share your funniest office holiday stories

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

Did you pass out naked in the break room? Did your manager provide you with a three-page document of “party procedures”? Were you given a nude, spray-painted gold Barbie? These are all real stories that we’ve heard here in the past. Now you must top them.

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

{ 485 comments… read them below }

  1. mb*

    My husband’s company used to host fancy Christmas dinners with free booze, and free cab rides so people wouldn’t drink and drive (and hotels for anyone too far away). The entire company was invited from the top down to the warehouse employees. There would be some form of entertainment – one year had a comedian who made inappropriate sexual comments about the woman running the event – and whom they tried to get away with not paying. Another year, there were some crazy outfits, including an employee’s date who was wearing a dress which was a normal fancy dress from the ribcage down, but the bust part was 2 tiny strips of fabric covering the nipples of two very large breasts. As far as I know, nobody said anything (except for my exclamation when I saw it as I’d had a few cocktails already) – the following year the company had been bought and the Christmas parties were cancelled.

    1. Catalin*

      I just physically slapped my hand over my mouth at the ‘2 tiny strips of fabric covering nipples of very large breasts’.

      1. mb*

        Yeah, my response was similar – I kind of loudly said – OH MY GOD, did you SEE that? I was not drunk but definitely was buzzing. My filter really goes out the window with a few drinks.

    2. TRC*

      I don’t think the comedian thing is ever a good idea unless they demonstrate exactly what they are going to say before you book them. We had one that appeared on America’s Got Talent or something. Let’s just say his routine on national television is G-rated and in person PG-13/R. It was horrible and extremely offensive on a whole range of topics. A bunch of us just kept looking at each other like WTF. I would have left the ballroom but I was as far from the doors as I could be. I think if anyone had the guts to walk out, a crowd would have followed them.

      Our company apologized Monday morning.

      1. allathian*

        At least the company had enough sense to apologize.

        One year we had a stand-up comedian. He was very funny and there were no NSFW jokes.

      2. I take tea*

        We once had a comedian, who was so sexist, that I actually called him out on it. His only response was “just wait, the guys will get theirs too”. That’s. Not. The. Point. I actually went out then, so it wouldn’t become a slanging match between us. At least one colleague joined me, we still commiserate about it years later.

        1. Vio*

          It’s a safe bet that “the guys getting theirs too” would have been something far more minor but it’s besides the point, an equal opportunity offender is still an offender.

  2. No name today*

    Anonymous for this…due to the sheer amount of embarrassment.

    At a holiday party, I blurted out that I liked to do my housework unclothed. Yes, alcohol had a lot to do with that.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Now hold on a sec! You cannot just drop this and walk away! Do you really clean in the nude? What about sweat and dust? I’m so intrigued! I think a whole business model was based on this concept!

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Lol I think I saw this episode of Law and Order: SVU.

        In any case, I agree that this seems logistically challenging. I hate sweating without clothes to absorb my sweat, I don’t like to work out in just sports bras, for example, because they don’t get enough of the sweat.

        1. Parakeet*

          I hate it when clothes do absorb my sweat without wicking it (I am a big fan of various non-cotton fabrics), so this idea of unclothed cleaning is intriguing to me. Easier to hop in the shower afterwards and clean off, than to do laundry!

          1. allathian*

            I’ll change into exercise clothes to clean and jump in the shower afterwards, for the wicking effect, if I do anything more strenuous than dusting.

      2. anon for this*

        Yeah I also. I was raised to buy quality and buy once and take really, really good care of my clothes (they had to stay nice for five more people after me) and I kind of still do. I have work pants that are getting on for ten years old, worn at least twice a week, and still look brand new. I handwash underwear, woolens, and delicates, and everything else gets a cold gentle machine wash inside out and line dried.

        I’m easier to clean than my clothes are, and if I get sweaty, eh, I’ll take a shower in the shower I just scrubbed. If my clothes get sweaty or dirty, I have to put them in the wash, and it’s washing, not wearing, that’s hardest on clothes long-term. And if I get bleach on me while I’m cleaning the bathroom, who cares, but if I get bleach on my clothes they’re ruined and aren’t respectable to wear out of the house ever again.

        1. PantsAreOverrated*

          While I’m not overly particular about my clothes, I’m with you on the cleaning. If I’m stirring up dust or working with chemicals or whatever I’m going to want to take a shower after anyway, so no sense also getting a perfectly good set of clothes dirty. Same with baking! I have learned not to use the stove naked though.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            Also handy work around the house! Painting in undies is the move. It’s much easier to get paint off of me than it is to get it off my clothes.

        2. Sociology rocks*

          This makes me feel infinitely better for defaulting to cold gentle cycle for all my laundry (except the most delicate) out of laziness in college and fear of ruining something on warm somehow.
          Still mad about my cashmere sweater (fit perfectly and found on sale at an outlet store, it was a gem of a find) which I’d sorted out to hand wash but must’ve slid off the shelf into the pile of dark laundry without me noticing. It’s now slightly snug and shrunken, and I’ve no clue how to get it back without risk of making it worse

          1. anon for this*

            The shrunkery is mainly about fibers matting – something that can often revive shrunken knits is soaking them in cold water with copious silicone-free hair conditioner (you want the water cloudy, slimy, and noticeably more viscous) and very gently massaging and stretching back into shape. Rinse very thoroughly and dry flat (on a towel, on an airing rack, is my usual MO). If the garment historically has trouble with itchiness, half-ass the rinse.

            No guarantees, but it’s worked for me more often than it hasn’t.

          2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

            It sounds as if your cashmere jumper may have partially felted, which unfortunately is more or less a one way process. You could try gently blocking it: soak it in water, remove most of the water by rolling it up in a towel, and then gently stretch it on a flat surface whilst still damp and leave flat until completely dry. You can also pin it to size before leaving it to dry if you have a suitable surface to pin it to. As cashmere is a fairly delicate fibre you do need to proceed carefully so as not to tear any of the fibre apart.

      3. No name today*

        Yes, I did. It was Virginia (many years ago), hotter than heck with a heat pump that didn’t really work. Also, I worked nights and slept during the day, so rarely bothered on my off days to be up in the light. So no clothes, and doing it regularly meant there wasn’t a lot of dust. Plenty of sweat – I did wear one of those gym headband things to keep it out of my eyes. And nothing was nicer than finishing the cleaning with a nice, clean shower!

      4. Kayem*

        I definitely do nude or near-nude housecleaning. It’s usually because I live in a place that is very swampy with humidity all year round, so it doesn’t matter if it’s 100F or 40F, I’m going to work up a solid sweat and there’s only so much wicking clothing can do. Even the best options get sodden after moving furniture for the vacuum-and-mopstravaganza and it’s so much easier to quickly towel myself off than have my clothing drip all over the sofa when I’m vacuuming under it. Once I finish the mopping, I hop in the shower to scrub it and myself.

        Though this mostly applies to big cleaning days. Wiping down the counters or quickly running the stick vacuum is not an occasion to remove my clothes. But if company is coming or it’s been a while since I’ve done a deep clean and I have to clean everything from the tops of the cabinets down to mopping the floors, you bet the clothes are coming off.

        I managed to barely escape being caught nude by half a dozen family members during Thanksgiving last week. I was running behind on cleaning and barely managed to dash into the shower right as they were coming up the walk.

    2. LaundryDay*

      Look, the only way to have ALL your clothes be clean at the same time is if you do laundry naked. And there is something magical about that moment.

        1. LaundryDay*

          Bahahahaha, actually the first time I did the naked laundry thing was like 7 minutes after I moved into an apartment that had its own laundry for the first time.

          Now I have floor to ceiling windows in a high rise, so my choices are more questionable than that place that did have laundry but was crammed into an attic and barely had windows. I did love it, though.

    3. Freddie Mercury*

      I want to break free! I want to break free!
      This comment has really changed the way I think of that song now. Hahaha!

    4. reader*

      Back in the 70’s, I read a compilation book of Dear Abby letters. She said it was very common to do housework nude based on her letters. Yes, that stuck in my young mind.

    5. no name*

      Only the shower naked for me although I have wondered if I should use footwear. Some of those chemicals are harsh.
      This reminds me of a Desperate Housewives episode where Teri’s character tries sexy housecleaning on camera when she was broke.

  3. NotRealAnonForThis*

    The three-pages of party procedures story is definitely NOT what I was expecting; I figured it tied more closely with “naked in the breakroom” and clearly outline things for reasons.

    I’m not sure how exactly I’ve managed to dodge any holiday party disasters in my career, but it seems I have.

    1. Legally Brunette*

      Same, but did you scroll down far enough to find the hidden gem on the “naked in the break room” page?! #8, The legend of Buddy, feels like the better story. This particular paragraph had me cracking up:

      “Shortly before 10 pm (the party having started at 7 pm) one of the managers realised Buddy should probably go home since he was lying *under* his table. So he was poured into a taxi – and promptly got straight out the other side and back into the party before the manager could finish giving the driver the address. This happened twice.”

  4. NotASwinger*

    I attended my then husband’s company Christmas party. A very lovely sit down dinner with awards, music, lovely gifts, and optional games. We were seated at a random table. One of his team mates and her husband were also at our table. After a number of drinks, she leaned over and stage whispered that she has always had a crush on my husband and her husband thinks I am pretty. She then asked if we would be interested in going back to their house after the party for a some “naughty and nice fun”.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I was invited to a threesome by a friend’s boyfriend while he was standing within arm’s reach of her. From the look on her face, he had *not* asked her about it first.

            That boyfriend became an ex very shortly thereafter.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Since I was solidly in my 40s before a stranger offered me drugs (something I was told would happen in my pre-teen or teen years), I assume I’ll be in my 60s before this ever happens to me.

    1. Gracie*

      That’s now the second AAM holiday party story I’ve read about people being propositioned at a meal by another couple, I had no idea it was so common

      1. Hlao-roo*

        For those who missed the first story Gracie is referring to, it’s the second story on the “the swingers, the fist fight, and other stories of holiday chaos” post from December 25, 2019.

      2. FricketyFrack*

        I was propositioned while working the state fair once. I worked for the Dept of Ag, so I was very dressed down for a day working in a pavilion with lots of hay and a variety of pigs, goats, alpacas, dogs, cows, etc. (which was fantastic). This couple came in midday already pretty drunk, the woman proceeded to sit on a hay bale in a very short skirt with her legs uh…not closed, and then they asked me what time I got off and if I had plans afterward.

        I think sometimes people get a few drinks in them and lose all sense of what’s appropriate. I guess at least I didn’t have to see that couple at work, but it really is just the worst.

    2. Mari*

      I got to watch one of my husband’s senior execs, who had been sending out ‘I’m available’ vibes to him for months (not terribly subtle ones – my husband actually noticed and he’s bad about those, to my constant amusement) get seriously intoxicated and VERY sexually aggressive.

      It was kinda funny… my 6’2″ husband was basically hiding behind my 5’6″ self… but aside from her rather inappropriate infatuation, she was a good boss, so the whole evening turned into a ‘Figure out how to dodge S without looking like we’re dodging S’.

      I have never spent so much time on the dance floor at any party before or since!

  5. DramaQ*

    Probably pretty minor in the grand scheme of holiday parties but when we went to a party of my husband’s employer there was a table that was already three sheets to the wind by the time the owner of the company got up to make his speech.

    They decided to make a drinking game out of how many times the owner said “family”. I forgot how many times the owner said it but there were at least two people literally under the table by the time the speech was over.

    I found it hilarious but DH said apparently a mass email went out about appropriate behavior at work events the next morning.

      1. ferrina*

        I can’t be mad at that table for this drinking game. It sounds hilarious! But probably should have switched to sips of water at some point.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I have been doing this with a new C-level at my org that most of us think is insufferable. She uses a lot of meaningless buzzwords and it drives me nuts, so I’ve started playing a drinking game with myself whenever she talks. But we all WFH and I do it with tea or coffee and nothing alcoholic. It’s a good way to pass the time during really boring speeches.

        I suppose if that table was being really disruptive that’s what warranted the email, but I also think what they did is hilarious.

        1. The Final Front Ear*

          Our dean uses the word Space a truly ridiculous amount in every conversation or meeting I’ve ever had with him.

          Multiple departments independently started playing a coffee drinking game related to his use of space in all staff meetings. “Saving space for questions….In this space….once we’re out of this space…”

          1. Miette*

            This would be unbelievably hilarious over Zoom…

            The Dean: “Let’s give that issue the space…”

            Everyone, coffee cups rising in unity: *siiiip*

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Since many a family celebration involves knocking back a few, I agree! “What? You said we’re family! Now passively aggressively mention how my cousin’s pregnant again and how your sister has soooo many grandchildren to buy presents for!”

    1. BeachMum*

      In my first job, the vice president (the senior person at the company) would use the phrase “so to speak” often. He had several other stock phrases, so we, the junior staff, made up bingo cards and would check off squares as he said the stock phrases. After the meetings, we’d see who had won.

      1. Pixel*

        At a previous job we came up with bingo cards for all-company meetings. It was really hard to keep from leaping up and shouting out BINGO! sometimes.

    2. Llamalady*

      I used to work for a company where we did this for the word “transparency.” Spoiler alert, they were not transparent. We all worked remotely so whenever someone from leadership said it, you could see everyone on Zoom giving each other the side eye and very subtly raising their coffee cups or water bottles to each other.

  6. Baby Yoda*

    We’re a wild bunch. We were planning our office party today and my boss told the new employees that I have been banned from playing Bananagrams because no one can beat me.


    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*


      Hubby and I play bananagrams. He sticks me with all the qs and zs. I beat him anyway because 1) I know he will do this and plan accordingly and 2) I know a lot of unusual words. he’s building cat and I’m over here doing quire.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I should add, we play by family rules not the official ones because that is how he learned and then taught me.

      2. Baby Yoda*

        Like, come on, I think I should be able to challenge my new colleagues to Bananagrams! Maybe one of them has a secret talent for word games and will dethrone me!

    2. Winter Bingo*

      I told our holiday party planner that I wanted to redesign the winter bingo we’ve played the last few years and she straight said “We’re trying to NOT play bingo this year, it gets way too intense.” Yeah, cause it’s designed poorly!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Isn’t bingo supposed to be intense? As a teen, I volunteered to help out at a bingo tent at a community festival. My dad had been a bingo caller for the KoC back in the day and warned me about how rough the players were on volunteers. (Those “sweet little old ladies” would call for blood!)

        1. Anonymous Demi ISFJ*

          Oh ABSOLUTELY. I used to call Bingo games at a nursing home. Most of my players were delightful, a few were usually asleep, and then there was June, who I think had been playing Bingo at the VFW her entire life. She could be *terrifically* rude if I happened to not be calling her numbers…

    3. Momma Bear*

      At a small company I worked for a while back the holiday party game was Cards Against Humanity. Bananagrams is tame.

      1. I Have RBF*


        CAH is usually not a work appropriate game. Even if you stick to supposedly “work safe” cards the innuendos can pile up really, really fast.

        OTOH, there have been places where I have worked that CAH would have been hilarious. Raunchy, but hilarious. My coworkers smoked, drank and swore more than I did. I was impressed.

      2. Firebird*

        I won CAH last Christmas with my adult kids. They were so not prepared for their mom to lean into it.

      3. Willow Pillow*

        My SIL wanted us to bring CAH for Christmas one year… and the game ended up being with me, my partner, SIL, two of SIL’s young adult daughters, and a couple of their friends, one of whom had a bit of reading trouble. It felt awkward, but the younger players not understanding PG-rated references was the worst for me.

      4. JustaTech*

        A coworker once jokingly suggested CAH for a work party.
        Boss had no idea what it was so was all “sounds great!”.
        So then we had to come up with some of the cards that were bad enough to put him off the idea without being so terrible we didn’t want to say them at work.

        Thank goodness for the Lance Armstrong card.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        When I played Trivial Pursuit with colleagues, they’d make me get the pie pieces twice before I could win.

    4. Combinatorialist*

      This is my dad who only ever loses when he makes a word that isn’t a word and disqualifies himself

    5. Twix*

      And here I thought I was the only one who’d been Ban-anagrammed! I’ve been blacklisted from Boggle too.

      1. Meh*

        I’ve been blacklisted from Boggle and Scattergories by two separate groups of friends over the years. Nobody wants to race me at word searches anymore either.

      2. Baby Yoda*

        I think I need to adopt the phrase Ban-anagrammed. My spouse also refuses to play Scrabble with me.

        I just read an unholy amount of books and know a lot of words!

    6. Pixel*

      I got banned from family Boggle for the same reason. First I wasn’t allowed to count 3-letter words, then 4, then 5, and then Mom just banned me from playing. When I brought my now-husband home for the first holidays she was ecstatic to find out he was terrible at the game because now she had a fighting chance of occasionally winning.

  7. Onelia*

    I worked retail with my best friend for a bit, and we had the most fantastic social committee. Planning for the Christmas party took all year, and it was a big event at a local hall with lots of snacks, cheap drinks, and prizes. Everyone got pretty drunk. There were always a few dirty dancing couples and meltdowns on the dance floor, but all in good fun.

    The last year was certainly an epic one on my end. I got blitzed. On the way out the door, I decided I had enough of my pantyhose and stripped them off in the parking lot of the party (giving lots of people a great show). We then decided that we had to on a rescue mission. We knew a local store next door to ours had been stealing our grocery carts and hiding them behind their shop, so we decided to go find them. A bunch of us drunk workers pushed the carts home, with my manager drunkenly riding in one as we jetted across the parking lot victoriously. We thought the head boss would be proud of us. She was not.

    Our poor sober driver finally got us home and all was good. Or so I thought. I woke up to a Facebook post in the store’s group (and on my Facebook page) tagged in a photo of my wayward hosiery festively decorating a small bush at the front of my best friend’s house. I’ve never lived it down. I also get tagged in it every time it comes up in someone’s memories.

    1. Ex-prof*

      Hurrah for the cart rescue!

      There’s a liquor store next door to my local supermarket that always steals the supermarket’s carts, hiding them inside. When I go to the supermarket and there are no carts, I just march into the liquor store, grab one, and wheel it out.

      If you could stage a rescue there this holiday, I for one would appreciate it.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Your manager riding triumphantly back to your parking lot is one for the ages! Excelsior!

  8. ConstantlyComic*

    I used to work at a tourist site that had a big Christmas event every year. Staff always ended up spending a lot of time outside in the cold during the event, so the site manager made a point of getting these huge pots of soup from a local restaurant so we’d have something warm to eat for lunch. It was a nice gesture, but this particular manager was also infamous for never washing any dishes, so he would leave the giant pots for staff to clean at the end of the day. I still miss that soup–the baked potato soup in particular was amazing–but I do not miss taking those big pots outside, hosing them down, and trying to scrape bits of potato off the bottom.

  9. Ghost of Christmas Past*

    Back when I was in college, I was hired as a cashier for the holiday rush at a large electronics store. I was invited to all the holiday parties, including a get-together specifically for the cashier team at the supervisor’s house. It was what I can only describe as a Nice Lady Dinner – everyone wore pretty dresses and brought nice little gifts for the exchange, like scented candles and bath products.

    Everything was normal and pleasant (if a little Stepford Wives-esque) right until after the gift exchange. The prosecco came out and, emboldened by the alcohol, one of the girls loudly announced that she wanted the supervisor’s opinion on her new boyfriend, because the supervisor was a psychic.

    I thought it was a joke at first but everyone took it extremely seriously. I was shocked, but even more shocked by what followed – everyone sat down in a circle and listened with rapt attention while the supervisor told them their fortunes. The new boyfriend apparently had a “dark presence” and should be dumped ASAP. She also predicted someone’s mother would get cancer (many tears were shed).

    When it came to my turn, she just stared at me and said that “she wasn’t getting anything”. I felt immensely thankful at that moment for my utter lack of charisma. However, I think it meant I failed the weird bonding ritual because my contract wasn’t renewed past the holiday season.

    In hindsight, that was a good thing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep working there after hearing there was a ghost in the warehouse – and not too long after, the store closed. I guess the ghost won?

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Ha! In early 2020 I went on an IRL date with a guy from a dating website, where said guy claimed to be psychic. My proof that he certainly wasn’t was (a) he thought I would believe him when he told me he was psychic and (b) a few weeks later, his preferred candidate (and mine, alas) lost in the primaries on Super Tuesday. Although even if said candidate had won, item (a) on my list would’ve proven the point anyway.

        1. Ghost of Chrismas Past*

          That’s a good point, the psychics never seen to predict that someone’s going to react poorly to them saying they’re psychic!

