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The Full History of The Office's Party Planning Committee

From competing Christmas parties to "It is your birthday," how a team-building exercise became a battle royal.

By Megan Lasher

Few things are as iconic as the "It is your birthday" scene from The Officebut not everyone knows the full backstory. Dunder Mifflin's party culture was a major subject of humor and conflict throughout the show, especially when Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey)'s grasp on the committee was threatened. 

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Watch every episode of The Office on Peacock.

Revisit the committee's entire storyline, including Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling)'s birthday party and plenty of Christmas memories. 

Who was in the Party Planning Committee in The Office?

The original, core group of party planners was Angela, Phyllis Lapin (Phyllis Smith) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer). The group first appeared in Season 1, Episode 4 ("The Alliance"), when they planned Meredith Palmer (Kate Flannery)'s birthday party. The tension between the three core members was already visible, as Angela's disdain for Pam came into play when they fought over colors for streamers. 

"I suggested that we flip a coin, but Angela said she doesn't like to gamble," Pam said to the camera. "Of course, by saying that, she was gambling that I wouldn't smack her." 

Michael Scott (Steve Carell) also made a point to remind them of the "off the hook" '80s party they had thrown the year prior. He then asked for an ice cream cake — which led to further struggle due to Meredith's dairy allergy, making her unable to eat her own cake. 

Pam Beesly, Angela Martin, and Michael Scott sitting together.

What were the roles on the Party Planning Committee?

The committee was composed of a chair and several members throughout the series. Angela served as the chair of the committee for the first few seasons of the show. In Season 2, Episode 2 "Halloween," she coordinated the planning for a company Halloween party and got angry when Pam "sabotaged" her efforts by bringing brownies instead of chips and dip. 

In Season 2, Episode 10 ("Christmas Party"), Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak) revealed that Angela had "drafted" him into the committee with a memo that said, "we need to prepare for every possible disaster." Angela's Christmas party efforts were, however, foiled when Michael decided to change the gift exchange into a White Elephant model and then spent his surplus money on alcohol for the office.

Later in the night, he said "Kudos to Ryan, king of the party committee," which further annoyed Angela. 

Dwight Schrute and Michael Scott in Christmas outfits.

The Party Planning Committee's rival party group

Angela's reign as committee chair didn't go unchallenged. In Season 3, Episodes 10-11 ("A Benihana Christmas," Parts 1 and 2), Pam and Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones) broke off into their own group, the "Committee to Plan Parties" to create a rival Christmas event after Angela shot down all of Karen's ideas — including a raffle and karaoke — and then kicked Karen out, saying, "I think you should leave. You tried this out, it's clearly not for you. It's time to go." 

Pam approached Karen about it, apologizing for Angela's behavior, and Karen asked, "Does anyone ever stick up to Angela?" The two decided to do a karaoke party together on their own and announced it by hanging up a flyer: "The Committee to Plan Parties Warmly Invites you to a Margarita-Karaoke-Christmas!" 

"There's no such thing as the Committee to Plan Parties," Angela said. "We just started it," Pam told her.

The office was split between being bullied into going Angela's party and attending the "Way more fun" (in Karen's words) party. In the end, though, the two parties united into one big karaoke event for the full office. 

When did Angela Stop Running the Party Planning Committee?

Angela's role as chair of the committee came to an end in Season 4, Episodes 18-19 ("Goodbye Toby," Parts 1 and 2), when Michael asked her to plan Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein)'s goodbye party and she deemed his requests "impossible." Phyllis then stepped in and led the team to a successful event.

During the event, she walked in on Angela and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) engaging in their secret love affair, and leveraged that knowledge to take over the committee.

In Season 5's premiere ("Weight Loss Part 1") Phyllis is seen taking charge of the office's next party, which Holly Flax (Amy Ryan) jumped in to consult on. "I've replaced Angela as head of the party planning committee," Phyllis confirmed to the camera. "I guess I was just in the right place at the right time," she smirked. 

Split images of Angela Martin and Phyllis Lapin from The Office.

When did the big Party Planning Committee fight happen?

In Season 5, Episode 11 ("Moroccan Christmas"), Angela finally decided to push Phyllis on her threat to reveal Angela's secret if she couldn't control the committee — especially because Phyllis decided to "desecrate Christmas" by making it less religious. Phyllis gave Angela commands throughout the episode, like telling her to make a hummus plate for everyone, but the party's tone shifted when Michael decided to have an intervention for Meredith. 

Angela broke when Phyllis asked her to put the Christmas tree back up even though she'd already gotten rid of it. "The only power you have over me is this little secret that I know you're not going to tell. You want to know how I know that? Because then you won't be able to plan your stupid, tacky parties anymore," she told Phyllis, prompting Phyllis to reveal her secret to the whole office. 

What happened when Jim and Dwight planned Kelly's party?

Michael eventually decided that having a single chair of the party planning committee was "too much drama," so he appointed Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Dwight to be co-chairs. This began in Season 5, Episode 16 ("Lecture Circuit Part 1") and left the two in charge of planning a party for Kelly's birthday, which the office had forgotten about the day before. 

"We just want to make it up to you," Jim told Kelly. They went to get her requested ice cream cake and attempted to decorate the conference room, using partially-inflated gray and brown balloons that Dwight chose because "they match the carpet." Dwight also said he printed out the sign that said "It is your birthday." because it was "more professional." 

In the next episode, "Lecture Circuit Part 2," Kelly was upset about the state of her party and yelled at Jim and Dwight, "I don't even know what the theme is. What's the theme?" Jim saved the day by deciding that the "theme" was that Kelly could choose between an hour of television or an hour of napping during the middle of the day. "Cool. I love it," she told them. 

Stream all nine seasons of The Office on Peacock.

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