pandemic), if anyone sneezed three times others would call out ‘Now, you can go home!’ It was a joke and no one went home for just sneezing.

  274. RedShirt*

    In my old office, a couple of times the managers wore the same color shirt by accident. This morphed to the custom that the managers wore red shirts on Fridays and blue shirts on Mondays. I was, of course, tempted to wear a red shirt on Mondays.

  275. blackberry*

    One office had waffle fridays every week, complete with toppings and often mimosas. Once someone brought in a 3D pancake printer that would print (griddle?) picture onto your pancakes and we all had pancakes with the founders face on them.

    Another place would bring in kittens or puppies during the busy season and you could go hang out with them in a conference room if you wanted.

  276. Cheshire Cat*

    I don’t know if this is unusual, but pre-pandemic, we’d have a potluck for Pi Day and everyone would bring in round food.

    We also used to have baking contests during the winter. One week would be cakes, another week would be pies, and so on. They were always fun and delicious!

  277. Bells*

    Pre-pandemic, when we were smaller an all in-person, we had a Friday playlist. It was all the songs we could find with the word “Friday” in the title (yes, Rebecca Black was the starting point) and at some point during the day every Friday someone would announce “oh, we haven’t played the Friday playlist yet!” and put it on.

    Shortly after we went remote for the pandemic, our office manager got a Cameo of Rebecca Black saying hi to us, which I think I have saved somewhere.

  278. Dawn*

    I’m a teacher, and the last student day at my P-8 school is always a half-day and always a field day. One of the stations is a bounce house, and after the students left for the day, the teachers would all eat lunch together, then head out and jump around in the bounce house together. It must have looked wild from the road: no kids and a bunch of teachers enthusiastically attempting front flips together inside a bounce house.

    Unfortunately, my very live-and-let-live state has caught up with the litigious reality of the 21st century, and this year, for the first time, we weren’t allowed to have the bounce house. But it was fun while it lasted.

  279. Goose*

    I worked at a job that had communal housing for employees (shared bedrooms, common areas, etc.) and in employee housing there was a standing game called “slam something, throw something, slide down a wall” – if someone slammed something accidentally (a door, putting something down too hard) the first person who noticed had to throw something and a third party had to slide down a wall crying.

  280. junior*

    My husband’s office (a state department) used to hold jean days, bagel days, and other events during the year to raise funds for their Halloween.

    Then on Halloween, each floor ELABORATELY decorated with their chosen theme, and then trick-or-treaters would come through looking for candy, floor-by-floor. These were lavish, large decorations, and it was an incredible atmosphere. They took it very seriously. I loved walking through during that time of year.

  281. Ginger snaps*

    My stepfather used to have hives at home, so for a while I would bring in and sell cheap honey at work. It got too out of hand because my stepfather was charging about 1/3 of the supermarket price (he just enjoyed it as a hobby), so I had queues of people coming in to ask when the next batch was coming in.

    1. Anonomatopoeia*

      My eyeballs parsed this as, your stepfather, (only) while located at home, had itchy swollen skin inflammations, and therefore, you would bring him to your work to complete his home-based employment activity of selling honey, presumably so that he would be more comfortable while doing so.

      Which somehow seemed totally reasonable.

      Obviously I need a nap.

  282. Yikes Stripes*

    My first day at one of my first jobs out of college I was given a $30 gift certificate to a local yarn store and was given instructions to go find yarn that “felt right to me,” buy $30 worth of it, and bring it in the next Monday. There were a couple of suggested weights and the firm instruction that I not purchase acrylic, and while it was extremely weird to me, I did as I was directed and showed up for work with a couple of skeins.

    Turns out we had a woman who’d worked there longer than God and who crocheted in all her meetings to help her focus. She’d make granny squares out of every new hire’s yarn and they’d be added to the office afghan blanket – by the time I started working there she’d been at it for years and there were multiple blankets floating around the office. Anyone could check out a blanket, but only for a day at a time because they were extremely in demand. The director had started the whole thing years and years ago when he’d noticed her crocheting, was fascinated, and asked if she’d mind taking on a special project. She said okay, but she wasn’t providing the yarn, he said that’s fine, and had it written into the budget.

