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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 10:40 GMT
Tell us your Christmas party stories
As Christmas fast approaches, the notorious office party is getting into full swing.
For some, it's a time to enjoy a drink, a dance and a bit of office networking.
But, according to new research, over-indulgence in the festive season will cost British firms a cool £110 million, as people take time off to recover.
There are other risks. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents warned people not to sit on photocopiers and copy their bottoms, as it could lead to serious injury.
Is it all just harmless fun? Will you be taking time off to recover? Tell us your most amazing office party story.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Never been to a Christmas party at "work" (ahem!) but the few I've been to, I've got drunk, had a good laugh, not passed out and one thing that everyone hates me for - no matter how much I drink, I NEVER get a hangover!
Dave Chatham, UK
A few years ago in my office party, a rather large mate of mine decided to photocopy his ample backside. It all started well enough, but shourtly after pressing the green button, he heard an alarming crack. Before he could get off, the entire glass cover broke trapping him inside the innards of the photocopier. Despite the fact that he had several sharp shards of glass sticking into him, he chuckled quite happily as I called for an ambulance to help prize him out.
One year we organised a dinner trip on a fancy train - Orient Express style. One woman got so drunk she burst into tears and jumped off the moving train, necessitating 4 of the men to jump off also to "rescue" her. Our boss ended up with his underpants on his head and at work on Monday most of the staff were convinced that they'd been on a plane trip to a nearby island, and didn't remember the train at all! So that means they tried to jump out of an airplane.... Fairly legless!
The MD's PA, flushed with fighting juice hit another girl with a bottle; the police, ambulance and the carpet cleaners were called. Even bedtime did not stop the capers as during the course of the night the fire alarms were set off twice, ensuring the hat trick of emergency service call-outs. Everyone was herded out into the car park in freezing temperatures in various states of undress. The only fun derived was from watching who was appearing with whom from their rooms!! Needless to say this was the last Christmas party.
I think one of the most major hazards of the office Christmas party is the drunken 'romantic' liaisons that often go on between colleagues. I wonder how many people end up quitting their jobs in the New Year through sheer unbearable embarrassment after this kind of error in judgement? Maybe that's why there's so many jobs about in the New Year. I can't complain though, two years ago I got together with a male colleague of mine after drinking lots at the Christmas party and, against the odds, I am still with him to this day!
At office parties, I find the over-indulgence of alcohol frees tongues and personalities of the constraints of office life. Grievances are aired and discussed, attractions are explored and peoples' true personalities are revealed. I don't trust anyone who turns nasty when they've had a drink and the office Christmas bash is a good place to find them out. Anyway, it's always the people who show the most disdain of what goes on at office parties who are most desperate to find out what happened at them. Finally, my party tip is to be the one with the camera and make sure it's a digital one so the evidence can be quickly deleted.
All our company Christmas celebrations have been cancelled this year as a cost-saving exercise. Thank God I don't have to put up with all those stupid drunks this year. Yeah!!!!!
Who needs Christmas for company parties? Our software company took us to Tunisia. The food was so bad the holiday resort organised a big traditional meal to make up. It was held under a big tent. The couscous was good, but I did not manage to taste any of the scarabs that were climbing down the tent onto the tables. In the end, they served us a very nice blancmange with pine nuts. Pretty quickly, spoonfuls of blancmange took off, most of them in the direction of the directors table who became covered with the stuff.
Upon our return to France, we were all summoned to a meeting to be told off for the bad image of France we gave our hosts.
Di Stewart, USA
A couple of years ago whilst in a rather respectable restaurant in London our managing director decided to do his party trick at the table which was to look like he was about to throw up. It was so convincing that the waitress brought over a bucket for him!!!
The best Christmas party I had was in Ottawa where I went to an office party with my date and ended up meeting another man who is now my husband. How romantic!!
