"Christmas Party" is the tenth episode of the second season of The Office and the 16th overall. It was written by Michael Schur and directed by Charles McDougall. It first aired on December 6, 2005. It was viewed by 9.7 million people.
The Scranton branch celebrates Christmas. Michael and Dwight bring in a huge Christmas tree in preparation for the office party. It's too tall to fit, so Michael recommends they cut off the top and sell it to charity.
Ryan is drafted onto the Party Planning Committee. Michael interrupts to make sure they double everything and gives them extra money. He informs the documentary crew that he received a Christmas bonus of "3,000 g's" ($3,000) for coming under budget due to firing Devon. He wants to serve liquor at the party, but Pam reminds him that Corporate does not allow alcohol at company parties.
Dwight informs the employees to put their Secret Santa presents under the tree. Toby got a poster of babies dressed as jazz musicians paying instruments for Angela, Oscar knows nothing about Creed but thinks he's Irish so got him a shamrock keychain, and Kevin, who drew his own name for Secret Santa and didn't tell anybody, reveals he got something for himself. Jim has gotten Pam for the first time, bought her a teapot and filled it with little mementos as inside jokes. He also has a card for her, since Christmas is the time to tell people how you really feel.
Michael tries to get people to tell him who they got. Jim reminds him it's supposed to be secret. Michael ignores him and reveals that he got Ryan.
The gift exchange starts off reasonably well. Oscar gets a shower radio from Kelly. Jim gets an old shirt from Creed (Creed forgot about the exchange and pulled the shirt out of his closet at the last minute). When Ryan opens his gift from Michael, he finds a $400 video iPod. He knows how much it cost because Michael left the tag on it. Michael brushes it off as just being a generous giver, but the other employees are concerned at the huge disparity between the iPod and the other gifts. Pam opens Jim's gift. He starts to open the lid to show her the contents and explain them when Michael demands his own gift.
Michael's magnanimity only lasts as long as it takes for him to open Phyllis' gift to him: a home-made oven mitt. He storms out of the party circle, visibly upset. For the cameras, he expresses his belief that the cost of the gift reflects the level of one's affection for the person receiving the gift. This oven mitt isn't worth anything. And, after all, he got Ryan an iPod.
When he returns, he decides the exchange is going to turn into a Yankee Swap where people can steal other gifts. This doesn't work well at all. The gifts were bought for specific people based on the tastes of those people. For example, a pretty decorated name plate that says Kelly on it. (Stanley: "It's for Kelly")
Angela frets to the camera how much work goes into planning a party like this and how unfair it is for Michael to come in and make sudden changes. She bursts into tears.
Kelly gets Angela's baby poster and hates it. Angela steals it back. Kevin makes sure he gets his foot bath. The iPod's expense makes it the most popular of the gifts which starts to cause resentment among the employees. Jim is a little hurt when Pam takes the iPod over stealing back the teapot, making her feel guilty. Worse, Michael is obnoxious when it comes to the oven mitt, loudly hoping no one steals it from him. Seeing how distressed Phyllis is, Meredith steals it from Michael out of pity. Michael nearly jumps for joy and brags about how effective reverse psychology is. However, his smugness is short-lived when he receives what turns out to be Dwight's gift; a packet of paintball pellets and a gift-voucher for paintball lessons with Dwight. Infuriated, Michael removes the elf ears Dwight is wearing and throws them in his face.
Phyllis abruptly leaves. Michael cluelessly asks what she's so upset about. Pam points out that it was pretty obvious he didn't like the present she gave him. When Michael defensively tries to claim that the Yankee Swap was a success, the employees -- all visibly unhappy -- disagree; Jim complains that the gifts were not chosen with a Yankee Swap in mind, and that Michael has ruined things by trying to force the situation. Furthermore, for all his protestations even Michael is still unhappy with the gift he's ended up with. Stanley grouses about how Michael should have just bought a $20 gift like everybody else.
Upset, Michael blurts out that he was just trying to spread some Christmas joy since he got a big bonus for Christmas, accidentally revealing that the bonus was for firing Devon. Stunned, the employees ask him how much it was. He tries to be cagey, but isn't smart enough to pull it off. In disgust, the employees break off into their own small groups and the exchange is over.
