here’s how to dress up for Halloween at work without alienating all your coworkers

Are you planning to head into work tomorrow dressed as a ghost, a superhero, or perhaps the Night King from Game of Thrones? If you’re thinking of dressing up for Halloween at work, here’s what you need to know to avoid inadvertently spooking your coworkers, your clients, or your boss.

1. If you’re new on the job, ask about your office’s Halloween traditions ahead of time. Otherwise you risk showing up decked out head-to-toe as a block of cheese or a bloody zombie, fake brains oozing from your head, while your coworkers are all in their usual business clothes. It takes a strong ego to sit in a business meeting dressed in an elaborate costume while everyone else is wearing suits and trying to understand what you’re saying through your mask.

2. Be thoughtful about whether a costumes really makes sense for the type of work you do. Plenty of workplaces accommodate costumes easily, but in others dressing up would be out of place or even insensitive. For example, if you work in a hospital and might have to give difficult news to a patient’s family, you want to be dressed professionally for that conversation. Even in situations where the stakes aren’t as high, if you regularly deal with stressed or upset people, a costume might not be a wise choice for your work.

Make sure, too, that you’ll be able to physically do the work you’ll need to do that day. If you normally do a lot of typing on a computer, a dolphin costume with flippers for hands is going to sink your productivity and make it hard to get anything done. Similarly, if you do a lot of physical labor, like lifting and carrying things, pick a costume that you can easily move around in and which won’t sideline you for the day.

Apply these same rules to any office decorations as well. You don’t want to give someone difficult news at a desk covered in fake spider webs and flashing orange lights while a soundtrack of spooky music plays in the background.

3. There’s nothing wrong with simple costumes.When it doubt, it can make sense to err on the side of keeping it simple. For example, you could be well-dressed Kate Middleton, or Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, or pretty much any character from “The Office.” If you really want to be low-key, you could just pop in a pair of vampire fangs or throw on a witch hat. You can always go all-out with a more elaborate costume after work if you want to.

4. Keep it work-appropriate.Not every rule of office-appropriate dress goes out the window just because it’s Halloween. Like the other days of the year, you shouldn’t wear anything that’s revealing or sexually provocative – so no naughty nurse costumes or sexy cat outfits. Whatever body parts and amount of skin that you keep covered on other work days, keep them covered on Halloween too.

You also shouldn’t wear a costume that could come across as making light of deeply serious issues (no Harvey Weinstein costume, for example, or anything highly political). Your goal here is to have fun, not offend your coworkers or make people uncomfortable about working with you.

And don’t wear a costume that plays on racist or ethnic tropes, like caricatures of another ethnic group. Most people these days know that blackface is offensive, but there’s still a startling number of Native American, Eskimo, and geisha costumes out there. If you’re thinking of using someone else’s culture as a costume, steer clear. You risk offending or alienating colleagues – which is the opposite of what celebrating a holiday together is supposed to do.

5. Enjoy Halloween, but recognize that not everyone may participate – and that’s okay.By all means, go all out if you enjoy Halloween and it’s appropriate for your office. But if you notice that some of your coworkers didn’t dress up or otherwise aren’t joining in the celebration, don’t give them a hard time about it. Not everyone enjoys dressing up and not everyone can or wants to eat candy. Moreover, some people may have religious reasons for not participating. Celebrate with those who want to celebrate, and go easy on anyone who doesn’t.


{ 481 comments… read them below }

  1. Elmyra Duff*

    I bought a plastic pig snout so I can be a pig in a blanket because it’s fucking cold in this office.

    1. cornflower blue*

      I would resemble a strange hybrid creature if I did this, since I keep warm at work using a zebra-print Snuggie. This may be worth further consideration.

    2. SarahKay*

      That’s fantastic!
      But if it helps, I bought a heated mouse from Amazon last year – best thing EVER! I get cold hands, especially my mouse hand and having the heated mouse has just been fabulous.

      1. Elmyra Duff*

        I bought USB hand warmers from Amazon not too long ago, and they actually burned the tops of my hands! I guess that’s one way to warm up, though.

        1. SarahKay*

          Yikes, that’s not good!
          I like the mouse as the heating can be off, low, or high – no change to the main mouse functioning either way.

          1. Artemesia*

            I have been driving a car in a big northern city for 5 years now and just discovered this year that it has a heated steering wheel. That and seat warmers — best ever. (it was my husband’s car and we gave away my car and I just wasn’t aware of this feature)

  2. Tagg*

    I’ve got a fuzzy rainbow kitty ear headband on today at work, and tomorrow I’m going to pair it with a rainbow tail :)

      1. Tagg*

        This might be a bit late, but I got the ears at Target in their $1 section at the front of the store. The tail I made myself – google “yarn tail” and you’ll come up with a few different tutorials on how to make them :)

  3. Anonymous Poster*

    When I was an RA, I dressed in a full PacMan costumer (All you could see was my legs) and another RA dressed as one of the PacMan ghosts. I ran around campus screaming my head off (“HE’S TRYING TO EAT ME AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH, OH GOD WHY!”) while he chased me saying “wakka wakka wakka wakka.”

    It still is, by far, my favorite Halloween ever.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Hahaha I love this.
      When I was in music school, I belonged to the Newman Club (the Catholic club) and one year, for the homecoming parade, we did a thing to “Monster Mash.” We had a person in a fake casket with a mad scientist character, a couple of monsters, and some dancing tombstones. I was one of the tombstones. Like yours, all that showed were my legs, in black tights and ballet slippers. We went down the street with the song playing and the tombstones doing a little routine. My tombstone had a cross on top of it with a blue papier-mache bird and little bird poops painted on it below him. God, that was fun. :D

    2. Tish the tester*

      I <3 you. I've been trying to convince my coworkers to do this for YEARS. They're such killjoys ;-)

  4. Applesauced*

    A few years ago had a doctor’s appointment Halloween morning, and needed blood drawn – all the phlebotomists were dressed like vampires.

    1. Kalamet*

      One year all the tellers at my bank wore fox ears and noses on Halloween (it was shortly after “What does the fox say” came out). I love group costumes.

      1. Hush42*

        One of my direct reports is super creative and talented (she has a degree in Art) so she made me, one of my other direct reports, and two ladies from other teams, and herself Unicorn costumes for this year and the 5 of us are going to be a herd of Unicorns. She just made Unicorn horns out of headbands, felt, and Tulle and tails out of tulle and elastic. They look just like the Pinterst pictures. I loved this idea a because it super easy- we’re all just wearing white shirts and jeans with the horns and tails. Their low profile- it’s clear what we are and that we’re a group but they won’t get in the way of our work at all and they’re easily removable if I end up needing to be in an important meeting where a costume wouldn’t be appropriate (unlikely but possible).

        1. Becky*

          Fun fact–the collective noun generally used for a group of unicorn is a “glory of unicorns”.

    2. Tuna*

      One year everyone at my doctor’s office were dressed as characters from the Addams Family. I had my teeth cleaned by Pugsley.

    3. Ermintrude Mulholland*

      I am quite scared of blood tests and I would have literally gone home at that point Or possibly had a panic attack.

      1. Aietra*

        I, too, am terrified of blood tests, but I think seeing that would’ve made me laugh, and thus relax a little more and be a bit more comfortable about the whole blood test thing.

  5. ScoutFinch*

    My nephew went as Jake From State Farm (a year or 2 agao). Pair of khakis, polo & one of those “Hello, My Name Is:” tags. He looked great & could still get his work done.

    1. Sarah*

      The three Jacobs in my office all came as Jake from State Farm one year. They did not coordinate that, it just happened.

    2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      I went to a halloween event over the weekend and a family had their newborn dressed as Jake from State Farm. It was too awesome.

      1. Artemesia*

        Saturday night was halloween party night and we were out walking to a friends for dinner and there were costumed adults in amazing outfits everywhere. My favorite. A guy walking along looking as if he was being carried by poor bear. He had his legs around Pooh’s shoulders and the bear was just ambling along. Of course his legs were the Pooh legs and there was a Pooh bear head at crotch level — sort of a cod piece and fake legs in black slacks and trainers hanging over Pooh’s shoulders. It looked quite amazing and realistic.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      One of my coworkers is going as Flo from Progressive and her husband as Jake from State Farm this year.

      1. Interplanet Janet*

        Wait, I may know them, hahaha! A friend and her husband dressed up as Flo and Jake too – last weekend for a party.

  6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    I work at an elementary school, so definitely coming in costume! I’m going as a tree – a homemade costume with zero cultural appropriation that won’t scare the kindergartners, plus it’s roughly science-y (I’m a science teacher). After the parade in the morning everyone changes back to regular clothes, though I’ll probably wear some orange and black and my spiderweb socks.

      1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        One of my most favorite school memories involves Halloween. I was in 4th grade and we came back in from recess and about 10 minutes into the math lesson noises started coming from the supply closet. I sat in the row closest to the closet so for a few minutes our row thought we were going crazy because nobody else heard anything. The noises got louder and the teacher acted all worried and scared…like there might be a ghost in the closet, because that was the noise we were hearing. She grabbed a yard stick and crept up on the door while we all watched her with wide eyes. She flung the door open and there on the floor was a basket of lollipops wrapped up with tissues to look like ghosts…and a tape recorder that was playing a spooky noises tape. She was so excited to have given us a Halloween thrill and we were so happy for those Tootsie Pops. :)

      2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Ms. Frizzle, brilliant costume. You can move it and do anything it. It doesn’t even really look like a costume. To someone who doesn’t know who Ms. Frizzle, is it just looks like you have bad taste in clothes. Did she have a “Liz”?

        1. Mrs. Psmith*

          My mom is retired now, but was a kindergarten teacher for years and for several years she would dress up as Viola Swamp in the morning and then when the kids went to lunch would change into a Miss Nelson costume for the afternoon (from the “Miss Nelson is Missing” books). The kids always got a big kick out of it.

          1. Anion*

            That was my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE book as a kid!! That book actually taught me how to read, because I had every word memorized, so I learned which words were which.

            In high school I did that story for a “Storytelling” event at a speech competition, and won.

            1. CJMster*

              Thanks for the book tip! I’ll buy that for my first grandchild, who’s due early in the new year.

              My older daughter learned to read exactly the way you describe but from a different book! It’s “Whose Mouse Are You,” and I highly recommend it. In fact, I’m giving a copy to my daughter at her upcoming baby shower because it’s the book she most wants her new little one to have.

        2. Call Me Crazy*

          My daughter was Ms. Frizzle for Halloween a few days ago…dress with planet fabric and white collar, along with a frizzy wig. Nailed it!

          1. Becky*

            I was Mrs. Frizzle a few years ago–I sewed my own dress out of some awesome planet fabric I found (also, the last time I attempted any clothing construction–not a coincidence I assure you) and bought a beanie baby chameleon to pin to my shoulder. Didn’t need a wig for the frizzy hair and I’d already been dying my hair red anyway.

      3. Rachel in Minneapolis*

        Yay! I am Ms. Frizzle (original version) this year. I have a dress with stars, galaxies and other cool things, a red wig, a plastic chameleon and a bus. The youth at my church loved it.

    1. NW Mossy*

      The principal at my daughter’s school taped Smarties candies to a pair of dress pants to go as a “smarty pants.” Clever and definitely fitting for an educator of grade schoolers!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Someone at the non-profit I worked for stapled those little Kelloggs cereal boxes all over her clothes–she had plastic knives sticking out of each one and said she was a cereal killer. I like pun costumes. :)

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      My mum’s school district hasn’t let the kids dress up for years. She teaches 3rd grade and I remember having Halloween parties and everything. They’re not allowed to celebrate ANYTHING anymore (for a variety of reasons, people have allergies to food, a holiday might offend someone, parties distract from learning, etc.).

