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How to Throw a Halloween Office Party (Without HR Consequences)

As Human Resources consultants, we tend to steer clear of holidays in general as everyone has different preferences. However, we understand that bypassing holiday celebrations all together isn't realistic as many companies build holiday celebrations into their company culture. With Halloween right around the corner, we figured it was time to make our yearly announcement about what works and what doesn't when planning a Halloween office party…especially if it's on company property and during work hours. The truth is that some people love Halloween with every bit of their being…while others could go without the costumes, parties, and candy. Before you complete the final details of your company Halloween party, here are some things to consider.

Politics, Election Year, and Costumes (Hint: Bad Idea)

We're sure you're aware that it's an election year and with election year comes a great deal of TV ads, a flooded social media timeline, and what feels like an all-time high of divisiveness. With that being said, costumes shouldn't ever be political in a work setting. This year it's especially critical to emphasize that political costumes will be not be tolerated. If you're wanting a party for company culture purposes, this is the fastest way to make it less about team bonding and more about starting a confrontational relationship with a coworker.

Skip the Skimpy

Though people are dressed outside of their norm for Halloween, that doesn't mean the established dress code should be thrown out of the window. Employees can enjoy a Halloween party or a costume contest without leaping over the boundaries of the dress code. This means that there probably shouldn't be any crop tops, short shorts, men without shirts, or coconut bras. This can not only be offensive and inappropriate, but it can also affect professional credibility both internally and externally.

Leave the "Boo"z and Weapons at Home

If it's an after-hours party, this is less relevant. However, if it's an office party – alcohol shouldn't be permitted at the party or as part of the costume if the company has a no-alcohol policy. The same goes for costumes involving weapon props. If you're thinking you want to be Grim Reaper, you may want to leave the scythe at home. You'll be just as scary without it – we promise!

Leave the Pranks at Home

Something about Halloween makes people want to pull pranks on their friends, family members, and coworkers. While friends and family are fair game, your coworkers aren't. Many people don't appreciate being the focal point of a prank and this can be a dangerous game to play in the workplace.

What Can Employees Do?

It seems like we just gave you a lot of "don'ts" and not a lot of "dos." The good thing is that the possibilities are endless! All it takes is some creativity to come up with a costume that is fun, comfortable, and appropriate for the workplace! In summary,

  • Keep it PG
  • Don't get political 
  • Don't dress as religious figures 
  • Be respectful of cultural differences 
  • Don't wear something you don't want a client to see you in

Cater to Everyone

There's a way to find a balance with your Halloween celebrations. As previously stated, some love Halloween while others aren't so into it. As you plan the party, find a good balance of fun festivities that will appeal to the majority of the employees without leaving out the ones that aren't into it or stifling the excitement of those that are.

Implementing these policies prior to your company Halloween party can keep it light, fun, and without HR consequences. So quick – spread the word and don't forget to enjoy this opportunity to see a spookier side of your co-workers!

Owner Spotlight: Dawn Stastny

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