10 Office Holiday Parties That Were NSFW

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
After another year of hard work, it’s only fair to let loose and go big at the annual holiday office party. But crazy things often ensue when business mixes with pleasure. Get a bunch of professionals in an unprofessional setting, and the shenanigans are inevitable. And, with this year’s holiday season right around the corner, we’re pregaming early — with 10 anonymous tales of past office holiday parties gone hilariously awry. From drunken escapades with coworkers to inappropriate intern behavior to secret, in-office romances, read on for the awkward celebrations you (luckily) didn’t have to live through. We’ll let you determine if your own holiday party stories are more NSFW than these.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Not On The List

I was a web intern at a fashion magazine, and my boss invited me to take her spot at the company holiday party because she already had plans. Everyone in the office was buzzing about how much fun it was going to be, so I was getting psyched about it, especially since I had just turned 21 and it was my first invite to a swank holiday party.

Except when I got to the club, I couldn’t even get in. The events girl at the door completely ignored me because I was a nobody to her, even though she knew who I was; we saw each other every day in the office. It was embarrassing for me — seeing all the other fellow interns, staffers, and various NYC nightlife people waltz right in. But me, I was kept firmly behind the velvet rope. I don’t know why I stayed waiting for so long, but after two hours of failed attempts to get in, I gave up and went home.

The next day in the office, everyone was reminiscing, laughing, gossiping, and humblebragging about how hungover they were. My boss asked me if I had a great time. I sheepishly said I couldn’t get in. She was so furious that she confronted the events girl about it. I wasn’t even privy to this in-office tiff until the events girl approached me in the bathroom and apologized — but not in a genuine way. I said it was okay, but inside I felt like she purposefully made me feel like a huge loser.

Worst of all, that day in the office, my big job was to put up a recap post of the holiday party... I had to identify all the celebrities and influencer types in photos taken by a then-famous nightlife photographer who documented the party.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Worm Fail

I think this was at our 2008 holiday party at the Rainbow Room. Things were going well, and the drinks were flowing, and everyone was having a great time. A dance circle formed, and I did my signature move — the worm. I end the worm by flipping over onto my back and then doing a kick-up to get back to my feet. Good times.

Later on, we went bull riding, and when it was my turn, I took my jacket off, and the guy stopped me and said, "You can't go up like that!" I asked why, and he said I was covered in blood. What! So I went to the bathroom to check it out, and was shocked to see that I was covered in blood.

Turns out, when I did the worm and flipped onto my back, I had wormed over an entire section of the dance floor that was covered in broken glass (I guess someone dropped their drink). Not letting this stop me, I changed shirts (the bar sold T-shirts), hopped onto the bull, and continued my night.

I came home around 4 a.m., and my roommate, who is an EMT, was just going to work. He asked what happened to me, because I was again covered in blood, and I said, "Oh, nothing, just got a scratch." He inspected me and found that I needed 10 stitches on my elbow and a few stitches on my back.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Party Penguins
I used to work at a huge TV network that was infamous for the legendary company holiday parties. Everyone in the company was invited — no plus-ones. You even needed an official ticket to enter. The holiday parties were serious. They were the kind of crazy events where you’d hear rumors that execs made out with interns and people were openly doing drugs.

Every holiday party was memorable, but there was one year that made people feel weird: The company rented penguins for the party. Actual live penguins. I couldn’t make this up. It was at the height of the company’s heyday, and the penguins were a disgusting representation of extreme excess. We kept saying how fucked up the whole thing was. I still feel weird about the penguins after all these years.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Out-Of-Office Romance
At a holiday party, I hooked up with my assistant, a man almost a decade younger than me. We both got wasted on the balcony and started making out furiously. After a while, we quietly exited the party to check into a nearby hotel, which cost $400 to book, on the spot, for that one night. I put down my company AmEx like a baller. The actual room was disgusting, but it was one of the best nights.

This story could have ended awkwardly, but it turned out that we both had feelings for each other. My dude went on to find another job so that we could be together. We actually went back to that same hotel where we first hooked up to celebrate our five-year anniversary.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Secret Santa
I had just gotten hired as a graphic designer at a small, kind of cool fashion company around the holiday season. Everyone participates in the annual Secret Santa, and the rule is that you make the gift yourself. I was pumped that I got my crush, the girl who sits diagonally and across from me (so I basically see her face all day long). I knew exactly what to make her.

I didn’t know this, because I was the new guy, but the Secret Santa unwrapping happens in front of the entire company. Even the West Coast office Skypes in. Everyone takes their turn unwrapping their gift in front of the entire group; then, they reveal the gift to everyone and make guesses [about] who the Santa is. I panicked. The thing I made my crush was a really detailed, hand-drawn illustration of her face from a selfie she posted on Instagram. I immediately regretted my decision.

