Halloween is a fun time of year that workplaces can use to bring teams closer together and improve office morale. Nowadays it’s a secular celebration that people from many different backgrounds and cultures can enjoy, but there are still those who may have some objections to it. We look at how to make the most of the day but remain mindful of anyone in the office who, for a variety of reasons, may not want to take part in the silliness.
The origins of Halloween go back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was a feast day to remember the dead and to ward off evil spirits. The festival later became known as All Hallow’s Eve as it was celebrated on the day before All Saints Day on 1 November.
Today it has lost much of this darker meaning and has become an opportunity for people to dress up, let loose and have some fun.
Because of these origins, Halloween may not seem the most obvious festival day to celebrate at work, but because nowadays it’s not connected to any specific religion and has mostly been embraced by secular society it can be a great excuse for professionals to let their hair down and enjoy being a little silly at work.
It’s also an opportunity to introduce some fun into the workday, reduce stress and maybe even involve friends and family. Therefore, we offer up some do’s and don’ts of celebrating Halloween at work to make everyone feel included and prevent potentially awkward situations.
- Make it light-hearted and secular. Focus on the fun side of Halloween and make it as inclusive and welcoming as possible. Put on activities that inspire creativity and playfulness. Consider organising games such as pumpkin carving, Halloween decoration competitions between departments or teams, pot-luck lunch with themed food or organising a party after office hours that includes friends and family.
- Encourage everyone to dress up. Give people the freedom to go all out or just to wear a party hat but make them comfortable enough to be as daring as they feel they can be.
- Share out the responsibility of organising any activities, especially if you work in a large organisation. Tidying up should also be done as a group and if you build it into some kind of friendly competition it can even add to the fun.
- Don’t have too many rules. Requiring people to wear certain costumes or to turn up to the after-hours party will not improve your company’s culture and may drain team morale. Halloween can be an important occasion for families to get together so don’t make people stay at the office, if they’d rather be somewhere else. Any games you organise should be simple and straightforward to understand. It’s no fun when games spiral into arguments about rules.
- Don’t wear offensive, overtly sexy or extremely scary costumes. It may be Halloween but it’s still a work environment and costumes should still be appropriate. Scaring your co-workers out of their wits or making them feel uncomfortable is not in the spirit of the celebration.
- Don’t force anyone to take part in events and activities. If the activities you have planned feel awkward, don’t force it. For cultural or religious reasons some people may overtly object to the celebration, and some people may simply not enjoy it. Respect these boundaries.
If you use these do’s and don’ts as guidelines, Halloween at work should run smoothly and be as much fun as possible for anyone who wants to take part. Enjoy the day and don’t get too scared!