Does one office holiday party stand out in your mind above all the rest? Either because you enjoyed it so much, you and your co-workers are still talking about it — or because you can’t live it down?

Maybe you put on the party of the century, invited Santa, his rag-tag band of reindeer and elves and served your employees caviar, or maybe you ran into a corporate Scrooge and experienced a mistletoe mishap?

We asked business professionals in Cincy for their best and worst holiday party memories and were amazed at some of the stories. Some have us asking for an invite to the next bash. Others, we wouldn’t — to borrow a phrase from Dr. Seuss — want to touch with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole:
Judy Thompson
Executive Director
ADCLUB Cincinnati
“It was my first year at a real job after college. My friend Doug, who’d worked at Meredith just weeks more than I, was given the awesome assignment of creating a festive film for our employee holiday party. His concept? A take-off on TV’s then-popular Laugh-In. The only predetermined segment: Our publisher (30 years our senior and, in our view, an old fuddy-duddy), thanking employees who participated in the film. While editing (a much more daunting task than YouTube makes it), Doug called to ask what I thought about replacing our boss’ spoken message with audio of a flushing toilet. Sounded like great fun to me.
“The day of the lunch, hundreds of employees enjoyed cocktails, a multi-course meal … then, the film. Each segment seemed funnier than the last, as escalating laughter proved our film a hit. Then, the publisher’s segment — his mouth moving expressively, sending out loud flushing sounds. Our big boss quietly stood and exited the room, never to return. While his administrative assistant later told us he had to leave for the airport, nothing more was ever said about the film. And the following year, holiday lunch was served with no entertainment. Looking back, we were lucky to keep our jobs.”

Steve Beckett
Self-employed Financial Manager
“I came to Cincinnati in October of 1983. By virtue of my position, I was in charge of the Christmas party for my group and a group of sister organizations. Of course, I barely knew how to get to work, much less where I could find the essentials for a successful party. I was quickly told the custom called for a band, sit-down dinner and drinks, and a facility large enough to accommodate 800 people. To make matters even worse, I also was told I was in charge of three additional parties, similar in size. Needless to say, I accomplished very little actual work during November and December.
“After many, many phone calls and visits, I pretty much had everything in place. Since booze was so much cheaper in Kentucky, I slipped across the river to the back of a warehouse and bought all the booze my car would hold. Luckily, I didn’t have a wreck on my return or everything would still be falling out of the sky. December of that year was a very enjoyable experience.”
Drew Dinkelacker
Teakwood Marketing
“My worst business holiday party experience was my first year in business as a consultant after leaving the corporate world. No longer an employee, my clients paid me well for my services, but the invite to the holiday party (any holiday party) was nonexistent. Being in business for yourself has a degree of loneliness that I was prepared for, but not getting invited to any parties that first year was unexpected and really depressing.
“In the years since, that has changed. Clients regularly invite me to all kinds of company events, retreats and parties. I like that.”
Glenda Raley
Cincinnati Office Administrator
Ulmer & Berne LLP
“The attorneys in the law firm agreed to dress as Santa, his elves and reindeer — complete with antlers and Rudolph’s red nose — for a grand entrance into the party room filled with staff. And yes — we do have pictures.”

Melissa Bartos
Director, Finance & Operations
Jonathan Scott International
“We combined several things into one half-day event, and our people are still talking about it. We allotted (employees) a specific amount of shopping time (to buy a gift-exchange gift and a gift for themselves with money the company gave them), and there were guidelines that had to be met. Our group loves competition and shopping. Once we met back for the gift exchange, we had the group sit in a circle and recite a Christmas poem. Every time the poem said left, everyone had to pass the (gift-exchange) gift to the left. Every time the poem said right, they had to pass to the right.
“Once we did the employee gift exchange, we had everyone show the group what they had purchased for themselves. This was the greatest thing! Most people never take the time to spend money on themselves during the holidays. This way they were able to really get something they wanted. The most touching (part) was when one of our employees — a mother of four — showed off a beautiful top that she bought to wear to her husband’s holiday party. She said she never gets to spend money on herself and never in her life had she spent $100 on a single clothing purchase for herself.”
Rodger Roeser
President/Cleveland GM
Eisen Management Group
“Each year, we have a traditional holiday party that we have affectionately dubbed ‘Brinkmas’ because one of our employee’s birthdays falls during Christmas and she never gets to properly celebrate. Last year, the entire crew got together at my home as I converted my family room and dining room into a game lounge, with bar, pool table, darts and such. We split up in teams and had indoor “EMG Olympics” for prizes. Company trivia combined with a large bottle of Beefeater gin made for a memorable, fun and genuinely team-building holiday event. One of our clients seemed to win everything. He’s not invited this year.”
RJ Stelletell
Operations Manager
The Alleen Co.
“The Alleen Co. is the presenter of Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods Park. The event is a one-mile drive through a holiday light show in the park. It has been a Cincinnati tradition for more than 15 years. The day before Thanksgiving last year, we discovered the displays had been vandalized. Several light displays were torn down and ripped apart. Electric cable lines were damaged. The show was in shambles. It was a cold, windy, rainy day. The show, which runs seven days a week, could not open that night.
“The story has a happy ending. The staff at The Alleen Co., along with several family members, immediately went to work. They repaired and replaced all the damaged displays and hung more than 70 strands of lights. It took 15 people more than 45 hours working in the pouring rain. They finished just before dark, and the show was able to open promptly at 6 p.m. The vandals were caught and prosecuted. They’re now paying restitution for the damages.”
Tina Bojack
Special Events Manager
Dave & Buster’s
“One of our best holiday parties was when we partnered with The Alleen Co. for a casino night. Our client raved about the delicious food, games and the fun dealers who were very knowledgeable and energetic. The casino games blended perfectly with our themed venue and added yet another dimension to our entertainment.”

Rachelle A. Caldwell
Community Affairs Manager
Duke Energy
“My favorite holiday memory is seeing the children’s faces as they watch our Duke Energy holiday train display. While coordinating this display takes several months, seeing the children with their parents and grandparents makes it all worthwhile. I love knowing we are making memories for a lifetime for the next generation.”