5 rules for celebrating Halloween at work

Halloween can be scary at work, and not just because of the sugar-induced behavioral changes in colleagues who overdo it on the candy. It’s the one day of the year when the normal rules about what to wear to work don’t apply, and all too often, people end up inadvertently crossing lines that offend, embarrass or gross out their colleagues.

Here are five rules for celebrating Halloween at work that will ensure you have a good time – without becoming the office fright show.

1. If you’re new to the workplace, ask about Halloween costumes and traditions ahead of time. You might not mind being the only person in your workplace dressed as a goblin, Maleficent or James Spader’s character from “The Blacklist.” But if being the only one in costume is likely to make you feel awkward, make sure you check ahead of time to see if others are planning to dress up. This is especially helpful if you’ve started your job since last Halloween and haven’t yet had a chance to see how your office observes the holiday. Otherwise, you might end up having an uncomfortable day as the only person who’s out of business attire.

2. Don’t wear a costume that’s too revealing or in any way sexually provocative. Despite the trend of increasingly provocative Halloween costumes, work is not the place to dress up as a naughty nurse or a sexy Disney character – or a sexy anything, for that matter. Halloween isn’t license to violate the rules of decorum that are normally in play at work, and your coworkers shouldn’t see any more of your body than they do on any other day of the year. It doesn’t matter how clever or fun your costume is – keep yourself reasonably covered up.

3. Don’t wear a costume that plays on racist or ethnic tropes. Costumes that are caricatures of another ethnic group aren’t OK, and neither is dressing up as a member of a group that has been systemically oppressed. That means no American Indian or geisha costumes. And while blackface is widely understood in the U.S. to be offensive, reports every fall show that apparently that information hasn’t reached everyone yet, so it’s worth mentioning here, too. In fact, in 2011, students at Ohio University started the “we’re a culture, not a costume” poster campaign to educate people about racially insensitive Halloween costumes. The campaign has spread to other campuses and has been gaining traction nationwide.

And this isn’t just a courtesy and decency issue, although that’s certainly part of it. Employers in the U.S. have a legal responsibility to ensure their workplaces don’t constitute a hostile environment for employees on the basis of protected classes, which include race, ethnicity and national origin.

4. Don’t wear anything that will make it impossible to talk to a client or your coworkers.If your costume makes it hard for you to talk or hear, it’s probably not well suited for the office. Here’s a good litmus test: If you were called into a last-minute meeting with a potential VIP client and your company’s president, would you be comfortable in what you’re wearing? Would they be comfortable? As fun as dressing up for Halloween can be, your main goal at work is still to get work done. So if your costume is interfering with that, it might be better saved for an after-work party or neighborhood trick-or-treating.

5. Don’t hassle others who don’t dress up. Not everyone enjoys dressing up for Halloween, and that’s OK. Sometimes people in the pro-costume group give people who don’t dress up a hard time for not getting into the holiday spirit or not having a sense of fun, which is a good way to sour your relationship with coworkers. It’s safe to say that if someone didn’t dress up, he or she doesn’t want to be given a hard time about it. Enjoy the costumes of the people who did dress up, and let your other coworkers be costume-free in peace.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 201 comments… read them below }

  1. hayling*

    Here’s another tip: make sure you aren’t violating your company dress code.

    I used to work for a place that had a rather strict (and sometimes archaic) dress code. We were not allowed to wear t-shirts. Someone wore a (non-offensive, non-revealing, etc.) t-shirt as part of his Halloween costume, and he got sent home!

    1. Holly*

      Our office is pretty, in my opinion, hardline about their dress code, but the owner loves Halloween so much that it’s actually the single day in the entire year we’re allowed to wear jeans in the office. The single day. It makes me so happy.

    2. Blue Anne*

      It’s my first Halloween at a big corporate office and I’m not sure what to expect… we did get an email saying that Halloween will be a “dress down (or dress up for those so inclined!)” day. I LOVE costumes but I’m still unsure, so I’ll be wearing black leggings, black booties, a witchy black sweater dress I have, and green nail polish, and takin a witch hat with me I can take off if no one else is doing it. I tend towards the gothy anyway, so hopefully I’ll be able to pass it off as just a normal outfit if necessary.

  2. Katie the Fed*

    I feel like a curmudgeon, but I don’t understand why adults feel the need to dress up for halloween at work.

    Thanks for emphasizing the racial/ethnic angle, as was so helpfully illustrated in my all time favorite AAM post (and comment sh*tstorm) last year

    1. Artemesia*

      Me either. Some customer facing places do it as part of marketing — okay. But otherwise, it seems pretty juvenile. (and I say this as someone who once had an annual adult costume party at Halloween and who enjoys trick or treat with my grandchild now)

    2. LQ*

      I really wish my workplace didn’t encourage it. I participate every year but only because it keeps people from being all OOOO LQ isn’t participating and isn’t nice and doesn’t get along well with others and blahblahblahblah when really I just want to do my job.

      But not only do people here think decking their entire cube and row and area out to the point of fire hazard is a good idea but leadership actively promotes this.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d get one of those hat things e.g. the ghost head dress, or the arrow through head or horns or something you can slap on for the day and put in a drawer the rest of the year.

        1. LQ*

          I’m going to be a punctuation mark and someone else is making a sandwich board sign I’m basically going to wear for 5 minutes. It fits with my group’s theme and I’ll wear something so most of the day I can just leave the actual “costume” part hanging on my cube.

    3. Jamie*

      I would like a seat at the curmudgeon table – I don’t get why anyone would want to do this.

      Although for those that do keep in mind that costumes with makeup may be amusing while fresh, but it’s hard to look at cat whiskers, a mustache, or green witch makeup when it’s smudged by the end of day.

    4. TychaBrahe*

      I would wear my witch dress/hat as part of my regular clothing rotation if it were permitted. Since it isn’t, I’ll confine that outfit to Halloween.

    5. Anonylicious*

      I am a huge nerd for costumes, but they are not for work. Unless you are my sister and work in a costume shop.

      (Also, be kind to costume shop workers. This month is a special kind of hell for them.)

    6. fposte*

      I’m at a university training people to work with kids. They (the grownups) can get really excited about costumes.

      If I do anything, I tend to stick to normal clothes that can become a costume by attaching a label or a hat/headpiece.

      1. littlemoose*

        I did this when I worked retail – black turtleneck and jeans that confirmed with the dress code, plus cat ears that were easily removed. Of course, it was part of a mall that did trick or treating for kids, but I thought it was a good compromise between festive and dress code compliant.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        This. Last ear it was head-to-t0e black, cat ears and liquid eyeliner, done. (Oh, and a “lost cat” flyer in the break room because I don’t know how to do anything halfway.) It was super simple and a HUGE hit.