Also, people kept it super low-key and got each other things like a friendship bracelet or homemade cookies. One guy even made a Spotify playlist, which I think is one of the worst and laziest gifts I’ve ever heard, but that’s the kind of stuff that people were exchanging. Anyway, it was my crush’s turn. She pulled out the illustration of her face, looked at it for what felt like forever, and then said, ‘Wait, is this...me? Creepy!’ My heart raced. Everyone was saying how they thought the drawing was really good, which kind of made me feel worse, like I was some kind of stalker creep.

My crush then proceeded to guess incorrectly who her secret Santa was, literally naming every single person in the room except for me, until I was the only person left. Once she finally figured it out, my crush politely said thank you and joked that she was going to frame it. It felt like the worst five minutes of my life, but then everyone started drinking and no one cared.

Anyway, my crush and I eventually became better friends, and she even commissioned me to make a drawing for her boyfriend (total bummer). But I’m glad to be friends with her. She’s really cool and has a good sense of humor. She ended up framing the illustration of herself; she keeps it on her desk at work.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Not-So-Secret Girlfriend
One of my first jobs was at a company in an industry very much geared towards women, so the staff was also roughly 99% female. There was this one straight, cute guy in our department, though, and the word on the street was that he was dating the founder of the company's assistant. They were very discreet about their relationship, but word still got around.

At the company holiday party that year, he and I ended up getting really, really drunk together, and when I get drunk, I get very friendly. Not in a handsy, inappropriate, or flirty way — more of a "tell me your life story, and I'll make you feel like the most interesting person I've ever met because suddenly you kind of are" one (I'm a writer; to me, everyone is a character with a story to tell). We were involved in one of those deep bonding conversations during the entire four-hour-long party.

At a certain point during the night, I realized that his not-so-secret girlfriend was lurking in the distance, shooting...daggers out of her eyes at me. She even had the one or two people on staff who she had told about their relationship by her side, also firing off some lasers in solidarity. Now, trust me, I 100% know what this must have looked like to her. It definitely looked like I was involved in [a] kind of meet-cute, first-date-turned-soulmate connection with her dude.

Please keep in mind, though, that from my perspective, I wasn't supposed to know that they were dating (again, THE SECRET), and I had absolutely zero interest in this guy. Since I'm the happiest, friendliest drunk in the world, I chose to ignore the death stares from secret girlfriend and her squad, in the interest of continuing my fun bonding moment with her boyfriend, who was never as talkative at work as he was that night.

Needless to say, for the rest of my time at that job, secret girlfriend continued to give me withering looks of hatred every time I was in her presence. She happened to sit right across from her boyfriend, and every time I had to go to his desk to ask him a question, she would hone in with laser-sharp focus and malevolence. It almost made me want to be a jerk and pretend to flirt with the guy, but we weren't actually living in a Kate Hudson rom-com. I guess the moral of the story is: Don't do anything that remotely resembles flirting with what might be a coworker's secret boyfriend at the company holiday party? I mean, if looks could kill, well, I wouldn't be writing this right now.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Karaoke Boss
I used to work at a fashion magazine with...the kind [of staff] who once shamed me for drinking a regular Coke instead of a “DC"... The mag’s editor-in-chief was a friendly man who traveled most of the year and filled his office with huge pieces of art. When it came time for our annual holiday party, I expected something chic, yet boring.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived to the basement bar in the Meatpacking District, aside from the bounty of wine and low-cal hors d'oeuvres, was a lone karaoke machine — a prop that both excited and frightened me. A lover of K-Town sing-alongs, I couldn’t imagine anyone (save maybe the livelier interns) grabbing the mic stone-cold sober to kick off what was likely to be a pretty awkward karaoke party.

To my surprise, the editor-in-chief was the the first to take the stage, queuing up the then-super popular “Empire State of Mind.” You know the moment when your karaoke song comes on, and suddenly you realize you only know the hook? This was that moment. There he stood, the man in the $5,000 suit, mumbling his way through lyrics like, “I’ll be hood forever,” in front of his direct reports, waiting desperately for the chorus through humble laughs.

And it was perfect. Who better than the most powerful person in the office to make a fool of himself first at the company holiday party? Won over by his enthusiasm and sense of humor, the rest of my colleagues and I dutifully belted, “In New Yooorkkkk” with him, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Not only did his bold act win the respect of everyone in the room, it set the tone for a night of pinot-noir-fueled renditions of “Wannabe” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
New Girl Anxiety
I started a new job at a buzzy fashion brand right after Thanksgiving, so I was still the new girl when they hosted the company holiday party. I was nervous about barely knowing anyone, but I went anyway. I’ll say this much: I’m very different from the other women who worked there. This was all made obvious when they changed into their party gowns in the office restrooms. They did up their hair, put on makeup, brought a change of heels, the whole shebang. Everyone was dressed really fancy and stereotypically “sexy” — lots of cleavage, bare backs, legs, etc. I felt very out of place and uncomfortable with the situation, because I hadn’t made any friends at that point. So I got drunk really fast and went way too hard by myself. The next day, I ended up barfing in the office bathroom, twice.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Poop Attack
Last December, a few friends and I were invited to a Saturday Night Live after-party because a one of our friends is pals with a cast member. It was after SNL’s big holiday show, celebrating the last episode of 2014. Amy Adams was the host, and One Direction was the musical guest.

