As the holiday season begins, so do corporate holiday parties. But unlike other December celebrations, your company’s version of fun may entail bad DJs, stale catering and endless small talk with co-workers you would prefer to forget.
And as alcohol flows, inhibitions lower and create nightmare scenarios. Almost seven in 10 respondents in a recent OnePoll survey think too much alcohol is served at holiday office parties, and almost 74% said that they purposely limit how much alcohol they drink at these events. But that effort has its limits, as 56% say they’ve worried they might be fired following their company holiday party.
Below, people recount the events that made their holiday parties horribly, awkwardly memorable. Many asked for anonymity to share their tales of debauchery and corporate mishaps on the company’s dime. Their stories were lightly edited for clarity and length.
1. The Employee Who Passed Out In Her Boss’s Arms
“When I was 25 or so, I got so drunk at my work’s Christmas party that I fell off a stool, hit my head and passed out. I came to crying outside in my boss’s arms while HIS boss called me an Uber home.” — a technology professional in Washington, D.C.
2. The Vomit-Filled Hijinks At The Bosses’ House
“Not my holiday party, but my husband’s. His married bosses had it at their house for many, many years. One co-worker showed up two hours late completely wasted, missed dinner, was in the entryway for five minutes before he puked everywhere. Couch, floor, walls, TV, lamp, etc., all covered in it.”
“His date was mortified, got a cab for them, and they left a whole 20 minutes after they arrived. You think that would have been enough to stop having the holiday party at [the bosses’] house, but no. The very next year they have it there again and a different co-worker gets wasted and tries to hook up with their kid’s nanny in their 4-year-old’s bed. The kid was not home that night, thankfully.”
“A cab gets called to take them home and, from what we were told, they were making out in the back of the cab when one of them got sick mid make-out ― like, in the other’s mouth. Ick. Unfortunately, my husband has since moved on to a new company and now his holiday parties are lame in comparison.” — Redditor Vanessss4
3. The Co-worker Who Saw A Sight They Would Rather Forget
“Worst I’ve seen? Two drunk executives who each unzipped his fly, took out his penis, and lay it on the table to measure whose was actually bigger. Eye bleach needed.” — Redditor Microwavepizza
4. The Staff Trapped In A Zoom Party For Three And A Half Hours
“One of the primary managers in this company likes to cook, so what they decided to do was get everyone into a Zoom call and he sent them a list of ingredients. He cooked while we were supposed to follow along.”
“It was supposed to be a social event with a cooking lesson. What went wrong was the guy really is not HGTV material. He didn’t plan well in terms of his timing, and so everything was running really late. People were getting tired: ‘Well, how do we do this? When do we do this?’ Everyone was really polite about it, but you could tell they were getting frustrated. They were picturing a cooking demonstration they see on TV.”
“It was getting to the point where people were dropping off the call because they were tired of waiting to eat. It should’ve been more well-planned, or maybe somebody else helping him. This guy was doing this all by himself in his kitchen. I think it was three and a half hours.” — Phyllis, a human resources consultant
5. The Office Party That Ended With Chest Hair On Fire
“I used to own a bar in D.C. We had a company rent out a space for a holiday party one year. They were getting pretty smashed — it was an open bar — and we suddenly started smelling smoke. I sent a waitress to find out what was going on and she reported that the men in the party were having a hairy chest contest and the hairiest one lit his chest hair on fire, apparently on a dare. Needless to say, we threw a few folks out.” — Mary Abbajay, president of the leadership development consultancy Careerstone Group
6. The Boss Who Ignored Social Cues
“One time the boss had been drinking too much at the holiday happy hour. There was an activity where the team was going around the table and sharing stories from their past. One of the employees stated they were a cheerleader in grade school during their story. The boss asked them to do a cheer and the employee didn’t want to. The boss kept insisting and the employee kept refusing. It was really awkward. The team didn’t know whether to laugh or change the subject.” — Gabrielle Woody, a university recruiter for a financial software company
7. The Holiday Party That Broke An Employee’s Trust
“Some dude is ridiculously drunk; I do not know this guy. I make the decision to walk him out because he was being unruly. He decided to stick his whole hand up my skirt and grab my butt. I gave up being civil and gripped this dude by the back of his collar and physically dragged him to the exit when one of the national account managers stopped me and asked me what I was doing.”
“I explained the guy was too drunk and needed to go home. He said the guy used to intern there and he was ‘OK.’ I then explained he physically assaulted me, and for that alone, he’s out. This manager told me to my face that it was fine and this dude could stay. I looked at him incredulously.”
“This became a thing at the office ... I was thrown into the category of ‘having attitude’ and not being liked for the rest of my time with the company. And the icing on the cake, they made this dude come in and apologize to me after I said I never wanted to see him again because he made me uncomfortable, and that somehow made me ungrateful. This dude also applied to every job opening we had and because I worked the front desk, I had to see him come into the office often and I had to sit there in discomfort. Not to mention the multiple times he tried to connect with me on LinkedIn.”
“I definitely lost all trust in the people I worked with from that moment on and they continued to let me down until I resigned.” — Arianne Young, virtual assistant
8. The Party So Over The Top It’s Just Too Much
“Gawker (and later Gizmodo) was famous for doing wild and crazy holiday parties. This is the tip of the iceberg. There was a guy dressed as a 19th-century caroler in a pig mask standing on the buffet table playing a fiddle. There was a bubble bath in one of the rooms. I think there were some people in pink poodle fur suits as well. I was pretty uncomfortable with the whole situation, if the photo doesn’t give it away.” — Patrick Hogan, journalist