Went to an Xmas bash run by one of my customers in the Netherlands..... Got a but "under the weather"..... Next thing I know, it's the following afternoon, I'm at the Railway Station in Lille (next country but one) and I'm unaccountably dressed as a Chorus Girl (a grim sight!).
Andy, South Africa
Last year I danced, ate and drank during the office end-of-year Christmas party. I won the man of the party award for the best performer. This did not go down well with my immediate boss because he too was eyeing the prize. He revisited the matter during the staff performance appraisal. He rated me very low saying that I can only perform at parties. This year I decided to boycott the end-of-year party for my boss. Once beaten I am twice shy. I have realized the truth- Christmas is for sober reflection.
My company has just made us redundant, asked us to reapply for our own jobs, and will send out job offer letters on the day of the office Christmas party. I don't think many people will be turning up!
I've had my fill of Christmas parties so I'm giving ours a miss this year. While my colleagues will be getting smashed next Thursday evening, I'll be at home watching Walking With Beasts.
Well said Susan S, I'm doing the same. As a mate of mine once said: "Just because I work with you doesn't mean I have to socialise with you."
Neil Martin, UK
I used to get drunk at parties, but don't any more - I grew up!
Just had the Christmas party this weekend - flight to the Highlands, posh hotel, top food, free bar and a leisure suite to recover in the next day.. Toodle pip!
In answer to a lot of bemused writers from mainland Europe and from across the Atlantic the whole point of a Christmas party is for everyone to get horribly drunk. If you get lots of people who work together in a room and keep them sober then you just get another day at work. However, give them all some alcohol and you get a more relaxed atmosphere that supplies everyone in the office with stories aplenty.
Rob Briggs, Ireland
I find office parties a bit of a bore. People either get steaming drunk or talk shop all the time. Not my idea of fun.
A couple of years ago I attended a nice, swish, black-tie party in Edinburgh. After a very nice meal accompanied by a few bottles of wine, the comedian came on stage. One of my ex-colleagues decided to heckle him - a bad idea in the end. The comedian was Lee Hurst and he hates hecklers. She had to be led out of the building, send a letter of apology to Mr Hurst, and left the company a month or two later. We, however, found it enormously funny!
I just wanted to say that considering the fact that the Brits are meant to be the reserved ones we seem to be dispelling this vicious rumour very well. All I can say is it's Christmas - if you can't let your hair down at this time of year, when can you? Personally I feel bad that people look upon the Xmas party as a disgraceful display of behaviour. They should lighten up a little and get into the spirit of things.
Paul Harris, Australia/UK
I have many fond memories of office Christmas parties in the UK. However, one that will stick in my mind for a long time to come, was the one at which I, as a senior manager, decided to do the trick of whipping a table cloth out from under a load of glasses. I had consumed a fair amount and overlooked the fact that nearly all of the glasses on the table were full! A wet and sticky evening was had by many.
These stories are so funny. I want to come and work in England!
My last company's office party a couple of years ago was more debauched than normal. It took place in a new office that we had finished refurbishing that afternoon. They had made the mistake of hiring a proper cocktail bar with professional servers. Incidents were too numerous to go into detail but £1000 modern art pieces were covered in noodles, the freshly laid carpet was covered in sick and we were still drinking and indulging at 5am with the bemused cleaners cleaning around us. We all slept on the sofas in the boardroom, I reappeared at something past 9am walking through the office wearing my unbuttoned shirt, shorts and a wide grin.
To Evo, UK: Throwing noodles over a £1000 piece of modern art has probably at least doubled its value.
My company doesn't have a Christmas party. After reading all the accounts here of fights, drunkenness, insults, and vomiting in car parks, I'm glad we don't have one!
As an outsider I have come to the following conclusion. The Xmas party for the English is the equivalent of a social laxative for the general retentiveness that exists in the day-to-day office environment. The relaxed environment, with dollops of alcohol, results in the kinds of excesses that represent some kind of catharsis from the usual constipated English social inhibitions, or good old-fashioned stiff upper lip. This can be the only explanation of why so many people try to photocopy their backsides! Freud, eat your heart out.