In a talking head Michael, lacking self-awareness of how his greed, petulance and pettiness has ruined things, complains about how no one appreciates the "nicest thing anyone's ever done" for them. Michael says "Happy Birthday, Jesus. Sorry your party's so lame!"
Michael goes out to buy 15 bottles of vodka for $166.41, the clerk assures him will cause 20 people to get plastered, Jim tries to get the teapot back from Dwight who plans to use it to clear out his nostrils, because he gets sinus infections.
Pam shows Roy her iPod. He claims he was going to get her one, but now doesn't have to. She asks him what he will get her now. He mumbles, "I don't know, like a sweater or something."
Michael returns with the vodka and says, "Uh oh, looks like Santa's been a little naughty". Todd Packer shows up already drunk and eventually passes out in a chair. Phyllis introduces everyone to her new beau, Bob Vance, who greets everyone with "Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration". Ryan mirthfully asks him what line of work he's in.
Jim approaches Pam's desk to find out that she traded the iPod for the teapot. He tells her that the gift has "bonus gifts" and she pulls the little items out, such as his yearbook photo, a condiment packet, a mini-golf pencil she'd used once. While Pam's distracted, Jim secretly pulls out the card and slides it into his back pocket.
Kevin puts photo copies of his own butt around the office.
A drunk Kelly kisses Dwight, who tells her it was inappropriate and that it's a "man's job" to make the first move. Angela, already having had a trying evening, takes her wrath out on the Christmas ornaments by smashing them outside by the dumpster and screaming.
The others leave to meet at Poor Richard's. Roy and Ryan help Packer out of the office because he is so wasted. While Michael gathers his things, a completely inebriated Meredith enters his office and takes off her top. He sort of gasps, stares for a moment, quickly takes a picture of her, and leaves.
Here are the Secret Santas for each character. An asterisk (*) denotes information from deleted scenes.
|Santa||Intended recipient||Gift||Final recipient|
|Dwight||Phyllis*||Paintballs and two paintball lessons||Michael?|
|Phyllis||Michael||Homemade oven mitt||?|
|Stanley||Kelly||Kelly name plate||Kelly*|
|Ryan*||Toby*||Book of short stories*||Toby*|
|Pam*||Meredith*||Drawing of the office*||Meredith|
|Meredith*||Dwight*||shot glasses from Cancún*||?|
The special contents of the teapot:
- A cassette - no explanation given, possibly a mix tape. Jim and Pam shared an iPod outside the office after work, and Jim had put music on during Jim's party
- High school yearbook photo - Pam saw it at Jim's party.
- "Boggle" timer - no explanation.
- Two hot sauce packets - Pam mistook it for ketchup.
- Miniature golf pencil - no explanation. In an interview, John Krasinski explains that Pam threw it at Jim in jest, presumably after losing. In the season 9 episode "A.A.R.M.", Jim explains the pencil in the video he made for Pam.
- Card with special message - Jim snuck the card back into his pocket before she could see it. Spoiler: He gives the card to her in the penultimate episode "A.A.R.M.". (The contents of the card are discussed there.)
Creed's gift is the shirt he wore to Jim's party.
The poster of babies playing jazz instruments was custom-made for the episode.
Jenna Fischer did not do Pam's drawing. The show hired an artist to do the drawing, but the result was too masculine. They auditioned around a dozen female artists and chose an art student to do all of Pam's art for the series.
The oven mitt was made by a woman found by prop master Phil Shea.
Even though cut from the episode, the shot glasses make an appearance in the party montage as everyone drinks tequila.
Choosing the gifts was a complex task. They had to make sense for the original givers and recipients, but they also had to make sense as part of the Yankee Swap. Jim's gift to Pam had to be large enough to hold other gifts inside, be something that Dwight would want, and cost under $20. Jenna Fischer was presented a number of possible teapots, and she chose the teal one to be used in the episode.
Writer Michael Schur wanted Jim to give a gift to Pam, and Michael to give a gift to Ryan. The others he assigned randomly. When Kevin ended up with himself, Schur realized that was itself a perfect scenario and left it.