      2. allathian*

        It’s like the old notice: “The December meeting of the Clairvoyants’ Society has been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.”

  10. ThatGirl*

    It isn’t that wild, but it was pretty funny to me. Last year we had a party during the week/workday – starting with pastries, coffee and Bailey’s or mimosas in the morning, lunch, and then a raffle where door prizes were given away to practically everyone. They had a computer draw names to announce prizes. It was a whole mishmash of stuff from random gift cards, various home goods, small appliances… I had had both Bailey’s and some champagne and was not drunk but feeling good. We were standing watching the door prizes be unveiled one by one, and the next one was “a lovely wine decanter!”

    Me, in my running commentary, said “I would have nowhere to put that” and not 2 seconds later the computer drew my name.

    My surrounding coworkers laughed their asses off at my comedic timing and for the rest of the drawing kept saying “ooh, a ____, I would have nowhere to put that!” in the hopes that my “luck” would rub off.

    (I eventually gave the decanter to another coworker.)

  11. Cat*

    Small remote hospital: Lead receptionist emails ALL hospital staff asking for input on the holiday party, ending email with “Be sure to reply all!”

    One person replies suggesting a family friendly event. The next reply was along the lines of “Some people actually want to be able to drink and have a good time, not get stuck catering to other people’s bratty children.”

    There were no further replies.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      I always have to wonder what qualifies as “Bratty” to the complainant. Because often, I find, exploring the idea, it’s kids doing anything that involves not sitting quietly and obediently or lining up nicely. (Okay, they usually allow for kids being bouncy and louder while inside the bouncy castle.) Yes, including at parties meant to accommodate them.

      My kids were scared of the bouncy castle back when I was at a workplace that had that kind of Christmas party, though it was less of a bouncy castle and more of a bouncy mini-obstacle course with a couple of interior twists and turns, some climbing, and ending with a slide. The elder eventually tried it a couple of times. Our nearest friends at the same job could barely keep their daughter (5 days older than our son) out of the bouncy course.

      The place designed their family party very well every year, with a lot of food that balanced kid friendly (waffles!) and healthy (Lots of fruit, full food group representation), a good Santa, and mostly-well-thought-out gifts (Younger kids got play doh sets that weren’t gendered, older, they were gendered but not horribly; the girl’s was always a not-pink craft, the boy’s was a either science kit which was really another craft, or a vehicle). And usually some kind of purely optional activities, like the bouncy castle or some skill games for older kids.

      However, *every* time, my daughter’s real fascination was the escalator and the elevator. There was a very long stretch both before and after the food where my husband was at the bottom of the escalator (near the bouncy castle and some other activities), while I was at the top on the mezzanine, to carefully herd her away from the entry to an unrelated-to0-our-party casino on the premises, and back to either escalator or elevator. Our younger did some of the escalators, but eventually got interested in other things… my daughter didn’t seem to need Santa, or bouncy castles, or other games, and barely needed food or a gift… just escalators and elevators.

      1. Ink*

        Your daughter is my kind of people! My brothers and I used to have the most vicio7us fights over elevator vs. escalator, how many extra trips, and so on. When we were in agreement, we’d have races going up, across the floor to another one, down, back over to where we stated, over and over. (The most common race venue was a children’s museum, not being allowed to run around the mall may have been a contributing factor in the fights.)

      2. Artemesia*

        This was my childhood. Boys getting what I wanted — science stuff and girls some pink beaded ‘craft kit.’ I remember my outrage and I am pushing 80. All my childhood I wanted a microscope and never got one — then my parents gave my son one when he was about 10 — the outrage was still there LOL

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Yeah, I was lucky, in that the picks happened to work for my kids, but I also thought they’d work okay for discreet trading for the boy who’d rather play with beads vs cars or the girl who wants science, because they weren’t *as* gendered as they might be.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          That would make sense! But Elevator and Escalator were my daughter’s favourite words at one point and I don’t think she would want to change them.

          (In Kindergarten at their year end farewell she was supposed to go up to the microphone and recite skip-counting by 5s, and the moment she realised how much her voice projected she said “E-LE-VA-TOR!” into it first (then did her task). She also snuck back to it later, during food, when someone had forgotten and left it live, and … “E-LE-VA-TOR!”

          Thankfully, that reminded the staff.)

        2. Worldwalker*

          We call them that. “Wait, this is a downscalator! The upscalator must be on the other side!”

      3. Charlotte Lucas*

        My undergrad university has the only escalator in the county (in the library). Your daughter would have been in good company with all the 18 YOs who were also fascinated by it. (I grew up in a county with plenty of escalators and elevators, but it taught me a valuable lesson about how people’s life experience might differ in unexpected ways.)

        1. Colleen Whitley*

          In the 70’s my father was a manager for an oil & gas company out of Soldotna, Alaska. Back then, according to my parents, there were a lot of young men from the lower southern states that moved up to Alaska for work… and to avoid paying alimony/child support. One day my dad took a new arrival out to a pipeline and, in his words, “the guy went nuts” over the rocky ground. So much so the young man dumped out his toolbox and filled it with rocks. Nothing special, just rocks. Apparently he was from the bayou and had never seen rocky ground before.

    2. Your former password resetter*

      On the plus side, they achieved the impossible:
      A reply-all thread to the entire mailing list that didn’t cascade into a tidal wave of email chaos that flooded everyone’s inbox for weeks.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, that’s the outcome I expected. Even if it doesn’t bring down the email system, reply-all wastes so many people’s time! My office’s culture seems to be to add more people to the recipients list with every response, which drives me crazy. I once asked someone in another department if it would be helpful if I did X, and within five replies it had somehow escalated to my manager’s manager.

        I’m one of those repliers who will ruthlessly trim the recipients and move people from the cc list to the bcc list.

    3. Enough*

      My issue with children is too many parents pay little to no attention to what the kids are doing. I was tired of being the babysitter/herded before I even had my last child.

      1. catsoverpeople*

        Exactly. They bring their children to the party and expect someone else — who is also attending the party, with or without their own kids, and trying to enjoy it — to babysit them. Unless the “family-friendly” party has separate activities for kids, monitored by paid childcare professionals, there’s always going to be That Parent to ruin it for everyone else who *would* keep their kids well-behaved.

        I’m also going to hazard a guess that you’re a woman. Few people expect a man to be the default babysitter at a company function.

    4. nm*

      I remember when I was maybe 5 years old, my parents took me to a party that was most definitely meant to be 21+. The venue owner wound up babysitting me the entire day. He most certainly did not expect, and was not paid for, this burden.

  12. Your Social Work Friend*

    At a previous employer we had a Christmas party that wasn’t terrible, but also not good. Our director was the most awkward man and he’d planned everything but the secret Santa, which I’d orchestrated at the staff meeting (it went great, thank you). The whole Christmas party was twelve people sitting in a circle on folding chairs with no tables, eating Olive Garden and staring at each other. For two hours. The following year we had a new director and were spared the Christmas party, though Secret Santa lived on.

    1. Baby Yoda*

      At previous job they slapped packets of deli meats onto our tiny conference room table along with a loaf of white bread. We sat on the hard chairs and stared at each other for a half hour.

  13. BellyButton*

    Standard holiday party with a White Elephant gift exchange. I drew one of the boxed Panettone breads (or is it a cake?). After the exchange I was chatting with a younger man who had gotten a cute set of Christmas candle holders. He said “I am a single guy who lives in a house with 5 other men, I don’t want to do with these.” So we decided to exchange- the candle holders were adorable and I still have them!
    The person who had brought the Panettone bread was offended. She glared at me and said “those are a a tradition where I am from! Everyone loves them.” I smiled and responded that it is a lovely gift that youngman and his roommates would love. I worked at that company for another 5 yrs and she never spoke to me again, she only glared at me when we would cross paths. LOL!

    1. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      Can I put out a request for a specific Best/Worst White Elephant gifts thread? My favorite was when our (hilarious) IT guy wrapped up a giant framed photo of himself. And yes, it did appear in everyone’s office at least once over the next year when it was rewrapped and passed off again.

      1. Janeric*

        My supervisor got promoted to elsewhere in the department, and returned (coincidentally) for the holiday party. She brought a beautifully wrapped gift to the gift swap —

        It was a work stapler (labeled as such) and $15 cash.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        One year at my old job, I somehow wound up with a Tamagotchi (this was a long time after they were popular), after a much better gift was stolen from me during our gift exchange. The Tamagotchi was taken, unused, to Goodwill before we moved back to the UK .

        1. ferrina*

          I love Tamagotchis! This would be an amazing gift for me.
          Fascinating how quirky things like this are terrible for one person and wonderful for another.

        2. Morgan Proctor*

          Ok, but a Tamagotchi is my DREAM white elephant gift?? I would have been SO excited!

          Also… I think y’all have a fundamental misunderstanding of what a “white elephant” gift is. It’s supposed to be campy! It’s not supposed to be good! The goal of a white elephant exchange is to make people laugh, not to give them thoughtful, bespoke gifts they will cherish for a lifetime.

          1. Student*

            As somebody who’s moved around a lot, this is a lesson I learned: The definition of a white elephant gift exchange actually varies regionally.

            Some of them are meant to be campy. Some of them are meant to be low price-point, but not campy/weird/silly. If you do one when everyone else expects the other, you stand out like a sore thumb. If you’re not sure, always ask.

            1. catsoverpeople*

              ….and if you’re the only recipient of a weird/cheap/outdated-looking item and everyone else’s gifts are thoughtful/useful/funny, you will hate the entire concept and avoid them as much as possible in the future.

              The problem is when there’s no communication about which style the gifts are supposed to be, and also when there’s a power differential — for example, when it’s your college’s Teapot Department holiday party and the professors bought all the little gifts for the students’ white elephant game. Looking back, that was weird in more ways than one.

              1. violin squeaks*

                14 years ago, I brought a re-gifted informercial microwave pasta cooker to a white elephant that was obviously NOT campy regifts. I did not acknowledge I was the one that brought it, the person who ended up with it awkwardly pretended they thought it was thoughtful, and I ended up with the best gift in the exchange. Thankfully I was leaving that job a few weeks later so I never had to admit this to anyone there.

            2. Cactus_Song*

              Yeah, I learned this the hard way last year. I made a little ornament with a cowboy hat with our company logo and colors on it thinking it would be a funny little tchotchke. Everyone else brought actual gifts – candles, scarves, bluetooth gadgets, etc. I felt bad for the girl who ended up stuck with my dumb little ornament!

              This year I’m planning the event and in the email announcing it, I provided examples and linked to a few lists to give people an idea of our culture of our gift-giving at this year’s White Elephant gift exchange. We have a lot of new people, so I wanted them to be aware and not make the same mistake I did.

              But I’m still putting my gift in a gag box! There’s got to be some humor.

          2. Zephy*

            THIS THIS THIS. This is the holiday-party hill I will die on.

            A White Elephant gift exchange is an exchange of specifically low-value tchotchkes – spending limit should be under $5, ideally your gift should be something you didn’t have to buy at all, but rather some random trinket you found in your house somewhere. Like, for instance, a decorative ceramic figurine, perhaps in the shape of an elephant. Calling it a White Elephant is an indicator of expected gift value and is independent of whatever mechanism will be used to distribute gifts among participants.

            A Secret Santa gift exchange is one where participants buy gifts for specific, known recipients, but the recipients don’t know who their gifts are coming from until the exchange happens. You could have a White Elephant Secret Santa, where you go to the dollar store or find something in your house to give to a specific person. (An exchange where both the giver and recipient are known to each other ahead of time is just Regular Degular Christmas/other gift-giving holiday.)

            The least-problematic name I know for gift-exchange game with a “stealing” mechanic is Yankee Swap. Calling it a Yankee Swap (or whatever other racist name your organization wants to use) refers only to the mechanism by which gifts will be distributed, it has no bearing on the expected value of gifts.

            If your work’s holiday party will involve a gift exchange with a “suggested value” over five dollars and there will be some kind of game involved, it’s not a f***ing White Elephant, Sharon.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I thought a White Elephant was something you already had but didn’t want. (Hence the name.)

              My mom once brought a very 1950s style wreath that my grandmother had made (whole story involved a craft business my cousin had for a while).

              One of the designers at her work fell in love with it and happily went home with his new decoration. (Kitsch was trendy at the time.)

            2. catsoverpeople*

              I’ve noticed as an adult, Secret Santa is basically just “draw names for a gift exchange” in an office setting. But when I was a kid, I remember Secret Santa meant that you sneaked around and left small, inexpensive gifts for your recipient the entire week of the event, with one slightly bigger gift at the end when the identity of your Santa would be revealed.

              So, in school, you might tape a mini version of their favorite candy bar to the outside of their locker during the week, and it would be a full-size bar at the end (or some unrelated item as the final gift). In the right office setting, this could still work — you’d have to watch for them to take a bathroom break, coffee run, leave for an external meeting, and so on — to leave little gifts on their desk.

              Did anyone else ever play this version?

              1. Irish Teacher.*

                Yes, we did that when we were about 11 in school. I think the teacher got pretty fed up with it after a while, with people sneaking into the classroom when we were supposed to be somewhere else to sneak the gifts in and so on, but…it was kind of her own fault for arranging it.

                If I remember correctly, the “smaller gifts” were more things like “draw a picture for them” or “leave an anonymous note telling them how awesome they are” or something like that, because this was Ireland in the early ’90s and expecting parents to buy multiple gifts for a school event would be asking a lot (just checked and the unemployment rate was about 15% at the time).

              2. SurlyAF*

                My department did this in the Before Times and it was so much fun. Everyone who chose to participate had to fill out a form specifying our favorites (candy, snacks, drinks, scents, colors, etc.) as well as some likes and dislikes, which made shopping easier. We could set our schedules anytime from 6 am-6 pm so there was much sneaking around and asking the earliest and latest people to deliver gifts for you. It’s really the only thing I miss now that we all work from home.

            3. nonee*

              Your “Yankee Swap” is called a “Stealing Santa” where I am. Seems to get the point across without being problematic.

            4. allathian*

              Sometimes Secret Santa turns into Secret Satan, too. The whole team of 20 at a previous job got voluntold to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, with no way to opt out. The suggested price point was cheap, though, about 2 euros in today’s money.

              Two of my coworkers, Jane and Shawna, couldn’t stand each other, and nobody really knew why. I suspect professional jealousy, because Shawna was much better at her job than Jane, and the difference was large enough for peers to notice.

              As luck would have it, Jane had to get a gift for Shawna. I’m side-eyeing my then-boss who organized the exchange, he really should’ve known better. Jane got Shawna a jack-in-the-box, but she’d replaced Jack with a very realistic-looking spider, fully aware of Shawna’s severe arachnophobia. When Shawna opened her gift, she screamed loud enough for people to cover their ears with their hands (an example of when yelling at work is fully justified), and went into a full-blown panic attack, while Jane looked on and laughed with tears streaming from her eyes until she could barely stand. Some stared at her with a WTF look on their face, while someone else went to get our manager, and as I had my lunch in a brown paper bag, I emptied the bag and gave it to Shawna to stop her hyperventilating.

              I don’t remember what anyone else got from that gift exchange, not even what I gave and received, the Jane-Shawna episode’s made me forget everything else.

              When she’d recovered somewhat, Shawna went home on a few days’ sick leave and told our boss that this was it, she wasn’t coming back if Jane stayed. Apparently this was the final straw for our boss, too, as Jane was pretty much fired on the spot. She’d been nasty to Shawna before, and I suspect that I wasn’t the only one who’d complained on Shawna’s behalf. But I’m in Finland and it’s very difficult to fire people here, and I suspect that our boss thought it was an interpersonal issue that they should fix themselves and took far too long to take the steps required to fire someone.

              Now, 25 years after the fact, I’m wondering if our boss set Jane up on purpose, giving her every opportunity to do something awful enough for him to be able to fire her with no qualms. I don’t really think so, because he didn’t seem as devious as all that, but I can’t help but wonder about that…

              I started looking for a new job the following week, and I quit not long after. My next job was such a relief because there was no drama at the office. Sure, things calmed down a lot after Jane left, but the fact that it had been allowed to continue for years before I even started working there was a red flag to me. And some of my coworkers there wistfully admitted that they missed Jane and the drama from her conflict with Shawna, although AFAIK never in Shawna’s hearing.

              That place was full of bees and our boss was the beekeeper.

          3. Kit Kendrick*

            My friends used to have a “regifting bingo” party in late January every year which was run as a white elephant except that the next picker was chosen via rounds of bingo. About half the gifts were perfectly nice things that were just wrong for the recipient (e.g a very nice four-person full table setting, plates, cutlery and all, except the recipient was part of a household of six.), inexplicably bad things from someone’s company white elephant or, if you didn’t have a random item to hand, you’d go out and buy the tackiest thing you could find and throw it into the mix. There was a ceramic holiday shoe wine-bottle “rack” that reappeared at regifting bingo three or four years in a row. (The year I got it, I used the bottle of wine included and then brought it back with a bottle of candy-cane-flavored alcoholic eggnog as the most appalling bottled beverage I could find.) One year someone brought a circa 1980’s mini portable TV they found in their attic. It seemed even to be in working condition, except our country had already converted the airwaves to digital. It was a hot item because several engineers present wanted to Frankenstein it into some project or another. Another year I went home with a nice wicker hanging wall shelf I had no use for and planned to bring it back the next year only to discover one of my co-workers had been seeking that exact item but it was sold out everywhere she looked, so my co-worker got a belated Christmas present.

      3. Alisaurus*

        At one in my early career days, a coworker literally wrapped and brought a potato (with a face drawn on it) because she had forgotten to buy anything until she was about to walk out the door. The person who ended up with it was very upset they’d spent $25 on a gift and only ended up with a – rather small, not even decent “dinner baked potato” size – russet potato.

        1. Betty*

          Augh, how does someone think that’s a better idea than taking them aside and saying, I am SO sorry, I forgot it was today, I will have your gift when the office reopens next week???

          1. Zephy*

            Right? I would have grabbed one of my business cards, written “IOU” on the back and maybe hastily doodled a Christmas tree in the corner with some highlighters before giving someone a literal vegetable. That I wrote on, so now the recipient probably can’t even eat it.

        2. Morgan Proctor*

          A potato with a face drawn on it is a PERFECT white elephant gift, though! I am begging everyone who is invited to a white elephant gift exchange to please google what a white elephant gift actually is!!

          1. Alisaurus*

            Except this was just called a “gift exchange game” and we were all told to buy something nice in the $20-25 range if we wanted to participate

            I definitely know what a White Elephant Exchange is (and am always bugged by the regular incorrect usage of the term lol).

        3. The OG Sleepless*

          And that is why every event like this needs to spell out whether it’s a “Yankee Gift Swap” (or whatever the local terminology is) or a true White Elephant gift swap. For the former, you spend money on an actual gift somebody would want. For the latter, you take a random, worthless item you have at home and wrap it as a gift. If you don’t make it clearly one or the other, feelings will get hurt in just this manner.

          Back in my churchgoing days I went to a church that threw surprisingly amazing parties, and their annual White Elephant swap was epic. There was an ugly paperweight that was brought back year after year, that kind of thing.

          1. Ranon*

            Our office has a dancing penguin with butt cheeks that appears year after year, it is abhorrent and hilarious

      4. londonedit*

        Where I live the version that’s most common is a straight Secret Santa, where you have a limit of around £10 and you pull a name out of a hat to buy for. In my experience, the vast majority of the time the presents aren’t supposed to be terrible or a joke – they can be fun, but they’re not usually deliberately awful.

        I’ve told this one here before, but one year we’d done the usual Secret Santa and it came to the day of the Christmas lunch, so we all exchanged gifts. Everyone opened nice little things like chocolates, bottle of wine, candles etc. Except for one fairly senior chap, who unwrapped a very fluffy novelty thong. He laughed it off and quickly put it away, but the woman who’d bought it was mortified, as she’d realised as other people were unwrapping their gifts that she’d got the wrong end of the stick. She was only a couple of years out of uni (as was I at the time) and seemingly had only ever experienced ‘horrible joke gift’ versions of Secret Santa. She ended up buying him a bottle of wine to apologise – he thought the whole thing was hilarious but I really did feel for her!

        1. Charley*

          I was in a student group white elephant and our faculty advisor ended up unexpectedly participating and receiving a bottle of lube!

          1. AFac*

            One group I was in stopped calling it ‘Dirty Santa’ because some people understood ‘Dirty’ to mean ‘NSFW’ and went shopping at the local XXX-rated novelties store. I was very glad I wasn’t able to attend that year.

