5 Dos and Don’ts for Celebrating Halloween in the Office

Get in the holiday spirit without shirking your duties

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter  |  Originally Published by U.S. News & World Report

Halloween is right around the corner, and you might be gearing up to dress in costume at work, take advantage of some fun festivities, or perhaps even ask your boss to leave early to take your kids out trick-or-treating. Whatever the scariest day of the year has in store for you during the workday, here are five things you can do to enjoy your day at work, along with five things you should avoid:


Top 5 Dos:

1. Dress up. If donning a Halloween costume is encouraged, show team spirit and get into character. Complement your personality, while also respecting the company’s culture and human resources policies. Stumped as to what to wear? Consider a classic. According to Glassdoor’s Halloween survey, two out of five employees (42 percent) said they would likely dress as a ghost, witch, or pirate, while 20 percent would dress like their favorite movie character, such as Katniss from The Hunger Games, to work. The remaining results indicated office-themed costumes (e.g., pink slip, the boss, a three-hole punch); and pop-culture-premised costumes (e.g., a pregnant Snooki), as go-to choices.

2. Remove your boss’s mask. Do you lead a team, or an entire department? If so, nearly one in three (29 percent) of your employees will want you to participate in dressing up, according to Glassdoor’s survey. Instead of sitting stoically in your office as the pirates walk the plank, the ghosts get spooky, and the witches cast their spells, replace your boss’s mask with something a little more whimsical; enjoy the day by playing along with the team. You might just earn a few points for being down-to-earth and showing humility with this behavior.

3. Get cookin.’ While theatrical attire sounds whimsical and fun, food actually trumped costumes among what employees want most at work this Halloween. According to the survey, 70 percent of employees said they would most enjoy a Halloween breakfast/lunch or free candy/treats at work. Whether you’re a front-line receptionist or someone steeped in analysis in a secluded back office, you may consider fetching a bag of Snickers bars or baking a couple dozen spider cupcakes to share with your co-workers. Or, for the ambitious, rally your teammates and cook up a Halloween breakfast or lunch event to shed a culinary bright light on an otherwise typical or bland workday.

4. Ask early. If you hope to exit early on Halloween to take your little ones trick-or-treating, ask permission ahead of time. Offer your boss the courtesy of advance notice that you would like to be home before dark so that you can attend to the holiday ritual. Offer to arrive early or stay late that day or a different day to make it a win-win request.

5. Enjoy the day. Even if your Halloween work schedule is slammed with deadlines and customer commitments, take five minutes to share in some candy corn and conversation that revolves around the spirit of the day. While your job is your No. 1 priority, it’s also OK to enjoy the holiday. You might even discover the added fun is the energy boost you needed to get through that tough project.

Top 5 Don’ts:

1. Dress inappropriately. A sexy pirate wench may sound like the costume du jour; however, the next day, you may find yourself regretting the low-cut blouse and short-short skirt that left you feeling exposed and made your colleagues blush. As well, if you are uncertain of your company’s costume parameters, check with human resources. They may have guidelines to help tame your creative side to fit within the proper confines of a business climate. Glassdoor’s survey shows that most (51 percent) employees say that if a co-worker wears an inappropriate Halloween costume to work, the best thing HR can do is to ask them to change. So remember, fun but appropriate.

2. Assume. It’s a slippery slope assuming you will be checking out early to take the kiddos trick-or-treating, leaving your childless colleagues to hold the fort. As mentioned above, you should ask your boss’s permission in advance. In addition, consider extending courtesies and added communications to your kid-free teammates early in the week to ensure they don’t feel that they’re left holding the work bag while you gallivant into the holiday evening.

3. Bring games to work. According to Glassdoor’s survey, only 6 percent of employees would enjoy bobbing for apples or other games. Since most employees just aren’t into this, forget it. Remember, food trumps Halloween-themed games when it comes to celebrating at work.

4. Ditch your work. While it’s easy to get swept up in the festivities of the holiday, remember that you’re being paid to be there and don’t shirk your duties. Customer expecting a deliverable? Get it done. Client calling with an urgent inquiry? Answering the phone with a mouthful of candy and a casual attitude may offend. Have fun, but maintain your professional decorum.

5. Be a Scrooge. While we often associate Scrooge with winter holidays, you could also be pegged one this Halloween if you walk around with a resentful attitude and a bah-humbug spirit while your colleagues whoop it up. Though it isn’t necessary to be someone you’re not, it is probably in your best interest to join in some of the festivities versus taking an aloof or dismissive approach to lighthearted holiday fun. Who knows? You may even enjoy yourself.


Jacqui Barblog photorett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, “Sailor Rob,” host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several “Best People to Follow” lists for job seekers.



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