    7. Seal*

      I don’t get the urge to dress up for Halloween at work, either. To me, it seems like an all or nothing deal – either everyone dresses up or no one does, because the one person who does looks like a dork.

      On the other hand, I’m very much in favor of Halloween candy at work.

      1. HR Manager*

        A whole dept did the MiB get-up for last year’s party. I personally think it’s fun. It’s a legit way to let your hair down and show off a little personality and creativity, and for groups/teams that otherwise wouldn’t mingle to have the chance to talk and get together. There’s no pressure to dress up (it’s still a work day for most) and many choose not to, but those who do participate seem to look forward to this each year. Our executives really gets into this too, which helps.

    8. Corgi Queen*

      I’m a teacher and my school requires us to dress up around a grade-level theme. Last year, I was a solar system. The theme for this year is historical scientist. I’m not sure who I’m going to be.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Rosalind Franklin! She was pivotal in helping Watson and Crick’s discover of the DNA double helix, but never gets the credit.
        1950s style outfit, pearls and DNA model to carry around – done. Link to follow

      2. Cath in Canada*

        Barbara McClintock! Discovered that some pieces of DNA can move around to different locations in the genome; was dismissed because she was just a woman; was vindicated many years later and won the Nobel. She’s still the only woman to have won an unshared Nobel in Physiology/Medicine. She did her most important work in maize, so you could wear glasses, an old-fashioned outfit, and carry around a couple of corn cobs.

      3. YaH*

        Wow. Our district forbids costumes because of its potential to exclude/offend students due to religious practices.

    9. Jen*

      Agreed. It seems really immature to me. I can see doing something seasonal – like a pair of Halloween earrings, a scarf or a tie or something. But no on the whole costume.

      A few jobs ago, people would not only dress up but then a few of them would go office to office and be like “Trick or treat” and my office-mate and I laughed and they were like “No, seriously, trick-or-treat” and I had to rifle through my drawer and give a 50+ year old woman an old soy joy bar to get her to go away.

      1. Anonylicious*

        In that situation, they get a trick. It’s a valuable lesson in being careful what you ask for.

    10. Aisling*

      It depends on the workplace. I work in a public library, where it is permitted, and our patrons love it – especially the kids.

    11. Jennifer*

      Well, I’m the asshole who wants to dress up because otherwise I pretty much don’t get to celebrate the holiday. I don’t have any parties to go to most years and I do not get trick-or-treaters where I live at all (don’t even waste the money to buy candy), but I like costuming. Also, it livens up the day to run into people in costume, in my opinion. Every other day of the year is boring and “professional,” why do I have to be boring on the 31st? Especially if for once they are allowing fun?

      For the record: we are having the office party on the 30th, which kind of annoys me and seems to be confusing people as to what day they dress up and when the costume contest is going on. I gather dressing up on the 31st is fine for all, but people who have to serve the public on the 30th have to wear boring clothes and everyone else is allowed to dress up.

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh I can beat that. Our trick or treating is already over. I have never lived anywhere in the US where trick or treating is mandated, but here, it was this weekend. Maybe our local government will move Christmas to the Sunday before this year, too. And let’s move Thanksgiving so it doesn’t interfere with work.

        1. fposte*

          The official day thing has been pretty common in the communities I’ve lived in, so that everybody knows what night to watch for knee-high people after dark and it’s on a usable night. However, in a year where Halloween is actually on Friday, they’d have gone with the actual Friday, so I don’t know what your community is up to there.

        2. Clever Name*

          Weird. Only once in my childhood was Halloween postponed. There was a major blizzard oct 31 one year, and the mayor “officially” postponed Halloween until the next day and begged parents to keep kids indoors. Trick or treating in 2 feet of snow was mighty chilly the next day.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        I guess I don’t see being professional as being “boring,” but, in my profession, I get to wear dark blue hair every day so perhaps my profession has different standards! *grin*

    12. Angora*

      I’ll never forget I worked at a bank and one year with a conservative dress code, one year it was flannel shirts and blue jeans. Another year it was agreed upon (all female office) that we could dress as men, slacks, jackets, fake moustaches, etc … that was fun, but one co-worker was chasing a man that was a customer and came in dressed as a biker chick, tattoos and corset, so trashy. She babysat for manager so she got by with it, she should have been sent home without pay.

    13. Stephanie*

      I could see it bringing levity to work, but the potential minefields just seem too great. Probably depends on the office. Also, it’s hard for me to take a coworker with cat whiskers seriously. My last job, people took Halloween costumes very seriously.

      I’ve never been great with costumes, doubly so with one that would be work appropriate and easy to change out of if I ran into someone important.

    14. Anon Accountant*

      Me either. I don’t understand why adults dress up for Halloween at work either unless it’s a part of their job. Such as working with children or at a place that hosts a Halloween party for its clients and staff would be encouraged to dress up.

    15. AdAgencyChick*

      I’m a Halloween Grinch (for grownups; I am a complete sucker for little kids in costumes, though). But I’d be burned in effigy if I ever suggested that we stop dressing up in my industry. I’m in a fairly conservative niche of advertising, and I KNOW there are a lot of frustrated Don Drapers who wish they were doing the next iPod campaign but are stuck doing “Ask your doctor about…” So Halloween is the day people get to be “creative” and let down their hair.

      As long as a) I don’t have to see more of anyone’s body than I do normally, and b) I’m not judged as “uncreative” for refusing to dress up (this was the case at my last agency, grrr), I’m fine with it. My advertising colleagues who do love the holiday enough to invest the effort into making a costume often come up with really great stuff. I personally could think of some good ideas if forced to, but I have zero interest in spending the time to execute them :P

    16. Swarley*

      I agree. I just don’t see how me sitting across from a person dressed like a kitty cat, trying to have a professional business conversation can mesh. I think these two things are mutually exclusive.

      If you want to have fun, bring in a pie.

    17. Connie-Lynne*

      Me, too. I get that for a lot of people it’s fun, but for me, it feels like I’m just asking not to be taken seriously at work. Of course, if I don’t wear a costume, then I’m … too serious and/or no fun.

      My solution is to work from home or be on vacation on Halloween. This will be the first year in 12 years I’ll actually be in the office on Halloween … I’m going to find some kind of fun but removable accessory and wear it (probably the small set of fairy wings I have hanging in my craft closet).

