Christmas is awesome. First of all, you get to spend time with people you love. Secondly, you can get drunk and no one can say anything. Third, you give presents. What’s better than giving presents? And fourth, getting presents. So, four things. Not bad for one day. It’s really the greatest day of all time.
With some offices reinstating the traditional holiday parties this year, I also want to return to my own December tradition of reviewing how the off-the-peg office drones of Dunder Mifflin Scranton dress for their annual Christmas extravaganza.
The Office first approached the festive season with the simply titled “Christmas Party”, midway through the series’ masterful second season. This has always been one of my favorite episodes of The Office, and “Christmas Party” was actually the first-ever iTunes Store purchase I had made after Christmas 2005 found a video iPod in my stocking… appropriately enough, as fans of the episode would realize.
At this point, The Office was still a more restrained satire of American workplaces—rather than the zanier character-driven comedy it would become—and the first Christmas party reflects that mundanity, with cheap decorations, cheap vodka, and cheap grab bag gifts, and seemingly none of the staff happy to be part of this forced corporate fun, save for the oblivious manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell).
If you’ve been following BAMF Style for a few years, you know I like to take a break from the enviable style of Grant, McQueen, Poitier, and their ilk to tackle a problem many of us have faced: how to dress for the office Christmas party. Given that corporate America’s closets tend to have more in common with Michael Scott than with Steve McQueen, the American version of The Office rose to the occasion to address the phenomenon of ill-fitting sweaters and ill-advised ties that seems to plague my fellow cubicle-dwellers as they don their gay apparel for the holiday season.
2020 being the year that it’s been, many staff parties have been relegated to holiday happy hours via Zoom or Teams where there will likely be a better chance of catching glimpse of a co-worker’s sweatpants than Christmas ties. For this year’s ranking of Dunder Mifflin duds, it thus feels more appropriate to settle in for Michael Scott’s vision of a more intimate holiday gathering… which also hosts its fair share of snowball scenes that would no doubt result in severe HR violations.
“Classy Christmas” aired ten years ago, the second of three episodes to be directed by Rainn Wilson. It also marked Michael Scott’s final Christmas celebration at Dunder Mifflin Scranton before Steve Carell left the series at the end of the seventh season.
As this week is arguably seeing a number of Christmas parties ramping up at offices around the world, let’s dust off last year’s concept of exploring the famous workplace celebrations at the Scranton branch of the fictional—and highly inept—paper company Dunder Mifflin on NBC’s The Office.
“The holidays have been kind to The Office,” wrote Nathan Rabin for The AV Club in his contemporary review of this episode—which he bestowed with an impressive A- grade—in December 2009. “Some of my favorite episodes take place on Halloween and Christmas, holidays that afford the show an opportunity to break up the visual monotony of business attire and workaday drudgery and indulge in killer sight gags involving Dwight dressed as a malevolent, mean-eyed elf, Michael as a half-assed God figure and geese running amok in unlikely places.”
One of The Office‘s better of its seven Christmas-themed episodes was “Secret Santa”, midway through the show’s sixth season. Perpetual prankster Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) has been promoted to co-regional manager alongside Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and also finds himself co-leading the party planning committee with Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson). Jim and Dwight seemingly put aside their differences to take on the Sisyphean task of motivating their uninspired office for the company’s time-honored holiday party tradition…
Jim: It is office camaraderie.
Dwight: It is warm feelings.
Ho ho ho and happy holidays!
Dressing for the holiday office party can be a mixed bag. Do you embrace the festive aspects of the holiday with a snowman-themed tie, Santa Claus socks, and a nutcracker pin… do you treat it like any other day of work and not worry about your grays and blues discouraging Christmas revelry… or do you meet somewhere in the middle, maybe wearing a tie with some holiday color but not looking much different than you would any other Monday?
As a satirical look at American work life, NBC’s The Office fully leaned into some of the most absurd aspects of corporate culture from ridiculous jargon and petty office politics to the time-honored tradition of the office holiday party. Over its nine seasons, The Office dedicated seven episodes to corporate Christmas celebrations (seasons one and four were the exception), all showcasing the unadvisable drinking, flirtations, and holiday outfits that cogs of the real-life corporate machine can identify with all too well.
This week is probably kicking off a bulk of your workplace holiday parties, so—in the spirit of Christmas—enjoy this ranking of the male characters’ outfits during the third season’s “A Benihana Christmas”, one of my favorite Christmas episodes and something that gets just as much airplay for me during the holiday season as classic films like Christmas Vacation, Elf, and White Christmas do.