Fate of gifts
Many of the deleted scenes show characters trading gifts after the Yankee Swap is over.
Spoiler: Many of the gifts from this episode make appearances in future episodes, some in major ways, other only in passing.
Notable cut scenes include:
- Oscar and Creed move a desk, but Creed moves it too far and pins Oscar to the wall.
- Michael talks to the camera about the role each of the employees plays at Christmas time. Dwight is the monster who puts the star on the tree. He also claims that Dwight looks like Spock (a reference to the large pointed ears worn as part of his elf costume), which annoys Dwight to no end, since, if he wants to look like Spock, he has a pair of Vulcan-style pointed ears at home.
- The Party Planning Committee decorates the tree while Dwight asks people whom they're bringing to the party. Phyllis confides to the camera that her new boyfriend is Bob Vance.
- Dwight compares humans to bears opening presents.
- Kelly gets mad at Oscar for not liking her gift, a shower radio. Oscar tells the camera that she got him the same gift last year.
- Oscar opens Pam's present, a painting, originally intended for Meredith. Meredith asks to swap for Oscar's oven mitt, to which Michael says "like anybody would want an oven mitt," causing Phyllis to storm out of the room.
- Kelly and Toby trade presents back. Toby had the "Kelly" nametag, and Kelly had the book of short stories.
- Kevin sings a whole verse of "Christmas in Hollis".
- Dwight explains to the camera that he must remain sober at the party because he is an officer of the law. In the background, Meredith's dancing becomes increasingly animated.
- Ryan tells Toby that he got the book for him. Ryan ended up with Creed's jacket, which he intends to give to a homeless person. Creed tells Oscar that he once had a radio show back in the 1970s.
- Angela says to Kelly, "You behaved very badly tonight."
- Michael explains to the camera that he loves it when people envy the gift you gave someone else.
- Writer Michael Schur noted that one theme of the episode is that Phyllis's day gets progressively better, while Angela's gets progressively worse.
- Ironically, Meredith is the only one in the conference room to not be labelled as a "Ho" or "Pimp" by Michael.
- Pam passive-aggressively doesn't help Angela set the tablecloth.
- When Michael talks to Jim and tells him that he got a gift for Ryan, Paul Lieberstein and Mindy Kaling (Toby and Kelly) are talking in the background out of character.
- The liquor store clerk is wearing a necktie because Michael is shopping at a state-run liquor store, and the dress code requires the clerk to wear a necktie.
- The window in the liquor store reveals that it's still snowing outside.
- Todd Packer hangs mistletoe from his pants. In Episode Five of Series Two of the British version of the series, Chris Finch places a red clown nose on his crotch and invites the receptionist to kiss him "on the nose."
- Photos from Michael's digital camera were posted on NBC's web site after the episode aired. They are archived on Office Tally.
- First Christmas-themed episode.
Behind the scenes
- At the start of the episode, Pam stuffs envelopes with the office Christmas card. The photo is the cast photo from the Pilot, with Kate Flannery's head pasted on top of Henriette Mantel, who played Meredith in the pilot.
- The writers were impressed with Angela Kinsey's crying in a deleted scene from The Fire that they made a note with the words "Angela cries", looking for an episode where they could have her character cry a lot. Writer Michael Schur explained that her character is normally so uptight that seeing her cry is "oddly pleasing."
- The video iPod was not product placement. The show received no compensation from Apple. Coincidentally, the week after the episode aired, Apple announced that episode of The Office would be available for download from the Apple Store. Further coincidentally, The Office became the number one downloaded show on iTunes.
- Success on alternate platforms was instrumental in rescuing the show from cancellation. Availability on iTunes brought the show to the attention of a young, affluent audience. Ratings for the show were weak, but young adults were not being counted because they watched it in college dormitories or on their portable devices. This drew the attention of the network, particularly since viewers on iTunes were paying money to watch the show. The cast began increasing their Internet presence with blogs for both actors and characters. Actors often wrote these entries while working on set.
- The snow on the ground in the parking lot is real snow, made from a snow machine. The snow falling from the sky is made of soap bubbles. Angela Kinsey accidentally got some soap-snow in her mouth when she shot her screaming scene.
