the ancient fruitcake, the murder mystery lunch, and other times holidays at work went wrong




This post, the ancient fruitcake, the murder mystery lunch, and other occasions holidays at work got it wrong, was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Earlier this month, I questioned readers to share your funniest office holiday party tales and funniest office gift debacles. Here are 15 of my favorites.

1. The statue

Was invited to my honchoes house for an employee holiday party. This small business was owned by a married coupled who were also landowners, so they were pretty rich and had a huge house. I was walking around admiring their artwork when I cam across a statue.

A nude statue.

A nude statue of my boss.

2. The dance

Our CEO adored hosting the annual Christmas party as he felt it was his personal thank you to all of the employees. He would spend weeks strategy out the decorations, savor food for cater, handwriting to choose offerings, and ever met sure there was a huge open prohibit with payment imbibes for everyone to enjoy. The party started at 7pm, discontinued at 12 am, and then he would do an extended “after hours” party until 2am. Needless to say, parties wound up fairly wasted at these parties and the CEO was the most consumed every year. Luckily, he was a happy disappear luck type of drunk who usually simply discontinued up thanking everyone profusely for their work.

One year the dance floor was spouting and everyone was having a grand aged term when the DJ decided to play “( I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”( you are well aware, the song from Dirty Dancing ). Suddenly the dance floor parted. The CEO stood at one end of the dance storey, zoned into the music. The VP of Sales locked sees with the CEO and they began to fully run toward each other, each clearly acquiring the other would catch him. They hurried into the air with drunken mercy and fervor. :: smacking :: They territory on the concrete with a smack you were able to examine over the music and bunch. All we could see was some blood and two forms trying to untangle.

They had both cracked their premiers on the foot and gone concussions. Neither gentleman required an ambulance called so someone’s sober wife carried them into her SUV( each of them with a roadie in-hand) and drove them off to the ER.

The next day we got an email from the CEO with the subject, “Each Year Do More Epic” and a picture of him and the VP of Sales posing together at the ER with stitches on the side of their heads.

3. Not a pickle

One year, I was The Pickle Lady. I was obsessed with pickling, peculiarly lacto-fermented pickles. I marinaded anything I could get my hands on and, since my pickling was so prolific, I often shared the outcome of the my labours with beings in the office. I also talked a lot about pickling and would gaily providing guidance to anyone endeavouring the path of the marinade. This also expanded into talking about inducing vinegars and kombuchas, and I freely offered chips of my SCOBYs to anyone who would ask. I often joked that I was the Queen of Controlled Rotting. In retrospect, I was probably a little disagreeable, but it was all in good fun.

One sweet, lovely coworker watched all of this happen without engaging with me about it much, so she must have misunderstood how fermentation directs. She picked me for Secret Santa that time and when the position got together to open endows, I culminated up opening quarry near last-place. It was this beautiful gift bag, time to my taste, and I plucked out my gift to find … A cup of mold. Precisely grey-green fuzziness throughout the entire jar. I was deeply baffled and not originally sure what it was, so I tentatively opened the jar. The bouquet was eye-watering to say the least, and it quickly spread to those around me. They reacted with a mix of respectful embarrassment, low-key revulsion, and masked delight. After a few cases jokes and confounded rackets, we all made nice, adjusted the jar of life-time digression, and moved closer with the party.

Later the coworker came to me, red in the face and with cries in her gazes, asking why everyone had detested her talent. I asked her to clarify what it was supposed to be. She said she knew that I adored all this “controlled rotting” business, so she had gave some of her favourite meat in a receptacle and make them go bad in the hopes that I could use the mold to perform my own treats. That nature it would be like we were offsetting them together. It was so adorable, so captivating, so cherishing, and so misguided. I thanked her for her intents and we were eventually able to laugh about the misunderstanding.

Now I love to tell the story of the time I was offering a flask of mold.

4. The sink

Years ago my role festivity gathering was held in one of the company constructs, which had a single person restroom. Everyone had a good time and the drinks were aplenty, but no shenanigans( or so we thoughts ). The next day, one of hires sent out a photo he took at the end of the night of the bathroom capsize fully charge off the wall and crushed on the grind. Nobody fessed up, but at the time I had access to the security footage so the IT guy and I checked it out. We accompanied our HR manager go into the( remember, single person) lavatory with their partner and then both snuck out several minutes later. The next person to go in was the one who sent out the photo. I don’t know what was going on in there, but hopefully it was worth it!