        2. Tinkerbell*

          I was in a group of romance writers and we had one go like this! Our group ranged from women in their twenties to their seventies and from a literal pastor who wrote “sweet” (ie no sex, no kissing until marriage, etc) romance all they way up through straight-up erotica, but our gift swap was mostly candles and coffee mug sets and little decorative tchotchkes with snowmen on them. And then one year, when a newer member misinterpreted “dirty santa” and brought a suction-cup dildo meant for shower funtimes.

          IIRC, one of the older “sweet” authors opened it, turned bright red, and pasted a very unconvincing smile on her face. The gift-giver was mortified. The gift was stolen by a fellow writer who proclaimed it was just what she was looking for and everybody laughed, but the next year the instruct were a little more explicit as to what types of “dirty santa” gifts were expected…

      5. Ink*

        Not work, but when I was… probably 13, I forcibly instated a White Elephant at our family Christmas party. I have about 2 dozen cousins, so maybe that was part of the problem, since you had to bring one gift per person in your family, but you have never seen such a wasteland of ancient board games and puzzles taking a pit stop on their way to the trash. After the first couple years, I rewrote the rules. Now my mom and I spend all year picking up whatever cheap and/or hilarious objects catch our eye. It’s much more popular now! Especially since most of the container-adjacent items get filled with homemade Christmas candy X’D

      6. ELF Cage*

        Thirty five years ago I as very young married woman received candy condoms at my parents’ Christmas white elephant party. My little sister got a glow in the dark Jesus light switch with strategic placement of the switch. Our proper father was speechless and the culprits delighted.

      7. Bruneschelli*

        The weirdest white elephant gift I ever saw was at the annual end of year lab party. A terrifying professor emeritus decanted about 50lbs of clay cat litter into a cardboard box and had it professionally wrapped. Why? Who knows. We kept the box in the boot room for years – too afraid to offend the emeritus by throwing it away but also too afraid to ever see if there was anything else in there.

        1. AFac*

          (Unused) Cat litter is good for containing and cleaning up spilled liquids, so I’ve been in labs that have cat litter for a spill kit as approved by the lab safety unit.

          Not saying this is why the professor did it, but there could be less practical lab gifts.

          1. Bruneschelli*

            You’re absolutely correct and that was about half of the lab’s assessment. The other half had worked with said emeritus and didn’t trust the dude further than his gilt edged parking space. The fact that he didn’t stick around to see us open it pushed even those gentle souls extending plausible deniability into agreement. Brrr.

      8. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        My brother lives for Dirty Santa Claus/White Elephant exchanges–he loves to mess with people, but not in a mean/cheap way. He once put a picture of himself in a nice frame. There was *also* a $20 bill inside the frame behind his photo, which apparently took awhile for the person who got it to discover!

        Another time, he wrapped a gift of two nice, SportsTeam glasses in wrapping paper of RivalSportsTeam, which of course someone who rooted for RivalSportsTeam picked. Their dismay upon discovering their gift was for “the other side” was apparently pretty intense (someone who rooted for SportsTeam stole it from them, so all was well at the end). The next year, he wrapped a RivalSportsTeam gift in the same paper, and this time everyone remembered the year prior. So someone who liked SportsTeam picked it, and lo and behold, they were also tricked! He said now everyone he works with knows not to trust the wrapping paper. LOL.

      9. Yvette*

        Did you post this before? It sounds so familiar and I would hate to think there are two of them. Maybe same guy at different companies? Was it a nice frame? Maybe that was supposed to be the gift.

      10. Sally Rhubarb*

        I once brought what I thought a hideously tacky ceramic elephant (because I like puns) to Past Job’s white elephant party and it was the most hotly contested item. It was so funny that everyone wanted this god awful elephant that I got for like $3.

        I really wish my current job did such a thing because half the fun was going to the thrift store and finding the ugliest thing to bring.

      11. Teapot Unionist*

        I had a colleague who brought a $20 bill for the white elephant exchange and immediately picked her own gift and (re)pocketed her $20.

        This was before the Honey Badger meme, but she immediately became my hero since I, too, hate the holiday gift exchange but never want to make everyone else feel bad so I begrudgingly participate and get stuck with some thing I will never use and feel guilty tossing.

      12. Sel*

        As a student worker during my college days I was invited to the school’s white elephant gift exchange for the holidays out of pity because I was the only student worker who stuck around through the break. I managed to land the dean of the school I was in with a scented candle that had no wick, which had been given to me by a professor I had worked with over the summer.

        I felt kind of bad because the dean was a genuinely lovely man, but also the best-paid employee of the school ending up with the most useless gift still tickles me.

      13. Anonymous former archivist*

        We were a mix of library professionals and college students (ultra casual) with one retired professor emeritus in a suit & tie. Admittedly a rumpled one but I still little under dressed.

        Standard white elephant gifts came out… calendars, mugs, candy… and then a walking yapping stuffed fluffy white dog. We laughed so hard and fought so hard over that dog…. And the funniest part was when our retired professor admitted that he had brought it in…and we learned that he had a wicked sense of humor!

      14. Neysa*

        A few years ago, I ended up with a football! I was pissed and especially when I went to return it and it was only worth $15 (our range was $20-$25).
        I found out later that my boss had brought it.
        I didn’t participate the following year.

      15. Rooster Crowing*

        I work in health care, so things can get pretty racy. The absolutely best (or worst) Dirty Santa gift I ever saw was a box full of things that went along with a cookbook titled 50 Ways to Eat Cock (Healthy Chicken Recipes with Balls!).

      16. Llamalady*

        I work in a female-dominated industry and our one male team member did the same thing. It was beautifully wrapped and in an ornate frame. I left that job shortly after the holidays but when I left the photo was still making the rounds of offices as well.

      17. TJ Morrison*

        My favorite white elephant gift at a work party was a pack of really short extension cords less than a foot long. If you plugged them all together it was about two and a half feet of extension cord.

        1. NotAnOntologist*

          My husband would have LOVED this. They’re actually great for weird cords and outlets, to give some flexibility in plugging things in. We probably have a dozen of them around the house.

      18. JustaTech*

        At my work we call it White Elephant but I guess it is technically Yankee Swap.

        Most popular: a case of Red Bull.

        Funniest: A bag of all kinds of old company swag with our former CEO’s face on it, plus a bunch of chocolate coins (and a $25 Starbucks card). This was extra funny because the whole thing was both a pun on the former CEO’s name and poking fun at his self-aggrandizement.

        Worst: the year that a new C-suite member brought in a “real” white elephant (obviously well used laptop bag with our competitor’s logo), when everyone else did ~$25 new/like new gifts.
        After that incident (there were serious hurt feelings) I made sure that the invitation and fliers were *extremely* clear about what kind of gifts were expected. Bob Ross Chia pet? Great! Screaming chicken and bag of chocolates? Excellent! Worn out thing? Nope. (NSFW thing? Hell no.)

      1. Ama*

        I live for my mom’s hilarious grousing about her work yankee swap every year. She works at a preschool and they only do Christmas tree ornaments (the preschool is run by a church). However, my mom is the kind of person who knows all the rules to every game and wants them to be followed — most of the women who work at the preschool are, in her opinion “too nice” and are always either not stealing enough or engaging in (horrors) extracurricular swapping.

        I’ve observed my mom in action so I know she doesn’t actually say anything mean in the moment (although she will admit to stealing even when she doesn’t want to to try to get some action going), she just complains to her family later.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      You never said you didn’t like it. You just exchanged it with someone who would appreciate it more.

      Some people get too caught up in the whole gift exchange thing. It’s not a competition.

      1. CatWoman*

        I once swapped 2 tickets to a water park (my prize) for 2 Jimmy Buffett concert tickets (the prize won by a 20-something man) – happiness all around!

  14. English Rose*

    Big company, big formal party. Awards were given out (real ones, not gold-sprayed Barbies, sadly).
    “Jolene” was called up on stage to receive the award for best sales record.
    It was late, a lot of people had drunk a lot, including Jolene. She bounded up on stage energetically in a full-length gold sequinned number.
    Jolene was extremely well-endowed. The dress was extremely low cut. The CEO shook her hand so vigorously that… you guessed it, her right boobie popped out.
    I swear the funniest thing was that she didn’t notice for about ten long seconds and the CEO was standing there helplessly, clearly wondering what on earth to do.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, I’m begging of you put that boob back in
        Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, please don’t flash us just because you’re canned

        1. Cats ate my croissant*

          Your boobs may be beyond compare
          But flashing them is overshare
          And I just don’t know where to look, Jolene

          1. Abogado Avocado.*

            You’ve got to record this!

            (And am I the only one who is going to be checking this entire thread ALL DAY!?)

            1. Worldwalker*

              I’m getting over a cold. Anything can make me go into coughing fits. Especially this thread. But I can’t stop reading it, not to mention humming “Jolene.”

          2. We still use so much paper!*

            Thank God I have an office with a door that closes because I’m dying laughing! This is gold!

          3. Bruneschelli*

            I hate to have this talk with you
            But hr wants to walk with you
            Or at least lend you a scarf or two, Jolene

  15. Bird Lady*

    Before I was married to my husband, he worked for a small law firm and the owner/ equity partner threw a lovely holiday party at one of the many clubs he belonged to. The man went all out every year! Seriously: think open top-shelf bar, gigantic surf & turf entrees, multiple passed apps for a party of maybe 10-15 people.

    One year he decided to offer a raw bar. I was excited, since I love oysters and shrimp cocktail, but was prepared for enough to feed the small gathering.

    When we arrived, there was a large table with an abundant display of all sorts of oysters, claims, crab, shrimp, lobster, etc… with all of the accoutrements. Out of a party of 12, only three of us enjoyed anything on the table other than shrimp.

    So I posted up next to the table with another spouse – one of the only people who would eat anything off the table – and ate literally between 80 and 100 oysters. It was over the course of a few hours, but from then on, I was known as the girl who ate 100 oysters.

    I will never again experience a night of 100 oysters (and about 5 gin gimlets) because shortly after the party, the firm closed as the owner decided to retire.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          Ah yes. The oyster and martini lunch combined with the several flights of stairs to get back to the office. Gross!

    1. 1-800-BrownCow*

      You are way braver that I would be. Raw seafood sitting out for a few hours at a party sounds like a recipe for disaster. And a surefire way to be spending the next 48 hours living in the bathroom. I really thought the story was going to end that way. I’m glad it didn’t, but wow, I don’t think I’d take that chance.

    2. Lab Boss*

      Even if this had wrecked your digestive system for later, I’d have made the same decision you did. That’s a problem for tomorrow Lab Boss, today Lab Boss is about to see how many oysters he can physically handle.

  16. Wocka Wocka*

    Our receptionist was not very good at her job and most folks were relieved when she quit during the year. Our holiday party was held at a restaurant and we were all having drinks at the bar before being sat at our tables. Guess who showed up to crash the party? She showed up hammered, and I mean HAMMERED. That was one thing, but the way she chose to greet everyone was not to say hi, but to grab people and start aggressively dry humping them. It was amusing at first, but people were getting understandably annoyed. She came up behind me, to do the dry hump thing and it spilled my drink everywhere. Our boss ended up calling her boyfriend and asking him to please come and get her. He must have been close as he came and whisked her away before we sat down. It was a wild way to start the evening to say the least! I heard she moved away not long after that, never saw her again.

  17. Phenolphthalein*

    My first company didn’t have a lot of cash around. The first party I had there was brilliant regardless: we hired the back room of the local pub, one of the younger colleagues who was undoubtedly excellent at it gave a trivia session as we all got drunker and drunker, and a great time was had by all. Later in the evening, a divorced male colleague about twice my age who I barely knew asked me (early 20’s woman) asked me politely whether I’d like to go home with him! I declined, but he was very nice about it and I guess he thought well, he’d shot his shot?!

    My first party at new company is tomorrow. There’s a Cirque du Lumière theme, a three course dinner, midnight breakfast, acrobats and firebreathers, and fairground rides, and 2000 people are attending. I’m guessing it won’t be similar…

        1. ThatGirl*

          That was a joke, it’s just … quite an elaborate party! (I am guessing it is a big tech co, but you don’t have to confirm that.)

    1. anonny*

      I’m pretty sure I know where you’re talking about for the second party! I work on campus so I went last year.

      Top tip – whatever you picked for the menu is irrelevant, the servers will cone along piled high with plates and you’ll have to make sure you get the one you wanted by flagging them down. If you have any dietary requirements that needed a dish tweaked, you’re probably going to be out of luck. Also, the fish dish is served cold, that surprised a lot of people last year for some reason.

      1. Phenolphthalein*

        I KNEW THERE’D BE ANOTHER OF US HERE! Maybe I’d better try and ward trouble off early for my very-allergic new colleague who will not be best pleased if she can’t eat (again) then…

      2. TechWorker*

        Honestly I thought this could be my Christmas party too (lots of companies attend, I’m going tomorrow, format sounds identical) but the campus reference throws it off. :)

  18. thatoneoverthere*

    My husband’s former company threw a huge “End of the year party”. Typically it was held after the holidays so that people could come. It was always somewhere very swanky. One year it was held at city’s NFL stadium. We rode the elevator up with my husband’s co-worker and his date. She was already incredibly drunk. She was wearing a very short skirt and as the elevator opened, she tripped and up went her skirt revealing her thong. Her date collected her off the floor and ushered her into the party. Actually they were both pretty wasted and just laughed and laughed. Meanwhile my husband and I just exchanged glances and died of 2nd hand embarrassment.

  19. HB*

    At the first party I attended at my new job, the person giving the toast before dinner said we were there to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Not “the birth of Jesus” but his birthday. Like we were going to sing a song and roll out a cake.

    1. tom*

      lmao, i had the same confusion when i was a (very young) kid! i remember asking my mom when jesus was gonna show up to blow the candles out

    2. WendyinCLE*

      Several years ago, hubs and I went to a Christmas Eve service at the church in our new hometown, and they actually *did* have a birthday party for Jesus afterwards, complete with a birthday cake (“Happy Birthday JESUS”) and singing. They also conscripted me to play an angel during the “pageant” portion of mass, and then lovebombed us incredibly hard (so, so many hugs) because we were new faces. We have never been back.

      1. violin squeaks*

        What a f*ckin nightmare! I say this as an extremely habitual churchgoer. Before seminary, my pastor was a theater major, so we’re always doing stupid stuff like this. Having a new person show up and making them participate is giving me The Ick.

    3. Generic Name*

      We literally sang happy birthday to Jesus at breakfast on Christmas morning when I was a kid. We stuck a candle in our grapefruit halves. Looking back, I’m really not sure if it was done in earnestness by the adults or if it was meant to be silly.

  20. BecauseHigherEd*

    This is probably more cringe than funny, but anyway…years ago, I worked for a very small, independently run company. To say that the owner was a thoughtless and a cheapskate would be an understatement: the man regularly looked for reasons to not pay vendors or to conduct the most rudimentary building maintenance. He insisted that he was a great boss because he paid us. (Yes, you read that right–whenever someone complained, he would say, “Are the checks bad?!? No?!? What are you complaining about??” Even though we made a pittance and had no benefits.)

    The holiday tradition among staff was to do a five-day Secret Santa leading up to Christmas Eve. Every day at our 9 am check-in, you would secretly give your recipient a very small gift (valued at $5 or less–often very thoughtful, homemade gifts, or something simple such as a $1 bar of the person’s favorite chocolate). On the fifth day, you would reveal your identity to your recipient and give them a more substantial gift (worth about $15, but again, typically very nice and personalized). This was typically done without the knowledge of the CEO, but one year he caught wind of the Secret Santa and demanded to participate. For the first four days, one person received…a $5 Subway gift card. Every day. For four days. Then, on the fifth day, they received…three $5 Subway gift cards. The recipient should have won an Academy award for the surprise they feigned when the CEO acknowledged that he was the provider of the Subway gift cards. After that, we did our best to keep the Secret Santa as Secret as possible.

    1. ConstantlyComic*

      How much do you wanna bet he got some kind of “buy X gift cards get one free” deal from Subway

      1. BecauseHigherEd*

        100%. It would have also been very on-brand for him to just find some gift cards at his house and re-gift them.

      2. ferrina*

        I have a relative who does this. They obviously buy a Costco pack of giftcards and send it to everyone in the immediate family.
        They think it’s very thoughtful of them.

          1. ferrina*

            They don’t actually give giftcards to Costco- I would love that (though half the family doesn’t have Costco memberships, so that would be useless for those folks)

            They pick up a pack of six or eight giftcards that are sold at Costco. The giftcards are from random places. One year it was Home Depot- that was really useful. One year it was a restaurant that has no branches near me. When I asked about it, they talked about how much they loved that restaurant. They’re picking gifts for themself and giving it to other people (which is very consistent with the rest of this person’s character)

            1. Impending Heat Dome*

              If you have a Costco gift card, you don’t actually have to be a member to use it. The caveat is that if you spend above the value of the card, you have to pay with debit or cash, not a credit card.

              Not to suggest buying Costco gift cards for people who aren’t into it, but if someone ever gets one and doesn’t have a membership, you can still use it!

            2. BecauseHigherEd*

              That must have been what it was. He claimed:

              -to brilliant business man whose “success” had been “studied” at UC Berkeley
              -to be a millionaire (he did have an estranged family member who WAS a famous businessman and millionaire, and I think Berkeley was trying to study whether certain traits associated with success could be genetic. They likely found that they weren’t.)
              -to have his hand in several “highly profitable ventures” (read: an Airbnb and partial ownership of cannabis magazine)

              Even though we knew he was full of crap, for some reason it never occurred to me that he probably just shopped at Costco, but there it is.

  21. Orca*

    My last job did a white elephant exchange between the office employees (majority manufacturing environment). It was around 20 people with 2-3 of them being men. Toward the end, a gift was unwrapped that was a putting green to use while using the toilet…nearly everyone was very unhappy at the prospect of being stuck with it and drama/alliances immediately started. The very last person to go was one of our IT people, male, who stood up, triumphantly shouted “I GUESS I WILL TAKE MY PRESENT BACK”, snatched the putting green, and strolled out. It was very good-natured and turned out to be the perfect capper.

    This exchange did always immediately turn into insane alliances/deals being made as everything was opened and I’m super glad to not be at that job, but that year was definitely a bright spot haha.

    1. Orca*

      I should add now that I’ve read the above white elephant comments, that this tended to be a nicer-gift flavor of the exchange. I don’t remember if that was specified in any way so equally likely the IT person thought it was a silly one, or genuinely got the gift.

    2. Sad Desk Salad*

      I got stuck with the toilet putter one year. Everyone else got nice, serious gifts, and I got…a toilet putter. Couldn’t give the dang thing away. BUT! My lovely wife came to the rescue. She needed a hilariously, intentionally bad gift for a white elephant exchange for HER work, and took it off my hands.

  22. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

    Not a story, just a commentary, but hasn’t the whole “ugly sweater” party theme run its course? It was mildly amusing when you’d find a sweater your grandma had in 1992, but now you can just buy one. I feel like Peter in Office Space when Lumburgh announces Hawaiian shirt day. The novelty wore out it’s welcome several years ago.

    I work remote now, but those in office next Friday…yep Ugly Sweater party. I’ll take the Harry & David mac and cheese they send to remote workers and get on with my black hoodie party for one.

    1. Sindirella*

      I used to work with a woman who’s entire wardrobe could be described as “ugly sweater”. One year, she won the Ugly Sweater contest…that she was not participating in.

      1. Dulcinea47*

        there were many years we couldn’t have had an ugly sweater contest for that same reason. Those were her actual “serious” sweaters.

      2. Butterfly Counter*


        I went to an ugly sweater party back in the early 2000s and wore a sweater I had just worn to work the previous week. It was at work that I realized how atrocious that sweater was (very Cosby-esque). I got a lot of complements on the sweater as being perfect for the party. I donated it to Goodwill the next week.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Sigh…. I love sweaters of all vintages and designs. Beginners attemots at Norwegisn sweaters, Cosby sweaters, hippie granny square sweaters, even Wesley Crusher ST:TNG sweaters.

    2. Trippedamean*

      Yes, they are not interesting anymore. I remember when you could find a holiday sweater like that at a thrift store and wear that, but now everyone has already bought them all.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, as a knitter, the actual handknit ones take a LOT of time and effort! And I love colorwork sweaters so even if they aren’t my personal fashion choice I’m fascinated by how creative some of them are.

    3. Ink*

      All the charm ran out when they started carrying them at walmart &c. Half the time they aren’t even sweaters, just sweatshirts with sweater patterns printed on them.

