Christmas at Dunder-Mifflin brings with it a host of shocks and surprises. Phyllis makes a gift in the true spirit of the season but is spurned by Michael who turns Secret Santa on its head in an effort to spotlight his own extragavant contribution. Pam wins the iPod in the ensuing struggle, but comes to her wits before the night’s end and walks away with something infinitely more valuable. All that, plus Packer joins the fray, Dwight finds himself the victim of a torrid love triangle, and Michael comes face-to-face with Meredith in the flesh.

The Michael Scott School of Hard Knocks

Michael lacks many of the basic decencies that we expect out of adults and children over the age of five.

Michael : Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, “Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth.”

Can he really be this insanely thoughtless? The answer is yes. Yes he can. Michael hits several new lows over the course of this episode.

Dwight Being Dwight

If there ever existed an evil counterpart to Santa Claus — the Anti-Santa, if you will — Dwight would surely have served as his right-hand elf. Christmas at the Schrute household must have been a brutal, cutthroat affair.

Jim : I bought this teapot for Pam, and I know she really wants it, so can I trade you for it?
Dwight : No trades.
Jim : C’mon, it’s a shamrock keychain. Good luck.
Dwight : A real man makes his own luck. Billy Zane. Titanic.

Prior to the airing of this episode, if you had told me that Dwight would be quoting Titanic, I wouldn’t have believed it. However, if you had told me that he would be quoting Billy Zane, I would have accepted it in a heartbeat. Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude.

The Many Faces of Jim

Jim is the type of person that most guys will immediately find relatable, and although we may all declare that we wish we were in his shoes, we secretly wonder if we would have what it takes to contend with the difficulty of his situation.

Jim : So this year, for the first time ever, I got Pam in Secret Santa, and I got here this: a teapot, which I know she really wants so she can bring tea to her desk, but I’m also going to stuff it with some inside jokes… like… this is my high school yearbook photo. She saw it at the party, and it really makes her laugh. Not sure why. Um… what else… ooh, this is a hot sauce packet. She put this on a hot dog a couple years ago because she thought it was ketchup, and, uh, it was really funny so I kept the other two. This would take a little too long to explain, so I won’t, and this is a card… because Christmas is the time to tell people how you feel.

And that is how Jim successfully conquered the entire female viewership of this show in one fell swoop.

Confessions of a Receptionist

Round two of Pam versus Alcohol finds our favorite receptionist in an unexpected state of sobriety.

Pam : Yeah. I think I made the right choice.

It’s not every day you pass on an iPod for a teapot, but in Pam’s case, she couldn’t have made a better decision.

The Jim/Pam Index

A fine episode for the JP Index, most likely supplanting The Dundies as the quintessential episode for supporters of Jim and Pam. The dynamic beteween these two was the best part of an already phenomenal episode.

The show does a fantastic job of withholding the teapot from Pam until the very last moment. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Jim’s advances met with rejection, and we see his hopes dashed yet again when Pam chooses the iPod over his more thoughtful gift.

Dwight : Pam, steal something, or pick the final gift.
Pam : I want the iPod.
Jim : Sure you don’t want the teapot?
Pam : Well, I mean, it’s an iPod. But…
Jim : Right.
Pam : Sorry.
Jim : No, no, definitely…

To add insult to injury, Jim is forced to stomach the sight of Dwight defiling what is essentially his feelings for Pam materialized.

Jim : You don’t even drink tea.
Dwight : True, but I get sinus infections, and sinus infections can be cured by making a tea from green tea leaf stems…
Jim : Ok…
Dwight : …and pouring it directly into your nose like so.
Jim : To think that my gift to Pam will be used for that… it’s a little too much to handle.

As the night wears on, however, the appeal of the iPod fades as her missed opportunity gradually comes into focus, a detail that is made strikingly clear when we see her watching Dwight with the teapot from a distance. Pam makes the right decision and swaps the $400 iPod for the gift she really wanted, and after seeing Jim’s reaction, it’s hard not to feel happy for the guy.

Jim : You know, you don’t have to answer calls during a party.
Pam : [Laughs]
Jim : Just thought you should know.
Pam : No, I was just, um, checking out my present.  [Reveals the teapot]
Jim : But…
Pam : I traded with Dwight. Um. Just, I figured, you know… you went to a lot of trouble, and it means a lot. And also Roy got me an iPod, or, uh, was going to get me an iPod, so…
Jim : Well, either way… this is an amazing gift because it comes with bonus gifts. Look inside.
Pam : Oh my god! The yearbook picture!
[Cut to interview with Pam and back]
Pam : Oh my god! This is incredible! Is this the Boggle timer?
Jim : I didn’t think you were going to get that one, I really didn’t.

