Celebrating Halloween at the Office

Halloween witches and devil toasting cocktails.
••• Betsie Van Der Meer / Getty Images

Everybody in the US seems to be thinking about Halloween just now. For most people, it centers around their children and the annual trick-or-treat festivities. However, for a growing number of Americans, Halloween is also celebrated at the office. That's a good thing for the business as well as the employees. Here is a plan that you can start today that will let you and your employees reap the benefits of Halloween at the Office.

Why You Should Bother

You can use Halloween at the Office to build morale and teamwork. At the same time, it can help you spot creative and participative talents among your employees. Your people have a little fun in the office, which builds morale. Groups of employees work together on fun projects, which helps build teamwork. Employees from different departments share a common activity, which improves communication and inter-departmental cooperation. You get to identify the people in your organization with hidden talents, skills like creativity, team leadership, and cooperation, in a non-hierarchical setting.

Start Today

Even if you haven't yet started, it's not too late. Find, or appoint, a volunteer to coordinate the activities. Human Resources and Communications are good places to find this type of individual, but it can be anyone.

Decide what the event will include, when and where it will take place, and set a budget for the event. Then get the word out.

Use whatever employee communications methods you have to announce the Halloween at the Office event. Post it on the bulletin boards and the company intranet. Send out a blast email. Use the communication tools you have so people will have enough time to get their part ready.

What's Included?

Pick and choose from this list those things that will work for your company. Be aware of the company culture, its industry, and its location.

  • Halloween Party: Usually, this works best at lunchtime. Set it up in the company cafeteria or lunch room if you have one. Get facilities to put up decorations, which you can purchase. Make sure everything is fireproof. The party can be as simple or as extensive as time, and your budget allows, from a buffet lunch to punch and cookies. Having a party increases the time that employees from different departments will interact and provides a venue for judging a costume contest if you have one. It also gives employees who cannot, or choose not to, participate in the costume contest an opportunity to interact with those employees who do.
  • Costume Contest: Set up and publish the contest rules, including categories. You may want to have separate contests for teams and for individuals. Award prizes for best, most original, scariest, lamest, etc. You can even give a prize to the individual who's costume most resembles a corporate executive or best exemplifies the company spirit.
  • Area Decorating: Starting the morning of the event, allow employees to decorate their group areas in a manner reflective of Halloween. They may want to create a haunted house or a graveyard. What they come up with tells you something about the people in the group. How well they do, it says a lot about their team spirit. Keep an eye out for the informal leaders who emerge during the process who you might be able to develop further.
  • Other Games and Contests: If it's appropriate for your company, consider apple bobbing or pumpkin carving or anything else your event leader comes up with.

Events like Halloween at the Office can be great ways to promote employee morale, teamwork, and inter-departmental cooperation. They can also help you identify creativity, innovation and leadership talents among your employees that you can develop for business purposes. Besides being good for business, it can be fun. Give it a try.

Costume Suggestions

Some shy employees feel unable to participate in group activities at the office fully. They worry about appearing silly or being embarrassed. Halloween may provide a good opportunity for these employees to join in. It's a great time for shy people to show off their talents at the office while hiding behind a costume.

Here are some good costume choices for employees who are uncertain about participating in the office Halloween party:

Full-Face or Full-Head Masks

  • Ex-presidents
  • Movie stars, then or now
  • Creatures and monsters

Costumes With Hoods

  • Ghoul
  • Dementor
  • Monk

Easily Removable Costumes

  • Big glasses with a funny nose and fake mustache
  • Sunglasses and black fedora hat, like the Blues Brothers

Appropriate Costumes for the Office

Good choices for costumes at the office Halloween party include those that demonstrate your creativity, those that display a business-appropriate sense of humor, or those that show your talents in a favorable light. These could include:

  • An intricate costume you made yourself that shows off your skill as an artist or your ability to sew.
  • A costume that demonstrates your ability to select common items and blend them into a costume, like large rubber balls, hooked together to make you look like a bunch of grapes.
  • Or something as simple as the programmer who replaced his standard Dockers(r) and a t-shirt with a nicely tailored, expensive business suit and a full face mask, so no one knew who he was.