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I mean, I am too, but there’s a point where it becomes ridiculous. That school district always had a lot of different cultures, so they always made an effort to do every big religion’s holiday so it was inclusive for everyone, and they used it as a learning experience. But the new administration just outlawed everything. My mum tried to do a “Let’s Celebrate the Seasons!” event where kids would pick their favorite season and write a report/bring something in/etc., and the administration said even that was too much because someone could be offended and it was a “party”.

          With food, I think it’s a good idea to ask for people’s allergies and then ban anything someone is allergic to, but banning all food inside the classroom regardless just seems so extreme to me.

          1. Little Twelvetoes*

            I always bring rice krispie treats made with margarine to school parties. It’s about as allergy-free as you can get. (and if someone is allergic to rice, there’s probably a chocolate cookie somewhere they can have)

              1. Zinnia*

                1. Rice Krispie treats are vegetarian. (however, they are most likely not vegan due to the marshmallows)
                2. Vegetarian and vegan are not allergies. Determining that none of the food available at a party meets your dietary requirements is a bummer, but it’s not life-threatening like some allergies.

                -Zinnia (vegetarian)

                1. tink*

                  Dandies and Trader Joe’s brand marshmallows are both gelatin-free, so it’s even possible to make kosher and vegan versions.

                2. HannahS*

                  They are not considered vegetarian by people who don’t consume gelatin, as most brands of marshmallows contain gelatin. But yes on them being fairly allergen-free.

            1. Jesca*

              At my kids’ school, they can only bring in pre-packaged food items with the ingredients clearly marked.

              They too do not have any celebrations anymore. When religious holidays come up, they do learn about many of them (my son is now a big fan of Kwanzaa music), but no “celebrations” of any kind. If they do have a party it is either for someone’s birthday (with approved, prepackaged candy), or for like last week which was red ribbon week.

              Tomorrow they are encouraged to wear orange and white to some-what recognize that there is a holiday. But hey, everyone gets to celebrate Thanksgiving!

              I mean, in context? My kids don’t care. They don’t know anything different than what this has been for them, and I don’t have to stress about making/buying/sending anything to school!

            2. Specialk9*

              I had to learn about severe allergies, unfortunately.

              If your house has allergens, your home baked treats are really kind, but not ok for allergic kids to eat. My nephew can die – and has often ended up in a crib in the ER, with tubes coming from his pathetic little body – from cross contamination, because the little allergy proteins get in the air. Although for that serious of allergy, only packaged (and scrutinized carefully by his parents, including calling the manufacturer to grill them on how it’s made and packaged) or homemade-by-his-parents treats would be ok.

              (Just a window into what that looks like for kids with severe allergies.)

              1. Bryce*

                My friends loved to go trick or treating with me, because they got all my candy. No peanuts, no nuts, no chocolate, I got the Smarties and that was about it.

                1. Bryce*

                  On a sympathetic note, allergies are stressful to navigate. A good support team helps a lot, every once in a while I hear a story about an incident that makes me send my parents a thank you for how they took care of me. It’s not applicable to your nephew at the moment, but the main thing I value is that they always kept me in the loop even when I was too young to look out for myself. What we were avoiding due to allergy, what due to cross-contamination risks, who was informed and when they had to put their foot down about things, stuff like that. It really helped me make my own assessments later on. I’ve known folks who, first chance they got in college away from the parents’ rules, ate a Snickers just because they weren’t allowed to have them as a kid and reacted badly.

            3. Former consultant*

              Cinnamon-brown sugar popcorn. No nuts, peanuts, eggs, wheat. Same idea – and it can be made vegan/dairy free. Plus it’s a whole grain and the kids really like it.

            4. Cactus*

              Sadly, name-brand Rice Krispies aren’t gluten-free due to the barley malt. However, there are similar off-brand cereals with no barley malt that could be used for making a similar snack (I think Erewhon makes a cereal like this).

            5. littlemoose*

              Rice Krispies do contain gluten (they use malt flavoring), so they’re a no-go for us celiac folks. But that is still a lovely gesture!

          2. KimberlyR*

            My daughter’s Pre-K class is doing a Fall Fest and the kids can attend dressed as their favorite character from a book (my kid will be the Ladybug Girl.) I think it’s a great way to get around the idea of Halloween and let kids dress up, but also ties it to something educational.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              My mum and some of her coworkers tried doing that and they wouldn’t let them!

              The weird thing is, the rules are only for the elementary school, and aren’t enforced for the middle or high school. My mum thinks it might have to do with the principal who’s made it clear she’s using the school as a model for her Master’s thesis. Which, if it turns out to be true, really sucks for everyone involved.

              I just really feel bad for all the kids who don’t get to dress up or celebrate anything anymore.

                1. all aboard the anon train*

                  Public school in a low income school district.

                  I’m not up on the state law, but I think a BA is fine as long as you can prove you’re going for additional education within a certain time frame.

                2. Artemesia*

                  Lots of teachers don’t have masters although many states require them by and by; I am astonished anyone would be promoted to principal without one regardless of the poverty level of the district. It isn’t as if a masters is rare among educators.

      1. Julianne*

        My school doesn’t allow kids to dress up, either. We’re PreK-8 with almost 1000 students, including many families from outside the US, so while it definitely makes Halloween less fun, it also makes it less chaotic and I think it’s ultimately a very defensible position. My students and I put up some small decorations in the classroom, and we’re going to have “spooky reading” (aka reading with flashlights with the lights off) tomorrow. For me, that’s enough. They all went to at least one Halloween celebration over the weekend, and most will have parties at their after school programs tomorrow.

    3. oranges & lemons*

      One of my high school teachers decided to go as a 40-year-younger version of herself, so she got out her old hot pants and fishnet stockings–that was memorable. And distracting.

      1. the gold digger*

        I went as Mutton Dressed as Lamb to a thing a few weeks ago. Lots of makeup and jewelry and I pulled wrapped my shirt up under my bra so my middle-aged midrift was exposed. (I did that only for the minute I needed to be in costume to get the discount on the play tickets.)

        I wore an old bridesmaid dress once.

        And, in the mid-90s, I wore a blue dress with a Q-tip pinned to the shoulder.

            1. Emi.*

              I am too young for this, because I still don’t get what that has to do with Lewinsky (and I suspect I shouldn’t google it from work).

              1. zapateria la bailarina*

                the dress had… physical evidence on it. which would have been collected for testing with a q-tip.

        1. oranges & lemons*

          It was a good costume idea, but the wrong setting for it. No learning took place that day.

  7. DecorativeCacti*

    I’m going as Bob Ross this year.

    We have a costume contest every year and I’ve worn some crazy ones but I decided I didn’t want to get up early to do makeup this year!

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Did you know it’s on Netflix? I have watched it on the iPad in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep!

  8. AvonLady Barksdale*

    The last time I really Dressed Up, I went as Leslie Knope! I took Alison’s advice before she even gave it! It was awesome, because I dressed up as Leslie at the Harvest Festival, so I had a wig, a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. I still get compliments on that t-shirt, and I was the most comfortable person at the company Halloween party.

  9. Pearl*

    I’m very pregnant and will be wearing a t-shirt with a pumpkin on my bump (I’ve checked what’s in my diary for tomorrow and it’s all individual meetings with people I know well – there are some days in my job where no level of costume would be appropriate!).

    1. Red lines with wine*

      Last year I wore a black maternity shirt that says “Pumpkin Smuggler” on the belly. It was very cute and I got a lot of compliments at work.

        1. Miss Elaine e*

          As a practicing Catholic who twice seriously considered becoming a nun, I guess I don’t see why this is hilarious. If it was concerning any other religion’s deeply held tenets, would it still be hilarious?
          I’m not angry, I just have never understood nun jokes.

          1. Pearl*

            Hmm, i didn’t see this before I posted the comment below, and now feel a bit thoughtless, so apologies. I’ve also considered becoming a nun, although given my present state, clearly I’m not going to!

          2. limenotapple*

            I agree! I grew up Catholic, though I’m not practicing, and I also thought this was a little off or could be offensive.

            Now, when I was in my Catholic high school, a bunch of us dressed up as nuns. The actual nuns caught wind of it and dressed up as us. It was seriously awesome! But a situation where it made sense and wasn’t offensive.

            1. Emi.*

              Thanks! I didn’t see your response before I commented–thanks, and sorry if it seemed like I was piling on. :)

      1. Mrs. Smith*

        I cut a big white 8 out of felt and pinned it to a black dress right over my bump and went as Magic 8 Ball. I gave vague answers to questions all day.

    2. LizB*

      Not at work, but one of my friends is quite pregnant. This year her costume was a red t-shirt with the kool-aid man’s face on the belly, plus two little cardboard “wall” pieces she could hold up on either side (one of which had a little speech bubble saying “Oh yeah!” on it). One of my favorite pregnancy costumes I’ve seen.

    3. overly produced bears*

      The best pregnancy costume I’ve seen was as an M&M, with a sign on the bump saying something like “peanut
      butter inside” or whatever actual M&M bags say, I’m blanking. ;)

  10. Amy G. Golly*

    I’m going to be Elizabeth Bennet/any other Jane Austen heroine! Last year, a friend had a Jane Austen-themed birthday party, and I bought an empire waist dress and made a spencer jacket and a bonnet. (We’re librarians, if you couldn’t guess. :P)

    Depending on my mood, I may do zombie makeup and go for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This will take some careful consideration – I have to decide if I’m willing to risk the chance of arguing about the library’s Internet use policy while wearing full zombie makeup!

      1. Specialk9*

        I have such a beef with that book! Title – hilarious. Execution – dire. I’m not sure the author has even read P&P, nor actually knows even one actual woman. And the zombies ate cabbages because they *look like* brains? (Blink blink)

        1. Amy G. Golly*

          Yeah – the premise works well as a one-liner, but I don’t know if had enough steam to sustain an entire book. Actually, I haven’t read it! I started Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters, and it was just…Sense & Sensibility. With sea monsters shoehorned in.

          I put it down and re-read Sense & Sensibility. ;)

          1. Fiennes*

            It was Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters that offended me more. Dang it, everybody knows the nautical Jane Austen is Persuasion!

    1. Librarygeek*

      I did creepy semi-skull makeup a while back and it was surprisingly helpful when dealing with unruly tweens. :D

      1. Amy G. Golly*

        I had to kick some teens with food out of our tutoring, and it was decidedly less than awesome dressed as Lizzie. :P

  11. ScoutFinch*

    OH! One coworker actually came as a Smurf. He had a white towel wrapped around his head (and shaped it right), white shorts & painted his body blue. He looked great.

    This was in an area of a resort hotel that catered to kids, so this was not seen as “off”. Wouldn’t work in most offices, though.

  12. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    I took tomorrow off. I’m taking my daughter and her pack of friends out trick or treating and needed the day to mentally get ready for it. Eight 7th graders…several of them dressed as Broadway characters that they’re sure everyone is going to get at a moment’s glance. I promised her that I would be the silent chaperone…just trail them without saying a word. I want to dress up as Michael Meyers and just quietly trail them but I think that might get someone concerned enough to call the police.

    1. selina kyle*

      You’re a hero to the people for taking on that many thirteen year olds. Best of luck and hope the day of preparation is relaxing for you.

      1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        No. It’s the off Broadway musical Heathers…based on the movie with Winona Ryder. My daughter and her friends are going as the Heathers. Another girl was going to go as Jack Kelly from Newsies but she broke her ankle two weeks ago so now she’s going out as Crutchie from Newsies.
        They do love Hamilton but enough people are into it now that it’s too mainstream for her and her friends. I may wrap my arm in bandages and wear a striped shirt and go as Evan from Dear Evan Hansen. That would both impress her and mortify her. LOL! She acts like she’s the only theater nerd in our house but I can out-Broadway her any day! :)

        1. pope suburban*

          I think a lot of people might get it! Apparently there’s going to be a remake for TV, which should be…interesting. And I think the buzz from that is reaching people, because the young-adult theatre company I work with is doing the Heathers musical early next year, and we’ve had an unusually high degree of interest in auditions. I’ve had to turn down a handful of kids because they won’t be old enough by the time auditions start (We’re keeping it 18 and up to cover our rears, since the content is pretty mature), and other folks who are more hands-on with the program have said they don’t remember the last time we had such engagement with a show.