At our last Christmas party I got drunk and called the boss a stupid idiot. Funny thing is I'm self-employed.
The perils of alcohol impairment and addiction aside, it's good to know that some people in Britain still know how to party. Drinking with your co-workers almost never happens in the hygienic US. The failure to cut loose together spawns a considerable barrier to mutual trust: do my co-workers have something to hide? Are they afraid of letting down their guard? In America, nobody knows.
Last year's Christmas party offered free cocktails. Within two hours, I had a few too many cocktails to handle. I went to use the toilet, but that was the beginning of the end of the evening for me. I went into the women's toilet by mistake, passed out while I was in there, and then vomited all over myself. Fortunately I had some good colleagues looking out for me! The next thing I remembered was waking up at 1pm the next afternoon. They got me out the women's toilet, drove me home, and washed my shirt and tie for me. This year's Christmas party is next Friday night. I'll probably do it all over again.
It is a sad reflection on the UK to see all these people who think getting drunk is fun. Maybe this is the reason we have a drink driving campaign every Christmas. And the sad reason why the number of deaths have gone up for the past couple of years.
Just think about the damaged property and healthcare cost that could be saved by having dry parties.
J, Belfast, UK
I love your UK Christmas party stories. And as for all you Americans and we Canadians who don't want to say so, we do too spend much of the time wasted during and after Christmas parties, despite our restrictions.
Derek from Hong Kong obviously works for the wrong British bank. Our Christmas lunch starts with champagne, continues with wine and ends up with decanters of port. The first one to leave gets jeered! (I'd switch bank if I were you Derek!)
The British tradition of getting drunk does not really carry well to the other side of the globe. The British bank I work for does not appear to be anything like British. The annual event is capped with formal speeches, presentations and dinners. To make the event more memorable, the drinks are always limited to ten small cans of beer to a table of twelve.
I'm up for a Christmas bash. Pity the company I work for and my colleagues are not. Miserable swines.
Last year, I was told that California's liability laws forced the company to discontinue alcohol at any company function. So, the drinkers on the staff moved the party off-site and paid for it out of our own pockets. This year, I was told that the latest interpretation made me, a supervisor, liable if any staff became intoxicated, wandered back to the job and injured themselves. I now feel like I need to be in disguise to have a drink or a cigarette with staff. I would trade a month of sunny days for one really good English office party.
Bob Peterson, Spain
It seems that people from the UK are proud of how drunk and sick they can get at the office party as almost all of your letters are from the UK. These type of parties, while not unknown, are rare in Canada due to our drinking laws
Barbara from Canada: There are loads of similar Christmas parties here in Canada. I don't know where in the country you live, but where I am there are many. I think you may want to get a position with a better company.
My most hilarious memory is the chap who, having had too much to drink, lost his false teeth down the toilet.
I just do not understand why everyone must drink so much! It is a thing you English do that is most different from the French (and the Italians, and the Spanish)!
Well lucky you lot...our company have decided not to have a Crimbo do this year - so we are all very dry and cheesed off.
Having read all these stories, is there anyone out there like me who cannot understand why a good proportion of the English do not consider that they have had a good time at Christmas without drinking to excess, being ill and feeling wretched the next day? In my experience it is rare to see such drunkenness on the continent, yet everyone still seems to be able to enjoy themselves without getting plastered.
Kathy Willsea, USA
Some of these stories (in addition to Tony Blair) are precisely the reason why we Americans love the UK.....
Our hospital had a Christmas ball with free wine provided all night. I decided to wear the red ribbon from the table around myself in a Mr. Universe style, and had a rather intimate dance with one of the department managers (who was very nice). Having descended the stairs to visit the loo, I found that I was unable to climb back up them. Feeling like I needed fresh air I grabbed my coat and went outside.
