Why office Christmas parties are out of favour

Sex, fights, exhibitionism ... and the morning after. No wonder Christmas bashes are out of favour. Ed Caesar looks back at the guilty parties


THE MOST LAVISH CHRISTMAS PARTY IN THE WORLD... EVER


The hosts: Advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, in 1987.

The goodies: In 1986, the agency treated its staff to what was, even by the excessive standards of London's adland in the 1980s, a massive bash. It filled the car park with a funfair - ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, the lot. The do is said to have cost £80,000. The next year, Saatchi & Saatchi spent even more; 700 staff arrived at a warehouse in London Docklands to find an exact small-scale recreation of London's advertising row, Charlotte Street. The shops and restaurants all had their own staff, and the Saatchiites spent the evening drinking, eating and shopping merrily.

The hangover: The 1980s were a magical time for advertising's expense accounts and corporate swagger, but the party had to end, and 1987 remains the zenith - or nadir - of the Christmas party as status symbol.

THE MOST ECCENTRIC CHRISTMAS PARTY IN THE WORLD... EVER
The hosts: The City brokers Intercapital, in 1995.

The goodies: Michael Spencer, then managing director of Intercapital, was convinced that "people remember the themed parties for two or three years afterwards", and that throwing lavish parties was good for morale.

Staff arrived at Gibson Hall in the City to find it decked out in the grand Russian Imperial style. It was the start of an evening of bizarre play-acting. The managing director's part was that of Tsar Nicholas II, enjoying a lavish Christmas banquet on the eve of the 1917 Revolution. His staff (decked out as Russian peasants, naturally), were encouraged to 'capture' him mid-way through the meal. The revolution, though, was short lived. The next morning, some groggy-headed workers were back at their desks to continue capitalist production.

The hangover: Spencer later told The Times that the secrecy before such events could raise speculation to fever pitch, which did, in turn, raise productivity.

THE MOST FRACTIOUS CHRISTMAS PARTY IN THE WORLD... EVER
The hosts: Financial services company Cambrian Associates, in 2003.

The goodies: At the Mollington Banastre Hotel in Chester, things turned ugly when two policemen started to become aggressive. Sergeant Stephen Tierney and PC Jonathan Tym were accompanying their wives, employees of Cambrian, and had had far too much to drink. They started to abuse one of their wives' colleagues, Michael Mayers. Mayers was knocked out in a flurry of punches and dragged across the dance floor by his tie. He was left in a corridor; some guests thought he was dead.

The hangover: The officers were suspended, then dismissed, and ordered to pay £2,200 in legal costs. And their wives will never invite them to a work do again.

THE MOST DEBAUCHED CHRISTMAS PARTY IN THE WORLD... EVER
The hosts: Premiership football club Liverpool FC, in 1998.

The goodies: It was the night the News of the World called "the most debauched Christmas party ever to shame soccer". In the basement of the Pen and Wig pub in Liverpool, the players of one of Europe's leading football clubs gathered to celebrate the simple joys of Christmas with some whipped cream, strippers and sex toys. Jamie Carragher, who had turned up as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, was keen to enjoy their performances at closer quarters, stripped off his costume and daubed his chest with whipped cream. The evening went downhill from there. Soon, Carragher and an unidentified man "dressed as Ainsley Harriot" were reported having sex with strippers and non-strippers alike, in full view of their fellow revellers. Michael Owen, only 19 at the time, stood at the back, and was said to be "stunned".

The hangover: After a severe rap over the knuckles for Carragher and his fellow dairy enthusiasts, it was back to business for the Premiership side.

THE MOST LITIGIOUS CHRISTMAS PARTY IN THE WORLD... EVER
The hosts: Investment bankers Merrill Lynch, in 2003

The goodies: Merrill Lynch were having one of those big boozy lunches favoured by City folk at Christmas when one senior lawyer, Nathaniel Norgren, spilt a million pounds on a female colleague. At least, he might as well have done. Weston described how Norgren made "disgusting and lewd" comments about her breasts. She sued Merrill Lynch for sexual harassment, victimisation and constructive dismissal. In an out-of-court settlement, Mrs Weston received a sum reported to be in the region of £1m.

The hangover: The Weston story is just one example of a series of recent high profile sexual harassment cases. Allison Schieffelin, a former bond trader at Morgan Stanley, won a £28m settlement from her erstwhile employees last year. There's now a serious financial imperative for men to stop being sexist pigs, especially at Christmas parties.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Day In a Page

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US