A Christmas party organised by a university's human resources department had to be cancelled after the majority of departmental managers turned down their invitations.
Following the flop, the HR department at Cardiff University called a pre-Christmas management briefing, with attendance obligatory for all those invited.
The catch was that staff were expected to stay on after the briefing for a Christmas buffet, organised as a replacement for the party.
In an email to staff, Jan Dowden, director of HR at Cardiff, says the cancelled party had been "replaced to enable you all to meet each other before Christmas".
Of the "seasonal directorate briefing", it says: "All staff should attend with the exception of skeleton cover where necessary."
In accordance with an alcohol policy proposed at Cardiff earlier this year, the event will be booze-free.
In the summer the university told staff that under proposals being considered, alcohol could not be consumed at work, even when academics were working from home.
An employee at the university, speaking anonymously, said staff had found the managers' failure to attend the Christmas event "amusing". He said: "I guess they must have felt they had something better to do with their time than go to the HR party."
But a university spokesman said all teams within the HR directorate would be holding "celebratory Christmas events".
"The human resources directorate holds monthly briefings as part of an open communications policy between staff," he said.
"The December briefing will reflect on the staff's many achievements in 2009, and include a buffet lunch as a 'thank you'."
He added that this was "not a Christmas party" and said no alcohol would be served, "as staff who have responsibilities in clinical and scientific areas across the university will still be on duty".
The university's policy on alcohol consumption is currently out on consultation.