Toby's leaving for jury duty (the Scranton Strangler case, of course), but Corporate is sending a replacement HR rep from Nashua. Yes, that would be Holly. Michael's so excited he reschedules and re-imagines the whole office Christmas party on the spot to coincide with her return. So when she shows up and he learns that she's still with her boyfriend A.J. -- living together, in fact -- he doesn't take it well.
Dwight pisses Jim off enough to earn a snowball in the face, and then retaliates a millionfold. By the end, Jim's so terrified he can barely function. But then, probably inspired by Pam's comic book about him, he functions, bear-ly. That'll make more sense in the full weecap.
Darryl's daughter doesn't want to spend Christmas with him because it's not as much fun, so with Pam's encouragement, he decides to invite her to the Christmas party. Hard to imagine a worse idea, but it works out for the best in the end.
Angela's being a pain about her new boyfriend, the state senator, but she invites him to the office party. This pleases Oscar, who's sure the dude's gay. Oscar might be onto something, even if it isn't yet Angela's new boyfriend.
Michael and Holly have it out in front of everyone -- after all, she dumped Michael when she transferred to Nashua, but not A.J. when she transferred back. And A.J.'s showing up at the party to surprise her is just salt in Michael's sucking chest wound. Just as he's leaving with a broken (and salty) heart, Pam tells Michael something Holly confessed to the ladies earlier -- she's giving A.J. an ultimatum to propose. So Michael gets to keep hope alive. He's willing to wait as long as it takes -- and he doesn't even know that one way or another, he's only got half a season left to go.
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Everyone's outside posing in Santa hats for the office Christmas card, and while Jim and Pam are in a rush to get back inside and get warm, everyone spends a lot of time trying to jump in the air at the same time while Dwight's assistant Nate takes the picture. Which, to say the least, does not work.
The office (and most of its employees) is full-on decorated for Christmas, and Pam says that as office administrator, she's paid to be head of the Party Planning Committee, which she immediately shut down. "At its worst, it was a toxic, political club used to make others feel miserable and left out. At its best, it planned parties." Looks like she's doing fine, though, with a lush fake tree made to smell real with air fresheners.
Michael comes in dressed as Santa, and no crises are imminent. Even Angela can't think of anything to complain about. In a talking-head, Michael claims that that's what he wants. "A wonderful Christmas with no drama." You could almost believe it.
Kelly, as the minority executive trainee, distributes the corporate Christmas gift Hello Kitty laptop sleeves for all. Few are thrilled, and Kelly plays the race card. Gabe thought there would be fleece blankets, like the one he and Erin use. "Why do you ask me so often if we're still dating?" Gabe THs. Darryl's in a good mood, because it's his turn for Christmas with his daughter. There's even an iCarly joke in there for that demographic and everything.
Jim looks out the window and notices that it's snowing, and Dwight mocks him so meanly that Jim goes out, gathers up a snowball, and brings it back into the bullpen to hurl at Dwight's face. When Jim refuses to apologize, Dwight challenges him to a snowball fight at the first real snow. They shake on it, and Jim refuses to let go. Refusing to let go is going to become a theme in this subplot.
Over in Accounting, Kevin and Oscar are tweaking Angela about her boyfriend, whom she keeps referring to as "The Senator" while they keep correcting that to "state senator." Angela does a TH making a big deal about the two photographers that show up to a ribbon-cutting ceremony to take her picture. Yes, but was she able to get them to fight over her?
In the conference room, Pam is leading a meeting on what an office party is not (see Christmas episodes 1-5). After declining to take questions, she yields the floor to Toby, who announces that he's taking a leave of absence next week. Michael burns a lot of time mocking him, while Toby gives just enough clues to let them know he'll be on the jury in the Scranton Strangler case. Michael's pretty bitter about Toby getting attention for that, until he learns that Toby's replacement will be Holly Flax from Nashua. Erin is astute enough to pick up on people's reaction to that and ask who Holly is, and after Michael's wordy speech about how awesome Holly is, Creed throws in, "She's one sassy black lady." Michael wants to have a party for her return -- in fact, today's party is cancelled. He starts throwing away all the food, promising to pay for the next one. "This is the most important Christmas party of my life, so back to work!" In his office, Michael says he worked so hard for this, begging Jo and Corporate, "And you know who I end up owing this to is the Scranton Strangler! Thank you Scranton Strangler! I love you! You just took one more person's breath away!" And after he made fun of Toby's bad Scranton Strangler joke earlier.