    2. Venus Supreme*

      As someone who works in theatre, I’d love to know what your daughter and her friends are dressing up as!

    1. Mints*

      Oh I did Medusa one year and it was a pretty cheap costume, considering how much I liked it. I bought craft (floral?) wire and a bunch of little snakes from the dollar store. I made basically a hat with the two and wore a toga

      1. Mints*

        Not to work, but if the toga had been a little longer and had more sleeve it probably would have been fine for offices

  13. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

    At a previous job, I went as a green toy soldier. Think of the ones from the Toy Story movies. I was basically all in green and had a toy gun which I covered in green paper. I also had a piece of green cardboard paper which I would stand on and pose. Having the toy guy then was not a problem, however, I think that now, especially working at a University, it might be a problem.

    Last year one of my coworkers came as Mini Mouse. She could easily take off the ears, wipe the black makeup off of here nose, and take off the white “apron” which was on her skirt and you could not even tell that she had dressed up.

    1. seejay*

      there’s a line of toy soldiers that I get called “Yoga Joes”. They’re green army men in yoga poses. You could do the same thing without the gun and just do yoga poses instead. :D

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        That is a good thought. My current boss isn’t big on dressing up but I will keep it in mind for future years.

      2. overly produced bears*

        I’ve never heard of those, but those sound amazing and I need to get some to give as gifts immediately :D

        1. seejay*

          it started as a Kickstarter that I backed originally and now he’s produced a few series (3 so far I think?) and just launched a comic book for it! It’s awesome, I have all of them and they’re the neatest little things. He’s done a woman character and the latest one has a dog in it too (in downward facing dog pose), so he’s definitely trying to expand beyond the stereotype of little green army men. They’re super unique.

      3. Sacred Ground*

        Awesome. A good friend of mine is A) a yoga teacher and B) a combat veteran Marine. This would make a great gift for him.

    2. zapateria la bailarina*

      you could be one of the soldiers that is holding a radio or binoculars. not all of them have guns.

  14. BC Enviro Gal*

    I just moved to a new office, and everyone is… serious and stressed there. I have a satin swing skirt with a haunted house printed on it that I’m wearing so I can still look like I belong in the office.

  15. Shannon*

    I work in a hospital so full costumes aren’t allowed. But I did find a cute unicorn headband at Target!

    1. AMT*

      In that vein, I’ve just learned that there’s a word for wearing adult “costumes” at Disney World, where adults aren’t allowed to wear costumes. It’s called “Disneybounding” and it’s basically just wearing outfits that are inspired by Disney characters, but don’t rise to the level of a costume — like wearing a modern top and skirt in the colors/patterns of a Disney princess dress with the corresponding hairstyle/makeup/props. I can see that being adapted to workplaces where full costumes aren’t appropriate or practical.

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        This doesn’t quite raise to that level, but my professional association just had a speaker that was wearing a gorgeous scarf that it took me a long time to realize was covered in hidden Mickeys.

      2. A Person*

        It’s because Disney bans outright cosplaying of their characters in their parks. So it’s stealth cosplay. :)

        1. Zinnia*

          I never thought about it, but that actually makes sense. Since they have employees in costume and people let their kids hug them and stuff, you wouldn’t want random adults in similar costumes.

          1. AMT*

            I can just picture the bad publicity that would result from an elaborately costumed, perfectly coiffed Belle or Elsa chain-smoking and cursing out children.

      3. Humble Schoolmarm*

        My school just hit us with a last minute costume ban, so guess who’s wearing a blue dress over a white blouse tomorrow! (While I mourn my cool Red Ridng hood outfit).

      4. zora*

        This is what I am considering doing, with my Mary Poppins hat and doing “Disneybounding” Mary Poppins! Still debating on whether to do white shirt and blue skirt or just blue jeans.. I kinda think Mary Poppins would wear jeans if she lived in the 21st century!

  16. Steph B*

    It is my first Halloween at this job, and it is the first office I’ve been in that has a huge party and everyone saying they’ll dress up. I was struggling last week coming up with something; it was hard enough getting everything for my kids.

    I finally settled on Mary Poppins. I’ve got most of the pieces for the outfit already, and I figure it’ll be easy enough to dress down if the office isn’t as crazy about costumes as everyone says they are.

  17. chocoholic*

    I always say that I’m going to be myself, as I am scary enough. This year, I was thinking of being a Suburban Mom (after all, I am a suburban mom): Exercise clothes with a cardigan over it, flip flops, chunky necklace, makeup done, sunglasses on head, yoga mat, Starbucks cup. I don’t usually dress up for Halloween, so I don’t know if I will do it or not. I’m afraid I’ll look stupid.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I love it, personally. Even better if you either have the suburban mom haircut (you know, that streaky blonde highlighted angled bob) already, or can get a wig with that haircut!

      1. chocoholic*

        Yeah, I don’t have that hairstyle, but I do have a golf hat I can wear with my sunglasses on top.

        I’ll probably bring all the components with me tomorrow and change here because I will freeze to death on the bus ride/walk in.

      2. Cath*

        I once saw that described as the “I want to speak to the manager” haircut, which I will never not think of when I see it now.

    2. A Person*

      If I could get away with it I’d go as a “basic white girl” and put my hair in a bun, wear leggings and a tunic, do my makeup all over the top and carry around a #PSL.
      But that is too stealth for work. :/

    3. chocoholic*

      Well, I’m definitely going to have to bring all the components with me, since I’m going to have to deliver a final written warning to an employee, and I can’t do that in a Halloween costume. :/

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I’m going to be a dragon. Got a headband with dragon ears and a dragon tail at Target.

        Some years ago, I went as a devil. I attached a devil’s tail to the hem of a red and black dress, and leaned a plastic pitchfork against the reference desk.

  18. MicroManagered*

    For just a second, I thought the woman in the picture with the fairy wings was Alison and got very confused!

  19. Arielle*

    My company had our big Halloween shenanigans on Friday. Our office takes it all very seriously and there’s a big costume competition. Most teams do group costumes. We all came as cereal box characters and it was super cute and work-appropriate.

    1. SNS*

      We did our Halloween Party on Friday too. It was the first year anyone’s really dressed up so I was surprised how many people got into it. My office mate and I were Arthur and Buster (from the kid’s cartoon/books)

  20. Media Buyer*

    We had our work halloween party on Friday – a coworker and I went as Handmaids (from the Handmaid’s Tale). People in my office go ALL out for costumes.

    My coworker brought her dog, who she dressed as a Handmaid, too! Our office does the party the last couple hours of the day, so dogs and children are able to come and join.

  21. Archie Goodwin*

    For the office, I’m probably not going to do much – I’m not much of one for dressing up for Halloween. I may just pull out my old themed tie and wear that.

    However, I have choir rehearsal after, and I’ve already suggested to a couple of the other tenors that we bring flasks (I’m putting water in mine so I can even take a not-so-discreet swig now and again) and sing a little off-key, and tell everyone we’re basses. (Trust me…it works in context.)

    Ah, inter-sectional rivalries…

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        Well, we ARE the hardest voice type to come by…I guess that’s why our egos are always so large. Nobody turns us away. :-)

  22. Green Buttons*

    I have a name tag on that says “Life” and I’ve been handing out lemon candies at work.

    When life gives you lemons… :)

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      This is Awesome. My sister once went to a costume party wearing a black shirt onto which she pinned a picture of clouds and a lightning bolt. She carried a pineapple and a water bottle and went around spraying everyone all night. When they asked what she was she told them she was a tropical storm.

    2. Merci Dee*

      One year I went to a Hollywood-themed Halloween party, with lots of people dressed up as actors/actresses or as famous celebrities. I wore plain black jeans, a dark purple velvet top, and a pair of sunglasses. I had a pair of kids’ binoculars for a prop. As soon as I walked into the venue for the party, I stepped behind a large potted plant, and then peeked out from behind it at different people, using my binoculars. Over the next half-hour or so, I crept around the room from one potted plant to the next, watching different people as I went. Finally, several people came up and asked me what in the world I was doing, and who I was supposed to be. I just smiled and said, “I’m a celebrity stalker”, and scooted off to lurk behind the food table for a few minutes (so I could get a snack and a drink — those jeans and that velvetine shirt were crazy warm, because we had a hot Halloween that year).

      1. Mrs. Smith*

        I wore jeans and a flannel and carried one of those four-cup Starbucks caddies and a clipboard and said I was an intern!

        1. Merci Dee*

          Nice! My best friend wore a white t-shirt and jeans, with a flannel shirt tied around her waist. She put on a backwards baseball cap, penciled in a fake beard with an eyebrow pencil, and went as a camera man.

  23. A Pot of Petunias*

    Everyone in my division got a different superhero T shirt to wear and my boss got chair capes for all the cube workers. Employees’ kids can start going desk to desk trick-or-treating at 3 tomorrow.

    1. rosiebyanyothername*

      My mom’s office used to do a great desk to desk trick-or-treating party with employees’ kids. Sadly there was a management reshuffle a few years ago and it ended. :(

  24. Emmie*

    Have you ever seen a brilliant work related costume?
    * My friends dressed in 80s business attire for work. Super fun!
    * Blue screen of death.
    * I’m a remote employee. I’ll dress in in-office wear from my home office for our work Halloween costumes.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Years ago, I dressed as an Access Wizard. I had three t-shirts with different stages of creating a database of co-workers’ costumes, using the wizard in the Access database. And I wore a wizard hat. I changed between the t-shirts during the day, so you could see the database being built.

      This year, I think I’m just going to make a tin-foil hat. This company is a bit more subdued for Halloween.

    2. Agile Phalanges*

      My former office did a non-casual Friday one random Friday (not associated with Halloween). It was a super casual office, and people were lamenting that other offices have casual Friday, but we couldn’t do that because if we got any more casual, we’d be in swimwear (people even wore their athletic wear long after the work-sanctioned lunch workouts ended, so even that wasn’t taboo). So they organized a day for everyone to dress up in their fanciest officewear they still had from a previous job. One woman went ALL OUT with the 80s theme, since apparently that was the only officewear she still owned! She had shoulderpads to die for, and huge chunky gold jewelry, and blue eyeshadow. It was awesome.

      1. Anonymous Coward*

        Formal Fridays! A startup I worked at until it wasn’t a startup anymore did this… quarterly, maybe? My first time I borrowed tails from my symphony-conductor gf and wore the jacket over jeans and maybe Converse. My boss liked it so much that he insisted on introducing me to the CEO (which, it being a startup, was more like “OMG Philip have you seen this?!”).

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      I think I’ve mentioned this before: In one of my first office jobs, everyone (in an office of ~20) dressed as the director. He had a distinctive work outfit (khakis, white button-down with a subway ticket visible in the breast pocket) and no one said anything until we reached critical mass and he finally noticed.

    4. HMM*

      I’m unashamedly stealing my friend’s halloween costume – a Skype interview! Full blazer and blouse on top, with pajama bottoms on the bottom.

      My friend also had a cardboard frame that said Skype on top, and would periodically go “out” of the frame and drink out of a whiskey bottle, which I am definitely not going to do for our office costume contest!

  25. Nisie*

    One year, my coworkers wanted to dress up as chickens and give punchlines to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” And finish up with everybody being run over.

