a truly hilarious company holiday party story, told in bullet points

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

This is one of my favorite holiday stories of all time, which was relayed last year by a reader who is a pure angel for sharing it with us:

I love me some bullet points, so here goes my holiday nightmare. Picture this:

* I was in my early twenties, with my first grown-up job, coinciding with my first house (rental, but it counted).

* I learned the gazillionaire owner of our company elected not to provide a holiday party.

* I decided to be a hero and open my OWN HOME to my co-workers, thereby providing cheer to all, while kissing up to management.

* I also decided to ignore the fact I had only moved into the house on December 1st, and the party needed to happen on the 15th….

* ….while purposely forgetting I had 79 coworkers, all of whom were noted to have iron-clad livers from many a Happy Hour (used car dealership, if it matters). The resources I checked swore that no more than 30% of those invited would likely show in the busy month of December, so I not only invited all 79, but their spouses and significant others. (Yes, it still hurts to admit this.) I was the youngest of the 79 employees by at least 10 years, with all the rest between 35-65 years of age.

* One co-worker (I am still ticked at her, so I will name and shame), SHEILA, decided to have mercy on me and volunteered to co-host. I happily agreed without bothering to nail down what “co-host” meant to SHEILA. At the moment the party started, she had not yet assisted in any way whatsoever.

* Since this was Minnesota in the 1990s, the “womenfolk” of the dealership agreed to provide the food and the rest was BYOB. (Mama didn’t raise no fool, my friends!) (Okay, so she did.) I slaved over my contributions, and everyone else brought chips and more salsa than Texas has ever sold in a month.

* I decorated every inch of my tiny, one-bedroom house, while also unpacking. I had beautiful lighting, Christmas music playing softly, and it even started snowing, just enough to be perfect!

* While I was smugly glowing in my Martha Stewart moment, the guests arrived…all at the same time, as if they were air-dropped by demonic forces.

* How many showed? 78. (The 79th person – the owner – had better plans. And really – didn’t we all?) Luckily, many didn’t bring their better halves, mostly because a shocking number were having affairs with each other, something no one had clued me in on.

* My co-host, SHEILA, was having an affair with our Sales Manager who showed up five minutes after she did, gifted her with raunchy lingerie, and whisked her away for the rest of the evening (but only after telling me to cover them with their respective spouses, should they call).

* None of my invitees remembered to bring glasses, but lucky me, I had already unpacked my grandmother’s vintage china, which they were able to locate all on their own, so they drank their Jack from tea cups. Very fragile teacups.

* And drink they did! When my fancy-pants appetizers ran out, and then all the chips, there was nothing left to balance the booze. Picture a tiny house filled with over 100 people, all drinking, and no food. At one point, I wandered around with a loaf of Wonderbread, gently offering toast to one and all. (Actually, just the bread itself….someone had moved the toaster off the counter to make room for the booze and it took me a week to locate it again.)

* I wasn’t even getting a true picture of how bad the scene was degrading, because 3/4 of my coworkers smoked. As it was December in MN, opening the windows wasn’t really possible, and the air took on a fog-like appearance, which I tried to convince myself was romantic.

* After a couple hours, I heard the most horrific crash, and then multiple thuds, another crash, more thuds, and so forth. Turns out, my boss’ husband decided he would “skate” downstairs to my basement, by lifting one leg in the air, and placing a large glass ashtray under the other foot. He attempted this three times (never clearing more than one step) before I gently suggested my boss should perhaps/possibly/maybe consider taking him home. This suggestion was not well received.

* By now, everyone had had their fill of Christmas music, but thankfully, a guest had the forethought to bring an Anthrax cd, among other metal music, which melded nicely with the cancer-inducing air, and the mosh pit now assembling in my living room.

* At one point, I joined my dogs in my large bedroom closet (tellingly, they had no interest in joining the party, once Johnny Mathis’ comforting carols were replaced by koЯn). I decided to remain in there with them, until my get-together was either busted by the cops or the Lord called me home. Neither happened.

* At midnight – five hours after the party began – I decided I never wanted to see any of these people again, and told them all to leave. Immediately. Over and over. I turned up all the lights, shut down the “music”, and put on old lady pajamas (I had read that trick in Good Housekeeping). Nothing worked until I rounded up all the partially full liquor bottles and heaved them out the back door, into a snow bank. I refrained from yelling, “Fetch!”

* It was then that I noticed the vibrant yellow ring in the snow all the way around my house. It was the color of a highlighter pen, forming a perfect circle. In my fatigue and smoke-dulled senses, it took a bit to notice the footprints next to the ring and I suddenly realized why I never witnessed any guy exiting my (single) bathroom. They had all decided to relieve themselves outside, bless them?

* The landscaping pee ring was my final straw. I collected myself, stormed back inside, and loudly announced that the party was over and everyone had two minutes to exit. Jackets would be collected and dispersed at work on Monday. GET. OUT.

* (I should note that sending people away after seeing them get so inebriated was not a good move on my part, and I would never be party to that today. But as I was the youngest person on staff, and naive, and totally without hope they were ever going to leave, please forgive.)

