Office holiday parties can be a fun time for coworkers to get to know each other more personally without having to talk deadlines or budgets or clients. They can be the perfect place to celebrate the holidays together while unwinding a bit away from the stresses of the office. However, there’s sometimes that one coworker who drinks a little too much, makes a fool of themselves on the dance floor, overshares about something … or worse.
Because it’s that time of year again, five women shared their most cringeworthy holiday party stories with Fairygodboss. Maybe we should all take some mental notes, so history doesn’t repeat itself.
1. Misogynistic mayhem
“In a past role, I worked for a national company that was fairly well known to be misogynistic and a generally negative place to work (think sales reps ripping out the carpet from their peers just to score a sale and the commission),” says Jessica T., a marketing expert. “Every year they threw two big parties, one of which was a holiday party. The structure of the party was such that a large hall was rented by multiple companies, and the costs of the event were split as such. It had all the makings of a sh*t show, and it did not disappoint.
“Employees pre-drank for this party. It was broadcasted and common knowledge that this was the habits for employees for parties. But I didn’t expect the owners of the company to do the same, eventually showing up absolutely three sheets to the wind. We also didn’t expect his dates (I recall there being a few). They didn’t work for the company, and again, it was common knowledge on the ‘professional’ nature of the dates that often accompanied him to these events.
“It was beyond cringy. I left that company for a multitude of reasons, not least of which for it being an extremely negative place to work for women and men.”
2. Inebriated injuries
“At my company’s holiday party last year, one of my coworkers got so drunk he was doing high-kicks in the middle of the bar,” says Erin, a financial analyst. “It was pretty funny at first, if I’m honest. But then he kicked so high he actually ripped his suit pants and threw himself flat on his back. He ended up having to miss work the next few days because he had pulled so many muscles in his legs and actually broke his wrist landing. We all just watched, totally cringing.”
3. Obliterated overshares
“I had one colleague (who no longer works for the company) get so drunk at a holiday party one year that she told everyone just how much she actually hated her job,” says Shyanne, a fitness trainer.
“She was a trainer, too, and she went around telling everyone how much she hates the fitness center we work at and basically made fun of all of her clients. She even fat-shamed a few of them. It was like the more she had to drink, the more brutally critical she became. A few of us were just listening to her go on, wondering when she’d catch on about how awkward the conversation was becoming. We’re all a tight-knit family at the gym, so it kind of came out of nowhere. I think she felt awkward enough the morning after that she ended up quitting her job a few weeks after that.”
4. Wardrobe malfunctions
“At my company’s holiday party two years ago I wore a flowy black dress that was a just above the knee,” says Becky, a real estate broker. “I went to the bathroom, and when I came out, my dress had gotten tucked into the Spanx. I was ordering another drink at the bar, without realizing, when my boss came up to me to let me know that my ‘granny panties’ were showing. Not only was it incredibly inappropriate for him to be the one to tell me, but I was also just mortified. It must have been 10 minutes before he said anything, and I have no idea who else noticed. Cringe.”
5. Fighting during festivities
“My boyfriend came with me to my holiday party last year, but I was pretty nervous to bring him along because he knew a lot about one of my male colleagues at work who I couldn’t stand — he’d always make sexual innuendo jokes and make the women in the office feel really uncomfortable,” says Lara, a software developer.
“Well, enough drinks in, this coworker was at it again. This time he came over and shook my boyfriend’s hand and made a comment about how my boyfriend scored with me. My boyfriend shook it off and just agreed. But as the night went on, he kept making comments about the skirts I wear to work and that my emails are sometimes flirtatious (they’re not), as if to get under his skin. Eventually, he and my boyfriend went at it and got in an ugly fight in the middle of the party. I was so embarrassed, angry and upset. I felt even more uncomfortable around him in the office the next morning. The worst part is that he still works with me.”
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report,
This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss. As the largest career community for women, Fairygodboss provides millions of women with career connections, community advice, and hard-to-find intel about how companies treat women.