    18. WorkerBee*

      It depends on the industry, I guess. I’ve worked as a teacher and I’ve also worked in a theatre at the box office. No reason not to dress up there.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      I love Halloween and would dress up for a week beforehand if I could, but the kinds of costumes I like wouldn’t fly at work. 1) I couldn’t work in them, or 2) too gory/weird/freaky for on the job.

      I think Halloween can be much more fun for adults than for kids (we can have candy AND liquor!). But it’s not one of those holidays that is very conducive to the workplace.

    20. Melissa*

      I came in here to say this. Halloween is a social thing; if you want to dress up, have a party or go to a party. But why bring it into the workplace?

      I also came to thank Alison for addressing and emphasizing the racial/ethnic costume angle. I feel like this is something most people should know, but every year I see both generally offensive AND personally offensive costumes (by which I mean a costume that makes fun of my own race/ethnicity in a denigrating way that makes me feel uncomfortable, as opposed to a costume that I know is offensive but is not about my culture specifically).

    21. mess*

      Me either, I think it is ridiculous. A few years ago one of my younger coworkers came dressed as a fawn in this sort of juvenile homemade brown sweatpants/spots/ears outfit, and every time I saw him after that I thought, “oh here comes the baby deer.” I don’t want my coworkers to think of me as a cute little baby deer!

  3. Karen in Massachusetts*

    I think it absolutely doesn’t belong in the workplace. I love Halloween, my kids always have parties and I love to hand out candy. But I really do not want to see coworkers dressed up during work hours … because we are here to work.

    In mid October – I’ll bring in a fall treat for the suite ( usually pie, cider and a bushel of apples ) and we do end up with a massive amounts of trick or treat candy brought in. But these are quick diversions and don’t distract the entire day. I also don’t let anyone do Secret Santa, gift exhanges or qa XMAS party during work hours. I do give everyone ( staggered ) an afternoon off in December t o do whatever. ( I pick the days and assign them out based on work load ) .

    1. LBK*

      You ban everyone from exchanging gifts? That seems a little too curmudgeony to me…unless you’re generally extremely strict about non-work at work.

      1. the gold digger*

        But what if not everyone in the office is Christian? Or atheist embracing the secular aspects of Christmas? And I think that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas, do they?

        Anyhow, I can see legitimate reasons to avoid Christmas-themed events in the workplace.

        1. Kelly O*

          I guess I just don’t get the blanket prohibition.

          If you don’t celebrate, then don’t celebrate. If Jane mentions a Christmas party, you could either say “oh, I don’t observe” or “how about an end of year holiday party so we can all join in” or something like that.

          And if you do celebrate, don’t shove it down other people’s throats. And then be respectful of other people’s holidays. I had a neat conversation with a coworker about Diwali, and learned a lot about her culture. If you’re willing to listen and learn, there can be cool teambuilding opportunities by learning about different holidays.

          1. Cat*

            Yes, one of my co-workers usually brings in Indian sweets for Diwali; it’s nice and everyone enjoys it even if they don’t celebrate.

          2. LBK*

            My thoughts exactly. If you don’t participate, you don’t participate. No harm, no foul. I’m about as far from being a religious person as you can get, but I still participate in exchanging gifts with friends and family in late December. Call it Winter Present Exchange Day or whatever if that makes you feel better, it doesn’t have to strictly be a Christmas celebration, but I guess I don’t understand barring all forms of it.

          3. NoPantsFridays*

            That’s fine depending on how “oh, I don’t observe” goes over. It can start an interrogation on why don’t I observe, what is wrong with me, why am I of a different faith, etc. that is not appropriate for the workplace. I’m there to work and not discuss religion. I have sought out other venues for that in my personal life. At least I do celebrate a holiday in late December…I know a lot of people who don’t have a holiday around that time of year except NYE/Day, which makes Christmas parties doubly uncomfortable for them.

            It sounds like your coworker was forthcoming and interested in discussing her culture, which is great. I do want to say (in general) though that if coworker does not volunteer information, please do not assume she is of XYZ religion and culture ABC and start asking questions of her. (It doesn’t sound like that’s what you did, so good on you, this is just a general comment.) I’ve been in the awkward position of declining to answer questions about a culture I know nothing about. I’ve also been “The Spokesperson” for my religion before and it was very unpleasant, so now I just pretend I’m an atheist or decline to state my religion when asked.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Just have a holiday party. Even the people who don’t celebrate Christmas still get the day off when the business is closed on the 25th, right? People can participate or not if they choose–but you should absolutely make it so coworkers don’t bug them about it if they don’t.

          1. Melissa*

            It irritates me when people say this, and I was raised Christian myself. Christmas has everything to do with Christianity. It’s right there in the name – Christ’s mass. The holiday may be super commercialized and kind of ubiquitous in Western countries, but it’s ubiquitous precisely because of the dominance of the Christian majority in those countries. Christians don’t have to think about how religious their holiday is – in other words, it gets to be considered “mostly secular now” because it has the privilege of dominance. If Jewish people had conquered the Americas instead of Christians then we might be saying Hanukkah has nothing to do with Judaism these days.

            I’m not saying this in an “argh keep the Christ in Christmas!” kind of way, but rather because I think it’s dismissive of non-Christians’ valid complaints when they bring up that they feel excluded and uncomfortable when an office either a) celebrates only Christian holidays without recognizing the diversity of the cultural beliefs of the office or b) forces everyone to participate in what are essentially Christian practices without a second thought to other belief systems. Many, many non-Christians in the U.S. do not celebrate Christmas (or Easter, for that matter).

            Besides, these things take very little adjustment to work. Many cultural systems celebrate a winter holiday and even non-religious people like gifts, so a “Secret Santa” could become a holiday gift exchange and a “Christmas party” could become a winter holiday party (with more winter celebratory elements instead of reindeer/Santas/Christmas ornaments). So simple, yet has the potential to satisfy so many people. Even better, have people come bring elements from all of their diverse religious and cultural autumn/winter holiday celebrations.

      2. B*

        She says ‘during work hours’, which I would be totally ok with. I don’t like any pressure to do Xmas gifts at work and this would help.

      3. Seal*

        We had to ban gifts at holidays and birthdays because the previous unit head required people to donate money for that purpose on a regular basis. Aside from the unnecessary drama this caused, it was against any number of policies at our public university. Now we stick to quarterly potlucks and everyone is much happier.

