Though you have likely outgrown trick-or-treating, Halloween is one of the holidays that’s fun to celebrate, no matter your age. From house-hopping in your funniest (scariest or ahem, risque) costume to hosting a bring-your-own-pumpkin party with friends, October 31 is a more laid-back holiday compared to other winter-time celebrations.
Many companies take advantage of the spooky spirit in the air by hosting an in-office bash and inviting employees to dress-up and drink up. Because the purpose of Halloween is to take on a new persona, you may be tempted to go wild, but career experts recommend following a few etiquette rules to maintain your respect. Here’s the deal: While being a team player who participates in-office events is important, you also don’t want to show up in something scandalous or suggestive, causing others to raise eyebrows.
Here’s how to navigate this sometimes tricky situation and come out on top:
Rules to consider
Branding expert Joy Altimare believes there are a few standard, across-the-board rules to consider if you want to—um—keep your spot on the board. Though these blanket suggestions are appropriate for most, you know your company culture the best and you should use your smarts to exercise your best judgement when deciding on a get-up.
- First and foremost, remember you are at work! Altimare recommends walking a fine line between fun and professionalism. You don’t want to come across as too stuffy, but you also probably shouldn’t wear cut-off pants to parade around your co-workers, or worse, clients.
- When in doubt, ask a supervisor. If you have a solid idea for a costume but you are unsure if it crosses a line, Altimare suggests speaking with your supervisor or human resources to establish a clear understand of what is deemed acceptable.
- Clear out your schedule. If you do want to go next level with your attire, complete with wacky makeup and say, wings or a boisterous hat — put blocks on your calendar, Altimare suggests. Sitting in your pod with this crazy costume is probably fine, but meeting with your CEO is likely not.
- Be sensitive. “You are a part of a culture ecosystem – so be sensitive to your co-workers and do not wear anything that could be considered cultural inappropriate, too-gory or political,” Altimare reminds.
Costume ideas for all
‘First things first: regardless if you’re male or female, you should feel free and liberated to expand far beyond gender stereotypes. The traditional standards of women wear nurses outfits and men are cowboys is outdated. That being said, career experts have a few ideas for costumes that could work for everyone.
One of career expert Wendi Weiner’s favorite, all-time costumes is Michael Jackson in an 80s or 90s look. “The accessories and attire can easily be found at a thrift shop, and they don’t require much effort,” she explains. Since you will also be mostly covered up, you won’t risk showing off too much skin in the hallways.
If you’re part of the crowd that procrastinates your Halloween costume, you’re not alone. That’s why Weiner suggests ‘Where’s Waldo’ as an idea for last-minute professionals. Not only is it simple to put together, but it’s super-comfortable (and super-kosher) to wear sweatpants on Halloween at work.
For most office cultures, coffee is at the heart of the cantina. Without, how would 8 a.m. meetings be a possibility, after all? A mid-afternoon trip to Starbucks is daily retreat for plenty of teams, making Starbucks Barista a funny costume idea that’ll make your co-workers chuckle, according to Weiner.
Superman or Woman
Truly, the options here are endless. You can be Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Superman or Superwoman with a semi-professional Halloween costume inspired by one of DC Comic’s leading heroes. Altimare recommends this look, since you can wear your go-to button-up and jacket, but with a twist.
For a more creative approach, Weiner suggests grabbing the marketing, customer service, engineering or finance team you’re part of and encouraging your colleagues to band together in the name of winning the Halloween costume contest. Group get-ups are not only hilarious when executed well, but take the pressure off of you to find something appropriate. Since you’ll all decide together, you know whatever you choose will pass the code of conduct standard.