The details might be hazy, but moments from the office holiday party can be the best memories you share with your coworkers, yet never speak of again.
Last week, we asked you to dredge up the moments you’d rather leave buried in the past, and share your most shockingly gone-wrong office holiday parties.
We’ll begin our journey into your collection of after-hours debauchery with a relatively harmless story, from reader who enjoyed herself a little too much but suffered only the loss of her phone and a wicked hangover.
Our official company holiday party was pretty tame–just dinner. But the unofficial after party at a nearby bar is where things got a little messy. After several rounds of drinks and shots I guess it was deemed that I was too drunk to make it home, so someone put me in a cab. The next morning I pieced it together what happened: I had lost my wallet at some point during the night and when I didn’t have any money or credit cards to pay the taxi driver, I drunkenly gave him my iPhone as payment. To make matters worse, I had a horrible hangover the next day and when I called my phone, he refused to give it back!
We recently looked at the research surrounding drinking with colleagues and rising through the ranks. Drinking “al desko” is becoming more acceptable–or returning to wide acceptance, a la Mad Men era–and liquid courage in conference rooms is more common. But at the holiday party, all bets are off: When your coworkers are chanting “shots!” the time tends to slip away like a Kardashian Cinderella. Set a buzzing alarm on your phone to remind yourself when to bail out.
Next up, a faux pas witness by Nathan:
There was an aging hippie . . . who I worked with. We could always tell when he’d had too much to drink because he’d start incessantly asking people, “Hey, do you have any weed?” Generally, not a big deal . . . except for the time our board of directors and top volunteers were invited.
Attention coworkers of that guy, brush up on how to swoop in and save super awkward conversations by changing the subject or diffusing the situation here and look like the quick-thinking holiday hero, or just step away very slowly . . .
This situation, however, couldn’t be saved and those not involved would do well to stand a safe distance back:
During the months before the party, a married firm partner had been making sexual advances on a very attractive recently hired associate who was 15 years younger than him. After dinner, the partner and his wife and several other partners and their spouses were seated around a table. The associate, having had several drinks, walked up to the table and said loudly to the partner, “J***, I’m ready for some c**k now.” The partner’s wife immediately rose from the table and headed to the elevators. Partner looked around red-faced and dumbfounded and soon followed her. Fortunately for the associate, the partner was known for such behavior, she worked in a different practice, and her manager and clients liked her. Her outburst wasn’t as career-limiting as first feared.
Alright, so that’s pretty awful. I’m not sure how anyone could top her story (but they do, in a bit). There’s so much going on here, outside of the party, that mixing alcohol into this dormant volcano of inappropriate conduct was a terrible, inevitable idea. That dynamic is a dark one. I’ll just leave this here: “Why Sexual Harassment Is Still An Issue And Why So Many Get Away With It.”
Moving on to a similarly mortifying moment:
Someone decided to bring in a hypnotist and they put several employees under hypnosis. When they awoke one of the women thought she was Madonna, singing “Like a Virgin” and gyrating on her coworker’s lap. When she woke up she had no recollection but none of us could forget it.
Who was the jerk who brought a hypnotist to a work party? I blame that person more than the would-be Queen of Pop. That poor choice aside, the singer would do well to review our guide to awkward moments.
While the embarrassment at that holiday party was brought on involuntarily, sometimes you have no one to blame but yourself, like this company filled with poster children for bad decisions:
In a basement of some chic club by Kensington, our company party got out of hand very quickly. Our newest intern passed out completely. All got quite drunk because open bar, and I got so smashed I wee’d in front of my colleagues and got into a very dramatic screaming match with a colleague who then proceeded to kick my ass in front of a group of other colleagues. The next day I felt like my reputation was ruined, and I feel tremendous amounts of shame.
And finally, since we started with a botched ride home, we’ll end with a slightly more redeeming story of exiting the holiday party; granted, it involves blacking out and boarding a plane:
I was a few hours away from catching my overnight flight home for the holidays, but wanted to stop by our newspaper staff party before leaving. Naturally, it was an alcohol-soaked sh*tshow, so I ended up getting incredibly drunk. At some point I was asked to make a speech in front of the 30 people in attendance, which went surprisingly well. But in all the fun I didn’t realize that my departure time was nearing.
Thankfully, a friend was on the same flight out. So she managed to pick me up, get me through security and onto the plane. I don’t remember any of it. According to her, I passed out in my seat and woke up somewhere over Texas. There’s nothing scarier than waking up, still drunk, and thinking: “I hope I’m on the right flight.”
Sounds like Sarah fell into a familiar trap: “I’ll just stop by for a drink” becomes “Sure, I have time for one more,” becomes making a big speech and blacking out in an airport.
If your holiday party is coming up soon, take these stories to heart and maybe alternate the Jägermeister with glasses of water. Or at least know how you’re going to get home. And if you still need more holiday party don’ts, watch our video.