      4. Karen in Massachusetts*

        Actually the ban is during work hours. Usually my dept will go out for lunch ( I will authorize a long lunch and watch the phones ). Again – I have had Muslim employees, I had one employee whose mother was dying and just didn’t want to have to go out and buy another gift. My personal beliefs are that in lieu of gifts – we donate to a homeless shelter and food pantry. I feel that this prevents employee from having social obligations due to work – that can be hard to get out of.

        I also don’t let birthdays be celebrated – I’ve just seen to many hard feelings. I do pay for treats occasionally, pizza, coffee and donuts, my friend has a coffee/food truck and she drove the truck to our stree and I treated everyone gourmet coffee things one afternoon.

        1. LBK*

          Oh, I wouldn’t do a mandated department gift exchange or anything like that – I don’t think anything should be required of anyone. But we’ve done ones that were just organized among people who wanted to participate that were fun. I would be a bit miffed if they were banned outright during work.

        2. Melissa*

          I would actually appreciate this a lot. I love giving people gifts but over time it can become too much, especially if it becomes a social obligation and you never know who is struggling financially. I have become friends with coworkers and have given them gifts for holidays, but just gave them during non-work hours. Simple.

  4. No name*

    I can see where many places wouldn’t consider dressing up appropriate, especially with the limitations of finding a costume that doesn’t have a mask or other limiting feature.

    In the healthcare settings I’ve worked in, where we interact with the public all day, it was more holiday accessories than full on dress up. Like pins, orange work clothing, spider rings, themed socks, maybe a hat. Nothing over the top, but most customers, especially the kids, seem to like the break in routine.

    I’ve also heard of colleagues dress up as agent Scully (X-files) or other character that was apparent by the outfit and still work appropriate. This year, I have a headband coming that has a fun spider head and legs sticking out to wear with my regular work clothes.

    1. SherryD*

      Speaking of health care, anyone remember on ER when Abby dressed up as an Old-Fashioned Nurse for Halloween? Everyone just assumed she was a Naughty Nurse…

    2. Natalie*

      Yeah, last year I wore an orange shirt and black pants. I actually avoid that particular combination like the plague the other 364 days of the year. This year, my costume for a party that evening includes a largish spider necklace, so I think I’ll wear the necklace to work with normal work clothes and call it good.

    3. Kelly O*

      I did Joan Holloway one year. Which basically meant just putting up my hair and wearing red lipstick.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I once thought about being Penelope Garcia. Except my hair was dyed red at the time and I tend toward brightly colored dresses and sweaters anyway, and wear purple glasses. I just looked like Me Going to Work.

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          Penelope Garcia is my all-time fave geek. I just finished streaming Criminal Minds from pilot to end of last season, and I love the way her character matures. My fave episode is the one where they’re in Sexual Harassment Prevention training. “Here are some terms you should call your co-workers: Baby Girl; Chocolate Thunder.” LMAO!

          Sorry, took a little side trip there…

          1. YaH*

            I just watched that episode last night! I’ve streamed from S1:E1 all the way through also over the last couple of months, and am on the tail end of season 9.

  5. Adam*

    Depends on the workplace, but if I wear a costume to work I want it to be something I can get into and out of and into more normal clothes at a moment’s notice. I never dressed up all that elaborately for Halloween to begin with, but I think if getting into said costume takes longer than my usual get ready in the morning routine it’s probably not worth it.

  6. newbie in Canada*

    One year a coworker went full-out catsuit. It looked painted on. I couldn’t believe I was the only one who saw it as inappropriate.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Back in the 90’s one of my male co-workers dressed up as Zena Warrior Princess. It caused quite a stir. As one other co-worker put it “the disturbing thing is, he looks good!” (and he did).

      I’d add cross-dressing as a thin ice area for work.

      1. Adam*

        I wasn’t at all struck by your first two sentences. Then I read the third. Please tell me this was in an accounting firm or something like that.

        1. Adam*

          I should read more carefully. Your first sentence had the word “male” in it and I completely glossed over it, so the whole thing came off as a fantastic joke on me.

      2. alma*

        I have to admit my respect for any man willing to dress as Xena would go up about 10000%, workplace appropriateness aside.

      3. NoPantsFridays*

        haha, I would agree that it’s a grey area for work, depending on the costume. I dressed as “a guy” once in middle school, because I was too lazy to buy a costume and I had a lot of boys’ clothes anyway.

        1. Chinook*

          I once dressed up as a guy for Halloween as an adult. But, then again, I was the only female junior/senior high teacher teaching an all male class that looked so disappointed on their first day when they realized they were getting another woman as a teacher and not the ex-hockey player. After that, I just stopped wearing dresses but it was interesting to soo how the classroom dynamics shifted when I applied a 5 o’clock shadow.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          One of my coworkers dressed as a teenage boy for our Halloween party (at an older job). She was small and thin and had a kid whose clothes she could borrow. She dressed like a skateboard kid and even carried a board. She won the contest.

          My skull-shaped cheese ball was a big hit, too. :)

    2. Cath in Canada*

      A colleague at a former job turned up on Hallowe’en one year wearing what seriously looked like bondage gear – lots of skin showing through leather straps. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The most anyone else did was put on a silly tie or earrings, so he really stood out.

      1. littlemoose*

        In my mind I’m imagining he commuted to work like that. The mental image of a man in that getup on the subway is pretty amusing.

      2. Artemesia*

        Years ago for my at home halloween party I decided to go as a ‘Master Teacher’ — this was the big political deal in the state, I was a teacher, and it was a new program to try to reward teachers who would become team leads. I checked out a couple of dominiatrix magazines to get ideas — I had NO IDEA — and needless to say most of the stuff was not really adaptable to my rather tame ‘master teacher garb’ which ended up being a short black skirt and not all that revealing top with an apple on a string around my neck and mortar boards on my shoulders — and a whip. The Halloween I learned a bunch of stuff that gave me the creeps.

  7. M*

    This is my first year at my current workplace, and I am absolutely dreading this coming Halloween. The day before Halloween, apparently a ton of people dress up and bring all of their kids into work to “Trick or treat” over multiple floors. According to one of my coworkers, it is a complete cluster and nothing gets done all day.

    Bah humbug. (I’ll join the curmudgeon table if there’s still room.)

    1. Kyrielle*

      Oh my … I love Halloween at my office, but no, we do NOT bring the kids in to trick or treat. Yikes! (My husband’s old company did, BUT – it was company-authorized, but strictly after-hours for two hours one evening, and totally optional. Employees who didn’t want to be involved went home at the end of their day like normal. Others went all out to decorate for it and had a blast. I was sort of stunned that a work place did that, but I can’t imagine doing it during working hours. Well, I suppose they’re non-working hours at that point.)