    I didn’t want to participate

  26. Kat*

    One place I worked went all out for Halloween with a big party and costume contest. One year they put together a haunted house in a conference room. Then the fog machine set off the smoke detector. Everyone had to evacuate in costume, fire department came etc. The occupants of the other 2/7 of the building we’re not pleased with us.
    I’m personally not a big Halloween person but my current employer has a big pot luck to celebrate and I AM a big pot luck person so I’ll be there.

    1. OrganizedHRChaos*

      Ohhh, I can’t trust my employees to wipe off the toilet seats let alone wash their hands while cooking so I am the “big bad hr director” that banned potlucks in my company years ago. I still cringe inside a little remembering back to a time when they were a monthly thing. Lol

  27. Thumper*

    I’ve only had to work on Halloween once, and my costume was “identity thief”: I bought a package of those “Hello My Name Is” stickers from Staples, wrote out the names of everyone in the office and stuck them all over my sweater and slacks. It was a hit, and at $3.99 was the cheapest costume I’ve ever made!

    1. Midge*

      I just went to a party where someone’s costume was identity thief! She originally wanted to be the Equifax data breach, but that was a bit too abstract.

  28. seejay*

    We usually have a Halloween party of some sorts and last year I decided at the last minute I wanted to do something so I spent the week before sewing a full on floor length velvet poof skirt (from scratch) because I didn’t have one and put together a vampire costume from my wardrobe, including corset and teeth and black contacts and everything. I was stressed out before I started and pretty much at melt-down phase by the end.

    I’m currently in melt-down phase right now and no one knows what the hell’s going on with the company anymore so there’s been no mention of Halloween fun so we’re probably not doing anything for it tomorrow. I don’t have time to throw together even 5% of an effort and I’m probably working from home anyway since I have 3 phone interviews to deal with. At best, I could wear my green “Zombies Need Hugs” hoodie but that’s the most effort I could do at this point without having my brain leak out my ears. :(

    And I so love Halloween.

    1. DDJ*

      Do you work at my company? Haha…(in a not at all funny way). That’s kind of where we are as well. Who’s going to end out the week still having a job? No way to tell! I’m debating dressing up. Maybe a skirt with my spiderweb tights. Part of me kind of wants to dress up to just…lighten things up a bit. Hope you find a great candidate in the interviews.

      1. seejay*

        Yep, I have no idea what’s going on at this point. We’re afloat, but no one knows. They’re trying to be positive and there’s a lot of transparency fortunately but it’s still really up in the air. No one really feels like celebrating anything and I think management knows that but they’re trying to keep us positive. I’ll give them credit there, they’re not pulling a fast one on us at least (compared to the previous management that landed us in the situation we’re in now).

        It’s just hard to keep everyone happy and positive when the future is so unknown. Since I have a lot more of my future riding on my job though (immigration issues), I can’t stay here and see what happens so I’m covering my butt now.

  29. anonykins*

    I’ll be wearing an animal onesie. I plan to wear regular office clothes underneath. I want to get dressed up for sure, but I also want to look professional if I need to take a tough appointment – onesies are perfect!

  30. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

    Our office does a costume contest, so people take it seriously. I’m dressing as Beaker from the Muppets

  31. Analytical teapot engineer*

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor or your other favorite Supreme Court Justice is a good professional costume if you have an old black academic (graduation) gown. And you can wear a coat under it if it is cold when you are out with kids. There are not enough occasions to wear a lacy jabot!

      1. SQL Coder Cat*

        I just snorted coffee out my nose. Also I think I need to find a lace jabot for the Ruth Vader Ginsburg costume.

  32. Amber T*

    Dressing up is Not A Thing in my office, but my boss told our very new (and very new to the work force) paralegal that we all go all out, especially our very conservative, no nonsense chief. Paralegal really seemed to believe it too. I pulled him aside to make sure he knew my boss was joking, and I got the very shifty “Oh yeah, of course…” Hopefully I saved him from certain embarrassment.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Seriously. On behalf of everyone with social anxiety who would be legit traumatized by being tricked into dressing up and then being the only person dressed up…thank you.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If that happened to me, I’d totally work it. If anyone said anything, I’d just say that Halloween was a religious holiday for me and dressing up was part of my spiritual tradition. Let them work that out for themselves. >:)

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      I thought about doing this to sportball guy(newest employee), but decided I really should know better.

  33. NoCalHR*

    I was tagged to help judge a costume contest for our residents, which gave me another reason to dress up as a witch: long black dress, black hose and heels, black hat and a short sheer black cape with hot pink glitter spider webs. As an HR manager, lots of people call me a witch so it seems reasonable to dress as one. Although I’ve noticed they often seem to substitute a ‘b’ for the ‘w’…. ;~)

    1. SoCalHR*

      I’ve had the same thought, but I really don’t want to encourage that stereotype of HR. I’ve had some hurdles in this office where they really think HR is all bad (had to change a lot for CA law and employees didn’t like it). But I do like the idea if its a playful stereotype. :-) happy witching!

    2. chocoholic*

      I thought too late to order a t-shirt with the word Wicked (from the musical) on the front, and get a witch hat headband. Next year :)

  34. MuseumChick*

    I always like industry specific customs for work.

    Someone I know professionally dressed up as an artifact at her museum. This was accomplished by taking a blank object tag, writing her birthday on it formatted as an object ID number, and writing her parents name on the tag as the donor, and tying it onto her wrist. (Object tags always include an object ID [usually formatted as Year. Accession. Object, so 2017.1.2 = object that was donated in 2017, it’s the 1st donation of that year, and the 2nd object in that accession] and the first and last name of the donor.)

    It was simple and her co-workers and friends in the industry thought it was hilarious.

  35. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    I wanted to be Judy Hopps from Zootopia, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing the cop version of her costuming (skintight body suit, tiny vest and pants) at work. So I decided to be Out Of Uniform Judy and mimic the outfit she wears when she goes back to her family’s carrot farm. I wore jeans and a pink plaid shirt, a grey wig, bunny ears and a bunny tail pinned to my jeans. I also carried a Nick Wilde plushie for additional context.

    1. Steph B*

      Last year my daughter was Judy Hopps and requested that I dress up as the (spoiler!) nefarious Assistant Mayor Bellweather.

      At first I was a bit taken aback at the specific request — I guess she thought I could do evil bureaucrat well? — but I ended up getting two wigs, some sheep ears, a dress/cardigan from my closet, and making it work. :)

  36. WishICouldDressUp*

    My line of work involves quite a lot of heavy, difficult conversations, so while my office is actually a super fun place to work, unfortunately my coworkers and I all agree that our clients would probably not appreciate any costumes. So instead, I am bringing in a Halloween salty/sweet snack mix and some pumpkin bread so we can get into the spirit of the holiday without being jerks to our clients. :)

    1. Allison*

      your comment makes me think of that episode of Scrubs where JD has to tell a family their loved one died, while dressed as a clown.

      1. WishICouldDressUp*

        That’s basically it! “As a result of [XYZ behaviors], I am requiring you to enter a sobriety program” probably doesn’t quite…land as well when it’s coming from someone dressed as a giant crayon (my costume last year–different job then!) :)

  37. DCGirl*

    Two jobs ago, our receptionist was active in Renaissance fair activities outside of work. She was well endowed to begin with and chose to wear her tavern wench costume, which meant that the girls were on full and bountiful display. We weren’t allowed to wear costumes the next year.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I did a steampunk outfit one year and I too am generously endowed – so I wore a super-thin black turtleneck under my corset to stay office-appropriate. Corsets and boobs in an office setting: it can be done!

  38. SoCalHR*

    I plan on dressing like Belle from Beauty & the Beast tomorrow (the blue dress, not the big poofy yellow one), but I also have to interviews set for a position we have open. I think I will just take the apron off and put on a blazer and they won’t know the difference (unless they get hired and realize that my normal style of dress/hair is a bit different).

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        Being a huge M&M collector I would have viewed that as a sign of a great cultural fit.

        1. bopper*

          Do collect m&m toys/etc or actual m&ms? I miss the Dulce de Leche ones they used to have in Puerto Rico.

            1. Pooh Who?*

              My DH has you beat. He has a stand-alone yellow M&M from when he used to work in a grocery store and every year he puts it outside with the candy in it and has the kids take it out of the back themselves. One year a little girl tried to walk off with the M&M but her father made her leave it. It was too cute.
              I wear a Pooh costume I’ve had for about 15 years. I’m a Pooh fan.

  39. MHR*

    I don’t even remember what I did last year. I was Maleficent with my daughter so I think I just wore the horns to work. This year I am a witch but I took the day off to volunteer at the school. I do need to find something to wear under for that though since the dress is a bit low!

  40. Arya Snark*

    I once worked for an insurance TPA and dressed up as a disgruntled postal worker (it was a long time ago, before so many mass killing made this absolutely not funny) complete with a postal service shirt, a mail bag with postal patches that was full of discarded envelopes from work mail and a plastic uzi. I won our local contest but since we were unionized, they nixed my photo in the nationwide newsletter.

  41. Zidy*

    I take the bus to and from work, so I stick to easy costumes – black outfit with witch’s hat, cat’s ears and tails, etc. But my favorite easy but still fun costume is “Nudist on Strike”. All it takes is a file folder you don’t care about and a stick/ruler/paint stirrer to make a little protest sign and then I can dress however I want. I usually get laughs when I do this and I can even put it together when I get to work first thing.

  42. diaphanous*

    One year I dressed as Clark Kent/Superman. Works pretty well for an office environment, all I needed was a superman shirt!

    1. Cath*

      I’m trying to convince my husband to do that. It’s his first Halloween at this company, so it’s easy to just button his shirt up over the tee if it turns out they overstated the holiday spirit.

  43. cornflower blue*

    My go-to for a work appropriate costume is “devil with a blue dress on”. It’s basically an excuse to re-use a blue bridesmaid’s dress. I wear a headband with horns, and if I need to take the headband off I just look very dressed up. This is great for meetings with higher-ups, because it’s clear that I was participating, but I don’t look in any way objectionable.

  44. Kat Em*

    When I’ve worked at places that allowed/encouraged costumes, I’ve always just worn all black and added a pair of cat ears or butterfly wings. That way I can take them off and look “normal” if the moment requires.

    1. Nea*

      I’ve done it with a black dress and vampire fangs. Tomorrow I was planning on wearing all black and twisting a rubber snake around my lanyard.

    2. justsomeone*

      I’m wearing one of my regular black dresses and some ladybug wings. If I need to go to a meeting, the wings can come off.

  45. Office Manager*

    I’m going as Louise from Bob’s Burgers. Lime green t-shirt dress, pink bunny hat and black sneakers.

      1. MCL*

        Two kids in my neighborhood went as Tina and Louise Belcher last year, and they were SO EXCITED that I recognized them. Nobody else had, apparently! Bob’s Burgers is such a happy little show, it cheers me up so much.

    1. Elemeno P.*

      My fiance was Louise this weekend! I made his dress and hat. I was Mabel Pines, so we had a low-key couples costume going with the same voice actress.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Oh, awesome! Which of Mabel’s sweaters did you wear? Was it the shooting star, or a different one? She had so many cool ones to choose from!

        Yes, I totally love Gravity Falls.

        1. Elemeno P.*

          I kept to classic shooting star. I didn’t have time to make one (grad school + making the skirt, and the hat and dress for fiance), so I bought the Hot Topic version. I’m sad not to have the homemade version, but I can make it for a convention/future Halloweens! I also want to make my fiance wear a pig costume so I can have Waddles.

          1. Merci Dee*

            If your fiance’s not into the pig snout and the curly tail, then there are all kinds of options.

