October 06, 2021
Halloween at Work Can Be a Treat or Tricky - 5 Dos and Don'ts


Blog > Halloween at Work Can Be a Treat or Tricky - 5 Dos and Don'ts

Celebrating Halloween at work should be fun, not scary. Want to avoid an HR nightmare this Halloween? We've got you covered. Keep reading and learn how to celebrate Halloween at work in a professional way.

Halloween at Work: 3 Dos

If you are unsure about inviting your staff to dress for Halloween or even planning a Halloween office party, you are not alone. Halloween can be a problematic holiday for work celebrations. At ALT HR Partners, we help clients navigate tricky situations all the time. You can incorporate our top dos and don’ts for a successful Halloween at work.

Determine When You Will Allow Halloween Work Costumes

First, don't leave anything to chance. Let your team know exactly when they can (and cannot) dress up for work. If your business is open on the weekends, will you celebrate Halloween then? If not, will you celebrate on the Friday before Halloween or the Monday after? Make the call, then let your employees know.

Set Guidelines for Costumes

Each business is a bit different. So, consider your culture as you are making the rules. In general, here are some costume guidelines we recommend.

  • Costumes should be family friendly.
  • Costumes cannot interfere with an employee's ability to perform their job.
  • Costumes should allow for ease of movement. So, perhaps suggest that team members accessorize their regular work attire with festive apparel.

Next, while you are setting the ground rules, don't forget to communicate what is not allowed. Here are costumes and accessories that we suggest avoiding.

  • Full-face coverings
  • Costumes depicting monsters, death, or other frightening characters
  • Controversial political figures
  • Items resembling guns or weapons
  • Costumes that promote harmful stereotypes, including those based on race, creed (religion), color, national origin, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity
  • Revealing outfits that would not be considered acceptable under normal work circumstances
  • Unclean or soiled clothing items

Do Consider Halloween Work Themes

Here is a fun way to guide your celebrations while still keeping the rules in mind: set a theme! You could keep it simple and plan the day around a color (like orange) or be creative and choose a theme that fits your business. You could even have a cubicle decorating contest too. Here are three theme examples for inspiration.

  • If you're in the grocery or food services industry, invite each team member to dress up like their favorite food.
  • Work in tech? Encourage costumes with a technology theme.
  • Have each department dress in a theme. For example, maybe the marketing team could dress like emojis, and IT can dress up like electronics.

Halloween at Work: 2 Big Don'ts

Now that we’ve covered the dos, let’s discuss the don’ts. If you are hosting workplace Halloween festivities, we suggest avoiding these two don’ts.

Don't Be Disruptive

A little candy and some fun, plus a few simple decorations will go a long way. A full-on haunted house setup and loud, creepy music? Skip it. Special effects like strobe lights? Just say no. Overwhelming scents, sights, and sounds can get in the way of productivity—and make neurodivergent employees uncomfortable.

Don't Force Participation

You might love Halloween, but not everyone feels the same way. So, never make holiday-centered celebrations mandatory at work—no matter the holiday. Instead, respect each team member's personal preferences and religious beliefs by making your workplace an inclusive environment.

While we touched on the need to outline costume rules, this bears repeating. Never tolerate costumes or decorations that promote harmful stereotypes or could be construed as discriminatory. When it comes to Halloween at work, always keep the atmosphere both fun and respectful.

And finally, be sure to put everything in writing—whether it’s in an official employee handbook, a company email, or a flier. Providing your employees with a roadmap to a safe and kind Halloween celebration will ensure that everyone is on the same page and no one is slighted.

Do You Have Other Holiday and Workplace Questions?

If you have another dilemma or holiday issue you would like us to address, let us know. Your team at ALT HR Partners is always available to help.


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