Office-party blunder? How to live it down
Many people do things at the holiday office party they end up regretting the next day, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her December 13 Ask Annie column. What was your most embarrassing moment at a work party? Were you able to recover? How? And what shenanigans have you seen co-workers or bosses get into?
Posted by Gabrielle S. 11:07 AM 18 Comments comment | Add a Comment

We have a policy against office parties
where I work.

Therefore, I have no regrets at all.
Posted By Cleara, Portland, Oregon : Wed Dec 13, 11:51:19 AM  

At the big Christmas party in the cafeteria, there was this large sheet cake. The cake was at least 10 feet square. On top of the cake was a winter scene with trees, mountains, and even a real electric train. The tracks ran all the way around the cake. Since my level of unhappiness about working there was extremely high, I went over to the train control un-noticed and turned the knob to 100%. Well, the train began to rapidly speed up and when it rounded the turn, it flew off the tracks and into the icing - snicker snicker...

My recovery was quite small indeed; no one knew who did it. By the time they noticed the disaster I was long gone.

Just to note: The cake was lousy...
Posted By Engineer Bill, Los Angeles CA : Wed Dec 13, 11:55:04 AM  

When I was between jobs at major Wall St banks, I did some consulting work to regain my sanity. One night, while working as a consultant, I went to a boss�s house party by myself and after a few hours of drinking ended up making out with my boss�s co-worker. I did this knowing that my boss had a romantic interest in me which I was never going to reciprocate.

Long story short, we got caught and my consulting assignment was mysteriously cut short not long there after.
Posted By Brian, New York : Wed Dec 13, 12:20:09 PM  

Annie,

Have I got one for you. Recently the firm I work for hosted a lavish Holiday party with a full open bar. Well, as you can imagine, it got a little out of hand. By the end of the night we were all taking shots of Whiskey and sharing stories about our co-workers. Some of us were on our game, but others were a bit out of there element. Let me just say you could tell who the drinkers in the group were, and we (I mean they) made sure everyone else was having a good time. But one sorry fellow was a little too anxious to try to keep pace. I think I saw him drinking everything from Beam on the rocks to Screwdrivers. I mean there was no going back for this guy. At the end of the night, in front of a group of us, he tried to choke down one last shot, eyes watering and all. And as soon as he took it, wham, it all came back up. So here we are at this classy party, with all of our co-workers and management, and this guy pukes all over himself. Man, it was hilarious! Just picture it in your head for a minute and have a good laugh on that guy. I can tell you, I'm laughing right with you.
Posted By Steve, Milwaukee WI : Thu Dec 14, 10:29:39 AM  

My worst was after the party. We all went to Denny's, I ordered the "Moon over my Hammy". After everyone laughing about the "Moon" it wasn't long before the whole topic was mooning. On a bet I showed my moon. Thankfully I had on panty hose. Not only did I lose the bet (because of the panty hose) I almost lost my job.
Posted By Michelle Daniels, Bradenton fl : Thu Dec 14, 01:10:17 PM  

At the annual company conference, I caught my drunk boss groping a colleage; his WIFE was also present at the event.

This was so out-of-character for him. He rarely drinks, is deeply religious and something of a health nut. I felt sorry for him so I distracted him from his paramour and led him back to his wife.
Posted By Carolina, Charlotte, NC : Thu Dec 14, 01:18:32 PM  

I must go on record and state, I am the biggest "anti-holiday" party advocate there is. Too many careers, unnecessarily, are cut short because of stupidity.

However, for the rest of us, they sure do provide loads of year end entertainment, and anticipation for next years fiasco.

I work for a large financial services company, and this year, like other past, there is always one group of, what I will call, neanderthal, who feel compelled to show everyone they can drink more and be loud, and for whatever reason, they feel "better" then their peers because of this. This is always funny, especially when one get arrested after trying to drive home intoxicated....never fails. But by far the best is watching the ever so lonely, usually married "neanderthal" hit on the unsuspecting female new hire, usually on intern, or just out of college. It is utterly disgusting to watch, but very amusing, as he stumbles his words, and usually his manhood, as he tries so hard to get it on with the 20 year old. I would have really felt bad for him, if she accepted his advances only to his disappointment, and hers, his viagara was not taken before the blessed event, and his intoxicated 50 year old soul just isn't "up" to the occasion.

Better luck next year Chuck, but thanks for the memories. Something fun to talk about until next December!

Cheers!
Posted By Charles, NY, NY : Thu Dec 14, 02:09:30 PM  

Our office is big on parties and it's stories like these which makes me not want to go with them. A lot of poeple that go to office parties feel obligated to drink because there boss is there throwing back a bottle of wine or whatever there drinking. When your not a seasoned drinker it can get ugly. I prefer to hear about the party from a co-worker and then thank myself for not going. That way there are no uncomfortable moments the next morning and no one labels me for something I did and don't remember.
Posted By Jeff - Orange, California : Thu Dec 14, 02:36:38 PM  

I had just started a new job for a large insurance company, and attended the annual picnic a week later. I was making small talk with another employee, and asked what department he work in. Turned out he was the company president! (No, I wasn't fired)
Posted By Paul K, DUrham, NC : Thu Dec 14, 05:00:01 PM  