5. The questionnaire

When my bureau decided on a Secret Santa knack exchange, we all filled out short questionnaires( clearly labeled as being for the Secret Santa) that gave us an opportunity to describe things we like and don’t like. I reaped my coworker’s name and was curious to know what she’d put about her likes/ dislikes. This coworker, despite being very good at her activity in many respect, was known around the office as someone who sometimes needed to be reminded to slow down and listen to or read the totality of what someone was saying before speaking/ behaving. So I should not have been surprised to see that she’d rolled her likes as “walks on the beach” and “sunsets, ” or( my own personal favorite) “making love.”

6. The finger

One year the power anniversary duty coincided with a visit from the company’s CEO( we were a satellite part ), so the party planning committee had the magnificent notion to accompany our~ 40 being group to the bar on the highest level of the Hancock Building in Chicago. Nice and fancy in theory, but the drinks there are so expensive that we were only budgeted for one each, and it’s certainly not a very big bar so it was very awkward fitting us all together. Things went worse when the CEO decided to make everybody go around and share what they hoped to see for the future of the company( so festive !). Suffice it to say the vibe was already very weird by the time we were ready to leave. I purposed up taking the elevator down 95 floors in the same group as the CEO, who had been chatting with one of my office’s sales reps, and for some reason he timed his digit at her while talking and, to the horror of the rest of us crammed in with them like sardines, she leaned forward and made his whole finger into her cavity. I got no idea why( not alcohol; we’d all merely had the one poor concoction apiece) but the astounded silence and embarrassing gleams lasted for the rest of the ride.

7. The terrible cards

The worst corporate Christmas cards I’ve ever come across 😛 TAGEND

– Every year the CEO wrote everyone( 100 -ish people) a card with a quick message. This is a dessert idea.

– One year, the Design Director said she would design the cards. Too a fairly sugared idea.

– What she came up with was the weirdest placard I’ve ever seen. No concession to Christmassy themes whatsoever. Dingy grey background with a checkbox register of the company prices, so the CEO could tick whichever significance he felt you most bodied. Sort of sweetly-intentioned (?) but seriously weird.

– So she gets the cards etched and drives over to the CEO’s house with them. They crack open a bottle of wine-colored. They work through the cards. Tick, sense, indicate, click, meaning, indicate. There are worse ways to spend an night, I guess.

– Except. For at least two beings, he Flunked TO TICK ANY OF THE BOXES. So those two( at least) hires get a dingy grey card implies that the CEO does not think they embody any of the company appraises. NOT GOOD.

– A few days later, the Design Director sends out a unusually ashamed confession email.

8. The domesticated pictures

Job before last, my very shy, reserved coworker had a biiiiiiiiit too much to imbibe and went around the room demanding that people depict her pictures of their babies.( This included the CEO, but fortunately he thought it was amusing .) It culminated with Drunk Coworker bursting into rends when she was told one of our other coworkers didn’t have any babies, and saying, “You’re so nice, you deserve to have a dog.”

( She was vexed when we came back to work, so we didn’t tease her about it … much .)

9. The lap dance

My significant other’s holiday party is NIIICE. Bunch of good meat, like excess quantities and lavish displays of every cocktail, main dish, etc. you can think of. The same with the booze and open forbid, there literally isn’t a foot rack alternative. No Bud Light. No cheap vodka. No Two Buck Chuck wine to be had. The dress code is tightened and ranges from adapted dress to chaps in Carhart hoodies. It’s a work party that we actually look forward to because it’s so laid back and “weve been” do have a good time. The last one was in 2019, and it may be the last one period. Or at least the last one where imbibing isn’t monitored.

At the last party, an employee’s guest decided to give his girlfriend a lap dance. In full scene of, well, everyone. People around the couple were half-heartedly trying to get him to stop, but they increased to frenzied levels of “OMG STOP! ” once “hes taking” his shirt off and could tell he was fully committed. Eventually someone went him to stop by undertaking him to the ground with his heaves around his ankles and his loop still in his hands, brandishing it around like a lasso.

10. The even worse writer

I was working for a trip real estate company and we had a pretty big problem with the admin “whos been” the newsletter/ market/ emails. She would NOT let anyone proofread her make or even countenance anyone to correct anything and she had ZERO understanding of synonyms and misused utterances all the time and misused things like LOL and LMFAO, and too originated her own ludicrou shorthand to such an sickening extent that it caused disarray, hilarity, and in some cases, pique and loss of business. Long story about the layout of the company, but we too had some rental parts on-site for prospective buyers and a small spa, cafe, and saloon. You know, vacation town stuff. She likewise did the menus and all the holiday announcements. This one was, and has all along been, my favorite. It went out to over 15 k former and current purchasers and patients, inviting them to the company vacation gathering 😛 TAGEND

Cum celebrate our Holiday Szn with Secrete Santa! Fist four patrons up and get a free giraffe of wine at their table!