* After everyone left, around 12:30, I started cleaning. I finished just shy of 9 am, and had to twice run to the store for more cleaning supplies. Someone had sex in my bed, broken beer bottles on my floor, torn drapes, unplugged my fridge (I heard they wanted to get it colder, faster), vomited in various places that my dogs found first, etc. It was a crime scene, and I knew all the suspects.

* The following Monday, I received much appreciation from all, none of whom appeared to remember how I literally lost my cool and threw them out. The gazillionaire owner shook my hand, thanked me for my team spirit, and handed me $20.

* And the pee ring? I had forgotten about it that night and went to bed once I was done cleaning. My landlord stopped by that afternoon, to tell me he was back from vacation (he lived next door, and I was watching his house); he saw the urine and uncomfortably asked me if I was having issues with the plumbing. I ignored the insult that he thought I might squat and pee outdoors in a perfect ribbon like a lunatic, and since I was not allowed to have parties, I told him my dogs evidently were marking their territory and I would speak to them.

* I remained at the dealership for three additional years, and was begged to host the holiday party each season. I finally said I would if koЯn agreed to play the event live. I figured it would be the only way I could top the first (and last) “Stella70’s Holiday Extravaganza.” (And yes, that is actually what I had called it. Cringe.)

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{ 72 comments… read them below }

  1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    ::Applause:: Well told! I laughed loudly several times. This: “I decided to remain in there with them, until my get-together was either busted by the cops or the Lord called me home. Neither happened.” was brilliant.

  2. goddessoftransitory*

    Oh, I remember this one! And her follow ups in the comments were like going to a disco with the angels!

      1. Hedgehog in a ball*

        I also missed this, so thank you! My favorite part has to be the bit about her dogs sending out invites to Extravaganza 2.0 because of a promise to feed them better as an apology!

      2. jane's nemesis*

        oh my gosh, I saw the original post but not the comment last year. I’m so glad Stella’s heart was lifted by the commentariat’s response to her writing!

      3. Memily*

        Oh my gosh, the teacups! I missed this last year and the mental image of someone walking around with a teacup in her bra just made me crack up!!

      4. Random Dice*

        “My grandmother’s vintage china teacups lived to see more Christmases, mostly because I developed kleptomania that night, swiping them from the hands of my boozing coworkers every chance I had.

        One co-worker asked me to hold her cup while she used the bathroom; when she returned, both the cup and I had disappeared.

        I told our burly body shop manager (who was spinning his cup around his little finger) that his shoe was untied and kindly offered to hold his cup; when he stood up, the cup was gone, but one of my breasts had suddenly become quite misshapen (the fact I forgot it was stuffed it in my bra and not a single person noticed was highly insulting).”

  3. Legally Brunette*

    I’m still crying/laughing over this line: I ignored the insult that he thought I might squat and pee outdoors in a perfect ribbon like a lunatic, and since I was not allowed to have parties, I told him my dogs evidently were marking their territory and I would speak to them.

    1. Rook Thomas*

      Also my favorite. ” I told him my dogs evidently were marking their territory and I would speak to them.” This is the point where I started laughing out loud and had to close my office door until I composed myself.

    2. Dawn*

      Absolutely destroyed me – my neighbours likely now think I’m the lunatic with the noises I’ve been making (which could be generously interpreted as laughter if you were quite certain my apartment weren’t full of startled roosters.)

  4. Juicebox Hero*

    Hands down the best story from last year. I still want to know where they hid her toaster so well she couldn’t find it for weeks.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Ha, naturally I saw that right after I posted my comment. Those were some good, good doggies she had.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      She has a gift, especially with:

      “I told our burly body shop manager (who was spinning his cup around his little finger) that his shoe was untied and kindly offered to hold his cup; when he stood up, the cup was gone, but one of my breasts had suddenly” [Me thinking: “Oh no, he grabbed her boob after she took the cup away!”] “…become quite misshapen (the fact I forgot it was stuffed it in my bra and not a single person noticed was highly insulting).” [Me: cackling out loud at work.]

  5. Sally Rhubarb*

    This is my new favorite traditional read, second to Tom & Lorenzo’s review of White Christmas.

  6. Sarah B*

    This story and the horrible date to the Christmas party are part of my classic holiday activities right up there with watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original version) and A Christmas Story.

    1. Arts Akimbo*

      Agreed, I would like to add both to my holiday movie rotation, possibly animated by Rankin and Bass!

    2. DeeDee*

      I feel like this and the horrible date at the Christmas party are two of the best office Christmas letters ever, hands down. I missed the follow-up last year (linked above) and it’s just as hilarious as the original.

  7. Bluz*

    I remember this story! One of the best of AAM and should be in the Hall of Fame if AAM ever has one. Up there with cheap @ss rolls. Holidays just seem to bring out the best and worst out of people.

  8. JaneDough(not)*

    @Stella70 (I hope you’ll see this), I just started reading your follow-up from 2022, and this — “I read it now and cringe over an inferior word choice or wish I had polished a paragraph.” — prompts me to write.

