Halloween at the office: yeah or yikes?
Before you pick your costume, buy the candy, decorate your cube with spider webs, or fake an illness to free yourself from the freak show, read these ghosts and goblins dos and don'ts.
1. Do send out an invitation to all employees with all of the gory details
Whether it is an e-vite, an email and/or a memo on the bulletin board, make sure that all are in the know.
Include the start and end time; people appreciate knowing this in advance to schedule their day's activities accordingly. Add food and beverage, plus of course the dress code or theme.
Sticky situation: Last year's costumes were way too sexy.
Solution(s): Chill the office hotties by setting the celebration expectations from the start, in the invitation. "Please make appropriate Halloween celebration choices that respect our culture and are sensitive to the diversity of our employees and clients," or "All Halloween office party choices should be 'G' rated," are good examples.
2. Don't dress to haunt
Whatever you choose to wear, make sure that it will not stay stuck in people's memories to negatively impact your image at work.
Foremost you should be able to comfortably perform all of your professional duties. This means not wearing tight, revealing or extreme clothing.
You should also be able to wear your office costume in front of your seven-year-old niece and your 70-year-old grandfather.
Costume inspiration can be found in reality TV, movie characters and maybe even in celebrities. This year's office fright friendly choices could be from Duck Dynasty or The Great Gatsby. A sleek European style black suit and white shirt combined with aviator sunglasses à la Robyn Thicke could do the trick while a Miley twerking outfit would be more of a threat to be escorted to the door, than a treat.
Sticky situation: Our culture is very shy and conservative but we still want to have fun.
Solution(s): Ask employees to wear a hat that represents their favourite past time. Invite clients to a black and orange Happy Hour Networking event
Your costume should be pretty self-explanatory. You don't want to find yourself having to explain who you are like the 'kitten' in this episode of The Office.
3. Don't creep or crawl even inside your cube
To avoid colleagues invoking spells or cursing harm and hurt onto one another's career, clearly define the allowable creep and scare factors.
You know your people so be as specific as you need to be to give a shivering reminder. "No Fear Factor will be tolerated. Safety and security are to be considered at all times."
Decorate with creative decorum. Go easy on the gore and remember that all good things must come to an end. All decorations should be gone by the time that the sun rises on November first.
This also includes accessories and means no guns, no knives, no sneaking up on and absolutely no re-enactment of the famous Psycho shower scene. I know it's all in good fun but it could end in calling 911. Some of your colleagues may have medical conditions or be extra sensitive to such sights. Also, you may not even get by your security officers when you show up with your artillery. Fake threats are not fun.
4. Do pick your poison
Choose your drinks wisely. You know you best. Don't overindulge. One drink is my personal professional recommendation. Although you may be in character, everyone will remember what happened while you wore that mask and had one too many sips of the magic potion.
A simple alcohol-free way of celebrating Halloween could be to offer a mid-afternoon snack of hot apple cider and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. As a bonus surprise employees by sending them home early -- #Lovemyboss tweets guaranteed.
5. Don't force your colleagues to do tricks
Most people don't want to get wet while bobbing for apples, nor do they want to bump heads or any other body part with their colleagues. Preferred spooky entertainment could be a psychic, a palm or tea reader, a caricature sketcher, a pumpkin carver or a makeup tattoo artist.
Hosting a community event like this Ottawa Zombie Invasion is a great way to support neighbouring businesses while networking locally. I love this idea!
More and more organizations are including philanthropic activities into their calendar of social activities. Distributing treats in a children's hospital or at a home for the elderly could be a fun and fearless way of celebrating.
6. Don't say cheese before please
Ask before taking pics and advise of where you will post. Some employees may not be comfortable being on your social media profiles.
Sticky situation: I am not Facebook friends with my colleagues and I do not want to appear on their pages or in any of their social media memories.
Solution(s): Include photo instructions on the invitation. "By popular demand, this Halloween celebration is a no pic, tag, text, tweet or pin celebration."
7. Do thank
Take the time to thank the organiser, the committee and even your employer. Not demonstrating gratitude at work could be a deadly mistake.
Happy Halloween! Trick and treat respectfully at the office.
Have a Sticky Situation at work, home, or play yourself? This is your forum and your chance to enlighten others just like you. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more Solutions to Sticky Situations? Like her fan page on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter or read Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility, now available for pre-order. Planning a conference? Customised business etiquette activities are available.