    2. louise*

      The only thing curmudgeons don’t gripe about? Adding more seats to the table. It’s not so much “the more, the merrier” as it is “the more of us there are, the more likely the rest of the world will simmer down,” or so we hope.

      I worked for a dentist where all the employee kids were expected to come by for a few minutes in the afternoon. It was fairly quick to parade them around and I always enjoyed seeing their costumes. Then they were gone, and the rest of us were hyper on whatever candy we didn’t hand out. Worked for me. But a workplace that involves multiple floors? If there are more than a dozen or so kids, I’m over it. Not cool.

      1. M*

        Curmudgeons unite!

        I would be fine with a few minutes of children. I tend to stick a giant pile of candy in a bowl on the edge of my desk, pop my earbuds in and work away. I’m pretty sure there will be a good number of children. My coworker mentioned that one employee even invites her sister and her children, and I am just… I can’t. You also don’t want to know how much sugar was ordered in for all of these kids either…

      2. Judy*

        Dentist handing out candy in the office? The dentist across the street where I grew up gave out toothbrushes.

        1. April*

          There are dentists around here who pay kids cash by the pound for their Halloween candy. I don’t know how many takers they get :)

          And count me a curmudgeon. Halloween costumes do not belong at work. Nor any level of holiday celebrating during regular operating hours that is enough to interrupt or interfere with normal work. I’d rather just be given some time off to celebrate at home in my own way.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          My friend’s a dental assistant, and she gives trick or treaters who visit her house the choice of either candy or sheets of those little stickers that kids love. I’ve been at her place at Hallowe’en, and the younger kids almost all choose the stickers. I like that it’s non-preachy and gives the kids an option – if I was going to be at home on Friday I’d be buying candy and stickers to hand out at my place too!

            1. Fish Microwaver*

              I have glow accessrories to hand out this year. You know, specs and rings and bangles that glow in the dark.

          1. Melissa*

            Stickers, I like that! I’ve also seen people give out temporary tattoos, and little kids LOVE those things.

    3. Michele*

      I will also be at the curmudgeon table. It drives me crazy when people bring their kids into work. Not everyone finds it cute and I don’t want to hand out candy.

    4. MaryMary*

      I used to work at a place where employees’ kids could come in and trick-or-treat…but it was at the end of the day (4-6pm). The first year, no one forewarned me so I gave the first group of kids granola bars from my food drawer before raiding the group candy bowl for the rest. After that, I liked it. Most people kept it under control and didn’t take their kids around the entire building, so I got to meet the kids of the people I worked with everyday. A full day of sugared up kids would not be my idea of a good time, though.

    5. Angora*

      I so wouldn’t have enjoyed that. It would be one of those I would arrange to take a vacation day. But I am one of those people that do not like giving out candy at Halloween because the costumes and ringing door bell causes my pets some serious anxiety. But I’ll have my Halloween socks and pin on.

  8. Sascha*

    My office is pretty relaxed anyway, and people tend to dress for the holidays accordingly. I plan on wearing something costumey, but it’s basically just a shirt I can wear with normal pants and shoes, so I’m bringing an extra shirt that I can swap out in seconds just in case I have surprise meetings.

  9. Kyrielle*

    I love Halloween, and I wear my costume to the office some years. It’s fun and funny. Some people wear them all day, some just for the hour around the potluck. (Largely, this depends on the costume, in my experience.)

    But it depends on the year and what costume I have. This year, for example, I will be handing out treats on Halloween night as Peter Pan’s Shadow, in a full on black morph suit.

    I am NOT going to wear that to work. It would be ridiculous, I couldn’t get my job done in it, and taking it off/putting it on is a major pain, so I don’t feel like just wearing it for a few minutes.

    I may resurrect the “peasant girl” outfit I wore in a prior year, though. It looks nice enough and doesn’t impede my ability to drive, do my job, etc. (I wouldn’t wear it to work on any normal day; it’s not too casual for our office, but it’s the wrong kind of casual, and it’s not my normal style.) Otherwise, this year may see me costume-less. I do find it fun – but we’re very clear that it’s participation-optional. Also, we are not a client-facing office and the odds of a client coming in with no notice are zero.

    (The year we had a client scheduled to come in, the Halloween decorations were much more decorous – no bloody footprints/handprints or severed limbs to be seen anywhere – and the costume party vanished. We do have some sense of the reasonable!)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m probably just going to do some Halloween-y earrings and pins. None of the admins here want to do the group costume thing the other offices are doing. I have to cover the front desk that day anyway, and I would feel weird sitting there in a costume.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Or I COULD wear my Gryffindor scarf and jeans and a shirt and carry my wand and go as a Hogwarts student on her way to Hogsmeade (no robe). That just now occurred to me as I saw Allison’s post below.

  10. Allison*

    This is my second time going to work in costume! As with last time, two years ago, my co-workers and I decided on a themed costume the whole team could get into, and on Thursday at least three of us will be Harry Potter characters. I think it’s kinda fun, and I completely disagree that it’s just for kids. But maybe I’ll feel differently when I do have kids and need to focus on their costumes, and getting the house ready for trick-or-treating.

    Full disclosure, I’m 25 and work at a tech company, generally this type of workplace is closed off from the general public and nerdiness is encouraged year-round.

    1. Colette*

      I’m in high tech, and most places I’ve worked have some sort of Halloween event with costumes. It’s fun and totally optional, so those who don’t want to participate don’t have to.

      At a previous tech company, we did group costumes a couple of years. One year my group were all bees (yellow garbage bags & black duct tape). One year we were sheep (black garbage bags with glued fiber fill).

      Last year I was Miss Piggy. I wore it to/from the gym and my instructor almost fell over from laughing.

      This year I’ll be Ursula the Sea Witch (Grey long-sleeved shirt under the top.) I suspect it won’t be for long – the tentacles will get in the way.

    2. Jen RO*

      I work in a software company and I am going to be Darth Vader, can’t wait! (I don’t even like Star Wars, but my boyfriend has an awesome Vader mask. ) My desk is stuffed with Halloween decorations which I plan to use to decorate my entire team’s area in secret… eepp!

  11. Michele*

    I used to work with a girl that has a Halloween party every year. The first year I attended she dressed as a Nazi Officer. She looked very authentic. She was known for her outrageous costumes. I think this is the one time I was speechless. I left the party because I was actually embarrassed to be associated with her. The party was at a bar in Brooklyn. I want to add that she is in no way a Nazi but her costumes have definitely “normal” now. I think she learned her lesson and realized that no one was amused especially our Jewish co-workers.