Earlier in the evening, I had pizza for dinner. I am lactose intolerant, but I hadn’t eaten much dairy that day, so I didn’t think the cheese was going to be an issue. Around 1:30 a.m., I got a text from my friend who sent the details on where the party was going down. I had thought about taking a car into Manhattan from my apartment in Brooklyn, but since I’m cheap, I decided to take the subway. Big mistake. I waited for 30 minutes. At that point, on the subway platform, my stomach started feeling knotty, but I shrugged it off. Finally, the train came; I figured I would make it to the party around 2:30 a.m.

Nope. Somewhere underwater in between Manhattan and Brooklyn, my stomach started feeling awful. I was getting the “cheese sweats,” a term I use when I know a poop attack is coming. As the train was inching along on its way, I panicked. I literally thought I was going to shit my pants in the subway car.

Luckily, I held out until the first stop in Manhattan. I ran out, even though the party was only three more stops. I couldn’t hold it in much longer. Above ground, I spotted a 24-hour McDonald’s and ran in, only to find out that the bathroom was out of service. I looked down the street and spotted a tiny Irish pub. It was so small that there were only a few old locals. Bingo. I bolted for the bathroom, ripped off my jeans, and I exploded. I never felt so relieved in my life. I cried happy tears. I spent about a good 20 minutes in the bathroom at this tiny pub before I remembered that I had an SNL after-party to go to!

I exited the bar and hailed a cab. When I approached the party, there were a million people outside — a ton of teens (for One Direction), a bunch of paparazzi, and various SNL folks smoking. I looked around at the crowd and thought to myself, Am I even going to make it inside? I texted my friend, telling him I was outside. No response. I called. No pick-up... My friend texted back, finally: “I’m coming to get you.” It was 3:30 a.m.

He flung open the heavy front door and poked his head out. He tapped the door guy and pointed at me, and I was ushered in. Success! I made my way downstairs into the venue, where [my friends] were saying things like, “This is so crazy,” and “Look over there, the guy from The Walking Dead,” and “Aww, you just missed Kristen Wiig and Harry Styles, dancing on the table, singing ‘Time of Your Life.’”

I think I was in there for only about 40 minutes when the lights were turned on. The after-party was over. But we made our way to a dive bar a few blocks away for the after-after-party. It was a tiny hole in the wall, so everyone was squished in. The guy from The Walking Dead was still raging. I ended up sitting at a small booth with...an SNL cast member, the younger sister of a different cast member, a musician, a model, a comedian friend from college, and my friend who was tripping on acid. Before I knew it, the sun was coming up. My friend and I grabbed bagels and hopped in a cab to go back to Brooklyn. It was 7:30 a.m. when we got in bed. Later that afternoon, we woke up and watched the SNL holiday episode on Hulu.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Intern
Our holiday office party coincided with our intern’s last day in the office. He had been pretty great all semester, save for...being a complete name-dropper and always making bad jokes. Anyway, the bar party started off fine, but then our young intern started getting very drunk, very quickly. Our creative director wanted to show him a good time for his hard work and kind of encouraged his increasingly rowdy behavior, which also involved bad celebrity impressions.

At one point, a few of us went outside for a smoke, and while out there, our intern started hitting on a girl. She clearly wasn’t into it, but he kept trying. It was a weird moment of wanting to see what kind of trainwreck would ensue, but also wanting to dismantle the situation from getting out of hand. We all made the mistake of opting to witness a trainwreck.

The girl who was getting hit on had a friend who stepped in and told our intern to stop annoying them. Our intern then quickly made an off comment about how the girl’s friend wasn’t as hot and that she should mind her own business. I was utterly stunned that our intern, a young man who we had been mentoring for months, could be so horribly rude. Just then, the girl our intern had been hitting on swiftly kicked him in the nuts. It was like from a movie. He screamed and fell to the ground in a fetal position. The rest of us stood around, dumbfounded.

At that point, the bouncer told us to leave... But since we were outside for a smoke, the rest of our stuff was inside. When we asked the bouncer if we could go inside to grab our things, he thought we were starting trouble and told us to leave again. Then, one of our co-workers — who we didn’t even realize had quite a rage problem — bitched out at the bouncer, cursing him...and causing an even bigger scene. It quickly escalated into a nightmare situation, where the bouncer was threatening to beat him up if he wanted to put up a fight...

At that point, I wanted to bounce. Our intern was still talking trash, our co-workers were trying to placate the tiff with the bouncer, and the rest of our team was inside the bar, getting an alert that our group had to leave due to bad behavior. Luckily for me, friends were nearby at a karaoke bar, so I joined their party instead. It was a much better way to end the evening, except that the karaoke session turned out to be hella expensive. Sigh. I guess the lesson is that, if a night out has officially turned to shit, sometimes you just have to roll with it. Also...the last time I got updates about our former intern, he turned out to be super successful.
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