      That said, my exception to both the mass manufactured and lack of charm problems is my brother and his friends’ Brotherhood of the Terrible Christmas Suits. Those cross the line back into being hilariously awful, especially in group photos

      1. Mrovka*

        YES – we discovered the Ugly Christmas suits on a winter trip to Dublin years ago. Very soon thereafter my husband had his very own snazzy Christmas suit – Christmas trees with dinosaurs! Sometimes paired with a festive horse’s head mask. It goes stunningly with my ugly Christmas dress bought for $6 off Amazon, which was supposed to have a stripe of “Ho Ho Ho” around the middle, but the letters were printed upside down. OH OH OH indeed.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think they’re culturally different here in the UK.

      A major children’s charity has a fundraising drive based on paying to wear your Christmas jumper on a particular day, so many workplaces and schools participate. There’s also a big push among high street stores to use sustainable materials for their novelty garments (which alas in practice means recycled polyester and don’t get too hung up on the provenance).

      But we’re a nation who happily wear tissue paper crowns for hours on 25 December so our sartorial choices are certainly not to be considered universal.

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I cannot with the ugly sweater thing. My only holiday party this year is encouraging them, but I do not have any and will not get one — my closet space is quite limited and I don’t have room for a novelty item that I don’t even like!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I give you the idea I’ve never used: take a standard red sweater and temporarily trim it with cheesy tree garland.

        1. Calamity Janine*

          honestly i feel like simply safety pinning decorations to a sweater you already have is likely to make a much bigger impact than many commercial ugly sweaters! maybe don’t go full “this is decora fashion from the streets of harajuku”, but still. it’s a tiresome party trend… whose one saving grace is that you can get up to various fabric-based shenanigans and chicanery with which to fulfill the brief of festive clothing in increasingly absurd ways.

          or simply wear an entire door wreath like you’re an elizabethan courtier showing his importance. maybe get one of the cutesy fabric ones for comfort’s sake. absolutely get one that lights up. (then when the joke loses its novelty you can just set it aside with your coat and enjoy the party unburdened.)

        2. Sad Desk Salad*

          I went to an ugly sweater party where someone was wearing a regular sweater with to/from stickers plastered on it. He carried a pen so you could write your name (I added my number, and we dated for a few weeks).

    6. LCH*

      i have been invited to a non-work party where the dress code is “most festive casual holiday attire” and i really wonder if it is code for ugly sweater.

      1. JustaTech*

        Or holiday pajamas!

        (Yes, I will be buying my family matching holiday pajamas this year, but that’s one of the perks of having a 1-yer-old! And they’re “holiday” pajamas because I haven’t decided between Christmas or Hanukkah pajamas.)

    7. Dancing Otter*

      I lost count of the Christmas sweaters I got rid of when my mother passed away. She always said December was the one time of year that festive outweighed tasteful.

      Though my daughter claims to have restrained her from buying an Easter sweater decorated with three crosses – need I say that was at a church craft fair?

    8. AnonORama*

      I admit I enjoy wearing my Ugly Hanukkah Sweater (actually a sweatshirt) with a glittery menorah and the phrase Let’s Get Lit. But, not to work.

      1. Calamity Janine*

        i have seen a version of that with sequined flames that are of the type you can swipe to change color, so that you can always have the appropriate amount of candles lit on the menorah depending on day. it’s at that moment a supposedly ugly sweater ascends upon brilliance in tackiness to become a very very very good sweater actually

    9. RowdyDow*

      My husband, who’s slightly fluffy, had to attend one of these ugly sweater events at a bowling alley.
      He found a women’s size medium Christmas sweater and wore it – with his hairy belly poking out at the bottom. The topper – he couldn’t put his arms down. (Think fat lil’ summer sausage in a tube top.)

      It was greatness!

      He did NOT win. :(

      1. catsoverpeople*

        Now all I can think of is Chris Farley’s “fat guy in a little coat!” Kudos to your husband for doing that, I would have voted for him to win!

    10. Jennifer C.*

      I entertain myself by going up to people who are NOT wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and saying “I love your ugly Christmas sweater!!!” with HUGE enthusiasm.

  23. Lily Rowan*

    At my first job that had any kind of holiday party, I was Not Prepared for what would go down. It was in the afternoon, but at a nightclub or at least somewhere that had a dance floor. There was an open bar, and I swear, people were wasted by the time I got there. The big boss’s uptight executive assistant was grinding on the mailroom guy by like 4pm! You really would have thought it was midnight.

    1. allathian*

      Once and once only was I persuaded against my better judgment to attend one of our holiday party cruises. The ship left port at 3 pm, and some people showed up early enough to have at least one drink in the terminal before the trip even started. People hit the bars as soon as the ship left port and the bars opened. At 3.30 we had an all-inclusive buffet late lunch/early dinner, and the all-inclusive included alcohol. (My employer paid for the all-inclusive buffet and the cruise ticket.) Thankfully there was only wine and beer available, rather than spirits, but by the time the dinner ended at 5.30, some people were so drunk they could barely stand up, someone else had vomited all over their table (thank goodness it wasn’t the buffet, would’ve been expensive if they’d had to throw out all the caviar, etc.). I had a hard time getting rid of a guy who was going through a contentious divorce and who kept weeping on my shoulder, someone pinched my butt and someone else groped me in the crowd (to be fair I’m not sure if that was a coworker or a stranger).

      The worst part was that I couldn’t leave when I wanted to, and I spent most of the last hour hiding in the toilet and muttering “never again, never again, never again” endlessly. I’ve kept that promise.

      Some people simply can’t handle an open bar.

      1. JustaTech*

        For reasons I will never know, my senior prom was on one of those harbor party cruises. On the good side being in the middle of the harbor did limit everyone’s ability to sneak out for drinks.
        On the bad side – the ceiling was so low several people hit their heads very hard while dancing, it was *freezing* cold, I got sea sick (I can get sea sick on a dock), someone was smoking weed (long before it was legal) and, as you said, you can’t leave when you’re done.

  24. OrangeCup*

    One year the Christmas party was a country and western theme complete with a mechanical bull brought in for rides. My colleague who ran the insurance department flat out refused to be on the premises to show her displeasure at the idea (think of the potential injuries and lawsuits that could have resulted!). But it was honestly the most slow motion bull ride I’ve ever seen in my life. At the same party – One colleague had been dating another and broken up with him because he found out he’d been cheated on with a rotating series of interns. The cheater was one of the higher ups of the company (as was the cheated on person), bad form all around. I was seated with and chatting with the wronged party and who do you think comes swaggering over with his latest intern conquest and plops himself down at our table? Talk about awkward!

    At an earlier party, one of my colleagues was so drunk he pooped in a conference room, and my boss was caught on camera by security getting freaky in another conference room with a third colleague.

    1. La Triviata*

      I saw online a video of a guy standing up on a very slowly moving mechanical bull. Then he started doing his real thing – stripping. Even with the practice he’d obviously had, he was bucked off before he removed too much.

  25. Corelle*

    At my team’s annual holiday gathering, our director gives hand-made customized awards to everyone. They’re supposed to celebrate who we are as individuals and our strengths and what he appreciates about us, but several of last year’s were thinly disguised negatives.

    One person who needs to work on conflict with others received a Rock Em Sock Em Robots based award that celebrated her ability to use her adversarial nature to motivate people (people get stuff done so they can avoid her jumping on their cases about it.)

    One person who left the company and returned months later when his new job didn’t work out received a Stretch Armstrong based award, with compliments focused on how glad the boss was that he came back (nothing about the amazing work he did…more of a “remember how you left and we were gracious enough to rehire you?” poke.)

    One person who tends to ramble a bit and get overly technical in her explanations got a Family Circus Jeffy’s rambles-based award (the cartoon where the kid is wandering all over a scene and a dashed line shows where he rambled.) He said something about how he appreciates that she always eventually gets to the point and manages to do good work despite the rambling.

    I won’t detail my award, but it was similar. I cried in the car on the way home. Nothing like taking an evening out of your busy holiday schedule to be reminded that your boss sees your flaws as central to your identity and can’t recognize actual good work or accomplishments without referencing your shortcomings.

    1. ferrina*

      That’s horrible! Your boss is a horrible human being who puts way too much work into being passive aggressive. Who even does that?!

      1. Corelle*

        I don’t think he’s a horrible human being, and he isn’t being passive aggressive. He severely lacks emotional intelligence. He’s good at identifying people’s flaws and finding ways to assign and structure their work so the flaws don’t matter, or are even a strength. (And then you don’t have to/can’t work to improve them.) Then he seems to think they’re good inside jokes instead of hurtful. His intentions are good but horribly misplaced.

        1. ferrina*

          Has anyone told him that these kind of jokes in this setting are Not Okay? If it’s an issue of not understanding social context, he should be open to understanding and changing the format for the future. Because this is seriously demoralizing, not just to anyone who received this kind of award, but for anyone who witnessed it.

          Good intentions may lead to bad actions once, but someone with truly good intentions will realign their actions so their actions match their intentions.

      2. catsoverpeople*

        Other than Michael Scott on The Office?! Does this boss watch the Dundie Awards episode and think “gee, this fictional character is doing everything correctly, I must learn from him”?


    2. Abogado Avocado.*

      This year, give your boss your own “handmade” award — a bare cork bulletin board. And when he asks what it is, you can say, “It’s tack-less. Just like you.”

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Yeah, one person’s good-natured ribbing is another person’s cry-in-the car moment. Teasing is very rarely a good idea.

      I once received an award that I am absolutely sure the giver believed was a compliment. (At worst, a neutral observation.) But it was based on trait that I dislike in myself and others and have spent a lifetime trying to eliminate — and I thought I had. So to hear it’s apparently still so big a part of me that I got an award for it stung.

  26. SansSerif*

    Thankfully, now that almost everyone in my company works at home, there’s a nice holiday lunch for whoever wants to attend and that’s that. But I can think of lots of interesting holiday parties from my past — from the time a VP and manager who had been having a (until then) discreet affair got into a drunken screaming match in the parking lot (and guess what, the female manager was the one who got fired for that one … what a surprise …) to the time a drunken manager was saying goodbye and slapped a co-worker on the butt. To his credit, he was mortified when he sobered up and apologized repeatedly the next day. Some good memories came from a publishing company I used to work for. The editorial and production departments would put on hilarious skits. One time, the editor-in-chief, a quiet man who had just lost an eye to cancer surgery, got up and did a 20 minute stand up comedy bit all about his cancer. It was unexpected and funny as hell.

  27. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Craziest holiday party I was ever at was the one that went down as “Drunken Sock Dress” Mess.

    We all worked at a hotel – and the bigwigs that owned the hotel and management all decided to work the hotel to send all the staff to a nice event center for a catered meal party with an open bar available for those that were 21 and up (and even had a taxi service available with a card on deposit to get anybody home who’d had too much to drink – they tried to think of everything to make it a fun night for all). The theme was Winter Wonderland, the food was great (allergies thoughtfully accommodated), and all seemed fine till the DJ opened up the dance floor. That’s when we found out that the new girl on the front desk team had somehow gotten her hands on alcohol, despite only being 19 (this was in Alabama, legal age was 21). Sadly she was well past drunk already, and her strapless dress wasn’t up to the “energetic and not safe for a work party” dance moves she was laying down. Three rounds of corralling her and trying to get some carbs and water into her, only to have her escape and get another glass of alcohol ensued before her dress gave up, fell down and she unintentionally flashed us all happened.

    Shortly after that we were able to get her mom’s phone number to call and get her a ride home. As mom is loading her into the car she asks daughter why in the world she’d wear what looked like a “giant tube sock” as a dress to a work event. Several bursts of badly laugh turned cough happened at that.

    Sadly, no more big parties like that happened – because ownership was upset about the fact that 1) somebody underage got served more than one glass of alcohol; and 2) that there was such a disregard for safe serve laws that should have prevented her from continuing to be served after it was clear she was well past tipsy to falling down drunk. Hard to blame them for being upset about the safe serve law violations though.

  28. Trippedamean*

    My department chair at my old job insisted on having a holiday lunch at his house. It consisted of a tour of his very large new home and then lunch, all during work hours. His annual salary was probably 6 times higher than most of the staff so we had to act like we cared about the paint colors his stay-at-home wife had picked out and how she’d decorated their 4th bathroom that no one uses. There were sexist comments about how only women care about decorating, too. Before lunch, he led a prayer (!) and let us all know that his wife’s friend from out of state had come just to cook and serve this lunch. Sitting around eating, the wife’s friend, who apparently had nothing better to do than sit around with strangers on a Friday afternoon, started talking about the lazy homeless people who had asked her for money recently and how they just needed to get a job already.

    As if that all wasn’t bad enough, none of my coworkers understood why I didn’t want to do it again the next year.

  29. Jessica Clubber Lang*

    About 20 years ago, after a downtown holiday party the VP of my group got a few of us to go out somewhere else for a ‘nightcap’, which turned out to be a strip club where the VP generously offered to pay for all our lap dances (I declined)

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Okay, I guess I did get grazed by this sort of bananapants unacceptable behavior, now that you mention “gentleman’s club”.

      The “not Christmas luncheon” used to be held DURING work hours at the downtown casino – plated meal hosted in a private area, open bar, and a shockingly good time in all honesty. The local branch exec covered everything.

      The new bigwig who’d been brought in (corporate politics, OYE. New big boss to replace local branch exec, with new boss bringing along all of his yesmen.) declared it was going to be AFTER work hours, but at the Casino buffet, and we could go pay for a cocktail on our own if we wished. After the most awkward two hours of sitting in the open seating area of the casino buffet, the bigwig and all of his boys left en masse to go to (fill in the name of a very notorious and distinctly NOT even maintaining an air of classiness club here) and were not quiet about it.

      But it worked out okay. The corporation quarterly all hands was the next morning at 7:30 am sharp…and those of use who’d figured out that “the boys” had gone out on a secondary party mad sure that the volume in the meeting room was cranked all the way up, and otherwise found ways to annoy the very hungover new exec and his henchmen, who were all thoroughly hung-the-hell-over.

  30. WeirdChemist*

    Kind of related to holiday parties…

    I once had a co-worker who never attended any office parties or potlucks (usually 2-5 per year). No one paid it much mind, not everyone is into these sorts of things and attendance definitely wasn’t mandatory. Up until this guy got passed over for a promotion (that he definitely hadn’t earned). During his (very public) tantrum over this, he started yelling about how he always skipped the office parties and why didn’t everyone recognize the sacrifice he was making!!!! He should have gotten that promotion because he wasn’t being “selfish” like everyone else by….. eating food others had brought in for everyone to eat and socializing with his coworkers???

    We were all baffled listening to this lol

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Maybe he’s related to the “my coworkers won’t help me cut expenses” letter writer (the one who carried equipment 5 miles instead of expensing a taxi ride and refused to eat the company-provided pizza). Very odd.

      1. Ama*

        I do think there are people out there who fall into the trap of thinking that if they make a big enough sacrifice at work they will be rewarded. But quite often they don’t share that thinking with anyone until they *aren’t* rewarded and get resentful about it — and then their coworkers just think “dude, no one asked you to do that.”

        I had a report for a while who was prone to this kind of thinking, but thankfully she was very vocal about what “sacrifice” she was planning to make so when she’d say things like she was going to pay for her own night of hotel on a work trip because she wanted to come in a day earlier (to work, not to do fun things), or she was going to eat some cost for office supplies, I could intervene and say “no that’s not necessary we will of course pay for it.”

          1. WeirdChemist*

            Whoa… yeah that letter was wild! And it seems like the letter writer never really understood what the problem was, as they were still blaming their coworkers’ layoffs on them eating a slice of pizza! Very odd indeed…

  31. Fluttervale*

    Long ago there was a party where everyone had to post a fact about themselves and you had to match the coworker to the fact.

    One posted a fact about their kinks, which while perfectly acceptable as a kink, still did not belong at work.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, no. Reminds me too much of the employee who wanted everyone to refer to her boyfriend as her master.

      Please don’t involve your coworkers in whatever consensual kinks you have going on in your relationship, they haven’t given consent to being involved in your relationship dynamics that way. At least your friends have the option of ending the friendship if they find that sort of behavior off-putting, but coworkers rarely have that luxury.

      Please note that “consensual kinks” refers to specific behaviors rather than types of relationships. In a decent workplace that genuinely supports diversity you should be able to mention your spouse(s) regardless of their gender(s) without it being remarked upon, or at least that’s the world I want to live in. But involving coworkers who genuinely can’t consent to it in sub/dom dynamics isn’t and shouldn’t be okay.

  32. Sweet Clementine*

    First semester of my tiny PhD program, there was a reception at the end of the day for Thanksgiving, where students and faculty could mingle and get to know each other. I had only met the rest of the folks at corridors etc, hadn’t really had a chance to get to know anyone. I had a long day of classes, missed all my meals (figuring I could eat at the reception), but once I made my way to the reception, I found that all food was already finished. Being utterly famished, I started drinking. Surprise, surprise, it was not a smart idea.

    I had about three drinks when my department chair approached me, and told me reassuringly that I can retake my picture on the department website if I want (it was a terrible picture). I went on a 10 minute spiel about how I can never take a good picture, how filters never work for me, etc etc. The man escaped with his life. Then, I started mercilessly teasing a male grad student whom I had just met, about his name, again, in what I thought was in good spirits (his name is absolutely commonplace, not sure what I found so funny in my drunkenness). Poor man volunteered to drop me home, all the while me giggling at him. I thought the evening had been a roaring success, until a few hours later when the alcohol started wearing off. My roommate had the privilege of watching me have a realtime breakdown as I realized more and more things about how the evening had gone.

    Thankfully after that I always stuck to at most one glass at uni parties, and the other grad students were nice enough to let me live it down. An upshot of this was I befriended the male grad student and eventually started dating him , figuring that if he kept talking to me after that debacle, the man is a treasure. Unfortunately, this doesnt even break the list of top ten most embarrassing things I have done in front of him.

  33. Juicebox Hero*

    My first job out of college was the children’s department of a store. One of my coworkers, “Carol”, was an older, rather quirky woman who tended to treat me in a grandmotherly sort of way.

    Among her quirks was hoarding (her word) paper products – toilet paper and paper towels – and underwear. Specifically women’s Jockey underpants in 3-packs. Every time the store got a new style, she’d wait and wait for it to get marked down so she could grab it and add it to her stash. She had a closet full of unopened packages of women’s Jockeys. At one point we had to evacuate our town because of a potential flood threat and she made sure her stash of paper products AND underwear went with her.

    On Christmas Eve we always had a little party in the stockroom to celebrate surviving another shopping season and we’d exchange small gifts with each other, and one year Carol handed me a small gift bag.

    We were out by the register, so my coworkers and whatever customers were hanging around.

    I reached in and pulled out a 3-pack of Jockey briefs right in front of everyone. Not just any underwear, but a pack from Carol’s precious hoard. She said she knew how much I’d appreciate it because I knew how she was about her underwear.

    I was touched and mortified all at the same time.

    They were a size too small, but I wore then anyway because they were way nicer than my other ones.

    (I did post this last year, possibly under a different name, but it’s still the same Carol, same me, and same underwear. And Carol is now well into her 90s and still sharp as a tack.)

    1. Nanc*

      I don’t hoard my Jockey 3 packs, but every time they’re on sale I buy another. I live in terror that they will discontinue them!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Based on Carol’s age, it sounds like she might have grown up with shortages/rationing. Sounds like she really liked you.

  34. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    The time the member of staff dressed up as Santa, went to the office xmas bash and kept hassling the female members of staff to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Xmas. The look on his face when our HR manager went over and plonked herself down on his knee was hilarious!

    He was 5 foot 4 and quite slim. She was approximately twice his size. He yelled ‘get off me, that hurts!’ and the rest of us women laughed our arses off. To be fair, once he’d sobered up the next morning he did send round a lovely apology and never went near the scotch again.

    1. ferrina*

      Wow, that’s a strangely effective way for HR to take care of a problem. I don’t know whether I’m horrified or proud.

  35. Throwaway Account*

    Not funny, but I hope charmingly naive.

    At my first real job 40 years ago (40!) we had a proper Xmas party in a restaurant. I was amazed that that was even a thing, that I could order anything (anything! cost was not a concern), and at chocolate mousse.

    I was pretty starry-eyed through the whole thing, and looking back, my country-girl ways were probably very noticeable. I feel a bit embarrassed at that part of it. I’m pretty sure my boss had to talk me through some of it. The thing is, I was not a country girl. I was just poorer growing up than I realized, so I had no exposure to “fine dining” (a middle-of-the-road local restaurant). It took me years to realize that.

