The Fine Art of an Anonymous Note

The anonymous noteIf you work in an office, you’ve no doubt seen your share of anonymous notes. Maybe even written one?

It’s all right if you have. You’re safe here.

Anonymous notes are great for several reasons:

  • They’re anonymous! You can say anything you want, without censor!
  • They keep everyone off-guard as they wonder who wrote it. Was it the guy in the next cubicle? The woman down the hall? The janitor? No one knows!
  • What’s an office without a little passive aggressive behavior? A sad excuse for an office, that’s what!
  • Done right, your anonymous note might wind up HERE.

Jump to Recipe

Proper Format for the Killer Anonymous Note

Choose Your Topic Carefully

The key is to fixate on something trivial and let it fester until you can’t take it anymore.
Are there dirty dishes in the break room sink? That’s a good one.
A spill in the refrigerator? Run with it.
Are you, like, the only person who makes the coffee around here? Hey, don’t get me started.

anonymous-noteOpen With a Joke or Cutesy Remark

A good opening makes the transition into complaint mode seamless.
Coffee Etiquette 101 — cute, am I right? If that won’t make them step right up to read your note, I don’t know what will.

Embrace Your Passive Aggressive Side

Summon the spirit of your great-aunt Bertha, if need be. The key is to feign politeness with a touch of criticism.
Try something along the lines of, “I couldn’t help but notice the dirty dishes in the sink. Please remember that this is not your kitchen and no one is going to clean up after you!”
One might point out that it’s not your kitchen either. Nor your sink, nor your dishes. But that’s beside the point. We can’t let reason undermine our outrage.

Make Full Use of Exclamation Points and Emoticons

Why use one exclamation point when five will do just as well? After all, how are they going to know you mean business?
“If you spill something, wipe it up!!! 😠😦😩

List the Reasons Their Behavior is Unacceptable

Everyone loves a list, the more redundant the better:
1.  If you take the last of the coffee, always make a new pot.”
2.  It’s good manners to make a new pot if you took the last cup.”
3.  If you see less than a cupful left, make a new pot.”

It practically sings!

Leave the Note Up Indefinitely

No one else will take it down because they don’t know who wrote it, and you can’t take it down because that’s admitting it’s yours. Therefore it must stay until the edges curl and the tape yellows and the company is sold and all the reasons you were ever angry in the first place are long forgotten.
So, yeah. Leave it up okay?

You know what puzzles me the most about anonymous notes? If what you penned was truly heartfelt, something you poured your heart and soul into, why wouldn’t you put your name on it?

Maybe it’s just the writer in me, always seeking recognition. In any case, if your literary attempt at setting your coworkers right is taken wrong, you’ll need a way to make amends.

The best way to do that is with something homemade.

This is the perfect cake to share with your coworkers. It has chocolate and coffee in it! Plus, if there’s milk in the break room past its expiration date, you can use that too. 😮

If you’re not big on coffee, it’s really only the frosting where you detect the flavor. You can substitute milk, but I will say that when I took this cake to work, even the tea drinkers liked it.

Chocolate Cake with Caramel Mocha Frosting

  • Servings: 24
  • Print


  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • chocolate-cake¾ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour milk (or add 2 Tablespoons vinegar to 1 cup fresh milk; can also use buttermilk)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coffee (or 1 cup boiling water with 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules)

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add liquid ingredients and mix on medium speed until smooth, about three minutes. Batter will be thin.

Pour into a greased 13 x 9-inch pan and bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. (You can make the frosting while the cake cools.)

Caramel Mocha Frosting

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup strong coffee (or milk)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat butter in saucepan until melted, stir in sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cook and stir two minutes. Stir in coffee (or milk) and vanilla extract. Remove from heat, let cool.

Gradually stir in powdered sugar, beat until smooth and of spreading consistency. If frosting becomes too thick, add a little milk, one teaspoon at a time.

14 thoughts on “The Fine Art of an Anonymous Note

  1. I can’t say I ever did anonymous notes, but I once did anonymous origami. One of the employees put an origami figure on a table near her desk, and I’d periodically make something new and sneak it into the collection overnight. I’d occasionally get a grin hearing her try to explain where they were coming from – there was even a story in the company newsletter about the mystery.

  2. My problem is that I never take time to write a note I just openly confront. No passive aggression problems here! In my defense, it takes a lot to get me to that point. But there is a sense of mystery that appeals to me in the anonymous note technique.

  3. CJ,
    Today’s post and its links led me here. Having worked or lived in several places where anonymous notes are rife, now I see the ‘ how” of it- the whodunit part is still to be explored.
    People say anonymous notes are cowardly and create a nasty taste in the mouth. I sometimes might not agree. There is a writer among us who feels strongly about something but is generous enough to let others’ take the credit- how cool is that.
    In the hostel, I stayed at, there used to be “stinker” writers. A stinker is a note where some act of the recipient is not welcomed by the writer and a note is put up on the notice board or stuck on their room doors. And it is usually written in very bad, hurtful language. Believe me, those really hurt.

    1. I’ve never seen an anonymous note with good intentions, that would be something to see. Anything I’ve seen or heard about, the people simply weren’t man/woman enough to deal with a situation face-to-face. And that’s sad on all accounts.
      Stinker is a good name for it!

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