  12. Cube Diva*

    I used to work for a local news morning show, and I remember one anchor saying she could never go “all out,” and had to be able to do a quick-change to normal clothes at a minute’s notice– in case there was breaking news.

    Could you imagine turning on the news to see a painted-face witch or goblin telling you about a horrible accident or house fire? I can’t either.

  13. OleanderTea*

    My employer has a Halloween costume and decorating contest. Employees bring their kids in for trick-or-treat. It’s fun and harmless.

    I’m going as Abby from NCIS. It’ll be a twist on all of the “Mad Scientists” running around. (I work for a software company that is in the healthcare arena. My immediate coworkers are science geeks and doctors. We all have lab coats) I get to look a little funky, but not too outrageous. And if I were called into a client meeting, everyone would get the costume.

    1. HR Manager*

      I wanted to but can’t find the right parts. I am not handy enough to make the body suit, but I’ve really wanted to be Catbert for a few years. The search will continue for the right outfits/pieces.

  14. Decimus*

    I think about the only “costume” that is really work-appropriate (assuming an office environment) would be something like “vintage businessman/woman.” Wearing (say) an 1960s-style business suit is just recognizable as being costume-y without being so overt as to hinder work or even meeting with clients. Although I fully admit that’s just my opinion and reasonable people can disagree.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I like goofy headbands. Devil horns, Shrek ears, 2-d “witch hat,” etc., on a headband, worn with a regular outfit. Looks festive, can come off if something especially serious arises.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        I think that sounds reasonable. I am thinking of wearing all black (shirt and slacks like normal, but I don’t normally wear the same color shirt and pants) and one of those hair bands that has the fuzzy cat ears on it. I have a black cat (like an actual feline pet cat – don’t worry, she stays at home) and I thought I could dress like her one day of the year :) My hair is also naturally black so that works. Does it sound inappropriate? I think it would turn inappropriate if I tried to affix a tail to my butt so I won’t do that, plus would make it hard to sit.

        1. Clever Name*

          This is pretty much what I’m doing for my son’s school Halloween party. I like to look festive for the kids, but looking parental is important.

  15. AndersonDarling*

    My previous employer banned costumes after a Halloween fiasco. One department went way over the top with gory, ghoulish costumes with lots of blood. They decorated their whole department with blood splatters. It was so real and graphic that people were on the verge of gagging.
    Result-> no more Halloween. No candy, no treats, no orange socks or silly hats.

      1. Anx*

        Same. I love spooky, scary Halloween. But I have a bloodphobia and wouldn’t want to work around that environment.

  16. B*

    #1 – anyone else remembering Modern Family? Don’t just check with one or two people about whether it’s ok to dress up :)

    SO glad I’m in the UK where this isn’t a thing. I don’t even answer the door on Halloween. (And I have a 3 year old!!) The window cleaner is due this Fri… he may have to wait to get paid :-/

    1. Sarahnova*

      Yeah, I think this is an interesting, erm, cultural difference. Costumes in the office is really, REALLY not a thing in the UK :)

      For once, though, my husband and I have remembered to get in some sweets to hand out, since last year we totally forgot and just had to not answer the door.

  17. JAL*

    This is my first year in my office and I have heard zero mention of Halloween or costumes. I wouldn’t be surprised if people did dress up because it’s a casual work enviornment. I will not be participating however and #5 is the best advice ever.

  18. Lucy*

    I dread Halloween at the office. At my old job the majority of my coworkers were late 30’s-early 50’s and if anybody wore something at all it was “seasonal” but not a costume – orange sweater and blank pants, a pair of spider earrings or a pumpkin broach, etc. My current office is much younger (mid 20’s-early 30’s, I’m late 20’s fwiw) and last year I was told costumes were “optional”……until October 30, and then it became “surprise! department costume contest! participation strongly encouraged!” And yes, some of the entries could have made an entire “don’t” slideshow.

  19. Helka*

    I’m a big fan of stealth costumes. They look like regular setting-appropriate clothing to people not in the know, but someone who recognizes the outfit will recognize a reference (and in my experience, usually get a kick out of it).

    Mulder & Scully are good stealth costumes for the office. I know someone who taped a tap-light to his chest under business clothes and went to work as Tony Stark. Things like that.

    1. Judy*

      For one department costume party, my group came as a rainbow. Each person wore a different color. ROY G BIV and all that. It was only a costume when we were all standing together.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I did that once–wore pale lipstick and a fake tat of a bullet hole on my forehead. People were all, “Why aren’t you wearing a costu–OH! HA HAHA!” With all the shootings going on lately, I wouldn’t do that one now, though.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      I like “stealth”, too. I work at home now, so a costume doesn’t make much sense, but I used to have a red Devil’s Tail thingie that hung off the back of my belt. I’d wear a suit and tie and be all slicked up. If I went all out, I’d carry a contract binder with me :)

      One of the more “interesting” costumes I’ve heard of was a husband and wife couple who dressed as a priest and a choirboy – yes, the wife was relatively short and had short hair.

      But by far the wildest ‘constumes’ I ever saw where when I was doing all that work in Second Life. You could modify your avatar and build anything you wanted. So there was a person I knew who had a demon costume – a demon with six huge, dripping *******, who carried a pitchfork, the tines of which held assorted pieces of bloody human genitalia. Every now and again they’d conjure a fire and do something akin to a weenie roast … I know it sounds atrocious, but if you saw this thing, the person who made it had some mad skillz. It was horrible and amazing at the same time.

  20. A Non*

    If I dress up at all this year (if I’m even in the office on Friday), my plan is to wear a huge brown Jedi robe that I just happen *coughcough* to own. Good for a laugh, then I can put it aside whenever the laugh is over.

    1. Chinook*

      My office costume is now “modern Littel Red Riding Hood.” I own a velvet cape just for this and I can wear anythign under it. It is most effective when I walk DH’s pet wolf around the neighborhood (which we have to do because she really likes answering the door and is very friendly but this frightens parents who quickly figure out what she is). I keep trying to convince DH to dress up in his red serge and go as Cst. Benton Fraser from Due South with Diefenbaker but so far it has been a no go (but I think he was tempted last year when he was working in the schools).

      1. A Non*

        My favorite part of Halloween is getting to wear capes and robes and other big flowy things. Silly culture, these things should be appropriate for every day!