            – Fleece vest, t-shirt, shorts, and pine tree hat for Dipper
            – flannel shirt with sleeves rolled up, jeans, red wig, and fuzzy hat for Wendy
            – green shirt with question mark, cargo shorts, and trucker hat for Soos
            – black suit, white shirt with Colonel Sanders bitty bow-tie, and Masonic hat with fish for Grunkle Stan
            – powder blue suit with enormous poofy white wig for Gideon Gleeful
            – worn-out pair of overalls, crazy fake beard, miner’s hat for Old Man McGuckett
            – long trench coat, sweater and slacks, cracked glasses, and extra fake fingers for Stanford (though I’m not sure how you’d make the 6th fingers work, really)

            The possibilities are endless — Candy Chu, Grenda, Lazy Susan, Blind Ivan, Shandra Jiminez, Tobe Determined, Ghost Eyes (my hench-angel!) . . . .

            As I mentioned, yes, I totally love Gravity Falls.

  46. Murphy*

    I wish people dressed up here. We’re pretty casual, but I guess sometimes we do have external partners in the office, so that may not be the best. I’m gonna wear a sweater with a skull on it though, so I can at least be somewhat in the spirit.

  47. Dawn*

    I have a Gryffindor Quidditch jersey and sweatpants. Not sure if I am going to wear the sweats, but the jersey definitely.

  48. Jadelyn*

    My office does Halloween big-time, with a costume contest, various branches take group costume photos and send them to the other branches and everyone’s always trying to one-up each other. I will say I didn’t love the one photo I saw from the biggest branch which had a married couple who had dressed as a prison guard and a pregnant inmate. I thought that was pretty gross tbh, but nobody commented, so I let it go.

    For myself, I don’t usually dress in costume, but I do elaborate makeup “masks”. Photos of 2014 and 2015 can be seen here: and here:

    2016 was a little different – I went to Michael’s, bought a lot of decorative black plastic “dead tree” branches and some black duct tape with spiderwebs on it and a bamboo pole, then used the tape to stick the branches on the pole and wrap around the whole thing to create what looked like a staff of dead branches. I painted a skeletal dead tree on my cheek with branches reaching across my face where my normal mask would be, wore a black cloak I already had with all black clothes underneath, and went as a Forest Hag. Came in 2nd in the costume contest for my branch!

    This year…tbh this year I’m in a wee bit of a panic bc I don’t even have a theme picked out for the mask. I’m thinking maybe a Northern Lights over the treeline kind of thing, similar to the original nightfall mask I did? IDK though. I thought about doing a sun theme instead, since I have some tangerine and sunshine aura quartz that I could fashion into a diadem with a chainmaille band that I could pin into my hair, but the makeup for that would be pretty boring…just gold.

    Ugh idk. Any ideas?

    1. JKP*

      “prison guard and a pregnant inmate”

      Could they have been dressing up as specific characters from Orange is the New Black?

      1. Jadelyn*

        If they were, they didn’t say – and considering that not everyone watches any given show, I feel like it’s still pretty tasteless.

  49. Liz T*

    My side gig is SAT tutor, and whenever I teach class the weekend of Halloween, I come dressed as myself when I was my students’ age. So, wallet chain, bandanna, multiple earrings per ear, dark dark lipstick, etc.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I did that once! It was one of my favorite costumes. My then-girlfriend decided last second to host a Halloween party and she really wanted me to dress up for it, but it was the day before Halloween already and the costume places were already pretty picked-over. So I went to the mall, found a Hot Topic, bought some boy’s baggy black jeans with chains everywhere, a couple of spiked bracelets, and some black lipstick. Wore the jeans with a plain black tank top, slathered on some black eyeliner, added the lipstick and spiked cuffs, and went as my 16-year-old self.

    2. PlainJane*

      I love this! All I’d need are jeans and one of my many 80s band shirts–also known as what PlainJane wears every weekend.

  50. rosiebyanyothername*

    This is my first Halloween in this office, so I’m playing it safe–I have a fake flower crown at home, so I’m going to toss it in my bag and I can be a “Snapchat filter” if anyone else is in costume.

    1. SoCalHR*

      Love the idea – it would be even funnier if you happen to have dog ears too and then you could switch between your “filters”!

    2. Arjay*

      I stole your idea and did this today. One co-worker actually recognized what I was, and I got a lot of laughs from everyone else. Thanks for the inspiration!

  51. I have one, but I'm on my laptop, not my phone right now.*

    I have a Jedi Knight costume (and leave the lightsaber at home to downplay how much of a nerd I am, and at work we don’t allow weapons at school, and what is a lightsaber?) but by taking off the big brown robe, I’ve got a beige tunic with light brown pants and a turtle neck (depending on weather, tanktop underneath the tunic when its warmer to keep any cleavage from showing), and while I might have a padawan rat-tail braid behind my ear, I look like I’m low-key costuming as a martial artist, or as somebody from a favorite cartoon (had someone ask me if I was from Dragonball Z a year ago without the robe or braid on).

    Kids get a kid, and since I made the costume myself, I explain the expense of the fabric by wearing it year after year. If I have recess duties, I help resolve student issues or encourage play by using “Jedi Techniques” like “training exercises” (racing from one end of the field to the other, or encouraging them to help others play on the equipment safely) and “diplomatic missions” (find someone who looks like they don’t have someone to play with and invite them).

  52. Amber Rose*

    My husband, who works admin in a hospital, is not allowed to dress as an angel, the devil, or a doctor/nurse.

    One place I worked at where everyone dressed up, there was a department that came to work as a pack of highlighters. They wore different colors of neon t-shirts and leg warmers and bright colored wigs. I thought that was pretty awesome. It’s inoffensive, bright, comfortable and fun.

    Nobody really dresses up here, but I do have an assortment of silly head wear that I like to use. I have like a tiny tophat headband I got from Cirque du Soleil, and some cat ears, and some steampunk goggles, stuff like that.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Oh, I forgot to add mine from before: I went as a pumpkin patch. I had an oversized orange sweater and some green pants, and I attached some paper pumpkins to some green ribbon and wrapped it around myself. I had some battery powered pumpkin lights that I could pin on as well, for added festivity.

  53. all aboard the anon train*

    Our director is big on Halloween and he acts like a child if people don’t dress up (he’s always way more willing to put together holiday parties and refuses to let us have any meetings to discuss our concerns, sooo that tells you a lot).

    Because I don’t want to deal with him throwing a tantrum, I’m just dressing as Jessica Jones. Her clothes in the show are similar to clothes I own and I enjoy stealth costumes where I can say I’m a character but also still be wearing regular clothes.

    1. zora*

      One of my favorite things about Jessica Jones is that she wears sensible shoes! ;0)
      Great costume idea!

  54. Kiki*

    My coworkers and I are wearing Halloween themed leggings tomorrow (mine has ghosts!) with modest sweater dresses. It’s fun and festive but also appropriate for work.

    Last year I wore an all black outfit (dress pants, sweater, shoes) with a pair of black cat ears. I sat across from my boss in a meeting for an hour and he didn’t even notice the ears.

  55. LAF*

    Last year, a higher-up here dressed up as…an asian woman? Basically a jacket with an asian motif and slanty-eye makeup. This woman is a social worker. We are still aghast. (I can’t wait tosee what she wears tomorrow.)

      1. Loribabbe*

        We had a senior supervisor dress up as an African American Hippie – he’s Persian so darker skin already, but wore an afro wig and dashiki top…. and upper admin defended it when someone thought it was inappropriate. UGH.

  56. Nervous Accountant*

    My coworkers and I dressed up as characters from Pokémon. I’m not in to it but they are and my outfit resembled one of them so…yeah. We won the contest for best group costume

  57. JR*

    We’re doing a costume contest this year (office environment) after having never done anything in the 5+ years I’ve worked here. That the costume needs to be office appropriate was emphasized in multiple emails. Everyone’s encouraged to bring in snacks whether they dress up or not, so I’m bringing pumpkin muffins.

    I’m planning to wear a long sleeve R2D2 shirt over color coordinating work clothes, so I can easily remove the shirt and replace it with a sweater if I need to look professional. It’s minimal effort and no cost since I already own all the pieces.

  58. Allison*

    +1000 for not giving people a hard time if they don’t participate. Some people don’t observe Halloween for religious reasons, for others Halloween just isn’t their jam, some people like costumes but didn’t have the money or time to come up with one this year.

    I decorated my desk and it looks awesome – a good level of spooky without being disturbing or distracting to others, but as far as costumes go, it just wasn’t a priority this year, so I might wear something subtle or I might just wear my regular stuff, but I think I’ll be “playfully teased” either way.

    1. ..Kat..*

      I don’t like the dressing up myself. Enjoy seeing other people’s costumes, though. I just tell people that I am either
      A) a sociopath (we look just like regular people), or
      B) undercover cop (people then tell me that I don’t look like a cop. To which I reply, “of course I don’t, I’m undercover.”)

      I do like the suggestion from an earlier comment- going as myself because I’m scary enough.

  59. Cath*

    I’m going as the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain. I have a t-shirt that says that, plus lounge pants that say Ravenclaw down the leg. Throw in a broom and boom! Finally found a reason to wear those comfy pants to work.

    1. Catherine*

      Fellow Ravenclaw here! My office has a really strict dress code and actual costumes would definitely be a no. So, I’m sat here at my desk in a skirt and dark blue jumper I’d normally wear, with a white button-down shirt and my Ravenclaw tie underneath. I’d’ve worn my house cardigan instead of the blue jumper but it’s not quite cold enough yet (although I do wear it a lot in winter).

      (One of my good friends is a Katherine and also a Ravenclaw, must be something about the name :) )

  60. Elemeno P.*

    I was going to go to work in my pretty tame weekend costume (Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls: big pink sweater and a purple skirt), but then I found out I have a meeting with a very important executive.

    So now I’m coming as a dinosaur.

    1. Dunnewriting*

      I wasn’t going to dress up, but a favorite coworker asked me if I’m doing the costume contest this year so I was like, “Screw it, I’ll be a dinosaur.” *high-five* I think we should start a club.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      If anyone is reading old comments: the executive was catering a lunch meeting to thank us for a huge project my team did for him, so he had to deliver a heartfelt Thank You speech while I was dressed as a dinosaur. He was very amused.

      I do work for a theme park, so YMMV.

  61. Kelly*

    I work in a children’s hospital, so as a department we are going as Any Harry Potter Character You Want. I am Prof McGonagall; black dress, green velvet cloak, hat, glasses, a Quiddich Through The Ages book. I’m hoping the rest of my department puts in a little effort this year.

    After work, I have my grown up costume; a broken doll, complete with wind up key on my back and scary makeup courtesy of my friend the special effects make up artist.

    1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I love all of this! My old elementary school stopped doing Halloween parades because some parents had religious objections, so they changed it to “dress as your favorite fictional character day.” Sooooo many little Harry Potter characters :D

  62. Another GenX Dev Manager*

    Our office is doing a costume contest this year, although I am not participating. We’ve got two buildings – East and West. East is generally more casually dressed than West because West has the C-suite, and I sit on the West side. I’m planning on wearing a black sweater dress with candy corn leggings underneath – still professional, but slightly whimsical.

  63. JoAnna*

    I’m going to be Lucy Van Pelt from the Peanuts comics (aka Charlie Brown). Blue dress, black flats, black wig, and I’m going to rig up a portable “Psychiatric Help 5 cents/The Doctor is IN” booth to carry around with me.

    1. HR Caligula*

      I did Charlie Brown one year. Found the T-shirt on Amazon, black shorts black shoes. I accompanied it with a soundtrack, found a small MP3 speaker and looped the Peanuts theme song. I even practiced his distinct (and awkward) dance style.

      1. JoAnna*

        My four-year-old son is going as Charlie Brown, and his 9-month-old little sister is going as Snoopy. :)

  64. Lemon Zinger*

    I am young and trying to move up in my office so I won’t be dressing up. Only a few staff dressed up last year and they got a lot of weird looks.

    1. selina kyle*

      Same here – it’s too bad as I really love dressing up, but I’m new and not too sure of the office culture here regarding it.