What she was TRYING to say was that during our Secret Santa dinner and raffle, the first four clients who participated would get either a complimentary wine-colored to take home or a carafe of wine-colored at their table. Some other masterpieces on the menu included “gooze breasts” “Bef stek” “Coozeberry Jam” and my absolute favorite “fresh tilabia .”

Some people studied she did this on purpose, I know for a fact she was just an absolute idiot.

11. The slaying puzzle lunch

My department went to a regional, beloved restaurant as one of the purposes of our holiday outing. We were going to go to their Holiday Murder Mystery lunch where, we acquired, we’d eat lunch while the performance was going on. I personally imagined there might be a little audience participation required but good-for-nothing like what we encountered.

Firstly, when booking the lunch, we were sent a picture of the office we’d be in. It was spacious and well-lit and beautifully embellished! When we got to the restaurant we were escorted into the basement where there were no windows, dim illuminating, and a dingy table. As we sat there, the actors came out dressed as elves, reindeer, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The attires looked like they were picked up at the Halloween Store discount sale and smelled like they hadn’t been moistened in years( yes, I are able to smell them ). They moved from table to table, “in character” and even sat down with us many times … where they abode for several minutes. Now, I can appreciate the work and skill it takes to improv but after about 10 times all I was necessary to do was drink my Diet Coke and wait for the actual performance to start- not be forced to talk about Santa’s dismissal of proletariat regulations with a guy in tights. After about 15 instants of this I recognized, with great fright, that this WAS the performance. These actors were going to improvise a romp about a slaughter in Santa’s Workshop for the next two hours.

It. Was. Dreadful. I have never been so awkward in such a “festive” setting. The most surreal component was when they would impel dirty jokes and break into song. A guy dressed in a muscle dres with reindeer antlers on his head danced behind me as I gazed deeply at the counter. If there was a crack in the storey, I would’ve slid into it.

What induced it worse was the fact that the poor waitress( who apparently been drawn digression at the last minute and told she was going to be waiting on 30 beings by herself ), was struggling to take orders that we had already residence when we booked the incident. We got there at 12 pm and by 2pm, we still hadn’t been dished. Not simply that, but no one had been slaughtered yet!

When we finally came our nutrient, I realized that things were not going to get any better. The meat looked like it could get up and walk away and the dessert was, what I assumed to be, canned apple pie filling with Redi-Whip on top.

We got a break from the indicate while we ate( or chose not to ), at which point we were forced to tell the actors that we had to be back on the bus by 3pm and someone had better get slaughtered soon. They picked up the improv tempo and the workshop inspector faced death-by-wrapping-paper. We were given portions of article to write down who we envisaged did it and turned them in. The motivating behind the murder was of a sexual nature, which I thought was a bit inappropriate for an office outing, and we were able to get out of there in time to get back to our bus.




We complained to management but were met with not much more than a shrug. If the meat was at least decent, I could’ve brushed off that cringe-worthy “murder mystery” but, alas, there was really nothing redeeming about this outing. Except maybe the waitress, who has my condolences.

12. Phillippe

One place I wreaked had a fruitcake of undetermined origin which had been progressed around for at least 10 times( longest tenured hire retained it at her first vacation party, but it had been there prior to her ). It had a name( Phillippe ). Whoever won it improved a sanctuary to Phillippe in their cube and proudly exposed it until the next year … Might have been a cheap gag gift, but dang the rivalry for Phillippe was intense.

The end of Phillippe’s story: An apprentice won it 1 year after I left and hadn’t realized that this wasn’t supposed to be eaten. Apparently Claxon Fruit Cake is still edible after at least 13 times. She introduced Phillippe II for the next knack swap … All apprentices are now alerted not to eat Phillippe II.

13. The perfume

My father’s story from a good 25 year ago. One period he’s telling us about what knacks they bought for all the staff. It was fragrance( don’t get me started on the gendered quality of it, that’s a entire interesting thing) but one he didn’t discern, and the salesperson from somewhere like Macy’s had “recommended” to him. He’s telling us this, and says it’s called something like “plah-sen-tay” like it’s French, he envisages( tints of A Christmas Story now ). My mother and i start snickering. Really dad? She recommended it? And you said sure, sounds good? And he’s saying what, what? as we started laughing so hard we were crying and falling out of our seats at Boston Market … because he apparently had no idea he’d bought every woman on his faculty PLACENTA perfume. Like something that had that in it, and it was maybe supposed to be a beauty aid? It was unclear, but we suspected that the salesperson had a truckload of this stuff to dump and could tell he had no idea what he was doing. He sits there shocked, and shows, “Huh … i was wondering why people seemed a little weird about it. There was a lot of talking here about hushed radicals afterward.”