After having some time to reflect on it, I’m glad that Jim pocketed his card to Pam at the last moment. That card represents the only physical evidence we have that the relationship between Jim and Pam extends beyond friendship. Everything else up until this point could conceivably be dismissed as innocent flirtation, but a card cannot be denied so easily. Even if we never hear of it again, the mere fact that it exists carries considerable weight, a burden that is sure to grow as Jim and Pam continue to skirt around the issue.

Whatever expectations we carried into this episode will be dwarfed by what is sure to be a cathartic moment when one of them decides to go for it, and fans who have waited so long to see these two together will be that much more thrilled to finally see it happen. For now, I feel content knowing that Jim at least entertained the notion of opening up to her even if he ultimately decided not to follow through.

Even with his last second change of heart, the JP Index for Christmas Party hits the stratosphere with a resounding Up.

Supporting Nod

This one was damn near impossible to determine with so many outstanding performances to choose from, and that’s why I’m awarding it to the entire supporting cast. Kevin, Angela, Oscar, Creed, Meredith, Phyllis, Kelly, Roy, Darryl, and even Packer contribute to an exceptional group effort.

The Superstar

Jim, definitely. He finally gets through to Pam, and although it may not be the declaration many people were hoping for, it’s a huge step in the right direction. You did good, man.

Transmissions from the Office

  • Kevin : Well, what are we going to do with this hacked off part?
    Michael : Well, that is a perfectly good mini-tree, Kevin, and we are going to sell that to charity. That’s what Christmas is all about.

    Yes, that is what Christmas is all about: selling crappy, unwanted tree parts to charities. Not giving. Selling.

  • Ryan : Angela drafted me into the party planning committee. Her memo said that we need to prepare for every possible disaster… which, to me, seems… excessive.

    Clearly, Fire Guy has forgotten about his role in what could have been the disaster to end all disasters when he almost burned the building to the ground.

  • Pam : You do realize that we can’t serve liquor at the party.
    Michael : Yeah, I know. Dammit. Stupid corporate wet blankets. Like booze ever killed anybody.

    This ranks right up there with not telling a patient they have cancer. Pam’s silent reaction to this colossally wrong statement is priceless.

  • Toby : I got Angela. She’s into these posters of babies dressed as adults. I got here one of those. I… felt kind of weird buying that.

    Angela single-handedly funds the entire creepy baby poster industry.

  • Michael : Alright. Let’s count it down, like Rockefeller Center. Ready?
    Everyone : Three! Two! One!
    [Cheers, rapidly fading into silence]
    Michael : Not great.
    Phyllis : Sorry everybody.
    Pam : I think the tree looks nice.
    Dwight : Hey, I could get some flares from my car.

    Phyllis’ delivery of her apology is perfect and precisely the type of reaction we would expect from a person with her quiet demeanor. Dwight’s proposal to light flares in a paper office of all places is also well within character.

  • Jim : He obviously forgot to get me something, and then he went into his closet and dug out this little number. And then threw it into a bag.
    Creed : Yep, that’s exactly what happened.

    Creed’s line is hilarious, mostly because he shows absolutely no trace of shame in delivering it.

  • Angela : Michael should have asked the party planning committee first. He’s not supposed to just spring things on us out of nowhere.  [Breaks into tears]

    First you slam the door in her face, and now you’re making her cry. Michael’s disregard for Angela is quickly becoming a habit, much like his perennial mistreatment of Toby.

  • Kelly : Yikes.
    Toby : Well, it’s for Angela, so…
    Kelly : That’s like the creepiest thing that I’ve ever seen.
    Michael : Angela, you’re up.
    Angela : I’ll take the poster. Some people like these.

    I like how Michael dangles the oven mitt in front of her face, which she then swats away in typical Angela fashion.

  • Michael : I hope nobody takes this baby, because this is great. Wow, look at that fine craftsmanship. Somebody really put a lot of work into that. It’s beautiful.
    Meredith : I’ll take the oven mitt.
    Michael : Ssssssucka! Hahaha!

    Whatever miniscule amount of good karma Michael accumulated up to this point in his life vanished after this outburst.

  • Dwight : Yankee swap is like Machiavelli meets… Christmas.

    Have yourself a merry, Machiavellian Christmas.

  • Cashier : It comes to $166.41.
    Michael : Alright, now you’re the expert. Is this enough to get twenty people plastered?
    Cashier : Fifteen bottles of vodka? Yeah, that should do it.
    Michael : Cool, cool, box it up.