- David Koechner (as Todd Packer) had to remain on the desk throughout filming, even during breaks, so as not to disturb the silly string.
- The script called for Angela to smash glass ornaments. For safety reasons, the prop ornaments were plastic, and they wouldn't break when thrown against the wall. They had time for only one more take, and Angela Kinsey came up with the idea of stomping on them.
- Michael's concluding talking head interview was originally intended for the beginning of the episode. (You can see from the window that it is daytime.) Greg Daniels wanted to show a montage of people leaving the office, and he needed some audio to go along with it, so he moved the talking head to the end of the episode. (The documentary format precludes the use of any music that wasn't captured by the documentary cameras.)
- Kate Flannery wore pasties in the scene where Meredith flashes Michael. The set was cleared, the monitors were turned off, and there was no film in Michael's camera.
- After the show concluded, John Krasinski took the teapot with him.
- Michael barges into the Party Planning Committee meeting shouting Merry Christmas! with a lisp, imitating Jimmy Stewart's character from the movie It's a Wonderful Life.
- Michael points at Pam, Angela, Phyllis, and Ryan, saying Ho, ho, ho, pimp! "Ho-ho-ho" is the traditional laugh of Santa Claus; Michael makes a pun on ho (the laugh syllable) and ho' (slang for whore).
- Michael misstates his bonus as three thousand G's, or $3 million. In the episode Email Surveillance, Michael said, "There are certain things a boss does not share with his employees. His salary." But in this episode, he shares the fact that he got a $3000 bonus.
- Secret Santa is a gift exchange in which each participant is randomly assigned another participant for whom to buy a gift. The identity of the giver is typically not revealed.
- Rockefeller Center is a plaza in New York City. The lighting of the center's Christmas tree is a major local event.
- Yankee Swap, also known as Nasty Christmas or White Elephant Exchange, is pretty much as described in the episode.
- Roy and Darryl's conversation in the kitchen is about Fantasy Football, a game in which participants build a team of actual football players and earn points based on the performance of those players.
- Michael calls Jim Ebenezer. Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol is a tale of the curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge.
- Boggle is a word game by Parker Brothers.
- Todd Packer calls himself Pac-Man, which is the name of a popular video game from the 1980's, as well as a pun on his own name.
- Dwight plans to use the teapot as a neti-pot.
- Dwight quotes the character of Caledon Hockley (played by Billy Zane) from the movie Titanic: "A real man makes his own luck."
- Poor Richard's Pub is a real pub in Scranton.
- The animated special Michael refers to in a deleted scene is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The abominable snowman Bumble loses his teeth but reforms and puts the star atop the tree.
- Spock is a character from the Star Trek franchise. His people, the Vulcans, are notable for their pointed ears.
- Steve Carell as Michael Scott
- Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute
- John Krasinski as Jim Halpert
- Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly
- B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard
- Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson
- Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone
- Creed Bratton as Creed Bratton
- Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer
- Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor
- Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin
- Paul Lieberstein as Toby Flenderson
- Oscar Nunez as Oscar Martinez
- Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Vance
- David Denman as Roy Anderson
- Craig Robinson as Darryl Philbin
- David Koechner as Todd Packer
- Bobby Ray Shafer as Bob Vance
- Ryan Martin as Liquor Store Cashier
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer, Office Ladies: Christmas Party podcast.
- Baumgartner, Brian. A Million Things Have to Go Right, An Oral History of The Office podcast, July 21, 2020.
- Season 2 DVD commentary, Christmas Party.
- Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 28: Casino Night with John Krasinski, Office Ladies podcast, May 13, 2020.
|Season 1||The Office - Season 2||The Accountants|
|#01 The Dundies||#07 The Client||#13 The Secret||#19 Michael's Birthday|
|#02 Sexual Harassment||#08 Performance Review||#14 The Carpet||#20 Drug Testing|
|#03 Office Olympics||#09 Email Surveillance||#15 Boys and Girls||#21 Conflict Resolution|
|#04 The Fire||#10 Christmas Party||#16 Valentine's Day||#22 Casino Night|
|#05 Halloween||#11 Booze Cruise||#17 Dwight's Speech|
|#06 The Fight||#12 The Injury||#18 Take Your Daughter to Work Day|