The One Party You Don’t Want An Invite To: The German Work Christmas Party

Fun and games at the German Work Christmas Party.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The British work Christmas party typically involves two things; alcohol and sexual shenanigans between people who shouldn’t be having them. So I had high hopes of finally seeing some Germans shed their inhibitions and – dare I say it – lose control when I was invited to a German work Christmas party last year.

How wrong I was.

The first thing that should have told me this was that I was invited at all. For I am just the partner of someone else who works for this company. Partners, at a work Christmas party? These annoying specimens don’t even get a look in at the English work Christmas party. There are two reasons for this: One is that companies claim they can’t afford to invite partners of employees anymore, particularly after the credit crunch (which never existed in mega-rich Bavaria).  The second and real reason is that there’s no way Fred in accounts could finally get his dirty way with Jane from Human Resources if his wife was there, could he?

The second thing that screamed “this is going to be The Worst Christmas Party Ever” is that there were CHILDREN there. Honestly. Children at a work Christmas party. At that point I guessed there wasn’t going to be any cocaine or strippers either then. Oh God.

All work Christmas parties vary in England. I have been to ones in pubs, clubs, bars, the work canteen, you name it. But in all cases everyone gets rip-roaring drunk, women in slutty, ill-fitting dresses dance to bad music and there is plenty to gossip and laugh about the next day.

English women on their way to the work Christmas party.

When we arrived at the Worst Christmas Party Ever however, there was no music. A small group of people were stood awkwardly around a table in the boss’ showroom, which had been stylishly turned into a pretty winter wonderland. That’s right – no traffic light-style disco lights here.

Whoop whoop!

None of the women were in slutty dresses either. Instead they were wearing Jack Wolfskin t-shirts tucked neatly into khaki-style trousers. And there was to be no dancing around handbags tonight – for these lot had brought their rucksacks. We were going on a hike afterwards or something? I manually adjusted the hem on my little dress by yanking it down a bit, and wished I had at least put a vest top on under the laciness of my dress and over my bra. Then I prayed there would be no hike.

German women on their way to the work Christmas party

The Worst Christmas Party Ever consisted of the boss, Ludwig, a successful young family man with long floppy hair and one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen. Then there was his wife along with their two young children who clearly didn’t want to be there either. Then there was Gert, my partner’s colleague and his wife, both aged in their fifties. Gert is from the former communist East Germany, so you can forgive him for being a bit weird. Then there was the apprentice, Stefan, who stank of B.O. and had the social skills of an ape. Then there was the straight-laced secretary, Hilda, who had brought her nine-year-old daughter along. This was going to be a long night.

Sensing this too, the boss’ children suddenly started acting ill and their mother had to leave and take them home. The rest of us sat down to eat a beautiful meal prepared perfectly by some local caterers, albeit in the quietest and most awkward surroundings ever. It didn’t help that my German at this stage was at the same level of the average German two-year-old’s, which made it very hard to join in any conversation that did dare to take place. No one seemed to speak English because, well, this is rural Bavaria where people speak a funny form of German. As many expats will know, you often feel like a deaf mute in these situations.

One thing that did shatter the awkward silence however was the secretary’s daughter sat next to me. She ate and ate as though she had never seen food before. She pigged out so much that her podgy little stomach couldn’t handle anymore, and she started – wait for it – farting. As she was sat next to me though no one could really tell who had let out the farts, despite my obvious ‘you just farted!’ glances I threw hastily in her direction. She just sat there seemingly oblivious to her torrential gas situation. The little bitch.

After the most excruciatingly long few hours of my life, the Worst Christmas Party Ever was finally over. No one got that drunk, no one fell over, no one made a fool of themselves to YMCA on the dance floor, and on one shagged someone they shouldn’t have. But in typical German style the food and hospitality was amazing and no one lost their dignity, jobs, or knickers down some cold alleyway somewhere on the way home. Boring!

Unfortunately the following day everyone who had been at the Worst Christmas Party Ever came down with a vomiting virus so severe we were all chucking our guts up for two days. The little girls who had been taken home ill by their mum got it from school first, then their mother must have picked it up from them before passing it on to all of us by handling our cutlery before we ate.

And that’s why kids really shouldn’t be at Christmas parties. One because they are farty and annoying, and two because they carry disease-ridden germs most of the time.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. It was very nice of the boss to invite us and feed us all with such lovely food. But I really hope we don’t get an invite again this year.


