Good office parties are great. Bad ones? Well, they are more fun to read about. Here are some holiday party nightmares from readers. Make sure to share your story in the comments:

The one with the live fish

“We no longer have Christmas white elephants because, well, about two years ago someone brought a live beta fish wrapped up as a gift and, of course, playing Yankee swap (or whatever you want to call it), everyone picked all the gifts up and shook them before picking one to open and there was a poor fish in there the whole time. I felt bad for the coworker who ended up with the fish because he then had to take it home and buy a fish tank (it was wrapped in the plastic cup it came in from the store) and all the stuff to take care of it. But it’s still alive. His kids love it. I would not have loved that. That was the same year our boss threw a fit because someone got a better gift than he did and he should get the gift because, his catch phrase, “Imma boss!” He then made that person switch gifts with him.”

The one with the secret vodka

“One department lead decided that the hotel bar (3 rooms away from the room we rented–it was a cash bar) wasn’t good enough and brought a big purse with her that had a large bottle of vodka in it. She got so wasted (and drank the whole bottle) that she started stripping down and giving the (male) managers lap dances. The next year our holiday party was a giant sub in the break room. Corporate nixed the hotel ballroom parties chainwide.”

The one with the pouty VP

“I work in a small office. The owner of the company loves his tech gadgets. The first year I was there, the VP wanted us all to chip in so we could buy him a Bose speaker–to the tune for $80 each. The only person whose budget that was in was hers. The rest of us were on a very tight budget. We ended up getting him a family night game basket. VP is still not happy about it–and that was 2 years ago.”

The ones with alcohol and dancing and no spouses

My husband’s former employer had a huge party every year for the holidays that was mandatory. It was a swanky affair, all of the male partners (there were no female partners) wore black tie and the women wore gowns, and it was held at one of the private clubs in the city. They spent a fortune on a live band and outrageous raffle prizes, and no dates were allowed. They would serve a course and then they were to dance to the live band and then serve a course and then more dancing, etc. I just wasn’t a fan of a company that encouraged that type of closeness with co-workers.”

“I worked for a company that had a no-spouse/significant other rule for their holiday parties. It was many years ago (1980s). Employees were required to attend and they had an open bar so the booze flowed like water. I was young and felt a bit used having to entertain a bunch of drunk old men (clients) into the wee hours of the morning. I never could understand how they justified firing employees who acted inappropriately at these things when they were practically shoving alcohol at us all night.”

The one with ham, ham, and ham

“The Christmas do was held in the function room at the main sporting ground in the city, which is actually an OK venue. The canaps came around and were amazing, and then it was time for dinner. Dinner was glazed ham, bread, and salad, and when I say salad I mean a big pile of lettuce … and that was it. So anyone who was Muslim or Jewish or vegetarian or just didn’t like glazed ham on the bone was left with bread and lettuce. And there was no dessert. Add to that the fact they were serving alcohol and you go from incompetence to negligence.”

The one with the drunken, braless boss

“In the early years at my organization, our boss threw holiday parties at his home. Typically, the leadership and seniors got mildly drunk and told inappropriate jokes. One year, one of the area directors, who never wore a bra, was wearing a sparkly camisole and kept hugging my husband. He was horrified but is very proud of his solution: He told her grisly hunting stories until she went away. Until the day she retired, she always remarked how much she adored my husband.”

This originally appeared at Inc.

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One thought on “Holiday Party Disasters

  1. Every single incident described was why I found ways to avoid attending any holiday work-related parties and why I maintain work relationships only with workplace acquaintances. Alcohol/drug usage has no place in work-related functions.

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