    The really cringy part looking back, was how excited I was over this very exotic new dessert I saw on the menu – chocolate mousse! I know I asked what it was (OMG, why did I ask!) and my boss had to explain. I decided to be daring and order it (after more reassurance that ordering a dessert was ok!). I’m pretty sure I raved to everyone about how good it was, how unique the texture, etc. I was very enthusiastic!

    I know that the adults in the room were probably very happy to help me through it all but thinking about it brings up feelings for me! I was so openly green!

    1. Chicago Anon*

      Your younger self sounds like a charming and unaffected young person who reminded others to find the joy in small things that they had come to take for granted. Congratulations on having the confidence to just be yourself at an age when a lot of people are frantically trying to pretend to be something they are not!

      1. Throwaway Account*

        I’m not sure if I had the confidence to be myself, or if I was just so unaware that I might want to observe and follow some professional norms!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Today is National Mousse Day, so your story is appropriate.

      As someone who used to train new staff in what was often their first full-time job, I think your former coworkers probably remember you fondly.

        1. One day*

          I have got an amazing recipe for chocolate mousse that uses the very darkest chocolate you can find. It is easy to make (lots of whipping and folding) and really, REALLY good!

    3. Kate*

      I just want to add to the voices saying that if I had witnessed that, I would have been delighted to be part of you having such a positive experience for the first time. Everyone enjoys being part of “teaching” someone something new. No need to be embarassed!

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Liking chocolate mousse that much, and being enthusiastic at the time, may be naive but not weird. I can think of multiple ways a similar thing could go wrong, and none of them happened. You didn’t push someone with an allergy, or even someone who just doesn’t like mousse, to have some. You didn’t try something, dislike it, and go on at length about that.

      It’s not weird that you have those feelings now–our memories are all too ready to replay things we were embarrassed by. But your colleagues’ reactions were probably somewhere between remembering when they tried something new and wonderful, to thinking “I’m glad she likes it” and not thinking about it afterwards, to maybe being sad that they had developed an allergy to one of the ingredients.

    5. Ranon*

      Oh gosh getting to be part of someone’s first chocolate mousse experience is delightful!

      I know very few people who don’t have some kind of story like this, yours is lovely.

    6. stratospherica*

      I want to just join the rest of the comments here and say that this sounds so delightful, and I’m sure your colleagues found your enthusiasm charming too. What an honour to be able to share in someone’s happy discovery!

  36. Irish Teacher*

    Not sure if this counts or not but I’m going to post it because we’re currently going through it. Our staff party is to take place on the 8th of December and…after it was organised, the Department announced a school inspection THAT VERY DAY (well, and the day before). Now obviously, the party is after school hours and in light of the inspection, the person organised it rang the restaurant and asked if we could delay it from 5:30 to 6pm, but…we were all hoping the principal would let us finish up a little early which obviously he can’t do with inspectors in the school and we’re all going to be exhausted after two days of inspections and all the prep to be done beforehand -they want us to fill in surveys and write up various information for them and xo on.

    Not funny, but honestly, what a time for an inspection.

  37. Me*

    This is not too off the wall, but I think of it as the Christmas Engagement that wasn’t.

    I was an instructor at a University . I had worked there a couple of years and had separated from my husband a year prior. In the meantime, there was a group of us from my department (that was part of a College that was part of the University) that “hung out.” Lunch together twice a week. Fantasy Football. Mildly immature pranks. It was a mixed group of males and females, married/divorced/single, Tenured Track and Instructors. One of the (single)guys, Professor Plum, and I ended up going to a concert together featuring a singer we both liked. A few months later, we bet on our fantasy football match up and loser bought dinner. This is the extent of our one on one time together. Period.

    It was Christmas time, and I was leaving at the end of the semester for a new job. I was at the college holiday shindig and the dean’s wife came up to me and told me Prof Plum had been at their house for Thanksgiving and how devastated he was about me leaving . As she continued to talk, it became clearer Professor Plum had described our, what I thought was casual friendship, as a relationship on the verge of an engagement. Basically, we were, unknown to me, already ring shopping. I was not sure how to respond so I changed the subject and let her drift off. I then managed to avoid him (and any mistletoe) for the rest of the evening.

    A few years later, a friend from there told me Professor Plum was engaged . My immediate response was “Does his fiancée know?”

    1. CuriousCat*

      I have a similar story. I had a coworker who switched to another campus (What is it with academia?), but we’d go grab breakfast or lunch every other month or so. I had told him I was not interested in more than a friendship more than once. We met at Denny’s over Christmas break and exchanged some little knick-knacks. He paid for our meal which was highly unusual for him, but I didn’t think too much of it at the time. Right as we’re leaving, he says he has one more gift and hands me a beautiful ring set with red stones. I admired it, thanked him, and started to open my car door only to hear, “Well, we aren’t getting any younger; you want to get married?” I panicked, told him no, and tried to soften it by saying I didn’t want to get married to anybody right now. “Oh, in a few years then?” I drove off and still have the ring. He went a little off the deep end for awhile, but last I heard, he was happily married to someone other than me.

  38. AcidQueen*

    My old company holiday schedule would be a Thurs-Friday event of a Thursday team building/workshops, Friday lunch at a German restaurant with open bar, and then Friday evening at the boss’ home. In between the lunch and off-site evening party, people would walk next door to another local bar to pre-game before going to the Boss’ fully boozed out party. A sober driver would drive the drunk folks to the boss’ home in the quiet suburbs and they would continue til 2-3am in the morning. One year, a poor soul (Steve) passed out in the car on the way to the Boss’ home and so the driver left him in the car to sleep it off. When people went to check on him, he was gone, but then found passed out in a neighbor’s yard. They woke him up, he barfed all over the neighbor’s lawn and said “Ughhhhh there goes my schnitzel.” He promptly went into the boss’ home and started drinking anew. That was the final year the boss’ hosted a party at their home.

  39. kiki*

    The holiday party took place at a bar/arcade in the Mall of America. The Mall of America is really big and has a lot of parking options. The invite had asked everyone to park in the lot closest to the venue within the mall, but you know a lot of people don’t read through all the details of the invite or forget what they read before the day-of.

    The party ended after the mall closed. Most people had a short walk in the mall from the arcade to the nearest parking garage but some folks had to walk through the closed, dark, and kind of ominous mall to get to their parking garages.

    Nothing major truly happened, but so many people reported sort of spooky things. One group said they saw a ghost. Another said that they swear somebody not with our organization was following them in the mall. A couple folks said they got lost trying to cut through the theme park in the center.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      As someone who has been to the mall, I can absolutely believe that someone got lost in the center. Their technique for packing the sheer amount of things that they do into that theme park is many, many winding paths. And a lot of greenery.

      1. Calamity Janine*

        clearly this explains the ghosts as well! the specter’s unfinished business? finding the right exit to get back to the car…

    2. Impending Heat Dome*

      As a local, there’s a trick to walking through the middle of the megamall. All the paths curve, and the scale is such that it’s very easy to think you walked all the way across, but you’re really only at the 90-degree exit. Basically you have to aim to the right and have a good idea what stores are at the entrance you want.

      If you ever want a truly miserable experience there, forget where you parked. Hours of fun.

  40. Volunteer Enforcer*

    This was at an old job, in fact the one that gave me the Volunteer Enforcer nickname. We had a new artificial Christmas tree delivered, the box was big enough for a tall man to hide in it. So, the Business Manager hid in it, waiting for the CEO to walk in. When the CEO came in, BM jumped up like a jack in the box and CEO play-acted that he was having a heart attack and collapsing. The whole room was laughing. I did the same to my boss, who pretended to be cross with me but was smirking really.

  41. Bird Lady*

    I had just started a new job at a non-profit, but since the position was a lateral move, my manager trusted me to keep things in order while she attended a wedding out of country. Part of my responsibilities was to throw a holiday party for our board of directors that would immediately follow the December board meeting. Since the staff was required to attend the meetings, many would join the party to say hello trustees they worked with the closest. My job, as the development person, was to throw the party.

    I had been on the job for about two weeks at this point, and wanted to ensure that the party was excellent. I had been given a budget of about $100, and had decided to use some of own things to spruce the event up. Since I bake a metric ton of cookies every holiday, I used my cookies instead of store made. Things like that. I even brought in some of my holiday bowls and pine arrangements.

    The day of the party, one of the senior staff pulled me aside in the lobby to ask what the menu was. I listed everything off, thinking it was substantial for the meager budget to feed around 50 people.

    She had a fit in front of several guests and screamed at me for not providing “abundant shrimp”. She stamped her foot and paced around, exclaiming how utterly embarrassing the menu of gourmet meats & cheeses, homemade hot spinach dip, hummus and feta spreads, and homemade cookies and citrus salad was. I later learned at one time the board had the entire event catered, and there was a larger and richer spread but that it had been over a decade since that had happened.

    In the end, no one complained about the menu, although throughout the event my colleague pointed out that there wasn’t any shrimp.

    1. LizB*

      How very dare you, don’t you know that abundant shrimp is the reason for the season??? (This story is wonderful, thank you for sharing.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I come from a tradition where shrimp is part of the Christmas meal, but even vegetarian me knows it’s expensive and wouldn’t expect it anywhere but a family members’ house.

    2. starsaphire*

      Your menu sounds glorious! I’d love to sample a buffet like that.

      Was Shrimp Lady wearing her banana pants? $100 for 50 people is not anywhere *near* shrimp territory.

      1. I Have RBF*

        $100 for 50 people is not anywhere *near* shrimp territory.

        Hell, it’s barely into Cheap Ass Rolls™ territory. The fact that LW made it work by making stuff herself is exemplary.

    3. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I would be loudly asking that woman, in front of the same audience, how she thought that was doable for fifty people with a budget of a hundred dollars.

    4. Freddled Gruntbuggly*

      Abundant shrimp! how poor the spread
      And wretched, that I see,
      Without those pink and curly dead
      Sweet products of the sea!

      ’Tis shrimp which makes the buffet great—
      Not hummus, dip, and meat;
      Mere cookies can’t one’s taste buds sate
      Sans shrimp, there’s naught to eat!!

      The Board hath promised good to me,
      No matter what the budget;
      Since no abundant shrimp there be,
      I’ll shriek, raise hell, and grudge it!

  42. DivergentStitches*

    Not the biggest deal but, I was a new employee to the department that was very clique-ish. They had their holiday party at a nearby restaurant and everyone left to go to the restaurant in groups of 3’s and 4’s … and no one told me the name of the restaurant or how to get there. This was before Google Maps obviously. So I had to try to find it on my own.

    1. ferrina*

      I’ve been terrified of this happening to me my entire professional life. I would have probably skipped the party and pretended to work on something urgent.

    2. Frank Doyle*

      Wait, how did you find it if you didn’t even know the name? Did you just drive around looking for your co-workers’ cars in the parking lot?

  43. Dittany*

    A coworker at a place I used to work at got fired shortly before Christmas. On the day of the holiday party, while all the remaining employees were at the restaurant, she snuck into the office and glued all the mugs in the breakroom to the floor.

  44. Librarian In Another Life*

    I worked in the Children’s Department of a Public Library for many years. Being quirky, creative people, we decided that our department of 7-9 (depending on year) would hand-make ornaments for one another each year, and unwrap them together at a mini party the day before the holiday when the department was always dead. We would bring homemade snacks too, so it was all good fun. Typically these ornaments consisted of a funny saying or item we encountered over our year in the department (hilarity happens surprisingly often as a public servant).

    One year, my coworker painted the silhouette of our boss (who we had caught sleeping in their office chair once), which was received with cacophonous laughter. Another year, a woman had blatantly sworn up and down to one coworker that a part of one of the toy food kits her kids took home, had never existed… “I remember there was no potato!” About a week later she silently snuck into our department one afternoon, dropped the offending plastic potato on our desk without a word, and slunk out. So my other coworker (who had already deleted the plastic potato from our kit) poked a hole in it, strung it up, and wrote “There was No Potato!” on it for her gift recipient that year. Hilarous. So figure simple, silly things like that were always the basis for the ornaments.

    But the one that takes the cake, for all the years before and after, was the “Snowman” cookie cutter. We loaned out cookie cutter kits to the general public. This was always met with a certain level of squick, since who knew if they were ever washed before or after, but they were one of our highest circulating items. One day, a woman came up to the counter to check out a package of Christmas themed cutters. She was ahem’ing quite loudly so me and my coworker went to check it out. Immediately we noticed the problem. Someone, possibly months or years prior, had taken the snowman out of the bag and re-bent it for a bachelorette or something similar. We knew this because upon closer inspection, the snowman was now a p*nis.

    Both of us laughed so hard we almost peed our pants. We deleted the “Snowman” from the kit and let the woman check out the rest of the items. Why she still wanted to bake cookies with her kids using THAT set, knowing what it was previously used for, was beyond us. All was well for many months until our gift exchange… when we discovered someone on staff had not only rescued the p*nis cookie cutter from our trash, but had tied a glittery ribbon on it, and wrapped it up as their gift that year! Several of us burst into hysterics and one super conservative person was very much not amused.

    More stringent guidelines about what constituted a handmade gift followed in years after.

    1. Charley*

      If they wanted to make penis cookies specifically they probably didn’t even use the other cookie cutters, right?

  45. Nonprofit employee*

    I worked for a non-profit, and during the holiday season, we would get lovely gift baskets from some of our board members or significant donors, which would be put out in the break room for everyone to enjoy.

    Our holiday party also included a raffle/door prize type of event, where someone would draw names from a hat and you could come up and pick an item from a set of prizes. This was a while ago, but the prizes were generally nice for that time – a dvd player, fancy wine, small tv, etc. There were usually one to two bigger ticket items, and then an assortment of decent options. It was a nice gesture since we were a non-profit, definitely making under-market salaries, and filled with many recent grads.

    One year, someone decided to add the baskets from the gift baskets from donors to the pile of prizes. Not the gift baskets themselves – those were still for everyone to enjoy – but the empty basket or container. So, a $2-3 likely plastic but definitely cheap container, mixed in with other prizes in the $50-150 range.

    There were some snickers and looks of confusion as people walked in and saw the table arranged with all items. When it was time for the drawing, the first person’s name was called and you could hear a voice from the back shout “go for the basket”! And so it continued, with people mildly heckling each winner about how they should definitely go for the random empty basket rather than the nicer prizes. I think I left before only the baskets were left, so not sure who got stuck with them.

    The empty baskets were noticeably absent the next year, and instead, offered for free to whoever might want them in the break room.

  46. Anon for this*

    Not a party I went to, but the aftermath.

    I had two coworkers who worked evenings and weekends at a local hotel, one in the restaurant and one in catering (this explains why they didn’t know each other prior to working at our office, which has no connection to the hospitality industry). Like many service job that are busy around the holidays, the hotel had their yearly party outside in the summer time, where the booze flowed freely.

    Both women had attended the last party before working together at the office but didn’t remember much of it, yet felt the other was familiar. When their SOs met, the mystery was solved. They had gotten into a loud, drunken argument at the party that had almost turned physical but been headed off by their soberer partners. (And a lack of motor skills at that point.)

    Luckily, both found it funny and would occasionally joke about who would have won. None of us work in that office, but we still keep in touch. My understanding is that the hotel party was considered a success if things like that happened.

    I have never worked anywhere that went for big, boozy parties (unless you were in upper management), so I had to live vicariously through them.

  47. Tiny Dinky Daffy, 92, pancaked by drunk dump truck driver.*

    Over a decade ago I worked at a museum in visitor services. The holiday party included the larger department with about 15 full timers, including our bosses, bosses’ boss, and her boss, and probably 20 or 25 of us front line staff, mostly temps and part timers. Other departments and full time positions would frequently hire from our department so it was generally good to make a positive impression (or so I thought).

    A long running tradition was the white elephant. In addition to the normal gifts of bottles of wine and gift cards, late into picking out gifts someone opens what appears to be a used bong. The immediate next gift is a giant dildo. I don’t remember who ended up with it but it did make an appearance later on at work hidden under a register.

  48. Godbert*

    In my defense, I was very young and it was my first full-time job.

    The work holiday party (~40-50 people) was at a restaurant. They seated us in the regular dining room at two very long tables holding half the party each. I ended up in the middle of one table on a side against a wall. I also needed to leave a little early, because my long-distance boyfriend was flying in to visit, and I needed to pick him up from the airport.

    So I got up and started to do my goodbyes, and because I was on the side between the table and the wall, I couldn’t just grab my things and flit away — I had to sorry-s’cuse-me-squish past every single person on that side of the table, causing each little pod of conversation to see me with my coat and hat and exclaim “oh! you’re leaving?! why are you leaving??” and then I’d explain and we’d do goodbyes, and then I’d advance another few steps down the line and have to do it over again, etc.

    By the time I got to the end of the table, I’d done the whole performance several times, it’d been a solid 15 minutes since I’d originally got up to leave, and I was getting aggravated and just wanted to go. However, the end of the table was filled with my fellow young hooligan employees, with whom I was used to being, uh, more candid.

    So when they asked “you’re leaving?! why are you leaving??” I cheerfully responded “Because I haven’t gotten laid in three months!”

    I happened to do this exactly when conversation hit a lull — in the room. My entire work party and half the restaurant immediately stared at me in silence.

    I think the only reason I never heard about it later was that the office Weird Lady tried to crack a joke and it didn’t make sense and fell completely flat. Epilogue: That boyfriend and I are married now.

  49. Snubble*

    It’s my first winter at my new job. The departmental meeting (mandatory) is on Tuesday. It will include a “Christmas-themed activity” (mandatory), about which we are not allowed to know, but which is “NOT a quiz”, followed by a Christmas lunch (at our own expense) (technically optional) at a local pub.
    We have been sternly informed that we MAY wear Christmas jumpers OVER our regular office attire but it is NOT a dress down day and we are NOT to wear jeans.
    I am considering coming down with a sudden case of death.

    1. Snubble*

      Last year they had their Christmas party at a local bingo hall and got the doorman fired. I hope the pub survives.

        1. Snubble*

          – Plan a fun night out to the bingo for Christmas
          – Pre-game the bingo
          – Arrive at the bingo semi-smashed with a bottle of something in a handbag
          – Doorman says no outside alcohol
          – Oh but we’re so nice, you can let us in, go on, it’s Christmas
          – Doorman lets them in
          – Go to the manager and say hey your doorman let us in with outside alcohol
          – Doorman gets fired

          That particular colleague is not, I think, a nice person.

    2. Csethiro Ceredin*


      “Not a quiz” is a weird thing to feel they need to highlight. Are many parties actually quizzes in disguise?

      1. Carolina*

        I think this might be a UK vs US disconnect – am I right in thinking what people in the UK & Ireland call “quizzes” tend to be called “trivia” in the US? Like organised fun with teams answering questions (and usually drinking at the same time)

        1. Snubble*

          Exactly this, only instead of drinking it’s 10am on a Tuesday in the office and you are in a mandatory team meeting, and the mandatory team building activity is trivia questions about reindeer.

  50. Nea*

    This isn’t wild, just sad and awkward. To set the scene; I worked as a contractor for a group that was bought out by a company whose HQ was the next state over. The new company announced that “All were welcome!” to the big fancy Christmas dinner in (home state) and that they’d do “something nice” for the people in my area for Valentine’s day.

    Because of that promise, I was the only one from my area who signed up for Home State Holiday Party – so when I showed up I got a *lot* of questions. Was I sure I was at the right party? Did I really work for Company? It really felt like the people at my table were about to throw me out before someone passing claimed to recognize me.

    Under the wrong name.

    That was the one and only time I attended Home State Holiday party… and if anyone is thinking “I bet they didn’t have another party in your state,” you win!

  51. ursula*

    At a chill holiday party when I was fresh out of school, I forgot that I had taken a benedryl that afternoon to help with dust allergies, which meant my one glass of wine (reasonable! moderate!) hit me like a freight train. I drunkenly blurted out how badly I wanted to fight my mom’s boss’ son, who had been a childhood rival and symbol-of-all-thats-wrong-in-the-world. My boss swiftly changed the subject and no one ever mentioned it again (kindly).

    1. ursula*

      I should add: I hadn’t thought about this guy in years, and I’ve never fought anyone in my life. Benedryl is not a joke.

    1. Crazy Book Lady*

      Not me! I just retired this month so keep them coming! I’m falling out of my chair laughing at some of these – especially Jolene!