24 thoughts on “The One Party You Don’t Want An Invite To: The German Work Christmas Party

  1. Oh wow, that sounds awful! My work Christmas “party” is a meal. Partners are invited, but children aren’t. We play “Schrottwichteln”, which is like Secret Santa, excpet instead of buying a gift everyone wraps up something they have at home that they don’t like/want. We then take it in turns to roll a dice – if you get a six, you choose a gift to unwrap. Once everyone has a gift we continue taking turns to roll the dice. If you get a six or a one, you can have to swap the gift you currently have for another one. When the boss ends the game, everyone keeps whichever guft they happen to have at the time. It’s a lot of fun!

  2. Yeah, I agree. Most work christmas party I’ve been to where boring too. At my company there are always two events, a dinner with the team, and a “party” in a bigger group. The former is ok, as our boss typically pays for a fancy restaurant. As he is so lazy and late each year, we always end up in a really upscale place because the cheap places are all full, and we all eat there like it was our last time – mjammi, haha!
    The “party” is awfully boring and unrelaxed but fortunately voluntary so everyone is bringing excuses, including me. This year less than 50% signed up so the bosses hecticly started to look for another date. Result: 30% signing up. Just give us the money and let us party with our friends, stupid!

    • Why are German Christmas parties so boring? As a German (oh sorry….Bavarian!) please tell me. Is it because, as I suspect, Germans are very afraid of revealing their true selves to their boss? Although as you said before, you went naked in front of your boss once!

      • Well, this goes in the right direction.

        You might have noticed that Germans in general separate much more between job and private life. E.g. (you might know better), it is said to be common in the UK to be invited to the bosses home or spend many evenings out drinking with your boss or colleagues, introduce families etc.

        This is much more rare in Germany.

        Thus Germans have kind of a “job-self” and a “private-self”(true self as you put it) that can be very different (maybe both are more alike in the UK?!).

        A lot of people here lay down their job-self after work is done and are quite different in their free time. And only selected colleagues will have access to their private life.

        As a christmas party intermingles both job and private, you feel a bit unconfortable in consequence and would drink less and try not to do stupid things.

        Indeed it could be bad for your career if you start fumbling with the secretary in front of the others, whereas I take it, it doen’t play a role in the UK?

        Thats why most Christmal parties are boring here.

        definition of privacy is much different in Germany than in UK. For you, exposure in a Sauna seem to be a very private thing, for Germans exposure of their out-of-work lifestyle is a much more private thing.

      • Thank you for clearing that up I appreciate it. I can understand that this is the case here. I think it is a very German thing to be private except where clothes are concerned! I have struggled with this concept during my time here. It’s a good job I have been a stay at home mum because I think German office life would have killed me! Have a great Christmas and New Year.

  3. Hahaha, brilliant! 🙂

  4. Wow. That’s so awful I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! My husband already had his work party this year and he was home within a couple hours which is definitely not the style of most American Christmas work parties either!

  5. This had me screaming with laughter! Thank you for making my Monday!
    I think you need to arrange the “alternative” Christmas party this year, no food at all (for the sake of your guts) … just lots of booze, to find out what Germans do when they really are tanked up. They probably go mountain hiking nude…

    • I’m so glad to have made your Monday! Yes if there was another invite – God forbid – then it would be great to spike a few drinks and see what happens. As for mountains hiking nude….Germans do that when they’re sober!

  6. This has me laughing! I have my first German Christmas dinner to attend next week so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

  7. […] The One Party You Don’t Want An Invite To: The German Work Christmas Party ( […]

  8. Hiking is our regular “Christmas party”… We hike in the dark and have to bring wellies and torches…sigh… There is a meal afterwards but it’s a very reserved affair and the choice is always between goose or duck. You can tell I love it, can’t you?

  9. Sorry to disturb the general agreement on boring Christmas work Parties in Germany, but I had mine yesterday in Nüremberg here and it had it all.
    Nice Food, nice colleagues, sexy dressed women colleagues, a Swedish colleaguewho became clingy after having drunk to much red wine, cheerful dancing.

    I guess your Bavarian should change the employer and you Folks should move to Nuremberg …

    No Worries, just Kidding 😉

  10. My company’s Christmas “party” is also just a dinner out somewhere. I would stop short of calling it a party, but the food is nice. However, I can never quite get into the German custom of sitting and talking for hours after the meal is complete. I left the restaurant after the four hour mark this year, and all but one other person were still there and showing no signs of wrapping it up yet.

  11. Hahaha, great entry! Yeah German parties tend to be rather civilised in comparison with the UK! And who said that the Germans were boring..?

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