  65. Megan*

    I work with transportation professionals, and we have to be “office appropriate” for potential members of the public. Our group costume is Complete Streets–one engineer is going to be a crosswalk signal, one is a sidewalk, one is a street lamp, etc. I’m going to be a bike lane. We’re nerds.

  66. Snark*

    My wife and I went to a music-themed halloween party. I went as Edge and she went as Bono. It was pretty easy, because all I needed was jeans, a graphic t-shirt, and a beanie. She already had pink sunglasses. Highlight of the night was her belting out a pretty spot-on take of With or Without You, interrupted by a Very Serious rambling monologue on child hunger. Totally straight face, deadpan. I couldn’t even stay in character, I was laughing so hard I was crying.

  67. Tris Prior*

    I’ll probably just throw on my cat-ears headband and some socks with skulls on them. I have an actual costume this year, for a change, and I really like how it turned out, but fairly certain I shouldn’t come to work in a corset and vinyl pants…..

    Boyfriend’s work was insisting that his entire team do a group costume. That they were expected to make/source themselves. With no reimbursement for materials. He noped out of that pretty hard so now they probably think he’s not a “team player.” It’s that sort of workplace. Sigh.

  68. Anony McAnonface*

    Just a FYI, I don’t know about in America, but Eskimo is generally considered a derogatory term here in Canada. Inuit is preferred, and I think “Native Alaskan” for those northerly American.

    1. fposte*

      It’s more accepted in the U.S., partially, I think, because a lot of Inupiat didn’t really enjoy being called Inuit.

      1. Anony McAnonface*

        Yeah, I had a vague recollection that because of the various bands not being Inuit that it wasn’t the same in Alaska as it is here. Good to know! Either way, not dressing up as them is some good advice!

        1. fposte*

          I think “Alaskan Native” is the official U.S. governmental term, to add additional confusion.

          1. Hrovitnir*

            That’s actually good to know. I mean, it’s not great, but I’m certainly not going to try and guess if someone is Inuit/OK with that as a catch-all, and I’m doubly never going to use the word Eskimo. There’s also First Peoples, but I wouldn’t know the feelings on that one.

            … we still sell lollies called Eskimos (marshmellow sweets) here in NZ. So gross.

          2. KEN*

            Alaskan here – there are 11 distinct native groups of which Inupiat is just 1. Unless you are 100% sure what group you are referring to, Alaska Native is the best option. You occasionally will hear elders use the term Eskimo, but it’s really one of those words that only someone who belongs to that group can say.

  69. Iris Eyes*

    It has been kind of a weird year here. The division head is no more so there isn’t a unified person to say yea or nay to festivities. But after much discussion there’s going to be a mix of festive wear and costume wear. The kiddos are invited to come in at 4 to make the rounds. I have an outside appointment so I’m not going to be in my 16th century Saxon court dress all day but I’ll throw that on after the meeting. Earlier in the day I have a pumpkin orange blazer that’s going to be perfect.

  70. selina kyle*

    As I said in an above comment, no full costume, but I do have some tights with spiderwebs-looks on them so I am thinking I’ll wear those. I fear living out the episode of The Office where Pam is the only one to dress up at her new office and goes in full Charlie Chaplin garb. The second-hand embarrassment that episode gives me…yikes.

  71. Anonymous J.D.*

    I split time between two offices. One is a law office where we don’t technically have a dress code, but the expectation is the nicer side of business casual. Costumes are Not A Thing. However, mostly I’m housed at a children’s hospital where costumes are Definitely A Thing for multiple days. Last year I was Leslie Knope (grey suit, “Vote Knope” campaign button, JJ’s Diner coffee mug, giant binder). Today I’m Hermione Granger (grey skirt, white button down shirt, long black cardigan, Time-turner necklace, Hogwarts socks, black shoes, wand). Basically, both things I would normally wear but accessorized for fun and easily changeable if I have an Important Meeting.

  72. SL #2*

    My team is doing a Mario Kart theme, but with a focus on all the minor characters. As in, we have no Mario yet, but we do have the penguin from Sherbert Land and also one of the shiny item boxes.

  73. Penfold*

    I’ve got a brown pinstripe suit, (pink) Chucks, (necessary) glasses, and a style-able pixie cut to readily transform into the Tenth Doctor. And if no one else dresses up I can ‘regenerate’ into a standard issue business casual employee if I lose the jacket.

  74. Not So Super-visor*

    I am debating so hard on this… the company is sponsoring a costume competition (like always), and my group wanted to do a group costume and decided on 80’s pop culture. I offered to be a Care Bear since I already had the costume. HR just informed me that a new temp is starting tomorrow…. how much of a clown will I end up looking like when I have to greet, give a tour, and do an orientation for the new temp?

    1. selina kyle*

      Honestly as long as you’re not the only one in costume, if I were the temp, I’d just think it was fun/part of the office atmosphere. Go for it – maybe acknowledge it at the beginning of the tour though.

  75. Kelsi*

    Technically my office does not do Halloween costumes, so I always try to find one that still fits into the dress code. I’ve been a Hogwarts student several years, a steampunk seamstress one year (that was pushing it), and one of the reveurs from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (black and white outfit with a splash of red).

    This year my hair is green, so a coworker is lending me her jack-o-lantern shirt. Easy pumpkin!

  76. A Person*

    One year I wore a flannel shirt, a knitted beanie and carried around a tiny blue cow toy. I drew on a beard with eyeliner and introduced myself as “Paul” (Bunyan). Apparently I was a really convincing guy, because people kept introducing themselves to me all day long and a few people asked why I was sitting at “Name’s” desk, and did I know where she was?

  77. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    My work anniversary is October 31st. I work (not very happily) at a Jesuit university. On my sixth work anniversary tomorrow, I’m finally going to wear them: small, bright red, sparkly devil horns.

  78. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    No costumes at work this year. They cancelled the annual October meeting. If I wear one while my kid trick or treats, it will be my Maleficent costume. It’s the only one I have.

    Last year we had a costume contest at work that I won. Our costumes were supposed to be election themed but I just wore my Maleficent costume and added a sticker on it that said “Why vote for the lessor evil? Maleficent 2016”

  79. ThursdaysGeek*

    When I don’t feel like doing any costume at all, I wear a little button that says “No, I am NOT wearing a mask!”

    1. PlainJane*

      A few years ago I saw a t-shirt that said, “This IS my damn Halloween costume.” I really should have bought it.

  80. Sara*

    I used to work in an office that did “trick or treating” where people walked around to each department to get candy. People would dress up in really simple costumes (cat ears, witch hats, vampire teeth) but not go all out. There was one woman, however, who DID go all out every year with a full-on scary witch’s outfit, mask, and giant spider that was attached to a wire so it looked like it was being walked on a leash. She thought it was funny to poke the spider around corners so people would see it out of the corner of their eyes and jump.

  81. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

    I have some Halloween-patterned leggings (dark purple, with a black treeline and black cat silhouettes down towards the ankles) that I’ll wear with a black dress. Later on, I’ll add my spiderweb shawl and a witch hat and will be festive and themed, even if I don’t have a specific costume this year.

    I work in a private pathology lab, and the owner is personally anti-Halloween (religious reasons). So at work, we decorate for fall instead of Halloween specifically (and then don’t have to redecorate at Thanksgiving!), and keep our Halloween-related things low-key. e.g. We have a pumpkin, but not jack o’lantern, bowl with candy on the reception desk.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yeah, I have Halloween leggings (black with orange pumpkins and cats and stuff) that I’m going to wear with a black dress. And possibly rhinestone cat ears if I can find them.

  82. Not really a waitress*

    In 2008 I was working at a manufacturing plant, I wore jeans. My university of Alaska sweatshirt. My glasses and my hair in a messy bun… I was Sarah Palin.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Last year I was working in a liberal campaign office and I was Sarah Palin, haha. I had a red blazer over a black dress and I bumped my hair and made a McCain/Palin button.

      I got asked all day if I were in the wrong office :D It was hilarious.

  83. Elizabeth West*

    Ha, Alison, I see what you did there with your mention of decorations and spooky music in the office. :)

    I really like Halloween, but most places I’ve worked, except for the non-profit, didn’t dress up. SO BORING. Some things I have done at work were:

    –A bullet hole fake tattoo in the middle of my forehead with corpse-y makeup (not appropriate at ALL this year).
    –A pirate outfit: black pants, a ruffly blouse, skull earrings, black boots and a scarf, which looked kind of like a regular outfit. This was actually for Talk Like a Pirate Day, but it would totally work for Halloween.
    –A funny headband with little orange glitter bobbles on it.
    –Themed earrings and pins (pumpkins, a tiny haunted house pin from Hallmark with animated ghosts that I’ve had for years)
    –A cap that said “Last Minute Costume” on it. I still have it somewhere, but I can’t find it.

    I predict a lot of 1980s costumes this year because of Stranger Things, which might also be a good idea for work.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh, I forgot one—the last year at Exjob, I was a Hogwart’s student coming back from Hogsmeade. I wore a Union Jack long sleeved t-shirt, my Gryffindor scarf from the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studio tour in London, and carried my wand and a paper bag I’d put a Honeyduke’s logo on. That one was nice because it was cold and I was glad to have the scarf that day.

      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        “Hogwarts student coming back from Hogsmeade” is GENIUS and sounds more comfy than school robes! I might have to steal this idea. :)

  84. Beaker*

    Last year I was an inflatable T-Rex and it was so much fun! I was able to stand at my cubicle and ran my headset cord through my arm so that I could still take calls.
    This year, my party costume was Sarah Sanderson but I think that may be too revealing for work (and I don’t want to wear a corset for 8+ hours). I’m thinking of wearing my lumberjack costume I wore for a polar plunger earlier this year mainly so I can use my hand made beard again. :)

    1. A Person*

      My coworker wore one and made a little hole so he could put a tie on the T Rex and was still “business attire.”
      It was so hilarious we put it on his birthday card a month later.

  85. Agile Phalanges*

    My last company was a candy manufacturer, so we enjoyed some fun around Halloween, and most employees got pretty into dressing up. I enjoy punny costumes, so the ones I can remember include:

    Adding insult to injury–I wore a leg “boot,” applied a plaster cast to my arm with craft plaster stuff, and had various bandages elsewhere on my body. I applied bruises with makeup (got some compliments on those–they were pretty good!). Then topped it off with sticky notes with various insults applied to my clothing.

    Fairy Gothmother–wore all black, black makeup, etc., but with pink fairy wings and pink fairy wand.

    Smartass–I had walked in my graduation recently (I’m a late bloomer–did online school to finally get my BS at age 30+) and had my cap and gown. Added a headband with donkey ears (headband had to go horizontally just under mortarboard, but donkey ears had bendable wire, so it worked out) and donkey tail.

    My current company isn’t as “fun” (both a blessing and a curse), and we don’t really dress up. I’m sure I COULD, but my other two co-workers here in the office don’t, so eh.

  86. Ell*

    My office has a party that can get a little rowdy, but I generally don’t like to dress up much. I will probably wear ocean colors, and then bring the jellyfish hat that I made for a cosplay earlier this year (umbrella hat covered in fabric, with ribbon tentacles coming off the spokes).

    It’s something I can take off or put on, looks impressive, and I can be wearing normal clothes most of the day.

  87. Alex the Alchemist*

    I just have classes tomorrow and not work, but I’m doing some pop art zombie makeup because makeup is the best part of Halloween for me. I’m good at gore but I don’t really do it around a lot of people because I do it pretty realistically and it might scare some people, so I figured this would be a good combination of the two since it’s pretty obviously fake but requires a lot of skill.