  52. Alisaurus*

    At one former job, the company was small enough that we always had a fancy party at one of the top guys’ homes with food, drinks, and a few games. One year, a guy showed up dressed as Santa as a sort of entertainment feature… except he kept making creepy comments about the ladies on staff sitting on his lap and tried to give hugs in the kind of way that was NOT just friendly. When we took the group party picture with Santa in the middle, I made sure to stand as far away from him as I could get.

    The office manager later discovered the guy wasn’t any kind of professional Santa; he was just some guy the host had met who they’d decided it would be great if he could show up as Santa to the party.

  53. OlympiasEpiriot*

    1) Annoying story. Also, good example of what was just allowed w/o comment at my former firm.

    I was visibly (but not imminently) pregnant in a male-dominated profession and firm, making small talk with one of the partners and his wife at the holiday party. An admin who was a bit of a issue at the best of times was schickered and came up behind me and put her arms around my waist and started seal-flipper patting my belly, saying “I’ve been wanting to do this for so long!”

    I turned and smoothly pushed her up against a nearby wall behind her with my shoulder and growled “if you ever touch me again, I will break both your hands”. She didn’t talk to me again unless I spoke first.

    2) Different (later) holiday party (I was there a very long time). Another person brought a cousin as a plus 1 who was having a crisis. Cousin got VERY drunk — waaaay beyond schickered — and eventually asked a senior partner to make her his mistress so she could pay her rent.

      1. allathian*

        I hope the admin learned her lesson and never touches anyone else’s pregnant belly without explicit permission again.

        Thankfully, when I was pregnant nobody tried to touch my belly without permission. My MIL asked, but accepted my no gracefully and without ever bringing the subject up again. The only other people I allowed to touch my belly was my husband, and my best friend’s three year old daughter. My husband’s also friends with her husband and they were in another room talking. I was reading a story to the daughter while my friend nursed her 10 month old son in another room. Just as we were reading, the baby kicked my diaphragm so hard it hurt, and when I patted my belly, the baby kicked back. My friend’s daughter looked curious and as she was too young to remember much about her mom’s pregnancy, I asked her if she wanted to feel the baby kicking, and she did. Time flies, my friend’s daughter recently celebrated her 18th birthday.

  54. arachnophilia*

    Back in the day, when our division was much smaller, we held an annual holiday potluck and Yankee swap, which was loved by nearly everyone. We had a multicultural office with some excellent cooks, the wine, beer, and liquor flowed, and I recall no bad behavior as it was held at work during the day. The Yankee swap gifts varied – one year was the year of snuggies – but there were always a few bottles of alcohol, and these tended to be the ones that got “stolen” the most – especially by one director, Matthew.

    This particular year, a young and relatively new staff member had brought a holiday gift box of Canadian Club with two glasses, which that director snagged with clear delight. He headed off early, but left his bottle behind (my suspicion: so he could keep it in his desk drawer to keep him going through the long New England winter afternoons in the office). After he left, another director, Dan, said, “Let’s play a prank on Matthew.” He held up a near-empty bottle of Canadian Club from the party, got out a post-it, and left a note: “Sorry, Matthew, we had a bit of an after-party. Thanks for leaving your gift!”

    The next Monday, we heard Matthew yelling from down the hall. “Who was it?! Who drank my gift?! it was mine!” He was clearly extremely upset. He might have even written an office wide email about it, if I’m remembering correctly.

    Even when Dan came clean and provided him with the unopened bottle, Matthew was not appeased. His attachment to that full bottle? Well, when he left our company a few years later, someone had the job of recycling ALLLL the empty bottles in his desk…

  55. 2nd Shift*

    Years ago when I worked at a radio station, the 9-to-5 staff seemed to forget that there were coworkers there as early as 3am and as late as midnight. The 9-to-5 staff were also the party planners, so most of the activities catered to the first shift employees.
    Most memorably, the office manager kept a tight rein on free food in the break room.
    This included locking the extra Christmas cookies up because “the part time people will eat them” and checking security footage to see who left with an entire pie after the party was over.

  56. Entertained eavesdropper*

    I wasnt at this particular outing but a married ex-team member who had moved to a new team just before christmas and had been invited with his new team on their Christmas outing.
    The ex-team member described in detail to his friend (in our very public shared tea room) that he had got off with a member of his new team at the christmas outing. Afterwards he realised that his new manager had witnessed his indiscretion and he decided that the best thing to do was send a meeting request to his manager and coworker to discuss ‘their situation’. He could not understand why both had quietly declined the meeting. He then ranted about how his manager had quietly informed him that consensual relationships between peers were none of her business, but if either employee had concerns they needed to be raised through the proper channels.
    As the icing on the cake he ended by giving a detailed account of how he had phoned his mom to ask if he should tell his wife about the affair and that they had decided together that it would only hurt her feelings.
    He has since left the company citing that his new team had had an odd atmosphere.

  57. Retired But Not Forgotten*

    Years ago my office did a Secret Santa. One of the participants was a young newlywed who, unsurprisingly, did not have a lot of money. Her recipient was a good friend of hers who, each day would come to her and complain about what a terrible cheap gift giver he had!

    So on the reveal day she got him a plastic poop for being such a “poop” all week! He was chagrined and took it in good stride.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Years ago I was in a secret santa thing at work, and we were limited to something like $10 and it could be 1 gift or as many little ones as we wanted. I received a series of little things that i didn’t not understand, like a tiny restaurant pack of oyster crackers. I groused to work friends that it was like my santa just went to the drug store and picked up random stuff with no thought. On reveal day it turned out it was actually one of those work friend…oops. Once she explained, I could see how each gift had a meaning based on something she knew about me — the crackers were because I brought soup for lunch often. I felt like poop!

  58. How Is That On YouTube?*

    We had our winter office retreat, which is as close to a party as we get in my office. When we were on our potluck lunch break, one of the office managers put on an old gameshow/variety show from the 70s that she used to enjoy. We watch a “best of” clip on YouTube and, oddly enough, it had views in the millions versus other clip compilations of the show which were in the low thousands which could be seen on the sidebar. We soon found out why – one of the clips in the compilation we were watching had full frontal female nudity and she uh, shook it for all she was worth. We all screamed and the poor office manager ran for the laptop the projector was hooked to in order to turn it off.

  59. She Who Will Remain Nameless*

    Years ago, my hubby worked for a boss that was also a dog breeder. She was known for not exactly being tactful. She had no filter at all.

    They had an annual holiday party where plus-ones were welcome. This was his first year, and I decided to join him. When I show up for the holiday party his boss introduces herself, and immediately tells me that Hubby had told her that we were trying for children. She goes on to tell me the details of how she does her dog breeding (all artificial insemination, “I don’t let them have any fun, har har”), and would I like her vet to look at my husband’s sperm count?
    No. I would not.

  60. Seen Too Much*

    A long time ago, I worked at a company that had really great holiday parties. Open bar, cabs home, after parties, great food, excellent locations.

    Until one year. For some reason, they decided that they were going to have a 2 drink max beer and wine-only party at the hotel a few blocks away. With food, not great food, but food nonetheless. No after-party.

    Several customer service reps booked a suite at the hotel and planned on doing their own after-party. The company party was sooo horribly bad, people started running up to the suite for food and drinks. Managers, directors, pretty much everyone went to that suite, except the president and HR. They would go back to the company party and dance, then back up to the suite for more food and drinks.

    Quite a few people got wasted, exactly the opposite of the intention. The president was so pissed he had HR go to the room and tell everyone either they return to the party now, or get written up. They never had another off-site party again.

  61. RowdyDow*

    During Covid, our director decided the way to have a Christmas “party” was to Zoom it. So we did. I began drinking early in the evening, because, hey – I’m already home and it seemed like a dumb idea anyway. Our director is kind of “wacky” so that is why I stayed on Zoom as long as I did, hoping, I don’t know, to hear something…unique?? Profound?? I had planned to shut it down early if everyone broke out into singing carols (because this group would do just that) or if it got too boring. While waiting for “the profound moment”, I apparently thought it was boring enough to have SEVERAL adult beverages. At some point as everyone is chatting about the upcoming season or next year’s events, I took my laptop and staggered into the living room to show everyone my Christmas tree decorated with nuthin’ but penguins. No one had asked to see my tree. No one commented, no one said a word. Found out later my Zoom adventure consisted of twenty minutes of me showing my tummy to a room of 60+ people (staff and board of directors).

  62. Slartibartfast*

    First Christmas at the vet clinic, the party was catered at a nearby church campground, and it was delicious, but also a dry event. I don’t know if alcohol would have been better or worse.

    The evening started with the owner introducing a new hire, who proceeded to put on a professional 15 minute presentation of some really impressive yo-yo tricks. New hire was pranked into believing there was a staff talent show that evening. There was not.

    Then there was a “dirty santa” game, where you would pick a present and unwrap it, then the next person could steal the present or unwrap a new one. If it was stolen, then the now giftless person unwrapped one, or stole one. With all employees and their spouses participating, we did this game for two HOURS. Gifts were provided by the owner’s wife, 50/50 mix of serious and joke gifts. Including a framed photo of the conservative Christian owner in full drag. The receptionist went home with that one after much swapping.

    Then there was a drawing for the centerpieces, which were nice floral arrangements, and the grand prize – a fancy 5 lb assortment of mixed nuts. What kind of nuts? Cow, horse, sheep, goat, cat, and dog, floating in a lovely cut crystal decanter.

    God I miss those people.

    1. Despachito*

      My gosh.
      I have to ask… were those nuts, erm, real parts of those animals’ bodies, or their poo, or something else?

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Oh no, real testicles, left over from neutering the various original owners. My poor husband was traumatized.

  63. Nope, not appropriate.*

    My office would do a stealing Santa at our holiday party every year. Everyone brings an inexpensive wrapped gift (regifting completely acceptable), we all get numbers, number 1 chooses a gift to unwrap, number 2 can either steal an opened gift or unwrap a new one, etc. One of our interns who had been around long enough to be very familiar with the office culture very happily claimed his gift when it was unwrapped; his gift: a condom, lube and a cucumber. I still have no idea what he was thinking.

  64. I'll Always Be a Winner*

    A former colleague in my small (12-15 people) company was married to a wine expert, and one Christmas I was very excited to see that she brought in beautifully wrapped bottles of wine for the entire office – well, everyone (including the new guy who had been there for a week) but me. She gave me a small Ziploc bag of dehydrated fruit she had apparently created with her new dehydrator. To this day I have no idea why I was excluded from the wine giveaway.

    At any rate I smiled and said thanks, trying desperately not to fall out laughing from the Friends reference that my colleague most certainly would not have understood, but until her last day whenever she would leave the office I would think of Chandler’s parting words to his roommate Eddie – “Goodbye, you fruit-drying psychopath!”.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Or didn’t drink for other reasons? (People sometimes assume I don’t because I’m vegetarian.)

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            It’s the “vegetarians only eat ‘healthy’ food” ideology. For a while, Delta didn’t put cookies in their veg lunch boxes. I like cookies!

          2. MsSolo (UK)*

            A lot of wine (and beer) isn’t vegetarian – it’s clarified with isinglass, which is fish guts. Depending on how you approach vegetarianism, and how good labelling laws are where you are, I know quite a few veggies who only drink if they are the ones to have procured the alcohol.

        1. I'll Always Be a Winner*

          No we had talked about wine before and had both attended client dinners where drinks were served. (And it’s so weird that people would make a vegetarian/teetotaler connection!)

          The only thing that sort of made sense is that there was a new guy, and maybe she got the count wrong and was short a bottle of wine? But he replaced somebody so it wouldn’t have changed the number of people (and I can’t imagine she travels with an emergency supply of dried food just in case of a gift-giving fiasco, so not sure where the replacement gift would have come from – or why I would be the one to get the dried goods.) It’s just a weird little mystery that always makes me laugh.

      2. I'll Always Be a Winner*

        Oh lord no lol – we had worked together long enough that she knew I was well past 21.

  65. Princess*

    I worked for a chapter of an organization that, among other things, encouraged healthy lifestyles. The employee handbook included carefully detailed rules about what foods, drinks, and serving sizes were allowed at company parties, because “we had to lead by example for our mission of healthy lifestyles.”

    So for a celebratory event such as a birthday, you were allowed to have a no larger than 3 x 3 slice of cake, and wash it down with only plain or sparkling water (unsweetened, of course.)

    Incidentally, I left this job for a job at a different chapter of the same organization, in a different city. That chapter’s regional office had a free, unlimited soda fountain in its kitchen, as one of its main benefactors was a large beverage corporation who provided the fountain free of charge. It was quite the culture shock.

  66. Elle Woods*

    My husband’s former employer threw great holiday parties. Excellent food and entertainment. They also provided gift bags for all the guests which were typically distributed as you were leaving. The bags differed a little each year but usually included things like a Amex gift card, bottle of wine or sparkling cider, pair of movie tickets, etc. One year the bags included a gift certificate to a local bakery known for their cheesecake. That particular year, the bags were already available at each place setting and tables were assigned for a sit-down dinner. (In previous years, things were served buffet style and you sat wherever you want.)

    There was a DJ who was spinning tunes after dinner. Most people were either dancing or mingling around–except for one of my husband’s coworkers, “Larry,” who had a well-earned reputation as a cheapskate. After consuming a multitude of adult beverages, Larry was stumbling around and rummaging through unattended gift bags. My husband’s boss eventually saw what was going on and confronted Larry. Larry had pilfered about 40 cheesecake bakery gift certificates and about an equal number of Amex gift cards.

    His excuse? His daughter was getting married the following summer and he figured he could use the gift cards to pay for wedding expenses and insist his daughter serve cheesecake for dessert at her wedding. Boss took the gift cards and certificates from Larry, called him a cab, and sent him home. There was a company-wide email that went out Monday morning telling employees what had been in in the bags and if anything was missing to please contact HR to have the items replaced.

    The following year the company went back to handing out gift bags as you were leaving.

  67. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

    A former company hosted a Secret Santa gift exchange in the 1970s. We were supposed to spend approx $5.00, for which you could buy a decent gift in the 1970s. Jane told Sansa and me, “I wish I knew who had my name. There are earmuffs at the store on the corner that I like, but they cost $6.00. I would give them a dollar and ask them to get me those earmuffs.”

    I asked, “Why don’t you just buy the earmuffs yourself?” Jane said, “I would, if they cost $4.00, but I’m not going to spend $6.00.” Even though Jane clearly expected Sansa and me to go around and ask everyone, “By any chance, did you get Jane’s name in the Secret Santa exchange? There’s a pair of earmuffs that she wants that costs $6.00. She’ll give you the extra dollar,” neither of us did that.

    On the day of the Secret Santa exchange, Jane was extremely disappointed when she opened her gift and, instead of earmuffs, she found plant food. (Everyone in the office knew that she liked to garden.) She screamed and ranted and carried on. Her gift was from Fergus, who was out on vacation that day but had dropped off his gift for Jane ahead of time. Everyone said that if Fergus had been there that day, World War III would have started.

    We never had another Secret Santa exchange.

  68. LabSnep*

    The year weed became legal in Canada, the most fought after gift at our work secret Santa (not at work) was a box with a couple of pre rolled joints, a small thing of cannabis and rolling papers.

    It was kind of hilarious.

  69. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    On a company holiday party on a boat, my coworker got rather drunk, though a happy drunk. At one point, she pulled me aside and
    very earnestly told me that my boyfriend was “a stud” and to let her know when I was “done with him.” I kept myself together until we got off the boat and I could tell my boyfriend the story and laugh hysterically. I then called him “Stud” for about two weeks.

  70. Veryanon*

    I’ve told this story before, but the funniest/craziest holiday party story I have remains this one:
    A former employer used to have a blow-out party every year with different themes, food stations, open bars, etc. One year it was a South Pacific theme and we all had to wear Hawaiian shirts. The theme for the particular year I’m thinking of was a “Cowboy” theme so we were all supposed to wear cowboy hats, western-wear shirts, etc. The organizer had also planned different fun carnival games, like a ring toss, that thing you hit to try to ring the bell, and so forth. And…a mechanical bull. A real mechanical bull, like that one in the movie “Urban Cowboy.” Let’s just say…open bar + mechanical bull = unpleasant results. Yikes.

  71. Hydrangea McDuff*

    In a previous life/career, I worked in a regional office in Texas supporting salespeople in seven southern/southwestern states. One year, our region had an in-person sales meeting that coincided with the holiday season, so our manager thought it would be a good idea for the salespeople (all from out of town/state) to mix and mingle with our office staff socially at a well-known Texas chain restaurant. Plus-ones were encouraged for our office staff, though of course our sales folks did not have their spouses or SOs with them. Of the five office staff, three of us brought our known significant others, one person came solo, and our office assistant, “T”, who I loved dearly and who was also a little rough around the edges, brought a person none of us had ever met and who looked like he had literally time traveled in from Lonesome Dove or was the long-lost brother of Sam Elliott, complete with cowboy hat and duster coat. He spoke zero words to anyone. An hour or two into the event, I found myself sitting with my spouse and a couple of our sales folks, all of us a few beverages in, and someone finally asked, “so, T, who’s this?” because it was getting awkward that this one individual was such a mystery to us all, and there were only about 20 people there total!

    T calmly replied, “oh him? he’s my f–kbuddy.”

    My spouse and I still quote this memorable gem of an introduction.

  72. Domanda*

    I was in my mid-20s and had just moved to New York City when I experienced my first real work holiday party while working at a famous company that was very posh. The party organizers held the event in a very elegant space with an open bar, though they apparently didn’t arrange for any food other than a few appetizers. In what should not have been a surprise to anyone, nearly all of my very fancy coworkers and I were drunk almost immediately. A few memorable scenes: me dirty dancing with one of the Senior VPs and one of my coworkers commenting on how hot that was; someone getting locked in one of the two bathroom stalls in the women’s bathroom and being so drunk that they were unable to figure out how to unlock it from the inside (it had a full door so no one could shimmy underneath), and I think someone may have peed in the sink; and a couple staff members got in a fistfight. Also, the organizers had also decided that distributing hula hoops late in the evening would be a great idea and I have a gloriously goofy picture of me trying to use one on the dance floor. I also thought it would be hilarious to steal one of them and I have a strong memory of drunkenly stumbling down Central Park South carrying a hula hoop. (I actually kept it for years as a memento.) I don’t know if there was any official fallout from the party, but the following year they definitely planned for a whole dinner first.

  73. Nesprin*

    Tim was my mentor when I interned back in the dawn of time.

    Tim showed up to the holiday party in a bathrobe, drunk as a skunk, and proceeded to hit on the CEO’s wife. Shockingly this did not get him fired, but he did get fired after I caught him a week later pipetting blood from an unscreened donor with a spinal needle without gloves.

  74. SecretSanta*

    When I briefly worked at a private school in the UK, there was a big post-work drinking culture amongst the mostly fairly young staff (not entirely unrelated to bananapants management which led to a lot of drowning sorrows at the local pub). When Christmas came around, the party consisted of festive snacks & a gift exchange in the school canteen, followed by all the teachers and support staff immediately heading to the local pub at ~1 in the afternoon and apparently didn’t end until the early hours of the next morning. It was also coincidentally my last day in that job so I was very disappointed that I ended up having to leave early, but everything I heard after made me think I had dodged a bullet – I woke up the next day to several random photos in the work group chat of one teacher giving another a back massage followed by another colleague wordlessly leaving the chat, and heard from various sources that I had missed various displays of drunkeness, at least one HR-worthy argument, and alleged class A drug use by one of (I thought) the more “sensible” staff members. If I learned anything from that job it’s not to underestimate the partying habits of teachers when they’re under enough stress!

  75. Roscoe da Cat*

    Once headed off a very bad idea for a party.
    I was working at a small firm where the party planning was done by the 20-somethings (one of them the boss’s daughter) who were very nice but rather sheltered. I spent an entire lunch explaining to them how they could NOT ask the head of sales to play Santa Claus when he was obviously a religious Jew. I had to tell them that Santa Claus was a religious figure and that Christmas is not considered a secular holiday – sigh.

    1. Not Really Here*

      Not saying he should be asked to play Santa, but since when is Santa Claus a religious figure? Are you thinking of Jesus?

      1. Santanon*

        Santa is religious because his origin is in the Christian/Catholic faith and he delivers presents on Jesus’ birthday.

        From Wikipedia article on Santa:
        “Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure[1] originating in Western Christian culture….”

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Briefly, Santa Claus is based on/an evolution of Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas (per the Santa Claus Wikipedia page). Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop, aka a religious figure. Father Christmas is a religious figure, because Christmas is a religious (specifically Christian) holiday.

