Parties, get-togethers, gatherings & soirées are all common occurrences this time of year. While celebrations with family and/or friends can sometimes feel a bit discomfiting (forced small talk with friends of friends…of friends or long-distance relatives you haven’t seen in years ring a bell?), holiday parties with co-workers can produce situations that can quickly become awkward and uncomfortable. From people over-sharing personal information to alcohol-induced shenanigans to unruly spouses, office holiday parties can provide water-cooler fodder for years to come. In the spirit of the season, here is a compilation of some of the most laughable, cringe-inducing holiday office party horror stories to gear you up for the upcoming festivities.
I got the wrong date for the office party that was to be held at a very expensive restaurant. I showed up at work and asked a fellow co-worker if she and her husband wanted to ride to the party with us that night and she responded, “Why? The party was last night. Where were you? We waited for you and your wife for 30 minutes before we got started.” In preparation for the party, we both bought new clothes and had to sell NBA tickets because of the supposed scheduling conflict. This happened five years ago and I am reminded of it EVERY year when the holiday party is being scheduled. I couldn’t face my wife due to all the trouble we went through to get ready for the party. To this day, my wife thinks they cancelled the party – I was too embarrassed to tell her I got the dates wrong. It is my dirty little secret!
“A few years ago at a Holiday Party I was saying hello to a senior manager and I noticed a woman standing slightly behind him who I recognized as his wife from the previous year’s party. I said, ‘Oh and this must be your wife,’ hoping he would tell me her name again. To my surprise (and to the surprise of his wife), he said ‘No, I’m not married.’ Let’s just say that when he realized that his wife was standing behind him the whole time, he knew he was going to be buying a really expensive gift that year for Christmas.”
“We worked at a new insurance company and they organized a very nice, somewhat upscale, holiday party. Everyone got two tickets to use for alcoholic beverages. My boss, who had a newborn at home and probably hadn’t been out for fun in a while, harassed people into giving him their unused tickets. Several drinks later, he was sort of stumbling around and slurring, and because he was normally a bit of a jerk, no one tried to intercede. The ‘best’ part was when he hit the dance floor to rock out. It was like ‘Lord of the Dance’ gone horribly wrong — gangly arms and legs flying everywhere. I’ll give him credit, he did show up to work the next day (looking a pretty sickly green).”
“It was an otherwise ordinary party – dinner and dancing at a local hotel ballroom. But between the dinner and dancing they had karaoke. Not volunteer karaoke, though, and this was before karaoke machines were available. Several small groups of people were coerced into going up and singing, handed the words to the songs printed on paper and made to sing a capella in front of the entire room. It was so painful to watch their embarrassment…. no, I’d go so far as to say humiliation. I wasn’t one of those people, so I have no bitterness, but you have to really think twice about company management that will do that to people. It was downright ugly.”
“I was working in a sandwich shop with only six employees. The owner invited all of us to a formal holiday party at his house. I didn’t realize until I showed up – in my only fancy party dress – that I was expected to work the event, serving all the owner’s friends and family!”