    Not only is this more than enough to get everyone in the office completely hammered, it’s also enough to guarantee everyone a trip to the emergency room, with the possible exception of Kevin.

  • Meredith : The deal is that this is my last hurrah, ’cause I made a New Year’s resolution that I’m not going to drink anymore… during the week.

    One can only hope that her liver is covered by Dunder-Mifflin’s health plan.

  • Phyllis : Hi guys. Uh, does everyone know my boyfriend, Bob Vance?
    Kevin : Kevin Malone.
    Bob : Bob Vance. Vance Refrigeration.
    Stanley : Stanley Hudson.
    Bob : Bob Vance. Vance Refrigeration.
    Ryan : Ryan Howard
    Bob : Bob Vance. Vance Refrigeration.
    Ryan : What line of work you in, Bob?

    Vance returns! See Performance Review for more details.

  • Kelly : Hi.
    Dwight : Oh, hello there.
    Kelly : [Kisses Dwight]
    Dwight : W-what are you doing?
    Kelly : I dunno.
    Dwight : You shouldn’t do things like that. A man is supposed to do that.

    The appeal of Dwight’s elvish features is hard to deny. Kelly seizes the moment and acts on impulses she never knew she had.

  • Michael : Hey, Meredith. Heading over the Poor Richard’s?
    Meredith : Yep.
    Michael : Cool, cool, cool. Do you need a ride?
    Meredith : [Flashes Michael]
    Michael : [Turns around and is stunned to see a topless Meredith. Hastily snaps a photograph of her]  Alright, let’s head out. Sounds good. Do you have a coat?
    Meredith : Yeah.

    Words really can’t do this scene justice. Much like The Matrix, you have to see it for yourself.

Odds and Ends

  • Kevin deserves an award for most creative use of a paper cutter ever. I don’t think the inventors ever envisioned it being used to saw off treetops.
  • Pam seems genuinely afraid of Angela in the brief scene with the tablecloth. Either that, or she’s debating if she should smack her into next week.
  • Meredith dancing to Run DMC while wearing an oven mitt on her right hand is kind of surreal.
  • It is my dream to host a lampshade head themed party at some point. I can imagine few things more entertaining than watching a lot of drunk people trying to have a good time with lampshades obstructing their field of vision.
  • On second thought, after watching Angela unleash the fury on those Christmas ornaments, I’ve decided that she is not a woman to be trifled with.

The Story in Pictures

Gallery Image

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I don't know if I could be more excited for this episode. I just can't wait for "The Office" to be back on the air. I've watched "Email Surveillance" at least 10 times now...I'm ready for a new ep.

1Posted by KS on December 5, 2005

I SO can't wait! =D

2Posted by lalinapopina on December 5, 2005

I get excited about any episode involving Pam and vodka shots.

3Posted by djr on December 5, 2005

Don't have a MySpace account, so commenting here.

The fact that there's a Serenity poster in the background of your photo makes you eighteen times cooler than you already were for being an Office addict. And that was pretty darn cool.

4Posted by otahyoni on December 6, 2005

I have been waiting for 2 weeks for this episode. This is an awesome website for an awesome show, the only one I watch on tv. Thanks for the great material on this sites and the links to other office related stuff. You have to some how get your site out there so that more people can find it. I stumbled across it while doing my everyday search for office info. Keep up the great work! Todd F Packer's belt tonight is going to be great!

5Posted by Dwight Schrute Fan on December 6, 2005

Also... Is there anyway you can make some office wallpaper? and... just a suggestion... but have you ever thought about putting a message board for office fans on your site? Lots of tv shows have sites where people discuss the show and enjoy it together. I know I'd be on it constantly.

6Posted by Dwight Schrute Fan on December 6, 2005

The edge of my seat is wearing thin since I have been on it for the past two weeks. I recieved two of The Office e-cards featuring "office party" pictures, I just can't wait.

Everyone should join MySpace. Jenna is awesome, she'll be your "friend," her blog is simply funny, and she always has great behind-the-scenes photos in her album.

She mentions this sight- which is a keeper- in her blog I think.

7Posted by laura on December 6, 2005

otahyoni : Oh yes, I'm a huge fan of Firefly/Serenity (had the poster shipped straight from the UK). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the show finds some way to live on.

Dwight Schrute Fan : Thanks for the compliments. I have considered both of your ideas, but I've been running a little short on time lately. Managing a message board would probably be too much for me to handle, but I would like to put together a wallpaper at some point. You all will be the first to hear about it if I can ever make it happen.

laura : I agree about MySpace. Even if you're apprehensive or skeptical about social networks, it's pretty neat to be able to interact with all of the actors on the show with such close proximity.