    She retired when I’d been there for five years, but by that point she’d trained a successor and the tradition was still alive when I left a couple of years after her.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      That sounds awesome, though I think I would get rather confused by the instructions at the beginning!

  283. Sel*

    So very late to this, but where I work there’s long been a tradition of employees donating a tea cup + saucer to our workplace when they retire. We’d bring out those tea cups for various office celebrations—the holiday party, new hire meet and greets, promotion parties, retirement parties, etc. Sadly this particular tradition was recently discontinued because we now have so many teacups that they are difficult to store (my workplace has been around for over 100 years, though I don’t know how long this particular tradition has been going on. Certainly multiple decades, though, at the very least). I do love seeing them come out for the various events, even if I’ll probably not have the chance to donate my own!

  284. Martin Blackwood*

    Took me a while to remember this, but last Halloween the guys in the shipping area really decorated, including an animatronic frankenstein-y guy. While most other Halloween decorations disappeared, Frankenstein stayed. And he’s dressed up for various holidays since, off the top of my head:

    -Dollar store st Patrick’s day Headwear, maybe a green pinwheel or something
    -Easter bunny ears and a basket
    -earth day; a bag of cans by his feet and a blue bin over his head
    -pride month: a rainbow clown wig, and a pink feather boa

    He was also definitely dressed up for Valentines and Christmas I just don’t remember what. A lot of pink at valentines day I think, and probably a Santa hat and other accessories. Currently he has generic summer wear on, sunglasses, a donut shaped pool floaty around his waist, and shorts. The shorts really emphasize his ridiculous proportions. I remembered that this probably counts as a tradition because I was considering how funny it would be to print him off a first birthday card, as we are approaching fall. I bet my manager would find it funny.

    1. Martin Blackwood*

      As a side note, I need to clear my camera roll our. I’ve got a niece and a nephew, both still small babies, so there’s lots of them between photos of this guy

  285. Grey Duck 74*

    My office plays Bingo on Fridays.
    Someone bought or was given a bingo set deck of cards. Honestly, it’s been so long, I don’t know if it was an office gift exchange or who the bingo deck actually belongs to. It started in another department, and has now spread through the office. We all have bingo cards at our desks, new people are given cards along with the usual coffee mugs, notebooks, and shiny new pens. They call out 3-4 numbers throughout the day in a slack group. Nothing to win but bragging rights, and then you’re given the deck and you choose the shape of next weeks game. The trash talk can get pretty funny when people are down to just 1 number from winning. Or the strategic timing of calling numbers, or the not so subtle hints to call another set.

  286. Madame Arcati*

    Not so much an unusual tradition but a weird reaction.
    When someone is in the office on their birthday they often bring in cake to share. In my current team usually someone gets a birthday card that we all sign. A few years ago this was placed on a manager’s desk, all very obvious – a generic cheerful birthday card addressed to [our colleague] Jane with a few greetings and signatures already in it.
    The manager seemed thrown by this concept and she passed it on to our boss (in the same office so we would expect him to sign too if available) with a sticky note attached explaining that it is traditional in this office for people to get a card on their birthday. Like it was weird and he would need her to explain!
    This was not in a country where birthday cards are Not A Thing nor did manager or boss have any link to such a culture; this was in London and both manager and boss were both Brits born and raised.

  287. NoveltySlippers*

    Maybe not exactly a tradition(it was mandatory), but in the same vein I think.

    At one place I worked at, the boss decided at some point that the floors were too dirty from people walking in with dirty shoes. This was an office job where people were wearing typical shoes, I don’t remember it being particularly dirty either. His solution was for everyone to change shoes when arriving at the office. Everyone got 100 euros to buy shoes that would be stored at the office entrance. I ended up buying a few different novelty slippers, and ended up quite liking the policy.

  288. Bright Route*

    I work for a small archaeology program within a government facility- so badges are required for access at all times. One of the office “rules”: If you forget your badge and have to drive home to get it, you must bring in office donuts. The good kind!