    One of my seminary friends is going as Martin Luther for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

  88. Thing1*

    As a new faculty member, I’m trying hard to be taken seriously, but also really want to dress up (and I have no idea if any other professors will or not). So I’m going for a Ravenclaw student, with various levels of subtlety that I can adjust if necessary–the base outfit is a button-down with a dark skirt and grey sweater; I can add in a blue and silver/bronze striped tie, time-turner necklace, and mini witch’s hat depending on what things feel like when I get in. Seems like Hogwarts students are popular for low-key costumes!

  89. Prince of Snarkness*

    I’m going to dress up as an autistic computer programmer and make inappropriate comments all day while simultaneously going into far more detail about trivial matters than anyone could ever possibly wish to hear, thus offending as many people as possible.

    Or in other words, make it a typical Tuesday.

    1. Tau*

      As an autistic computer programmer, I was ready to be offended until I hit the last sentence.

      Nice to meet another one, by the way! :)

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Last year I printed out a couple of signs that simply aid “404 – Costume Not Found” and made it known that they were available at my desk. My coworkers who didn’t dress up held those up in front of them for the group photo.

      1. Mints*

        My boyfriend realized on Thursday he didn’t have a costume for the party on Saturday. I had seen “404: costume not found” on shirts before, but I thought it’d be more fun to make a spinning color wheel (Apple) and a sign that said “costume loading.” It was a hit

  90. Lazy River*

    A coworker one year was super pregnant. She came as Brittny Spears and lip synched ‘Oops I did it again’.

  91. Amy*

    At last job we were ‘required’ to dress up. It was a friendly competition among the different departments, plus the individuals we worked with loved it. Employees went all out- Alice in Wonderland characters, superheroes, Dr. Seuss characters, Harry Potter, etc. One year, the customer service dept did a Renaissance theme. Our very sweet and extremely endowed receptionist went all out complete with corset and lace so she was on display all day at the reception desk. Worked in our favor though as an Auditor showed up unannounced. He spent the afternoon chatting her up and completely forgot about the Audit! He sheepishly came back a couple weeks later, but we passed with flying colors.

    1. Becky*

      My company has a Halloween party and a costume party every year. We have had some really awesome ones in the past. I usually don’t dress up but I enjoy looking at the costumes. We had an AWESOME queen of hearts (from Alice in Wonderland) a few years ago. We have prizes for best female costume, best male costume, best group costume and best carved pumpkin. The company gets to vote as a whole.

      Last year my manager dressed up as Bojack Horseman–regular totally appropriate work wear with a horse head–take the horse head off you can’t tell the difference.

  92. Sarah*

    My team of managers does a group costume each year. Last year we were the characters from Inside Out and easily won the costume contest. This year we’re all being fruit, I’m a pineapple. I feel a little sorry for the new manager that started today, we basically just told him this is happening and he should be a part of it.

  93. SparklingStars*

    I’m planning to wear a blue blouse, and tie a rubber chicken to my body using a telephone cord. I’m going to be chicken cordon bleu.

  94. Anon Teacher*

    I work at an elementary school, and we definitely dress up. This year we had emojis, Starbucks, zoo animals, and some friendly witches, ghosts, etc.

  95. Crylo Ren*

    This is my first Halloween at my current office, so I’m bringing a yellow raincoat, red balloon and paper boat and going as Georgie from It. Topical and easy enough to take off if it turns out that my coworker was indeed BS-ing me about how seriously people take Halloween here. :)

    One other tip for Halloween – maybe also consider if you are going to interview or be interviewed on Halloween! I once interviewed at a stodgy financial company on Halloween. My future direct supervisor interviewed me in what I can only describe as a “marginally office-appropriate sexy kitty cat” costume – she wore face paint, headband with ears, knee-high stiletto boots, leopard-print miniskirt and a long tail.

    And, at my last workplace (also corporate finance), one of the senior directors – a very tall, imposing man with a very deep voice and impeccable posture – showed up as a fairy princess complete with tiara, wand, and sparkly fairy wings over his typical work outfit of a polo and khakis. He’d forgotten that he was scheduled to interview another senior director candidate that day. No, he did not take his accessories off to interview her. I’m pretty sure that the candidate’s ability to keep a straight face contributed to her being hired.

    1. Ladycrim*

      My first day at my current job was on Halloween. I wore black pants and a red sweater, and brought a devil horns headband with me. That way I could easily slip it off if it was inappropriate. Then I walked in and at least two co-workers were in full costume, so it all worked out. :-) Been here 17 years now, and I still dress up just about every year.

  96. Tuesday Next*

    I’m not really into Halloween but last year I worked in an office that decided to dress up so I went as Darth Vader (repurposed from my son’s Purim costume). We had zombies, witches, a cow, and several Thursday Addams. It was fun :)

    This year I work in a much more straitlaced environment. I may take a hair band with cat ears and put it on if other people are dressed up.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      On of my favorite costumes from last year’s festivities was a Wednesday Adams. It was still office-y, and it just worked for that coworker.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I do Wednesday when I don’t know what the dress code is – if everyone’s in costumes, I do her two braids, if no one is in costume, I leave my hair down, and look like normal me.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Years ago, my sister dressed up as Wednesday, and she can be pretty creepy. At least one of her co-workers thought so. I came to visit sometime later, and when introduced to that co-worker, I said “Hi, I’m Thursday, Wednesday’s little sister!” He visibly shuddered. And now you know why I’m ThursdaysGeek.

  97. SC Anonibrarian*

    I’ve got a nice pair of black button eyes and a black wig, and I’m wearing bright red lipstick, a cream turtleneck and black pants: the non-creepy early form of the “Other Mother” from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. The eyes are just velcroed on, so if anyone (little kids) gets spooked I can pop them off super quick, and if anything comes up (something always comes up) I can pop off the wig too, and be perfectly presentable in 30 seconds.

        1. SC Anonibrarian*

          eww! no, I was going to velcro them to my eyebrows, but it was too visible through the buttons, so i went with thread and secured it with hairpins instead. It feels much more stable that way, actually.

  98. Miranda Priestly*

    I’m wearing devil horns and a red shirt marked with ‘PRADA’ so I can be the devil wears Prada :) My co-worker and I wanted to be thing 1 and thing 2 but there were no onesies left!

  99. nnn*

    A quick and easy Halloween costume is the Paper Bag Princess, from the Robert Munsch story of the same name.

    You get one of those giant paper bags for putting leaves and yard waste into, cut out a head hole and arm holes, and put it on over your regular clothes. Then get a toy dress-up tiara from the dollar store or a costume store.

    It’s easy, affordable, doesn’t require any talent, compatible with whatever else you happen to be wearing that day, and can be folded up to fit into your purse.

  100. Venus Supreme*

    I went to a private high school and our costumes had to be historic- or literature-related (some pop culture references slid by), and needed to be ‘sponsored’/approved by a faculty member. So we had a lot of Van Gogh’s, Lord of the Rings characters, and I remember one year my friend was W. B. Yeats (because they looked so alike). My senior year, the whole class dressed as dalmatians and our teacher who sponsored us went all-out as Cruella De Vil. I thought that was so cool of her!

  101. DivineMissL*

    My favorite work costume was Groucho Marx. Black pants, white men’s shirt and crooked tie, oversized tuxedo jacket from the thrift store with a rubber cigar in the breast pocket; a pair of wire-rimmed “Santa” glasses and an electrical-tape mustache and eyebrows. I memorized some Groucho jokes and sang the lyrics to “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”. Very comfortable and cheap costume!

  102. Ladycrim*

    My office is used enough to me and my cosplay hobby that they probably wouldn’t blink much whatever I show up in tomorrow. My Halloween costume for this year is a bit too cumbersome and makeup-heavy to wear all day at work, so I’m planning to wear a cosplay I did for a convention earlier this year: David Bowie.

  103. Not that Anne, the other Anne*

    Last year one of my coworkers dressed as LinkedIn, which meant he wore a basic business suit and went around asking everyone if they wanted to join his network. If they said yes, he gave them a little paper doll. We were joking with him that to really be LinkedIn, he’d need to chase down the people who said no and give them a lot of little paper @ symbols to represent all the emails LinkedIn sends.

  104. Pathfinder Ryder*

    I’m Minnie Mouse with an ear hat from my time at Disney and white gloves on top of a dress, black tights, and a black cardigan. Last year I was a Hogwarts student with robes and all, but this year I (coincidentally?) have a meeting on cultural grieving practices today so I figured I should wear something more low key.

  105. PepperVL*

    We did a Halloween parry on Friday. I was Daphne Blake from Scooby Doo.

    Tomorrow, were allowed to dress up, but only for the half-hour of trick or treating we have. So I’m gong to be a Hogwarts student. White button down shirt, Ravenclaw tie, grey skirt, Mary Jane’s. I’ll use the robe as my jacket and throw it in for the half hour we’re allowed to be dressed up.

  106. peachie*

    We don’t have a strong ‘dress-up’ culture because Halloween is usually right in the middle of a gigantic conference we hold, and it’s by far the most formal part of the year in terms of attire–we’re normally business casual, but we have to keep things more buttoned-up and polished for these few days.

    (I couldn’t resist, though, and today I dressed in a muted green skirt with a muted reddish orange top and a black velvet blazer–I feel like a pumpkin witch. :) )

  107. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

    One guy at work had a baseball hat, a string attached to the front brim, with a leaf at the end of the string. He was a….leaf blower.

  108. Master Bean Counter*

    I dressed up as a hippie one year. With stuff already hanging in my closet. I just added some babies breath to my hair and didn’t wash or comb it that morning. So many people accused me of raiding their closets.

  109. Girl in the Windy City*

    We have a staff member who is a Furry…and they wear one of their costumes every year on Halloween. Mascots in general already creep me out, but I feel like this crosses a boundary of some sort. No one – HR included – has felt the need to step in so I just steer clear of this person every year.

    1. JKP*

      The fact that other people are aware this coworker is a Furry already crosses a boundary, regardless of wearing their costume to work.

  110. confused ta*

    this is different since i TA college classes and i definitely wouldn’t hold my students to workplace standards, but one of my students showed up to office hours today wearing only a diaper and a bib, and it would have been great if he’d taken this advice! i never considered i’d need a ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ sign for my office door.

  111. zora*

    We are a really small office, so don’t do anything super elaborate, but I spent my weekend decorating pumpkins and when I went out to dinner saw a bunch of really amazing costumes, so now I’m jealous and kind of want to wear something!

    So, now I’m thinking of something I can accessorize my normal work clothes with. I have a great Mary Poppins hat, that I could wear with kind of a modern take on Mary Poppins’ outfit. Or I have the pieces of a penguin costume I made for a Bay to Breakers costume, which can just attach to regular black clothing. Still trying to decide what to do tomorrow ;o)

  112. Cristina in England*

    I have been invited to a “light party” which I think is a churchy alternative to Halloween and guests are encouraged to dress as superheroes (irrelevant backstory). I am dressing as a librarian, saving people from ignorance. I have some awesome turquoise fashion glasses I never get to wear, and this will be their debut!

    1. Cristina in England*

      I will also be carrying a copy of Our Enduring Values: Librarianship in the 21st Century, though wrangling my little one side means it may have to go away.

    2. Elizabeth H.*

      Unrelated but I really appreciated this part of your comment:

      have been invited to a “light party” which I think is a churchy alternative to Halloween and guests are encouraged to dress as superheroes (irrelevant backstory).

      I might adopt the “(irrelevant backstory)” for use in my own various communications! :)

  113. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Last year I pinned on a name tag that said “Roger”. When anyone asked I said I was Roger from American Dad. Sadly only a few people understood the reference.

  114. Yvaine*

    I have two jobs and unfortunately I’ll be at the business casual office tomorrow instead of the extremely geeky “well as long it’s not a bathing suit” office and since I’m still new here I’m keeping it work appropriate as Luna Lovegood: blue pencil skirt, tights, boots, ravenclaw sweater, and spectrepecs. I’ve already got the curly blonde hair so it doesn’t take much effort.