8Posted by James on December 6, 2005

Holy freakin' crap - Jim Halpert has stolen the hearts of receptionists everywhere.

And the nudity...

perfect.

9Posted by laura on December 6, 2005

I was going to post immediatedly after the show aired, but I was distracted by anorexic half-naked diamond-studded chicks sauntering down a runway. Crazy.

AWESOME ep! The oven glove, the breaking of the ornaments, the foot bath, the ipod tantrum, etc., etc.. This is one time when I wasn't just waiting the next Jim/Pam scene. All the scenes were great. I hope Jim busts out the card next week. P.S.: I would TOTALLY love paint ball lessons!!!

Cheers,
Dani

10Posted by Dani on December 6, 2005

what a great episode. it was an instant classic and the ending was just spectacular. the reaction of michael was priceless.

and i see someone else has asked for a forum for the office. i know the imdb message board is active, but it's format is really lacklustre, and while your blog is awesome (find myself visiting every other day for more great office news, comments are great for facilitating conversation on latest/live episode chat).

so, i offer up this forum . It's not much, but I've had it around for a while and no reason to use it, so if anyone wants to use it to talk about the office, feel free :)

and now let january 5th come fast!

11Posted by patrick on December 6, 2005

holy crap that was a great episode. jim's sweet gift to pam!! angela's meltdown!! phyllis' BF!! aw. BTW, i HATED michael tonight. What a jerk.

Too bad we have to wait till January to see the next one! =(

But anyway I can't wait to read the recap!

12Posted by lalinapopina on December 6, 2005

Tonight's show was great!!! The last scene with Michael and Meredith was hysterical. And of course I loved the scenes with my Jimmy. In case anyone missed the ep, I posted a recap over on my site. It's not very funny b.c the humor of The Office just can't be captured on paper. But if you missed the ep, at least you can clue in to what everyone will be chatting about on the boards.

Enjoy: http://www.givememyremote.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=118#118

If you don't mind, I'd love if you would register for the boards...hell, you're going there anyway, right?

13Posted by KS on December 6, 2005

Holy crap indeed. This episode was awesome. This might actually be my favorite episode yet. Great quotes, fantastic contributions from everyone on the show (even the minor characters), plenty of realistically uncomfortable situations, and some very uplifting moments between Jim and Pam. Yes, I am going to have plenty to say about this one. I only hope I can fit it all in between now and Thursday. Awesomeness to the max.

And patrick and KS, thanks for the links to your forums. Although I do agree that the format at imdb leaves a bit to be desired, I also realize that Northern Attack can't satisfy everyone's need to discuss this outstanding show. I'll see what I can do about funneling traffic to your boards.

14Posted by James on December 6, 2005

Huzzah, another myspace user! Now my friends section won't look half as empty, either! My extended commentary can be found on my myspace blog-- myspace.com/highfinance -- I just have to say, Dwight in elf ears. EXCELLENT. And, yes, even though he made a return to season one levels of rudeness, Michael Scott continues to have my heart. But Laura's right, Jim is the one that makes the girls swoon.

I don't think I can make it until January 5th!!

15Posted by Shanah on December 7, 2005

Thanks James...let's see if we can't get people to the GMMR forums. Hell, we get enought people and perhaps we can give "Northern Attack" it's own area.

16Posted by KS on December 7, 2005

OK, so this whole thing with Jim's card to Pam is KILLING me! What did it say? Are they going to touch on it in future episodes? Why did he take it? Anyone wanna take a gamble? I'm waiting...

17Posted by Charlotte on December 7, 2005

when can you buy the christmas episode on itunes?
it aint there now

18Posted by wes on December 7, 2005

Only on a show like The Office would a guy like Dwight get to hook up with not just one but two of his office mates. It's such good TV.

James: saw your myspace account. I went to Stanford too. Class of '05.
Go Card :-)

19Posted by sam on December 7, 2005

Michael and Ryan is the Dawn/Tim storyline for the US version. The whole Dawn/Tim thing was very subtle in UK version, unlike the Pam/Jim thing, which is clumsy and heavy handed. But Michael's obvious (and unspoken) love for Ryan is the best thing about the show. I hope they move it forward with subtlety and don't ruin it

20Posted by John on December 7, 2005

sam : Right on, man. I'm still paying off student loans, but I think it was worth it. Maybe. Just barely.

As for Jim's card to Pam, now that I've had time to think about it, I'm glad he swiped it away at the last minute. I will elaborate in my recap which I am having to fight the temptation to write so that I don't lose my job.

