Office Party

Yesterday  from 11:30 until 1:00 pm was my agency Christmas party. It was a potluck for staff only, with the Social Committee supplying deep fried Turkey, cheesy potatoes , and punch, paid for by agency fundraisers over the past year.  It took place in a large and shabby meeting room in the basement of our agency.  All the food was good and calorie laden. I brought cranberry salsa. We played simple games, ate, and returned  to work. What a change from the parties of 30 years ago when Husband  first started at the agency.

The director at that time was a guy who really liked a good party.  He was the first director the agency had,  and he headed our agency for many years. In his mind, a good party was held at the Elks Club or the Knights of Columbus. It was catered, and there was plenty of alcohol and fun, with late night pinochle games. Spouses and significant others were  expected to attend. He somehow managed to find money in the budget to fund it.

Well, things are different now, and I kind of like the change. There is less drama and alcohol-related poor judgement.  It is less fuss.

What are your experiences with office parties?

34 thoughts on “Office Party”

  1. When I worked at advertising agencies, the Christmas parties I can remember were held right at the agency and commenced about 4:00 in the afternoon. There was ample alcohol and the associated poor judgement. I ended up at the hospital getting stitches one year when a wine bottle I was helping to open shattered in my hand.

    At my later employer, the Christmas party was fairly lavish and held at an outside location—a hotel ballroom or something like that. Spouses were invited and perhaps Steve was also witness to one or two of those, as his erstwife was also an employee there. The evening included a catered dinner, speeches, at least one year there were strolling musicians, and an annual champagne pour, where champagne glasses would be stacked pyramid fashion and the head of the company would fill them by pouring into the top one and letting it overflow to fill the ones below. Then we would toast the year, or the new year, or something. There was still enough alcohol available for excess. I remember, one of the last years I attended, one of the senior women asleep on a bench outside the ballroom.

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    1. Yes, I went to one of those. I remember it as the party where a woman high on the management ladder got drunk and stood on one of the tables to sing and tell bawdy jokes. She was my wife’s manager. My other memory is of the company’s founder, Cy, pouring champagne. He was proud of a trick by which he would pour champagne into the top glass of a huge pyramid of wine glasses. Cy poured and poured into that top glass while lesser beings fed him with fresh bottles and the champagne spilled from the top glasses to all those below.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Once people are drunk, all good sense goes out the window. Why, though, go to an office party and drink that much and do this stuff in front of your boss? Seems unwise to me, but it was such a party of 70s and 80s office culture.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. From stories I heard at the ad agency, especially in the ‘60s, it didn’t require an office party. Sometimes going out to lunch ended that way.

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        3. I came at the tail end of that. The culture was such that an advertising person could go out to lunch and not show up until three days later and still have a job when he returned.

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  2. Rise and Party On, Baboons,

    Uffda. The office Christmas Party became something I dreaded early in my party career. Even worse was the summer party. When I was in grad school, I would sign up at temp services (usually “Kelly Girl”) for extra money. I was assigned to a place that eventually hired me directly intermittently, and they hired my wasband as a production manager. This place had the usual overblown Christmas Party: Strolling Strings, Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, the Guthrie. The nice thing about those parties was that they were in public venues that restrained alcohol consumption and behavior. The owner, who LOVED these events, was a handsome, dapper entrepreneur bachelor who put me mind of a 1950’s movie star playing a bachelor in a Bob Hope movie. Sometimes “Rauol” accompanied him to work or to these parties.

    The summer party was a different story. The owner of the shop liked to rent a houseboat for the summer event. The pilot was never an employee, but he always was just as drunk as the rest of the participants, since alcohol flowed freely, as did cocaine in a private room in the back. After several hours of floating down the St. Croix River, pulling up at various sandbars to play beach volleyball, most of the employees were wasted. I had my one beer. Wasband did not drink at all, so we were often the only sober people left. Being the only sober person on a boat full of 3 dozen drunks is so, so, so…what? Boring, awful, limiting? Yes.

    During one event, the owner’s nephew, Tommy, also an employee, was really drunk and decided to go for a swim in the St. Croix. He was caught by a small current. His coordination was impaired by the alcohol, and God knows what other chemicals. He kept going under and no one seemed able to toss him a life preserver or rope because they also kept falling in the river. I thought someone might drown. Somebody finally fished Tommy out of the river. He laid on the deck for awhile, probably passed out. The rest of the folks who had been swimming finally got back on the boat. No one died. However, my desire to avoid the summer gathering increased after that mess.

    The owner died in the early 1980’s of a mystery disease like cancer. He was a closeted gay man, of course. The company passed to his drunk, swimming nephew, Tommy. I got a real job and wasband got laid off.

    I really hate office parties.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have clear memories of an office party my dad attended in 1961, an exact copy of the blow-out Christmas party depicted in the film “The Apartment.” My dad, who was a storyteller, described the party in painful detail to me.

