As children we associated Halloween with carving pumpkins, costumes, innocent tricks and sugary treats; however, adults often have a different idea of what Halloween entails. While many adults think of pranks, risqué costumes and spiked punch, those activities are what a manager’s nightmares are made of. Not only are they divisive among team members, but they can also invite lawsuits if left unregulated. The truth is that it can be tricky to navigate Halloween distractions and inappropriate office behavior.


If done correctly, office celebrations are an excellent way to create a fun environment, instill a positive work culture and ultimately increase employee retention. The following are a few ways to ensure that your company’s Halloween is a treat for all!

  1. Set clear boundaries: Although it can be fun to prank your coworkers, make sure that you proceed with caution. Set clear boundaries as a team regarding pranks and tricks. You will likely find that some of your coworkers feel strongly about someone invading their workspace or disrupting their workday with Halloween antics, while others thrive off of this tricky behavior. You may consider banning Halloween tricks altogether to avoid conflict and advise that employees keep tricks for afterhours.
  2. Make smart costume choices: Picking out a Halloween costume that is appropriate for work can be tricky, especially since employees may attempt to wear the same costume to work that they are planning on wearing to a party later in the evening. Common sense dictates that the workplace is not the appropriate setting for political, overly gory, and “sexy” anything costumes. Also keep in mind that your costume should not be offensive to protected classes such as gender and race. Some ways to ensure that these costume genres are avoided is to send out a quick memo reminding team members of appropriate costume guidelines, have a theme that everyone agrees to follow, or encourage teamwork by having each department choose their own themed costumes.
  3. Don’t pressure coworkers to participate: Although you may be a Halloween enthusiast, your coworkers may want to refrain from celebrating this holiday for personal or religious reasons. As a result, it is important to avoid pressuring individuals to participate in dressing up or even joining in on the festivities. Make Halloween activities and the party voluntary events.
  4. Set a clear time for Halloween festivities: Rather than leaving Halloween festivities open ended and giving employees free reign to celebrate as they see fit, set a specific time to celebrate the holiday that will not detract from office productivity. An ideal time is at lunch or about an hour before the end of the workday since coworkers who do not wish to participate can easily opt out during those times.
  5. Send an invite: One way to quickly distribute all of this information and expectations to the entire office is to construct and send an invite the week before Halloween. “Halloween is on Wednesday! If you would like to participate in the Halloween festivities, you may dress up in an office appropriate costume that will not interfere with your ability to work or communicate with customers. Please feel free to join us in the conference room at 4:00 PM for our annual Halloween party! We will be playing games, eating treats (please no tricks), and having a department costume contest with prizes. If you have any questions regarding your costume or other Halloween activities, please contact ____.” 

Follow these five simple steps to set your office up for a successful Halloween