According to a recent Halloween at the Workplace survey released by Vault.com Inc., 37% of employees say they celebrate the holiday with their co-workers and 27% dress up in costume.
Susan Heatherfield of Human Resources at about.com says that Halloween is the second most popular holiday after Christmas and that celebrating it at the workplace “appeals to the child in each of us and helps create a motivational, team work-oriented work culture.” She offers suggestions for celebrating Halloween at work, ranging from a themed breakfast or lunch to a pumpkin carving contest or philanthropic activities.
Of course, on-the-job masquerades are more appropriate for some workplaces than others. Mike Copeland of the Waco Tribune-Herald polled some local companies about Halloween practices, and unsurprisingly, there were varied responses. For some organizations, such as manufacturers or equipment handlers, costumes could jeopardize safety. Other organizations such as hospitals don’t want to let professionalism slip for even a day, fearing that masks or costumes might alarm patients. And a local bank has two sensible rules: no masks and no toy weapons.
Far be it from us to be the wet blanket in the crowd, but employers do need to exercise some caution when it comes to any parties and celebrations. We favor the “no alcohol” at work rule, and suggest that you issue some guidelines about costumes. Here are a few recommendations for your work festivities:

  • Make wearing costumes optional. While some people enjoy participating in Halloween festivities, everyone doesn’t love a parade. Some employees find the idea of wearing a costume horrific.
  • Consider charging a toll of a dollar or two for the privilege of wearing a costume and donate all proceeds to a favorite local charity.
  • Issue some basic rules about costumes. Put safety first and foremost, and let employees know that revealing, offensive, off-color, or racist costumes will not be allowed. (Employees: use good sense. No matter how clever the idea, resist any urge to wear a “career limiting costume.”)
  • Discourage tricks or pranks that could scare others or pose a safety hazard.
  • If costumes don’t “work” for your organization, consider some alternative celebrations, such as holding an off-hours parade or party that family members could attend or staging contests for best pumpkin carving, best kid’s costume, best pet costume, etc.
  • Consider a free “ghoulish” buffet breakfast or lunch, or put special seasonal treats in the break room.

Halloween treats
Here are a few humorous seasonal links we thought you might enjoy:
How to make a Dilbert Costume – perfect!
How to build a better bat costume
How to look like a zombie
Gruesome Halloween recipes; more creepy cuisine.
Pumpkin House of Horrors
Cats in costume – just because!

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