  289. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

    This was a tradition between me and a few of my work friends. When cleaning out a storage room in the early 2000s, I found a set of slides from some 1970s harassment training. One was of a woman in 70s hair and dress with her hands on her hips, looking at a man in a suit like, “I can’t BELIEVE you just said that to me.” It made me giggle so I used interoffice mail (which was still a thing in 2002!) to send it to a coworker in another state. He sent it to another friend and then we would randomly mail it back and forth to each other. Sometimes months would go by and I’d find it in my inbox. Then I’d sit on it for a few more months before sending it on. Eventually the other two friends left the company and intercompany mail was discontinued. I still have the slide somewhere.

  290. Full Banana Ensemble*

    At one of my previous jobs, we had a large decorative urn in the entryway of the office. At some point prior to my arrival, it became a tradition that anyone who left the company threw one of their business cards in the urn. When I left, there were about a dozen cards in there, and admittedly, it was kind of fun to dig through and see the names of people I had worked with, as well as people I only knew by reputation.

  291. Guess who*

    This is a pandemic “stay-connected” innovation: Group Spotify playlist. Each week, everyone in the office submits a song on a particular theme such as “1960s” or “colors.” One person collects the responses and creates a Spotify playlist. Then, at the weekly Zoom check-in meeting, we go through the Spotify playlist and guess who submitted which song.

    When we returned to the office, frequency dropped down to every other week, but the activity’s still going.

  292. Snappy Dresser*

    When a co-worker and I showed up to the office in matching outfits two days in a row, we decided to declare themed dressing days. My favorite was “Pattern Mixing Wednesdays” when you’d have to wear a plaid with a floral, or a stripe with a print. Others would join us, and this went on until I left the company. I occasionally get pictures from her on Wednesdays with some oddball outfit. Good times.

    1. Rural KS*

      We have one that’s very similar, that originated in the same way – ours is Leopard Wednesdays! A coworker and I matched, someone teased us about it, and we announed that it on Wednesday, we wear leopard. Even the president gets in on it and wears his leopard print socks. Glad to see someone else do something similar!

  293. Truck Stop Buffalo*

    Somehow our small nonprofit office got a bunch of decor donated that nobody really went through or threw out until a few years ago. It was all very country/western decor and we’re in New England. The masterpiece was a four foot resin cartoon buffalo sculpture, wearing a hat and overalls emblazoned with the name of a truck stop somewhere in Wyoming. Nobody ever talks about it or even mentions it, but the buffalo will appear on a new person’s desk their first Friday with the team. We all act confused like we’ve never seen it before when they ask where it came from. When newer staff who have been buffalo’d ask about it regarding a new hire like “is Sarah going to get the buffalo this Friday?” we all respond “what buffalo?” It’s like fight club, but huge and ugly.

  294. Nannerdoodle*

    After a few unfortunate instances of people accidentally melting things in the autoclave at work, someone started saving all of the autoclave melting mistakes. When we asked why, she said she was going to decorate the work Christmas/holiday tree with all the things. So we started adding long sets of labels printed incorrectly (that were in spools rather than 8.5×11 sheets), poorly wrapped things that were destroyed, etc. That coworker now has “the shrine of F*** ups” as we call it. Every December they come out to decorate the tree, for the whole company to see.

  295. Fleur-de-Lis*

    I work in an academic library. Shortly before the pandemic, one of our librarians’ kids brought a giant stuffed yellow chick into the library and gave it to another librarian as a gift when she moved from part-time to full-time, saying “you need this in your life”. The chick is big enough to sit in an office chair, and when we came back from our COVID closure, it promoted to a mascot role. Now, his name is Charles and he stars in many of our social media posts about library things. Some of the student workers made a little shrine to him in the back corner, complete with posed photos with him, an LED candle, and funny cartoons and “prayers”. They even purloined a withdrawn dictionary and open it to different pages with words on birds!
    A couple of students are trying to gain momentum around changing his name, but Charles has stuck, and Charles he shall remain.
    I’ll say that his modeling of proper mask-wearing helped a ton when we had a mandate in place! :)

  296. Rural KS*

    My favorite bizarre tradition at my workplace is that people like to somehow soak people who leave the company. Like on your last day, someone will throw water on you. I’ve seen a water gun, bucket, cup, cooler, trash can etc. I have no idea why, since it’s been going on long before I arrived. Not getting wet on your last day is a bad thing – it means you weren’t liked. People try to prepare or avoid it, but they always get drenched one way or another. There have been very elaborate traps set to soak people who think they’re sneaking out.

