Celebrate Halloween at Work

By Susan Heathfield for humanresources.about.com


Traditions are important in companies just as they are in families. And, Halloween is one of the best holiday traditions to establish and to celebrate at work.

Halloween has climbed right up the holiday charts and is now the second most popular holiday, second only to Christmas, so it’s popular with employees, too. Celebrating Halloween at work appeals to the child in each of us and helps create a motivational, team work-oriented work culture.

Halloween is unconnected to any particular religion so diverse employees are rarely offended. The myriad activities associated with Halloween allow you to schedule few or many events while still celebrating Halloween at work. As with any event that is not part of the content of the work, participation in any Halloween festivities is voluntary. No employee should feel pressured to celebrate Halloween at work.


How to Celebrate Halloween at Work

As with any employee event, you will want to form a small, cross-functional committee to plan and execute the Halloween at work events. Rather than all organizational event planning landing in the lap of the Human Resources staff, rotating primary responsibility for holidays from department to department is important.

This rotation allows for team building and leadership development across the company, since planning and executing holiday celebrations builds staff skills. Additionally, when different departments “own” holidays, staff are more likely to participate and fresh ideas are generated. The tradition of the celebration is important, but new and original activities, along with the tried and true, are welcome. Finally, participation on the planning team further develops staff team work skills.


Celebration Ideas for Halloween at Work

These ideas will spark your creative thinking and open up the world of possibilities for celebrating Halloween at work. And, they are all doable since my client companies have done them all.


  • Costume Party or Parade: No Halloween celebration at work would be complete without the opportunity for staff to wear costumes. You can keep the event simple and encourage people to just wear their costume to work for the day. Or, you can make the celebration more elaborate and hold a party or an official parade of costumed employees throughout the company.Staff voting for their favorite costume is often a popularity contest – yup, I’m a realist – so, to counter this, I recommend multiple categories of awards. Try best costume, funniest costume, most sophisticated costume, costume that took the most work to make, scariest costume, and most creative costume. Advertise the awards in advance and provide a nice gift to the winners such as a gift certificate or catalog certificate.


  • Halloween Breakfast: Cider and doughnuts make a popular breakfast treat for Halloween. So might pumpkin and apple breads, pumpkin pie, pumpkin coffee cake, or pumpkin and apple muffins. For healthy eating, assorted fruits top off the meal, and do make the breakfast a team building celebration. Ask employees to spend some time together rather than retreating with their breakfast to their office or cubicle.
  • Halloween Luncheon: You can make a Halloween at work luncheon as seasonal as breakfast. Or, you can order pizza, sandwich wraps, submarines, or any other luncheon menu. Most restaurants will deliver for a large crowd even if they don’t advertise that they do. This enables employees to work until the event is scheduled. 
  • Halloween Decorations: Offer prizes for best and most festively decorated work area. You can give awards like the awards suggested above for costumes. Enhance the team building aspects of this competition by encouraging teams of people to work together to decorate their shared work area. 
  • Pumpkin Carving Contests: Start at around 4 p.m. so staff can bring their children in for the pumpkin carving contest. TechSmith Corporation makes this an annual event and the company product evangelist takes pumpkin carving pictures to share
  • Trick or Treating (Without the Tricking): Not just for children, you can encourage all employees to bring treats to share and employees can go cubicle to cubicle or door to door trick or treating. Provide each employee with a Halloween trick or treat bag for fun.–Because trick or treating is for children, too, you can hold a costume party for staff children, schedule trick or treating with the employees, and serve cider and doughnuts for all. The children are amazing in their costumes and your employees will enjoy the event. Many, like me, may live where they don’t see any children trick or treating.

    –To appeal to the philanthropic hearts of your staff, a form of employee team building and staff motivation that is growing in popularity with the new generations of employees, invite children with special needs to trick or treat, too.

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October 31, 2009

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