    You’re a superb writer, as many have noted, and to add a little weight to my statement, I’m adding that I’m a longtime copy editor who worked for a Fancy National Magazine and who also attended a Well-Regarded Writing MFA Program. (My prose style is a bit stiff, which is why I’m noting my creds — not meaning to be obnoxious, just wanting to reinforce that you’re really good.)

    I hope things are going well for you — and that you’ll glow a little not only from all the praise but from knowing that you brought joy to a LOT of people, which is a big deal. Take care.

  9. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    This is the AAM equivalent of A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life.
    I read this thing three times last year and whenever it pops up as a suggestion.
    I started reading it and found myself remembering, then quoting.
    The stairs skating is my “tongue stuck to the pole”;
    The ring of “gold ring” outside the house is my “Zuzu’s feather.”
    And saying no at the yearly request was like knowing an angel got his wings WHILE eating at a Chinese restaurant.

  10. The Rafters*

    Somehow I missed this, so I’m reading it for the first time today. As soon as OP said “used car dealership” I really didn’t need to read further, but I did anyway. I’m doing everything I possibly can to contain my howling laughter b/c I’m actually in the office today.

  11. Zeldalaw*

    I am generally extremely uncomfortable with any sort of “secondhand embarrassment” story, but the OP’s storytelling is a work of art and while I am horrified on the your behalf, Stella70, I am also sorry to say that I am so glad it happened just so that I got to read your story about it!

  12. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

    This is deep fried gold drizzled with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar. I laughed rice up into my sinuses when the Anthrax CD came out.

    1. Black Horse*

      Thank you for this! I am now shaking with (what I am trying to make be) silent laughter and wiping tears from my eyes. @stella70 I desperately hope that someday you _do_ write a book, and that you tell us about it when it happens.

    2. anon24*

      That’s one of my favorite stories ever!!! I read it to my husband and could barely finish it because I was hyperventilating from laughing so hard. He almost ended up on the floor. Both of us were in tears.

  13. so very tired*

    Also the follow up to the letter from OP – I would absolutely watch a film of this Hindenberg level disaster holiday party. Let’s get her to write the screenplay!

  14. Jellyfish Catcher*

    Stella70 – I reread this today and it’s as hilarious the second time/ year around.
    Please consider writing as a 2nd profession.
    Alison, can you sponsor an advice day from the commenters , as to how and where to submit writings, to begin being a professional writer?
    Stella70 clearly has talent, great observations of humanity, and hilarious snark. She has paid her dues and I’d buy her book.

  15. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

    This is truly a classic and as someone who worked at a used car dealership in WI 20 years ago, I can envision the scene so vividly.

    Stella, I hope you see you and your amazing writing continue to bring us joy. If you ever move forward with professional writing, please make sure the AMA community knows!

  16. Liu1845*

    OMG, a CAR dealership? If so, I could have warned you. I dated someone for 5 years who worked at one and attended all the Christmas parties. I’m surprised your house was still standing. This owner had them at his golf club. Smart guy.

    1. Orv*

      I once worked at a chain of small casinos and that was an unbelievably hard drinking crowd. (We had a party at a bowling alley once and some of my coworkers had to be carried out at the end of the night.) I can only imagine what car dealership workers must be like.


    Stella – can you sell prints of this? I need to start some fun, new holiday traditions in my home. Why not read this the AM of Dec 25 each year? :)

  18. Madre del becchino*

    This should go down in Christmas lore like David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries! Stella, I would be happy to purchase your book (should you ever decide to publish.)

  19. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    “Landscaping Pee Ring” should be the title of Cheap Ass Roll’s Greatest Hits Album.

  20. First Time_Long Time*

    I truly do not understand why people enjoy hosting in their homes, for exactly the reasons listed in the story. I don’t want people using my bathroom, going through my drawers, putting their feet on my furniture, breaking dishes, judging my design choices, having sex on my bed, getting drunk and rowdy, etc. I have to clean before they arrive and I have to clean after they leave. What’s the upside? Saving some money on gas? No thanks, I’ll meet you at a restaurant. (This story is hilarious, though. Props to Stella70)

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Different strokes for different folks. I’m a good cook but I live alone, and I like to show off my skills sometimes. And sometimes I need a kick in the pants to give the house a good scrubbing and vacuum up the dust elephants under the couch.

      However, I only invite people I know will behave like human beings. You couldn’t get me to host a giant Bacchanalian boozefest like this for a billion tax-free dollars and a dinner date with Idris Elba.

  21. SHEILA, the co-host*

    Ah yes, the moment when I knew I had to change my commenting name and help the legend live on.

  22. Gemstones*

    “None of my invitees remembered to bring glasses”

    To be fair, I don’t think that’s a thing people normally do with BYOB…

  23. OldMtnLady*

    Stella70, I read this for the first time today and just howled. I can absolutely see 20-something old me doing what you did, although I could never in a million years have written something so eloquently hilarious as you did. Please, please, please keep writing. You have a real gift.

  24. Jasmine Tea*

    I would have called the cops from the closet to come and shut down the party! Could pretend to be a neighbor, complaining about the noise.

  25. LIZZIE*

    “I told him my dogs evidently were marking their territory and I would speak to them.”

    Darn dogs.

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