        I don’t know how pedantic you are about who is and isn’t a religious figure, but Christmas (and Santa Claus) are pretty specifically Christian, not secular, and as such it’s a bad look to try to rope people of other faiths into dressing up as Santa Claus.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          For more on this (not about Santa specifically, but Christmas in general), see the answer to the post “is it OK to put up a Christmas tree at work?” from December 9, 2019. I’m a non-practicing cultural Christian who blithely assumed that most Christmas trappings were secular and that post helped me understand just how non-secular Christmas is to people who are not Christians/were not raised culturally Christian.

      3. ferrina*

        Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicolaus. The character has undergone a lot of iterations throughout the years, most of them religious. It’s only our most recent version that is more commercial than religious.

      4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Even in the more recent Santa Claus gifting tradition, the poem that includes “the stockings were hung by the chimney with care” is called “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.”

      5. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Santa Claus is St. Nicholas, a Catholic saint. I would say that makes him a religious figure.

      6. Expelliarmus*

        Well, Santa Claus is based off of St. Nick, who is definitely a religious figure by virtue of being a saint, so I guess that’s what they mean.

  76. Banana Tuxedo Junction*

    Nothing *yet*, but…our department legit has a Jim-and-Pam type duo (ie, “everyone can see it”), and they recently went a few very notable weeks without speaking. “Jim” apparently has a new girlfriend and is bringing her to our holiday party next week. I don’t know what it says about me that I’m looking forward to it, but it’ll at least be *interesting*.

  77. It Tastes Better*

    Over 30 years ago, when I was 23 and my brother was 18, we managed a fast food chicken restaurant together. There was a 3rd manager, who was in-between us in the management hierarchy, and he was also 23, and we (and many of our employees) were all very close. My fiance at the time also worked there. The last Christmas we all worked together before the store was sold to a new owner, my brother and the 3rd manager decided to have an after hours in-store Christmas party for everyone. Me being a “responsible” head manager, I decided not to attend, as well as my fiance, since we had to open the store the next day. This was a mistake.

    When we pulled into the parking lot the next morning, the first thing we noticed was entire bags of flour had been broken open on the side street to the restaurant, and intermingled with this were smashed vanilla and chocolate pudding cups. All product from inside the restaurant, clearly labeled as such. Now I was dreading what I would see inside the restaurant. To my surprise, everything seemed normal, but as it turns out, I was very wrong about that. We cleaned up the mess on the street as best we could, and got to work, including our cook for that day, who had been at the party the night before.

    11 AM, and the first customer comes in. He walks up to the register where I am to take his order, and is staring at the menu board behind me. I see this look come over his face, and I know there is something behind me on that menu board that I absolutely do not want to see. He says to me: “What IS that?!”, and points. I slowly turn around, and am confronted with a hand written sign taped to the menu board with some very inappropriate language/drawings on it, and propped up next to it on the ledge of the menu board is a marijuana pipe. I can also clearly hear our cook laughing his ass off in the back of the restaurant.

    As I am frantically thinking of a response to give the customer, he suddenly points under the packing table, which is below the menu board, and he says: “And what IS all that?!”. When I shift my focus downwards, I can see a variety of empty beer cans on the floor under the table.

    So I did what anyone in a panic would do, and yelled: “Oh my God! Someone broke into the store last night! Call the police!”. My fiance pretended to do so, while I got the customer taken care of quickly, and then I had the cook who had been at the party go around and find everything that had been strategically planted around the store to “surprise” me.

    Needless to say, I had a stern discussion with my brother and the 3rd manager when they came in later that day, where somehow they felt I was the one at fault for this debacle for not finding all of their “hilarious surprises” before letting customers in. I asked them how “hilarious” it would be if I fired both of them, and that was the end of the discussion, and of parties in the store. (That I knew about.)

  78. Mrs. Jameson*

    Our office has a white elephant gift exchange at the holiday party. There are few older women in the office that work in admin roles that are just the nicest people, great to work with, etc etc. There is also a very weird guy in the office whose people skills are definitely pretty work.

    My first year participating, one of the nice admin women had the last pick. She picked up the last gift, a weird jingling sack gift that everyone had passed over, rather than steal someone else’s gift. She opens it and it is a bag of glass shards (double bagged in clear plastic bags). As in, a riff on the 1976 SNL holiday skit starring Dan Akroyd. Very few people got the reference. She certainly did not. So now this lovely woman is left with a sack of broken glass, the guy who put this into gift pile is laughing because he thinks it’s hilarious, and I am just baffled at how he thought that was a good idea. Most people had stopped paying attention, so I’m not sure too many folks caught onto the fact that this woman is holding an actual hazard and didn’t even get a cheap fun gift like the rest of us.

    I think of this every time a white elephant gift exchange is mentioned in any context.

  79. Jennifer C.*

    This might only be funny to me. :-)

    The small company (about a dozen employees) I worked at had our Christmas party at the home of one of our secretaries. (Her husband was a big shot in the small town they lived in, so she had a big fancy house that was big enough for our group.)

    It was a lovely party and I drank too much, as I always did at office parties. I had to sleep overnight in their guest room.

    During the night, I woke up in that state where my hangover was starting but I was still kind of drunk. I had to use the bathroom – I had one of those post-drinking #2s brewing.

    There was a bathroom attached to the guest room so I went and did my business. As my baby nephew used to say when he was potty-training, “I pooped a big one.” It was huge. HUGE. It did not flush. I flushed again and the toilet bowl filled with water.

    The other end of the bathroom had a slightly-open door that led to another bedroom, and I was sure it was the bedroom of the family’s college-age daughter who was home for the holidays. (Was it really, or was I drunk? I have no idea.)

    I was afraid that if I searched for a plunger (and found one and used it), I would wake up the daughter. So I just went back to bed.

    In the morning, I politely drank the cup of coffee I was offered and then got the hell out of there as fast as I could. I did not mention the toilet, and it was never mentioned to me. No one ever spoke of it, guaranteeing permanent awkwardness.

    On my next birthday, our secretary gave me a birthday card with a picture of a baby in a diaper and the words “Holy poop, it’s your birthday!”

    I was just as embarrassed as I deserved to be. :-D :-D

    1. allathian*

      Oh no. Reminds me of a 24-hour cruise I went on with my first serious boyfriend. We drank a bit although not excessively, and the morning after he pooped an enormous one, it must’ve been about a foot long. He thought it was so cool that he insisted on showing it to me and refused to flush until I looked in the bowl. I’m very glad the cruise ship had vacuum toilets, because it would’ve probably blocked his or my toilet at home.

      I left him not long afterwards, and this was definitely a big straw on the camel’s back.

  80. Llama Llama*

    When my husband and I first started dating we threw a party at his house along with his roommate. We threw a Christmas party at his relatively small house and invited coworkers from our respective places (we worked retail). We figured people would show up and I made a lovely and large alcoholic punch (there was like 6 bottles of booze in it…). My husband and roommate also bought a bunch of goose. People showed up indeed. 300+ people were in his 2 bedroom house at some point to where you couldn’t even move. Cars were lined up and down his street. At one point someone was on his roof (We knew that person and they were banned from future gatherings).
    A friend had started a tip jar to supplement the significant amount of alcohol provided.
    All alcohol and money were gone by the next morning. People were not and we had to kick many people out.
    Several months later, people from another store I had never met were talking fondly of the party.

  81. Meghan*

    Without going into too many stereotypes, attractive, young, single men tend to be a hot commodity in offices and “Mark” was one in my old office. Women of all ages, and marital statuses (ugh) would flock to him, despite his continued lack of interest and avoidance of office social events. Being rather shy and reserved, he never really knew how to handle it. Mark and I were pretty good friends due to some shared creative pursuits and my willingness to hear him vent about the inappropriate attention. At one holiday party his little fan club spent the entire night hanging out near the entrance so they couldn’t miss him coming in. Too bad he never planned on going to the party and the group wasted their whole night of free catering and open bar waiting to hit on a man who all but loathed them.

  82. Four Calling Birds*

    The company I work for has a holiday party every year, where everyone is seated at round tables. The old owner’s wife would lead everyone in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” assigning the days by table (1-2 tables per day). Lyrics would be on the tables. We would be admonished (in kind of a camp counselor way) for not being enthusiastic enough. Pretty much everyone was there because it was when bonus checks were handed out. Not to mention, the workforce is extremely diverse but less so as you move up the org chart. We definitely have plenty of people in the company who are not Christians in any way so this older white lady cheerleading everyone to sing their hearts out at a work event was really a choice.

    Company was sold, old owner got divorced & retired, and the parties went on hiatus due to Covid. They are now back but now with activities that are easier to participate in if you want or kind of ignore and eat your dessert.

  83. Cabbagepants*

    This is very tame in comparison to what others will share. My university department had a Christmas party, including an ugly sweater competition. People like me wore their ugly sweaters the whole party in anticipation of the judging at the end. During the mingling I noticed one of the senior professors wearing a hideous sweater and I complemented him in his entry to the ugly sweater competition. He looked confused and asked me, What’s an ugly sweater competition?

    1. Cheap Ass Rolls*

      I had a similar experience. In the heyday of very specific Ugly Sweater parties, my team (working at a company that attracted a lot of senior citizen retiree women for part time seasonal work) had one. I picked out what I thought was an ugly sweater. And I got complimented on it the whole day. I didn’t want to tell people, “Thanks! It’s my ugly Christmas sweater!” Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, it seems.

      I also was the only person wearing a Christmas sweater to my team’s party.

    2. ChatGPT*

      Yeah, I was the recipient of a compliment on my ugly sweater. It was not very close in my estimation – really! But I still donated it shortly afterwards.

  84. Toothpaste*

    Setting: academic department holiday party
    Me: Department Chair (no more, thank goodness)
    My guests: my family, incluing my preteen children, one of whom was precocious enough to chat up the graduate students and ask them for tips on getting through graduate school.
    The graduate students, not realizing they were advising the Department Chair’s child: copious amounts of alcohol.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      Even if they didn’t realize the child was that of the Department Chair, did they seriously not realize that they were nowhere close to legal drinking age?!

      1. kalli*

        Does that matter if the kid is asking about how to cope with graduate school, something they’ll assumably be able to drink for at the dizzy least the tail end of?

  85. Miette*

    CEO at my last full-time gig, slightly tipsy/feeling emotional, makes a big speech about how we’re all a family and they’d be lost without all of us. Several people had to remind them that because of their insistence on relocating the office to another city, the holiday lunch was effectively half the staff’s last day.

  86. PDB*

    My ex girlfriend worked in a law library that got a lot of food baskets over Christmas to thank them for the help with research during the year.
    There was a signup sheet for the items in each basket.

  87. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    First job out of college wasn’t a programming job. I was a temp, then Accounting/Finance Intern. Which was a fancy way of saying I printed cheques to be mailed out and wrote fancy models in Excel.

    Anyway, when the second Christmas season came around, I’d been there about 14 months and given up my fantasies of moving up into an entry-level role on their programming team (the IT director, I would find out later, blackballed me because I had been friendly to the existing programmers. No, it never made any more sense than that) and was just biding my time until the next Ave Maria interview. Another department (I forget which; they were on the 3rd floor. Maybe Compliance?) had acquired two top-of-the-line iPods (back when they were premium items, maybe 4th gen? 60 GiB?), one black and one white, and were raffling them off to support a charity.

    I had no more use for Apple then than I do now, but I had great rapport with the secretary in that department and Management was being very look-the-other-wayish about productivity and presenteeism that season, so I spent a solid half-hour talking to and flirting with the secretary in Compliance, buying a single ticket, and asked about a date when we had to get back to our respective jobs. I was declined, but took the decline with grace, respected it as a final answer, and we remained good friends afterwards (forgive me, please; I was young and didn’t know better). I thought to myself “$5 well spent.”

    I had also befriended another Finance Intern with different role responsibilities, a single mother, and she’d bought a single ticket as well. She’d gone on and on about wanting to give it to her daughter if she won one of them. There were managers in other departments who’d bought over 100 tickets (at $5/each), so the street value had to be higher than their ~$300 MSRP. I vaguely remember supply shortages.

    Day of, the single-mother Intern was having a rough day professionally. Work was piling up and she couldn’t keep up–she went to lunch late. On the way out the door, she handed me her ticket and told me, “if they call my ticket, would you pick it up for me?” We both chuckled at the idea and I agreed to without hesitation. We both knew the odds; it was a moot gesture.

    The Compliance team, and especially VP of Compliance, had been crowing about how much money was being raised and how excited everyone was, so at raffle time, anyone who didn’t wander up to the Compliance atrium on their own was summoned. I came late because I was compelled to and sat in the back.

    Sure enough, the VP of Compliance pulled the ticket with my name from the jar. With my face as red as my hair from embarrassment, I walked up in front of God and everyone, stammered out a probably-oddly-worded gratitude, retreated back to my seat in the very back with the gadget I had no use for… only for him to announce “I guess Finance are the big winners today!” and pull the single-mother Intern’s ticket for the other iPod. I repeated the same trip, making myself as small as possible with my body language. “She’s at lunch right now.”

    If looks could kill, I would have been dead a thousand times over where I stood. Managers–nominally leaders–started complaining openly about the raffle being fixed. Threats were whispered. “The rich get richer!” Everyone thought they back up the Brinks trucks for the Finance and Accounting department, but the truth of the matter was that our wages combined would be less than the modern minimum wage, even with inflation.

    My manager deftly moved into the seat I had been sitting in and ordered me politely back to my desk, “as I had work waiting on [me].” I complied without breaking stride. The last thing I saw on the 3rd floor were the CFO and Comptroller stepping in front of the door to the stairwell as it closed behind me–I wasn’t waiting for an elevator.

    After the mob dispersed, the Finance and Accounting team reorganized in the print closet where she, I, and a Sr. Analyst worked (you couldn’t trust two interns alone with a MiCR printer and cheque stock–crazy but not that crazy). The other Intern came back from Wendy’s visibly upset–they’d declined her bank card and she’d changed her order to a kid’s meal because that was the cash she had on hand. Those tears were replaced with tears of joy for having her daughter’s gift. I offered her the choice of the two iPods, but since the black one had been raffled first, she insisted on keeping the white one. We had really only bought the one ticket each, it was all on the up-and-up, and everything had played out by chance–we all found the irony funny (hence retelling it on this thread).

    Because of where the office was and where my parents’ home was, my shift was 6 am – 3 pm, and if I didn’t leave by 3:15 pm, I may as well stay until 7:15 pm because I’d get home after 8 pm either way. The drama raged well past 3:30 pm, so my manager created a new report for me to write to justify the time. I had several managers from other departments stop by and try to charismatically buy the other iPod from me before they were shooed away, but I was savvy enough to feign attachment to it and decline them all–if I’d sold it to any of them, the others would all have resented me (more) out of envy.

    I probably still have it, in a box somewhere.

  88. ChatGPT*

    Offered up a “Yodeling Pickle” for a white elephant gift exchange. Every other gift was “normal” stuff like throw blankets, candles, scented soaps etc.
    I was thankful for the anonymity.

  89. I Count the Llamas*

    I used to work for a very large company that decided to go all-out for the holiday party one year. They rented out part of the convention center to accommodate the several thousand people that would be attending. Open bar, live entertainment performing, ice sculptures everywhere and they had decked out the inside. Everyone was impressed at the food, including several choices of different cuts of steak, jumbo shrimp, etc.

    But they barely had any tables. Myself and several others (including an executive) ended up hovering over a TRASH CAN to eat because we could set our drinks on the wide rim. We then proceeded to eat our steak by picking it up with our fingers and gnawing off bites, because there was no way we could use a knife! AND THERE WAS A LINE TO TAKE THE NEXT OPEN PLACE AT THE TRASH CAN WHEN SOMEONE FINISHED!

  90. TrixieD*

    I’ve been with my company for almost seven years; our president and CEO has been with us for over 20. He’s a wonderful, loveable and all-around popular guy with a wicked wit and a terrific sense of humor. Other than the fact that he runs a multi-million dollar company, he’s your average Joe Six-Pack–totally the guy you’d like to have a drink with and hear more about.

    I’m in charge of planning our annual holiday shindig, and although it’s meant for folks in our office, members of our C-Suite join us from out of the area, and they always make things fun.
    Having tired of the White Elephant gift exchange from the previous years, I instituted a Crazy Sock Exchange™ in 2022 where folks were encouraged to bring fanciful, colorful socks (no pantihose or white athletic socks allowed). We conducted the exchange much like a White Elephant–draw a number, pick your selected gift and open it for all to see; next number can either steal from coworker or pick from the table, etc. It went on like that with people opening socks featuring avocados, pickles “You’re a Big Dill,” random dogs, etc. CEO had gotten a mid-way number and already had his socks in hand when the last two pair were left on the table.

    Brand new employee opens her selection from the table and they are socks with the CEO’s face all over them. There was plenty of surprise in the room once she held up the socks for all to see; the CEO promptly pulled out his wallet and started chasing said employee, trying to buy “his socks” from her. She wouldn’t budge (girl had chutzpah for only being with us a month or two). Second-to-last person stole CEO’s socks from him, allowing him to rip “his socks” out of Chutzpah’s hand. He promptly stripped off his existing socks and shoes, and proudly wore His Socks™ for the rest of the party. And yes, I was the one who paid $49 including rush shipping for a pair of CEO-faced socks.
    I have another pair of the same waiting for this year’s event. It’s his last year as CEO with our company, so I’m pretty sure there will be some MMA-level action once they’re discovered.

  91. Sunny Delano Roosevelt*

    In the early 2000s, I worked for a fruit-named tech company that was notorious for its massive holiday parties. They weren’t even parties–they were damned blow-outs. I had just started with said company the last week of November as a receptionist, and because I was in a particular building with a particular group, I received the all-team invite to the holiday party. Not realizing I wasn’t supposed to be invited, I RSVP’d in the affirmative and added my husband as my plus one.

    Showed up at this monstrously huge party at a massive warehouse in the city that had been decked out from top to bottom. Event organizers at the check in table couldn’t find my name anywhere on the list, but I had a screenshot of my RSVP on my phone, so they let me in after 15 minutes of negotiations. My husband was horrified.

    Once inside, I had never seen more stations with entrees, desserts, appetizers, a candy bar, a s’mores table, chocolate and cheese fondue stations–it was insane. Roving magicians, caricature artists, a live band and flower displays that cost more than I’d make in a year. Hundreds of people were there, and I knew none of them since I was so new.

    After a plate of shrimp and a lemon drop martini that made my teeth numb, the band was on a break. I marched behind the stage, introduced myself with a nom de plume and announced that I was a backup singer with a local band and I wanted to sing backup with them. (Note: I wasn’t a backup singer for ANYONE and I knew very few song lyrics from start to finish. My bad.)

    Lead singer is charmed and says yes, we’d love to have you join us in our second set. Pick a song you’d like and we’ll invite you up when it’s time. I decided in my partially inebriated state that Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” fit the bill, and when the band was getting ready to sing it, they called me onto the stage and handed me a microphone. I had maybe heard the song ten times in my life, and I really didn’t know any of the lyrics, but when they started playing, I bounced around the stage like I was at the Grammys. The lead singer kept trying to get me to join in, and I kept deferring until we got to the two parts I knew. The first is when the song says, “Can’t stop, comin’ in hot, I should be locked up right on the spot, It’s so on right now (so fuckin’ on right now),” and I fully shrieked that last line into the mic while doing a David Lee Roth-esque head-banging motion. The lead singer was wide-eyed but kept on singing until we got to the next part I knew, which is where Pink seems to raise her glass, spill it, and say, “Oh, fuuuuck!” And of course, I sang that last part like IT WAS MY JOB.

    After the song ended, I received a ton of applause from the partygoers and a few, “And who are you again?” questions which I pretended to not hear. When I returned to my reception seat in the building on Monday, I received a few double-takes and overheard some, “Oh, that’s her” comments in the restroom. Considering I can’t really carry a tune in a bucket, it sure was fun to pretend–for one night–that I could.

  92. Nerdling*

    Our holiday parties have had their moments, although I swear we aren’t all actually alcoholics:
    * The year my spouse and I taught my coworkers and their spouses how to play beer pong (my spouse doesn’t drink, and I’m a lightweight, but what else is college for if not learning good drinking games that you then use to bridge the generational gap with your coworkers?)
    * The year we played Spoons and a coworker’s pregnant spouse nearly lost a hand to an overenthusiastic player determined to win the round
    * The Backyard Cartwheel Competition (In retrospect, I actually think that happened at two separate parties)
    * The year of the deadly peppermint martinis, whose alcohol content you could only feel, not taste. Those suckers got several of us, and the rest got got by the follow-on jello shots.
    * The year of the deadly apple cider, whose Everclear content you also could only feel, not taste. Having learned from the martinis, I stopped drinking cider and started drinking water (and eating the party food).
    * The year someone brought in bourbon balls to the office, and our grand-boss had… several. I think someone wound up driving them home, just to be on the safe side, because those suckers had what felt like a shot of bourbon each.