Sat on the marble steps of the posh hotel, I started to vomit in a scene similar to that of the Exorcist. Luckily, the friend who was driving me 20 miles home had brought a washing up bowl just in case. I spent the whole journey home with my head resting on the dashboard and face in the bowl being sick. The next day, all I could taste was red wine, and I didn't manage to get out of bed until the nausea went at 5pm. Needless to say, I missed out on anything with the nice department manager, I had to brush off the dried vomit off my hired dinner suit to return to the shop, and I tend to drink small amounts of wine now at Christmas parties!
£110 million cost per year? Who pinched my four quids' worth?
Christmas two years ago, my sister arrived at my home very drunk and very upset after her Christmas work party. It transpired that she really fancied this man at her workplace and just as she attempted to introduce herself to him for the first time, she proceeded to vomit all over him. I was very pleased to be a witness at their wedding this year! A very unique way to chat up a man!
Charlie S, UK
Work parties from hell! I had a Christmas job at a well-known department store. On 25 October at 11am they squashed 20 of us into a tiny meeting room. We were handed a plastic cup, half full of a mixture of cheap wine and tap water. The manager explained that they didn't want us to get tipsy. This was accompanied by a cheap and nasty mince pie, which we stood and munched in silence. We were then filed out and the next set of staff were filed in. The whole thing took just over 10 minutes.
It was the worst party ever but for all the wrong reasons. I left in mid-November to work for someone else!
In Canada employees who hurt themselves at office parties have started suing their employers for letting them get drunk - honest. So now the parties are dull with no more open bars.
Just a note of cheer for the intoxicated. Last December in Ontario a drunken woman left an office Christmas party, had a car accident and is now a paraplegic. Her employer, the Christmas party host, was found guilty of negligence and is currently responsible for a huge insurance pay out. Is drunkenness all it's cracked up to be?
My advice is to get as drunk as physically possible, so when it does come to the point of sneaking off with the MD's PA, you are either incapable of doing anything or too drunk to ever remember anything happening, or like me, learn the hard way!
Last year's Christmas party started as usual at 11am in a restaurant for a big meal. After many drinks the party then moved onto a local pub, where some people stayed until closing. At around 10pm one rather drunk colleague tried to get a round of drinks, although they told him the bar was closed. This same person was later seen attached to a lamppost outside Embankment tube station. He never did make it into work the following day.
The last company I worked for had two Christmas parties. The official black-tie West End swanky do where everything was very boring and then the unofficial one where the rule was no girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives or cameras. The system worked very well. Seeing a colleague pour himself a pint through the roller shutter of the closed hotel bar using two snooker cues was my fondest memory of that company.
When I was a part timer years ago, I was caught with the boss's mistress in the computer room during the Xmas party. Needless to say he was slightly annoyed, but as he was terrified I would spill the beans to his wife, he let me off and offered to take me on full-time. I thought about it, told him to get lost and told his wife anyway.
Andrew Sadler, UK
I have been going to office Xmas parties for nearly 30 years and have never seen anything untoward. Either I have worked for the wrong/right companies (depends upon your point of view) or they are a bit of a myth.
Like Colin Mackay, I too have never seen anything untoward at an Xmas party. I've always been far too drunk to notice.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I arrived at my office party determined to stay sober. I arrived home again several hours later, smugly convinced that I'd succeeded, then spoilt it by laying my suit on the bed and climbing in the wardrobe.
Tom M, UK
I worked for a global vehicle leasing\car rental company in the 80's. One year they hired a function room overlooking the pitch at Old Trafford for the works Christmas do in the afternoon. The party was pretty poor until the DJ organized a game of musical chairs that involved removal of clothes. It ended up with all the directors running around the dance floor in their undies!
Steve W, UK
I have been to many Christmas parties in the past where it is generally accepted that people will turn up a bit late and be a bit off-colour the next day. Non-attendance is frowned upon (if you can't handle it, don't drink it) but a general lowering of productivity is not only accepted, but also expected!
