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Halloween at Work: 7 Ways to Celebrate

Halloween is the ideal time for an office party—it gives your employees something to look forward to in the gap between the summer months and the winter holidays. As you plan for Halloween at work, consider celebration ideas that inspire the team and encourage everyone to get involved in the fun.

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Benefits of celebrating Halloween at work

Halloween celebrations are a lighthearted diversion, but they can also improve your business. Thoughtfully planned holiday parties offer a few important benefits:

  • Make work fun. Your employees spend half their waking weekday hours at your company. A Halloween party can make that time more fun.
  • Reduce stress. Halloween celebrations allow your team to step away from the pressures of work. You might sacrifice productivity for an hour or two, but the break can help employees manage stress.
  • Increase employee well-being. Celebrating Halloween gives your employees the opportunity to build friendships. These social bonds can actually increase their emotional and mental health; Gallup research finds that people who are less lonely tend to be happier. They also report lower levels of sadness, anger and depression.

7 workplace Halloween ideas

To maximize participation and the benefits, consider fun Halloween office ideas that allow your team to relax and let loose.

1. Costume contest

The costume contest is a Halloween classic, and for good reason—it gives your employees the freedom to express themselves creatively. The team might have fun putting together outfits, and the chatter in the office will build anticipation for the big event. You could also do a virtual costume contest, where you have employees submit photos dressed up in their Halloween costumes and then have your team vote on who they think is best.

Before Halloween, determine how you’ll choose the winners. An easy option is to ask everyone to vote on their favorites. For an exciting twist, ask the CEO or a favorite long-time client to act as the judge.

2. Murder mystery party

If you run a small business, celebrate Halloween with a murder mystery office party. Order a kit and assign roles in advance so employees can put together costumes and get in character. On the day, plan to spend an hour or two solving the mystery. It’s fun, but it’s also a great team-building opportunity.

Get into the spirit of the game by serving food that matches the theme or location of the story. For a tropical-themed mystery, you might choose fresh fruit, punch and grilled kebabs.

If your team is remote, you could also host a virtual murder mystery party.

3. Halloween party games

Go all in on the Halloween fun by planning party games to help your employees relax. Start with childhood classics such as bobbing for apples or a ring-toss game with witch hats. If your team is adventurous, you can play a “guess the food” game with peeled-grape “eyeballs,” hot dog “fingers,” spaghetti noodle “worms” and date “cockroaches.” Ask each person to touch or taste the food blindfolded and guess what it is.

Other Halloween party games include:

  • Break the piñata
  • Pumpkin carving contest
  • Toss candies into a Halloween bucket
  • Guess the number of candy corn pieces in a jar
  • Halloween bingo
  • “Mummifying” a colleague with toilet paper

4. Halloween scavenger hunt

Get your team up and moving with a Halloween scavenger hunt. Come up with items that require workers to get out of the building. It’s a bonding experience to run around the community in pursuit of a common goal—even if that goal is silly. If your employees are wearing costumes, the experience is even more fun.

Halloween-themed scavenger hunt ideas include:

  • Convince a stranger to howl like a werewolf on video.
  • Bring a Halloween decoration back to the office.
  • Take a photo with a skeleton.
  • Find a person dressed in a costume.
  • Capture a video of a team member trick-or-treating.

Set a time limit, and ask each team to share their results. The video and photo proof is guaranteed to get everyone laughing. For remote teams, consider a virtual scavenger hunt.

5. Spooky lunch buffet

When Halloween falls in the middle of a busy week, you might not have time for a full celebration. Instead, treat your team to a lunch buffet. Consider ordering catering in advance. They can set up in a conference room or break room, and employees can drop by for a free meal and a quick chat with colleagues.

You can still get into the spirit of the holiday, even if time is limited. Decorate the room, accent the buffet line with candles and play spooky music. Ask the caterer to include a few themed items, such as white chocolate-covered strawberry “ghosts” or pastry-wrapped hot dog “mummies.”

6. “Thriller” lesson

Make your office Halloween party more interactive by bringing in a dance instructor to teach the “Thriller” dance. Some workers will love the chance to get up and dance; others will enjoy watching. Consider offering an instructional video a few weeks in advance to streamline the process.

When everyone is ready, dim the lights and ask your dancers to perform their new routine for everyone at the party. If your employees are willing, you can post the video on the company’s social media profiles—it’s a lighthearted way to humanize your brand and capitalize on holiday web traffic.

7. Leave early for trick-or-treating

Do the majority of your employees have young children? Celebrate Halloween by letting everyone out a few hours early. With the extra time, parents will be able to spend more time getting their little ones ready for trick-or-treating.

An early dismissal benefits non-parents, too. The rest of your employees can enjoy a few hours free or use the time to get ready for their own Halloween plans.

Another idea is to host in-office trick-or-treating. Designate different areas within your office space as treat stations. Decorate each station with Halloween-themed decorations and set up tables with bowls of candies and treats. Employees can bring their children to the office and have them go around the office trick-or-treating.

Planning a successful celebration for Halloween at work

The best workplace Halloween celebrations are inclusive, enabling everyone to participate and feel comfortable. Use these best practices to guide the planning process.

Establish clear costume policies

If your Halloween office ideas include costumes, make sure to communicate clear rules in advance. Let your employees know that all costumes should be respectful. It’s important to avoid anything that might be offensive to clients and other employees. This might include outfits that reference politics, religion and cultures. In general, costumes should also allow team members to perform their usual duties.

Make participation optional

Instead of requiring employees to participate in Halloween at work, make it optional. Some people might want to join the party but prefer not to dress up; others may go all out. By meeting everyone where they are, you can make the celebration feel more welcoming and inclusive.

Keep clients in mind

As you evaluate workplace Halloween ideas, consider your clients. Plan a celebration that’s appropriate for the level of client interaction and the tone of your client relationships. If you have an important strategy meeting on October 31, for example, costumes could be a distraction.

FAQs about Halloween at work

How do you encourage employees to dress up for Halloween?

To encourage employees to dress up, consider offering an incentive. You might offer the chance to win door prizes, for example, or create a theme to help workers choose a costume. It can also be helpful to ask company executives to talk about their planned costumes. When leaders are involved and excited, it gives employees extra motivation to participate.

How do you plan a Halloween party at work?

Start your Halloween planning early, and let employees know what the event will entail. Advance notice gives them more time to plan costumes or adjust their work schedules. Then, choose a location, plan activities to get attendees involved and order snacks and drinks. It’s also helpful to create a playlist of Halloween-themed music to set a festive mood.

Is Halloween a no-work holiday?

No, Halloween is not a recognized federal holiday. However, you’re free to give your employees the day off if you’d like.

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