21Posted by James on December 7, 2005

Best episode for this season, possibly of all time :) I loved it! James, it'd be really cool if you could get your own forum. This site's pretty much established as one of the biggest fan-favourites. An official Northern Attack forum would kick ass!

Can't wait for your "review" of Christmas Party!

22Posted by Marc on December 7, 2005

Does anyone know what the theme song of the show is? This show is marvelous!

23Posted by kelly on December 7, 2005

I think it is called "The Office Theme Song". I'm pretty sure it was just made for the show... but I'd be quite happy if I was wrong, cos it's a great little instrumental :D

24Posted by patrick on December 7, 2005

kelly, you can download the theme song from The Office Quotes (below the main photo.) I'm pretty confident it was composed specifically for the show. The only details that are included in the mp3 is that the composer is Jay Ferguson. :)

25Posted by Marc on December 7, 2005

The theme song is a sped-up version of the British version. It's called Handbags and Gladrags written by Mike D'Abo. If you wanna see the history of it, there is page on the The Office UK version.

26Posted by Brian on December 7, 2005

I've got downloadable versions of both the UK and US theme songs on my Office fansite, Dunderball.com.

Feel free to visit (since I noted that the audio file above wasn't working when I clicked on it):

I personally like both themes equally. They both kick butt.

27Posted by Dave on December 8, 2005

Oh, good! A picture of Kevin holding the mini-tree like it's a 70-pound catfish! You should've seen the one that got away.

And Michael was in fine form. Top form. I love it when he's horrible.

(approx.)
"If I can't through a great party, then I am a terrible boss."

[awkward silence]

28Posted by otahyoni on December 8, 2005

Your critiques about each character are right on the mark. I enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed watching that episode.

29Posted by Dolly on December 8, 2005

Another superb recap, James!

We had been led to believe all week (from the TV ad) that Angela stomping on the ornaments was her supreme moment of "losing it," but I think her actually crying in front of the camera was even more delicious.

Poor Jim. It was not a good week for him. First Pam rejects his sentimental present for the latest techno toy, and then Dwight takes the teapot and sticks the spout up his nose. To think that my gift to Pam will be used for that, it's a little too much to handle, indeed.

Another favorite moment, Kevin and Darryl rockin' out!

P.S. Is it just me, or does Jim's yearbook picture look nothing like him?

30Posted by Jennie on December 8, 2005

Brian-
The theme song is not a sped-up version of "Handbags and Gladrags." It is a totally different piece of music.

31Posted by Dave on December 8, 2005

Jennie : I thought the yearbook photo looked a little funky when I first saw it as well. After taking a closer look at it, though, you can see how it could be the same person. It was the haircut that threw me off.

I'll continue to pitch around the idea of a Northern Attack forum. Maybe when time is a little less scarce.

32Posted by James on December 8, 2005

excellent episode! like most of you, i am counting the days until the next episode. the episode recap and comments that james provivdes are excellent. this site is kick-ass.

i noticed several poster looking for a message board. I have created one and I am have about 25 users and more are adding each day. while it's nothing compared to this site as far as layout it does provide what some of you are asking for. id love for ya'll to come check it out. I have dubbed it...The 03C for The Office: Official Online Community.

http://p104.ezboard.com/bnbctheoffice

Cheers,
Chris
Cincinnati, OH

"Sweep the leg!"

33Posted by Christopher on December 14, 2005

Hey, I love the website! You go very in-depth and it is very interesting, especially the whole Jim-Pam thing. I was just hoping you would do episode analyses on all the episodes, including more of season 1, which was hilarious. Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

34Posted by pam on December 20, 2005

Great analysis, again. I thought the iPod was $300? Okay, whatever, I wouldn't know :) Anyway, I thought it was so sweet in the end where Pam traded the iPod for the teapot - it almost made me blush.

Aw ... I felt sorry for Angela.

35Posted by Marcy on December 27, 2005

I think I might have a lead on the mystery of Jim's yearbook picture. I recently saw this article about the real Jim Halpert, who is a childhood friend of Greg Daniels'.

Could that be his photo? Looks a bit like him, I think. Anyone?

36Posted by JAMtastic on June 28, 2006

Whoops. Never mind. I did a little more digging and found the answer in Jenna's TV Guide blog .

Mystery solved!

37Posted by JAMtastic on June 28, 2006

Hey there -
Does anyone have copies of the Christmas Party photos that Michael took during this episode? They were posted on NBC.com, but have since been pulled in favor of a series of screencaps and broken links. I used to have the pics, but due to a hard drive crash, they have been lost. Any help anyone can give would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!

JM

38Posted by John Maxwell on September 11, 2006