I took the more sensible precaution of not getting too drunk...and taking a camera to our Christmas party last night. We've had some laughs looking at the pictures this morning and I'm one of the few without a thumping head.
Stuart Jenkins, UK
One year my old company had a 'forties theme' fancy dress Christmas party. Myself and friend went dressed as GI's in Army uniforms. There was an authentic forties band with a singer in white dress and a dance troop dancing the jive for most of the night. I got chatting to a rather attractive young lady who was one of the dancers. We chatted for a while and at the end of the evening she asked if she could try on my GI Jacket (as she loved men in uniform). She gave me the jacket back as she had to leave. So I took my chance and asked her for her phone number. She looked back at me, gave me a sexy smile and said 'Its on a piece of paper in your jacket pocket' - It was the best chat up line I have ever heard - she bowled me over.
I used to work behind the bar of the largest student union in Wales. At Christmas, we used to hire out our great hall to companies. One year we had Marks and Spencer. The staff on duty that night made so much from tips (£100 or more), the signing up for the same shift the next year was oversubscribed 15 times!
Last year at our Christmas party, a (now ex) senior colleague who was very quiet - always the way - had a few wines too many to conquer his nerves. He subsequently groped all the women in the company (plus one or two of the men) and landed a punch on a colleague who was trying to move him outside. After a short exchange of punches, he walked off, vowing to get the train home. The next day, we had seen and heard nothing until he phoned in from hospital where he remained for some time with a smashed kneecap.
My personal favourite, from a party a good few years ago when photocopiers were still a novelty, was a young lady who managed to successfully obtain a very graphic image of not just her bottom. Foolishly she left a copy in the machine, which of course was copied and recopied several thousand times. Copies appeared all around the office, reached all four corners of the globe and still turn up at the bottom of desk drawers from time to time. As far as I know, the now not-so-young lady still works in the same company.
A work Christmas party in Bristol was a bit disappointing. The turkey was inedible and the IT boss ended up having to go back to work to sort out urgent problems.
Two years ago while I was with a fish packing company we all got a little bit sloshed at the Christmas party. As a joke we decided to fill our manager's car with fish guts (normally used for fertiliser)! Well lets just say the car never recovered, guess that was at least £15,000 of the £110 million in festive damages!
I hope I never get an invite to one of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents' parties...
I was offered a job once at a company on the day of the departmental Christmas party and after a few drinks that evening I stumbled over to the divisional director who was talking to the MD to thank him for the job - they were not aware I had been taken on! At the company Christmas party a few days later, I was seated next to the MD who told me not to drink as much red wine as I had done on the Tuesday but that he was also a member of the company elite who had been sick in the car park the day after a Christmas party! What an induction that was!
I would advise against singeing your boss' eyebrows when the pay reviews are due!
Will Faulkner, UK
It was a sorry tale. At my last company's Christmas party a few years ago I went ahead and mixed my drinks. I was then ill, on the journey back, in the managing directors brand new car. Needless to say that I wasn't in work the next day due to the immensely bad hangover and the shame of what I had done the night before. Fortunately my boss was forgiving and I had no punishment for what I did. Except for the endless references at work and the odd paper sick bag that was left on my desk that is...
A few years ago we had our works Christmas drinks in our club which is behind the local shops and three young men gate crashed. They were very drunk and when one threw a punch at a male colleague I was so angry that I flung my arm round, caught him by the neck and threw him onto the floor. Luckily a number of male colleagues waded in and I crawled out from under the melee, minus my ear rings and one shoe. After the ensuing fight where the 3 men were thrown out my friend told me that the one I had punched lived near me and had just come out of prison after serving a sentence for GBH. Luckily I never saw him again.
Kevin Rooney, Ireland
My company always takes the sensible precaution of having the Christmas Party on a Friday evening.
Rob, thats the best idea yet, we always have them mid week, which is such a killer.
I would pays loads to not have to get out of bed the next day
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05 Dec 00 | UK
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