  21. Cath in Canada*

    Given that Hallowe’en’s on a Friday this year, I’ll probably just bring in my Princess Leia hoodie (with the famous hair buns on the outside of the hood) and wear it on top of my regular clothes if other people are dressed up. My actual costume that I’ll be wearing at a party that night (Jurassic Park lab tech – featuring toy dinosaurs, shredded lab coat, and lots of fake blood) is distinctly not suitable to wear in a lab building – I’d give our first aid people a heart attack if they saw me from a distance!

  22. Karyn*

    My old office made a HUGE HUGE THING out of Halloween. We had several Jehova’s Witnesses who would take the day off that day, but everyone else went all out. While I don’t care either way (and now work in an office where we don’t celebrate), I will say that there was something kind of awesome about seeing our CEO (a guy) dress up as Cher from her “If I Could Turn Back Time” video and do a full lip-sync to the song.

  23. Mona*

    Our office does Spirit Week. Today was miss-matched day (polka dots, floral print and stripes, Oh my!). Tomorrow is crazy fan day since our local team is in the World Series (Go Team!), Wednesday is pajama day (no negligees or just boxers), Thursday is Retro Day, and Friday is black and orange or a costume. But Friday we have other stuff going on in the office, a chili cook off and bake sale for United Way, so we weren’t counting on getting much done on Friday anyway.

  24. Anonforthis*

    I have some Native American heritage, but for various reasons I do not look at all Native American (due to our mixed European heritage I inherited all of the pale genes) although I have several more subtle genetic markers. If I had a tan, I’m sure I would look more convincing, but the fact is I feel like I’d look like I was trying to play Pocahontas when I really treasure that aspect of my lineage and want to be able to wear that proudly. Anyone have any suggestions on things that I could potentially incorporate into my wardrobe in a subtle way without looking costume-ish or offensive?

    1. Stephanie*

      Appropriate accessories? So like no headdresses if you’re trying to play up your Navajo heritage.

    2. fposte*

      I think it’s hard to do it on Halloween without it being seen as a costume, and I’d be particularly wary if you’re not an official member of a tribe; there are just too many people who claim they can dress up as Pocahontas because they’re 1/16th Cherokee. If there’s a family item that you don’t get to wear much otherwise, that might be a way to do it–that way you’re honoring the family and showing it off on a dress occasion.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      I wouldn’t. It’s not the day for it, and claiming vague Native American heritage to justify it won’t help at all. It’s really not a costume – it’s people’s ethnic traditions.

      1. Jamie*

        I wouldn’t touch this on Halloween. It’s a day of costumes.

        Halloween isn’t the day for celebrating the aspects of our lineage we treasure so people will jump to the least charitable interpretation.

      2. Chinook*

        I have to agree – having lived around First Nations most of my life, I have never once seen one of them dress up as an “Indian” for Halloween (though those with a sense of humour have dressed up as a cowboy and an East Indian). For them, this is something you wear for Treaty Day/Aboriginal Day (June 21), or at rodeos or pow wows.

  25. littlemoose*

    Jim Halpert from The Office (American version) had some good extremely low-key costumes. My favorite was three-hole-punch Jim.

  26. Kelly O*

    One year I did wear a suit, with a tie loosened up, and kept a highball glass and had ice and tea in it for my “cocktail” – I told people I was Don Draper. That and the aforementioned Joan Holloway would have gone over better if more people in my old office watched Mad Men.

    In prior lives, I have worn my tiara and a “Miss Information” or “Miss Understanding” sash. It can quickly be removed if the situation requires it.

  27. Victoria, Please*

    Thankfully we have a mild Casual Friday habit around here, so I can wear my usual khakis and ponytail, and add a safari jacket and stuffed chimpanzee. Presto, Jane Goodall.

    That’s if I want to bother at all, which I’m pretty sure I don’t. I’ll lean on the wall near the curmudgeon table.

  28. Dang*

    My office is obsessed with Halloween. I was pulled into a meeting about how we are decrating and the whole time I thought “is this real life? ”

    I am jus nit into it and feel like they’re doing to give me crap if I don’t dress up and participate in all of it. I don’t mind paying out candy to my coworkers kids and the like but all of the other stuff I could do without.

  29. Pippi*

    My former workplace, a medical specialty clinic, was unusually into Halloween–lots of candy, an annoying pumpkin carving contest, awards for best costume, the whole deal. Usually the front desk folks and some behind-the-scenes staff would come in costume. Most of the staff serving patients kept it low key (think black cat ears on a headband) or didn’t dress up at all. The exception was a female physician who always went over the top. One year she was a sexy Bridezilla and another year a Geisha; she must’ve spent hours on her make-up. (Maybe she was trying to scare us with her appalling lack of judgment!). I never knew how her patients reacted, but I could not imagine having an appointment and trying to discuss my medical symptoms with…Bridezilla.

    1. Jamie*

      This may put me at my own curmudgeon table, but I would walk out. Even for routine stuff I have zero sense of humor when at the doctor – I’m stressed and nervous and would this wildly disrespectful.

      What if it’s a routine thing and then there is cause for concern. I don’t want to have to try to deal professionally with someone dressed in an elaborate costume.

      If they must do something (why) the headband with ears works. Then again, I think that’s adorable and would like to see it become business casual.

  30. HM in Atlanta*

    I am so, so grateful right now. The only thing happening in my office on Friday is that all of us will be trying to leave early (to avoid the traffic jam). No costumes-at-work nonsense; I really don’t wan’t to deal with the 1-2 of 50 people who won’t be able to use critical thinking skills in determining their costumes .

    (I love costumes, and really have no way to celebrate in costume, but at work is not the answer for me.)

  31. KayDay*

    I’m all for having a little bit of non-force-upon-everyone fun at halloween, so I don’t really have a problem with adults dressing up (or candy corn being available, etc.) However, I do believe that costumes worn to work should be of the single accessory variety. So a cat-ear headband is great, full-on whiskers and tail not-so-much. Similarly, a witch’s hat, harry potter wand (okay, maybe you could also get away with a cape OR scarf in addition there), or something like that. The only “full-body” costumes that I think are appropriate are those that are also work-appropriate–someone already mentioned Mad Men…

  32. WorkerBee*

    When Halloween costumes are permitted in the office, I always bring in something that can be easily removed in case the situation calls for it. A sandwich board you could take off is always better than a full outfit with no backup.

  33. Rivakonneva*

    I love dressing up for Halloween. I’ve been Arthur Dent, Harry Dresden, a hippie, a pirate, a Florida Gators fan, a New Orleans Saints fan and a Renaissance Queen. No sexy outfits, no excessive makeup and nothing I can’t work in. This year I’m a Devilish Angel. White dress, gold rope belt, plastic harp and devil horns in my hair. A little extra mascara and lipstick and voila!

