Halloween in the Workplace???

this may seem like a silly question but....a few employees are talking about dressing up for halloween during the day - which is a workday. this seems absurd to me - not to mention the fact that who even knows what kind of costumes people might come in with. am i being a downer if i put a stop to this? have any of you dealt with this?


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  • As a "non-Halloween fan", your question is understandable.  At our company, we are active Halloween celebrators (even though it's not something that I never understood).  Each year (for at least the past 10 years) we have celebrated Halloween with a Fall Festival.

    The Fall Festival consists of the following:

    1. Constume contest where winners are given movie tickets
    2. Department Pumpkin Decorating Contest - each department is given one pumpkin to decorate.  Again winning departments are given gift cards.  Pumpkins are provided by the company, but any other supplies are bought by departments
    3. Candy Apple Making
    4. Haunted Department - Our IT department is going to decorate thier area of the building as a haunted house.  This was thier own idea!!

    Last year, we had between 30% - 40% of the company participate in this event.  I didn't see any costumes that were offensive or inapportiate for the workplace.  In fact, this has not been an issue where we have needed to even mention it to employees.  We had a wide range of costumes last year such as StopLights, Pirates, Smurfs, NY Yankees, and Zombies. 

    At our company, this is tradition and some traditions are hard to break.



  • I think activities like this can be great for employee morale so long as everyone keeps things workplace appropriate. One issue that was raised in my company around halloween decorations related to someone finding it offensive because of their religious beliefs--calling it a fall festival may help with this.
  • I agree with Kate -- celebrate the season and you'll be safe. My son's school also follows this policy due to the religious objections of some families, and the kids get as much enjoyment out of it as ever.
  • I don't see how you can have a costume contest without using the word "Halloween." 

    We have had costume contests in the past, but less than 1/4 of employees have ever dressed up. I, personally, am not into this.

    If you want to celebrate the season or harvest , how about a pie contest using fall fruits and vegetables? Oh oh, you may get chastized for letting people use saturated fats in the crust.

  • It will depend on your corporate culture.  Does your company often celebrate holidays and "seasons"?  How does sr. management feel? 

    At our company, we celebrate everything.  :)

  • I understand where you're coming from, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  This is not harming anyone and can be enjoyable.  Some people at my company dress up for Halloween and some do not.  In the past there has been an award for the most imaginative costume.  There has never been an incident where someone has dressed in an inappropriate costume.
  • For the past 4-5 years, we have had a "Trick or Treat" day for employees' children.   I work with a lot of younger people who have small kids so it really has been fun to see how much they grow from year to year.  Most everyone participates by having treats for the kids at their office or cubicle - some decorate their space and some wear costumes. Then we have ice cream and cookies in the conference room.  I guess it's a little like Take Your Kid to Work Day - only fun.   It's a bit chaotic for that hour or so when the kids are here but I think everyone enjoys it.    Unfortunately, I don't think this tradition will continue much longer since many of the kids are starting school.   We have really not had any problems with inappropriate costumes or things of that nature. 
  • We allow our office EE's to do this every year.  They just have to be modest.  Most times, we have a little potluck lunch in conjuction with the day.  The costumes just need to be able to work in their costume.
  • Every company I have worked at has celebrated Halloween. Some employees love dressing up and it can be a great morale booster - cheering people up as the weather gets worse heading towards winter. If there are people offended by Halloween due to religious beliefs, then definitely call it a Fall Festival - but it won't fool anyone if employees are dressing up as witches or devils....
  • I agree with Ruth G. that you can call it whatever you want, but that it's clearly a Halloween-themed and inspired event. Moreover, I find the notion of avoiding use of the word "Halloween" at work or in conjunction with announcing a costume contest because it might offend someone's religious beliefs as political correctness gone overboard. 

    This is nothing like using the word "Christmas" during the holidays, which has obvious religious meaning for Christians. Obviously, we avoid throwing "Christmas" parties at work because it is deemed unfair as it could make non-Christians feel excluded, discriminated against, or that the religious beliefs of others were being thrust upon them. So, "holiday" or "winter" celebrations have become commonplace. Makes perfect sense.

    But Halloween? Come on!  It's a secular holdiay! People who "celebrate" Halloween aren't espousing specific religious beliefs. It originated as a pagan festival centuries ago, and its celebration in the United States isn't tied to any one religion. It's about  dressing up in costumes and taking kids out trick-or-treating.

    So long as nobody is being forced to participate in these events, why can't we just call it what it is? 

  • Hey Johnny -

    I have to respectfully disagree with you. I think that saying Halloween is only about trick or treating is like saying Easter is only about colored eggs and bunnies. There are underlying (and major) religious reasons for each of these holidays -- Halloween is just a holiday about which less is commonly known. I think that if there are employees who feel strongly about not celebrating Halloween that it should not be forced upon them in their place of work. Just my two cents.

  • OK, so we disagree as to how the holiday is viewed and treated by those who are "pro-Halloween."  I say nobody who "celebrates" it via dressing up or trick or treating is assigning any religious connotation to these activities. But at any rate,  I agree that it shouldn't be "forced upon" anyone who doesn't want to celebrate it...

    Still,  if  the company wishes to allow its employees to have some fun by (voluntarily!) dressing up in costumes on or near Oct. 31, they should be able to use the word "Halloween" without risking an uproar about someone's civil rights being voilated. Being forced to call it a "Fall Festival" or some such--in my opinion--is the sort of nonsense that leads us down an ever-slippery slope...

    Jehovah's Witnesses reject birthdays as pagan and often refuse to participate in celebrating them. Their objections to celebrating birthdays are rooted in their religious beliefs. So, should we next erase all references to birthdays in the workplace and start throwing genericized "Life Celebration" parties instead?

  • I think there is a more important question you all have missed.  Is this board's "Johnny Bravo" going to go to work dressed up like his/her namesake this Halloween? Inquiring minds want to know.  Make sure those bell bottoms comply with your dress code.
  • I will dress up. It will be groovy. [;)]
  • Hey, must be OK to celebrate Thanksgiving.  A card company just came out with a line of "business Thanksgiving cards"--


  • I don't think so. I just heard that there were protestors at Columbus Day parades across the country because of the way the European settlers treated Native Americans in colonial times.  They probably wouldn't want Thanksgiving celebrated in their workplace.
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