  93. Rocket Scientist*

    oh my god I have one

    So I used to work at a space access company that shall remain nameless (space as in outer; access as in rockets; definitely not the one you’re thinking of). At the location I was working, about 300-400 people could be expected to show up to parties.

    Like most space access companies, it was populated principally by youngish whitish men. Like most space access companies and indeed most companies in my country, which notoriously has a huge problem with binge-drinking and in which drinking is legal at 18 for anyone and at any age with parental approval, it ran on booze. Wherever two or more coworkers were gathered not in the name of working, a six-pack would be there among them. Often several six-packs.

    All company-sponsored parties had an open bar. For some parties this meant ten or twenty of the kind of coolers it would be practical to hide a couple of bodies in, repeatedly being restocked with the kind of drinks that come in bottles and cans. For the holiday party, it meant an actual bar with several actual bartenders, each constantly making a specific kind of cocktail and lining them up on the bar. (And one whose job was to hand over beer.) These folks poured generously and had a very loose definition of what ‘too drunk to serve’ looked like.

    The party was held in the hangar, as the only space other than the factory floor capable of actually holding everyone who might want to come. There were bougie food trucks, there were the all-important bartenders, and tucked in a corner there were two of the portable bathroom situations that look like roughly what would happen if you uplifted the entire bathroom from Harrods and installed it in a caravan. There was a men’s bathroom caravan and a women’s bathroom caravan. This was not the kind of company that acknowledged any other options.

    Plus-ones were encouraged. One coworker brought his teenage daughter. One was going to bring his wife but at the last moment brought his dog instead. One coworker brought my cousin’s roommate, who I was very surprised to see. One coworker, who we’ll call Craig, brought someone who looked like she might have been the teenage daughter that we all knew he very much had (because he was difficult to restrain from showing photos of her daughter, his granddaughter, to anyone at all), but turned out to be his new girlfriend who was in fact slightly younger than his daughter. Craig was personally chaotic and professionally fantastic.

    The dog was a massive hit. The teenage daughter got hit on by almost all the single guys, despite her dad, their boss, being right there. The new girlfriend tried – and briefly succeeded! – to keep up with Craig drink for drink, despite nobody in the company being dumb enough to try that after the first time. Craig was somewhat famous for being able to get through fifteen standard doubles in two hours and remain both vertical and lucid. The new girlfriend also seemed to be both vertical and lucid, but what goes in must come out (because ‘what goes up must come down’ does not really apply in this industry), and presently she hied her to the women’s bathroom caravan.

    Craig started to wonder where she was about fifteen minutes later, and started to look for another woman, any other woman, who could go check on her, about five minutes after that. I was halfway across the hangar at the time and was still the first woman he found. (Yeah.) So being the decent and still mostly sober soul I was, I agreed to brave the horrors of the ladies’ room (which was identical to the men’s room apart from the sign on the door) to see if the new girlfriend was, y’know, alive.

    Now, a key difference between a regular old port-a-potty and a Harrods style bathroom caravan is that the doors on the latter go all the way to the top and all the way to the bottom and have actual locks that lock on the inside. There were six cubicles. They were all closed, which surprised me because I didn’t realize there were that many women in the company, but a lot of my colleagues had brought femme plus-ones, so maybe it was that.

    By process of elimination (knocking on each cubicle door while calling the new girlfriend’s name and seeing what response I got) I figured out that three cubicles were empty, one contained someone from HR, one contained someone else’s plus-one, and the last one contained someone who had once been conscious enough to lock the door but was no longer conscious enough to answer to her name or to audibly move. This is, if you’re counting, a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale as assessed through a locked door.

    I went and told Craig that I had located the girlfriend and that she appeared to be passed out in a locked bathroom stall. Craig remained reluctant to go into the ladies’ room. With the aid of a handy multitool and a torx bit we convinced a sober (female) security guard to go get for us, the lock was disassembled from the outside of the door and the door pried open. We shook the new girlfriend awake, helped her pull her panties back up and her skirt back down, and escorted her back out of the bathroom. She and Craig left the party shortly afterwards to go on a pub crawl.

    As far as I’m aware they’re still together, and as far as I know the company still throws parties just like that, but I don’t know what the port-a-potty rental place had to say about the disassembled door.

    1. allathian*

      At least you didn’t have to break the door off its hinges, so it was probably fairly simple to fix. I hope.

  94. Always Tired*

    Some highlights:

    > As the +1 to a very good friend of 7ish years, I was accused of being a paid date by another attendee’s wife. Everyone else was mortified, I thought it was hilarious.

    > A friend’s company always does their year end party in January for less stress and more bang for their buck. The first year I went, it was roaring 20’s themed in a rented out basement night club. I did multiple shots of tequila, including while linking arms with their CEO. We rallied friend’s department to the 24 hour diner 3 blocks away, and during that walk: 3 people got lost and called multiple times because they couldn’t figure out how to pull up google maps, the team lead started accusing us of kidnapping him, then puked on my shoes, then accused me of stealing his phone while trying to call his cab, resulting in an awkward conversation with a passing cop. The next year, it was a day time event with drink tickets and a very specific “NO SHOTS, not even if you pay out of pocket” rule, complete with signs on the bar.

    >at my job prior to this, they always cheaped out and had the party as a cocktail hour after work on a Thursday in the office, that always ran until around 10pm. I handled all the purchasing, ordering, set up, and clean up for such events, meaning I didn’t get to do much besides toss back a glass or two of wine while running around between the conference rooms and the kitchen, and spent Thursday afternoon and Friday morning not doing my actual job. However, to make up for my lack of party enjoyment and the yelling at me about how the cheeses were laid out wrong right before it started, my boss would tell me to expense a night out the next night, so favorite coworker and I would go get blitzed on a Friday night and put it in as a “team building event.”

    > I expect to be the cause of a lot of inappropriate jokes, as one of the events we are doing at my (construction company’s) holiday party is a competition like you see in those tiktoks where the person has to blind pull a tape measure as close as possible to a certain length. The first place prize will be a $100 gift card, and I think $50 for second place. The loser will be receiving the measuring tape used in the competition, since they clearly need it. We in the office are debating the length that is not so overly long as to be difficult, but not so short that it leads to the obvious dick jokes.

  95. Cat Jones*

    For many years I worked in a financial firm where the same woman — who was the second in charge of our department after the manager — let’s call her the Assistant Manager — would coordinate the annual holiday potluck. Some people were known for certain dishes. For example, we knew that every year we could expect Swedish meatballs from a certain individual, while someone else could be counted on to bring in her Spanish rice. I was still trying to figure out what my “thing” was.

    One year when the Assistant Manager approached me about what I was going to bring in, I told her I would make quiche. She wrote it down on the list next to my name, and as an afterthought I added that I would also make sangria. Really, she said, very interested, with alcohol? Yes, I replied. Thereafter the list was posted on the community bulletin board, where I noticed that sangria was not added next to my name, perhaps to let me off the hook in case I changed my mind. However, every day after that up to the day before the Office Potluck, she would come by to ask me whether I was still making sangria, and I would confirm that I was.

    On the day of the Office Potluck, I brought in the quiche as well as all the ingredients for the sangria, including my special pitcher, and carefully mixed everything together in the company kitchen. When it was finished, I proudly carried it to the conference room where all the food was spread out. Immediately the Assistant Manager whisked away my pitcher to the room next door, which happened to be the Manager’s office, who also happened to be out that day. When I asked why she was acting so weird about the sangria, she told me that it was illegal to have alcohol on company premises. In retrospect, it should have been glaringly obvious, but I really can be dense at times.

    About a hundred people showed up to the potluck. There was an abundance of food, the idea being that we would donate the leftovers to a shelter. Almost nobody knew about the lone pitcher of sangria in the next office, however, because the Assistant Manager kept “forgetting” to inform anyone of its existence. Not surprisingly, she was sloshed by the end of the day.

    The next year when she started coordinating the holiday potluck, she wanted to know whether I was bringing in sangria again, but I told her no. I was still trying to figure out my “thing.”

  96. TRC*

    This was a memorable party for me but it’s probably not that unusual. We had a “cocktail” hour with free drinks but when the party started, it was a cash bar (and possibly whatever someone smuggled in). A lot of people were staying at the hotel and I’ve heard here and there that there is often a lot of alcohol up there. Dress was cocktail/semi-formal/formal. The guys were mostly told they couldn’t wear jeans and a button up shirt was appropriate. Some went further than others.

    We have office staff and staff who work in the field. This lady worked in the field and was in an absolutely beautiful sequined dress with hair and makeup probably professionally done. A lot of people really enjoy dressing to the nines and she looked amazing. Apparently she managed to drink enough to pass out. Completely. Luckily, her crew boss (who barely knew her) was around and got our office manager and to help figure things out and I came over to see if I could assist. Well, it was bad and we had to call an ambulance. I never got her name or heard what happened to her.

    Other memorable highlights of the evening:
    – One executive’s wife got so sick she vomited in a potted plant. They decided not to call an ambulance to take them to the hospital, but the hotel had a wheelchair and it was used to get her out to husband’s truck for the trip to the hospital.
    – I didn’t know this for a couple years but apparently our HR (yes, HR) guy enjoyed adult beverages a lot too much. It was apparently always a chore to deal with him at any event serving alcohol.
    – An executive was in that same over-libation-boat but at least he wasn’t HR. He’d been around forever and that was just kind of a known thing. I think he fell into the “happy drunk” category though.

    I don’t drink so I just went home after all that excitement. I’d rather help out in situations like that than drink all night and into the morning like some groups do. I don’t want to have to face my coworkers Monday morning and have them explain to me what I did in a drunken state.

    Also, for any party planners out there, seriously consider moving your company party from December to late January. More people can come because there are fewer conflicts, parking is easier since you are not battling it out with holiday shoppers and most of all, the hotels and caterers are going to charge you a lot less and really appreciate you filling up a bunch of rooms for the night (we had somewhere around 600 people and a decent chunk of them stayed). Also, you can shop for all the fancy dresses leftover from December and get them on sale in January.

    1. Always Tired*

      I work in HR. Every senior HR person I have ever met drinks like a fish, and the joke I’ve heard is that there ain’t no party like an HR party, because we know exactly where the line is and will sprint right over it.

        1. TRC*

          Oh, hard drinking is definitely part of our industry as well. I can only imagine how much money those cash bars earn during our party.

          But people in higher management are expected to keep their heads on and mingle, not get so wasted that other managers have to spend a lot of time dealing with them.

          I wish I could say more about why that HR person is no longer with us…

  97. Daisy*

    I was a young associate at a big fancy law firm. Our team of 50 or so had an evening holiday party every year at one of the partners’ houses, fully catered and open bar. I’m leaning over the buffet table and manage to tap the edge of my (very nice china) plate on a serving dish in such a way that the plate cracks in two. When I apologized to the hostess (the partner’s wife), she informed me it was her wedding china! From 30 years ago. Fortunately my date thought to flip over another plate and get the pattern, and I was able to order a replacement from an online shop. I had it delivered with an apology note. It was not cheap but worth it not to be on that partner’s bad side forever.

  98. Office Chinchilla*

    I work on a team of 5 in a department of about 50 in a large, multi-national company you have heard of. Our department holiday party included a gift swap/steal, but with so many people, we were randomly separated into two conference rooms. (It was an optional activity: you could go to the kitchen to confirm you had a gift to swap and draw a piece of paper from a hat to decide which room you’d go to.) You could either steal a gift or unwrap a new one, and if you stole, that person would have the same choice. After something had been stolen 3 times, it was “frozen” and that person got to keep it. As it happened, one (newer) member of my team was assigned to room one and the other four of us were in room two. I am told that in room one there was no stealing, that all five people who got mini waffle makers were happy with them, and they were done in about a half hour.

    My team, however, are chaos demons and gift swaps are our *favorite.* Our room went over the allotted two hours. My boss tried to steal my number, but gave up as soon as I called him on it. Everyone knew exactly how many times each item had been stolen. The bottle of wine, the lottery tickets, and even one of the mini waffle makers (there were 4 in our room – yes, 9 people brought mini waffle makers to our party last year) were frozen. When we were almost done and it was generally agreed everyone was reasonably happy with what was in their hands, my supervisor stole a gun that shoots dog treats from someone who was very excited about it, just to start another round of stealing. When we were finally done, she gave the gift back to the person she stole it from and admitted she didn’t even have a dog. (She refused his offer to swap back, meaning he left with two gifts and she got none, but she was happy with that because what she really wanted was pandemonium, and she got that.)

    We just got the invite for the 2023 department holiday party with gift swap. I wonder what this year’s mini waffle maker will be. And, for that matter, what the dog treat gun will be.

  99. Nigh*

    One day in November, I came home to find a box from Omaha Steaks outside my apartment. I had not ordered anything from them. The box was for a previous resident. I called the steak people and there was nothing they could do to contact the sender, the intended recipient, anything. They told me to keep the contents. I opened the package to try to give the food a home in my well-filled freezer. It turned out to contain steak, hamburgers, hot dogs and pork chops. I don’t eat a lot of meat but I do eat beef. I do not eat pork. I do not keep fully Kosher and so I was willing to house the pork chops in my freezer but was not about to eat them.

    Fortunately, my department holiday party was approaching and would include a White Elephant exhange. These pork chops were the classic White Elephant, being an item that has value but is useless to it’s present owner. I packed them up well into their cooler. On the present pile I put the following poem:

    I’m big, I’m bad, the wolf, you see
    And once I chased some piggies three
    These little pigs, I’m sure you know,
    At their front doors I’d huff and blow.

    (In fact the brick house went down too
    So homeless were this porcine crew
    Who wandered to a butcher shop
    Which turned them each into a chop.)

    Well snuggled in an icebox chest
    Sent by mistake to my address.
    Thus came the pigs to my front door
    They knocked and knocked and did implore:

    “Let us in, it’s warm outside
    In your freezer we must hide!”
    My wicked past, I can’t deny it
    But pork’s no longer in my diet.

    Though windfall they may seem to some,
    White elephants the pigs become.
    They hope at last to meet their fate
    On someone else’s dinner plate!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I love the poem.

      I kind of get where the mail-order butcher was coming from; returned and they’re spoiled, likely the same to forward the food on, so they may as well gift them to you and take whatever goodwill that produces.

      1. Nightengale*

        Yeah I did understand the reasoning, it’s not like sending back books or clothing. I had hoped maybe there was some way for the delivery truck to pick them back up or whatever. And of course “who wouldn’t love” a whole bunch of surprise meat! on the doorstep. But I did like the steaks themselves and the person who ended up with the pork chops liked them so it was goodwill in the end.

  100. Bonnie*

    When I was fresh out of college, I worked in a government office that was cuckoo for Christmas: a secret Santa ornament exchange, a big holiday party, a ladies-only holiday party (???) and cookie day. Legend day has it that in past years, the office had several women who loved to bake and got a real kick out of making one million (metaphorically, but close enough) cookies, then spending a lunch break piling them into huge gift platters and distributing them to all the other departments. Although these women had all since retired, the tradition had continued and I received an email requesting I bring in TEN BATCHES of cookies for cookie day. This email only went out to the women in the office, and this industry at the time skewed heavily towards men so that was maybe 20% of the office.

    I actually love to bake, but gritted my teeth a little over the sexism of only asking the women. Even more concerning was the cost – I’d only been working full time for 3 months and December was coming in expensive, 10 batches was going to be a stretch. But the email reminders were increasingly filled with pressure to participate, reminders to “clear your weekend!” to bake cookies. It was a brand spanking new job, my first full time one ever, so I decided I could afford to make 6 batches and if anybody had the nerve to hassle me about it further they could take it up with payroll.

    Cookie day rolled around and it turned out I wasn’t the only one resentful of being strong-armed to “bake all weekend” for strangers in other departments. My coworker walked in late while everybody (every woman, anyways) was already plating, didn’t say a word and dropped one lone box of oreos on the table. And I mean DROPPED, from a foot or more above the table so it landed with a thud that got everybody’s attention. Then she turned on her heel and left. It’s been 15 years and I have never seen another action as perfectly, beautifully passive aggressive. It still makes me laugh 15 years later.

  101. TRC*

    This was just incredibly cringeworthy. I worked at a company where we had everyone from warehouse workers to people who do quite well at the top. At the holiday party raffle, the grand prize was a giant TV and speaker components to be installed by someone who knew what they were doing.

    The name that was drawn was a person equivalent to a Senior VP (industry titles are a bit different). He awkwardly came up and started dragging the TV to his seat while everyone stared at him. He was one of the highest paid executives in the company and it didn’t seem like he even thought to say “no, no, please draw another name”.

    Having executives in a raffle like that at a party that was billed to be about employee recognition is just one of so many toxic things about that job. I no longer work there.

  102. Haunted by Santas*

    My company decided to have a murder mystery dinner for our holiday party which was a fun idea. Except, the way they made it holiday themed was by having an entire section of the plot have everyone try to figure out which of the male employees was moonlighting as a popular adult entertainer — “The Santa Stripper”. The organizers made each of the men at the dinner get up in front of the room, put on a Santa hat, and perform to a song while everyone else judged whether or not they had the chops to be the secret Santa Stripper. I fortunately was spared seeing these dances since my designated role took me out of the room during that time. I keep thinking about what an HR nightmare that whole thing was, and that event was planned by HR!

  103. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    Years ago, I used to work for a furniture retailer with stores dotted around the country. Each store would organise it’s own Christmas gathering for the team as it wouldn’t have been feasible to get everyone in a central location. We were allotted a certain amount to spend per person by Head Office, which was announced each year by HR with the usual admonishment to please buy some food and not spend it all on alcohol.

    This was largely because most of the Store Managers had a reputation as pretty hardcore drinkers. (Our trade contacts used to occasionally host all the Managers at meetings, and would provide an open bar with the evening meal. After several instances of overindulgence and the odd bit of property damage the trade contacts began instructing the bar staff to remove all the spirits and liquor prior to dinner in the hopes of reining them in a bit)

    Me, being rather a lightweight in terms of alcohol and keen to get home before public transport shut down for the night, I usually found out about the shenanigans the next day at work. Apparently one year, after imbibing rather a lot of drinks with the smallest (and cheapest) Christmas meal available, after I bid them goodnight my colleagues decided they weren’t quite done partying for the evening. With no bars still being open, in their inebriated state they decided the best course of action would be to buy a bunch of alcohol, and then (as they had keys and the alarm codes to get in) they could continue drinking in the furniture store itself. Apparently this soon led to attempting to joust with pieces of furniture (bad idea), one guy revealing more of himself then he should (I’m thankful I missed it and thus didn’t have to apply brain bleach), and one girl eventually heading home with only one shoe as it had been pinched from her and hidden and everyone was too drunk to remember where it was. Her shoe was eventually recovered several weeks later when they had to dismantle some of the furniture to move it around to a new display position and found it nestled inside.

  104. Beth**

    This year, the Inclusion Team at my employer have decided to have a DEI Advent calendar. There has only been one day so far, which featured a link to a recent intranet story about progress towards some DEI targets.

    I have pointed out to the person who posted this calendar that the concept of an Advent Calendar is not especially inclusive to Jewish staff.

    I await a reply.

  105. Mamie*

    This is probably going to get lost in the shuffle, but I have to add it anyway: a few years ago, I was working for a company that got acquired by a larger company right around the holidays. My team and I were invited to New Larger Company’s holiday party and traditional White Elephant gift exchange. The instructions given were “$10 or less, and buy it from Amazon!” I did just that—I found a pair of salt and pepper shakers shaped like balloon dogs, ordered and wrapped em, thought all was fine.

    Until the actual gift exchange happened.

    An apparently unexplained part of New Larger Company’s gift exchange tradition was 1. Spending WAY more than the stated $10, and 2. Buying gifts that adhered to long-standing inside jokes. Needless to say, my dog shakers did not go over well—the person who received them was loudly trying to give them away, saying “I hate these, does anyone want them?” At one point she tried to give them to me—I couldn’t help myself, and said quietly, “Well, since I brought them, I don’t really need them back, but you can have mine if you want.” (A large and expensive Star Wars book that was clearly meant for someone else)

    Two months later, the pandemic hit and I was part of the first round of company layoffs. They said it was because my role was redundant, but I still wonder if my poor performance at the holiday party was what really did it.

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