Ask Erin: Am I Obligated To Go To My Office Party? 

Last year the office party was held on the MLK weekend, meaning they expected everyone to stay home over the break in order to attend. (Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez)

She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.


Hi Erin,

I am really dreading going to my work holiday party.

I actually like a lot of my coworkers and hang out with them on my own time, but the holiday party is set up as an expectation by my bosses, and they put so little effort into and then tell us it is required. I end up really grumpy about it and having a terrible time. 

This party is held a few weeks after the holidays are over on a weekend night. It is a potluck and BYOB, and they always ask an employee to host it at their house rather than taking us out or opening up their own houses. There is also a Yankee Swap that we have to participate in. 

Last year the party was held on the MLK weekend, meaning they expected everyone to stay home over the break in order to attend. 

It feels like they make no effort and basically expect us as the employees to provide everything from food to drinks to presents to the actual house to make the party happen, and then try to tell us we are required to go. 

Am I being a Scrooge in not wanting to participate?

Am I overreacting? 



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Your bosses’ idea of a holiday party for employees is TERRIBLE. 

You are not overreacting. The whole point of a holiday or end of the year party is to treat employees for the hard work they do all year long. 

It’s ridiculous that your employers expect employees to throw and pay for the party essentially. And to ask employees to attend over a holiday weekend?? SMDH.

Now, handling this is going to take a little tact, but I do think you need to speak up. 

I would schedule a meeting with whichever superior you feel the most comfortable with. Write down what you want to say ahead of time. Speak with your co-workers so that you can offer their feedback as well. What would be even better is if you schedule the meeting with another coworker present. And come prepared to provide some alternative suggestions. 

We so often let politeness supersede speaking our minds. And they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can get your point across while still acknowledging what they do and the respect you have for them. 

The gist of what you need to communicate is that while you appreciate that they want to celebrate with the whole team, it’s unusual to ask their employees to host and provide the food, drink, etc. 

Perhaps you can suggest that if this is going to be an everyone-chips-in situation, then the team can vote on what they want to do. Maybe you go out for drinks, or bowling, or a have lunch potluck at work. 

They can’t fire you for expressing an opinion or making a suggestion. Do so with kindness and care, get some backup from your coworkers, and know that you are not a Scrooge — their version of a holiday party SUCKS. 

The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m reading, what I’m eating, Sodalite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo
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