  34. lrs5066*

    Oh, everyone would hate my work. Halloween is a full out event months in planning. Each department/group picks a theme, dresses accordingly, plans a skit in their office area, sets up a food table, and has wild decor. This was my first year, and even with it being “toned down” (ie no more conference rooms) it was INSANE. I’m talking 7 hole glow in the dark mini golf, a one lane bowling alley, there was a photo booth, and the overall committee rented these super padded jousting outfits that everyone went crazy for. For the entire morning people were just walking around collecting candy, cupcakes, and just having fun. This also gets judged and there’s awards for being the best group costume/skit/decor and it carries serious bragging rights.

    I was the only one in my group who actually thoughtfully dressed up, which volunteered me for planning next years event for my department since no one else wants to. I love Halloween, but man its going to be stressful next year.

    (FYI, 500-600 people work in my office which is headquarters, and we are widely recognized company. You can find event pics on facebook!)

  35. Nanc*

    Ah, Halloween! I like dressing up for work but I will always remember my very first Halloween as a supervisor when I had to send our 50ish receptionist home for dressing as a Playboy Bunny. I was dressed as Beaker from the Muppets (I’m a 6′ tall woman who had short spikey hair at the time–it looked great!) I worked in Parks and Rec. We had a preschool in the building. We were also right next to the police station which did come in handy from time to time as nobody brawls like softball team mangers trying to get their team registrations in after the deadline.

    And pulling it back around: unless you work at a Playboy club, the Playboy Bunny outfit is not work appropriate!

  36. Betty*

    My old company had a fairly casual dress code and atmosphere. They opened the offices for kids to trick-or-treat in the afternoon. Mostly it was employees kids, so everyone got to ooh and ahh over the little ones and their costumes. Employees also dressed up if they wanted to, and there was a costume contest.

    And departments decorated (again, optional): one year, my department went all out and did a pirate ship theme complete with a mast and crow’s nest (with a pirate stuffed monkey keeping lookout), skeleton-pirate jail under a desk, and the ‘plank’ leading into shark-infested water (a wood plank leading to cut-out fins on the floor in an empty cube). Bandanas and eye patches all around. Yes, we were the creative department… why do you ask?

    It was one day (plus some planning ahead for us) and made the workplace a fun place to be. Cheaper than sending our team on a team-building retreat!

  37. A Non*

    In 2012 one group at my workplace made “The Rapture is Coming!” signs and left them scattered around their work area, along with complete sets of clothes on the floor and on office chairs. It would have been even better if they’d all just not shown up for work that day.

  38. MR*

    I despised being forced to dress up in my Halloween costume when I was in elementary school for the school parade/party/festivities.

    Hated it. Loathed it. Wanted no part in it.

    Needless to say, I think it’s pretty obvious where I stand on the dressing up for work issue.

  39. Miss Betty*

    Best and easiest costume: lots of black eyeliner and you’re your own evil twin. Like Captain Kirk in The Enemy Within.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      Or “Mirror, Mirror”.

      *Or I can just act like a total geek and forego the constume part entirely! :)

      1. Miss Betty*

        Oh yes! Like Evil Spock in “Mirror Mirror”. (Or was he…?) Notice how Evil Spock was cool and elegant but Evil Kirk was literally screaming insane? I wonder if the goatee made the difference!

  40. Is it Performance Art*

    I always say I’m dressing up as an investment banker. If necessary, I add that it means I’m wearing a suit. If jeans look unprofessional (which I tend to agree with, at least in my workplace), a costume looks even less professional.

    1. dragonzflame*

      I once went to a Halloween party where a guy was wearing a normal business suit, but he was carrying a briefcase with bits of paper sticking out that had dollar signs written on them, and a badge that said ‘IRD’ (our version of the IRS).

      In a room full of witches and Scream killers, that was probably the scariest costume there.

  41. Hillary*

    I’m planning to wear normal casual Friday clothes with a colorful wig, assuming I manage to not schedule any external meetings between now and then. Still appropriate but a little fun.

  42. Rat Racer*

    OK one more etiquette rule: if your office has a Halloween party where employees are encouraged to bring their children, please do not dress up as a horrible demon/zombie/skeleton axe murderer. Look – I’m not advocating for bringing kids to the office, but if it’s an established tradition, please don’t traumatize the toddlers with your full-on bloody-fanged gorilla suit.

    1. matcha123*

      Aww…those were the costumes I loved as a kid.
      Seeing people in pumpkins or wearing cat ears was bleh.

  43. Sam*

    I’m admittedly stressing over Friday. My boss loves Halloween and is really pushing for themed costumes this year, as well as a fake funeral procession through the building…knowing that two people in the office just lost family members this month.

    Halloween is one of my favourite holidays, but with all the potential pitfalls, I’d be much happier restricting the workplace celebrations to a lunchtime party and a few decorations while leaving the costumes for after hours.

  44. Noah*

    Office costumes are always a fine line.

    This year I’m going as Superman to a friends Halloween party with a superhero and villan theme. So I figured I could do Clark Kent during te day. Suit, glasses, and wear the Superman chest piece underneath.

    This is totally a know you office culture thing though. I’ve worked at places that barely acknowledge Halloween and put out a bowl of candy. Where I work now is more of a “fun” environment though and it is almost expected that you’ll dress up.

  45. matcha123*

    I love Halloween and of the points mentioned, the “not dressing up as a race one” is the one I find very important (haven’t had much experience with super exposed people…guess when you live in the North it’s not a thing).

    But…but…but…! I’m so sad to see that so many people dislike Halloween and associate it with kids!
    I’ve never understood why people feel like there’s an age limit for fun. “Xmas presents are for kids,” “Halloween is for kids,” “Video games are for kids,” etc. :(

    I’m going through some serious Halloween withdraw here. I might put on a costume when my work hours are finished and pass out some candy to my coworkers (but it’s not the same as trick-or-treating!).

  46. Anoymous too*

    Any advice from AAM or readers?
    I had a female employee come in a completely work-inappropriate costume but it was also quite well done for the character she was portraying. She won our employee-voted contest, which isn’t overly surprising due to the depth of her costume but I’m also not sure how much our 80% male population had anything to do with her win. Am I encouraging bad behavior if she wins a prize? Should I have sent her home immediately? (I don’t think management would have supported me on that call though). Also, she won last year with a borderline costume, so I made sure to reiterate that costumes should be appropriate but to no avail.

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