14. The buffalo

I’d been working in an office that would do the yankee swap/ grime santa wording of gift exchange, where tribes could steal a endow from each other. One time some people have concluded a photograph of a couple of water buffalo in their bureau. It was a BIG photo, enclose, close to three feet wide. The sea buffalo were pretty scroungy and dirty sounding. It was not an enticing photo! But wrapped up, it was like an impressive offering. As someone found out the hard way when they “won” it.

I thought it was pretty funny in its awfulness. So the next year I deliberately took it, and hung it with dignity in my office.

The next year I hid the photo behind a couch in the party room, and then supplemented my “gift” to the swap: A small-time, wrap container, that restrain a memo, “You won the buffalo photo.” I can’t recollect who won it, but they were not amused.

I went back to visit, years later. There were the buffalo, hanging over a colleague’s desk. Everyone who had gotten it since have already signed and dated the back.

15. The apology

Quite a few years ago, my husband and I attended a Christmas party at a regional inn, put on by the construction company he worked for. It was the first year we’d attended and because of past instances of drunk driving, the company had not only paid for the gratified snack but also reserved chambers for all the attendees.

Among the highlights of the night were the variou bodyguards who were hired to attend with guests. One of them purposed up sitting at our table. Her’ date’ had hired her because he had recently broken up with the boss’s daughter and didn’t want to be seen attending alone. He proceeded to get drop-dead drunk on the table wine, and boozily monologue about his nostalgic rigors. Full credit to the escort, she was among the best company at our table and when she wasn’t babysitting her maudlin charge, was a lovely conversationalist.

But it wasn’t until after dinner had concluded that the pedals* truly* fell from the bus. To the working day, I don’t know exactly what some of the attendees* did* in the indoor swimming pool that necessitated it being drained, but my husband says the clean-up bills were in the thousands. Being justified non-partiers, Mr. Jam and I were interested to avoid the impending trainwreck and when we were invited back to his co-worker’s suite to join three or four other of the more down to earth works, we were anticipating fun, low-key evening playing posters or shooting the breeze.

We get to “Mike’s” room and settle down on the sofa. While we’re chatting, Mike abruptly grabs this duffel bag and starts ransacking around in it. I assume he’s eager to get out of the ape suit but that’s not what was bundled in his luggage. Instead, he starts organizing these thick baggies on the chocolate counter in front of us. Folks are performing themselves at home, and he’s pouring what “mustve been” hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars of hard drugs onto the counter six inches from my knees. He’s chopping and chit-chat and telling jokes and all the while, he’s impelling little lily-white orders, like he’s playing in Pablo Escobar’s sandtable!

I have no idea what to say and merely want out of this awkward encounter. Mr. Jam and I have a frenzied, yet totally silent, marital discussion, existing exclusively of promoted eyebrows and shoulder shrugs, the research results being my developing, relatively out of the blue, a rapid and blinding headache from the half glass of red wine I’d had earlier at supper. Alerted to my endure, Mike generously offers me a dense brace, predicting that it will specify whatever ails me, but I slump very politely and withdraw with all haste back to own, blissfully drug-free inn room.

After I leave, Mike apparently realise just what he’s done to fix me so painful and he begins apologizing profusely to my husband on my behalf. You find, while he’d been chipping the hundreds of dollars of cocaine right in front of us, he’d also been telling a mildly off-colour joke, the punch line of which included a word that rhymes with truck. Clearly, my delicate ears couldn’t bear to hear such salty speech. Mike’s apology went on and on as he promised my husband with utterly candour that in future, he would retain to watch his conversation more carefully whenever he was around me. Mr. Jam was assured that I wouldn’t braced the joke against him, I was just especially sensitive to bold colours, but Mike remained doubtful.

And then there is this party coda. A few years later, after my husband had been departed from the company a couple of years, we chanced to run into’ Mike’ in the parking lot of a big box store. In between questioning about our kids and Mr. Jam’s new undertaking, he once again took the time to apologize to me for the joke he’d told all those years earlier. Neither of us mentioned the medicines!

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