    I was really hoping to be at the other office since the head of my department there is nearly two feet taller than me so I was planning to convince him to dress as the Mr Incredible to my Edna Mode. Maybe next year.

    Past years I’ve got as Leslie Knope (the Pawnee Goddesses version for extra comfort), Peter Pan (as part of a group but the rest of my group was in different departments so it didn’t really work for most of the day), Rey and Leia (hoth outfit for hairstyle reasons) from Star Wars, a bag of jelly beans (I worked at Michael’s craft store and we took Halloween very seriously), and a black widow spider when I worked in an arachnology lab (all black clothing with a red felt hourglass pinned on, extra googly eyes stuck to my forehead, web cape made of felt).
    I really love Halloween.

  115. MissMaple*

    I’m Carmen Sandiego basically every year. Wear all black and throw on my long red rain coat and red hat; call it good :) Sometimes I carry around the globe I keep at my desk for good measure.

  116. TiffanyAching*

    My go-to work costume is Rosie the Riveter: easy, comfortable, recognizable, unlikely to offend most people.

  117. MCMonkeyBean*

    I love, love, love Halloween and costumes. I actually asked in my interview with my current company whether people dressed up on Halloween as a way to get a feel for the culture. They were very surprised by the question but said they didn’t think many people dressed up but they were pretty sure it wasn’t frowned upon either, which was good enough for me. They did say someone dressed up as a calculator one year and everybody loved it (we are accountants).

    My costume this year is Squirrel Girl, and it is mildly cumbersome to sit in (tail and utility belt) plus the skirt is slightly shorter than I would be comfortable wearing to work (though there are also leggings under it) so I’ve decided to wear something else to the office.

    I have a dress that looks like Ariel’s blue dress but not full length so I bought a red wig and a big blue bow. But I’m having second thoughts about the wig. It’s… a lot. It’s so much hair! And I realized my real hair might get pretty sweaty underneath it and I won’t have time to shower before changing to my real costume.

    I’m actually wearing a costume today too. I decided I wanted to try to do 5 costumes in 4 days Saturday-Tuesday. I am wearing my Archie costume I put together earlier this year for free comic book day because it’s made up of things I would wear to the office anyway. (Though the orange pants are extremely bright!)

  118. calonkat*

    I’m extremely lazy. I put a Sims Plumbob on a headband and wear that. Sadly, I have to go to IT to find people who can appreciate it. But the glorious thing about being a Sim is that whatever I’m wearing is my “costume”. And if anyone calls me on it, I can make the outfit in the Sims to prove it’s a real costume!

  119. Quickbeam*

    Thank you for this column. My father died on October 30th 33 years ago. My abiding memory in the hospital was that all the caregivers were partying and wearing costumes, including the treating MD who called time of death. It was extremely disturbing and is so even now. I’d like to think those in direct care are more sensitive than those that cared for my father.

    1. ..Kat..*

      I am a nurse. And this is one HUGE reason that I don’t wear a costume at work. I am sorry that the death of your father was made worse by the health care workers.

  120. Annie*

    I wore a star trek: TNG costume last year. That was easy. Black pants, black boots, and the science officer blue top. I have an interview on Oct 31, otherwise I would have come in costume again.

  121. chnellociraptor*

    I work in a theatre/music school, so unfortunately costumes are expected. On the other hand, we have a massive storage area full of costumes and accessories, so I’m planning a $0 costume with a black and orange outfit that I already own, plus a witch hat I can snag from our own supply.

    Past Halloweens I’ve rarely/never worn a costume to work, but I try to wear orange and black as a nod to the day, so I don’t seem like a spoil-sport.

  122. Statler von Waldorf*

    I wear an orange jacket with a deep hood. Put the hood up and mumble at everyone, and boom, you’re Kenny.

  123. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    I think I’ll wear my black cat earrings. My office is spectacularly un-festive for Halloween. And pretty much every other holiday.

  124. Sci-fi_worker_girl*

    Group costume in medical : disease emojis. We had fun and could take them off when needed. Pink eye, hand foot mouth, e.coli, etc…

  125. OrganizedHRChaos*

    I love makeup and seem to be the one people go to for makeup advice in my office and so I decided to go as a “fake” cosmetic store employee and made a 3’x2′ (approximately) eyeshadow palette to hang around my neck. We will see how it goes tomorrow but I don’t expect it to win any prizes. Our company goes nuts with contest prizes, 1st is $500, 2nd $400, 3rd $300 and so forth for top 5 costumes. We have these kind of fun things all year allowing for people to participate at will and not feel left out. I wish I could post a photo somehow.

  126. Landshark*

    I’ve never gotten a clear answer on The Way Things Are Done about costumes at my job, so I’m holding off… but I am gonna bust out my Rose Quartz (from Steven Universe) costume to give candy to the kiddos. My husband was going to wear a Persona 5 cosplay he has, but then he realized that it’s a ton of layers to do his work in… so he’s probably not doing anything. I keep trying to get him to borrow my banana suit for giggles (costumes are allowed/encouraged for him), though.

  127. Grumpy Mouse*


    One year at an old workplace, each team was required to cmoe up with a theme for their costumes, and there would be prizes for the teams with most participation, best costumes etc. (Yes it was a horrible place to work, for many other reasons..)

    Anyway, the team I was on (all female) decided to do a fairy tale princesses theme, so we were all expected to come in wearing princess gown type costumes. I objected as I really can’t stand the princess thing, but I was overridden. I contemplated going along in just normal work clothes and sitting the whole thing out, incurring a penalty and facing the wrath of my teammates.

    But then my partner came up with a better idea.

    I went as sleeping beauty. But sleeping beauty from the modern era, just after she’d been woken up. So I went to work in cute flannel pyjamas, a fluffy dressing gown with a teddy bear in one pocket and alarm clock in the other, big fluffy slippers, my hair all a mess, makeup streaked across my face..

    It was brilliant, I won a “best costume” award, all my teammates were impressed with creativity – and best of all, it didn’t cost me a thing as it used stuff I’d already got! It’s become my default, low-effort dress up idea since then and usually gets a good reaction.

    (Ironically it took me longer to get ready for work that day, with the “just rolled out of bed” look, than it would have done usually when I looked a lot more put-together!)

  128. HalloweenGirl*

    My office doesn’t dress up in costumes usually, but I still wanted to mark the occasion and have been coveting cute, retro dresses, so I actually sewed my own 1950s Simplicity pattern dress out of a Halloween print material! I’m ridiculously proud of myself as its my first project after getting my own sewing machine even if I’m more festive than most people in the office. Halloween is also my birthday, so I’m excited to have this dress for future years too!

  129. Aerin*

    The plan was to dress as Joy from Inside Out. It’s actually a costume I’ve worn at the office before, since without the wig it’s just a regular outfit: the dress is basically a patterned sundress, and I have a blue cardigan to cover my shoulders. (I’m always looking for ways to get my nerd on at work.)

    Unfortunately, it was 29 degrees this morning. So instead, I remembered I have a 10th Doctor cosplay that I haven’t gotten to take out for a spin. Brown suit, red tie, brown trenchcoat, red Converse. Sadly, I haven’t seen a single other person in anything even resembling a costume so far today. So it just looks like I’m walking around in an ill-fitting men’s suit for no apparent reason. (I found it at a thrift store and haven’t had a chance to get it tailored.) Ah well.

  130. strawberries and raspberries*

    I’m Michael Myers Briggs. I’m wearing a black turtleneck and black jeans, and I printed out a Michael Myers mask and taped my Myers Briggs code to my chest. I’ve scared two of my coworkers!

  131. Sunshine Brite*

    Late to the party, but I was pretty sure that people here didn’t do Halloween but I like it so I wore my black dress pants and a black patterned top with my orange sweater just to be business casual festive.

  132. ParadeRainedOut*

    Am I really the only one who thinks there’s just no place for this holiday in a professional setting? It’s (1) disruptive in the work environment 100% of the time, as everyone has to look at and discuss everyone’s costumes; (2) rife for offense, because there are always some people who are going to cross a line culturally or in terms of good taste; (3) forcing the holiday on people who don’t celebrate it for religious reasons, who are subjected to the costumed demons and witches and other things that are inappropriate to them in every meeting or coworker interaction during the day; (4) just not in keeping with the professional decorum of most workplaces.

    Honestly, why do people feel the need to wear their costumes at work? You can’t just celebrate at home in the evening?

    1. Quickbeam*

      You are not alone! I really do not like it in the office; it is jammed down my throat, nothing gets done and we end up having to work extra to cover the wasted time. Plus noise and everyone’s kids running around all day. I asked our HR person and she felt it was a “Millennial hot button issue”. OK then. I wish people would do this on their own time.

  133. RB*

    I went as the Grim Reaper today and got a prize for scariest costume. I had to carry my scythe around the office with me until after the lunchtime judging was over.

    My best year was 2008 when I went as Sarah Palin. I also went as the woman from Psycho one year. My easiest costumes were flasher (you need the right type of overcoat and some old sneakers) and bank robber (black ski mask, squirt gun, black outift and black shoes with nylons pulled over the entire shoe so you don’t leave foot prints — I wanted to spray-paint the squirt gun black but thought it might be too realistic).

  134. RB*

    Also, I never pick up on the costumes that are puns (someone mentioned leaf blower, above) although I do enjoy them. The one you see most frequently in my office is a black T-shirt painted with white stripes to look like a road, with a fork attached to the middle of the road. Get it? It’s a fork in the road. It goes along with what we do here, project-wise.
    We have a strong dress-up culture in our department, although no one cares if you don’t participate — you’re still included in the luncheon.

  135. Rocks Sharkey*

    There are no official Halloween policies or events at my office (municipal governmental agency); therefore most employees did not wear costumes. However, a few co-workers, including me, got into the Halloween spirit and wore costumes. I wore a Minnie Mouse dress, a headband with the ears and polka dot bow and Minnie Mouse earrings. It was well received, even by executive management who had the Communications Director take my photo for the upcoming edition of the agency newsletter.

    Other colleagues wore accessories like bunny and cat ears, devil horns and Maleficent horns. Another colleague dressed as butterfly, one wore a Star Trek shirt and another was the “auditor from hell,” complete with disheveled suit, a bulging briefcase stuffed with papers, a balding wig and a pencil embedded into his forehead. lol

  136. Rivakonneva*

    I’ve been dressing up for years at work. I’ve been a hippy, a doctor, Harry Dresden, Arthur Dent, a pirate, a Renaissance noblewoman, a Florida Gators fan, a bum, a belly dancer, and a Chopped Champion among others.

    This year I’m a zombie Chopped losing contestant. I’m wearing jeans, tennies, tank top and my Chopped chef’s jacket. Then I put on basic zombie makeup, one ‘tattoo’ of a bite mark, and a headband with a foam cleaver attached blade-down. There are tiny red ribbons dripping down from the headband. I’m also carrying a couple of prop brains in a plastic black bucket.

    I’ve gotten more compliments this year than any other. :) Even the students in the library like the outfit!

  137. Halloweeny Anonymous*

    We are forbidden from dressing up in costumes at my workplace but I am a rebel. Every year I dress up as the “business casual” version of a character. Which basically means I’m the only one who knows it’s not just my regular clothes. This year I’m the original Dos Equis commercial guy (the meme one). Obviously without the beer and facial hair. ;)

  138. JeSuisGarbage*

    I just started a new job and was basically told on October 30th that if I didn’t dress up as some sort of zoo animal on Halloween, I would be labeled “not a team player.”

    True, various teammates had hinted earlier in the month that this was important to them, but I assumed they were joking. Cause, you know, we’re all adults. So that’s how I found myself waiting in line for half an hour to buy fuzzy antlers at the Halloween store near my office the night before my least favorite holiday.

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