  297. little e*

    My workplace has a few fun traditions that are part of history now that we are all remote.

    A coworker had a huge fondness for linen clothing. One day he noticed someone else wearing a linen shirt or something like that and started an official linen day, where people should wear as much linen clothing as possible.

    We have a regular dumpling making day to celebrate the lunar new year. That one is probably my favorite. I think this year they did Vietnamese spring rolls though.

    A different coworker and I started occasional Art Days during lunch because we both are artsy craftsy people. Alcohol inks, acrylic pouring, and photo coasters were a few of our selections. It was surprising how many people enjoyed participating. We even had a customer rep who was in the office stop by to do a pour.

  298. marilynorma*

    I work in museums, and it is quite common to greet the building’s ghost(s) when entering for the day, and wish them a good evening at closing. If you didn’t, bad things usually happened (I learned to acknowledge one spirit when it physically tried to prevent me from leaving by holding doors open, breaking keys in the lock, and having the bulkhead door fall down on my hand).

  299. kiwiii*

    Pre-pandemic, my team had an office calendar. Lots of years it has been a silly animal calendar (pet shaming, silly faces), one year it was Game of Thrones, which we put team-members faces on, and most notably, the year I started it was “Eligible Jewish Men”.

  300. Lolli*

    Blizzard Fridays – Dairy Queen Blizzards; not snow. It didn’t happen every Friday, but one of the helpdesk guys would decide it was time for Blizzard Friday and he would send an email around with the price and the current flavors. All through the day, people would walk into the helpdesk to place their orders. Around 2:30pm, he would go to the Dairy Queen and order all the Blizzards. He would ask for a bunch of lids and put our names on them while the staff made the Blizzards. He would send an email to the people who had ordered and we would retrieve our Blizzards and often visit with other Blizzard lovers while we savored the yummy treats.
    The helpdesk got a new boss who didn’t like Blizzards or his staff’s time away from their other duties, so Blizzard Fridays went away for good :-(

  301. SpatulaCity*

    hubby worked in IT. on occasion someone would push a change to production before going through testing first, which would often cause an unexpected outage for some clients. the person who pushed the change that caused the problem would be passed the Stetson cowboy hat to wear for the day and become caretaker of the cowboy hat until the next co-worker performed the a similar cowboy maneuver of sending code straight to production… (not quite a dunce hat, but similar in function)

  302. Roving Reaper*

    I worked as a death investigator at a medical examiner’s office for many years. We had a little Lego Grim Reaper that would travel to different desks. Whoever had more than the usual amount of deaths, or a particularly tricky case would steal it from the desk of the person who last had it.
    Also, if it was on your desk and you knocked it over, you were in for a busy shift.

  303. Dwight Schrute*

    I work as a dog trainer and whenever one of our team members gets a new puppy we throw them a puppy shower complete with snacks, favorite clients, a theme to match the puppy’s name, and gifts for the new pup!

  304. Princess Buttercup*

    At my last job, someone suggested once that we end a meeting by all clapping together (a single clap, not like applause at a show). He counted down “3, 2, 1, clap!” and we all clapped.

    It was actually quite satisfying and it became a company-wide tradition – pretty much all our meetings with, say, 4+ ppl over the next 6 years ended with “3, 2, 1, clap!” When new hires were introduced at their first all-hands meetings, they were often asked to do the countdown, and when we all went remote, people would hit the “clap” emoji on zoom at the end of a meeting. It provided a really nice solid end to meetings – sometimes conversations would continue afterwards, but the clap was a signal that the meeting was over and anyone was free to leave at that point.

    I’ve been at a new company for a few months now and I’m still a little sad at the end of meetings where people just get up and walk out without clapping.

  305. Jess the Scientist*

    I’m a scientist. In college, my lab group would order pineapple pizza for every meeting; I’m still pleasantly surprised that every single person liked it.

    My lab group at my current job is weirder. For every birthday/retirement party/etc., we find cute or funny picture taken of that person at work and get it iced on a cake… The last girl had a crab trying to attack her while she made an angy face at it on her cake.

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