October – the time of pumpkins, foliage, and an over-indulgence of candy. Capping the month, we have every dentist’s favorite holiday, Halloween. Schools and communities hold fall events with hot apple cider and costumes. And many offices enjoy Halloween quite a bit as well, including our corporate office which encourages employees to dress up. It’s a fun way to facilitate intra-office interaction and develop community culture.
When I was younger, I loved Halloween. My parents would often help me come up with some clever-sounding costume and then my school would have a Halloween parade. Deciding on the costume was always a challenge, but with my parents’ help we always came up with something at the last minute. As adults however, our approach to Halloween has to be a bit different as we can avoid any missteps through a small amount of planning. We have all sorts of potential routes to take when creating a costume and can’t hide behind a youthful naivety if there are any concerns as to its content – the office is no place to take costume chances.
That being said, we still have so many different options to consider – will it be homemade, or store bought? Or maybe thrifted? Do I dress up as my boss? With so many opportunities for different approaches it can be easy to make a mistake. So, with the holiday quickly approaching, we figured outlining a few best practices for Halloween in the office is in order:
1. The first important aspect to keep in mind is company policy. Does your company encourage people to dress up? Do people go for it? While we are 100% in favor of sharing your creative genius, it’s important to remember that you are first and foremost at work as an employee. Check your company intranet or ask someone, don’t guess. Please note that some companies put in place different requirements on costumes such as ‘no full face masks’ or ‘no open-toed shoes’. Have fun within the guidelines of your company policy, and if you’re unhappy with the rules, you can always use that costume for a different Halloween get-together.
2. Stock up on candy. This time of year, candy is exactly what everyone wants, even when they complain about eating it. I like to bring candy to meetings, especially if I’m asking people for help – people are generally more agreeable when they are given food. I also like to have a bowl of candy out at my desk – for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up, and also to be welcoming of others around me. What does your candy choice say about you? Sounds like the makings of another post…
3. Think your costume through with an eye toward how you spend your day. I’m a big fan of a functional costume – for instance, I was Bob Ross a couple years ago, and this year I will be Hank Hill. Extravagant costumes are amazing but may be better suited for a different event. Working on a spreadsheet is a lot more difficult if your sight is obstructed. Also, consider how you commute to and from work. If public transportation is your route – make sure you’re comfortable being on strangers’ social media in your costume.
4. If your planned costume is at all risqué, bounce it off of a couple others before putting it together. No one wants to realize halfway through the day that the costume isn’t going over quite the way it was intended. Bring a change of clothes, just in case.
5. Finally, if you’re putting on a Halloween event for your office, be flexible and accommodating. Some people don’t like to participate and that’s just fine. Invite them for the candy and socializing but don’t make anything mandatory, especially not a costume.
While looking out across the web to see what others have to say about Halloween in the office, I found a lot of resources for HR. I’d like to note that I view Halloween as a secular holiday and all of the suggestions in this post reflect that same viewpoint. It is important to check with HR to better understand how your company specifically approaches the day to make sure you do not inadvertently cause anyone distress.
One final note – Halloween is technically on a Sunday this year, so make sure you confirm what day will be the ‘Office Halloween’.
Happy Halloween! Have fun!