I lost track of my drinking at an office Xmas party thanks to an overly attentive waiter who kept "topping off" my glass instead of letting me finish one. Long story short, I ended up having to be physically carried out of the restaurant, and woke up in a bathtub wearing someone else's clothes. Fortunately, it was my female colleagues who had thoughtfully changed my clothes, thus saving an expensive suit. No repercussions - our boss left the party early deliberately so that the rest of us could cut loose after she was gone. I wouldn't try this again today, though.
Posted By Elizabeth, New York NY : Thu Dec 14, 05:01:08 PM  

So, like all of the other authors of these wild stories, I had a few too many cocktails at our office holiday party this year. And then I was jawing away all loady with some co-workers and my boss...then my boss and I started scrappin' with each other. And then I decided it was a good time to punch him in the eyeball. I don't remember this, being that I blacked out that night. But it did happen.

Well, as surprising as it may sound, I'm still gainfully employed. And my boss' eyeball recovered nicely. He complained about it for a few days...but he got over it. He's tough. Oh yeah, he's also one of my best friends and a roommate of mine. So that helps. If you ever get hammered and punch your boss in the eye, make sure you're best friends.

I'm sorry if the end of this story was a letdown, but I'm pretty sure no one would have believed me had I not revealed that we're tight.
Posted By Tim, Redding, CA : Fri Dec 15, 01:07:55 AM  

First real job. My boss thought it was funny to keep getting me drinks - I wasn't 21. I sat at the table all night and drank. When I stood up, the room moved with me so to speak, and I fell in to one of the Christmas trees. I was embarrassed, but luckily only my department members saw me and just ribbed me about it for a bit. I've since moved on to a new job(unrelated reasons) and have been very careful to monitor my behavior more closely!
Posted By Heather, Detroit, MI : Tue Dec 19, 01:08:06 PM  

Many years ago, my grandfather was a VP of GE. At the annual Christmas party at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, a staff secretary cuddled up to him and sat in his lap. Unnoticed by all except by my mother, who was attending with my dad, also an employee, this VP quickly but skillfully tipped his drink on the women which resulted in her instinctively standing up to brush off her dress. He had definite boundaries not to be crossed, and maintained his dignity sans an embarrassing scene. I've always remembered that as a lesson to be proactive, instead of a polite schmuck.
Posted By Missie, Los Angeles, CA : Fri Dec 22, 10:26:24 PM  

I am 26 years old and have been working for this company for about 3 years. During the most recent office holiday party, my ( married) boss and (single) I got way too drunk and, with his wife at home taking care of their young children, I ended up attempting to kiss him. EXCEPT, if my memory serves me right, that it was a little off-center and ended up being the worst kiss ever. He just laughed it off and walked away. He never said anything to me about it that next Monday. Oh, I can't even make eye contact anymore, but since then, my work has been stellar because I'll do anything and everything to avoid talking to him. NEVER AGAIN.
Posted By Melissa, Miami, FL : Sat Dec 30, 10:57:01 AM  

Oh no, office Christmas parties can be one of the worst things ever! They are horribly embarassing the next day but also provide enough humor to last you to the next year's Christmas party.
Posted By orange notary public, orange, california : Mon Jan 08, 02:53:21 PM  

Back when I was a young filly (25 or so), I went to my office holiday party. It was a catered event with music, etc. at a nice hotel ballroom. I went with my boyfriend, who was the jealous type(I later broke up with him due to his jealous nature). I was standing next to one of the bigwigs (a senior VP named Merle) while my boyfriend was getting us drinks at the open bar. All at once, the bigwig (he was about 15 years older than me which, at that time, was ANCIENT to me!) put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, "I want to make love to you. I've wanted to jump your bones since the first time I laid eyes on you." I was so shocked by his audacity and crudeness that I didn't say anything but immediately walked away. I never did tell my boyfriend because he would've smacked the bigwig. I continued working at that company for a couple more years. Whenever I'd see Merle at work, he'd just stare at me and watch me. He never said anything else to me. I guess he got the hint.
Posted By Sue, Minneapolis, MN : Wed Jan 24, 04:44:33 PM  

At my first job out of college, we had the annual Christmas party at the home of the woman that had gone out on a limb to hire me. I went to a smaller school and this was a big company that normally sticks to the "name" schools when hiring.
Anyways, I proceeded to drink 6 beers, numerous shots, and then switch to trashcan punch. Needless to say I was obliterated within an hour. I took my shirt off, ran around in circles in the living room, stumbled outside and barfed in the front yard. It was ugly. I never got a chance to recover from it. I was transferred to some obscure off-site location the following Monday and left the company a year later.
Posted By Steve, Houston : Wed Jan 31, 11:15:39 AM  

So ironic that we're discussing this today. Our company's Christmas party was last weekend and one of the Senior Managers was caught making out with one of his employees. It was right in front of 500 people who all saw but pretended not to notice. By Monday he had gone back to "company headquarters" and it was being talked about in dark corners all day. I don't have a great finish for this one, but last I heard HR had gotten wind and was doing a bit of questioning.
Posted By Earl, Shepardsville, Ky : Wed Jan 31, 05:51:45 PM  

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About this blog
Anne Fisher, Fortune magazine senior writer, answers career-related questions and offers helpful advice for business professionals. To submit a question, please e-mail askannie@fortunemail.com. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.