    One business associate went to work the day after the party. He said he’d loved the party but could not remember a bit or it. That’s when he learned he had spent much of the party loudly telling Jewish jokes. The board of directors, all Jewish, had not been amused.

    Dad described a beautiful secretary who was propositioned so often she later said, “That was educational. I learned that I’m sitting on a million bucks.” But she kept sober and didn’t dishonor her marriage vows. She said at the party, “I’m gonna go home, take off all my clothes, tie a big ribbon around my ___ and sit under the Christmas tree. It’ll be the best Christmas my husband will ever get.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Having once been the “beautiful secretary” who is being pawed, I can tell you that all those drunk executives just are not that alluring. But you do have to spend a lot of time in the ladies room to avoid them.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. I guess I’m a party pooper. I was never a corporate type, and my wife’s company parties (the few that we attended–she’s even more party-averse than I am) were pretty tame. Of course, we usually left as soon as it was politely possible, so we may have missed many drunken orgies that didn’t get cranking until midnight or so.

    Chris in O-town

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  5. I was Admin. Asst. in the 90s with the small consulting group, which numbered 4 – 6 in any given year. The co-owners believed in two principles relevant here –
    “Any new idea we try out on our clients, we should just try out on our own group,” and
    “Those who work together should also play together.”

    So we set aside one day a month to “jam” about new ideas, and twice a year held a weekend staff retreat at Patrick’s cabin on L. Superior’s South Shore. It was kind of like a working vacation camp, with some hiking or swimming at end of work day; people took turns cooking, and on one evening we’d have a dance party, probably with wine, but it was all pretty moderate. Best staff party ever. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do that. I attribute it just not being very social. Sometimes the college will have a ‘Staff Day’ with food provided and I’ll go get the food and come back to my office.
      Honest, i am kinda shy and quiet. 🙂

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        1. A little tidbit of information on the above video. It is from a late 1990s Easter celebration in a large church in Clearwater, Florida. Though obviously everything that could go wrong with the hoisting ropes did, the “performance” had everyone in the congregation laughing for a full five minutes after the stage lights were turned off, and it was their most talked about Easter service ever. Even the priest was laughing so hard he couldn’t talk. They subsequently submitted the video to America’s Funniest Home Videos and it won $10,000 for the year’s funniest video.

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        2. When comparing me to other lighting geeks, I guess it depends how much I’ve had to drink. Ha!

          And the video; well, going to black was the safe solution. But from an artistic point of view, it needed a little more color. Some nice blue, perhaps a spot… 🙂
          Of course as always, the lighting director should consult with the production’s artistic director to decide ultimately, what story exactly, are they trying to tell here. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  6. The family-owned company I worked for prior to my current gig did a holiday party, but always in the home of the owners. Not huge by any stretch. Lots of good appetizers and things to nibble. Usually some silly games. A little, but not a lot, of wine or beer. Often a Christmas bonus of some sort. They were a nice way to say “thank you” for the year without being excessive. Current place does a holiday breakfast with Belgian waffles, eggs, bacon, non-meats, etc. – much better, to my mind than spending a ton on champagne or something like that. I’d rather get a pile of lemon curd and whipped cream for my waffle from the C-suite than see my co-workers behaving badly because they have overindulged in their beverage of choice.

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  7. The most recent work-related holiday party I attended featured some games and a gift exchange. Most of the gifts were of the gag variety. but few were actually items of value. I came home with a gift set of a giant bottle of vodka and cocktail glasses. I found a store that sells the set and exchanged it for five bottles of wine.

    I think I may have gone to one or two parties that actually had an open bar, but that was decades ago and not very typical. Most had some alcohol, but the companies hosting the parties were cost-conscious and liability averse, and usually handed out drink tickets, one or two per person, or just had a cash bar.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. i used to go to a hardware housewares event twice a year and get drunk and talk smart
    my dad would hang with his buddies and i would go hang out with mine
    it was a wonderful time mid 70’s and 80’s and i enjoyed the commaraderie

    when that industry began to fade i went through withdrawal and then into meet up gatherings like business round tables just to keep my motivational junkie side full.
    1985 a christmas party put me in the hospital with an ulcer popped by trying to balance drinking to excess with snorting coke to excess.
    i thought i was a subtle drunk but was told not so much
    i like getting buzzed a lot more than getting buzzed likes me i guess. but the times were great
    4 martini lunches? just choose afternoon activities appropriately. many activities don’t require brain or judgement. those are 4 martini lunch activities. vodka martini or vodka club soda was the drunks friend because you couldn’t smell it.
    cocaine cost a few fathers their companies as their sons partied into the abyss
    potluck in the basement does sound safer doesn’t it

    Liked by 2 people

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